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15/05/22

The Resurrection as Recorded by St. Paul

(1 Cor 15:1-58)

Chapter 15 of Paul’s letter to the believers at Corinth is perhaps most instructive piece of literature in the Bible.       

Here Paul spells out:-

       1.   The Fact of The Resurrection   (1 Cor 15:1-11)

       2.   The Importance of The Resurrection  (1 Cor 15:12-19)

       3.   The Order of The Resurrection  (1 Cor 15:20-34)

       4.   The Method of The Resurrection  (1 Cor 15:35-50)

       5.   Not All Believers will Die !      (1 Cor 15:51-53)

       6.   The Final Victory over death.   (1 Cor 15:54-57)

       7.   Our Motive for Service.     (1 Cor 15:57,58)

 

1.   The Fact of The Resurrection   (1 Cor 15:1-11)

 The Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is one of the best attested facts in human history. Here in verses 1-11 Paul details those who were eyewitnesses to that fact.

Jesus appeared to Peter then to the rest of the apostles and also to more than 500 of His followers, most of whom were still alive at the the time of Paul’s writing to the Corinthian believers.

Paul adds his own testimony of meeting the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.

 

2.   The Importance of The Resurrection  (1 Cor 15:12-19)

If there is resurrection, the Christ could not have risen from the dead, in which case there is no Gospel (Good News) and the message preached by Paul and the apostles is a waste of time and the preachers are guilty of speaking lies.

 

3.   The Order of The Resurrection  (1 Cor 15:20-34)

 Christ is the “First Fruits” of The Resurrection the those who are Christs at His Coming. 

Cf. 1 Thess 4:13-17     But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

4. The Method of The Resurrection   (1 Cor 15:35-50)

 35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?  36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 

37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:  38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial  bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.  42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 

43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.  48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 

49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

 

 5.   Not All Believers will Die !      (1 Cor 15:51-53

The Rapture of The Church

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

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

 

6.   The Final Victory over death.   (1 Cor 15:54-56)

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

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?   56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 

 

7.   Our Motive for Service.     (1 Cor 15:57,58

 

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

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

 

Amen !

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8/05/22

Peter, Before & After The Resurrection

 A Brief Resume of Peter

  Peter ……

  Was called by Jesus whilst fishing     (Matt 4:18)

 Declared Jesus to be the Christ    (Matt 16:16)

 Was present at  “The Transfiguration”  (Matt 17:1)

 Asked “How often shall I forgive ….   (Matt 18:21)

 Though I should die, yet will I not deny you (Mat 26:35)

 But Peter followed afar off………..       (Matt 26:58-75)

 

 On Resurrection Day ……..  Peter & John ran to The Tomb

  Then. …..

Later at Galilee

  Jesus appeared to 7 of His disciples by the Sea of Galilee early one morning.

 These were:-           Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel  (Bartholomew); James & John; and two others

  By the Lake at Galilee

 Impetuous Peter.    Was he bored or did he HAVE To Do something?

 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. (John21:3)

 The Lord’s Provision.         John 21:9-12

 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

 Jesus and Peter

 John 21:15-17   15. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

 After breakfast Jesus spoke directly to Peter.  “Loves thou Me more than these?”

 These ?   Who? Or What ?  Ie Peter’s fellow disciples  or  the fishes?

 Why did Jesus ask Peter that question 3 times?            Was it because Peter had denied Him three times?

 Peter Followed Afar Off

 What had led to Peter’s denial? Was it perhaps that Peter “had followed afar off” ?  

 However.          All the rest had forsaken Jesus and fled!!!

 This poses the question:-        “How close are we following the Lord?”      Do we ever    “Forsake Him and flee?”

 Peter’s Transformation 

 On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached the Gospel in Jerusalem and did so also on numerous occasions recorded in the Book of Acts.

 After Pentecost Peter was fearless in his proclamation of the Gospel

 Holy Boldness       Acts 4:13

  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.   Acts 4:13

 Peter Was Not Perfect

However, like us Peter was not perfect, he had his faults.

 Peter was confronted by Paul at Antioch      Galatians 2:11-21

 Paul took Peter to task.   cf.   Galatians 2:11-21

 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 

 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

 

 However, Peter remained faithful even unto death.        What an example and encouragement for us today.

 

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 01/05/22

The Post Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ

  1. On Resurrection Day

To ……..

  1. To Mary Magdalene  John 20:14-18)
  2. The women returning from the tomb with the angelic message (Matt 28:8-10)
  3. Peter, probably in the afternoon. (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5
  4. In the evening to the two on the road to Emmaus.  (Luke 24:13-31)
  5. The apostles (Thomas absent). (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-24)

 2. Eight Days later

To the apostles, Thomas present.   (John 20:26-29)

 3. In Galilee 

  1. To the seven by the Lake of Tiberias (Galilee).      (John 21:1-23). 
  2. On a mountain, to the apostles and 500 brethren. ( Matt 28:16,17 ;  1 Cor 15:6

 4.  At Jerusalem and Bethany 

 To …….      James (1 Co 15:17) 

 5.    The “eleven”.  (Matt 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:33-53; Acts 1:3-12)

 6.    To Stephen outside Jerusalem.  (Acts 7:55,56)

7.   To Paul ….

  1. near to Damascus.     (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor 15:8)
  2. In the Temple  (Acts 22:17-21;23:11)
  3. At night in custody. (Acts 23:10,11)

 8.   To the Apostle John

    On the Isle of Patmos. (Rev 1:10-19)

 John’s testimony in John 20:30,31 and John 21:24,25

 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.  (John 20:30,31)

 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.   (John 21:24,25)

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24/04/22

Paul's Epistle to the Galatians - Conclusion

The Galatian Error

 The Judaisation of The Gospel     The Incompatibility of Law and Grace

 

 The Purpose of the Law

 The Law:-

1. Concludes “All under sin”      (Rom 3:19-23)

2. Was given because of Transgression  (Rom 5:12-13)

3. Was an “Interim” method of dealing with Mankind  (Gal  3:19)

4. Was to the Jew what the Pedagogue was to the Greek  (Gal 3:24)

 The Christian Doctrine of the Law

 The Law:-

1. Stands in contrast to Grace  (John 1:17)

2. In itself is Holy, Just, Good and Spiritual (Rom 7:12-14)

3.Is Condemnatory

4. Christ has Redeemed us from the Curse and Dominion of the Law (Gal 3:13)

5. Neither Justifies the sinner nor Sanctifies the Believer 

6. The Believer is not under Law but under Grace

7. Under Grace, Obedience comes from within

8. The Believer is no longer under the “Pedagogue”

 We have……

 A New Relationship With God

 We are no longer Servants BUT Sons!  (Gal 3:26,26)

The consequence of returning to the Law is to forfeit all that has been granted by Grace.

 To The Jew this means returning to the Bondage of the Law

and

To the Gentile means Exchanging the bondage of Idols for the Bondage of The Law.

 Grace and Law …..are not only incompatible but Mutually Exclusive.     They Cannot Co-exist

 Hence Paul's Exhortation ……….. 

 Gal 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

 and his question in Gal 5:7  

 “Ye did run well, who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”

 And his advice in Gal 5 :16-18

 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

 The Works of The Flesh  Gal 5:19-21

 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

 And now Paul turns to the question of ……

 Living Out the New Life in Christ”       Gal 6:1 – Gal 6:18

 In Gal 5:22-24 Paul describes the out come of the New Life in Christ

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

 and urges us ……..

 to “walk in the Spirit” if “We live in the Spirit” Gal 5:25

 For Gal 6:15 …………..If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

 as he writes in 2 Cor 5:16,17  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a New Creation…..”

 and in Gal 5:24  “Those who have ……. and Gal 5:25,26  ……

 Finally…..     Some Words of Advice

 Gal 6:1-3.   Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

 Gal 6:4,5.     But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

 So…………    “Don't be Discouraged”  

Gal 6:7-10.  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

 Gal 6:14. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

 Paul's Credentials 

 Gal 6:17. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

 The Grace  

Gal 6:18. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

 

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!7/04/22

The Triumph of the Resurrection

 

( 1 Cor 15)

 

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

 

 The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central tenet of the Christian Faith.

 

 Without the Resurrection, Christianity is no different from any other religion - just a code of ethics, a way of  life – a life-style!

 

 Without the Resurrection there is no Gospel at all.  

 

 Discredit the Resurrection and the rest of Christianity topples like a stack of dominoes.

 

 A whole chapter of Paul’s,  first letter to the Church at Corinth is devoted to the subject of the Resurrection of  the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

 This in itself speaks to us of :-

 

 1.  The Importance of the Resurrection.

 

 The Triumph of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s vindication of the efficacy of The Atonement that Christ made for sin upon the Cross. 

 

 It was the Father’s “stamp of approval His seal of acceptance.”

 

 The fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the guarantee that those who Know Him as there own personal Saviour will also be raised from the dead. 

 

 Without the Resurrection, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ would have been no more than a martyrdom.  

 

 History is full of cases of martyrdom.    Christ’s martyrdom could not have saved a single soul. 

 

 If Christ had not risen from the dead then He would have been no different from men  such as Confucius, Budda,  or Mohammed.

 

 If Christ is Not Risen Our Faith is Futile 

 

Paul points out that if Christ was not raised from the dead  ie. if Christ is not alive,  then our faith is futile. 

 

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

 

Paul writes (1 Cor 15:19 )     If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 

 

 but goes on to say in verse 20:    But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

 

 The validity of the promise of eternal life depends upon the fact of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 2.  Circumstances  Surrounding The Resurrection

 

 Let’s just consider the circumstances surrounding the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

One thing is certain  ……  The disciples were certainly not expecting Jesus to be alive on that first Easter morning.

 

On that morning,   Mary, the mother of Jesus together with Mary Magdalene and Salome the mother of James and John, had set out before dawn to anoint the body of Jesus.    As they made their way to the Garden Tomb where the body of Jesus had been laid to rest, they wondered amongst themselves how they would be able to move the stone from across the entrance to the tomb.

As it turned out they needn’t have worried themselves because when they arrived at the tomb they found that the stone had been rolled away.  

 

 Now that in itself testifies of the Grace  shown to the women.  

 

 Jesus did not need to have rolled the stone away for his resurrection body (although a physical body) was not limited by the contraints of what we know as “solid” objects.    

 

 He could (and subsequently did) pass through solid stone walls.cf. John 20:19 [Jesus appeared to the disciples behind closed doors, Thomas being absent]

 

 The Jesus who met with His disciples was not a pathetic half dead mutilated shadow of a man - such a person could never have inspired the disciples to make the courageous stand that they made concerning Christ’s resurrection.

 

 Far from it,  the Resurrected Jesus inspired them to commit their lives to Him, to stake everything upon the fact of His triumphant conquest of death.

 

 Oh yes, He did bear the print of the nails in His hands and  carried the spear wound in His side for  - did He not invite Thomas to reach forth his hand and touch those wounds?    But they were wounds of triumph - not the putrifying wounds of death!  

 

 This caused Thomas to cry out to Jesus  -  “My Lord and my God!”

 

 When Mary met Jesus face to face in the half-light of the morning she said to Him Raboni - ie. Master.

 

 On the road to Emmaus, Jesus made Himself known to Cleopas and his companion in the “Breaking of the Bread.”  So that they immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell the rest of the disciples that they had met with Jesus.

 

 3.   The Effect of The Resurrection on The Disciples

 

 The death of Jesus had demoralised the disciples, they were about to pack up and go home.   

 

 However, the Resurrection   Transformed their Lives

 

It was the Resurrection of Jesus which had such a transforming effect on that demoralised group.

 

    “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John ….. “  Acts 4:13

 

In view of what transpired in the years immediately following the crucifixion,  it can be seen that  the the Resurrection was the crucial factor in the way that the disciples behaved. 

 

 Paul says1 Cor 15: 14: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15: Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

 

 Therefore either Christ rose from the dead  or  the  disciples were liars!  And what is more, Christianity is built on a false premise - a lie. 

 

 That is why, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then Christians are of all people most to be pitied for we are a deluded people.

 

 4.  The Nature of the Resurrection

 

 Christ’s resurrection body  is a  “sample”  [firstfruits] of what ours will be. 

 

Whilst it is true that His body did not “see corruption” in the grave and He rose in the “same body” that was laid in the grave - while it had the “same identity,” it was “different in character.”

 

   Jesus said:-                        “Behold My Hands and My feet”  Luke 24:39

 

 While the wounds of the nails and the spear were visible, the body was able to pass through closed doors and appear and disappear at will.

 

 The body had  “flesh” and “bones” cf. Luke 24:39-43 but not “blood.”  

 

 cf. 1 Cor 15:50 “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” 

 

 The Lord Jesus Christ poured out His blood on the Cross as a sacrifice for sin.

 

 The human body as it is now constituted could not exist in heaven - There must be a change.

 

 Paul explains the situation with regard to our body. 

 

 It is sown  in corruption; it raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in Glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in Power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a Spiritual body.”

 

 That does not means that it will not have substance. Our resurrected body will be like unto His glorious body. That is why we must be changed.

 

 That is why Paul says “we shall all be changed.” 

 

 cf. 1 Cor 15:51-57 51: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54: So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56: The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 We will experience the triumph of the resurrection  -  whether we live or whether we die - we will all take part in the resurrection.

 

The Bible teaches the resurrection of the body.        Our resurrection bodies will be like unto His glorious body.  No more pain, no more death.

 

 Therefore  my beloved”  says Paul -  “be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

 

 In the words of the old hymn:- 

 

Death cannot keep his prey - Jesus my Saviour

 

He tore the bars away - Jesus my Lord.

 

 Up from the grave He arose, 

 

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.

 

He arose a victor over death’s domain

 

And He lives for ever with His saints to reign.

 

 He arose!      He arose!

 

Hallelujah Christ arose!

 

  

 

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15/04/22

Good Friday

 

"Sitting Down, They Watched Him There"

  Matt 27:36  “And sitting down they watched him there;”

 What a scene!          Who were these who sat and watched?    What were  “they”  thinking?

  The Context

 Let’s just put this scene into context with regard to the events of the previous week.     [“Holy Week”]

 [a]  The week had begun with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt 21). after being annointed by the woman (Mary) at Bethany.

 Then, every day Jesus and His disciples had made that journey into Jerusalem from Bethany where He was staying with Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

 [b] The 2nd Cleansing of the Temple

 Those few days were packed with action.   Jesus had cleansed the Temple for a second time of the money changers etc who  “had changed the Temple

 into a den of thieves.”

  [c] Healings

 He had  healed a blind man and a lame man in the Temple .

  [d] Confrontation with The Pharisees

 He had been confronted by the Pharisees because of the things He had said and done.

  [e] The Olivet Discourse

 Then there was all the teaching concerning the “end times” in His Olivet Discourse.

 [f] The Institution of  “The Lord’s Supper”

 The week had culminated in the “Last Supper”  during the passover meal.

 Yes,   a lot  of things happened during that week!

 Now, the ONE who five days earlier had been greeted with cries of “Hosannah to the Son of David”  was hanging on a cruel Cross.

  During this momentous period Jesus had been:-

                         1.  Anointed     2.  Proclaimed    3.  Crowned

 as      …….     King of The Jews !

 Now he is hanging upon a cruel Cross.

  But,   who were these, of whom it is written “sitting down, they watched Him there”?

 WHO ?

 Who Are They ?

 If you look at the narrative, “they” are the soldiers. 

  In fact a better rendering of the sentence is:- “sitting down, they kept watch over Him.”

  So,  “they”  were the soldiers who had brought Him to the place of execution and who had nailed Him to the Cross.  

  The Involvement of the Soldiers

 

 What had  “they”  been involved in over the previous 24 hours?  

  Some of them had no doubt engaged in the cruel tormenting that He has been subjected to during preparation for execution.

 No doubt they had been present at His appearance before Pilate and had witnessed the attempt by Pilate’as wife to get the Govenor to leave well alone.

  They would have heard Pilate say “I find no fault in this man”  and yet theyt had subjected Jesus to the humiliation and suffering  He endured.

  They had struck Him with whips, they had spat upon Him  and they had ridiculed Him.

 WHERE ?

  Then they had escorted Him from the City to the Place called “Golgotha” - the place of a skull.

  There, they had stripped Him and nailed Him to the Cross, before erecting it vertically in its socket.

  Then they had gambled for His clothes.

  Yet, these soldiers had no axe to grind with Jesus  -  as Romans they probably could not have cared less about the Jewish authorities vendetta against the “Carpenter from Nazareth!”

  WHY ?

  Why did they allow themselves to engage in torturing and humiliating this innocent man?

  The answer lies in the very reason why He was hanging on that Cross.

  Why was He hanging on that Cross?

  The reason the Jews gave was that He was a blasphemer - who claimed to be equal with God.

  This reason held no weight with the Roman authorities so the Jews had to trump up charges which would be acceptable to the Roman rulers - - they failed miserably.

 BUT,  If that were the case, why then did Pilate authorise the execution?

  The sinful nature  of the soldiers manifested itself in their treatment of the innocent Saviour.

  What were “they” witnessing?

 

  [a]  Were they witnessing the execution of a wrongdoer?   

 No  although there were wrong doers on either side of Him.

  [b]  Was this A Political activist?  

  No   - here was the one who said “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

 [c]   Was this Man an opportunist?  

  No   - He said to the Temptor  “Get thee behind Me Satan.”

  [d]   A  charlatan?    

  No -  Was it not said of Him “never a man spake like this man.”

  I wonder what they were thinking as they sat and watched Him there.

 They were witnessing the Lamb of God offering Himself as The Sacrifice for sin.  

 For their sin, for my sin, for your sin.

 Here was the “Light of the World”  

 WHEN ?

 No wonder  darkness fell upon the land from the 6th to the 9th hour.             ie            [ 12 Noon until 3-00 pm ]

 I wonder what they thought when the darkness fell upon the land.

 I wonder what they thought when they heard Him cry  out  …..

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

 

  Or when He cried out “Eloi Lama sabachtani”  ...............  “My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

 Or when He cried out  in triumph “It is Finished.”

 Then there was    ……..

  The Centurion

 We do know what conclusion he Centurion arrived at, for He said “Surely this was the Son of God.”

 BUT  there were others gathered there around the Cross observing this horrific execution.

  There was a small group of women, one of whom was His mother, Mary.

 There was also His disciple John, into whose care JESUS commended His mother.

 Then there were the Jews who said “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.”

 And no doubt  Nicodemous and Joseph of Arimathea were there, for they asked for the body of Christ so that they could give Him a fitting burial.

 All these were present at the crucifixion of our Lord.

 BUT   ……..

 I wonder just what thoughts passed through the minds of those people who were gathered there at the foot of the Cross that Day.  

  I wonder just what those Roman soldiers were thinking  as  “Sitting down, they watched Him there.”

 Why did Jesus Die on the Cross?

 Jesus did not die on the Cross so that we could have a better life-style  or that we might lead a more fulfilled life etc. as some would have us believe.

 He died to atone for our sin  and until we come to the place where we realise our sin, and the consequences of our sin and repent of our sin then the Cross is, for us, of none effect.

 For the atonement to become effective in our lives, we need to realise and acknowledge that we are sinners.

  Then we must repent of our sin  and turn to Christ and accept His gift of Salvation.

 No acceptance and repentance  means no salvation.

  But if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

  Sitting down, “they” watched Him there.

 

 More personally, what is passing through your mind this morning as we contemplate the events that took place on that momentous Day 2000 years ago?

 

 _________________________________ 

 

 10/04/22

Christ’s Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

 Matt 21:1-11;    Mark  11:1-11;  Luke 19:29-48;  John 12:12-19

  The first “Palm Sunday” was a very significant day in God’s calendar of human events.  It was on that day that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jews long awaited Messiah, presented himself to His people.

 I don’t know whether you can picture the scene in your minds eye........... here comes Jesus of Nazareth,  a young man of around 33 years of age seated upon a young male donkey, riding along the road surrounded by His entourage of followers.  News of His coming had gone on ahead of Him and  along the roadside were gathered crowds of ordinary people eager to get a glimpse of this young rabbi about whom they had heard so much.

 No wonder !  Why only a short time earlier had he not raised Lazarus of Bethany from the dead?

  The last weeks of Jesus’ earthly life were spent in and around Judaea.  

 This was the time when we are told that Jesus set His face to go up to Jerusalem, in the full knowledge that He would be betrayed , fall into wicked hands and be crucified.  

 It was for this purpose that He had come into this world.

  During this period leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus stayed in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus  at  Bethany, a village about 2 miles from Jerusalem on the far side of the Mount of Olives, and on the road to Jericho. 

 Jesus had spent the previous day at the home of “Simon The Leper”  - perhaps one of those 10 lepers that Jesus had healed earlier in His ministry.

  On the day which we now call “Palm Sunday” Jesus set off towards Jerusalem taking the most southerly of the three possible routes to the Holy City. 

 As He approached Bethpage , a village near Bethany, on or near the Mount of Olives, on the east side of Jerusalem He sent two disciples into the  village to fetch the young colt on which he rode in triumph into the city.

 Jesus told the two disciples to take the young donkey and if anybody challenged them to say “the masters needs him.”

 There’s a lesson for us here!        Are you, am I, willing for the Lord to take and use whatever we have  or are there some things which we reserve for ourselves?

  So the two disciples did what the Lord asked of them............   And  ………   so did the keepers of the donkey !

 Why did Jesus seek to obtain a donkey on which to travel to Jerusalem on that occasion?

 The answer lies in Zech 9:9  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” 

 This scene has often been portrayed as depicting the poverty and humility of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  Whilst there is a measure of truth in this picture of Christ, that is not how the people who received Him so warmly would have thought of it. 

  To the Eastern mind, the symbol here would be that of peace, in constrast to that of war.    The horse was the symbol of war.  

  Conquering armies would enter a vanquished city, following their commanding General who would be astride a  mighty “charger” a war horse.

  In contrast to this mighty charger, the easterner recognizes the ass as the emblem of peace. 

  Here we see the Prince of Peace entering His Holy City Jerusalem.

  [NB. the story of General Allenby when he entered Jerusalem in 1917 at the head of the victorious British Army who had defeated the Turks in a remarkable way. As Allenby approached the Gate of Jerusalem in the victory parade, he dismounted from his "charger" and walked through the gate. When asked why he had done so Allenby replied that the honour of entering jerusalem riding upon a horse belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ at His "Second Coming!]

Contrary to the expectations and teaching of the Rabbis at that time, Messiah came not as the “Conquering Hero” but as the “Prince of Peace.”

 He came to make Peace with God possible for human beings.

  The Multitudes

 The size of the crowd that accompanied Jesus and His disciples into Jerusalem is not immediately apparent but the various accounts recorded in the Gospels would indicate that a “multitude” preceded Him and a “multitude” followed after Him.

  I bet it was some crowd.    It would be an excited crowd – it was not long after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.

 At some point on the journey, as they rounded a bend, Jerusalem came into view and Jesus stopped to exclaim ……..

 Luke 13:34-35   34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!  35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.       KJV

 On to Jerusalem

  Jerusalem at that time  was bursting at the seams.  The Jewish historian Josephus records that 256,500 lambs were sacrificed at that particular Passover and, on the basis of 10 people per lamb Josephus estimated that around 2.5 million people attended the festival !!!!!

 This in itself is most significant.               Why ?

 The position is this.  Since as Jesus approached Jerusalem, the crowds spontaneously burst into a chorus:-   Hosannah - Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.”  It signifies that temporarily though it might have been, the people acknowledged Him to be their Messiah.

 This was no “Hole in a corner” affair  - it  amounted to the  public recognition of Jesus as Messiah by the Jewish people.

 This truly was a “Triumphal Entry” into the Holy City.

  That’s what put the wind up the Jewish authorities.  No wonder they were alarmed.

 The Cleansing of the Temple

  Many events took place in Jerusalem during those few days leading up to Good Friday.  One of these was the second cleansing of the Temple.

 What should have been a “House of Prayer” had become a den of iniquity.  What should have been a place of consecration had become one of desecration.

  Matt 21:12 “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13: And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

  A Personal Question

 On a personal level,  may I ask you a question?     How do you treat your temple?  

 Paul says:-    1Cor:3:16:“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

 Here in Jerusalem a lucrative business had developed where people had to change their secular money into religious money to pay their temple dues. Or to buy a ready made sacrifice rather than to present a sacrifice which they had themseves brought to the House of God. [Easy religion has always been on offer by those who would seek to exploit the unwary.]

 So, throughout that final week leading up to the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ,  by day Jesus taught in the court of the Temple and spent the evenings at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

 During the teaching sessions at the Temple, Jesus told many parables including ……..

 The Parables of:-       “the two sons”  ;  “the wicked husbandman” ; “the rejected corner-stone”; “the wedding invitation”; “the tribute money” etc.

 The tragedy  for Israel was that less than a week later these same people were crying out “Crucify Him” and when Pilate asked the question “Shall I crucify your King?”   they replied “We have no king but Caesar.”

 How fickle is the human heart.   

 Little wonder that God said through Jeremiah:- “The heart of man is deceitful above  all things and desperately wicked , who can know it?””  [Jer 17:9]

  However when we look on this with the  hind-sight of history  we understand that it was:-   for this purpose Christ was revealed  - to destroy all the works of the evil one.”

 Jesus came to lay down His life as a ransom for sin   -  your sin and mine.

 During that last week  of Jesus’ earthly ministry, several significant prophetic events took place. 

  1. The King was anointed  - by the hand of Mary at the feast put on by Simon the Leper.
  1. The King was proclaimed by the people as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
  1. The King was crowned albeit with a crown of thorns and then nailed to the Cross.

 And we are here because He went all the Way to the Cross where He bore our sin in His body on the Tree.

  Now, all this was foretold  by the Old Testament Prophets.

 In Daniel chapter 9 the angel Gabriel told Daniel about these events which would take place.

 Daniel had been studying the book of Jeremiah and realised that the prophesied 70 years of the captivity had almost been fulfilled.

 With that in mind, Daniel had been waiting upon the Lord - interceding on behalf of his people.  

 It was then that the angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel and gave him this remarkable prophecy.

 Gabriel’s Prophecy

 Dan 9:20-27    20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. 23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.      KJV

 This is what has become known as Daniels Prophecy of Seventy Weeks. (ie. weeks of Years)

 Some of this was fulfilled at the time of Christ’s crucifixion the rest will be fulfilled during the period   leading up to the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ when Anti-Christ will be revealed.

 The “Commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem” (v 25)  refers to what is known as the   “Edict of Artaxerxes Longimanus”   (Neh 2:1) issued on 14th March BC 445

 

Edict          to Messiah         Present Age          Tribulation

  7wks           62 wks              indeterminate             1 wk              

 49yrs         434 yrs                   ???? yrs                  7yrs          

             483 yrs                                                        3.5  +  3.5     

                                         3.5yr = 42m = 1260d

                                   1 prophetic year =  360days

 NB.   God’s Prophetic Clock only ticks when Israel are “In possession” of their own Land.

 It was 49 years after the “Edict of Artaxeres Longimanus” that the rebuilding and dedication of Jerusalem and the Temple  took place under the leadership of Nehemiah. 

 It was exactly 434 prophetic years later that Jesus of Nazareth, their long awaited Messiah rode into Jerusalem to the acclamation of the crowds of ordinary people lining the roadside. 

 The ordinary people might have received Jesus in this manner, but their religious leaders certainly did not.  

   In fact they did their best to bring about the downfall of this young man from Galilee.

 Within a week they had succeeded in turning the feelings of the “mob” from support to antagonism so much so that when Pilate presented Jesus to them and said “Who shall I release - Jesus or Barabas?” 

 They cried “give us Barabas.” And when Pilate said to them “Shall I crucify your King” they cried out “We have no King but Caesar.”

 And so, in fulfilment of Dan 9:26 the spotless Son of God was nailed to a wooden cross and crucified for your sin and mine.  “Messiah shall be cut-off, but not for Himself....”

  Later, the people of the “prince that shall come” came and destroyed the city and the sanctuary.  

 This was fulfilled in AD 70  when the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple with all its records.

 For nigh on 2000 years, God’s prophetic clock has been stopped just like the stopwatch of a referee when injuries interupt play in a football match. He restarts his watch when play resumes......and so the match is played out for its allotted time.

 For the time that the Jews have been dispossessed of their land, God’s prophetic clock was stopped.  

  The question is......has the clock been re-started?

  This is a crucial question because, according to Gabriel’s prophecy in Dan 9 when the clock restarts there will only be a period of 7 years left during which time “the prince that shall come”  will make his appearance on the world scene. 

 The Bible refers to this person in several ways.   eg. The “man of Sin” “The son of perdition” (2 Thess 2:3)   The  “king of fierce countenance” (Dan 8:23);   The “Beast” (Rev 13)

 He is the one who we refer to as the “Antichrist.”

 This person will be  a great world leader, the ruler of a revived “Roman Empire” [ie. over a group of nations which cover the territory of the old Roman Empire - possibly the “United States of Europe”  which is even now in the process of formation.  

  He will be the one who will make peace between the Jews and the Arabs and who will be accepted by the Jews as their long awaited Messiah.  

  He will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and bring about the restoration of the sacrificial ritual.

  However, after 3.5 years of “peaceful” rule he will turn upon the Jews with a ferocity never seen before and only the direct intervention of God in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His saints will rescue the Jews from anihilation.  

  Sometime at the start of the 3.5 years Christ will have returned to take His Bride - the Church - an event which we call the Rapture.

 Conclusion:-

 We can see all these things beginning to take place heralding the return of Jesus Christ for His Church.

  Are you ready for Christ return for His Church?       The Rapture could take place at any time.    If Jesus came for His saints tonight,   would you be ready?

  If you cannot honestly say yes to that question then make sure that before you leave this place tonight you are ready for Him.

  How?    By simply acknowledging the fact that you are a sinner and accepting Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour and Lord.

 Then, when the Trumpet of the Lord sounds you can be sure that you will be among those caught up to meet  Him in the air and so shall you ever be with the Lord.

Even so come Lord Jesus, Come!

 

_________________________________________

03/04/22

 The Epistle of Paul to The Galatians

Galatians ch. 5

The Galatian Error:-    Judaisation of the Gospel

 Ref:-  The Council at Jerusalem  (Acts 15)

The Law

The Law of Moses comes in three parts:-

 The ….

( a ) Commandments  –  Expressing the righteous will of God      (Ex 20:1-26)

( b ) Judgments – Governing the Social life of Israel   (Ex 21:1 – 24:11)

( c ) Ordinances – Governing the religious life of the Nation       (Ex 24:12 – 31:18)

 

 The Commandments & The Ordinances  were    ……….  One complete and inseparable whole

 An Israelite who sinned was “blameless before the Law” if he brought the required offering

Under The Old Covenant:-     The “Law” was ......... God’s method of dealing with mankind   and   Extended from Moses until the Cross  

                                                                                                                                                          (Gal 3:13,14 & 23,24)

 The Attempt of “Legalistic” teachers  to mingle Law with Grace is described in (Acts 15:1-31 and  Gal 2:1-5) 

 The Christian Doctrine of The Law

 1   Under Grace God bestows the righteousness which He demanded under the Law

  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:                                               Rom 3:21-24 KJV

  2    The Law is, in itself, Holy, Just, Good and Spiritual       ( Rom  7:12-14 )

  3    The Whole World is Guilty under the Law ( Rom 3:19; 2 Cor 3:7-9; Gal 3:10 ) 

  4    Christ has Redeemed us from both the Curse  & the Dominion of the Law  ( Gal 3:13;  4:5-7 )

 5    The Law neither Justifies the a Sinner nor  Sanctifies a Believer      ( Gal 2:16;  3:2-3, 11,12 )

  6    The Believer is both Dead to the Law and  Redeemed from it   ( Rom 6:14; 7:4; Gal 2:19;  4:4-7 )

 7    The Believer is under the “New Law of Christ”  ( Gal 6:2;  2 John 5 )

 The Commandments are used in the distinctly Christian Scriptures as “Instruction in Righteousness”

 In the light of this !!!!!      Stand Fast !!!!

 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Gal 5:1 KJV

 Galatians 5:2-6   2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.   KJV

 What Has Happened to You ?       You ran well,  who has hindered you?

 Gal 5:7-8    7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

We are:- Called to Liberty .....    NOT Licence !

 13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.Gal 5:13 KJV

 The Fulfilment of The Law

 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.     Gal 5:14  KJV

    Matt 22:35-40       35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 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. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.    KJV

 Our Obligation     Gal 5:16-18

 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.    KJV

 Sanctification is Through The Spirit  NOT Through The Law

  The Lusts of The Flesh    Gal 5:19-21 

 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  KJV

 The Spirit Gives Victory over Sin

 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5;16)

 The Fruit of The Spirit               Gal 5:22-23

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.     KJV 

1    Love, Joy, Peace  - describe the inward state

2    Patience, Gentleness, Goodness – are outward manifestations

3    Faith, Meekness, Temperance  –  describe our Character expressed toward God

 Against Such  there is no Law !       (Gal 5:23)

 However  ………             This Fruit Cannot Produced by Self Effort

Therefore …….     25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another .   Gal 5:25,26 KJV

 Next time  ………

 The Outworking of the New Life in Christ Jesus

 __________________________

 

 27/03/22

The Epistle of Paul to The Galatians

(Galatians ch.4)

        The  Purpose of the Law

 What is the Purpose of The Law?  

 Lets look at what Paul wrote to the believers in Rome 

 The Purpose of the Law

  1. The Law concludes “all under sin”       (Rom 3:19-20)

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

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

  1. The Law was given because of  Transgression      (Rom 5:12-14) 

12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13: For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

 14: Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

  1. The Law was an  “Interim”  Method of dealing with Mankind

  (Gal 3:19).   “19: Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” 

  1. The Law was to the Jew what the “Pedagogue” was  to the Greek  

 (Gal 3:24).    24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

  1. Since Christ has come, the believer is no longer under the “pedagogue”

    (Gal 3:25).    25: But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

 We are:-     No longer servants but sons!

Gal 3:26,27.  26: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.   

27: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.   

 What does the Keeping The Law Entail ? 

 Jews are responsible for fulfilling all the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah,  while non-Jews (ie. Gentiles) are only obligated to obey the seven commandments given to Noah.

 That is God will punish Jews for doing things that would not be a sin for non-Jews. 

According to Jewish tradition, God gave the Jewish people 613 Mitzvot (Commandments). 

All 613 of those mitzvot are equally sacred, equally binding and equally the word of God. All of these mitzvot are treated as equally important, because human beings, with our limited understanding of the universe, have no way of knowing which mitzvot are more important in the eyes of the Creator. 

 “Aseret ha-D'varim”

 In the Torah and Rabbinical  texts  these  are never referred to as the Ten Commandments. 

 They are described as the:- 

 “Ten Sayings;”     “Ten Statements;”   “Ten Declarations;” “Ten Words;”       or even the     “Ten Things.” 

 But  not  as  the  “ Ten Commandments.”

        A  Summary of   ..…        The Ten Commandments

  1. Belief in God 

 2. Prohibition of Improper Worship  

 3. Prohibition of Oaths 

 4. Observance of Sacred Times 

 5. Respect for Parents and Teachers 

 6. Prohibition of Physically Harming a Person 

 7. Prohibition of Sexual Immorality 

 8. Prohibition of Theft 

 9. Prohibition of Harming a Person through  Speech 

10. Prohibition of Coveting 

 

 But   what about the Gentiles ?

 According to traditional Judaism, God gave Noah and his family seven commandments to observe when he saved them from the flood. 

 These Noahic laws, found in Genesis  Ch. 9  are fairly simple and straight forward, and most of them are recognised by most of the world as sound moral principles.  

 The Seven Laws of Noah

  1.   to establish courts of justice;   

 2.   not to commit blasphemy; 

 3.   not to commit idolatry 

 4.   not to commit incest and adultery 

 5.   not to commit bloodshed 

 6.   not to commit robbery

 7.   not to eat flesh cut from a living animal

 

 Returning to Galatians and the question of Grace verses Law

 

The Contrast between Grace and Law

 

Grace Law 

Based on faith  Gal 2:16 Based on works Gal 2:16

 

Justifies sinful men 2:16,17                           Incapable of bringing justification 2:16; 3:11

Begins and ends with Christ  2:20 Makes Christ nothing  5:2

The way of the Spirit     3:2,3,14 The way of the Flesh  3:3 

 

The Contrast between Grace and Law 

 

               Grace                                                                          Law 

Is a “blessing”   3:14                                        Is a curse        3:13

Is God’s desired end  3:23-25                         Intended as a means to an end      3:23-25

A relationship with Christ    3:27                       Estrangement from Christ       5:4

Makes us a child of God   4:6,7                         Makes us slaves        4:7

Brings liberty         5:1                                       Results in bondage    5:1

Depends on  the Holy Spirit   5:16-18               Depends on human effort   5:19-21

Is motivated by love         5:13,14                      Is motivated by pride     6:3,13.14

Centres on the Cross of Christ    6:12-14           Centres on circumcision  5:11; 6:12-15

 Never lose sight of this fact ……….

Eph 2:8,9      8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.   NKJV

Nought have I gotten but what I received

Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed

Boasting excluded, Pride I abase

I'm only a sinner, saved by Grace.

Only a sinner,  saved by Grace

Only a sinner,  saved by Grace

This is my story to God be the Glory

I’m only a sinner,  saved by Grace!

______________________________________

 

20/03/22

The Epistle of Paul to The Galatians

(Gal 3:1  - 4:7)

 The Galatian Error          -  Judaization of the Gospel

   The Purpose of The Law          (Gal 3:1  - 4:7)

 Gal 3:1-3       “O Foolish Galatians who hath bewitched …..”

 If the Law had been sufficient to meet man’s need then Christ’s death was pointless.

To return to the Law means that Christ died in vain.

 Paul goes to great lengths to point out that  …………

 ……   Faith came before the Law !  cf.   Rom 4:3-5

 Paul points out that Faith preceeded the Law by more that 400 years  cf. Abraham Gen 15:6

 Abraham believed God   ie.  took God at Word   and all those who take God at His Word are “children of Abraham”  not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

 Summary of The Law

 The Law was given in three parts:-

1.  The Commandments   Ex 20:1-26

2.  The Judgments Ex 21:1-23:33

3.  The Ordinances Ex 24:1 – 31:18

        The Commandments  -  expressed the Righteous Will of God.          [Ex 20:1-26]

        The Judgments   -  governed the social life of Israel.              [Ex 21:1 – 23:33]

        The Ordinances  -  governed the Religious life of Israel.            [Ex 24:1- 31:18]

 The Commandments and the Ordinances are one complete, inseparable whole. Break one and you become guilty.

However, if an Israelite brought the required offering then he was regarded as “blameless before the Law.”

The period of the Law extended from the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai until the death of Christ on Calvary.

 It was the attempt of the legalistic teachers (Acts 15:1-31; Gal 2:1-5) to mix Law with Grace which brought to light the true relationship of the believer to the Law.

 Well then, just what did Paul teach regarding the Law?

     The Christian Doctrine of The Law

    1.  The Law stands in contrast to Grace [John 1:17]

Under Grace, God freely bestows the Righteousness which, under the Law He demanded!

Ex 19:5-6    Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.                                                          KJV

 John 1:17  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. "                             KJV

 It is not that the Law is bad !          On the contrary …..

 2.  The Law itself is Holy, Just, Good and Spiritual   [Rom 7:12-14]

 Rom 7:12-14    12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.  13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.       KJV

However,

3.  The Law is Condemnatory    [Rom 3:19,20]

Rom 3:19-20     19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.          KJV

BUT 

 4.  Christ Redeemed us from both the Curse and Dominion of the Law

Gal 3:13   Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:       KJV

 5.  The Law neither Justifies the Sinner nor Sanctifies the Believer.   

 Gal 3:11-12  11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.       KJV

 6.  The Believer is not under the Law but under Grace

 Rom 6:14-15  14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.        KJV

 7.  Under Grace, Obedience to God’s Will comes from within

 The desire to obey God’s Law comes from within us and is not imposed upon us from outside.

     In Gal 3:19 Paul asks a rhetorical question – “What is the purpose of the Law?” and then goes on to give the answer.

 The Purpose of The Law

 1.  The Law Concludes “All Under Sin” 

Rom 3:19-23  19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;               KJV

   2. The Law Was Given Because of Transgression  

Rom 5:12-14  12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.           KJV

 3.  The Law was God’s “Interim” Method of Dealing with Mankind

 Gal 3:19    Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.          KJV

 4. The Law Forced Man into “The Way of Faith”

Gal 3:23  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.        KJV

 5.  The Law was to The Jew what the “Pedagogue” was to the Greek

 Gal 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.      KJV

 6.  Since Christ came we are no longer under the Pedagogue

 Gal 3:25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster           KJV

Now ..... 

We are ……       No Longer servants BUT     Sons  !

 Gal 3:26-27    26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 28 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.          KJV

 And we have …..

 The Witness of The Spirit

 Rom 8:16-17  16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:   17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him,

……   Faith came before the Law !  cf.   Rom 4:3-5

 Paul points out that Faith preceeded the Law by more that 400 years  cf. Abraham Gen 15:6

 Abraham believed God   ie.  took God at Word   and all those who take God at His Word are “children of Abraham”  not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

 Summary of The Law

 The Law was given in three parts:-

1.  The Commandments   Ex 20:1-26

2.  The Judgments Ex 21:1-23:33

3.  The Ordinances Ex 24:1 – 31:18

        The Commandments  -  expressed the Righteous Will of God.          [Ex 20:1-26]

        The Judgments   -  governed the social life of Israel.              [Ex 21:1 – 23:33]

        The Ordinances  -  governed the Religious life of Israel.            [Ex 24:1- 31:18]

 The Commandments and the Ordinances are one complete, inseparable whole. Break one and you become guilty.

However, if an Israelite brought the required offering then he was regarded as “blameless before the Law.”

The period of the Law extended from the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai until the death of Christ on Calvary.

 It was the attempt of the legalistic teachers (Acts 15:1-31; Gal 2:1-5) to mix Law with Grace which brought to light the true relationship of the believer to the Law.

 Well then, just what did Paul teach regarding the Law?

     The Christian Doctrine of The Law

    1.  The Law stands in contrast to Grace [John 1:17]

Under Grace, God freely bestows the Righteousness which, under the Law He demanded!

Ex 19:5-6    Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.                                                          KJV

 John 1:17  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. "                             KJV

 It is not that the Law is bad !          On the contrary …..

 2.  The Law itself is Holy, Just, Good and Spiritual   [Rom 7:12-14]

 Rom 7:12-14    12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.  13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.       KJV

However,

3.  The Law is Condemnatory    [Rom 3:19,20]

Rom 3:19-20     19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.          KJV

BUT 

 4.  Christ Redeemed us from both the Curse and Dominion of the Law

Gal 3:13   Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:       KJV

 5.  The Law neither Justifies the Sinner nor Sanctifies the Believer.   

 Gal 3:11-12  11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.       KJV

 6.  The Believer is not under the Law but under Grace

 Rom 6:14-15  14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.        KJV

 7.  Under Grace, Obedience to God’s Will comes from within

 The desire to obey God’s Law comes from within us and is not imposed upon us from outside.

    In Gal 3:19 Paul asks a rhetorical question – “What is the purpose of the Law?” and then goes on to give the answer.

 The Purpose of The Law

 1.  The Law Concludes “All Under Sin” 

Rom 3:19-23  19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;               KJV

 2. The Law Was Given Because of Transgression  

Rom 5:12-14  12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.        KJV

 3.  The Law was God’s “Interim” Method of Dealing with Mankind

 Gal 3:19    Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.          KJV

 4. The Law Forced Man into “The Way of Faith”

Gal 3:23  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.      KJV

 5.  The Law was to The Jew what the “Pedagogue” was to the Greek

 Gal 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.      KJV

 6.  Since Christ came we are no longer under the Pedagogue

 Gal 3:25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster      KJV

                  We are ……       No Longer servants BUT     Sons  !

 Gal 3:26-27    26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 28 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.       KJV

 And we have …..

 The Witness of The Spirit

 Rom 8:16-17  16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.          KJV

                        AND ….

            We are Heirs of The Father  ………   Joint Heirs with The Son    !

       We have……

 Freedom From Condemnation 

 Rom 8:1-4  1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.               KJV

 As Charles Wesley puts it ……….

 No condemnation now I dread

Jesus and all in Him is mine

Alive in Him my living Head

And clothed in Righteousness Divine

Bold I approach the Eternal Throne

And Claim the Crown 

Through Christ my own.

 __________________________________________

13/03/22

The Epistle of Paul to The Galatians

 Galatians is one of Paul’s “Foundational Epistles” the others being:-  Romans, and 1 & 2 Corinthians.

 Galatia is the region in the Nort East of Asia Minor – modern Turkey

 The “Church” in that Region consisted largely of Gentiles who had been saved during and since Paul’s first missionary journey.

 Although only a short time had elapsed since the establishment of this group of churches ~ 5 or 6 years at most 10, already error had crept in -  “The Galatian Error”.

  “The Galatian Error”.

 The “Gospel” preached by Paul was:-   “Salvation by Grace, through Faith and that not of yourselves it is the “Gift of God”  not of work lest anyone should boast.”

 Paul warned the Galatians that if any one preached any other “gospel” let them be accursed.

 6: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.     Gal 1:6,7

 1.    Paul’s Testimony         Paul then shared his testimony …..

 Paul was always ready to share his testimony eg.   With the Jews on his fourth visit (Acts 21:23,35) Then with Felix (Some more convenient time) Then with Agrippa  (Acts 26: 7-132)  - almost persuaded.

 Never underestimate the power of your testimony.

Paul visited Jerusalem on at least four occasions:_

 Paul’s First Visit to Jerusalem      (Gal 1:16-20; Acts 9:26-30)

 16 When all this happened to me, I did not rush out to consult with anyone else;  nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. No, I went away into Arabia and later returned to the city of Damascus.  It was not until three years later that I finally went to Jerusalem for a visit with Peter and stayed there with him for fifteen days.  And the only other apostle I met at that time was James, our Lord's brother.    (Gal 1:16-20 NLT)

NB that the first thing Paul did after his conversion was to spend time alone with the Lord.

 Three years elapsed before Paul visited Jerusalem CF Acts 9 & Gal 1:16-20

 26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They thought he was only pretending to be a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus. Barnabas also told them what the Lord had said to Saul and how he boldly preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus.   Acts 9:26-30

Paul was accepted by the Apostles as one of themselves.

 28 Then the apostles accepted Saul, and after that he was constantly with them in Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they plotted to murder him. 30 When the believers heard about it, however, they took him to Caesarea and sent him on to his hometown of Tarsus.       (Acts 9:26-30 NLT)

 Paul’s Second Visit to Jerusalem                    Acts 11:29-30

 The second occasion was to take charitable gifts from the believers in Syrian Antioch to the saints in Jerusalem.    He was accompanied on this occasion by Barnabas (Acts 11:29)

29 So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could. 3 This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.       Acts 11:29-30 NLT

 Paul’s Third visit to Jerusalem                   (Acts 15:1-30;  Gal 2:2-10)

His third visit was in order to obtain the position of the Apostles with regard to the necessity of keeping the Mosaic Law as a requirement for Salvation.

 1. While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the Christians : "Unless you keep the ancient Jewish custom of circumcision taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 Paul and Barnabas, disagreeing with them, argued forcefully and at length. 

Finally, Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.                   (Acts 15:1-2 NLT)

Paul’s Fourth visit to Jerusalem        (Acts 21:17 – 23:35)

 The fourth visit was to keep a vow that Paul had made.            This followed Paul’s third Missionary journey and resulted in his arrest and imprisonment 

2.    Paul’s Authority

 All of this serves to demonstrate the source of Paul’s authority.        Paul’s appointment was not of men but of God.

 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)        Gal 1:1

 Paul’s Ministry Recognised by the Apostles              (Gal 2:7-10 ) 

7 They (apostles) saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the Good News to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. 8 For the same God who worked through Peter for the benefit of the Jews worked through me for the benefit of the Gentiles.  Gal 2:7 

Paul uses this authority to deal with the question of legalism in the church.

 9 In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. 10 The only thing they suggested was that we remember to help the poor, and I have certainly been eager to do that.   (Gal 2:7-10  NLT)

Paul’s Confrontation of Peter   (Gal 2:10-16)

 Paul even confronted Peter with regard to Jewish observance -  even accusing Peter of hypocrisy --- do as I say not as I do !

11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him publicly, speaking strongly against what he was doing, for it was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who don't bother with circumcision. But afterward, when some Jewish friends of James came, Peter wouldn't eat with the Gentiles anymore because he was afraid of what these legalists would say. 13 Then the other Jewish Christians followed Peter's hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was influenced to join them in their hypocrisy. 14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the Good News, I said to Peter in front of all the others, "Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you trying to make these Gentiles obey the Jewish laws you abandoned?  15 You and I are Jews by birth, not 'sinners' like the Gentiles. 16 And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ — and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.         (Gal 2:14-16 NLT

 There is of course a purpose in the Law as Paul explains in Galatians ch 3.

 3.   Paul’s Justification

 17 But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! 18 Rather, I make myself guilty if I rebuild the old system I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God's approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God.          Gal 2:17-19 NLT

Justification by Faith

 Paul’s great theme throughout his ministry was “Justification by Faith.”  cf. Rom 5:1

 Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight (ie.Justified) by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.   Rom 5:1-2  NLT

To insist on observance of the Law as being essential to salvation is to render Christ’s death as being meaningless. If we could be saved by observing the Jewish Laws – then there was no need for Christ to have died.

 Ultimately, reversion to the Law renders Christ’s death on the Cross as being meaningless.

 The Law Accuses    -   The Cross Excuses

 No one will ever be saved by keeping the Law. 

 16 And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ — and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.          (Gal 2:16 NLT)

 The Reason Why Jesus Came and Died        1 Tim 1:15-16

 15 This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — and I was the worst of them all. 16 But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.       (1 Tim 1:15-16 NLT)

 The Outliving of the Inliving Christ

 The Christian Life is the outliving of the indwelling Life of Christ

 So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   (Gal 2:19-21 NLT)

 Next Time:-                            The Purpose of The Law

_____________________________

 

06/03/22

The Epistle of Paul to The Galatians

 Galatians is one of Paul’s “Foundational Epistles” the others being:-  Romans, and 1 & 2 Corinthians.

 Galatia is the region in the Nort East of Asia Minor – modern Turkey

 The “Church” in that Region consisted largely of Gentiles who had been saved during and since Paul’s first missionary journey.

 Although only a short time had elapsed since the establishment of this group of churches ~ 5 or 6 years at most 10, already error had crept in    -    “The Galatian Error”.

 The Galatian Error

 The “Judaisers” were teaching that:- 

  1. Justification is obtained by observance of the Law, mixed with faith.
  2. Believers are “perfected” by keeping the Law.

 Paul said that this was “Another Gospel which is not a Gospel.”

 This teaching put believers back under the condemnation of the Law.

 The “Gospel” preached by Paul was:-   “Salvation by Grace, through Faith and that not of yourselves it is the “Gift of God”  not of work lest anyone should boast.”

 Paul warned the Galatians that if any one preached any other “gospel” let them be accursed.

 6: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8: But though we, or angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9: As we said before, so say I now again, If an man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.                                                Gal 1:6,7,8,9

 The Gospel of Christ

 The Gospel of Christ is the Power of God unto Salvation!

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.     Rom 18:16,17

 Salvation is ….   By Grace, through faith, not of works.

 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.     Eph 2:8,9

 Paul’s Apostolic Authority

 Was given to him directly by the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Gal 1:1     Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

 Paul’s Apostolic Greeting

 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.    Gal 1:3-5

 Paul’s Testimony

  1. Prior to his Conversion………….He….

 a   Was Zealous in the Jewish religion

b.  Persecuted the followers of Jesus Christ

c.  Was Blameless -according to the Law.

    2.   After his Conversion. ……….

 Paul began to preach the Gospel which he had previously sought to stamp out.

 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.          Gal 1:23,24

 The Source of Paul’s Message

 Was by direct revelation from God.

 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Gal 1:11,12

 The Gospel (Good News) that Paul Preached

 This is what Paul said to the Philippian Goaler ….

 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.       Acts 16:30,31

 And to the believers in Rome, Paul wrote ……..

 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.       Rom 10:9,10

 The Unchanging Christ

 The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews states ……

 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.  Heb 13:8,9

 In the words of the old Hymn ……..

 Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same;

All may change but Jesus never,

Glory to His Name!

 Glory to His Name!

Glory to His Name!

All may change BUT Jesus NEVER !

Glory to His Name!

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27/02/22

 Sermon by David Price

Naaman - The Leper”

 Here in 2 Kings 5 we have the amazing story of Naaman, his illness and his healing.

It is an Old Testament gem showing something of the plans and purposes of God for those “outside the fold.” It shows how the grace of God can reach absolutely everywhere.

 1.   The Sovereignty of God

 We see this in the Old Testament;  In the New Testament;  In Israel; and  In the church.

 We see it especially in the books of Esther and Job, and in the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis.

 It is also seen in the Psalms.

 2.   The Condition of The General

 He was …………….    “Rich” but “Poor” ; “Important but “ill” :  “Strong”  but. “Weak”

 3.   The Testimony of The Servant

 She was a “Captive” and The “Least in the Household”   But was convinced that …….. Her God rules the World!

And she is able to testify of the power of God.

 4.   The Decision of Naaman

 Naaman said:-  “I wont do it.  It’s too simple!

It was a good job that he had some wise servants.

 5.   The Commentary by the Lord Jesus Christ.      

 (Luke 4).   God honours the faith of His people.

 6.     Lessons for Today

 Our God is God of the whole earth. Psalm 24:1

God’s blessing can be seen inside and outside Israel.

There are acts of faith which can be seen 2,800 years after the event!

 

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20/02/22

Psalm 23

“Lord is My Shepherd”

  The Bible is full of illustrations with regards to “Shepherds” and “Sheep.”

 Indeed the land of Israel was primarily agricultural with “sheep” and “shepherds” in abundance.

  The earliest reference to occurs in Genesis 4:4 in which Abel is described as a “keeper of sheep.”

 The last reference is 1 Peter 5:4 “When the Chief Shepherd shall appear ….”    Shall receive a Crown of Glory.”

  Psalm 23 -  The psalm of the Shepherd” is possibly the best known of all the psalms but other “Gems” are:-

  Isaiah 40:11 “He shall lead His flock like a shepherd ….”

  Isaiah 53:6,7   “All we   Like sheep have gone astray ….”

  In the New Testament we read of  “Shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night”. Luke 2:8

 Jesus told the parable of the “Lost Sheep.”  Luke 15:4-6

 And in John 10 Jesus said:-    “I am the Good Shepherd…”

  Then there is that wonderful benediction in Hebrews 13:20,21     Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

 Returning to the Psalms:-

 Psalms 22,  23, &  24.  Provide a “trilogy” of illustrations portraying the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

 We have in …….

 Psalm 22   “The Good Shepherd” …..   dying for His sheep.

  Psalm 23   “The Good Shepherd”  …..   living for His sheep

  Psalm 24.  “The Good Shepherd”.  …..  coming for His sheep.

 In the Old Testament we read of Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Jacob’s children, Moses and David “tending”  -  looking after sheep.

 The Eastern Shepherd

  The “Eastern Shepherd” was different from the “Western Shepherd.”

  The “Eastern Shepherd” lead his sheep whereas the “Western Shepherd” drives them !

  The Shepherd’s Lot

The Shepherd’s Lot was. -  A Humble One

 The task of the Shepherd in the East was generally the assigned to the youngest son of the family. If there was only one son the task fell to a daughter off the household. Cf. Rachel in Genesis 20:9   Also, Jethro”s daughters looked after the sheep. Exodus 2:6

 Moses spent 40 years tending Jethro’s sheep in preparation for “tending” to the needs of the children of Israel.

 The word “Pastor” means “Shepherd.”

 With this in mind we can understand how David could say .. “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

 The Shepherd’s Lot was. -  A Lonely One

 A Shepherd’s lot was not only a “Humble” one, it was a “Lonely” one.

  The Lord Jesus knew something of this, for when He was arrested his disciples ……”forsook Him and fled.”  

 Isaiah , referring to the Lord Jesus says:-       He is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”       He “trod the wine press alone.”

  With this then in mind we can under stand how David - the shepherd king - could say:-  “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

  The Shepherd

 Who then is this Shepherd that the psalmist is referring to?

 He is:- 

  1. Lord   -   Yahweh. -   “I AM”   …….               The  1st person of the Holy Trinity.
  2. Jesus        -   Yeshua  :-   Saviour.    ……..          The 2nd person of the Holy Trinity
  3. Holy Spirit. - Ruacḥ ha-qodesh :- Comforter ….  The 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity. 

 Yahweh. -  “I AM”.  NB when Moses asked God “Who shall I say has sent me?’   

 God said “Tell them  “I Am”. Has sent you. … The Eternal God” 

 The Lord Jesus is The Saviour - Our Saviour

  The Holy Spirit is “The “Comforter” who leads us into all truth.”

  Why Did He Become The Good Shepherd ?

 Because “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way ….. and the Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all."

  Jesus said.  …. “My sheep hear My voice..

 What Did He Do?          He lay down His life for the sheep. And gives us the hope (certainty) of eternal life.

  He is the Door of the sheepfold.

   The eastern shepherd lay down across the entrance to the fold. He was the door!

                   He leads;  He guides; He protects.

 Jesus gave that beautiful illustration of the shepherd going out to fing the sheep that was lost. 

 Back to Psalm 23

 The shepherd leads the sheep beside the still waters. - sheep can’t drink from a running stream so the shepherd would provide a pool of “still” water.

 "He leads us in the “Paths of Righteousness” for His Names sake"

 NB “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” was an actual location in the land.  However, the shepherd was there present to lead, guide and protect the sheep from harm.

 The Shepherd's Gear 

 The shepherd had "gear" to protect and care for the sheep.

The “Rod”. …. More like a club - formidable weapon to protect  the sheep from harm.

 The “Staff” ie the shepherd’s “Crook” used to guide and direct and deliver any sheep which became “trapped.”

 The "Sling". As we know from David’s encounter with Goliath the shepherd also had a “sling”. The equivalent of our “catapult” - used to keep the enemy and wild animals at bay. It was also used to “round up the sheep” rather like a sheep dog would do.

  The "Scrip" The shepherd also carried a “Scrip” a bag in which he placed his supplies and personal belongings.

 So there is a wealth of information in Psalm 23 which illustrates hoe the shepherd takes care of his sheep.

  Our Shepherd - that “Great Shepherd of the sheep”. Holds us in the hollow of His hand.

  He says of us - “My sheep hear My Voice.” My sheep know Me…. And. “My sheep follow Me.”

 And. ………

 The Lord is My Shepherd.                 Is He your Shepherd?

 If not. ……  allow Him to become your shepherd right now.

 

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13/02/22

Time & Eternity

 1.   God’s People  -  The Jews.       A Preview of the course of Jewish history, as given to Moses by God when the Israelites were on the borders of the Promised Land.     Deut 28

 2. The Course of Gentile History

 A preview of future events among the Gentile nations, written in advance.           Dan 2

 3. Going Home  - The Rapture

 The next great event on God’s program when the Church ie. all true believers will be taken out of the world.                 1 Thess 4

 4. The Judgment Seat of Christ

 The judgment of living and dead believers, immediately following the Rapture.                2 Cor 5

 5. The Great Tribulation    (The Time of Jacob's Trouble)

 The Great Tribulation period that will come upon the earth after the Rapture of The Church.            Mark 13; Rev 6 - 13

 Now we come to .............

6. The King of kings

 Christ’s Millennial reign on the earth.     Rev 19

 King of kings

  Rev 19:16  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS , AND LORD OF LORDS.  KJV

  The Kingdom

  The term “Kingdom”   -  much misunderstood, mis-used.        The “Kingdom” is NOT to be confused with The “Church”

 The O.T. has much to say about a “King” but comparatively little about a “Saviour”

 The N.T. has much to say about a Saviour but little about a King except in the book of Revelation.

  The O.T. has much to say about a kingdom but nothing about the Church.

 The kingdom is as impossible without The King as the Church, the Body of Christ, is incomplete without Him.

  How then can we reconcile Christ being both Saviour and King, if the Kingdom and the Church are not the same thing?

    I.    The Plan and Place of The Kingdom

 Jesus told His disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”   The earth today is in a state of rebellion against the rule of God’s universal Kingdom.

 (a)   The Kingdom Predicted

 King David was not allowed to build the Temple of the Lord but prepared the way for Solomon to do so.   However, God told David that his house – the “House of David”  would endure forever.    This was to be fulfilled in Christ – David “Greater Son.”   After David, 20 of his descendents ruled over Judah for 470 years from Jerusalem.

 Gabriel told Mary that the Son she would bear would be called the “Son of The Highest” and that the Lord God would give unto Him the Throne of His Father David! Gabriel further told her … “and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.”  Luke 1:32,33.

  (b)   The Kingdom Presented

 There are two genealogies of Jesus given, one by Matthew, the other by Luke. These differ in respect that Matthew gives that of Joseph whereas Luke gives that of Mary.

 Although Joseph was in direct line of David through Solomon, no claim to the throne of David could be established through that line. since Joseph was not Jesus’ father 

 However, Jesus was a direct descendent of David through Mary who was a descendent of Nathan, Solomon’s brother.

 Jesus was given and accepted the royal accolade by His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

 Likewise, He assented to Pilate’s question “Are you a king?” John 18:37

 Jesus promised to remember the penitent thief when He came into His kingdom Luke 23:42,43.

  (c)    The Kingdom Rejected

 His rejected was foretold in the O.T.  ……   [ Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Dan 9:25,26]

 The story of rejection runs throughout the Gospels, beginning in Galilee and ending in Jerusalem.

 Finally, the mob cried “Away with Him!”    Pilate asked “Shall I crucify your king?”  the chief priests replied  “We have no king but Caesar!”

 Pilate confirmed Christ’s Kingship by writing the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

 John 19:19-20  19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.        KJV

 The King’s Return

 At His first Coming His arrival was announced to just a few people.  To Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the Wise men.

 At His Second Coming, 1st there will be the Rapture then the Revelation.

It will be a personal return    Zech 14:4   “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.”  

 It was from the Mount of Olives that Jesus ascended into heaven (Luke 24:50,51) and the angels declared that He would come again in like manner (Acts 1:9-11)

  His return will be visible  (Matt 24:30)  Rev 1:7 Rev 1:7 “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” KJV

 Rev 20:4-5  He will reign on earth for 1000 years.

 He will reign from Jerusalem also know as Zion and we will reign with Him.

 1 Cor 6:2-3  2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?                            KJV

 2 Tim 2:11-13  11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him : if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.            KJV

 Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.                             KJV

 The Nature of The Kingdom

 There will be peace on earth.    Christ will make wars to cease     Psalm 46:9-10   9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.                         KJV

 There will be perfect justice       Isa 11:4-5  4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. KJV

 The whole world will know Him      Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.        KJV

 Hab 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.                    KJV

 The Restoration of earthly blessing

 Isa 2:3,4;  Isa 35:1,2;    Isa 55:12,13;   Ezek 34:26,27;   Joel 2:21-25  Isa 11:6-9;  Isa 65:25  Isa 40:4;   Zech 14:8-10;   Isa 30:26;   Zeph 3:9;   

 Isa 2:3-4   3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.                       KJV

Isa 11:6-9   6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy                                   KJV

Isa 30:26  Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.          KJV

 Isa 35:1-2  1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.         KJV

 Isa 55:12-13   12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.     KJV

 Isa 65:25  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.                         KJV

 Ezek 34:25-27    25 And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.                               KJV

 Zech 14:8-9   8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.                       KJV

 Joel 3:18  18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.      KJV

 Zeph 3:9   9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.   KJV

 The Kingdom Completed

 1 Cor 15:22-26      22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.                                       KJV

 

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06/02/22 

Of Time & Eternity

   The Great Tribulation. 

   1.   The Fact of The Tribulation

   Jesus Spoke of it     ……..   [  Matthew 24;  Mark 13;  Luke 21 ]

 Eg. Mark 13:19-20      19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.  20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.                                                                      NKJV

   The Old Testament Prophets Spoke of it   ……….     [ Jer 30;  Ezek 20:33-38; Ezek 22:19-22;  Dan 12:1; Joel 2:2 ]

   John Describes it in The Revelation   …………. [ Rev 6:1    -    Rev 19:21 ]

   Via       “The Breaking of The Seals”;   “The pouring out of The Vials”;  and   “The Sounding of The Trumpets”.

 It will occur between The Rapture and The Revelation

 The interval between the Rapture and the Revelation will be 7 years. 

 It will be the fulfilment of the 70 week Prophecy given in Daniel Ch. 9.

 To be precise, the Tribulation will occupy the latter half of that period.

Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks, refers to a period of 70 “weeks” of years.

 NB. The Hebrew which is translated as “week”  means “sevens”

 The meaning is 70 sevens. The sevens being sevens of years ie 490 years.

 Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy  [ Dan 9 ]

 This period began in BC 445 with the edict of the Persian Emperor Artaxeres Longimanus who gave permission for the Jewish exiles to return to  and restore Jerusalem.

 Consider verse 2

 Seven weeks         ie   7 x 7  =  49 years   ……….   Rebuilding of Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah

 Sixty two weeks     ie   62 x 7  =  434 years ………    Messiah “Cut off”       

 Daniel prophesied that after 69 weeks (ie. 483 years) of those 70 weeks, Messiah would be revealed and “cut off” ie killed.

 The city of Jerusalem would be destroyed  along with its Temple.

 This was incredibly fulfilled when Messiah, Jesus,  presented Himself to the nation on what we call Palm Sunday exactly 483 years to the day after Artaxeres issued the decree. Later that week Messiah was crucified.

 Within a generation (40 years) the Temple was destroyed by the Roman General Titus.

 At that point God, as it were, “stopped” the prophetic clock and will restart it at the commencement of the 70th week which will be the beginning of the last 7 year period.

 Consider Verse 27.                 One week   ( ie. the 70th  week )

 God did not reveal to Daniel all that would happen in the 70th week but told Daniel to seal up the book until the time of the end. 

(Dan 12:4,8,9.)

 The awesome detail of  events during the 70th week were revealed to John in The Revelation given to him on the isle of Patmos.  

(Rev 6 to 19.)     Rev 6 to 11 cover the first half of the week (3.5 yrs) and Rev 12 to 19 cover the latter half.

 The Rise of Antichrist

 During this period, a political figure will arise on the world scene, who will apparently solve the Israel – Arab problem.

 He will enable the Jews to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem and establish temple worship. He will be hailed by the Jews as their Messiah.

For the first half of the 70th week he will be accepted but halfway through the week will seek to make the Jews worship his image which he will cause to be set up in the temple.  The Jews will rebel and he will turn on the persecution.

During the latter half of the week tow witnesses will arise and be murdered by antichrist but will rise from the dead after 3.5 days and ascend into heaven.144,000 Jews will then engage in missionary work proclaiming that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. Those who embrace their message will be persecuted and suffer martyrdom.

During the tribulation period no one will be allowed to trade unless they submit to the “mark of the Beast.”

 Two Beasts are described in Revelation chapter 13.

 These represent two persons ………    The Antichrist and The False Prophet  these   are part of the “Satanic Trinity.”

 The Satanic Trinity of ……..  The  Beast  (Anti-christ)          False Prophet    (Anti-spirit)     Devil  (Anti-god)

 The Tribulation will Culminate in ..The Battle of Armageddon  cf.  Zech 14:2  [also Zech 12:2] and the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ in Glory

 When “they (the Jews) will look upon him whom they pierced”.  And every eye shall see Him and every knee shall bow.

 Next time  …….      “The   King of Kings”

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30/01/22

 Judgment Seat of Christ

The “Bema”  

 2 Cor 5:6-11   6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.  9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.    NKJV

The judgment of living and dead believers will take place  immediately following the Rapture of the Church.

 I.   Christ  and Judgment

 Acts 17:31 records Paul’s address to the people of Athens.

 Acts 17:30-33   30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33 So Paul departed from among them.    KJV

 At His first Coming …………

 (a)   He Came as Saviour

 Luke 19:10      For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost .       KJV

 When Jesus came into the world, born in Bethlehem, He came as Saviour.   

On that occasion, He came as the suffering Saviour, the “Man of Sorrows” and acquainted with grief.

 On Calvary, He bore our sin in His body upon the Tree.

 Christ has not yet begun His work as Judge but one Day He will exercise that role.

 At His Second Coming ……………

 (b)   He Will Come as Judge

 Heb 9:27-28    27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.   NKJV

2 Cor 5:10 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad

 II.     Judgment of Believers

 (a)   Of  Sin    (b)   Of  Works

 (a)   Of  Sin    The sin of  believers has already been judged  -  it was judged at Calvary.  Christ bore our sin in His body on the Tree.

 In a trial, when a Person pleads guilty – he admits his guilt and sentence is made.   The sentence has been given and the penalty paid.

 2 Cor 5:6-10  6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.          NKJV

 1 Cor 3:9-15  9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.      NKJV

 The Judgment of Believers “Works”

 2 Cor 5:6-10 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.          NKJV

 1 Cor 3:9-15 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.                                                NKJV

 The Judgment Seat of Christ

[The Bema]

 

    The Rapture                                                                                              The Revelation

(1 Thess 4:13-18)                                                                                        ( 2 Thess 1:7-10) 

     “The Bema”       and       “The Marriage of The Lamb”

                 (2 Cor 5:6-10; 1 Cor 3:9-15)                                                            (Rev19:7-9)

                     Wood, Hay, Stubble !

                                  or    

            Gold, Silver and Precious Stones

 

 The Believer’s Crowns         (The Victors Crown)    [An Incorruptible (Imperishable) Crown]   1 Cor 9:24-27

 Striving for a Crown 

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.                                                            1 Cor 9:24-27 NKJV

 The Soul Winners Crown  [ The  Crown of Rejoicing]    1 Thess 2:19,20

 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.                                                                   1 Thess 2:19-20  NKJV

 The Crown of Righteousness   [ For all who love His Appearing]   2 Tim 4:8

 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 

                                                                                              2 Tim 4:6-8  NKJV

 The Crown of Life   [The Martyrs Crown]      Rev 2:10

 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  11 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. 

He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."'                                                                                                                                                                                                               Rev 2:10-11  NKJV

 The Crown of Glory  [The Elders Crown]      1 Peter 5:2-4

 1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief  Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.                                                                                                                                              1 Peter 5:2-4 NKJV

 

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23/01/22

Time & Eternity

 Going Home - The Rapture of The Church"

 The Promise Jesus Made

         I.      What Was The Promise ?

         II.     Who Does The Promise Concern ?

         III.    When Will The Promise Be Fulfilled ?

        IV.    How Should This Affect Us ?

 John 14:1-4.  1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.        NKJV

 1 Thess 4:13-18. 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.   15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.       NKJV

 Matthew 24:3,4  Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying,"Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.  5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

 Matt 24:36-44. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,  39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.  41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.  42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.  43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man iscoming at an hour you do not expect.                                                                          NKJV      

1.    What Was The Promise ?   

   Jesus promised:-      (a)   A  Prepared  Place       John 14:1-2  and     (b)   A  Personal  Return     John 14:1-3;

 This is just one of the many things Jesus told His disciples during His ministry – which, at the time they did not understand, but which the Holy Spirit brought to their remembrance.      cf. John 14: 25,26.

 John 14:25-26  "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.  26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.                       NKJV

 This will be a physical NOT a spiritual experience.

  We have The Testimony of The Angels       Acts 1:11

 Acts 1:9-11 9  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."                                                              NKJV                                                                                            

 II.       Who Does The Promise Concern ?

 1 Thessalonians 4:13 -18;  1 Corinthians 15:22,23 

 (a)    The Dead in Christ        1 Thess 4:16         (b)    All Believers Alive at that Time       1 Thess 4:17 

 1 Thess 4:13-18. 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.    15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.                                                                                                                  NKJV                                                                     

 NB.   The Present State of Believers who have Died.      2 Cor 5:8   8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. NKJV

 III.      When Will The Promise Be Fulfilled ?

 The Promise will be fulfilled :- 

(a)  On God’s Appointed Day     

 Matt 24:36-44. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,  39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.  41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.  42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.  43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.                                                                                NKJV

(b)  At an Hour Unknown to Men    

 

 

 

 It will be as:-    “As Thief in The Night”

 

 

 

Matt 24:27.  27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.                                                                                                                                                                                                   NKJV

 

Luke 12:39-40   39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."                                                                                                                                                                NKJV

 

Thess 5:1,2  1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.                                                            NKJV

 

 

 

 Rev 16:15 15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."                                                  NKJV

 

                                                                                                                

 

(c)  In The Near Future                    (2 Peter 3:3,4)

 

 

 

2 Peter 3:1-5   1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 

 

NKJV

 

 

 

2 Peter 3:8-13

 

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 

 

 

 

The Day of the Lord     

 

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.   11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.                                              NKJV

 

 

 

IV. How Should This Affect Us ?     

 

 

 

What Should Be Our Attitude ?

 

 

 

We Should ……

 

 

 

(a) Live in the Expectation of His Coming.       (b)Comfort / Encourage Each Other

 

 

 

1 Thess 4:18   18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 

 

 

 

(c) Live Holy Lives

 

 

 

1 John 3:2-3   2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 

 

                                                                                                                     NKJV

 

 

 

2 Peter 3:11-13.   11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.               KJV

 

 

 

2 Peter 3:14-18  14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.     NKJV

 

_________________________________ 

13/01/22

"Of Time & Eternity"

"The Course of Gentile World History" 

 

Scriptures  …….. Daniel Chapter 2

 In this remarkable chapter, the course of Gentile World History is revealed to the most unlikely of people  Nebuchadnezzer. King of Babylon.

 The dream outlines the course of Gentile history from Daniel’s time to a yet future day (to us) when God’s power will shatter the nations of the earth and establish the everlasting kingdom of His Son.

 Last time we saw how, some 1500 years before the incarnation, God, through Moses, gave the Israelites a look into their future just as they were about to enter the Promised Land.

  By the time Daniel appeared on the scene some 800 years later, the kingdom of Israel had appeared and decayed. The Norther kingdom had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians followed 150 years later by the captivity of the southern kingdom – Judah by the Babylonians. Daniel was one of a select group of young men chosen to be trained as advisors to Nebchadnezzar.

 So, just as God had given preview of Israel’s national history through Moses so He gave Nebuchadnezzar a preview of Gentile World  history through Daniel.

 1.     The Forgotten Dream            ( Daniel 2:1-13 )

Dreams are recognised as being indicators of subconscious fears, frustrations or longings. In Bible times, God often used dreams as a method of revealing His Will to His people.

 egs. of dreams used in this way:-          Joseph;  Pharaoh; Joseph –husband of Mary etc

 Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream – so disturbed him but when he woke up he could not recall it. The people he employed to interpret dreams and advise him were unable to help and Nebuchanezzar ordered their execution.    This order also included Daniel and his associates.

2.     The Prayer For Wisdom            ( Daniel 2:14-23

Although, at that time, only a young man, Daniel acted with poise, calmness and faith. Daniel acted in faith, telling the king that God would reveal to him the dream and its meaning.

 God never disappoints faith. [   Jesus said …… “verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.  21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”       Matt 17:20-21 KJV  ]

Dan 2:19-23    Then Daniel praised the God of heaven, 20 saying, "Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he alone has all wisdom and power. 21 He determines the course of world events; he removes kings and sets others on the throne. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. 22 He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he himself is surrounded by light. 23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength. You have told me what we asked of you  and revealed to us what the king demanded."        NLT

 3.  Daniel Before The King      ( Dan 2:24-30)

NB. Daniel’s Humility

 Dan 2:24-28  24 Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, who had been ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, "Don't kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream."  25 Then Arioch quickly took Daniel to the king and said, "I have found one of the captives from Judah who will tell Your Majesty the meaning of your dream!"  26 The king said to Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar), "Is this true? Can you tell me what my dream was and what it means?" 27 Daniel replied, "There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can tell the king such things. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.                NLT

 4.    The Dream and Its Interpretation   ( Dan 2:31-35 )

 (a) The Detail of The Dream                           

               (a)    An Image         (b)    A Stone

 The image was that of a man, most likely a Babylonian figure. The figure had five distinct features –

(A) Head of Gold;  (b)Torso of Silver;  (c) Belly & Thighs of Bronze;  (d) Legs of Iron; (e) Feet of Iron mixed with Clay;

NB. The materials decreased in preciousness from the head downwards but also increased in density. The second thing was the Stone, “cut without hands” , which destroyed the image and then proceeded to fill the whole earth.

(a)    The Image  …………     The  Figure of a Man      (Dan 2:31-33)

 The materials decreased in preciousness from the head downwards but also increased in density. 

The Significance of The Materials

Golden Head ………………   Babylonia             ( Dan 2:37,38)

Silver Torso   ………………    Medo-Persia.      ( Dan 5:30,31 )

Bronze Belly/Thighs    ……..   Greece.             ( Dan 7; 8:21; 11:2,3) 

Iron Legs      …………………  Rome

Feet & Toes Iron + Clay  ……   This is yet to be set up !!!     

The image was unstable since, although increasing in strength, the image was top-heavy on account of the decreasing density of the material.

It was also decreasing in the preciousness of the materials used.  

These denote an increase in strength and influence accompanied by a decrease in effectiveness of government.

 1   Golden Head ………………   Babylonia.     ( Dan 2:37,38)           Dan 2:37-38

 37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all — you are this head of gold.        NKJV

Gold – symbolic of earth’s finest treasure.  Nebuchadnezzar was an absolute monarch. His was an AUTOCRATIC kingdom. He ruled with absolute authority.

2   Silver Torso   ………………    Medo-Persia     ( Dan 5:30,31 )

 The Babylonian Empire was succeeded by that of the Medes and Persians . The type of government of the Medo-Persian Empire was OLIGARCHIC  ie. government by the few.  [cf. chapt 6  3 presidents and 120 princes]

3    Bronze Belly/Thighs    ……..   Greece               ( Dan 7; 8:21; 11:2,3) 

The Greek Empire under Alexander the Great succeeded that of Medo-Persia. The Greeks introduced an AUTOCRATIC system of government ie. government exercised by a privileged class – the aristocracy (nobility).

4    Iron Legs      …………………  Rome

The Greek empire gave way to that of  the Romans.   The Roman method was ruthless Imperialism.

Rome ruled with a rod of iron, but produced what is the weakest form of government  -   Democracy.

 Democracy  ….. Government of the people, by the people, for the people.

This ultimately produced a system of Republics, subject to bitter turmoil, unrest and trouble  ….. bringing about ….

 5    The Feet - Iron mixed with Clay.

This is the feature of the “Feet” of the Image.  We are now about to witness the emergence of the “toes”  a confederation of 10 kingdoms presided  over by none other than Antichrist himself. [ The "Beast" of Revelation ]

This “kingdom” will be destroyed by the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ who is represented by the “Stone cut without hands.”

When the Lord Jesus Christ returns He will set up His Millennial kingdom on earth …… which will last for 1000 years.

The Final Kingdom   -  The Stone Kingdom

When the Lord Jesus Christ returns He will set up His Millennial kingdom on earth …… which will last for 1000 years.    ( Dan 2:44-45 )

 44 "During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; no one will ever conquer it. It will shatter all these kingdoms into nothingness, but it will stand forever. 45 That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain by supernatural means, crushing to dust the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. "The great God has shown Your Majesty what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain."    NLT

The STONE kingdom represents the highest form of government -  THEOCRATIC government – Rule by God!

The Millennial Kingdom will be ruled over by the Lord Jesus Christ, sitting on the Throne of David in Jerusalem, ruling over the nations with a Rod of Iron.

When all this was revealed to Nebuchadnezzar:-    Persia was only a Babylonian Satrapy;  Greece a collection of warring tribes; Rome was a village on the banks of the Tiber.

All these empires have come and gone and the world is in now in the process of making ready for the setting up the kingdom of Antichrist. [The "Great Reset !" ]

All this in preparation for the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ in Glory.  

However, before this, the Lord will take His own to be with Himself ….. The Rapture Of the "Church"   -   the "Bride of Christ."  

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.    (1 Thess 4: 15-17)

This will be the subject of our next message on the subject "Of Time and Eternity."

 ________________________________

06/01/22

"Of Time & Eternity - God’s People  -  The Jews"

 Scriptures:-                  Deuteronomy Chapters 28 to 30            

 Key Verse:-   Deut 30:19-20

 Question:-            Why did God ever select the Hebrews to be His “Chosen People ?”

 Historical Development:-

 Some 2000 years before the incarnation, God chose a man by the name of Abram – a pagan, living at a place called “Ur of The Chaldees” to be the one through whom He would reveal His Divine truth and bring about the Redemption of the human race.

 God asked Abram to leave behind everything he had and set out for an unknown destination cf. Heb 11:8-10

 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”      Heb 11:8-10  NKJV

 Why Abram ?      Why not some prominent Egyptian ?

 God’s choice of Abram demonstrates that God does not need to work out His purposes using the methods that men would choose.

 Paul gives us the answer in  1 Cor 1:25-29

 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption —  31 that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD."   1 Cor 1:26-31  NKJV

Question:-            Why is it crucial to make our relationship with God our top priority ?

 1.    The Conditions for Blessing          ( Deut 28:1-14 )

 The fundamental condition is that of       Obedience

  God told Israel that  their  success would not come about because of:-   Strong Army    or    Sound Economy  or Strategic Alliances.  But through their Relationship with YAWEH  their God.

 Turn to:-     Deut 28:1, 3, 4, 5.

 He would prosper them in every area/aspect of their existence …  children; flocks; crops;  and give them a unique spiritual position.

 They were to be a “Holy Nation” separated unto God.

 YAWEH’s Special Possession

 This was partially fulfilled during the reigns of David and Solomon.

 During that period, Israel was arguably the leading nation upon earth… renowned for Commerce, wealth and religion.

 God is always ready to bless those who obey His Word  cf historically in the nations of  Germany, Great Britain, the USA  and Canada  through their faithfulness in preaching the Gospel throughout the world.  But - what is the situation of these nations now ?

 2The Conditions for Chastisement

 God’s Promises to Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land were  CONDITIONAL.

 The conditions were:-                If they obeyed God’s instructions   …….    He would bless them

BUT                If they were disobedient ……. they would suffer the consequences.

 (a)  Deut 28:15   "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:     NKJV

A.    Great Affliction would ensue.  Deut 28:16-62

Deut 28:16-21   16 "Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.  17 "Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 "Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 19 "Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. 20 "The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.   NKJV

This would affect every aspect of their lives:-

 Families; flocks; Crops by way of sickness, pestilence and disability.

 There would be military defeats (v 25), the land pillaged and struck by famine…….. primarily because of their idolatry.

 The people would be taken into captivity (cf. vv 36-41) fulfilled by the captivity of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria and thye Southern Kingdom (Judah)  to Babylon.

 In the sieges that took place, starvation was so great that the people even ate their own children! (cf 52-57)

B.    World-Wide Dispersion        Deut 28:63-68

 These prophecies were fulfilled literally.

 (1)     722 BC the Northern Kingdom  comprised of the 10 tribes were taken into captivity by the Assyrians and never returned from that dispersion, giving rise to the term “The “lost” Tribes of Israel.”  (2 Kings 17:6) etc

 (2)     150 years later in 586 BC the Southern Kingdom of Judah made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were taken in captivity by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. (2 Chro 36:1-21)

 The Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years as prophesied by Jeremiah and a remnant returned under Zerrubabel; Ezra and Nehemiah.

 Forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, in AD 70, the Romans under General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and the Jews were scattered among the nations of the world. There is no nation upon earth where there is not a Jewish presence.

 For nigh on 2000 years the Jews were treated unmercifully, knocked from pillar to post becoming a by-word among the nations.

 There was:-   A people without a land  AND  a Land without a people.

 Question:-     Was God unjust in allowing such barbaric persecution to befall the Jews just because their ancestors had turned fro God to worship idols?

 3.  A  Reminder  and  A  Promise

 (a)   A Reminder of past Blessings  Deut 29:2-9

 Moses called upon the people to remember what God had done for them and to make an agreement of obedience with the Lord.

 It is good for us to remember what God has done for us in the past – it enables us to face the future.

(b)  Promise of an Eventual Re-gathering    Deut 30:1-10

 The promise was that when Israel repents and turns back to God then He will have compassion upon them and re-gather from  the nations among which they have been scattered.

 This happened on a small scale after the Babylonian captivity and began in earnest toward the end of the 19th century. Then in 1917came the "Balfour Declaration" declaring that "Palestine" be a "National Homeland" for the Jews resulting in the coming into being of the State of Israel in 1948.

 4.   A Choice to Be Made       Deut 30:11-20

  Deut 30:11-20   15 "Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death. 16 I have commanded you today to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, laws, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and become a great nation, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. 17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. 19 "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! 20 Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."       NLT

 The people chose to obey God  -  but as the centuries passed, they gave themselves over more and more to unbelief.

The ultimate fulfilment of God's promises to Abraham will be when, at the "Second Coming" of the Lord Jesus Christ in Glory the Jews will "Look upon Him whom they pierced" and accept Him as their Messiah. He will then set up His Millennial Kingdom and reign from Jerusalem for 1000 years as "King of kings and Lord of lords."

 

However,   we too are faced with a choice.  As Joshua said on another occasion  “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

The Choice is yours - who will you serve ? 

------------------------------------------------------------

02/01/22

                                                                “Where Are You At ?”

 Psalm 90:10-12   10 Seventy years are given to us!   Some may even reach eighty. But even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we are gone. 11 Who can comprehend the power of your anger?Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve. 12 Teach us to make the most of our time,  so that we may grow in wisdom.      NLT

 I recently had  a severe bout of Influenza  - I use the term advisedly – for I have had only two or three of such bouts in my life.

 Many of you are aware that it was consequent to having such a dose of the virus some 30 years ago that I took early retirement from teaching and came into what is commonly termed “Full-time“ Ministry.

 Being laid aside in such a manner is not a bad thing as it gives us opportunity to take stock of our situation in life.

 What is your life's story?         Have you ever paused to consider?    It is a good thing to take stock of your life now and again. 

  Just pause and consider your life, however long or short it  may be.

 The questions which you need to ask yourself are:-

                           1.  Where have I Been?     2.  Where am I at NOW?    3.  Where am I Heading?

 My own experience:-  

 I have recounted this account before and  will do so again.

 Just over 30 years ago, I had a very good career.  I was in a very influential position is a great school and had achieved a tremendous amount in my life and career.

 I  was Laid aside at that time with a bout of flu it had been at least 10 years since I had last been sick and  as I laid in bed I began to look over my past life. 

 As I lay in bed, "feeling fit for nowt," I began to divide my life up into decades and considered what significant thingsI  had experienced during each decade.

 1st. Decade 1941-1951  -   Childhood  .....

brought up in a Christian home...coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour and Lord.

 I wanted to live my life for Jesus !

 Verdict. ....   It was Good !

 2nd  Decade  1951 – 60 -   Adolescence....

Passed my “Scholarship” went to "Grammar School"......had a good education.......Obtained a good set of O-levels, then A-levels. I was  Baptised in water.. and Dedicated my life to His service.

 Verdict ...It was Good !!

  3rd  Decade 1960 - 1970  -   Young manhood. ..   

Went to University  (In those days only 20 % of the population went to Grammar School and of that cohort only about 12.5 % went on to University.  The drop-out rate was high too!

 I obtained my degree and obtained a  position teaching Physics at Wigan Grammar School. 

 I had a career.   Marion and I got married and a couple of years later our daughter Becky was born.

 Verdict. ....It was very Good!!!

4th  Decade 1970 - 1980 -   Mature manhood...    

Promotion.......responsibility...... New job setting up a new school.......making a success of it. 

 However, life is not a bed of roses  and we experienced the deep sorrow of losing our second daughter Rachel at the age of 20 months.  However, the Lord drew us very close to Himself at that time as some of you well know.

 Shortly after this I experienced the   Baptism in the  Holy Spirit...

 Verdict. .... Life was  was very good indeed.

 5th. Decade 1980 1990  -  Mid-life.....

I became what was known as Senior Teacher part of what is now known as the SLT. (Senior Leadership Team) I was  Head of the Faculty of Science and Technology, a School Governer etc..... a great deal of responsibility but the work was becoming more and more demanding.  

 Doing the Lord's work was becoming harder because of the responsibilities of  employment.

 It was at this point that I paused and took stock of my life.

 Due to government interference, the job that I loved so much had become bogged down with bureaucracy and I had come to the conclusion that I had then reached the point where I had begun to waste valuable time.  My  Life was accelerating away at a tremendous rate of knots!

 As I tried to imagine the situation10 years on I could foresee nothing but wasted effort. 

 Would I be able to say at the end of that decade, "It was good?"   I could not honestly say yes and I wanted, and still do want my life  to count for Christ.

 I felt then that I had, God willing, a good many years of hard work left in me and I wanted them to count for the Lord.

 So I cried out to the Lord to do something  …..  and He did.    The result of that is to be found in this fellowship.

 Very early retirement from teaching !!!!!        Granted it at 49 years of age with 10 years enhancement of service!

[In the three or four years around that period my school lost about 12 excellent teachers to this scheme    ……..   what a waste of human resources !      But in my case what a fantastic blessing!!

 God has done great things already and has promised to do even greater things and I am trusting Him to honour His word.

 As I lay in bed the other day  and pondered these things I started to evaluate some of the things that the Lord has done during this decade.

 Whilst there have been many discouragements, there have been many encouragements. I have seen the Lord raise up people to serve Him and thank God for them.

 Others have been a source of disappointment  BUT the encouragements far outweigh the disappointments.

 But to get back to the questions that I asked of you.

 Where are you at NOW? 

Are you saved,  do you know the Lord? Do you love Him ?      Words are cheap.     Can you prove it ?    Does your life prove it?

 Are you going on with the Lord?       Are you moving on in Him or have you stood still since you were saved?

 If you  are not going forward - then you are going backward.

 Because your life is passing by.

 When the Lord raised up this Fellowship  …….  

 He gave us a Name    ….. Emmaus Christian Fellowship

Within 9 months  ....

 He gave us a building – This very building in Avondale Road, Chorley.

 He gave us a vision       Luke 4:18-19  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.     KJV

 The Lord quoted from Isaiah 61:1,2.

 He stopped at  “The acceptable year of the Lord.”         This is because the part He read referred to His first advent.

 Isaiah went on to record  … Isa 61:2-4 and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. 4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.  KJV

 We are living in momentous times,  nay,  “Perilous Times”.

 On every hand there is decadence   ……….  Never has fear been used so much to control  people all over the world.

 Christ Himself said:-  “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.”

 The current “Pandemic” together with so many natural disasters all point to the near return of the Lord Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Bible.

 Also consider at God’s Barometer  -  Israel.

 During the 20th Century Jews returned to the land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, just as the scriptures foretold.

 However, back to the question I asked at the beginning.

 Where are you at NOW?  

 Are you going on with the Lord? 

 If you  are not going forward - then you are going backward - life is passing by.

 One day you will stand alone before the judgment seat of Christ and will have to give Him an account as to how you have lived your life for Him.

 Have you a vision?     

 The Bible says that "Where there is no vision, the  people perish."      

Have you ever had a vision?    

What do you want to  achieve for the Lord?

 What would you like passionately to see come to fruition in your  life?

 God wants the best of your life Not the “fag end!”       What are you going to give Him?

 There is an old gospel song  which asks:-   "What Shall I Give you Master?"

It goes like this:-

 

 1.  What shall I give Thee, Master?  Thou who didst die for me.

      Shall I give less of what I possess,  Or shall I give all to Thee?

 

2.   What shall I give Thee, Master?  Thou hast redeemed my soul;

      My gift is small but it is my all — Surrendered to Thy control.

 

3.   What shall I give Thee, Master?  Giver of gifts divine!

      I will not hold time, talents or gold —  For everything shall be Thine.

 Refrain

      Jesus, my Lord and Savior; Thou hast giv’n all for me;

      Thou didst leave Thy home above  To die on Calvary.

      What shall I give Thee, Master? Thou hast giv’n all for me;

      Not just a part or half of my heart, I will give all to Thee.

 

____________________________________________

 

 26/12/21

The Word Became Flesh And Dwelt Amongst Us

(John 1:1-14)

 Every year at this time, the attention of virtually the whole of mankind is drawn to the fact that around 2000 years ago a child was born in humble circumstances who was given the name Yeshua (Jesus). 

 The meaning of that name is:-  Saviour and He was so named because He came into the world to – in the words of the angel – “save His people from their sins.”

 In the midst of all the razamataz and commercialism it is easy to miss out on the wonder and import of the message and meaning of Christmas.

 Two of the “Gospels”, Matthew and Luke give an account of the nativity of Jesus whereas Mark begins with the ministry of John the Baptist.

 The Apostle John commences his writings in an entirely different manner and style.

John begins:-    1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.                                   John 1:1-5 KJV

The word used in the original language of the N.T. – Greek – is λογοσ       (logos)   meaning:-

 1.  A Thought    2.The expression or utterance of that thought

Now we are all familiar with the concept of the Scriptures being the   “Written Word” of God.

 This passage here teaches us that Jesus is the “Living Word” of God.

 He has always existed – He was there before the creation of the universe   cf. vv 1-5.

The writer to the Hebrews informs us that:-          He spoke and the worlds came into being.”

 Word - The Means of Communication

 Human beings are pretty skilful at communicating cf. when people lose their power of speech etc but by far the most powerful mode of communication is via the “word” written and spoken.

 The writer of Hebrews tells us that:-   1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."    Heb 1:1-3 KJV

 God has always communicated with mankind.  Eg.........

 God Communed with Adam    (Gen 3:8,9)

God spoke to Noah                            (Gen 6:13,14)

God spoke to Abraham                 (Gen 12:1,2,3) 

God spoke directly to the Patriarchs     (Gen 32:30)

 God spoke directly to Moses         (Ex 33:11    Deut 34:10)

 God spoke through the Prophets               Isaiah; Jeremiah; Ezekiel; Daniel  etc.

 Latterly,  God spoke through His Son        (Heb 1:1-3 )   (John 1:1-5)   (John 1:5)

 The meaning of logos is:-    (1)   a thought or concept and (2)   the expression or utterance of that thought.

 This conveys to us the concept that God who in time past communicated with people via the prophets has communicated to us directly in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.

 When the Bible speaks of “The last days” it means the period of human history commencing with the First advent of Jesus Christ, culminating in His Second Advent.

 He was there in the Beginning

 In John 1:1-5  John informs us that "The Word has always existed  - he was with God and, yes, He is God."

 In his first epistle, John speaks of Jesus as   ......  “The Word of Life.”      1 John 1:1

 John 1 reads in connection with Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.   Gen 1:1 KJV  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.    Gen 1:3 KJV 

John tells us that:-    “In Him was life …… and the life was the light of men.”   - it was;   it is;    and always will be!

 The tragedy was ….. and still is …. that ……. “The darkness compehendeth it not.”

 People hear the story of Jesus but cannot comprehend it.

 It is only when a person enters into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that the darkness is dispelled like  night before the dawn.

 John was there.  He had witnessed the life of the Son of God – he had walked with Him and talked with Him.  He had witnessed the mighty miracles that Jesus had performed – the lame healed, the deaf and dumb healed the dead raised to life.

 John writes;-   

 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

   John 1:14 KJV

 John was there on the Mount of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared together with Jesus and He was transfigured before their very eyes. 

 The incarnation was the first step in the implementation of God’s Plan of Salvation.

 The birth of Jesus Christ was no ordinary birth – yes it was a truly human birth – with no short cuts.

 However he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.

He was begotten – not made, of one substance with the Father.

 Of His human birth there is no doubt and of His Divinity there is no question.

 However,  John tells us that:- “He came unto His own but His own received Him not.”

 But John does not finish there,  he goes on to say:-

  “But as many as received Him to them gave He the right to become the sons of God even to them that believe on His Name.” vv 11,12

Peter told the Jewish Sanhedrin that:-      There is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.”   Acts 4:12

Yes,  God has in these last days communicated with us by His Son.

 And that is why this morning we are here to meet around His table to proclaim His death ….’til He come.

 YES INDEED. .............  

The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us And we beheld His glory full of Grace and truth.

_________________________________________________ 

25/12/21

Christmas Day Message

The Visit of The Magi

 Celebration of Christmas in our country is under attack !  Some Councils have attempted to change the name of the Festival to Winterval” !

 Its not the first time Christmas has been attacked  -  during Cromwells rule, Christmas was abolished  But for a very different reason. 

 The Puritans were appalled by the debauchery that took place during the festivities.    

 Some Christians today hold the view that we ought not celebrate Christmas because it is most likely that Christ was born in Sept/October.

 However, when the Bible devotes 4 chapters to an event -  2 in Matthews Gospel and 2 in Lukes 48 & 118 verses respectively ie. 166 verses then the event is worth recognising and remembering.

 ie. that, in the words of  the apostle John :-

The Word became Flesh and dwelt amongst us.

 The sequence of events which surrounded the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ is well known and this morning I want to focus on the visit of the Wise Men.

• Who were they ?
• Where did they come from ?
• Why did they come ?
• When did they come ?

 Who were they ?

 They are know as the Magi.”  ie wise, learned men.

 Men who studied the stars  - Astronomers / Astrologers.

 We read about men such as these in Genesis   –    Pharaohs wise men. magicians who contested with Moses.

Nebuchadnezzars wise men in the book of Daniel.

Herods chief priests and scribes in  Matthew ch. 2.

 Tradition calls the kings” but there is little evidence that they were.

 Where did they come from ?

 Matt 2:1 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,"

 The East !   Some have it that they came from Arabia but the consensus is that they most likely came from Persia or possibly Media.

 cf.  the magicians” of the Medo-Persian Empire in the days of Daniel.

 Why did they come ?

 Matt 2:2  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  KJV

 They had come to worship the One who was born King of The Jews !

 NB inscription over His Cross some 33 years later:-

 Matt 27:37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.   KJV

When did they come ?

 The popular concept is that of the Wise men arriving at the stable just after the birth of the baby..

 Matthews account describes the visit as being to the house where the Child was.

 

 If the Magi did indeed come from Persia, the journey could well have taken them between 3 and 12 months – something which is in keeping with the account of Herod seeking to slay all male children under the age of two. 

 Secular accounts record Herods death as 4 BC.

 NB.    When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple to be dedicated, they offered 2 turtle dovets (pigeons) ie the offering of a poor family.  They had not received any gold by then.

 How Many were there of Them ?

 Tradition says three, but but we do not Know for sure – one source suggest there were 12 !

 Three is probably because of the number of their gifts:-

 These gifts have both symbolic and prophetic significance.

 The Symbolic Significance

                        Gold    -    Royalty                        Frankincense     -     Priestly                      Myrrh      -    Suffering/death

 The Prophetic Message

 Gold  ……   

 

Jesus was born to be King  -  King of Israel and one Day He will be Kng of Israel and of all the Earth. 

During the Millennium He will reign from Jerusalem over all the eartbowh and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the Jesus Christ is Lord.

 Meanwhile He rules in the hearts of His children. He wants to reign in your heart as King of your life.

 Does He rule in your life?  Can you say  … “King of  of my life I crown Thee now Thine shall the glory be?

 The Wise Men gave Him Gold what will you give Him?

 Frankincense ……    

Not only  was  He born to be King, He was born to be our Great High Priest - a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek

(Gen 14:18; Psalm 110:4; Heb 5:6,7; Heb 6:20)

 He ever lives to make intercession for us.  Frankincense represents worship - when we gather together, do we really worship Him?

 Myrrh …..

 Myrrh was used in the embalming of the dead.  The gift of Myrrh was a prophetic word regarding His death.

He came to die . That we might live.

Question ........

Are we prepared to live for Him?   Are we prepared to die for Him?  Many of our brothers and sisters across the world are faced with that stark reality.

 So this Christmas we are faced with the challenge brought to us by the Wise Men.

 And it is still true that Wise men still seek Him!

 ___________________________________________________

 

19/12/21

"His  Name!" 

(Isaiah 9:6)

 There is no need to be reminded  of whose birthday we are celebrating at Christmas.

 It is the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!  

[ It may not be, it most likely is not the actual date of his birth – none the less we celebrate His birth on Christmas day ]

 A baby is usually given one or more names.

 In Bible times, names meant much more than they do to us nowadays. 

  A name was often an attempt to describe the person's character.

 There are quite a number of names given to the One who was born in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.

  The angel told Joseph to name the child   JESUS [ Yeshua ]

 eg. Jesus   -   Savour  ............. Deliverer

 Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save  ………..”      [ Gabriel ]

 He is also known as :-

 Christ   -  the Annointed One.............

NB.   Jesus asked.       Matt 16:16  Who do men say that I am?   Peter answered …… “Thou art the Christ”

 John 4:29  Come see a man who told me…… is not this the Christ? [Woman at the well]

 Isaiah prophesied that His name would  called :-

 Immanuel  - God with us

 Isa 7:14    Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.         KJV

The whole of the Old Testament looked forward to the coming of God's Annointed One and Isaiah in particular has much to say on this subject.

 Other titles given to the Lord Jesus Christ.

 In chapter 9:6  Isaiah tells us of some of the other Names which are given to God's Annointed One.

 Isa 9:6     For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.                                  KJV

 Descriptive names  of the Lord Jesus Christ              

 He is also referred to as:- The  “Rose of Sharon”   The “Lily of the Valley”   The “Bright and Morning Star.”

The "Fairest of ten thousand"  The "Lion of the Tribe of Judah"  The "Alpha and Omega"

 However, to consider the names listed by Isaiah. 

1.   Wonderful:-   

 The Lord Jesus is the most wonderful person who ever walked this earth.  He is a wonderful Saviour, Redeemer and King.

  [ People said of Jesus           “Never a man spake like this Man.” ]

 2.  Counsellor:-   

  A counsellor is One who gives advice.

 Never in human history has there been so much couselling on offer.  

 There’s counselling for this and for that.    [Debt counsellling, Marriage counselling, Stress counselling .....Life counselling...]   

 3.     The Mighty God

 The baby born in that stable was none other than The Mighty God!

  He is the One who spoke....and the worlds came into being. 

   With a word from His lips  the stormy sea was calmed. 

 At His command, the lame walked; the blind could see; the deaf could hear; the dumb could speak and the dead were raised to life. 

  At his crucifixion, the centurion said in awe:- 

   “Truly this was the Son of God.”  

4.   The Everlasting Father:-

  Jesus said I. " and the Father are one. 

 That was one of the reasons given by the Jews for seeking His death -  He made hImself equal with the Father.

 5.  The Prince of Peace 

 Much is made at this season of peace.  Peace on earth, Good will to all men. (Put by some as ...to men of good  will)

 For the last 2000 years the world has never enjoyed real peace  and  even now, humanly speaking,  the world is on the brink  of disaster.  Only the return of the Prince of Peace can save the mankind  (and ecology)  from catastrophe.

  Well might we echo the words of the Apostle John  “Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

 Descriptive Titles Given to Him

  He is the:-

      “Rose of Sharon”. “Lily of the Valley”. “Bright and Morning Star”

                      “Fairest of Ten Thousand”. Lion of the Tribe of Judah”

                  “Alpha and Omega”. “Beginning and the End”

  People ask:-               What’s in a name ?

  In this case, everything ……. Because ....  His Name is Higher than any other….

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

 “For His Name is EXALTED, 

His glory above heaven and earth, 

 Holy is the Lord God Almighty, 

 Who Was and Who Is, and Who Is to Come.

“For His Name is EXALTED, 

 His glory above heaven and earth,

  Holy is the Lord God Almighty, 

 Who sitteth on the Throne

 And Lives for ever more

 Even so come, Lord Jesus, come. 

_______________________________________________

12/12.21

Special Christmas Message

By

Dr. David Jeremiah

 “Immanuel - God is With Us”    (Click on Link)

________________________________________________________

 

05/12/21

Slide 1

Contending For The Faith

Isaiah

We have been looking at men and women in the Old Testament who “Contended Earnestly for The Faith”

We have looked at people such as:- Abel; Enoch; Noah: Abraham; Moses; Joshua: Gideon; Elijah and Elisha; Daniel.

 Slide 2

Last week  –  Daniel & Co

This week I am going to present the first of a trio of Old Testament Prophets who contended earnestly for The Faith.

 Slide 3

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel  known as “Major Prophets” not because their writings were more important than any of the other prophets, known as “Minor Prophets” but because of the greater length of their writings.

 Slide 4

 The Prophet Isaiah    Prophesied between 740-680 BC

 Isaiah lived during a time of turmoil and decline. 

Kings such as Uzziah brought great prosperity to the country, but they also tolerated idolatry, injustice, oppression and corruption. 

 Even when they did worship God, many people were just going through the motions. 

The Assyrians were threatening invasion and there were different factions within the court. 

Some wanted to make an alliance with Assyria, others wanted to ally themselves to Egypt. 

Isaiah’s message was that to rely on human solutions was pointless: what really mattered was to seek forgiveness, stop sinning and trust in God.

 How relevant to the situation in our Nation today!            

 cf. 2 Chron 7:14.  14 If my people , which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  KJV

 Slide 5

 Isaiah was one of the greatest of Hebrew prophets. 

 In Isaiah we have  Short term, Medium, and Long term prophecies.

Isaiah was a brave, courageous man who spoke out for God even when his life was at stake. He challenged the sins of the people, called on the kings to mend their ways and even accused the priests. 

More than that, Isaiah pointed to the enduring love of God. 

Many of his prophecies contain beautiful pictures of a future, restored world, where people will live in peace and where the love of God will be evident. He also spoke of a Messiah, a suffering servant who would bring salvation to the world. 

In a society that was desperately trying to find human solutions for its problems, Isaiah reminded them that the only true salvation is to be found in God.

 Slide 6

 God’s Message via Isaiah

 God was fed up with the hypocrisy of His people cf. v11      -     He still is !

 Isa 1:11 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?"

Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams  And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls,

Or of lambs or goats.   NKJV

God graciously invited them to return unto Him.

Isaiah 1:18-20    18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.   KJV

 

 The Northern Kingdom (Israel) had been taken captive by the Assyrians ~ 740 BC and God was now speaking to the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

 Slide 7

Isaiah’ s Call

Isa 6:8-11  8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,  KJV

 Slide 8

 The Range of Isaiah’s Prophecies 

He prophesied of the ……. 

Captivities and Dispersion

Coming and Rejection of The Messiah

Regathering of God’s People to their Land

Establishment of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom

Perfect Age which is to Come

Slide 9

 The Captivities and the Dispersion

The Prophecies in Isaiah are not “linear”  and there is repetition and elaboration throughout the book.

There are “immediate” prophecies and “distant” prophecies.   Assyria and Babylon as well as the dispersion which occurred after the destruction of the Temple in AD70.

NB.   Isaiah 44:28 & Isaiah 45:1.  Isaiah speaks of Cyrus, the Persian Emperor 200 years before he was born of how God would use him !

 

44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd,
and shall perform all my pleasure:
even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built;
and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
45 1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have holden,
to subdue nations before him;
and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates;
and the gates shall not be shut;

 

 Slide 10

 However, in all there is the promise of return and restoration.

 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,

12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.    KJV

 Slide 11

 Prophecies of the Future Coming and the Rejection of “Messiah”

Isa 7:14-16  14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. KJV

Slide 12

 Isa 9:6-7.   6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.    KJV

 Slide 13

 Isa 53:3-8.   3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.       KJV

 Slide 14

The Re-gathering of God’s People to their Land

 Note again the near and the distant aspect

Isaiah 10:20-22    20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.

22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.  KJV

 Slide 15

The Deliverance of Jerusalem in 1917

 Isa 31:5.   5 As birds flying , so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.  KJV

 NB. The role of General Allenby and the Royal Flying Corps in the capture of Jerusalem during WW1.   Jerusalem was delivered from Turkish control without a shot being fired ! The Turks took his signature  calling for their surrender to be from “Allah”.     They took Allenby to be “Allah Bey” - meaning God’s Prophet !

 Slide 16

 The Establishment of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,    [Jesus stopped and closed the book at this point]      and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.               Isa 61:1-4   KJV

 Slide 17

Isaiah 62:1-7

1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.

3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

 Slide 18

 Isaiah 62:4-12   4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee……

………………              12 And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

                                                                  KJV

 

Slide 19

The Perfect Age which is to Come

 Isaiah 65:17-25   17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

 Slide 20

21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy .     KJV

 Slide 21

 God’s Time Scale

 2 Peter 3:8-14. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

 Slide 22

 How we Should Live in the Light of This

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness .

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.     KJV

 Slide 23

 One Last Word From Isaiah

 22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.

 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.              Isa 66:22-23 KJV

 

 A Word of Encouragement

13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness .

 

Even so come, Lord Jesus !

 ____________________________________________________________

28/11/21 

The Dream of Destiny 

(Dan 2:19-41)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream was a  “Dream of Destiny.”

 As we study the dream in detail and the interpretation of it, Nebuchadnezzar's nightmare becomes a dream of destiny. We look now at the detail, the design, and the destiny of the dream.

 1. The Dream’s Detail

 There were two main features to the dream:- 

 (a)  an  Image (vv 31-33)       and      (b)  a  Stone vv 34,35).

 The image was that of a man, most likely a typical Babylonian figure. This figure had five distinct parts, the head, the torso, the belly and thighs, the legs, and finally the feet.

 Each of these parts was made of a different material,  the ........

 Head of gold,

 Torso of silver, 

 Belly and thighs of brass, 

 Legs of iron, 

 Feet, including the toes, of iron mixed with clay. 

 The materials decreased in preciousness down from head to foot but increased in strength.

 The image was unstable because it was top-heavy, the density of the materials decreases from the head down to the feet.

 Gold 19.3;  Silver  10.5; Brass  8.4; Iron 7.8  Iron & Clay  ~ 5.2

 In particular the feet lack cohesion as iron and clay do not stick together

 

 So much for the image, ………     what about the stone?

 The second thing seen by Nebuchadnezzar was the Stone, the image was suddenly destroyed by the stone.  

 However, the stone was “cut out without hands.”  

 The expression "without hands" in scripture always indicates an act of God alone, unaided by human instrumentality. 

 The stone struck  the image in its most vulnerable place, the feet and immediately the feet and toes begin to disintegrate but not only they, the whole image disintegrates and is blown away like chaff in the wind. 

 The stone that smashed the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth, but not before all trace of the image had vanished. 

 1

 2.  The Dream’ Purpose

 What was the purpose of the dream?  What did God want Nebuchadnezzar to see in it?

 (1)  It was given by God to Nebuchadnezzar (v 28).

   NB.    God sometimes  reveals his will to the most unlikely people.

 (2)  It concerned the "latter days."( End Times)  (v 28) 

 NB.  This dream has primarily to do with the end of the age.., the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in Glory.

(3)  It was occasioned by Nebuchadnezzar worrying about the future.

 (4)  It is about kingdoms rather than kings (vv 37-44).

 A kingdom is the dominion of a king. This dream is about World-wide kingdoms.

 Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the then known world, so did the next kingdom Persia.

  It is recorded that Alexander the Great (Greek), at the age of 30,  wept because there were no more worlds to conquer.  

 In Luke 2:1  we read that:- 

  “Caesar Augustus issued a decree that all the world should be taxed.” 

 If words are anything to go by, the 5th kingdom is the most important (vv 41-44),   furthermore it is during this kingdom that the climax of the stone occurs. 

 The 6th and last kingdom is God's not man's (v 44).

 3.  The Dream’s Interpretation

 Daniel gives the interpretation of the dream pointing out that:- 

 (1)    The Head of Gold

 Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian kingdom was the head of gold (v37).

 Gold is symbolic of the earth's finest treasure. 

 Nebuchadnezzar was an absolute monarch. His was an AUTOCRATIC kingdom ie. absolute rule by one person (cf.5:19).

 2

 (2)  The Silver Torso.

 The Babilonian empire was succeeded by the Medo-Persian empire.

 "After thee shall arise a kingdom inferior to thee" (v 39).

 The Medo-Persian empire which succeeded that of Babylon was an OLIGARCHIC type of government ie. rule of many  by the few 

 (cf. ch 6).  There were 3 presidents and 120 princes who ruled on behalf of the emperor.

 (3)   The Brass belly and thighs   

These represent the Greek empire which followed the Medo-Persian and which introduced the ARISTOCRATIC system of government in which government is exercised by a  Nobility, in this case a nobility of warriors.

 (4)  The Legs of Iron

 The empire which replaced Greece was that of Rome. 

 This was represented by the iron legs. Rome was a ruthlessly IMPERIALISTIC regime.

 (5)  The Feet of Iron and Clay

 When we come to the feet, we have the weakest form of human government namely DEMOCRACY ie. "government of the people, by the people, for the people. Republics, subject to bitter turmoil, unrest and trouble.   

 Iron and clay cannot mix, there is no cohesion.

 (6)   The Stone Cut without Hands

 The STONE kingdom represents the highest form of government, THEOCRATIC government ie. Rule by God! 

 This represents the MILLENIAL KINGDOM ruled over by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, sitting on the "Throne of David" ruling over all the nations from His Holy city Jerusalem with a "Rod of Iron."

 We are living in the times of the formation of the "feet and toes" when a world empire  will emerge.  

 This empire is the subject of chapter 7, which focusses on the feet of the image.

All this is amazing when you realise that when Nebuchadnezzar dreamed all this:- 

  • Persia was just a Babylonian  satrapy. 
  • Greece was just a collection of warring tribes. 
  • Rome was no more than a village on the banks of the Tiber.

 3

 

 But God, in one fell sweep,  revealed to  the whole course of human history to ………        a pagan king.

 The gold, silver, brass and iron kingdoms have all been and gone and we are at present  in the process of the formation of the iron mixed with clay. 

 Make no mistake about it the rest of the dream is coming and will come to pass.

 Why should this account of world history start with Babylon?

 Because the "Times of the Gentiles" started with Nebuchadnezzar.

 Why?  Because Jerusalem was left desolate at the time of this prophecy. 

 Until that time Jerusalem had been the centre of all things prophetic.

 History is a tale of two cities, Jerusalem and Babylon. 

 God's city and Satan's city respectively.

Therefore it is logical  to expect that, as the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream stands at Babylon, it will be at Babylon where the "Stone" will fall upon it and smash it to pieces. 

 Why should the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian and the Roman empires be described in this image?  

 Why are other civilizations of antiquity not mentioned? 

 The reason is that  these four were empires which had to do with Jerusalem.

 After  Rome, which was the next power to occupy Jerusalem? 

 The answer is Islam. 

Islam took control of the city in 637 AD when Jerusalem fell to the Saracens. 

 Although Jerusalem was liberated in a measure from Muslim control by General Allenby in 1917 and  in 1967 freed by the Israeli army from Arab domination, the powers of Islam still exert tremendous influence in the political situation in the region. 

 Babylon has been rebuilt by the regime which rules modern Iraq, indeed it had to be because the prophecies concerning Babylon's destruction have never been fulfilled and they must be if the Bible is indeed the infallible Word of God.

 It is out of this system that a great world leader will emerge, with emphasis on both Jerusalem and Babylon. 

 4

 He will bring about peace between Jew and Arab and will be accepted by the Jews as their Messiah, he will in fact be the Anti-Christ, the Man of Sin. 

 It will be his kingdom which the Lord Jesus Christ will destroy when He comes again in Glory to set up His Millenial kingdom.

 What a great God Daniel had!  

 Daniel's God is our God!  

 What a mighty God we serve! 

 Let us resolve to serve Him as faithfully as did Daniel.

 

________________________________________________

 

Daniel & Co Contending for The Faith

Slide 1

 

Contending For The Faith

We have been looking at men and women in the Old Testament who “Contended Earnestly for The Faith”

We have looked at people such as:- Abel; Enoch; Noah;  Abraham; Moses; Joshua: Gideon;  Elijah and Elisha.

 

Slide 2

 

Daniel’s website might read:-

daniel&co.com

 

Daniel – Extraordinary character.

Not a single flaw is revealed in the Scriptures.

When God chose three men who were most after His own heart He picked out ………

Noah,  Job  and Daniel.   [ Ezek 14:14  “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.”  KJV  ]

Ezekiel, a contemporary of Daniel said of him:-  

[ Ezek 28:3 “Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:”  KJV ]

 

Daniel and his companions,  Shadrach; Meshach and Abednego  were young men born into noble families – that is why they were chosen to be trained in the ways of the Babylonians in order to rule the Jewish captives.

They endured the horrors of invasion, and had witnessd the degradation of their king and plundering of the Temple toogether with their removal as captives to a foreign land.

 

Slide 3

 The Background

 Bel was a Babylonian god

 HEBREW               Daniel                                          God is my Judge

HEBREW                 Hananiah                     Jehovah is gracious

BABYLONIAN           Shadrach                   The command of Aku

 

HEBREW                  Mishael                             Who is like God

BABYLONIAN           Meshach                           Who is like Aku

 

HEBREW                 Azariah                              Jehovah is my helper 

BABYLONIAN.       Abednego                           Servant of Nego

 

BABYLONIAN     Belteshazzar                                Bel protects his life

 

 

Parents, if you want you children to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ then:-

 

"Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" 

                                            (Prov 22:6).

Slide 4

Name                                                     Meaning

 

As with Bel, Aku and Nego were Babylonian deities

Therefore the Babylonian names given to these young men were a direct affront to the one true God who they served and after who the were named.  - This was a calculated insult.

 

Hey !!   You may change a person’s name but that doesn’t changed their nature! Only God can do that.

 

Slide 5

Daniel 1:8.  8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

                                                            NKJV

These men remained true to the Lord their God

Parents, if you want you children to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ then:-

"Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" 

                                                    (Prov 22:6).

 

Slide 6.

Daniel 1:15.   15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.        KJV

 

God will honour those who honour Him.

Just look at what the scriptures have to say about them.

 

Dan 1:18-20

Slide 7

Dan 1:18-20.  18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.

19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.

20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

                                                                                             KJV

 

Slide 8

 

Faith Challenged

4 To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,

5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

                                                      Dan 3:4-6  KJV

This huge monstrosity resulted from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of destiny.

 

Slide 9

 Contending For The Faith

 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

                                                       Dan 3:16-18 KJV

 We are not told where Daniel was at this particular time, maybe he was away in some far flung corner of the empire, otherwise I am sure that he too would have been flung into the fiery furnace.

Slide 10

 Divine Deliverance

 The presence of the “Ever-living One”

 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.

25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.          Dan 3:23-25 KJV 

 

Slide 11

 God Given The Glory

 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.      Dan 3:28  KJV

                                                    Dan 3:28  KJV

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

KJV

 Slide 12

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon.

                                                                         Dan 3:28-30 KJV

Slide 13

A New Regime – A New Challenge

 “The Medes & Persians”

 Slide 14

The Structure of Government     

( Dan 6:1-3 )

It was “Oligarchic”  -  ie Government by a few

 The “Head of State” was - Darius

 Under Darius were Three “Presidents”

 ( Daniel   + ?  + ?  )

 Under these were - 120  “Princes” 

 Slide 15

This lead to the jealous scheming of his fellow rulers.  Politics never changes.

Dan 6:3

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

                                   KJV

 Slide 16

 Faith Challenged   ( Dan 6:4-9 )  

Daniel’s enemies were smart enough to realise that the only way that they might be able to catch him out would be through his commitment to his God.

 4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.  5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

                                                     Dan 6:4-5 KJV

Slide 17

7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.          Dan 6:7-9 KJV

 It was the “Pride” [conceit] of Darius that brought about this situation.

 Slide 18

By this time Daniel was into his 90’s

 Daniel’s Faithfulness       ( Dan 6:10-13

 10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

                                                 Dan 6:10  KJV

 Slide 19

 Darius’ Reaction

 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

                                                Dan 6:14 KJV

Darius realised his mistake and sought a way out – but there was none!

 Slide 20

Darius’ Confidence in Daniel’s God

 16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17 And a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.                      Dan 6:16-18 KJV

NB  Darius spent the night fasting  - Daniel spent the night sleeping.

But note Darius’ confidence in the God of Daniel.

NB What a testimony.

 Slide 21

 Faith Triumphs

 Dan 6:19-23    19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

Slide 22

 21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

                                                                       KJV

Slide 23

 The Faith Promoted

 ( Dan 6:25-27 )  25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

 Slide 24

27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

KJV

 We join with the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 32:17) saying ……….

 Slide 25

 Ah, Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens

And the Earth by Thy great power.

Nothing is too difficult for Thee!

Nothing, nothing,  absolutely nothing,

Nothing is too difficult for Thee!

 

 And echo the words of the chorus ……

 Slide 26

 

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

God specializes in things thought impossible

He can do just what none other can do!

______________________________________

 

31/10/21

 Elisha (2)

Slide 1

 Contending For The Faith

 We have been looking at men and women in the Old Testament who “Contended Earnestly for The Faith”

 We have looked at people such as:- Abel; Enoch; Noah;  Abraham; Moses; Joshua: Gideon; Elijah And Elisha.

 Slide 2

 Elisha – Elijah’s successor as God’s Prophet to Israel.

 Slide 3

Striking Similarities Between Elijah and Elisha

 Not only do their names sound similar, the main events in their lives run along parallel lines.

 They are “Twin Figures” in the Old Testament narrative.

 Both:-

 Crossed the R Jordan in a miraculous way  (2 Kings 2:8; 2 Kings 2:14)

 Brought water in times of drought    (1 Kings 18:41; 2 Kings 3:9)

 Increased a widow’s store of food  (1 Kings 17:10;  2 Kings 4:1)

 Raised an only son from the dead  (1 Kings 17:17;  2 Kings 4:18)

  Performed miracle outside the borders of Israel

 Pronounced sentences upon kings

 Called down God’s vengeance on unbelievers

  Slide 4

 Marked Contrasts between Elijah and Elisha

 They had different temperments and social attitudes

 Elijah was, like John Baptist, a solitary figure who experienced periods of great depression

 Elisha was gregarious and lead a triumphant life and mingled with his contemporaries.

 There is no record of Elisha ever complaining about his situation or that he ever fled from his enemies or ever lost courage.

 Could this be related to the fact that Elisha was given a double portion of the Spirit which was upon Elijah?

  Slide 5

 Elisha’s “Call”

 The Circumstances of His Call

 His Obedience to The Call

 Faithfulness to The  Call

  Slide 6

 Elisha would not let Elijah out of his sight.

  Slide 7

 Elisha …..   Received a double portion of the Holy Spirit

 Performed Twice as many miracles as Elijah

  Slide 8

 Conflict at Bethel

 Jordan   -  Jericho (Healed the waters of the city) – Bethel

 Bethel – “House of God”

 Confrontation with a mob of youths 

 [NB Phrase translated as “Little children” is used of :-

 Ishmael when he was 16;  Isaac @ 22  ;  Joseph @ 28  And Benjamin @ 40

 " Go Up " -  Mocking reference to Elijah’s translation (Elisha was wearing Elijah’s cloak.)

  The world has always scoffed at God’s people.     BUT

 Vengeance is Mine, I will repay”

 Slide 9

 Elisha’s Compassion For The Oppressed

 The widow of one of the prophets was being oppressed.

 Elisha supplied her need via the miraculous provision of oil.

  Bring all your vessels, fill them ………..”

 Sell the oil and pay off your debts.

  Slide 10

 When we are empty ie emptied of self then the Lord can fill us and use us for His glory.    My God shall supply all your need ……… riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

  Slide 11

 God’s Provision for Elisha

 The Wealthy Shunamite Couple.

 Provide board and lodging whenever Elisha passed through on his travels.

 NB    Promise of a child  cf.   Hannah & Elkanah;  Sara & Abraham;

 Elizabeth & Zachariah.

  Slide 12

  Tragedy to Triumph

 2 Kings 4:32-35

 32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.

 33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.

 34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

 35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.          KJV

 Cf   The Raising of Lazarus;   The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 Slide 13

 The Healing of Naaman         The story of Naaman

 Compassion for the enemy.

 The confidence of the maid.

 The compliance of Naaman

 The coniving of Gahazi

  Slide 14

 Conflict with Syria

  The Gift of Knowledge

  Slide 15

  Slide 16

 Some Modern examples:-

  Arab Israeli wars of 1948;  1956;  1967;  1973.    Arab armies fled because ……..

 Slide 17

 Also  Bible smuggling   Richard Wurmbrand and others  “Lord you opened blind eyes,  make open eyes not see.”

 Slide 18

 Compassion for The Enemy

 NB  The Modern nation of Israel shows restraint and compassion for their enemies.

 The IDF  does not ill-treat prisoners of war as do the Arabs.

 Slide 19

Our God is an Awesome God !

 

 ________________________________

 

Elisha Contending For The Faith

 Over the last few months we have been looking at men and women in the Old Testament who “Contended Earnestly for The Faith”

We have looked at people such as:-                    

Abel; Enoch; Noah;    Abraham;   Moses;     Joshua:     Gideon;  and     Elijah.         Now we come to:-       Elisha …….

 Elisha was  Elijah’s successor as God’s Prophet to Israel

There are some:-           Striking Similarities Between Elijah and Elisha

 Not only do their names sound similar, the main events in their lives run along parallel lines.

 They are as it were “Twin Figures” in the Old Testament narrative.

 Both....

Crossed the R Jordan in a miraculous way  (2 Kings 2:8; 2 Kings 2:14)

Brought water in times of drought    (1 Kings 18:41; 2 Kings 3:9)

Increased a widow’s store of food  (1 Kings 17:10;  2 Kings 4:1)

Raised an only son from the dead  (1 Kings 17:17;  2 Kings 4:18)

 Both ......

Performed miracle outside the borders of Israel

Pronounced sentences upon kings

Called down God’s vengeance on unbelievers

 

There were however some:-                     Marked Contrasts between Elijah and Elisha

 

They had different temperments and social attitudes

Elijah was, like John Baptist, a solitary figure who experienced periods of great depression.

 Elisha led a triumphant life and mingled with his contemporaries.

 There is no record of Elisha ever complaining about his situation or that he ever fled from his enemies or ever lost courage.

 Could this be related to the fact that Elisha was given a double portion of the Spirit which was upon Elijah?

Elisha’s “Call”

 (a) The Circumstances of His Call

(b) His Obedience to The Call

(c) Faithfulness to The Call

(a).   The Circumstances surrounding Elisha’s “Call”

 1 Kings 19:15-21   15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:

16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. 19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

Question:-    Have you experienced God’s Call upon your life?

 In respect of:-         Salvation ?   Service?   Ministry?

 (b). His Obedience to The Call

 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? 21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.     KJV

 Note that Elisha did not just  “Up and Off” .   He settled his affairs. He fulfilled his obligations before leaving.

 Question:-           Have you been obedient to God’s call?

(c) His Faithfulness to The  Call

 1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? 

And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.                                        2 Kings 2:1-4 KJV

 Elisha kept as close as he could to his mentor. 

 Elisha wanted the best that he could have – a double portion of The Spirit.

 Elisha wanted  "God’s “Best”    

Question:-       Are experiencing  “God’s Best”  in your life?

2 Kings 2:8-10     8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.                                                                         KJV

     Don’t Be Content With Anything But God’s “Best”

     Keep Close to The Master

     Never let go

 Remember when  Peter "followed afar off !"

Elisha …..

 Did Receive a double portion of the Holy Spirit

 And the Outcome was that Elisha……

 Performed Twice as many miracles as Elijah

Next Time  we will see …..       Elisha "Contending earnestly for The Faith"

______________________________________

 10/10/21

Elijah (3)

 Recap:-      “Elijah, a man of like passions as us”    James 5:17

 We have seen Elijah up and Elijah down.

 Last time we found Elijah  wishing he were dead before God graciously  touched him.

God had not yet finished with him  - his ministry was not yet complete.

 His immediate task:- to anoint two new kings (Hazael – Syria ;  Jehu – Israel and his Elisha as his own successor.

 In respect of Elisha he found him ploughing on a farm in Abel-meholah and cast his mantle upon him to indicate  his  appointment as his successor. 

1 Kings 19:19-21)

 Yet More Problems

 Elijah’s remaining ministry was not an easy path.

 Naboth’s Vineyard

 Another run in with Ahab and Jezebel      …….   Naboth’s vineyard

 The evil of this woman knew no bounds. She instigated the murder of an innocent man in order to satisfy Ahab and her own evil ambitions.

 The Story of Naboth’s Vineyard    (1 Kings 21:17-25)

 17 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.

1

19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.

20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.

21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,

22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.

23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.                                                   KJV

 The Mercy of God     1 Kings 21:27-22:1 

 1 Kings 21:27-22:1          27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. 28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.                                                                                                             KJV

Fire From Heaven        (2 Kings 1:1-12)

 Ahaziah – son of Ahab & Jezebel  fell out of an upstairs window and was very  sick.

He sent to inquire of the prophets of Baal-zebub god of Ekron as to the outcome of his plight. God told Elojah to intercept the messengers and give them a message:-

 2 Kings 1:3-4  Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? 4 Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.

KJV

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They delivered the message and Ahaziah asked who had delivered it.

 2 Kings 1:7-8   7 And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words?

8 And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.     KJV

 2 Kings 1:9-10    9 Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. 10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.  KJV

 A Second  Attempt   -    same outcome;     A Third attempt        -   a plea for mercy

 Elijah’s Translation to Heaven       (2 Kings 2:1-11)

A foretaste of the "Rapture" of the Church

 2 Kings 2:1-6    2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.

3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

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6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. 

2 Kings 2:9-13

 9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

 13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;  KJV

 Elijah - Post Translation      (Matt 17:3)

 Matt 17:1-3   17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

KJV

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Rev 11:3-12       3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses , and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

KJV

 The Question arises.          Who will these two be?

 Some say Moses and Elijah because of the transfiguration scene.  Others say  Enoch and Elijah because  “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment”       Enoch and Elijah did not die but Moses did.

 Elijah’s “Contending for the Faith”  did not end with his translation he has one more episode to contend.

 Next time          Elisha  Contending earnestly for The Faith.

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03/10/21      

Harvest

 In Agriculture Harvest is the name given to  the process of gathering in the crops and fruit that have been grown over a period of time.

 Our English word “harvest” is derived from the “Old English” word  “haerfest”  meaning “Autumn.”  this is because in England we generally complete the in-gathering of our produce during the season of Autumn.

 Harvest Festivals in the Churches is a relatively recent innovation being introduced by  a Cornish Vicar    in 1843  named Robert Hawker

  The actual timing of the “Harvest” has always been a tricky subject in these islands because of our dependence on the weather! and even with all the modern technology available to the farmer the weather plays a vital part in the “in-gathering” of the harvest.  

 In the passage we read earlier from Gen 8 & 9 we heard how God promised mankind – through Noah that as long as the earth remained in existence the global harvest would never fail [Gen 8:22]

  In the Covenant that God made with Noah, God gave that promise and assurance  but He also gave Noah instruction as to how man should take responsibility for the cultivation of the earth and how human being must conduct relationships with each other.

  Sadly, man has failed to fulfill his responsibilities in this respect.    

eg.   

 Zimbabwe   - used to be the “Bread – Basket” of Africa but now there is wide-spread  malnutrition and starvation particularly among children. 

  Why ?  All because of a megalomaniac named Robert Magabe and his desire fro power to control the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.

  Ukraine (1933)     Stalin  looted the Ukraine [ the “Bread-basket” of Europe] of all its harvest while at the same time preventing the importing of food from  that region. This resulted in the death by starvation of 7 million Ukrainians who were expected tp survive on a ration of 2 loaves of bread per month !

  Why ?      Because the people of the Ukraine wanted their independence from Russia – something they expected as a result from the Revolution in 1917  however, Stalin wanted to control the Ukraine just as Putin does at present.

  Horn of Africa        Has for a couple of generations been subject to famine brought about partly by climatic conditions but mainly by the war-ing factions in that region.

 It is a fact that there is more that enough capacity on the earth to feed every human being  - what is lacking is the will, on the part of governments, to do so.

 God will bring judgment upon those nations who fail to honour the covenant that He made with them – through Noah !

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Harvest  cf Halloween

 In this country, which we have seen to have become progressively more  de-christianised over the past couple of generations, the haerfest has been displace by the pagan festival of Halloween.  

  I  believe  that  this  is  quite  a  significant  development   which we, as Christians,  have to contend with.   

 Harvest  in The Bible

 Some Christians take the position that “Harvest Festivals” are un-scriptural.  

  Now, whilst it is true that the early church does not appear to have observed the practice, the Old Testament makes prolific use of the various types of harvest that were made.

  HARVEST   (Heb. qasir, "a cutting").

 The crops in the southern parts of Israel and in the plains come to maturity about the middle of April, but in the northern and mountainous regions they do not become ripe until three weeks later, or more. 

 Harvest:-

  • began with the Barley Harvest and the Festival of the Passover (Lev 23:9-14; Ruth 2:23;       2 Sam 21:9-10) 

  and 

  • ended with the Wheat Harvest (Gen 30:14; Ex 34:22) and the Festival of Pentecost (Lev 23:16). 

 There were of course other crops to be Harvested  eg Grapes, Figs, Olives etc 

 Earliest Reference to Harvest

 Genesis 4    Gen 4:3-5    3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.               KJV

  Why did God not accept Cains offering?         NB   “Clothes of Skins” Gen 3:21  21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.         KJV 

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God’s Covenant with Noah 

 Gen 8:20-22   20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.  22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.           KJV

  NB       Joseph and his brothers  Gen 37

  There are also numerous references to harvest in Exodus, Leviticus Deuteronomy  etc

  In Joshua, we read that when Israel crossed the River Jordan into the Promised Land the River was in Flood because it was the time of harvest.

  Joshua 3:14-15   14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;  15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)            KJV 

             Judges, Ruth,  Job, Proverbs, Psalms  all  make reference to harvest.

 So also do the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea and Joel

 NB.  Jer 8:20    20 The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.            KJV

  Harvest is used both Literally and  Figuratively

  Figuratively

 Harvest is a figurative term for judgment (Jer 51:33; Hos 6:11; Joel 3:13; cf. Rev 14:15); 

Also for a season of grace (Jer 8:20); a time when many are ready to receive the gospel (Matt 9:37-38; John 4:35);  

and, as the harvest is considered the end of the season, so our Lord Jesus Christ  says, "The harvest is the end of the age" (Matt 13:39).  

 Make no mistake, be under no illusion, there will be a Day of Reckoning. 

 The Bible says that God will judge the earth (both individuals and nations) by none other that His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

 However, the Bible tells us that God is not willing that any should perish but has provided a way of escape – a way of Salvation.

  John 3:16-18  16 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.    KJV 

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26/09/21 

Contending For The Faith

Elijah 

 We have been looking at men and women in the Old Testament who “Contended Earnestly for The Faith” We have looked at people such as:- Abel; Enoch; Noah;  Abraham; Moses; Joshua: Gideon.

 Elijah

Last time we looked at the prophet Elijah and saw how God used him to confront wicked king Ahab and the prophets of Baal who Jezebel had introduced into Israel.

  The drought ended, the rain came and Elijah ran in front of Ahab, all the way to Jezreel.

1 Kings 18:45-46  45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. 46 Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.                NKJV

 Downcast Ahab told Jezebel all that had happened and in typical Jezebel fashion she went on the offensive against God’s servant.  When God has blessed you, always be ready for the devils counter-attack.

NB. Jezebel’s threat.

What did Elijah do?   Did he “Contend earnestly for the Faith?”   NO !   He Fled.    Ran away.     How human was the prophet. NB James 5:17,18   “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours”

1 Kings 19:1-3  1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying,"So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.                NKJV

Elijah fled as far from Jezebel as he could  …….. From Jezreel in the North to Beersheba in the South.

Leaving his servant at Beersheba, Elijah pressed on for another day into the desert.

He sat down under a Juniper (Broom) bush and prayed.

What a prayer ….. “Lord, I’ve had enough, let me die!” then he fell asleep.

 The Gracious Hand of the Lord.

 1 Kings 19:5-7    5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again.  NKJV

   “He touched me, Oh He touched me and O the joy that filled my soul”

Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.

NB  Dan 10:7-12   7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. 10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. 12 Then he said to me,"Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.            NKJV

 Isaiah 6:7   6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged." 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:  "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?“ Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." 9 And He said, "Go, and tell this people:                   NKJV

 John - Rev 1:17-18  17   And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.  18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  NKJV

God’s Provision

When God calls  -  He equips.         Elijah had experienced the providence of God during the drought.

First at Cherith, then at Zeraphath.  How soon we forget!

1 Kings 19:6-8

6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water.  So he ate and drank, and lay down again.

7 And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you." 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.  NKJV

 

The Futility of Self-Pity

 1 Kings 19:9-10  9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 

10 So he said,"I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."            NKJV

   The Mount of God

 God’s Revelation  was not through a spectacular demonstration of power Wind,  Earthquake, or Fire   BUT  through a …. Still,  small voice  !

Have you ever heard that still, small voice?

1 Kings 19:11-12  Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.                                                     NKJV

  Persisting in Self-Pity

 1 Kings 19:13-14  13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"   14 And he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."                        NKJV

 However,  God had more things for Elijah yet to do.

I’m glad that God does n’t give up on us so easily.

  God’s Persistent Voice

 

 1 Kings 19:15-18     15 Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.  17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." 

 It is a Divine principle that when we go wrong, He takes us back to where we went wrong and then puts us right.

Repentance.

 As believers we have this assurance that if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

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12/09/21

Contending For The Faith

 Gideon

"Mighty Man of Valour"

 The Situation.    (Judges 6:1-2, 6)

1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.

2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.

6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.                                               KJV

 Gideon’s Call to Deliver His People         Judg 6:12-14 KJV

12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

A Divine Encounter

Gideon, like Joshua and Moses before him had a divine encounter. 

Judg 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

 Excuses       

Gideon too made excuses as to why he was unfit to be used by God.

 Judg 6:And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.

 A Divine Promise

 God gave to Gideon a promise confirmed with a sign

 Judg 6:16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

Supernatural Sign

Judg 6:21-22  21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.      KJV

 Contending For The Faith

  Gideon started at home   -   we too must begin at home!

 Judg 6:25-27  25 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second  bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.    KJV

 Counting The Cost

Gideon was prepared to count the cost.

28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. 29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.

                                                Judg 6:28-30 KJV

 Preparation for Battle

The “Fleece Test”    Judg 6:36-40

 Judg 6:36-40    36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. KJV

The Selection Test        Judg 7:2-8

Judg 7:2-7  2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. 4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.    KJV

Divine Encouragement          Judg 7:9-14

Judge 7:13-15  13 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. 15 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.   KJV

 Plan of Attack.          Judg 7:16-18  

16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. 17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. 18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.    KJV

 The Victory        Judg 7:19-21  

19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. 21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.        KJV

 Gideon’s Characteristics

        Humility;  Caution;  Spirituality;  Obedience;  Loyalty;    But theses were.... Weakened by Prosperity

Gideon’s Later Years      Judg 8:22-32

 In his later years, Gideon :-

 Was offered the Crown but refused it    Judg 8:22,23

Made a Golden Ephod causing Israel to sin      Judg 8:24-27

Judged Israel for 40 years       Judg 8:32

 

            Warning …..

                                                He that thinks that he standeth   Take heed lest he fall !        1 Cor 10:12

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29/08/21

Contending for The Faith

MOSES

 Moses’ Birth and Formative Years

 Heb 11:23   By faith Moses, when He was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. ESV

 Moses Early Life.     [ 0  -  40 yrs ]

 Moses was …..

  • A Beautiful Baby    (Acts 7:20)

In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months

  •   Adopted by Pharaoh’s Daughter    (Ex 2:4-10)

And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

  • Well Educated      (Acts 7:22)

 CT Studd wrote:-                         "Only one life   ‘twill soon be passed, Only what’s done for Christ will last."Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.            

   Heb 11:24,27       24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter ; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

 

Forty Years in The Wilderness.          [ 40 – 80 yrs ]

 These were years of:-

    • Years of preparation
    • Tending Sheep in the desert
    • The Burning Bush experience

 God’s Call to Moses.         (Ex 3:10)

 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.      (Ex 3:10)

 

Moses’ Excuses

  • Personal unfitness                  (Ex 3:11)

 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

  • Fear of not being accepted      (Ex 4:1)

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

  • Lack of eloquence                   (Ex 4:10)

 10And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

  • Request to be released from the call          (Ex 4:13)

 13And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

 

 God’s Promises to Moses

  • Divine Presence                  (Ex 3:12)

12And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

  • Divine Authority                 (Ex 3:13,14,15)

13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

  • Divine Empowerment          (Ex 4:1-8)

 1And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. 2And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. 6And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. 7And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. 8And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. 

 

  • Divine Promise of Human Co-operation (Ex 4:14-17)

 14And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.  15And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.  17And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

 

Moses’ Return to Egypt.         ( Exodus  chs 4 & 5)

 18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. 19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. 20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.     Ex 4:18-20  KJV

 

Moses Contends With Pharaoh

 

  1.   Water changed to blood     (Ex 7:14 - 25)
  2.   Frogs                               (Ex 8: 1 - 15)
  3.   Lice                                 (Ex 8:16 - 19)
  4.   Flies                                (Ex 8:20-32)
  5.   Murrain upon the Beasts    (Ex 9: 1 - 7)
  6.   Boils                                (Ex 9: 8 - 12)
  7.   Hail                                 (Ex 9: 18 - 35)
  8.   Locusts                            (Ex10: 1- 20)
  9.   Darkness                          (Ex10: 21-29)
  10.   Death of the First-born      (Ex 12:29)

  

Moses Leads God’s People.          ( 80 – 120 yrs )

 

Moses spent his:-

 

  • First 40 yrs thinking he was   “Somebody”
  • Next 40 yrs finding out he was a “Nobody”
  • Last 40 yrs finding out what God can do with a nobody

 

 

Only One Life 

 

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past, 

Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

 

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

 

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

 

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

 

Oh let my love with fervour burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

 

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ” 

 

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.” 

                                               C.T Studd

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22/08/21

Contending For The Faith

Abraham

 Heb 11:8-10    8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.                                          KJV

 Just how did Abraham contend for the Faith?

 Abraham lived around  2000 BC.    He lived in the city of Ur in the land of the Chaldeans.  [ Mesopotamia – Iraq ]      The centre of world civilization  -  BUT - a wicked place.  Sin abounded on every hand ( not unlike GB today !!! )

 However, thank God,  where sin did abound Grace did much more abound and God called Abram out of that place to a land that God said He would lead him to.

 The Call of God

 Ur   -   Haran  -  Canaan

 Gen 11:31    31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

 Gen 12:1-4  1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.     KJV

 Gen 12:5-7    5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.           KJV

 Abraham was obedient … But …  NOT perfect !

 Abraham had his lapses    cf  Gen 11:12-20  (Egypt)  and  Gen 16:3  (Ishmail)  Gen 20  Abimelech

 The thing about the Bible is that unlike secular accounts the Bible describes its “heroes”  warts and all. It does not gloss over their imperfections. cf. Elijah – subject to like passions to us.

 We are not perfect  but we are being perfected!

 We are called to be obedient we will only be perfected when we get to glory!

 Abraham stood in the Breach when Lot was taken prisoner by Chedorlaomer and his allies.

Abraham wouldn’t take any reward from the king of Sodom  -  “Lest you should say say I made Abraham rich.”

 It was shortly after this that God appeared to Abram and made a covenant with him.

 Gen 15:1  After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."

Gen 15:4-7   4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." 5 Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him,"So shall your descendants be." 6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. 7 Then He said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it."

Gen 15:18-21   18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying:   "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates —  19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."        NKJV

 Abraham’s Intercession for Lot re:- Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

 Abraham barters with God         How many?   50; 45; 40; 30; 20; 10. ?

 Gen 18:23-26  23 And Abraham came near and said,"Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" 26 So the LORD said,"If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes."        NKJV

 Abraham’s Severe Test

 People who “Contend for the Faith” are not immune from trials and afflictions

 Gen 22:1,2   1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!"     And he said, "Here I am." 2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."         NKJV

 Heb 11:17-19   17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,  18 of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called,"   19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.  NKJV

 Characteristics of Abraham

Abraham was:-

▪   Faithful         ( Known as the “Father of the Faithful”)

▪   Obedient        (left home and friends at the call of God).

▪   Unselfish        (Gave Lot first pick of the land)

▪   Courageous    ( went after & defeated the robber kings)

▪   Benevolent     (Gave tithes of all he possessed)

▪   Uncorruptible  (would not take the gifts a a pagan king)  

 

These are the characteristics of those who ……… “Contend Earnestly for The Faith”

      Question:-              How do you and I measure up to this ?

_______________________________________

 

15/08/21

 

Men Who Contended For The Faith

 Jude v 3     Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  NKJV

 Faith at the Dawn of History.   (Gen 4:1-16; 5:18-24; 6:5-8:22)

 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.    NKJV

 

Abel; Enoch; Noah;

 Abel

 

 1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD." 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.               Genesis 4:1-5   NKJV

 

31 "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt.  33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?  34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,  35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation                  Matthew 23:31-36                                                                                                              

 

Question:-     Why did God regard Abel as being ….  “Righteous” ?

 Answer:-       Because Abel approached God  ………..  God’s Way !

 God’s Way …….. is through Christ

 Jesus said ……….   6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way , the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.   John 14:6 KJV

 

 Peter said …..

 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.  11 This is the stone which was set at nought of   you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (Jesus) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

                                                                            Acts 4:10-12 KJV

 Enoch

 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 

 Question……

 Why did God regard Enoch as being …… “Righteous” ?

 Answer: …….     Because ……….. “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. “.     Gen 5:24 NKJV

 

Enoch’s translation into God’s presence before the Flood is an illustration of   ........

 The   “Rapture”  of the  “Church”  before  The   “Tribulation

 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.       15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.        1 Thess 4:13-18 KJV

 

Noah

 Question:-      Why did God regard Noah as being ….  “Righteous” ?

 Answer:-    Because    ……….. 

 8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. 22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.  (Genesis 6:8,9,22)

 

1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.                (Genesis 7:1,5 KJV)

 

 Noah’s preservation through the Flood is an illustration of   ........

 Those who will be saved during the  “Tribulation”.    

After  The “Rapture” of the “Church”

 These are…….     The     “Tribulation Martyrs”.    Rev 7:13-15

 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.   Rev 7:13-15 KJV

 The Tribulation Saints (Martyrs)  (Rev 20:4)

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

 

What the “Gospel” Writers had to Say

 

Matthew:-

 37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.      Matthew 24:37-42

 

Luke:- 

26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:  27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;  29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.       31 "In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.  32 Remember Lot's wife.  33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  34 I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left.  35 Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.  36 Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left."       Luke 17:26-36

 

 Peter wrote concerning the last days of this present dispensation  …

 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.    4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked  8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) —  9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.         2 Peter 2:1-11

 

 We are indeed living in momentous days

 And Like  ……   Abel, Enoch and Noah

 We must ……

  •    Come God’s Way
  •   Walk with God

And

  •  Contend earnestly for The Faith !

 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. 

Amen.

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08/08/21 

The General Epistle of Jude

 

                            Over the last three  months or so we have been considering the epistle to Hebrews.  

 

During the course of that study, we have seen that “Faith is the the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Heb 11

 Last week we considered “Faith in Practise” Heb 13.

 The General epistle of Jude, also highlights the importance of faith – the theme of Jude’s general letter to believers in the early church is that of “Contending for the Faith”   literally “Contending earnestly for the faith”

 

The Theme:-                “Contending Earnestly For The Faith”

 Jude v3      Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.                                                                                 

 The Author:- Jude, the brother of James.

  Which James?     Most likely James  the Lord’s "brother” cf  Matt 13 55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[a] Simon, and Judas? 

 This is particularly relevant today cf. the Lord Jesus said. Luke 18:8 :-  “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find (the) Faith on the earth?” 

 In this brief letter Jude predicts the apostasy which would come and how it would come about and how it should be dealt with.

  Paul also predicted the coming apostasy in 2 Thess 2

 2 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He[d] who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

  Peter also in. 2 Pet 3:3,4      3 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”.    

Contending for the Faith amongst believers and non-believers.

 This letter is has five divisions:- 

  1. Greeting      (vv 1,2)
  2. Purpose   (vv 3,4)
  3. Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)
  4. Characteristics of Apostate teachers  (vv 8-19)
  5. Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

  

  1.   The Greeting    (vv 1, 2)

  Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified[a] by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

  NB  During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we are told that his “brethren” did not believe on Him.

 Here, Jude (Judas) describes himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ!

  Note how he describes the believers to whom he writes this letter  -  “Called”  “Sanctified”  “Preserved”  Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

  

  1. The Purpose  (vv 3,4) 

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[b] and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

NB. The Faith  which was once for all delivered to the saints”. 

 

Cf. Heb 1     God’s Supreme Revelation

 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

 

  1. The Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)

 In the NT Apostasy is turning away from the truth revealed in the scriptures.

 Eg. Dis-owning the name of Christafter having believed.

Perverting  apostolic doctrine.

Deliberately rejection the truth as revealed in scripture.

Apostasy is different from error which may result through ignorance or heresy which may result from the deception of Satan.

 

Apostasy is the act of a professing Christian who knowingly and deliberately revealed truth concerning the deity of Christ and redemption through His atoning sacrifice. In the day and age in which we live there has been a falling away among professing Christians.  

 Many of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith are no longer accepted. Wrong is deemed to be right and right to be wrong.

 The beliefs of the world have been brought into the “church” and many have become disillusioned.

 This is quite apart from the onslaught of militant atheism against the church of Jesus Christ.

 Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Thess 2

 2 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

 

 We are often urged to come together as the “Faith Sector” of society and all “faiths” are given equal credulance. However, we have to stand firm and earnestly contend for "The Faith that was once delivered." 

 This Faith does not “Change with the Times” is is steadfast and unchanging.

 NB. Hebrews 13:8  “Jesus Christ the Same, yesterday, and today and forever.” 

 

Heresy, error and apostasy hve always existed.  They existed in the O.T.  Jude cites the examples of Cain, and of Korah as well as that of Balaam and of Sodom & Gomorrah.

 

  1. The Characteristics of Apostate Teachers

 Even these can be traced back to O.T. times.

 Cain(Gen 4:1)    The type of the religious person who, believes in God, and religion BUT after his own ideas, will. Cain rejected God’s Way of redemption  - by blood.

 Similarly apostate teachers seek to explain away the atonement. 

Balaam (Num 22 et al)  Balaam used human reasoning and sought to obtain material gain from his prophetic gift. 

Korah (Num 16) Refused to accept God’s authority through the ministry of Moses and Aaron.

  

Even some of the angels succombed to this sin  (Jude v 6)  Jude says here that certain people, ungodly people,  had crept in unawares, turning the Grace of God into lasciviousness.

 Jude 16-19 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 

 Grumblers; Complainers; Loud-mouths; Flatters; Mockers; Sensual.

 

5.  Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

 Notice the contrast in verse 17 - 20

 20 But  you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

 

Judes Magnificent Doxology   ( vv 24-25)

  24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.

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Hebrews

 "God’s Better Way"  -  "The Superiority of Christ"

 

In "Hebrews"  We see that :-

 In Christ we have a Superior Ministry (chs 1 &2 ) ;

(Chs 3&4) a Superior Leader

Chs 5-7 a superior Priesthood ; Ch 8  Superior Covenant ; 

Ch 9 A Superior Tabernacle ; Ch.10 A Superior Sacrifice

 In ch. 11 we read of a “Superior Faith” and in

 Ch. 12 we have “The Believer’s Walk & Worship”

 

 Now we come to the last chapter – ch 13.

 

 Here we have:-

Faith in Practise   (Hebrews 13)

  Is it a co-incidence that Hebrews is followed by James?    Heb 11 “Faith”      James    …….   show me your faith.     

 A person’s Works testify to a person’s faith.     Faith without works is …… dead!

 Hebrews 13  deals with faith in practice  -  ie.  in  action 

 NB how ch. 13 begins   ….     “Let brotherly love continue”

 Jesus said:-  

John 13:34-35   34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.      KJV

 This love should extend to those we come in contact with cf.  v2   

          2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  KJV

                             [Ref ….   to Abraham and the visitors on the plain of Mamre.]

 Also we must concern ourselves with those who are being persecuted for their Christian testimony.

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 Heb 13:3     3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. KJV

 [ This is becoming increasingly prevalent in our country cf. “Christian Concern”   nurses and doctors disciplined for displaying their faith in Christ.]

 

 Conduct That is Becoming of  Believers

 Believers should be:-

(a) Morally up-right

 4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge

 (b) Content with What we Have

 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”[a] 6 So we may boldly say:  “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.      What can man do to me?”

 (c) Steadfast in our faith

 9 Do not be carried about[c] with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. 

 NB  The characteristics of the age in which we live    “Strange doctrines”   the “New Age” has infiltrated the church. cf. the so called   “Emergent Church.”

 NB   The Unchanging Christ     -   

 Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever.”          v 8

 The Word of God is FIXED it does not change to accommodate  the ideas of men.

 The Bible is NOT to be interpreted in the “light of  the time in which we live” Rather  the times in which we live are to be interpreted in the light of God’s Word !

 NB. 1 Tim 4:1-2  1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;   2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;  KJV

 2

What God Requires of Us

 Just as the sacrifices in the Old Testament were never ending,   so we should give a continual sacrifice of praise unto our God.

 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 

 

 Final Instructions

 

Church discipline   -    Obedience and Prayer    

 

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. 

 

 Apostolic Benediction

 

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you[d] what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 

  NB   God of Peace        -  we have peace with God  …………

 

 Final Words

 22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 

23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.

 24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

 25 Grace be with you all.    Amen.

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13/06/21

THE TABERNACLE

 Reading:- Heb 9: 1-14

 1.    The Position of the Tabernacle

 It was located in the middle of the camp, surrounded  by God's people. 

The court was enclosed by a white curtain  made of "fine twined linen" which was in sharp contrast  with  the black tents of the people made from goats hair.

Around the perimeter of the enclosure were the tents  of the Levites, with Moses, Aaron, and the priests camped  facing the gate.

The gate faced the East, where the tents of the tribe of Judah were pitched. 

To  the  West  were  the  encampments  of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin. 

To the South were the  tents of Simeon, Rueben and Gad.

 Whilst to the  North  were  camped Ashur, Dan and Naphtali.

 2.   The Structure of the Tabernacle

 (a) The Court

                                           (175 feet       x      87.5 feet)

This was a perfect oblong  100 cubits x  50   cubits  enclosed  by an  8' 9" tall wall of "Fine twined  linen"  cloth. 

 The cloth was supported by 60 pillars standing  upon  brass sockets which were buried  in  the  sand.  

 The  pillars  were capped with silver and joined together by silver bars.

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 The East wall contained the gate, 35' wide and  and made  of blue, purple and scarlet and fine twined linen.

 The gate provided:-

 (1)   A barrier to unlawful approach

 (2)   Protection from wild animals

 (3)   A line of demarkation/separation

 (4)   A way of approach.

NB.      Man cannot approach God except God's way.

 The Significance of the colours

 Even the colours used in the construction  of  the  gate  are significant.       

  Blue speaks of the Son of God, satisfying the demands of  a Holy God.

Purple portrays the "Kinsman Redeemer",  bringing  God  and man together

Scarlet   typifies  the "Son of Man", meeting the needs  of man.

Linen represents the  "Holy character  of  God",  making it possible for Him to open up a "New and Living Way." 

(b) The Building.

 The building was divided into two parts:-

 1.  The Holy Place   which measured 20 x 10 cubits.

 2.  The Holy of Holies  measuring  10 x 10 cubits.

 The Holy of Holies was separated from the  Holy  Place  by  a curtain.

 2

The Roof

 The outer layer of the  roof  was covered by  Badger  skins which were weather proof but not very attractive to look at. 

 The inner lining was of  Rams skins, dyed red.

 The Curtains

 The outer  curtains  were  of  black Goats  hair   and  the inner curtains were  of  white linen  worked with  blue, purple, and scarlet.

 3.  The Furniture of the Tabernacle

 In the court was the  Brazen Altar  on which   were offered the sacrifices. (5 x5 x3 cubits).

 Then, just before the outer veil at the entrance to  the Holy place was the  Laver.

 Inside  the  Holy   place,  the   Table  of  Showbread overlaid with gold, bearing 12 loaves  of  bread  was  to  be found.  

Across  from the table was  the  golden   Lampstand with its seven candlesticks and in front of the  inner  veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy  Place,  was the  Golden Altar of Incense.  (Ex 30: 34-38)

 Inside  the  Holy  of  Holies  was  the  Ark  of  the Covenant.  

This  was a box made of  Shittim wood,  overlaid with gold, inside and outside. Its lid was made of solid gold in the form of the  Mercy  Seat.   

Forming   part  of  the Mercy Seat were the   Cherubim   (guardians of. Eden).

 Inside the Ark of the covenant  was  to  be  found  the Tables of Stone   with  the ten commandments, a golden  pot containing  Manna   and   Aaront Rod  that budded.

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4.   The Presence of God    (Ex 40: 33-38)

 The Pillar of Cloud by day, and the Pillar  of  Fire  by night were a reminder to all Israel that the Lord was present in the midst of His people. 

The Approach to God                                       

 Only the priests could enter the tabernacle and only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and then only once a year on the   Day of Atonement .

 

 5.  The Symbolism of the Tabernacle

 God gave Moses instructions for building the  tabernacle  and warned him to carry them out exactly ( Ex 25:9 ). 

 The  reason why such great care had to be taken was that  the  tabernacle was to be a symbol of the ministry of the Lord  Jesus  Christ ( Heb 8:1, 2; 10:1 ).

 

1. The Outer Court  around  the  tabernacle  represents  the world. 

 This court measured 50 by 25 metres.

 2. The Brazen Altar was  2.3  m  square  and  1.4  m high. 

 Sacrifices were burned on it, symbolizing  the  sacrifice  of Christ on Calvary to atone for sin.     (cf. John 10:11)

 3. The Laver was a large  basin  where  the  priests  washed their hands and feet before going into the Holy  Place.  

 This symbolizes the cleansing necessary for  entrance  into  God's presence,                               (cf. John 15:3)

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 4. The Holy Place    This measured 10 m by 5 m and symbolized the church, separated from  the  world  (  the  court  )  and entered by way of Christ's sacrifice ( the altar ).

 5. The Table of Shewbread, on which every week  were  placed twelve loaves. 

This was a symbolic of the Lord's Table and  the "Breaking of Bread",                    (cf. John 6:35)

 6. The Candlestick, holding seven lamps giving light for the Holy Place. 

 Jesus said "I am the Light of the World".     (cf. John 8:12)

 7. The Altar of Incense  was  the  place where incense  was burned.

  The sweet-smelling smoke ascended like the prayers of God's people,                           (cf. John 15:16)

 8. The veil was a curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. When Christ died, the veil  was  torn  apart allowing direct access into God's presence.

(cf. Matt 27:51)

 9. The Most Holy Place, was a perfect cube 5 x 5 x 5 m and was the place of God's presence.

 10. The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden chest  over-laid with gold and having a golden lid bearing two golden cherubim. 

 The ark contained the  10  commandments,  a  pot  of  manna,  and Aaron's rod that budded.                           (cf. John 17:3)

 The Lord Jesus Christ is the complete and perfect  fulfilment of all that is typified in  the  types  and  shadows  of  the tabernacle.

 

Seeing therefore we have a Great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus Christ, let us hold fast to our profession. (Heb 4:14).

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06/06/21

 

Click on link:-

“ Beginning of the End is Near”    (Max Lucado)

 

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 30/05/21

Click on link:-

 “Anxious for Nothing”       (Max Lucado)

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23/05/21

The Day of Pentecost

 

 Today is  “Whit Sunday” !    ..........       To the modern person “What Sunday” !

  Some years ago Whit Bank Holiday” was “abolished” in UK in favour of  “Spring Bank Holiday”

 This is an indication that the UK is not only financially Bankrupt it is also Spiritually Bankrupt. And it could be said “Morally Bankrupt.”

  However, this is also a picture of the state of the “Church” in Britain today.

  Compare this to days gone by ..... Compare it to the “Birth” of the Church described in Acts 2.

 Pentecost is One of the  Major Feasts of the Old Testament.

 Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Passover  

  1. The Sabbath Day (i.e., Shabbat, a weekly feast)
  2. Passover (Pesach) - Nisan 14-15
  3. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi) - Nisan 15-22
  4. First Fruits (Yom habikkurim) - Nisan 16-17
  5. Pentecost (Shavu'ot) - Sivan 6-7
  6. Trumpets (Yom Teru'ah) - Tishri 1
  7. Atonement (Yom Kippur) - Tishri 10
  8. Tabernacles (Sukkot) - Tishri 15-22

The Holy Spirit in The Old Testament

1. The Holy Spirit did not just materialise on the Day of Pentecost.  His ministry and work is evident throughout the Old Testament.The Spirit participated in creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Is. 32:15). 

 2. The Spirit gives life to humanity and the other creatures (Ps. 104:29, 30). It is interesting that when Genesis says God endows people with life by breathing into their nostrils the “breath of life” (Gen. 2:7), the word for “breath” is the same word translated elsewhere as “spirit.” 

 3. The Spirit strives with sinners (Gen. 6:3), which is perhaps related to His work in convicting people of sin (John 16:8–11). 

 4. The Spirit came upon certain judges, warriors, and prophets in a way that gave them extraordinary power: for example, Joshua (Num. 27:18), Othniel (Judg. 3:10), Gideon (6:34), Samson (13:25; 14:6), and Saul (1 Sam. 10:9, 10). However, the Spirit later departed from Saul because of his disobedience (16:14).

5. The Spirit played a prominent role in the long span of Old Testament prophecy. David declared that “the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). Likewise, Ezekiel reported that “the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me” (Ezek. 2:2).

 6. The Spirit inspired holiness in Old Testament believers (Ps. 143:10). And Scripture promised that someday God would put His Spirit in His people in a way that would cause them to live according to His statutes (Ezek. 36:27).

 7. The Spirit was crucial in helping God’s people anticipate the ministry of the Messiah. For example, Isaiah 11:1–5 is a trinitarian preview of the working of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son, who is the Branch of Jesse. Looking forward to the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to prophesy: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Is. 11:2), inspiring God’s Chosen One with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, righteousness, and faithfulness. Thus we come full cycle to the New Testament, where Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of this prophecy (Is. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:18, 19). 

 However, back to. The Day of PENTECOST:-

 The Day of Pentecost - sometimes referred to as the Birthday of The Church.

 The situation was that the disciples were gathered together in obedience to Christ’s command awaiting the fulfilment of His Promise:-

 Cf. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”          John 14:16-17,26 

  And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”  Luke 24:49 AKJV

 NB.    OBEDIENCE

  They were timid and fearful yet they did what Jesus told them to. The disciples were obedient.

  Obedience is what the Lord desires from us.  

  NB. “To obey is better tan sacrifice ....”. Cf. 1 Samuel 15:22

  And Samuel said, Hath the Lord  as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

  In Luke 11:9-13. Jesus Says:-   And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?     Luke 11:9-13 

 NB the sequence:-        Ask;   Seek;   Knock 

 The Situation 

 They were gathered in the upper room when ....... Suddenly something remarkable happened ! 

 There was the SOUND of a “Rushing, Mighty Wind and tongues of FIRE and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

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

  Those Present in Jerusalem on that Day.  Acts 2:5-13

  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Acts 2:5-13  

 Ie people from all parts of the Roman Empire. 

 The Outcome 

Peter preached preached the Gospel. -  he uplifted Jesus

The Ministry of The Holy Spirit 

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to Glorify Jesus.

 Acts 4:13    "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

 All of this took place with respect to Jewish believers.

 However, in Acts 10 Peter was sent to speak to a Gentile - Cornelius, a Roman Centurion.

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

 Notice the unusual order in this case.

 The “Normal” sequence of events is:-  Salvation;  Baptism in Water; then Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

 Here, Baptism in the Spirit preceded Baptism in Water !

 Man has introduced “many ways” eg; christening, confirmation etc.

 God’s Way is:- Born again, Baptised, Filled.

 NB. There is one Baptism but many “Fillings.”

 The Question to Believers          Have you been Baptised in the Holy Spirit?

 When Paul arrived at Ephesus on his missionary third journey    Acts 19:1-7 he dealt with this very question

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

 Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit?

 Returning to Luke 11.   “Ask, seek, knock

 Personal Testimony

 After many years as a Christian, I came to that very place when I asked the Lord to baptise me in the Holy Spirit - and He did.  The result was that my Christian life was transformed.

Many others here will testify to that experience.

How about you?                      Ask and it SHALL be given unto you.  So ASK !

  

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16/05/21

Christ's Ascension into Heaven

 

 Forty days after Jesus’s resurrection, the biblical storyline takes a remarkable turn: 

 Jesus disappeared.  Luke records:-...... “He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). 

 Two angels then tell the disciples that Jesus was “taken into heaven” (Acts 1:11)

 So what do we make of this plot twist in the Bible’s story? 

 How should we understand our crucified and risen Lord’s ascension?  

 The ascension is a vital part of the redemption story. If we simply collapse the ascension into the resurrection, we miss stunning benefits tied directly to Jesus being taken into heaven.

 

 Five Ways the Ascension Benefits Us

 Here are five ways the ascension of Jesus benefits us.

  1. It establishes Jesus as the Reigning King over all Powers in all Ages. 

Ephesians 1:20–21 speaks of the power God exerted when He ...... “raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” 

Further, we have been “seated with him in the heavenly realms in Jesus Christ” (Eph. 2:6–7). 

This is remarkable! Not only do we, the readers, participate in Christ’s resurrection life; we also share in his exaltation and victory over the powers.

 It was the ascension that made this victory over evil powers possible:

 Jesus Christ did not ascend spiritually, leaving behind his body and world history; rather he ascended in the flesh, opening up space within history for the in-breaking of the powers of the age to come.

 For this reason, Paul urges us to stand against Satan’s schemes:-  

Eph 6:10-13“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

 (Eph. 6:11). It’s the Lord’s power that makes this possible (Eph. 6:10)—a power we can access as believers seated in the heavenly realms with our ascended King. We need this power since the problems we face appear to be human conflicts, but are ultimately struggles with the forces of darkness (Eph. 6:12).

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2. It gives us access to God’s Throne for Mercy and Grace.

 In Christ Jesus “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (Heb. 4:14). “Passed through the heavens” is the ascension language; Jesus passed through the heavens to be seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 1:3).

 What’s the result? We can now “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). 

 Whether we are battling cancer, bitterness, betrayal, pride, or discouragement, we can pray with confidence because of our ascended Lord who intercedes for us.

 

 3. It provides an Advocate on Earth whose Presence is Limitless.

 

The night before he was crucified, Jesus promised his disciples that he would “ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17). 

 

Later, in John 16:7 Jesus returns to this theme: “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

 

What advantage would this create for the disciples?    They followed and loved Jesus. 

Why would they want him to leave so the Spirit could come? It almost sounds like a parent saying to their children, “It’s better if I leave so my cousin can come take care of you.” 

How is Jesus’s leaving an advantage for his disciples?

 The answer is simple, yet profound. The incarnate Jesus was limited by space and time. He couldn’t be with each one of his followers at once. If he had stayed on earth, he couldn’t have been there simultaneously for Peter in Rome and John on the island of Patmos. 

 But the Holy Spirit can. His empowering presence is available to all believers everywhere at the same time.

 

 4. It gives us the spoils of Christ’s victory— Various Ministries and Spiritual Gifts. 

 In Ephesians 4:7–12,   Paul connects the grace we’ve received with the ascension. 

This grace refers to spiritual gifts Paul describes elsewhere (see 1 Cor. 12) and to the gifted ministers of the Word (Eph. 4:11).

 Paul makes the connection by quoting Psalm 68:18, a description of God’s triumphal ascension to his throne after leading his people out of Egypt and into Canaan. “Paul insists Psalm 68:18 refers to Christ. . . . Acting in the role of God himself in Psalm 68:17–18, Christ had triumphed over the cosmic forces arrayed against God’s people.”

 Then, from his lofty position at God’s right hand, Christ distributes gifts to God’s people to mature them. 

So we share in Christ’s heavenly triumph.

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5. It keeps us Longing for His Return.

 At His Ascension, the two angels declared: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). 

 The ascension creates within us a longing for Christ’s return. 

 It reminds us his reign is “already” but “not yet.” Though presently seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 1:3), Jesus will return earth to establish his kingdom in fullness and put his enemies under his feet (1 Cor. 15:24–27).

 It’s no wonder we are longing for the return of our King! 

When Jesus descends in the way he ascended, the bad times will be over for good, the darkness will lift, and everything sad will at last come untrue.

 So .....Reflect on It Today 

 Now we know why Jesus “disappeared.”

  His ascension wasn’t merely an exclamation point at the end of the resurrection; it provided his followers with power, grace, mercy, presence, gifts, and anticipation enabling us to advance his mission.

 Today, take time to reflect on how Jesus’s ascension changed everything. 

 Respond to the psalmist’s call to “forget not all his benefits” (Ps. 103:2). 

 Indeed, some of his most remarkable benefits flow to us as a result of Christ’s ascension to God’s right hand.

 

 The Promise        Acts 1: 

"And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

 And we look forward to His Return in fulfilment of that promise. The Blessed Hope - The Glorious Appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

 

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 09/05/21

A  Better Covenant

 A Covenant is a sealed contract, a binding agreement.

 

Hebrews 8:6-12

  6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: 

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah —   9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.  10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD:  I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.  12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."                                                 NKJV

 

The scriptures record eight covenant which God made with man.

 

Covenants in Scripture

The ……

1. Edenic Covenant           (Gen 1:26-28)

2. Adamic Covenant          ( Gen 3:14-19)

3. Noahic Covenant           ( Gen 9:1 -    )

4. Abrahamic Covenant      ( Gen 15:18)

5. Mosaic Covenant           ( Ex 20; Ex 21- Ex 24)

6. Palestinian Covenant      ( Deut 28:1 – 30:3)

7. Davidic Covenant           ( 2 Sam 7:8-17)

8. New Covenant               (Heb 8:8-13 Heb 12:24)

  

1. The Edenic Covenant  (Gen 1:26-28)              This conditioned the life of mankind in innocency.

 1

Gen 1:26

26 Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them,"Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 

NKJV

 2. The Adamic Covenant          ( Gen 3:14-19)        Conditions the life of “Fallen” man and gives Promise of a Redeemer.

 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust  All the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity  Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."              Gen 3:14-15 NKJV 

3.  Noahic Covenant           ( Gen 9:1 -    )       Established the Principle of Human Government.

 8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 "And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."       Gen 9:8-11 NKJV

 

4.  The Abrahamic Covenant       Gen 15:18           This founded the nation of Israel and confirmed the Adamic “Promise of Redemption”

 18On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying:  "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates —  19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."      Gen 15:17-21 NKJV

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5. The Mosaic Covenant     “The Old Covenant”    ( Exodus 20 – 31 )

 Enshrined in this is    ……..    “The Law”               The Ten Commandment Plus other laws.

 These laws are impossible to keep and the breaking of a single ONE brings condemnation

 

6. The Palestinian Covenant    ( Deut 28:28 – 30 )

 This secures the final restoration and conversion of Israel.               We are witnessing the fulfilment of this covenant before our eyes.

 NB.  This gives Israel all the territory from the  Mediterranean in the west to the Euphrates in the east.

And from    Damascus    in the North to the “River of Egypt in the south.

 

7. The Davidic Covenant        ( 2 Sam 7:8-17 )           This establishes the perpetuity of the Davidic Family

This was Fulfilled in Christ  ( Matt 1:1 ) and will be completed when Christ Returns in Glory

 

 8.  The New Covenant       ( Heb 8:   Heb 12  Gal 3 )

 This  …..

     Rests on the Sacrifice of Christ;       Secures salvation for all who believe;  Is absolutely unconditional;  Is Final and irreversible

  The “New Covenant”  is Better than The “Old Covenant”

 Because ….                It is established on “better”     -     unconditional.    -     Promises

 eg.      Old Covenant  …..  “If ye will ….  then I …

             New Covenant   …..   “ I will  …….  “

        Under the Old (Mosaic) Covenant     ……      Obedience sprang from fear     ( Heb 2:2 Heb 12:25-27)

 

Under the New Covenant.   …..    Obedience springs from a willing heart and mind    ( Heb 8:10 )

 

The New Covenant   ....    Secures the personal revelation of Christ to every believer   ( Heb 8:11 )

                                          Provides complete oblivion of sins        ( Heb 8:12; Heb 10:3,7 )

                                          Rests on an accomplished redemption ( Matt 26:27; 1 Cor 11:25; Heb 9:11,12 18-23) 

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 Contrasts between the Old and the New Covenants 

                           Mosaic                                       New

            Earthly, sinful priests     9:7             Divine sinless priest 8:1 cf 7:6

            Earthly Tabernacle        9:1             Heavenly Tabernacle 8:2 cf 8:5

             Faulty                           8:7,8            Faultless 8:6 

          Limited access to God    9:7,8          Free access to God 9:10 cf 10:19,22

           Physical washing           9:10           Cleansed conscience 9:14

          Obedience demanded    8:9             Obedience enabled 8:10

 

                      The New Covenant was, like the Old Covenant, inaugurated by blood – the Blood of Christ.

                     When Jesus died, He made the benefits of the New Covenant available to all who would receive Him.

 

The New Covenant Secures …..

 The …..   Perpetuity;   Future Conversion;   Blessing   of  Israel    (Jeremiah 31:31-40)

Jeremiah 31:31-34.  31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah —  32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.

33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." 

35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day,

The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar  (The LORD of hosts is His name): 

36 "If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD,Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever." 

37 Thus says the LORD:  "If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD. 

38 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that the city shall be built for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The surveyor's line shall again extend straight forward over the hill Gareb; then it shall turn toward Goath. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever."   NKJV

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02/05/21

Christ’s is a Superior Priesthood
( Hebrews 5 – 7)

Heb 4:14-16 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Heb 7:23-28 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

KJV

The Aaronic Priesthood
The High Priest

Priests – Priests – Priests - Priests

Qualification By Family - The Aaronic Family

Function To minister in holy things

There were many priests.    All priests had to be members of the Aaronic family – their only claim was that of son-ship


The High Priest

There was only one “High Priest” who was in office for life

Qualification - the Aaronic succession – direct line

Function - to mediate between the people and God

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Aaron was the first High Priest. He was succeeded by his son and so down through the generations.

The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that more than eighty men had held the office between Aaron and Caiaphas.

NB. a “Changing priesthood meant that there was a need for a “Great High Priest”.

 

That Great High Priest is :- Jesus Christ

“Called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchisedec” Heb 5:10

There was One and only One Great High Priest (Heb 4,5,7,8) Jesus Christ and He was NOT of the Aaronic order, He was not even of the tribe of Levi but of Judah!

However, He is “ a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Heb 7:17 KJV

He inherited the Priesthood from no-one and passed it on to no-one.

He remains ……..

He supersedes all others by reason of His endless life and therefore changeless ministry.

 

The Development of the Priesthood

Historical Development

1. Personal 2. Patriarchal 3. National 4. Ecclesiastical

Originally every individual was his own priest and offered his own sacrifices ….

eg. Adam; cain; Abel; Noah etc

Later, the head of the family acted on behalf of the family eg. Abraham.

Then, after the Exodus from Egypt, Aaron acted on behalf of the nation and subsequently the Tribe of Levi was separated for the Priesthood of the nation.

The Aaronic priesthood continued until the death of Christ in the days of Caiaphas the High Priest.

The earthy priesthood ended when Christ passed through the veil and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High.

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The Inauguration of The Priesthood ( Exodus 28 & 29 )

The Earthly Priest was;-

1. Called (Ex 28:1) 2. Cleansed ( Ex 29:4) 3. Clothed (Ex 29:5)  4. Anointed (Ex 29:7)


1. The Earthly Priest was Called (Ex 28:1)
And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, KJV

We too are called to be priests:- 1 Peter 2:9

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: KJV

2. The Earthly Priest was Cleansed ( Ex 29:4)

And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. KJV

So too are we:- 1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed , but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. KJV

 

3. The Earthly Priest was Clothed (Ex 29:5)

5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: 6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. KJV


We are clothed in His Righteousness our garment of salvation.

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4. The Earthly Priest was Anointed (Ex 29:7)

7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.

cf. our anointing

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. KJV


Christ's Priesthood is Different fromThat of Aaron

The Aaronic Priesthood came to an end.

Christ is both Priest and Sacrifice.

We are given a vivid illustration of the nature of Christ’s Priesthood way back in the book of Genesis, before the Aaronic priesthood was established,

The Psalmist speaks of this in Psalm 110

1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. KJV


Who was Melchizedek ?


Heb 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. KJV

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There are a number of suggestions as to this mysterious figure who met Abraham after he returned from rescuing Lot.

Gen 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
KJV

Some suggest that He was some supernatural person; some believe that He is Jesus in a “Theophany”. Some have even suggested that it might have been Shem, Noah’s son who survived the flood.

NB The Genesis account is historical whereas the Hebrews record is doctrinal.

Melchizedek was ……. the King - Priest

His was a Royal and unchanging priesthood and it is a universal priesthood.         It is unique ……. It has neither beginning nor ending.

There was only one Melchizedek - there is only One Lord Jesus Christ !

Melchizedek appeared before Jew and Gentile existed as separate peoples.

The Aaronic priesthood was established for one nation – Israel.

 

When the Greater than Melchizedek came, He made Jew and Gentile One again in Himself.

Gal 3:26-28 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 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.
KJV

Not only is He unique, He is Unchanging

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
KJV

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Melchisedec was both King and Priest

So is the Lord Jesus Christ

 

The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness.  -  His title “King of Salem” means “King of Peace”.

 

Melchizedek is referred to as the “Priest of the Most High God”

Gen 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God . 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

KJV

Note that Melchisedec brought out the the emblems of the communion service when he blessed Abraham after his great victory.

Whenever we come around the Lord’s Table to celebrate communion we celebrate the Great Victory Jesus won at Calvary.

We will conclude where we began:-

Heb 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

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25/04/21

The Superiority of Christ

 

In Christ We Have a Superior Leader

Throughout their history, the children of Israel failed  to  experience  all  that  God intended for them because of their unbelief.

Moses was probably the greatest leader  that  the  world  has ever known. He led the Israelites – 2.5 million of them - out of bondage in Egypt and was their leader for 40 years. 

During this time he gave  them God's Law and built the tabernacle.

 

Christ is Superior to Moses

Moses was a Godly man but Christ is superior to Moses, just as:-

      (a)     A son is superior to a servant

      (b)     The Creator is superior to his creation.

Moses was faithful in all that he did, but  Jesus  Christ  is much greater than even Moses.

 

Israel's Response to The Leadership of Moses

Heb 3:7-19  shows that the  Israelites  responded  to  Moses' leadership with:- 

     (i)    unbelief  

     (ii)  disobedience,  

The details of this is found in  Numbers chapters 13 and 14.

 

1.    The Consequence of Unbelief and Disobedience

As a consequence of  their  unbelief  and  disobedience,  the Israelites were condemned to wander in the  wilderness  until all that generation had died  -  ie  they  "failed  to  enter  into their rest".

Hebrews 4 tells us that there is a "rest" for the people  of  God which we can enter into and experience.

God in His GRACE offers us REST  ……..BUT we must respond in  FAITH  in order to take advantage of it.

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We often lack faith, but Heb 4:12 tells of a  resource  which can cause our faith to increase …….. 

             ie. THE WORD OF GOD.

Heb 4:14-16 tells of an  additional  resource  when  we  need help. 

This is  our  Great  High  Priest  who  understands  our weaknesses and is able to meet all our needs.

Hebrews 4:9        "There remaineth a rest to the people of God." 

 

 Israel Entered into a Wilderness Experience

2.   The Wildernessess Experience

After the Exodus came the Wanderings in the  Wilderness.

 The Characteristics of the Wilderness Experience. 

The mood of the people was characterised by:-

     1. Restlessness        -     No peace

     2. Aimlessness         -     No destination

     3. Dis-satisfaction     -     Unsatisfied longings

 

In the desert they were faced with the:-

    1. Peril of sandstorms

    2. Scourge of disease

    3. Delusion of the mirage

 See  Psalm 106:13-15;  19-21;  24-26

The Cause of the Wilderness Experience

The Wilderness experience  was  brought  about  basically  by unbelief. 

(Heb 3:19) "So we see that they could not enter  in because of unbelief."                    

 

Conditions under which unbelief thrives.

2

There  are  three  basic  conditions  under  which   unbelief  thrived.

cf.  Psalm 106: 25;  19;  13

1. They  Murmured.

      cf. Ex 16  "No Bread"  Ex 17 "No Water"  Num 13 "No Faith"

2. They Departed from the Living God. 

cf. Exodus-32

3. They Failed to Learn the Lessons of the Past.  

cf. Exodus 15

 

Note the warning given in Hebrews 3:12 

"Take heed,  brethren, lest there be in any of you an  evil  heart  of  unbelief  in departing from the living God."

F B Meyer wrote:-        "Unbelief is not the child of the head  but of the  heart." 

 ie.  The  source  of  unbelief  is  not  the intellect but the emotions

(We probably think of it the other way round)

We need on a daily basis  to guard against;-

       1. An evil heart                         Heb 3:12

       2. A hard heart                         Heb 3:15

       3. A fickle heart

 

 3. The Rest of God 

 Note that it is:-

        1. HIS REST              .                  Heb 4:1

        2. MY  REST                                 Heb 4:3

        3. GOD'S REST                            Heb 4:4

3

See how this ties in with God's Sabbath Rest after Creation !

 

God's Rest is NOT  the REST of:-  

        INACTIVITY 

Nor is it the   REST of :-

        WEARINESS 

BUT it is the REST of a:-

        COMPLETED WORK.

 

How then can we experience and enjoy His Rest?

 We must:-

        1. Accept the Finished Work of Christ.

        2. Will the Will of God.

        3. Trust in the Father's Care.          ,

        4. Follow the Shepherd's Lead. 

 

Therefore, let us exhort  one  another  daily,  while  it  is called Today and so let us experience the "Rest  of  God"  in our lives here and now.

 

4

 

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04/04/21

Easter Morning

(Matt 28:1-20)

 Easter Day!   The most momentous Day in Human History.

 The impossible had happened  ............  Jesus Christ had risen from the dead!

 Impossible?     .........     Well ! …… People just don't  rise from the  dead   ...    do they?

 In spite of all that Jesus had said to them in the run up to the Crucifixion, the  disciples simply were not expecting it to happen 

 The Order of Events

 As we read the gospel accounts we become aware of the to-ing and fro-ing that took place that morning.

 1. He Appeared to the Women

 The women,  Mary (the mother of Jesus), Mary Magdeline and Salome (Mother of James & John),  set  out for the Tomb  before dawn in the half-light of day-break in order to annoint the Lord’s body 

 The women  found the stone rolled away and ran back to tell the disciples.  

1.   The women meet Jesus (28:9 a).

2.   The women hear Jesus (28:9 b).

3.   The women worship Jesus (28:9 c).

4.   The women obey Jesus (28:10): 

 That’s what we are here for this morning!

 Peter and John in their haste to check out the women's story.

 Imagine the excitement.......as the reality of the situation began to dawn upon them.  Peter and John RAN to see if what they had been told was true.

 But  ....  was not this just what Jesus had said would happen?

 Just consider this, ...... it was to the women that the Lord first appeared.

 How gracious of the Lord  ............. to appear first to those who had stood heartbroken by the cross as He  bore  our sin in His body on the tree.

 In the eyes of the community they did not count, they were only women ... but they counted to Jesus!  NB............

 1

 2   Jesus Appeared to Peter

 He appeared to Peter later on that morning.........how do we know?

 Because the disciples testified to the two who hot-footed it back to Jerusalem from Emmaus.   Luke 24:34: Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

 Why Peter?    because  it was Peter who had wept bitterly there in the courtyard of the High priest's palace after having denied his Lord. 

 It was  not  enough to have the angels  announce the Resurrection of Jesus  ............  it had to be a  personal appearance.

 

 3   The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) 

 Jesus appears to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus.

 

 A.  Their Reunion with Jesus (24:13-16): 

 These two believers are joined by the Lord Jesus.

 (a) Their conversation (23:13-14): They are talking about the Crucifixion.

 (b) Their ignorance (24:15-16): Neither disciple recognizes the stranger who joins them.

 

  B.  Jesus’  Question (24:17): 

 He asks why they are so sad.

 

 C. Their Reply to Jesus (24:18-24)

 (a)   They tell him their problem (24:18-21): 

 The Crucifixion has dashed their hopes that perhaps Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Messiah!

 (b)   They tell him their puzzle (24:22-24): 

 

Some women found his tomb empty and were told by two angels that he has risen!

 2

 D.  The Rebuke by Jesus (24:25-27)

 (a) Their ignorance of the Scriptures (24:25): He says they have forgotten the prophecies concerning his death and resurrection.

 (b)  His interpretation of the Scriptures (24:26-27): 

 He now reviews for them all the Old Testament passages which speak of him.

 E.  Their Recognition of Jesus (24:28-35)

 1. The meal (24:28-31 a)

 a. The invitation (24:28-29): The two disciples invite Jesus to join them for a meal.

 b.  The revelation (24:30-31 a): 

 After he prays, Jesus distributes the bread. At that moment they recognize him!

 2.  The miracle (24:31 b): 

 He suddenly disappears out of sight!

 3.  Their reflection (24:32): 

 They reflected, "Didn't our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?"

 4.  The mission (24:33-35): The two disciples now return to Jerusalem and report all this to the apostles!

 Yes,  the two on the road to  Emmaus had the  Bible Study to cap all Bible Studies.

  For,  “He, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, expounded unto them in all the  scriptures the things concerning Himself. “  Luke 24:27

 Have  you ever wondered how those two could have left the  others in  Jerusalem when they had received the report of the  women that morning?    

 How  could they?    They just did not believe what the women told them.

 Luke records Luke 24:11: And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

 One thing is sure   -   they altered their opinion when they too met with Jesus!

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And that is the case today, when people have a personal encounter with the Risen Lord, they changed their mind!  

 That is what repentance is all about.  Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change in direction.

 The Reason Why we are Here today

 That's why we are here this morning is it not?   

 We are here to meet with Jesus.

 He has promised that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His Name then there He is in the midst.

 They met with Jesus and to what effect    .......   "Did not our hearts burn within us as He talked with us by the way?"   

 How is  your heart this morning?   Is it not  burning  within  you at the  prospect of meeting with Jesus?

 

Meanwhile, Back in Jerusalem

 It was while  they were testifying to the  others that Jesus  appeared yet again..  Luke  24:36.

 The disciples still had  not come to terms with what had happened. 

Luke 24v 37 They were terrified - they thought they were seeing a Ghost!

 

Jesus' Resurrection Body 

 Touch Me, Handle Me and see. 

 Flesh and Bones.

 He ate broiled fish and a honecomb.

 Then He gave them another Bible Study.

 The Importance of Bible Study.......He opened their eyes that they might understand the Scriptures.

 Oh that we might avail ourselves of the opportunity to get an insight into the Word of God.

 If we are going to effective in carrying out the “Great Commission” we ned to get to grips with the “Word of God.”

 4

 

What people out there need is, the Word of God” for it is the Word of God that speaks into a person’s life and challenges them concerning their need of Salvation.

 He appeared personally to the Women, to Peter, to James, to Cleophas and companion and to over 500 of the disciple on one occasion. (1 Cor 15)

 

 The  Resurrection of Jesus  Christ is the  best attested fact in all history. 

 “He Arose Hallelujah! Christ Arose.”

 And because He lives  …. We shall live also !

 

___________________________________

 

 

28/03/21

 Christ’s Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

 [ Matt 21:1-11;    Mark  11:1-11;  Luke 19:29-48;  John 12:12-19 ]

 The first “Palm Sunday” was a very significant day in God’s calendar of human events.

 It was on that day that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jews long awaited Messiah, presented himself to His people.

 I don’t know whether you can picture the scene in your minds eye........... here comes Jesus of Nazareth,  a young man of around 33 years of age seated upon a young male donkey, riding along the road surrounded by His entourage of followers.  News of His coming had gone on ahead of Him and  along the roadside were gathered crowds of ordinary people eager to get a glimpse of this young rabbi about whom they had heard so much.

 No wonder !  Why only a short time earlier had he not raised Lazarus of Bethany from the dead?

 The last weeks of Jesus’ earthly life were spent in and around Judaea.  

 This was the time when we are told that Jesus set His face to go up to Jerusalem, in the full knowledge that He would be betrayed , fall into wicked hands and be crucified.  

 It was for this purpose that He had come into this world.

 During this period leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus stayed in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus  at  Bethany, a village about 2 miles from Jerusalem on the far side of the Mount of Olives, and on the road to Jericho. 

 Jesus had spent the previous day at the home of “Simon The Leper”  - perhaps one of those 10 lepers that Jesus had healed earlier in His ministry.

 On the day which we now call “Palm Sunday” Jesus set off towards Jerusalem taking the most southerly of the three possible routes to the Holy City. 

 As He approached Bethpage , a village near Bethany, on or near the Mount of Olives, on the east side of Jerusalem He sent two disciples into the  village to fetch the young colt on which he rode in triumph into the city.

 Jesus told the two disciples to take the young donkey and if anybody challenged them to say “the masters needs him.”

 There’s a lesson for us here!        Are you, am I, willing for the Lord to take and use whatever we have  or are there some things which we reserve for ourselves?

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  So the two diciples did what the Lord asked of them.            And  ………   so did the keepers of the donkey !

 Why did Jesus seek to obtain a donkey on which to travel to Jerusalem on that occasion?            The answer lies in Zech 9:9

 Zech 9:9  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” 

 This scene has often been portrayed as depicting the poverty and humility of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Whilst there is a measure of truth in this picture of Christ, that is not how the people who received Him so warmly would have thought of it. 

 To the Eastern mind, the symbol here would be that of peace, in constrast to that of war.           The horse was the symbol of war.  

 Conquering armies would enter a vanquished city, following their commanding General who would be astride a  mighty “charger” a war horse.

 In contrast to this mighty charger, the easterner recognizes the ass as the emblem of peace. 

  Here we see the Prince of Peace entering His Holy City Jerusalem.

 [NB. the story of General Allenby when he entered Jerusalem in 1917 at the head of the victorious British Army who had defeated the Turks in a remarkable way.   Gen Allenby dismounted from his "Charger" and proceeded to enter Jerusalem on foot, saying that, the privilege of entering the Holy City belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ at His Secong Coming! ]

 Contrary to the expectations and teaching of the Rabbis at that time, Messiah came not as the “Conquering Hero” but as the “Prince of Peace.” He came to make Peace with God possible for human beings.

The Multitudes

 The size of the crowd that accompanied Jesus and His disciples into Jerusalem is not immediately apparent but the various accounts recorded in the Gospels would indicate that a “multitude” preceded Him and a “multitude” followed after Him.

 I bet it was some crowd.    It would be an excited crowd – it was not long after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.

 2

 At some point on the journey, as they rounded a bend, Jerusalem came into view and Jesus stopped to exclaim ……..

Luke 13:34-35     34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!  35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.      KJV

 On to Jerusalem

 Jerusalem at that time  was bursting at the seams.

 The Jewish historian Josephus records that 256,500 lambs were sacrificed at that particular Passover and, on the basis of 10 people per lamb Josephus estimated that around 2.5 million people attended the festival !!!!!

 This in itself is most significant.               Why ?

 The position is this.  Since as Jesus approached Jerusalem, the crowds spontaneously burst into a chorus:-

  “Hosannah - Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.”  It signifies that temporarily though it might have been, the people acknowledged Him to be their Messiah.

 This was no “Hole in a corner” affair  - it  amounted to the  public recognition of Jesus as Messiah by the Jewish people.

 This truly was a “Triumphal Entry” into the Holy City.

 That’s what put the wind up the Jewish authorities.         No wonder they were alarmed.

 The Cleansing of the Temple

 Many events took place in Jerusalem during those few days leading up to Good Friday.

 One of these was the second cleansing of the Temple.

 What should have been a “House of Prayer” had become a den of iniquity.

 What should have been a place of consecration had become one of desecration.

 3

 Matt 21:12 “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13: And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

 A Personal Question

 On a personal level,  may I ask you a question?     How do you treat your temple?  

  Paul says:-        1Cor:3:16:  “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

 Here in Jerusalem a lucrative business had developed where people had to change their secular money into religious money to pay their temple dues. Or to buy a ready made sacrifice rather than to present a sacrifice which they had themseves brought to the House of God. [Easy religion has always been on offer by those who would seek to exploit the unwary.]

 So, throughout that final week leading up to the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ,  by day Jesus taught in the court of the Temple and spent the evenings at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

 During the teaching sessions at the Temple, Jesus told many parables including ……..

 The Parables of:-    “the two sons”  ;  “the wicked husbandman” ; “the rejected corner-stone”; “the wedding invitation”; “the tribute money” etc.

 The tragedy  for Israel was that less than a week later these same people were crying out “Crucify Him” and when Pilate asked the question “Shall I crucify your King?”   they replied “We have no king but Caesar.”

 How fickle is the human heart.   

 Little wonder that God said through Jeremiah:- “The heart of man is deceitful above  all things and desperately wicked , who can know it?””

 However when we look on this with the  hind-sight of history  we understand that it was:-   “for this purpose Christ was revealed  - to destroy all the works of the evil one.”

 Jesus came to lay down His life as a ransom for sin   -  your sin and mine.

 4

 During that last week  of Jesus’ earthly ministry, several significany prophetic events took place. 

  1. The King was anointed  - by the hand of Mary at the feast put on by Simon the Leper.
  2. The King was proclaimed by the people as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
  3. The King was crowned albeit with a crown of thorns and then nailed to the Cross.

 And we are here because He went all the Way to the Cross where He bore our sin in His body on the Tree.

 Now, all this was foretold  by the Old Testament Prophets.

 In Daniel chapter 9 the angel Gabriel told Daniel about these events which would take place.

 Daniel had been studying the book of Jeremiah and realised that the prophesied 70 years of the captivity had almost been fulfilled.

  With that in mind, Daniel had been waiting upon the Lord - interceding on behalf of his people.  

 It was then that the angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel and gave him this remarkable prophecy.

 Gabriel’s Prophecy          -         Dan 9:20-27

 20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;  

21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

 23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. 

 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

KJV

 This is what has become known as Daniels Prophecy of Seventy Weeks. (ie. weeks of Years)

 Some of this was fulfilled at the time of Christ’s crucifixion the rest will be fulfilled during the period   leading up to the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ when Anti-Christ will be revealed.

 The “Commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem” (v 25)  refers to what is known as the   “Edict of Artaxerxes Longimanus”   (Neh 2:1)  14th March BC 445 

*     Edict     to Messiah.    *   Present Age      * The Tribulation  *

*                 *                      *                             *                           *                   

*     7wks    *      62 wks     *    indeterminate   *            1 wk        *        

*     49yrs   *     434 yrs      *        ???? yrs       *             7yrs        * 

*             483 yrs                *        ???? yrs       *       3.5  +  3.5     * 

                                NB.      3.5yr = 42m = 1260d

                      NB.     1 prophetic year =  360 solar days

NB.     God’s Prophetic Clock only ticks when Israel are “In possession” of their own Land.

 6

 It was 49 years after the “Edict of Artaxeres Longimanus” that the rebuilding and dedication of Jerusalem and the Temple  took place under the leadership of Nehemiah. 

It was exactly 434 prophetic years later that Jesus of Nazareth, their long awaited Messiah rode into Jerusalem to the acclamation of the crowds of ordinary people lining the roadside. 

 The ordinary people might have received Jesus in this manner, but their religious leaders certainly did not.  

  In fact they did their best to bring about the downfall of this young man from Galilee.

 Within a week they had succeeded in turning the feelings of the “mob” from support to antagonism so much so that when Pilate presented Jesus to them and said “Who shall I release - Jesus or Barabas?” 

 They cried “give us Barabas.” And when Pilate said to them “Shall I crucify your King” they cried out “We have no King but Caesar.

 And so, in fulfilment of Dan 9:26 the sinless, spotless Son of God was nailed to a wooden cross and crucified for your sin and mine.  “Messiah shall be cut-off, but not for Himself....”

 Later, the people of the “prince that shall come” destroyed the city and the sanctuary.  

 This was fulfilled in AD 70  when the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple with all its records.

 For nigh on 2000 years, God’s prophetic clock has been stopped just like the stopwatch of a referee when injuries interupt play in a football match. He restarts his watch when play resumes......and so the match is played out for its allotted time.

 For the time that the Jews have been dispossessed of their land, God’s prophetic clock was stopped.  

 The question is......has the clock been re-started?

 This is a crucial question because, according to Gabriel’s prophecy in Dan 9 when the clock restarts there will only be a period of 7 years left during which time “the prince that shall come”  will make his appearance on the world scene. 

 The Bible refers to this person in several ways.

 7

 eg. Theman of Sin”The son of perdition (2 Thess 2:3)   The  “king of fierce countenance” (Dan 8:23);   The “Beast” (Rev 13)

He is the one who we refer to as the “Antichrist.”

 This person will be  a great world leader, the ruler of a revived “Roman Empire” [ie. over a group of nations which cover the territory of the old Roman Empire - possibly the “United States of Europe”  which is even now in the process of formation.  

 He will be the one who will make peace between the Jews and the Arabs and who will be accepted by the Jews as their long awaited Messiah.  

 He will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and bring about the restoration of the sacrificial ritual.

 However, after 3.5 years of “peaceful” rule he will turn upon the Jews with a ferocity never seen before and only the direct intervention of God in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His saints will rescue the Jews from anihilation.  

 Sometime at the start of the 3.5 years Christ will have returned to take His Bride - the Church - an event which we call the Rapture.

  Conclusion:-

As we look at the world situation,  we can see all these things beginning to take place heralding the return of Jesus Christ for His Church.

 Answer this question:-          Are you ready for Christ return for His Church?     

 The Rapture of "The Church "  could take place at any time.    

 If Jesus came for His saints today,   would you be ready?

 If you cannot honestly say yes to that question then make sure that, before you stop reading this message , you are ready to meet Him.

 How?   

1. By simply acknowledging the fact that you are a sinner

2. Repenting of your sin

3. Accepting Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour and Lord.

 Then, when the Trumpet of the Lord sounds you can be sure that you will be among those caught up to meet  Him in the air and so shall you ever be with the Lord.

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_______________________________________

 07/03/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 6:1 -24)

Whatever opinion a person may have about Paul, this thing is certain, he was a pragmatic individual. 

Having dealt with the spiritual aspects of the believer's walk, he turns now to the nitty-gritty of daily living. In chapter five he dealt with the husband wife relationship and here in chapter six he continues with the domestic life of the believer.

1.   Children and Parents

First of all Paul has a word to Christian children. 

Children ought to be obedient to their parents, indeed, the first commandment to contain a promise is:-

 "Honour your father and your mother, that all may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth." 

This is an injunction which is ignored at one's peril. 

We are living in an age when children in general are disobedient to their parents and the sad thing about this is that so often the same is true of Christian young people. It is a fact that, so long as our parents are alive, we are still their children and God requires us to honour and respect them. 

However, Paul does add a qualifying note namely "in the Lord'. "That is to say that if parents try to make their children to behave in a manner displeasing to the Lord, then God is the higher authority.

Parents then have a right to expect the respect and obedience of their children but children also have a right to be treated with consideration and respect. 

Paul says:-

 "Fathers, don't over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment but bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline."

1

2.  Servants and Masters

 Servants

Paul then turns to the relationship between servants and their masters. 

 In actual fact Paul is referring to the relationship between slaves and their masters since the word translated as “servant” is actually "bondman." 

 Paul says that service should be rendered as though it is being done for the Lord. Not superficially so as to be seen and rewarded but in sincerity as to the Lord and not to men. 

 Service is to be performed faithfully without having regard for recognition. This means working to the best of your ability whether or not you are being observed.

 Masters

 The same is true of "masters." People in authority over others have a responsibility for the welfare and well being of those in their charge. 

 Christian "masters"are to remember that they are responsible to the Lord for the way in which they discharge this responsibility. The apostle reminds his audience that God is no respector of persons.

 3.  Spiritual Warfare

 Finally, the apostle turns his attention to the subject of spiritual warfare.

 He urges the Ephesian believers to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 

Paul knew full well that our human strength is unable to match the opposition that the devil throws against us. 

Writing to the Corinthians he says:- 

 "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor 12:8-10)

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 Here in Ephesians he urges believers to put on God's complete armour so that we can successfully resist all the devil's methods of attack.

 The Opposition

One of the most important things to understand about conducting a war is to know your enemy.

 We are not fighting simply upon the natural front against purely physical opponents. 

We are up against spiritual forces, what the scriptures describe as the "powers of darkness." 

These are the unseen powers that control this dark world, spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. 

 Therefore it is absolutely essential that we are equipped with armour that is appropriate for such conflict. If we do this, then even though we may as it were have fought to a standstill, we will still be able to stand our ground.

 Spiritual Armour

 Paul urges us to "take (ie. put on) the whole armour of God." 

 What then is this spiritual armour that is so essential?

 1. Truth

First of all we have the girdle of truth. 

Without truth we are powerless. Jesus said "I am the Truth." 

Whenever a man set out to do a physical task we read that he "girded up his loins." 

Truth is essential for all spiritual activity. 

Truth is the opposite of error. Truth holds all the other pieces of armour in place.

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2. Righteousness

Secondly we have the Breastplate of Righteousness. 

The breastplate protects the vital organs, the heart, lungs etc. 

It is of the greatest importance that our hearts are protected by rightousness. 

If we were to rely upon our own righteousness then we would be vulnerable for we have no righteousness of our own.   

However, Jesus is our righteousness. 

We are clothed in His righteousness.

 3. The Gospel

Next we consider the feet. Having the appropriate footwear is essential in any physical activity. So it is in the spiritual realm. 

Paul says have your feet shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace. 

The gospel is the good news that we can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and can experience His peace in our daily lives irrespective of the turmoil going on around us. 

We are to go forth in peace in the service of the Prince of Peace.

 4. Faith

Then comes faith. 

Note what Paul says "Above all, taking the shield of faith." 

In military history there were different types of shield. 

Some were made of metal, others of wood, covered with leather. 

The fuction of the shield was to deflect the blow from a spear or sword and to deflect the arrows away from their target. 

Above all other, the shield is the item that took the greatest battering. 

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Paul says "above all, take the shield of faith." 

In the spiritual battle, it is faith which takes the brunt of the onslaught and it is faith which prevails. It is faith which quenches the fiery darts of the wicked.

 5. Salvation

The most exposed and therefore the most vulnerable part of the body is the head. 

The head requires careful protection for it houses the brain, the microprocessor of the body. 

Hence Paul's emphasis upon the "Helmet of Salvation." 

How precious is our salvation, it is the controller of our Christian life and witness. Salvation is of the Lord.

 6. The Word of God

The Sword of the Spirit. which is the Word of God.

No soldier, ancient times, went without his sword. 

The sword is both an offensive and a defencive weapon.

 Our spiritual sword is the Bible, the written word of God. 

In the military situation the sword had to be handled properly, so it is in the spiritual. 

It is not so much having a Bible, or indeed knowing our Bible, it is being able to use it skilfully just as a swordsman handles his sword. 

When Satan attacks, we use our sword to defend ourselves and then skilfully use it to attack the enemy of souls. 

This is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ did when He was tempted in the wilderness.

Using armour requires practise, patience and training. 

Persistent, persevering prayer is essential if we are to make full and best use of the armour that God supplies.

 Paul’s Final Prayer Request

Paul closes his letter with a request for prayer for all believers and for himself to be given opportunity and courage to speak out boldly concerning the mystery of the gospel. 

Although a prisoner, Paul regarded himself as Christ's "ambassador in bonds." 

It speaks well for the apostle that, in spite of his situation, he was concerned for the saints at Ephesus and desired to comfort them in their situation.

His final word to the Ephesians was send to them the "Grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity."

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 28/02/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 5:1-33)

The Believers' Walk 

As Believers we are to:-

1.   Walk in Love

                                              “Be imitators of God … as dear children”

 In verses 1 and 2, Paul reminds us that we are now the children of God and just as earthly children copy their parents behaviour, so we are to copy Him. 

Further more we are to live our lives in the same sort of love which Christ shows toward us and which is perfectly expressed in His sacrifice on the Cross.

 2.  Walk in The Light

 Our lives are to be Clean and Upright in all our Ways and We are to Walk as Befits Children of the Light 

 These warnings and commands given by the apostle are very relevant in the age in which we live.

 At one time we might have been excused for thinking that verses 3, 4, and 5 were applicable to the situation at Ephesus where immorality was rife. 

 We live  in an a-moral world, that is a world that is without morals, the attitude of society being "if you think it's O.K. then it is OK"  The old absolutes of “Right” and Wrong” have been overturned.

 God's standards have not changed. 

God still condemns sexual immorality in all its forms together with all forms of covetousness. and unrighteousness.

 In verses 5 and 6 Paul states that  neither the immoral, the filthy minded nor the covetous have any inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Paul states that covetousness,  is a form of idolatry   -  and is akin to  worshiping a false God. 

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There were then, just as there are now, those who put forward plausible arguments to justify the sort of  conduct  that Paul warns against here in Ephesians.  Paul warns against being deceived by such vain words.

 He likens  evil and good with darkness and light.

 Those outside of Christ are in darkness.

 Believers have no escuse, we are not in darkness but are children of the light. 

 That being the case, we ought then to live as children of the light.

 The light produces in our lives everything that is wholesome and good and true, therefore our lives should be living proof of the things which please God.

 Some professing believers seem to take a delight in describing the works of darkness but Paul says it is shameful to even speak of these things.

 Rather let us dwell upon the fruit of the Spirit in all goodness and righteousness and truth. 

 We do well to steer clear of the activities of darkness and allow our lives to shine forth and to reprove what Paul describes as the "unfruitful works of darkness."

 3.   Walk in Wisdom

 We are to be wise and demonstrate our understanding of what the will and purpose of God is.

 Since we know the Truth  our lives should show it

 We are to live, then, with a sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. 

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 Paul says in v. 16 that we are to make the best use of our time despite the difficulties of these days in which we live. 

Redeeming the time, for the days are evil.”

 4.   Be Filled With The Spirit

 People in the world often get their stimulus (Dutch Courage ! ) from the effects of an excess of wine. 

 Paul urges us instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit v. 18.

 In effect he is saying "Let the Holy Spirit stimulate you souls. 

 We are to Express our joy in singing  psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of the Lord!" 

 Song is a wonderfully expressive medium and, even in the natural, we are led to believe that singing releases a chemical into the body which lifts the human spirit. 

 Singing is  an antidote to depression. 

 Let us exercise the capacity of "making melody in our hearts to the Lord." It does not matter what the musical quality is like, it is the exercise of the hearts that is important.

 The psalmist was clear about this when he said:-

 Psalm 98:4; Make a joyful noise unto the lord, ail the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. 

 Psalm 100:1; Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

 Also ……..  A Believer’s Life Should be Characterised by:-

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An Attitude of Thankfulness

 Earlier in the chapter when dealing with the subject of correct behaviour,.

 Paul said words to the effect "Replace this behaviour, which is not convenient, by the giving of thanks."  Here in verse 20 he urges us to thank God at all times for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 We live in an age when everything is taken for granted. This attitude has even crept into the church.       What a difference it makes when we give thanks in everything.

 

The Importance and Significance of the Marriage Relationship

 The ideal husband - wife situation is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and his Church. 

 That is Why Satan seeks to destroy the Institution of Marriage !

 Paul speaks of this as being a "great mystery."

 Christ's love-work for the Church is three-fold:-             past,    present    and    future.

 

 (1)     Past       It was because of His love that He gave Himself to redeem the Church (v. 25).

 (2)     Present    It is in love that He is sanctifying the Church (v. 26).

 (3)     Future      It is for the reward of His sacrifice and His labour of love that He will present the Church to Himself in flawless perfection (v. 27).

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The Bible is full of illustrations with respect to this relationship between Christ and His Church.

 eg.  Joseph and his Gentile bride Asenath.

 Asenath,  is a type of the Church, called out from the Gentiles to be the bride of Christ during the time of His rejection by His brethren, Israel.     (Acts 15:14 Eph 5:31 Eph 5:32).

 While nowhere, in scripture, is it asserted that Joseph was a type of Christ, the analogies are too numerous to be accidental. 

 Here are some of the analogies that are evident:-

 Both Joseph and Jesus

(1)   Were special objects of a father's love             (Gen 37:3 Matt 3:17 John 3:35 John 5:20)

(2)   Were hated by their brethren         (Gen37:4John 15:25)

(3)   Were rejected by their brethren      (Gen 37:8 Matt 21:37-39John 15:24 Johnn 15:25)

(4)   Their brethren conspired against them to slay them     (Gen 37:18 Matt 26:3 Matt 26:4)

(5)   Joseph was, in intent and figure, slain by his brethren, as was Christ.     (Gen 37:24; Matt 27:35-37)

(6)   Each became a blessing among the Gentiles, and gained a Gentile bride.   (Gen 41:1-45 Acts 15:14  Eph 5:25-32)

(7)  Just as Joseph reconciled his brethren to himself, and afterward exalted them, so will it be with Christ and His Jewish brethren. 

                                                                                                                 (Gen 45:1-15; Deut 30:1-10; Hos 2:l4-18; Rom 11:1;  Rom11:15; Rom 11:25; Rom 11:26)

 Paul speaks of :-                Relationships Within The Church

  (a)   In Our Personal Relationships

 In the realm of personal relationships in the church, we are to honour Christ by submitting to each other.    

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This means that we are to be considerate to each other and look to the well being of others rather that being selfish in our behaviour.

  (b)   In The Marriage Relationship

Marriage is an “Object Lesion” of the relationship between Christ and His Church.

  It is God who, in the beginning, ordained family life. 

 God has ordained that the man is the head of the family and as such is responsible to God for his family. 

 The willing subjection of the Church to Christ should be reproduced in the submission of wives to their husbands. 

 God requires that wives acknowledge this and must submit to their husband's leadership in the same way as they submit to the Lord. 

 This is not a licence for a husband to dominate his wife, for Paul goes on to instruct husbands to give to their wives the same sort of sacrificial love that Christ gave to the Church. 

 Christ gave Himself for the Church to make her holy and perfect, free from any spots or blemishes. 

 A man should, says the apostle, give to his wife the love which he naturally has for himself. 

 This love is the natural extension of his self-love to enfold his wife. 

 Mutual love and respect between husband and wife is therefore the divine command. 

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 What a contrast with the pagan view.

 The Pagan View. 

 In Paul's time, pagans saw women as inferior beings, playthings for the dominant male. To be "head of the house" was to accept the common notion that authority was the male's rightful providence. Children and wives were only responsible to obey. 

 The wife was not equal to her husband as a person, or in any other way. 

His needs and concerns dominated the household, and the wife existed to fulfill those needs and to serve him.

 The Christian View. 

 The Christian view is quite different. Women are seen as persons of equal worth and value. In the structure of society, men are given the role of head of the house, a role affirmed by God in this passage. 

 But the husband’s headship is modeled on the way Christ loved the church, not on human systems of authority. 

 Eph 5:27 portrays Christ as giving Himself up for the church "to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." 

 In pursuit of this ministry, Christ nourishes and cares for the church. 

 In the same way, husbands are to nurture their wives, seeking always to help the wife grow as a person and as a Christian.

 What a contrast with the pagan view! 

 Suddenly things are reversed. The wife is transformed from an unimportant appendage, who exists only to meet her husband's needs, to a person of intrinsic worth and value, becoming the focus of her husband's concern. 

Instead of demanding that she live for him, he begins to live for her! 

 Rather than keeping her under, he seeks to lift her up. Christian headship lifts the wife up as the rightful object of a husband's loving concern.

 In this context, the husband serves by being a Christ-like head; the wife serves in responsive submission to one who lifts her up and holds her beside him.

 

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21/02/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians
(Eph 4:1-32)

"The Believer's Conduct and Calling"


Paul now turns to the subject of Christian conduct. Notice the impact of the words that he uses here in the first verse, “I ...beseech you.” Beseech is such an emotive word, it means to beg, implore, plead, entreat.

What is it, then, that Paul is so concerned about?

It is this - that we live our lives as befits our calling. Let us never forget that ours is a calling. We have not chosen to follow Christ, rather He has chosen us and called us.

Peter says that we have been called out of darkness, into His marvellous light. cf. 1Peter:2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”


The Believer’s Conduct and Calling

4: 1.” I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. –“


Calling and conduct: --


1. Our Conduct Should Correspond with our Calling

For two reasons …….

             1. From a sense of gratitude.

Because of

             2. The Source from which the Calling originated.


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2. Certain Virtues Ought to Characterise a Believer

These are essentially the “Fruit of The Spirit”

                                 [ Love, Joy, Peace; Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness;  Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control. ]

Firstly …..

Because of what these virtues are in themselves.

and secondly ……… because they promote "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."


THE NATURE OF THE BELIEVER'S CALLING

What is the Nature of our Calling ?


It is a ……

              1. Holy Calling (2 Tim 1:9).
              2. High Calling (Phil 3:14).
              3. Heavenly Calling (1 Tim 1:17).
              4. Profitable calling (1 Tim 4:8).


The Principles and Privileges of Our Calling


Furthermore, we need to …..

Understand the …….

          1. Principles of our calling (Eph 1:17).

          2. Privileges of the calling (Eph 3:16-19).

and we need to

          3. Cultivate the spirit of the calling (Eph 4:2,3).

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and we must

4. Perform the Duties of the calling (John 14:23).

in our …..

               1. Civil life (Eph 4:25).

               2. Religious life (Eph 4:24).

               3. Domestic life (Eph 6:1-9).


Paul says that we are to do this with humility, gently submitting ourselves to each other in love.

Doing all that is in our power to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


         The Seven Unities of The Spirit


These are:-

                                    1. One Body 2. One Spirit 3. One Hope 4. One Lord 5. One Faith 6. One Baptism 7. One God and Father


1. One body.
The Church is the body of Christ and we are members in particular. The body is not to be fragmented or scattered it is to be united. Paul has more to say on this subject later in the epistle.

2. One Spirit.
It is the unity of the Spirit which bonds the body together, for we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body and, just as our body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost so, too, is the body of Christ. 

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3. One Hope.

We are called in one hope of our calling. Remember that “hope” in Scripture is not some tentative desire, but is a sure, reality. Our “blessed hope” is the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


4. One Lord.

We have only one Lord, He is unique, there none like unto Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords - His Name is Jesus.


5. One Faith.

Paul spells out “the faith” in 1 Cor 15 where he declares the gospel which he preached - “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: ..............”


6. One Baptism.
In 1Cor:12:13: Paul writes “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Baptism in this sense means the initiation into the body of Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit via the “New Birth.”


7. One God and Father.

One God and Father who is:-


        1. above all     and     2. through all     and     3. in all

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul says:-

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But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” 1Cor 8:6.

 

Christ’s Ministry Gifts to His Body

In 1 Cor 12 8-28, Paul deals with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as enduing the members of the body of Christ with the enablements for service.

Here in Eph 4:7-16 Paul describes certain Spirit - endued men as themselves being the gifts bestowed by Christ upon His body the church. In 1 Corinthians the gifts are spiritual enablements for a specific service, in Ephesians the gifts are men who have such enablements.

These gifts to the church are:-      apostles,     prophets,     pastors,     evangelists     and     teachers.

In bestowing these gifts the Lord determines, through the Spirit, the places of their service. Some local churches need one gift eg. an evangelist, others need rather a pastor or teacher. Nothing in Christ’s service is left to mere human choice - ”And some He gave ........ ”

The purpose of the ministry gifts, Paul says, is for:-

       1. the perfecting of the saints
       2. the work of the ministry
       3. the edifying of the body of Christ.

While positionally we are now “perfect,” experientially we are being perfected ie. being conformed unto the image ( express likeness) of His Son.

The work of the ministry is service, that is the meaning of miistry. All of this is for the building up of the body Christ.

God desires that we should become mature in Him, no longer behaving like children, swayed about by every new doctrine that is put forward by those seek their own and not the things of God.

True maturity means growing up “into” Christ. God desires for us to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head.

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He points out that it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints which it is provided with, grows to full maturity in love by the correct functioning of the individual parts.

    The Believer - a “New Man” in Christ

Paul instructs them to live no longer according to the manner of the gentiles, given over to sin and degradation, practising every form of impurity which lust can suggest.

But rather to put on the “new man,” the new life which is according to God’s design for righteousness and holiness.

This “New man” is not just an improved version of the “old man” but the regenerate man having become a partaker of the divine nature. The “new man” is Christ, formed in the believer.

 

Paul commands us to:-

Have done with lying and speak the truth. If angry, be sure that it is not out of wounded pride or bad temper.
Never go to bed angry.

Don’t give the devil any sort of foothold in our life.

Don’t steal. Use only language that is edifying.

Never cause the Holy Spirit to grieve, for He is the personal pledge of our full redemption.

Put away any bitterness, resentment, self-assertiveness, slander and malice. Instead be kind to one another and show understanding, being as ready to forgive others as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us.

This is what our walk will be like if we allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives.

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Because ……..

THE OBJECT OF THE CALLING            (1 Peter 5:10).


……. the object of our calling is …… to Glorify God.


10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.                
1 Peter 5:10-11 KJV

 

Our prayer should be:-

                                                                                        Have Thine own way Lord, 

                                                                                        Have Thine own way, 

                                                                                        Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.

                                                                                        Mould me and make me, after Thy will,

                                                                                       while I am waiting, yielded and still.

 

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14/02/2021

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 2:11- 3:21)

 BACKGROUND 

 Next to Rome, Ephesus was the most important city Paul visited on his missionary journeys. 

The main city of the Roman province of Asia, it was a populous port city, important as a centre for commerce, religion, and politics.

 It had two great architectural wonders, the temple of Diana and a 50,000-seat theatre (Acts 19:29). 

It also had a stadium or race course that often hosted fights between men and wild beasts (see 1 Cor 9:24-25; 15:32 -- words written from Ephesus).

 Paul visited Ephesus during his second journey, a visit cut short by his haste to return to Jerusalem (Acts 18:19-21). He visited again on his third journey and remained there for three years (Acts 19-20).

 He later sent Timothy to Ephesus as his representative. After Paul's death, the apostle John made Ephesus his headquarters until his death, by which time the Ephesian church had "fallen from [its] first love" (Rev 2:1-7).

 The RECIPIENTS 

 The words "in Ephesus" (1:1) are missing in some important Greek manuscripts. This, coupled with the fact that there are no personal greetings in the letter and no specific church problem is addressed, has given rise to the idea that Ephesians was originally a cyclical letter, intended for circulation among the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev 2-3). 

However, the majority of  Greek manuscripts do include "in Ephesus," and none of those manuscripts indicate any other destination. 

 Ephesians may have been intended as a cyclical letter, being first sent to Ephesus, the main city of Asia, where Paul had made his headquarters as he ministered throughout the region (Acts 19:10). 

 Having received a good report about these churches (1:15), and hearing that Tychicus (6:21) was ready to make a trip to Ephesus, Paul seized the opportunity to send a letter.

 The PURPOSE

  • To teach about the church as the body of Christ, composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers 
  • To exhort believers to conduct themselves properly toward one another because of their oneness in Christ  
  • To equip them for spiritual warfare 
  • Ephesians addresses no specific church problem.
  • It is one of the least personal of Paul's letters. There is almost no personal greeting, and only two personal names appear: Paul and Tychicus.
  • The phrase "in the heavenly realms" occurs five times here (1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12), and nowhere else in Scripture.
  • Paul used three great figures of speech to illustrate our union with Christ:* building (2:21-22)* body (1:22-23; 4:15)* bride (5:25-32)

COMPARISON WITH OTHER BIBLE BOOKS 

 Joshua:

  • Joshua deals with the conquest and possession of the Promised Land, the "earthly realms"; Ephesians deals with our taking possession of our promised "heavenly realms" (see exposition on 1:1-6).

Colossians:

  • The content of 78 of the 155 verses in Ephesians is repeated in Colossians with only slight differences; 78 out of the 95 verses in Colossians resemble Ephesians:* Both epistles stress the relationship between Christ the head and the church his body.* Ephesians emphasizes the body, while Colossians emphasizes the head.

Philippians; Timothy; Philemon:

  • Like these epistles, Ephesians was written while Paul was in prison in Rome, with 2 Timothy coming during his second imprisonment when death was at hand.

We now pick where we left off.            (Eph 2:11- 3:21)

 Paul reminds the Ephesians, who in the main were Gentile believers,  as to what their position, as gentiles, had been. 

 1.   The Gentile Position by Nature

 At that time they were without Christ and were aliens from the common - wealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise.

 In Gen 17 we are told that God made Covenant with Abraham – a covenant of Promise. In this covenant, God promised that Abraham would be “the father of many nations”  and gave him the title deeds of the land of Canaan.  

 Indeed, the extent of the land covered all the land from the Mediterranean Sea in the West to the River Euphrates in the East and from Hamath in the North ) NE of Damascas)  to the “River of Egypt” and Kadesh in the South. God promised all of this to Abraham and his descendents through the line of Isaac. God told Abraham that his descendents would be in bondage for 400 years before being brought forth to enter the “Land of The Promise.”  Subsequently, God brought  the children of Israel into an organized body, the Common-wealth of Israel with Laws and regulations and a visible system of worship with a local habitation of worship - the Temple. 

 The sign of the covenant was that of circumcision. 

 Gentiles had no part in this covenant, they were strangers from the covenants of Promise, aliens, having no hope and without God in the world  ( world  =  kosmos  =  mankind). 

 Paul points out here that this too was the positions of the Ephesians and this position is ours, as Gentiles, outside of Christ. 

 We were aliens, without hope, without God in the world. 

 2.   The Believers’ Position in Christ

 BUT now we like them, who once were far off have been made nigh by the blood of Christ and  Now we are accepted in the beloved. 

 Paul says here that He ( Jesus ) has broken down the middle wall of partition between us ie.  Jew and Gentile believers.

 This is a reference to the fact that in the Temple, Gentiles were only allowed into the outer court - the Court of the Gentiles only Jews could enter into the Temple proper. 

 Now, Jew and Gentile are united in one body in Christ  “for He is our peace who hath made both into one.” 

 As Paul writes in Gal:3:28: “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.”

 Paul uses the analogy of a “new man” (v. 15) this referring here not to the individual believer but to the Church, considered as the body of Christ.

Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God into one body by Christ’s death on the Cross where He destroyed the enmity between – on one hand God and Man  and on the other hand the enmity between Jew and Gentile. 

In the atonement made for sin upon the Cross Christ has made into one both Jew and Gentile. Access to the Father is through Christ and through Him alone “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tm:2:5).

 Therefore we are no longer strangers and aliens but fellow citizens with the saints; we are now members of the household of God.

 3.   The Church 

 A Temple for the habitation of God

 Just as the Church is the body of Christ,  it is also the Temple of God. In verses 20 - 22, Paul uses the analogy of a physical building.   He describes the apostles and prophets as being the foundations, with the Lord Jesus Christ as the Chief Corner Stone.  Individual believers are the stones which join together to comprise the building as a Holy Temple for the habitation of God. 

Looked at from this view point, the “Temple” is being built, and is almost complete. When the last stone is in place and the building is completed, then Christ will come for His Church. 

Another analogy is with the body, when the body is complete, then Christ will return to take us unto Himself.

 The Mystery of the Church

 That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Rom 9:24-33).  The “mystery”  was that God purposed to make a wholly new thing - the Church - composed of both Jew and Gentile, in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears. In scripture, a mystery is something which God has chosen not to reveal. The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold but not explained by the Lord Jesus Christ in (Matt 16:18), was committed to the Apostle Paul. Paul was given this revelation by the Lord during his time in Arabia after his conversion.

 It is in Paul’s writings alone -  the Pauline Epistles - that we find the doctrine, position, walk and destiny of the Church. The mystery, Paul says is simply this: that the Gentiles, who were previously excluded from God’s Covenants, are to be equal partners in God’s promise given by Christ through the Gospel.

 4.   The Dispensation of the Grace of God

 Here, in Eph 3:1-21, Paul states the purpose of his letter namely to teach them about the mystery of the Church and its purpose. 

Paul could never get over the feeling of his own unworthiness (cf. v 8) for he regarded himself as being less than the least of all saints. 

Yet God had chosen him to be the means of preaching the Good News of the unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles.

 We are living in what Paul terms the “Dispensation of the Grace of God.”  

The term “Dispensation” simply means a period of time during which God deals with mankind according to a certain set of criteria. 

 During the time between the Cross and Christ’s return for His Church (the Rapture) God is dealing with mankind according to His Grace.

[ That is not to say that people in the Old Testament were not the recipients of God’s Grace ]

 5.  God’s purpose for the Church

 The Church was no after-thought in the mind of God but was purposed by Him from the beginning and had been hidden in the Mind of God from the beginning of the world (v 9). 

The purpose, says Paul, is that all the angelic powers should now see the complex wisdom of God being worked out through the Church in accordance with the His eternal purpose which He centred in Christ Jesus.  It is in the Church, the Body of Christ comprising both Jew and Gentile that God’s purpose for this age is revealed.

It is because of our position in Christ Jesus that we can approach God with confidence - the faith of Him.

 6.   Paul’s prayer for the Saints

 It was because of his ministry that Paul was suffering a period of imprisonment. Paul was the prisoner of the authorities but He did not regard it as such - Paul describes himself as  the “Prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles.” (v.1) However, Paul urges them not to be discouraged on account of his sufferings but rather to feel honoured.

 Paul says that it is for this reason, when he thinks of the greatness of this great plan, that he falls upon his knees before God the Father after whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Paul’s prayer is this - that out of the glorious riches of God’s resources He will enable them, and us, to know the strength of the in-dwelling Spirit. 

 That is that Christ may actually live in our hearts by faith and that, being rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints the true extent of the love of Christ. Paul acknowledges that God’s love is so vast that it is beyond the capacity of our comprehension.

 7.   Paul’s Doxology of Praise

 Having got all this off his chest, Paul bursts forth into a glorious doxology of praise to the Lord.

 Paul just cannot contain himself and here, in the middle of this letter, erupts with  this outburst of praise to God.

Now unto Him, who by His power within us is able to do infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask or imagine - to him be glory in the church By Christ Jesus for ever and ever Amen!

 We often associate “Amen” with bringing a prayer to a conclusion. 

 Amen simply means “so be it.” 

  Paul has much more to impart to the saints at Ephesus  as we shall discover in the succeeding chapters.

 Oh that we, this morning,  may be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. 

 That we might be rooted and grounded in love and be able to appreciate and understand the love of Christ; and that we might be filled with all the fullness of God.

 May it be so:-   for His Name’s sake.  

 Amen!

_______________________________________

 

7/02/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 1:15 - 2:10)

 

 Paul's Prayer for The Saints

 Ever since Paul had learned of the existence of the church at Ephesus he had never stopped praying for them.  The burden of Paul's prayer for them was two fold - namely that God would grant them:-

 1.  Spiritual Wisdom   and   2. Spiritual Understanding

 1. Spiritual Wisdom

 That God, the Father would grant them wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Never forget this    -    the source of all our wisdom is The Father Himself  -  through knowing The Son. 

 The last book in the Bible commences with the words –   "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him...."

 and Revelation ends with the solemn warning –    "And if any man shall take away from the words of this book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life." 

 Oh that we might  know more of Him.

 2.  Spiritual Understanding

 When God grants us spiritual understanding a whole new area of knowledge is opened up to us:-

(a)    The hope of His calling   (b)    The Riches of His inheritance  (c)    The greatness of His  power.

 

 (a)  The Hope of His Calling

 "18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,"       Eph 1:18-20 

The nature of His Calling ........

 His calling is ……..         .   High   

                                        .   Heavenly

                                        .   Holy

 The High Calling of God

 Our calling is not a lowly one for,  in Phil 3:14, Paul tells us that  it is a high calling - he says it is …….  “ the high calling of God."

 14   “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”   Phil 3:14 KJV

 A Heavenly Calling

 In Hebrews 3:1 we are told that it is ……. "a heavenly calling.”

 "1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house."     Heb 3:1-2  KJV

 A Holy Calling

 In 2Tim 1:9 Paul states that it is a "holy calling" which is - "not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace."

 The Anomaly of God’s Choice !

 Writing to the  Corinthians, Paul states that “not many wise men, according to the flesh, not many noble not many mighty are called  but God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the things which are mighty."  1 Cor 1:26,27) 

[NB Paul says "not many"  not "not any?"]

 Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul urges believers – “to abide in the same calling” (1 Cor 7:20-24).

 In The Light of This …..

 Peter, in his second  epistle,  urges believers to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure." (2 Pet 1:10) 

 However, note that …

 In Roman 11:29 Paul teaches us that -  "the Gifts and calling of God are without repentance." 

 That is to say, God will not go back on His Word.

 May we be counted worthy of being “Chosen By Him”

In 2 Thess 1:11,12 Paul expresses his desire that we should – “be worthy of this calling  and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us and us in Him.”

 May our lives glorify Him !

(b) The Riches of His Inheritance

 Note how Paul phrases this - “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” 

 Just think about this phrase -  “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”  

 He is the Lord of glory!          The universe and its contents belong to Him! 

 

Him who, as Paul says in Phil 2:9, "has been given the Name which is above all other names"  - has an inheritance in the saints.

  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:10. 

 In his Epistle to the Colossians, Paul writes - “Giving thanks unto the Father,  which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Col 1:12.

 In Acts 26:18 we find Paul testifying to King Agrippa that the Lord Jesus Christ had called him to go to the Gentiles  -  “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”   Acts 26:18.

 This is what Peter says on this subject

 Peter, in his first epistle, tells us that God has “begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet 1:3,4,5.

 All this is possible because of The Atonement - “For this cause He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Heb 9:15.

 (c) The Greatness of His Power

 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 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:   Eph 1:19-21 KJV

 Paul delights in the use of superlatives - here he refers to “the exceeding riches of His power.”

 There is no doubting the mighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ, for this was demonstrated time and time again during His earthly ministry. 

 He healed the sick, opened blind eyes, un-stopped deaf ears, made the lame to walk and even raised the dead. He cast out demons and stilled the tempest with the phrase “peace, be still.” 

 However, the exceeding greatness of His power is demonstrated to us by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  

 Now, He is far above all else, be they principality and power, might and dominion. Christ is exalted to be head over all things to the church, which is His body.

 This is further demonstrated in the fact that He has brought us to new life in Him.

 Paul now proceeds to deal with the past, present, and future of us believers.

 In The Past Before we were saved, we were dead in:-

 (a)  trespasses   (b)  sins and   (c)  conducted our lives according to the manner of this world.

Our lives were dominated by the prince of the power of the air -  Satan.  

In this respect we were no different to anyone else because this is the same spirit which is at work in the world.  

We lived according to the dictates of the flesh and were – “by nature children of wrath, even as others.”

 In The Present

 God, who is rich in mercy has:-

      (a)     Quickened us together in Christ.  (ie made us alive) 

      (b)     Raised us up together and made us

      (c)     Sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

And all because of His great love wherewith He has loved us. 

In The  Future

That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace toward us through Christ Jesus."

 

The Method of Salvation

 Throughout this letter Paul emphasizes our dependence upon God’s grace. In verse 5 he interjects the phrase “by grace are ye saved” and in verses 8,9 and 10 Paul explains how Salvation is the gift of God by His grace and that the mechanism by which that grace becomes effective is through faith; this is God’s way. 

 

 In the words of the hymn-writer:-

 

         Nought have I gotten, but what I received,

         Grace hath bestowed it, since I have believed,

         Boasting excluded, pride I abase,

         I’m only a sinner, saved by Grace.

 

         Only a sinner, saved by Grace,

         This is my story, to God be the glory,

          I’m only a sinner, saved by Grace.

 

And .... "Now, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them."  

 

To Him be The Glory  Now and forever ....  Amen

 

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31/01/21

Holocaust Remembrance  Day

 

Sunday 27th January has been designated by the EU and the UN  as  “International Holocaust Remembrance Day”

 The stated objective of this initiative is to encourage peoples and nations to take proactive action against anti-semitism which is becoming increasingly prevalent in Europe and the Middle East.

 The term – “Holocaust”  means “Immense Destruction” – especially by fire cf. the effect of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshema and Nagasaki at the end of WW 2.

Another aspect of the meaning of the word “holocaust” is “Burnt Offering.”

 In our age ie for the last 70 years or so the term has been almost exclusively used to describe the horrors involved in the mass murder of 6 million Jews during the barbaric rule of Hitlers Third Reich.

 The Call to Remembrance is Necessary Because:-

     The old lies of the past are being repeated in Europe and even the historical facts of the Holocaust are being denied, questioned and brought into doubt. 

     Israel and The Jewish People are Under Threat

     The Resurgence of anti-semitic feeling in Europe  -  people on the streets chanting “Death to the Jews”

     The blatant call by Hamas for the destruction of Israel – The palestinian government calling for the liquidation of Israel

     The open rejection of the holocaust by the President of Iran and his call for Israel to be wiped from the map.

 In addition there are academics like the Norwegian award winning author Justein Gaardner who  stated that “Israel has lost the right to exist”.

 

Why are the Jews as a People under Threat ?

         Because, according to the Bible……..          Israel  is God’s Servant

 The Servant of The Lord

 Now the Bible describes Messiah as “The Servant of The Lord” and in Isaiah 53 He is described as the Suffering Servant of the Lord.

 But Israel, the nation, is described also as: “The Servant of The Lord” who is also described as His suffering servant.  cf.  Isaiah 41:8,9;   Isaiah 42:19;  Isaiah 43:10;  Isaiah 44:1,2;  Isaiah 49:7.

 

 Israel’s Sufferings are:-

 Redemptive      Corrective      Instructive

 Redemptive

 Israel is God’s Vehicle of World Redemption.

 Jesus is a Jew  

 Rom 1:1-3     “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God  2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”                                                               NKJV

 Salvation is of the Jews 

 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.”        John 4:22 KJV

 Through the Jews we have the Word of God

   “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?   Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”   Rom 3:1-2 KJV

 

Corrective

 God chose the Jews to be a blessing unto all the nation on the earth and warns that:-

 People and Nations should be careful in their dealings with Israel and Jews

 Gen 12:2-3     2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you  And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.  3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."               NKJV

 Zech 2:8    “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye”     KJV

 

  Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome explained God’s purpose in respect of His people, Israel. [Rom 11:1-32]

 

800 years prior to Paul’s letter to the Romans, Isaiah had written this prophetic word. [Isa 62:1-4]

 

 Isa 62:1-4        1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. 2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. 3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. 4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.          KJV

 

God's Promise to Abraham

God made a promise to Abraham recorded in Genesis Chapter 12:-

God said:-         "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curses thee: and in thee shall all the families of the Earth be blessed."  Gen 12:3

 

This promise is ultimately fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ in that there is salvation in none other.

 

As Paul said to the Philippian gaoler.  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."    Acts 16:31

Jesus said:-  "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."

 

_____________________________________

 

 

Paul's Epistle to The Saints at Ephesus

The Apostolic Greeting

 Paul begins by stating the authority of his apostleship.  He is an apostle - by the will of God. Paul never got over the sense of wonder that God should choose him, who he himself describes, as "the least of all saints..." ( 1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8 ). 

 The letter  is addressed to - "the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus."   This extends the greeting to include the saints in every age and at every place - ie. to you and to me. 

 Paul extends grace and peace to the saints from both God, the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 And there we have it, right at the very beginning of the letter, our position   -   is in Christ Jesus

 This is an expression which is repeated throughout the letter. 

 Everything that we have, and are, and ever will be, is because of this established relationship in Him. 

The key word which recurs throughout this letter is the word " in."  The first chapter is particularly rich in the word, indeed verse one declares the basis of our security it is -  "in Christ Jesus."  It is because of our position  "in Him" that we can rest assured of our eternal security. Everything that we have and are  and ever will be is because of this established relationship in Him.

 The word  "In" 

 The letter is addressed to the "faithful in Christ Jesus."   

 We are blessed with all spiritual blessings , in heavenly places in Christ (v. 3). This term "heavenly places" means, literally, "in the heavenlies."  The "heavenlies" may be defined as the sphere of our spiritual experience in Christ. Believers are spiritual people, strangers and pilgrims  on the earth.

 Paul says here that we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world  (v. 4). 

The purpose of this ?  To be holy and blameless before Him in love  (v. 4). 

 To this end God has predestined us to be adopted into His family (v. 5).

 And we have been accepted in the beloved  (v. 6).

 The word  "According"  

 Another word which is repeated in the letter is …… "according."

 None of the blessings of the Lord come to us according to our deserving but according to His choosing (v.4).

So, we have been chosen, adopted and accepted and been granted the forgiveness of sins.  

 On what grounds? 

 On redemption ground according to the riches of His grace (v. 7). 

 All  this is according to the good pleasure of His will (v.5), according to His purpose (v.11) and according to the working of His mighty power (v.19).

 Predestinated unto the Adoption of Children

 Predestination

 Predestination is that effective exercise of the will of God by which things determined by Him are brought to pass.

  Predestination is one part of that trinity of divine processes namely:-

                                                                     Election,   Foreknowledge,   and   Predestination

 The divine order is:-  foreknowledge, election, predestination.  

 1 Peter 1:2 makes it clear that it is foreknowledge which determines election, and that predestination is the bringing to pass of the election

 Election, which means "chosen," is wholly of grace and proceeds from the divine will. 

 Election  and predestination are always related to the saints and their sanctification. And are not to be interpreted in the sense that some are predetermined for salvation while others are predetermined to be lost. 

 Election is the sovereign act of God whereby certain elect persons are chosen for distinctive service for Him

 cf Luke 6:13 Where Jesus chose, from among His disciples twelve,  whom he named, apostles.

 Acts 9:15  The Lord said of Saul "he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles..."

 1 Cor 1:27,28  God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.............." 

 

Election looks back to foreknowledge, and predestination looks forward to the destiny.

 
 Nowhere does scripture tell us what it is in the divine foreknowledge which determines the election and predestination.  What scripture does declare is that the foreknown are elected  and the elect are predestinated, and that this election is certain to every believer by the mere fact that he believes. It is because we have first trusted in Christ (v.12) that God has predetermined that we should be continuously transformed into the full likeness of His dear Son, that we should be to His praise.

 The Adoption of Children

 The word huiothesia, translated "adoption," meaning "placing as a son," is not so much a word of relationship as of position. Our relationship to God as  a child results from our being "born again (John 1:12,13), whereas adoption is the act of God whereby one, already a child, is placed in the position of an adult son through redemption from the law (Gal 4:5,6,7).  It is the operation of the Holy Spirit which brings about the realization of this fact in our present experience but the full manifestation of our sonship will occur in what the scriptures call the "redemption of the body"  (Rom  8:23  1 Thess 4:14-17) at the coming of Christ for His saints. Then we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

 The Mystery of His Will

 This is "that in the dispensation of the fullness of times" He might gather together in one, all things in Christ. 

 The Dispensation of the fullness of times is the final dispensation in God's dealings with mankind.

 God has dealt with man (1) Under Innocence in the Garden of Eden; (2) under Conscience before the Flood; (3) under Human Government between the Flood and Babel; (4) under the Headship of the Family with the Patriarchs; (5) under observance of God's Law before Christ; and (6) now under Grace until the return  of the  Lord Jesus Christ.  When Christ returns in Glory  with His saints to exercise (7) His rule of Righteousness which will last for a thousand years, man will have been tested under every conceivable set of conditions, only to have failed because those which are passed came to an end in judgment and those yet to come will also end in judgment. 

 The present age  will end with the Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21 and Rev 16:1-21) and even the Age of Righteousness will end in apostasy after Satan has been "loosed from the Bottomless Pit"  (Rev 20:7-15).

 It is then that the "Perfect Age" the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" will be ushered in and there will be a "New Heaven" and a "New Earth" "Wherein Dwelleth Righteousness (Rev 21 and  2 Pet 3:13.  It is this "Perfect Kingdom" that Christ surrenders to the Father (1 Cor 15:24-28).

 What these Ages of Ages will reveal of the Plan and Purpose of God, we do not  know for these are in the "Mystery of His Will." This great era is still over a thousand years in the  future and is not the end of things - eternity is yet young!

 The Seal of the Holy Spirit

 This is our inheritance in Christ! and the proof of this lies in the very fact that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting Him as Lord and Saviour.

 We are "Born of the Spirit" and have been sealed by Him (v. 13). 

 What we have here and now is "the earnest of the Spirit."

 In the symbolism of Scripture a seal signifies:-

 1.  A  Completed Transaction.              2.  Ownership                          3.  Security

 The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal.  He has completed  the transaction, we are now Divine property and our eternal future is secure.

 

What a privilege it is to belong to the Living God,  to be His purchased possession,   His property!

 May our daily lives testify to the position we have in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

 

**************************************** 

1.

The Purpose of The Church


Acts 2:42 could be considered a purpose statement for the church:-

  “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

  According to this verse, the purposes/activities of the church should be:-

           1.         teaching biblical doctrine,     

           2.         providing a place of fellowship for believers,

           3.         observing the Lord’s supper,

           4.         praying.


The church is to teach biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith.

 

Ephesians 4:14 tells us, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

  The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can:-

  •    be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10),
  •     instruct one another (Romans 15:14),
  •   be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32),
  •    encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11),

 and most importantly ……

  •     love one another (1 John 3:11).



The church is to be a place where believers can observe the “Breaking of Bread”, remembering Christ’s death and shed blood on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

  The concept of “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42) also carries the idea of having meals together.

This is another example of the church promoting fellowship.

 

The final purpose of the church according to Acts 2:42 is prayer.

The church is to be a place that promotes prayer, teaches prayer, and practices prayer.

  Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Another commission given to the church is proclaiming the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

The church is called to be faithful in sharing the gospel through word and deed.

The church is to be a “lighthouse” in the community, pointing people toward our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The church is to both promote the gospel and prepare its members to proclaim the gospel (1 Peter 3:15).


Some final purposes of the church are given in James 1:27:

 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

The church is to be about the business of ministering to those in need.

This includes not only sharing the gospel, but also providing for physical needs (food, clothing, shelter) as necessary and appropriate.

The church is also to equip believers in Christ with the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the world. This is done by biblical teaching and Christian fellowship.

So, what is the purpose of the church ?

Paul gave an excellent illustration to the believers in Corinth.

The church is God’s hands, mouth, and feet in this world—the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

We are to be doing the things that Jesus Christ would do if He were here physically on the earth.

The church is to be “Christian,” “Christ-like,” and “Christ-following.”

 

**********************************

 

2.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

  The world has had enough of religion. Religion is man trying to reach God. Man has been trying ever since the Fall to do that.

Christianity is not just another religion.  Christianity is Christ Himself........it is God reconciling the world to Himself through His One and Only Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus. Christ died for us. He fought our  battle.   He won the victory for us.   

 He was our substitute.He did for us  -  what we could not do for ourselves.

  1.   Man's Condition Before God

  The Bible tells us that Mankind is “lost in sin and shapen in iniquity.”     

It goes on to say that  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”      

And that “there is none righteous, no not one.”

“The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desparately wicked.”

“Our sin has separated us  from God.”

  2.  God's Love For Mankind

Calvary demonstrates the extent  of God's love for us.

“For God  so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ...........”

 "But God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

Christ died in my place.

3. Christ’s  Substitutary Death

  On the Cross, Christ became my substitute.

  He bore our sin in His body on the tree.

  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  “He was wounded for our transgressions.............”

4.  Christ's Resurrection is  My Guarantee

  Christianity is more than a religion  -   it is Christ Himself.

  Every other religion has been founded by someone who is now dead and gone.

Budda is dead …..   Confucius is dead …..  Mohammad is dead….

  BUT  Jesus Christ is Alive.......today !   

  In other religions the death of the founder doesn't matter, his teachings, way of life, ritual is passed on from one generation to another.

  BUT  WITH JESUS CHRIST IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that He  is still alive.

  IF JESUS CHRIST IS NOT ALIVE THEN CHRISTIANITY IS A  SHAM.

  Because Christianity is  ……….      “Christ in Me the hope of glory.”

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to this.

  Everything depends upon the resurrection.

  What did people say about the resurrection at the  time?

  The  Jews claimed that the disciples stole the body while the guards slept. 

  BUT - They had done their best to ensure that this could not happen.

All they needed to do was to produce the body and dispel the rumours.

  5.  The Reality of the  Resurrection

Today, there are those who claim that Jesus never actually died but simply swooned on the cross and recovered in the  cool of the  tomb.

However someone  who had suffered such a flogging as He, and  who had been subjected to the torture of the cross could have recovered enough to escape from the grave-clothes let alone convince His followers of a triumphant resurrection is beyond comprehension.

In fact, initially His disciples did not believe that He had come back to life.

The whole of the account of the events which took place on that Easter Morn testify to the fact that the disciples did not believe initially that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Until.....they saw for themselves.Then, they witnessed something, which, completely transformed them from being timid, frightened, creatures into fearless witnesses to the resurrection. 

What was it?  What had happened to them?   They had met with the Risen Lord.

Have you met with the Risen Lord?   

When you meet Jesus in all His Risen Power then your life will be  transformed.

6.  The Relevance of the Resurrection

  If there had been no resurrection then we would have no grounds for salvation.  Paul wrote ....  “If Christ be not risen then ye are yet in your sin.”   

If there is no resurrection then ....... there is no hope of eternal life.

  His resurrection is the guarantee of our own.

  7.  The Evidence For the Resurrection

Paul writing to Corinth......1 Cor 15 deals with this very theme. There, Paul states that :-

            1.   Christ appeared to Peter

            and then to:-

            2.    The rest of the  apostles.

He then :-

             3.     Appeared to more than 500 believers at  the same time of whom many were still alive at  the time  Paul wrote that letter.

Then Paul describes what, to him,  was the most amazing thing of all  -  a post ascension appearance of Christ to Paul himself  on road to Damascus.

In 1 Cor 15 Paul  deals at great length with the subject of the resurrection of Christ and its relevance and importance to us.

 

8.  Christ’s Resurrection is the Basis for our Salvation

  Our faith, our eternal security depends upon this fact.

  If it is not true, then we are of all men most to be pitied.

  If it is not true, Christianity is founded on a lie  -  founded by a bunch of liers.

 Is this view the one which is in keeping with His  character or is it alien to the One who was willing to die in my stead that a soul, though unworthy might live.

  Yes, the path to the cross He was willing to tread all the sins of my life to forgive.

  He went to the  cross and lay down His life for me.

And God  gave His seal of approval by raising Him from the dead.

                         Up from the grave He arose.

                        With a mighty triumph o'er His foes .

                        He arose a victor fom the dark domain,

                        And He lives  for ever with His saints to reign.

                        He arose, He arose......

                        Hallelujah!  Christ Arose  !

 
 
                                                           **********************************
 
3.                                            The Ministry & Work of the Holy Spirit

 

 

 
The Holy Spirit …………
 
 

1.  Testifies of Jesus

 

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
 
                                                                                                                    John 15:26 KJV
 
2.  Convicts of Sin

 

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 
 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

    
                                                                                                                 John 16:8-11  KJV
 
3.  Brings about the New Birth

 

 
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
     
                                                                                                                 John 3:5-6 KJV
 
4.  Baptizes Believers into the Body of Christ

 

 

 
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    
                                                                                                                  1 Cor 12:13 KJV
 
5.  In-dwells individual believers
 

 

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
 
                                                                                                                      1 Cor 6:19-20  KJV
 
6   Restrains Sin

 

 
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is
 and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
 
                                                                                                                    2 Thess 2:5-8  NKJV
 
 
7.  Equips and Empowers  Believers  for Service

 

 
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 

                                                                                                                    Acts 1:8  NKJV

 

 
8.  Guides

 

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself;
but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
   
                                                                                                                     John 16:13 KJV
 
9.  Gives Peace

 

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

     
                                                                                                                      Rom 8:6  KJV
 
10.  Imparts Life

 

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin;
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you,
he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
 
                                                                                                                   Rom 8:9-11  KJV
 
11.  Intercedes for us

 

 
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:
but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,
because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
 
                                                                                                                    Rom 8:26-27  KJV
 
12.   Bestowes the Gifts of The Spirit

 

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

                                                                                                                      1 Cor 12:4-11KJV

 

 
13.  Produces the Fruit of The Spirit in the Believer

 

 
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
 
                                                                                                                     Gal 5:22-23  KJV
 
14.  He Glorifies Jesus
 
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
                                                                                                                      John 16:14
 
 
                                                                                  **********************************
 4.

The General Epistle of Jude

Introduction:-  

                            Over the last three  months or so we have been considering the epistle to Hebrews. 

During the course of that study, we have seen that “Faith is the the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Heb 11

Last week we considered “Faith in Practise” Heb 13.

 

The General epistle of Jude, also highlights the importance of faith – the theme of Jude’s general letter to believers in the early church is that of “Contending for the Faith”   literally “Contending earnestly for the faith”

 

 

Theme:-                Contending For The Faith

 

 

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

 

Writer;-  Jude, the brother of James.

 

Which James?     Most likely James  “the Lord’s brother” cf  Matt 13

55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[a] Simon, and Judas?

This is particularly relevant today cf. the Lord Jesus said:-

 “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find (the) Faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

 

 Contending earnestly for the faith

 

In this brief letter Jude predicts the apostasy which would come and how it would come about and how it should be dealt with.

 

Paul also predicted the coming apostasy in 2 Thess 2

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
 

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He[d] who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

And Peter 2 Pet 3:3,4

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

 

Contending for the Faith amongst believers and non-believers.

 

This letter is has five divisions:-

 

1.     Greeting      (vv 1,2)

2.     Purpose   (vv 3,4)

3.     Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)

4.     Characteristics of Apostate teachers  (vv 8-19)

5.     Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

 

 

1.      Greeting    vv 1, 2

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified[a] by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

NB  During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we are told that his “brethren” did not believe on Him.

Now, Jude (Judas) describes himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ!

 

Note how he describes the believes to whom he writes this letter  -  Called  Sanctified  Preserved

 

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

 

2.     Purpose   (vv 3,4)

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
 

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[b] and our Lord Jesus Christ.

NB.

“which was once for all delivered to the saints”.

Cf. Hebrews ch. 1     God’s Supreme Revelation

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they

.

1.    Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)

In the NT Apostasy is turning away from the truth revealed in the scriptures.

Eg. Dis-owning the name of Christafter having believed.

Perverting  apostolic doctrine.

Deliberately rejection the truth as revealed in scripture.

Apostasy is different from error which may result through ignorance

Or heresy which may result from the deception of Satan.

 Ie.   Apostasy is the act of a professing Christian who knowingly and deliberately revealed truth concerning the deity of Christ and redemption through His atoning sacrifice.

In the day and age in which we live there has been a falling away among professing Christians. 

Many of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith are no longer accepted.

Wrong is deemed to be right and right to be wrong.

The beliefs of the world have been brought into the “church” and many have become disillusioned.

 

This is quite apart from the onslaught of militant atheism against the church of Jesus Christ.

Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Thess 2

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

 

We are often urged to come together as the “Faith Sector” of society and all “faiths” are given equal credulance.

 

 

However, we have to stand firm and earnestly contend for the Faith that was once delivered.

 

This Faith does not “Change with the Times” is is steadfast and unchanging.

 

NB. Hebrews 13:8  “Jesus Christ the Same, yesterday, and today and forever.”

 

Heresy, error and apostasy hve always existed.  They existed in the O.T.

 

Jude cites the examples of Cain, and of Korah as well as that of Balaam and of Sodom & Gomorrah.

 

 

1.     The Characteristics of Apostate Teachers

 

 

Even these can be traced back to O.T. times.

 

Cain(Gen 4:1)    The type of the religious person who, believes in God, and religion BUT after his own ideas, will. Cain rejected God’s Way of redemption  - by blood.

Similarly apostate teacher seek to explain away the atonement.

 

Balaam (Num 22 et al)  Balaam used human reasoning and sought to obtain material gain from his prophetic gift.

 

Korah (Num 16) Refused to accept God’s authority through the ministry of Moses and Aaron.

 

Even some of the angels succombed to this sin v 6

 

Jude says here that certain people, ungodly people,  had crept in unawares, turning the Grace of God into lasciviousness.

 
  

Jude 16:16-19 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

 

ie. Grumblers; Complainers; Loud-mouths; Flatters; Mockers; Sensual.

 

5.  Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

 

Notice the contrast in verse 17 - 20

 

20 But  you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Judes Magnificent Doxology   ( vv 24-25)

 

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,  and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power,  both now and ever.

Amen.

**********************************

5.

The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians

(Philippians 1:1-30)

Background

The church at Philippi was the first church to be founded in Europe. It came into being after Paul and his companions crossed over from Troas after having been given the "Macedonian Call." Philippi, capital city of Macedonia, was named after Philip of Macedonia the father of Alexander the Great.

The actual date of the epistle is uncertain but is generally accepted to have been written from Rome around 64 A.D. during Paul's imprisonment there and, as such, it is classed as one of the "Prison Letters."

The Subject of The Letter

The subject of the letter is that of "Christian Experience."

Paul uses the occasion to express his love for the saints at Philippi and his delight in their progress, for there appears to be nothing in their church order which required to be put right as soundness of doctrine is assumed.

Philippi is a "normal" New Testament assembly of "saints in Christ Jesus, with bishops (elders) and deacons."

 

The Occasion for The Letter

The particular purpose of the letter was to thank the church at Philippi for the gift they had sent to him, and Paul's desire to commend Epaphroditus to them.

 

As to the apostle himself, his circumstances are in striking contrast with his Christian experience.

Although Paul was Nero's prisoner but in spirit he was free and rejoicing in Christ.

From this it is clear that Christian experience is not something which is going on around us but rather that which is happening within us.

The key verse of Philippians is Phil 1:21 "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

True Christian experience is the outworking of the life, nature and mind of Christ living in us, no matter what our personal circumstances might be.

The letter divides quite neatly into the four chapters in which Pauldescribes Christ as the believer’s:-

                                                 1. Life 2. Pattern, 3. Object 4. Strength

The Theme

 

The Theme throughout is that of Rejoicing

1. Rejoicing in Suffering.

 

2. Rejoicing in Service.

3. Rejoicing despite Imperfections.

4. Rejoicing over Anxiety.

 

1. Christ, The Believer's Life - Rejoicing in Suffering.

Paul's intention is to confirm the church in the faith, and to encourage them to live as becoming of the church of Christ. This is the only one of Paul's letters in which no censure of the local church is expressed or implied.

(a) Paul's Thankfulness for Fellowship (Phil 1:1-7)

In verses 1-7 Paul offers up thanksgiving and prayer for the work of grace evident in the Philippians.

 

The highest honour that we can have is to be servants of Christ. Paul addresses this letter to "all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.

The Church is made up of saints, those who are not saints on earth will never be saints in heaven.

Outside of Christ, the best saints are sinners, unable to stand before God.

A local church is an assembly of believers professing faith in Christ who live, for the most part, in one locality and who assemble themselves together in His Name for the breaking of bread, worship, praise, prayer, testimony, the ministry of the Word, discipline and the furtherance of the Gospel.

Every such local church has Christ in the midst, and is a temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Inner peace comes from possessing a sense of Divine favour and there is no peace without grace. Grace and peace come from God who is the fountain of all blessings.

Memories of Philippi filled Paul with joy even though he experienced ill-treatment from the authorities while he was there. cf. Acts 16.

Paul sought to encourage the believers with the thought that the One who had commenced a good work in them would continue and would keep them until they were perfected in Him. Of this we can be in no doubt, the work of grace in each one of us will be perfected in the Day of His appearance. As Paul thought of the saints at Philippi he identified with them in suffering as being partakers of his grace.

 

(b) Paul's Love and Concern (Phil 1:8-11)

In verses 8-11 Paul expresses affection and prays for them.

How he longed for the fellowship of the saints.

How he prayed for them that their love for each other might overflow and that they might grow in spiritual knowledge and insight.

It is those things which are most honouring to God which will benefit us the most.

Believers should not easily take offence but, on the other hand, should be careful not to cause offence to the Lord or to fellow believers.

Our lives should be filled with the fruits of righteousness, these are by Jesus Christ and are unto the praise and glory of God.  

We, as believers, should find our joy in serving the Lord.

 

(c) Paul's Desire to Encourage them in their Suffering (Phil 1:12-20)

In verses 12-20 he seeks to strengthen them against being cast down because of his sufferings.

Paul was a prisoner at Rome, something which itself had turned out to be for the furtherance of the gospel because everyone there, including the soldiers in the barracks, were aware of the reason why he was a prisoner ie. the fact that he was a Christian.

These things had made him known where he would never have otherwise been known. Also, because of his imprisonment, others had lost their fear of imprisonment and had become bolder in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There were of course those who sought to make trouble for Paul and some who preached Christ with ulterior motives. However, no matter what the motives, the gospel of Christ was being preached and for that Paul rejoiced greatly.

What an attitude!

Even in prison Paul could see that all things were working for his good.

As for Paul, his desire was that he would never do anything that would be dishonouring to the Lord whether by living or by dying.

(d) Paul's Attitude towards Life and Death (Phil 1:21-26)

He goes on in verses 21-26 to explain his attitude towards life and death.

Death is a great loss to the carnal, the non -christian, because he loses all his earthly comforts and hopes; but to the believer it is gain, because it is the end of weakness and misery.

Verse 21 is perhaps one of Paul's most famous sayings. In effect he says "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Which means that for him , living meant more opportunities to present Christ, and dying - well, that would be even better.

He says "If living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don't know which is better, to live or to die!" However, Paul acknowledged that it was better for the church that he remained alive even though he himself might prefer to go to be with the Lord. Paul's choice was between two good options, one of living for Christ and the other of being with Christ.

 

Those of us who have the most reason to desire to be "with Christ" should be willing to remain in this world as long as the Lord has work for us to do. Paul's earnest desire was that Christ should be glorified whether it were by his living or by his dying.

(e) Paul's Exhortation for Steadfastness (Phil 1:27-30)

Verses 27-30 are exhortations for zeal and steadfastness in proclaiming the gospel. Those who profess the Name of Christ, should live in a manner becoming those who believe in Christ.

Paul urges them to be fearless in their proclamation of the gospel no matter what their enemies might do to them.

This would be a clear sign that God was with them and that they were assured of eternal life.

Paul points out that as Christians they had been given the privilege not only of trusting Him but also of suffering for Him.

He concludes by reminding them that they were all in it together with him.

Christ then is the believer's life, there is no life outside of Him. Christ's joy was perfected through suffering cf. Heb 12:2 reads:- "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

If Christ suffered then we His followers can expect no less.

May we be counted worthy to suffer for His Name's sake.

**********************************

6.

The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians

(Phil 2:1- 30 )

Introduction

This short  letter was written by Paul to Philippi from Rome around A.D. 63/64.

 Paul was especially close to the church in this, the leading city in Macedonia for it was there that he established the 1st Christian assembly in Europe. It was in Philippi where he and Silas were beaten and thrown into gaol. This letter, was not written to combat doctrinal error or personal conduct but is simply an expression of friendship and of  joy shared in a common faith.

Three Prominent Themes

Three things seem particularly special about this short letter.

1.   Its key word is "joy."   - the words  "Joy" and "rejoice" occur again and again.

2.   Philippians contains one of the most powerful New Testament affirmations of the divinity of Christ and His Lordship. Jesus who was God from eternity emptied Himself to become a man and, after suffering death, was raised again to His original glory and given a Name above every name.

3.  Paul shared his own personal goal in life - his yearning for a present experience of the transformation which will be his at the resurrection. 

 

Christ – the Source of our Joy

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that it is our relationship with Jesus that is a vital source of our joy.

Jesus Himself spoke of two ways that we might find joy in Him.

 Jesus said:-

"If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:10-11). 

And, "Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24).

 This “Joy” is produced in us by the Holy Spirit, and is a fruit of His presence (see Luke 10:21; Gal 5:22; 1 Thess 1:6).

It is not linked with material possessions but flows out of our salvation (Acts 8:8; 16:34).

Even persecution could not dampen the joy that glowed in early Christians, because their joy was not dependent on external circumstances (see Acts 13:52; 2 Cor 7:4; James 1:2). 

Peter even said:-

 "in this [salvation] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Believers experience a heightened joy; a joy that is rooted in the bond that exists between us and the Lord, and the bond that exists with other believers whom we have come to love.

 (see Rom 16:19; Phil 1:4,25-26; 2:2,29; 4:1; Heb 13:17; 1 John 1:4).

The deeper our relationship with Jesus and with His people, the greater the joy that awaits us, and the less that joy is dependent on external circumstances.

Who is Jesus ?     [ Phil 2:1-13 ]

To understand why Jesus is the key to joy, we must grasp who Jesus is.

Paul made Christ's true identity perfectly clear in this great affirmation of faith recorded in Phil 2:1-13. 

Jesus is God      (Phil 2:6-11).

This statement  is the foundational truth in Christianity.

In this  the early church affirmed:-

·       The pre-existence of Jesus as God

·       His incarnation as a true human being

·       His death on the cross

·       His resurrection from  the dead  

·       His coming again in glory

We should note that the phrase stating Jesus was "found in appearance as a man" does not imply that Christ only seemed to be a human being.

The Greek word here is schema  (schema), which lays stress on what was visible to the beholder. The Son of God was seen by men to be a man, and He truly was what He appeared to be: one of us. 

What a passage for us to dwell upon as we remember our Lord, and focus our thoughts on who He is - and how much He has done for us.

This is the One ……….

“Who  being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  [ Phil 2: 6-11 ]

Note the:-

Similarity Between John 1:1-14 and Phil 2:6-11 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.   

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

                                                                                        [ John 1:1-14  NKJV ]

Jesus is the Source of our Salvation (Phil 2:12-13).

Paul concluded with an exhortation to the Philippians to continue obeying his instructions, as they had been doing.

In this way they were to carry out Paul’s directive to:- 

"work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."

This call to "work out your ['own,' as some versions have it] salvation" has troubled some.

They have seen it as a demand to perform / carry out doing good works, or perhaps their salvation would be lost.

However,  this is not what Paul is suggesting here.

The word commonly translated "salvation" does look at personal salvation, in the Christian sense of salvation from sin.

Salvation has several aspects:-

 There is:-

·       the initial forgiveness obtained through faith in Jesus 

·       present deliverance from the dominating power of sin in our lives 

·       ultimate salvation; deliverance from even the presence of sin when resurrection day arrives.

Here the word "therefore" ( v 12 ) links Paul's words with what had been said before.

Paul had been speaking to the Philippians about the unity which is to be found by adopting the attitude of Jesus - a unity which 4:2-3 tells us was at least strained in the local body.

What Paul was saying, then, is that the church is to work out (to express) in their lives together the deliverance which Jesus has won for them, and is to do this with a proper sense of awe, realizing that God Himself was at work within them, present to will and act according to His good purpose.

As the Christians at Philippi modelled on Christ, and adopted His attitude, they would find deliverance from the things that divided them and would in fact give visible expression, together, to the salvation that was theirs in Jesus Christ.

Yes, the Jesus we worship truly is God.

Christ – The Supreme Example 

And, as the God-Man, Jesus set us an example, showing us the attitude which is the key to the unity of His Body (church)  and is also the key to expressing in our fellowships the salvation which is ours in Him.

·       Jesus’ Life defines Holiness

·       Jesus’ Compassion explains love

·       Jesus’ Patience reveals God’s attitude towards us

What Christ Did For Us 

·       He Humbled Himself

·       Made Himself of no Reputation

·       Became Obedient even unto Death

What God has done for Christ

Because Christ humbly gave himself for our sins God has:-

Exalted Him

·       "raised him up to the heights of heaven" (2:9; see Isa 52:13; John 17:1; Acts 2:33; Heb 2:9).          

·       He has been given a name (a position and place of authority) above all other names (2:9; see Eph 1:20; Heb 1:4). 

·       Someday (2:10-11) he will be acknowledged as Lord by everyone: 

                                "in heaven"   (angels)

                                 "on earth"    (human saints and sinners)

             and

                                  "under the earth"     (demons)

What Isaiah Wrote about The  "Sin – Bearing Servant"

This is what Isaiah says about the “Sin-Bearing Servant”  in Isaiah 52:13-15

13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;

He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.

14 Just as many were astonished at you,

So His visage was marred more than any man,

And His form more than the sons of men;

15 So shall He sprinkle many nations.

Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;

For what had not been told them they shall see,

And what they had not heard they shall consider.    NKJV

The Apostolic Example   (Phil  2:17-30)

The chapter concludes with the testimonies of three men who sought to follow that example, namely Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus.

1. Paul

Although Paul expressed the desire to visit the church at Philippi again, he was content to submit himself to the will of God.  Paul was willing to live for them or to  die for them whatever the Lord willed. Paul never counted his life dear unto himself. Paul regarded the believers at Philippi as a cause for rejoicing. They were proof that his labour had not been in vain. Paul desired liberty, not that he might take pleasure, but that he might do good.

2. Timothy

It was Paul's expressed desire that, if he personally could not visit them, then Timothy should visit them on Paul's behalf. Paul had experienced many setbacks and disappointments as a result of being let down by men. As he says here, "all men seek their own and not the things which are Jesus Christ's."   All that is except Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy had served Paul as a son to a father. He had certainly made full proof of his ministry. It speaks much for Paul that he was willing to surrender the companionship of Timothy in order to minister to the needs of the church at Philippi. We are apt to prefer our own credit, ease and safety, before truth, holiness and duty; not so Timothy.

3. Epaphroditus 

Epaphroditus was himself from Philippi and had been sent by the church  to help Paul in his need. He had himself been sick, in fact he had almost died but the Lord had spared him. Notice how Paul describes God's goodness "lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." Epaphroditus had done for Paul what the church at Philippi would have done had they been nearer. Now Epaphroditus was willing to return to Philippi that he might comfort those who had sorrowed for him when he was sick. Paul urged the people there to love him all the more on that account.

What a saintly trio  these three make, father, son in the faith, and faithful servant.

What an example to us.

How we need to see the dedication shown by these three great men in the faith, evidenced in the lives of believers  today.

However, good and virtuous though they may be, the real example is that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as described in verses 5 to 11.

Phil 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. NKJV

O that we might be  like-minded  and  lowly-minded  in the service of Him who's Name is higher than any other name.

Is it any wonder that:-

9  God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

AMEN !

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Naboth’s Vineyard