Download PDF – ALL THINGS
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
There has been much emphasis in much of the Christian religious circles concerning this one verse. It is unfortunate that most of the interpretations of this scripture have been misleading, to say the least. We live in a time where the works of man, whether good or bad, have been justified and cleared of any accountability of their own actions. We are truly living in perilous times. The word “perilous” in 2 Timothy 3:1 means troublesome, or dangerous. When we deviate from God’s word to justify evil deeds or to conclude that all things, actions, in our lives are working for our good we are standing on dangerous grounds. Let us first consider the thought of “all things”. All things will always mean all things, not some things. But we must also put the “all things” into its context.
Psalms 119:128 says, “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” If all things, without exception, are in consideration why would the psalmist then say, “I hate every false way”? would that not also be included in the all things? The all things are speaking of his precepts, his law. The psalmist concluded that the all things were speaking of the law of God, for they are right!
1 Corinthians 3:21, “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;” Are all things without exception ours? Of course not. The context is speaking of those things that are for our benefit concerning the preaching of God’s word.
2 Corinthians 5:18, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” Are all things, without exception, from God? Is God the author of sin? Does God control the deeds of evil men? Of course not!
We could go on and on illustrating that “all things” don’t always mean all things without exception. We must always put God’s word into its proper context to determine what the “all things” are.
Let me ask you. Do all things, without exception, work for our good? I believe if we consider this thought with a pure heart we would have to submit that the answer is no. Another question. Do somethings work together for our good? I believe that you would have to agree that some things do in fact work for our good in this life, but not all things.
Paul said in Romans 5:3-5, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” 2
Paul tells us that something is working for our good. When we suffer for Christ’s sake that works for our good because the result is the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts during times of persecution and tribulation. But we can’t say that ALL things are working for our good.
Galatians 5:17 tells us, “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.” The Apostle Paul clearly states that the flesh and Spirit are contrary and that you cannot do the things that you would. That doesn’t sound to me like the flesh and the Spirit are in harmony, neither does it show that they are working together for your good!
I have a cousin who suffered a bad fall and as a result she is paralyzed from the chest down. She has a lot of complications due to her current condition and is unable to enjoy life as she did before. I was at the dinner table of my Aunt, who is her caregiver, and someone else that was there said to all of us concerning my cousin, “well, the bible tells us all things work together for your good”. I almost jumped up! How could someone who was totally healthy say to someone that is now paralyzed that it was working for their good? I couldn’t see, nor still can I see how that terrible tragedy is working for her good. Yet in this great tragedy God has providentially given them a peace and comfort during their affliction. God is a very present help in time of need.
We must not become confused with the providence of God and absolutism. God is active daily in the lives of his people. But God does not cause ungodliness and sin to work for our good. What God does in his providence can’t be confused with all things working for our good. James 1:13- 14 reminds us, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”
Did God cause Adam to sin in the Garden of Eden? Of course not! God saw the fall from before the foundation of the world, but because God saw it does not mean that God caused it! But God did a make provision for his people in the person of Jesus Christ. In Jeremiah, the tribe of Juda had gone far into sin and removed themselves from God. They had begun to practice pagan worship religion offering their children to Baal. The Lord said in Jeremiah 19:5, “They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:”
This new age culture is being indoctrinated with the idea that your bad deeds are really not your fault. There is a moving away from being held accountable from our bad decisions in life. Many times, the “easy out” is to just blame God for everything and then reconcile the thought that it is working for your good.
I have heard others say, when someone was going through a very difficult time because of their bad decisions, that God was working it out for their good. My friends, there are things that happen in this life that don’t work together for your good! I refuse to believe that if a child of God decides to live in sin that God is working that out for their good. And I refuse to believe that some things are working for your good, using the scripture in the header, for it says, “all things”. Why would God create sin in our lives so that we can grow by it? The bible is clear, page after page we are admonished to, “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul”. We are told to, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 John 2:1 tells us, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” Why so much admonition against sinning if God was pleased in producing it?
I am amazed at those who believe that all things, without exception, work for your good and yet they become burdened and in great grief when something unfortunate happens to them. Should they, according to their own belief, not be rejoicing in their affliction? I submit that they really don’t believe that for themselves but only use that as a crutch for others.
The scripture in Romans 8:28 is not speaking of all things without exception. Let’s put it in the context of what is being said.
Romans 8:28 starts with “and”. That means it is in consideration of what has already been said. In fact, the large majority of verses in Romans chapter 8 are in consideration of what has been said prior and is a continuation. Most of these verses start with “for”, “and”, “because”, and “moreover”. All these words tie together what is being said as a whole.
Romans 8 speaks of the travail that the new creature suffers (vs.23). Then it speaks of us, and not only those in the past, who groan within ourselves as a waiting people. We are waiting for the redemption of our body.
Then the Apostle Paul speaks of the precious doctrine of hope (vs.24-25). It is in the next two verses (vs. 26-27) that we are assured that even when we are groaning and know not what to pray in our anguish, it is the Holy Spirit that aids the suffering child of God in prayer.
Paul, through the inspiration of God, then reminds us that while we are living by hope during our troubled times that through the gospel we know that all things work together for your good! What a precious thought! If we take these “all things” to mean something other than what is being presented, we lose the blessedness of these verses! In those times of turmoil and trials we need to be reminded of the good things. These good things are for those that love God and to them that are called according to his purpose.
Let’s consider this thought for a moment. “that love God”. Why do we love God? We love him because he first loved us. Those who love God are “the called”. The called are those for whom he has called out of nature’s dark night and into the marvelous liberty and light of the Lord. We love him because he planted his Spirit into our hearts and we became a new creature in Christ Jesus. Without His Spirit in our heart there is no love for God, our minds would be at enmity with God. But why did he call us. He tells us, “according to his purpose”. That is all we have! He planted his Spirit into your heart and it was not according to your desires, but according to his purpose.
It is to these that love God that all things are working together for good. The next two verses (vs. 29-30) tell us what the all things are! They are foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification.
It is important to notice that in Verse 29 of Romans 8, the Apostle Paul goes from foreknowledge to being conformed to the image of his Son. Let me ask you. When will you be conformed to the image of his Son? Will it be in this life? No! We should work in this life to be a true Christian (Christ like), but we won’t be conformed to his image! That is pure absolutism! There are ample other scriptures to show that we should be holy even as he is holy. This is important to consider and understand. If this verse is speaking of what we must do to be conformed in this life, then we have just destroyed those things working together for our good. Man loves to have his “good deeds” included in the sovereign work of God. But there is no room for man. If man has anything to do to accomplish these all things, then we would see failure in those things working for our good.
The great mercy and grace of God is demonstrated in this passage. He foreknew us, that is, he had an eternal and everlasting love for us. God predestinated a people before the foundation of the world set the bounds of his people. Predestination is not speaking of acts or deeds, but it speaks of a work he did for those he loved. He predetermined our destination. What is that destination? That we, one day, will be conformed to the image of his Son. That day will be when we go home to be with the Lord in heaven. The word predestination, predestinated and predestinate are all the same word in different forms. The word, in the Greek, is “prooridzo”. It is a compound word. “pro” means “before” and “horidzo” means “to mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing), to determine, appoint. God, before the foundation of the world marked out the boundaries of our destination or place. That destination is heaven!
But God also called us. This is speaking of the effectual call, regeneration. God is the sovereign in regeneration. He calls his elect to a life in Christ at his appointed time (John 5:25). Then the scripture tells us we are justified. This justification is speaking of our legal standing in the court room of heaven. We are declared righteous, justified, through the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9). And finally, Paul ends up with glorification. He speaks in the past tense because it is sure and definite for God’s people.
Paul then says in Romans 8:31, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Notice Paul goes back to “these things” these are the “all things” that are working together for our good!
If we make the “all things” to mean something different then we have just destroyed the blessed truth of what this scripture is telling us. It is when we are groaning within ourselves that we are saved by hope and waiting for the adoption to wit the redemption of these bodies. How can we have such a strong hope in the redemption of these bodies? Because of the work of God from foreknowledge to glorification! Amen! Let God be true and every man a liar.
AJ and Cody Griffin Baptism
Download PDF – Mephibosheth
In 2 Samuel Chapter 9 we find the story of Mephibosheth, a descendant of Saul and son of Jonathan. David said in verse 1, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” It was Mephibosheth who would obtain that kindness. And that kindness was the effect of a covenant that David had made with Jonathan in 1Samuel 20:14-17.
Now Mephibosheth lived in the land of Lodebar (which means “a place of no pasture”) and was lame on both his feet from a fall at an early age. Nevertheless, David sent and fetched him out from Lodebar and had his servants bring Mephibosheth to him. No doubt Mephibosheth greatly feared the thought of being brought before King David. I am sure that he felt that David had it in his mind to slay him, being the last of the house of Saul.
When Mephibosheth was before David he fell on his face and did reverence. But David said, “fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathon thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually”. And what was Mephibosheth’s response towards David’s great mercy? He bowed his head and said, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” Not only was David going to spare his life but he was going to treat him as one of the King’s sons. He would not even have to work for his food; David had at least 35 people to see to all his needs. The last verse in Chapter 9 states, “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the King’s table; and was lame on both his feet.”
How lovely is this type that God gives us in the story of Mephibosheth, for we are that Mephibosheth that is lame on both his feet! It was at an early age that we became lame, through the fall in Adam (Romans 5:12, “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”). That sin brought about a crippling affect; death, upon all of Adams family. Not only was that death corporeal, but it was a separation from the blessings and presence of God as well. It put us in the land of “Lodebar”, a place of no pasture. We were “like sheep” gone astray, and have turned everyone to his own way. We strayed from God’s pasture in the fall of Adam and our lot was to ever be separated from the presence of Almighty God.
But aren’t you glad the story doesn’t end there? Just like David and Jonathan, there was a covenant that was made before the foundation of the world between God the Father and God the Son (Ephesians 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…”). Yes, God the Father showed kindness to us for Christ’s sake! It was His blood that was shed on Calvary that removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. It was a finished work and accomplished entirely the demands of that covenant. Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified”. That was ONE offering, and the results are perfection, and it is applied to them that are sanctified. What a blessed truth to know that Christ’s work on Calvary was completed!
It was Christ that “fetched” us to him. We, like Mephibosheth, could not come to him nor would we (John 6:44 –“No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”). We were unable to come to him because of the fall neither would we have come to him, because natural, carnal man does not desire God (2Cor.2: 14 – “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”).
It is when the Child of God is brought (drawn) to God that he is made to see his depravity. The light of Christ now shines on his dark heart and he sees who he really is, a sinner who has been at enmity with God. It is then that he feels to be no better than a “dead dog”. Paul cried out “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Do you know who the “who” is? Why is it, dear reader, that you once enjoyed the things you did, but now they convict your troubled heart? Who told your heart that it was wrong? Your flesh enjoyed it all the while, but now the joy is gone. It is Christ who has shined his light into your heart; He is the light of life! Christ is the “Who”!
Now, in His Church we can sit at the King’s table. It is here that we can feast and eat continually on the Gospel of our Salvation, Jesus Christ. It is here that we hear the story of how he “saved a wretch like me”. It is in His Church that we can go in and find pasture (John 10:9). And though our feet are lame in this life, His table hides our weaknesses and we can rejoice at His banquet.
But there is coming a day, dear friend, that those lame feet will be gone. It will be the last day, when this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Then shall the saying be brought to pass, “Death is swallowed up in Victory”.
My friends, that is a true “rags to riches” story!
The Power of God
Download PDF – The Power of God
Psalm 62:11, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.”
The power of God is a wonderful thought. Yet His almighty power is little understood or even appreciated by our simple minds, for we are not able to comprehend all of His power. But in this life the child of God has evidences all around him declaring the power of God.
The power of God in Creation:
David said in Psalms 8:3, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?”
We find the power of God in the first chapter of the bible. God says, “let it be…” and a few lines later you read, “and it was so…” “Let it be…and it was so”, “let it be…and it was so”, over and over again you see the power of God in creation. There was no hesitation in the creation of anything that God created. God created the heavens and the earth and all that are in them in six days. Then he rested. God did not rest because he was tired. Isaiah 40:28 states, “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching for his understanding”. God created all things and rested on the seventh for man. It was to show that man was to rest from his labors on the seventh day. If it would have pleased God he could have created all things in the twinkling of an eye.
It took the power of God to create something from nothing! Man is able to make things all the time, but only because he has things that were created by God first. What a powerful God it is to make all from absolutely nothing. That is more than I can comprehend. But by faith I believe it. And if one believes that God created the heavens and the earth, he will have to believe it by faith. Paul said in Hebrews 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”.
Someone cannot believe in creation by science. Science is proven by something that is observable and repeatable. Creation is neither observable nor repeatable by man. But evolution is taught in our schools as science: fact! But it is not observable or repeatable. Evolution is more of a religion than a science. And it is a religion that attempts to undermine the power of God in our minds. I live in a house as we all do. But would you believe me if I said that my house just came together all on its own? You would think I was crazy if I said, “it just started evolving all on its own until finally it became a house”. But yet we allow schoolteachers to say the same thing about creation! My house came together because first off someone drew a plan. Then there were carpenters that began to build the house. The creation of this world and universe didn’t come about by some “big bang” theory. There was a higher being that drew out a blue print and then began to build this wonderful place that we call earth. God was the architect and the builder of heaven and earth.
And how beautiful is His creation! David said in Psalms 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” God could have created for us a place void of any beauty. But he chose to place a curtain of stars in the night sky, to give us a beautiful sunset at the close of day. The mountains with her form and splendid beauty and the seas with their white-capped waves all declare His creation. He created the beautiful flowers and gave us the blue skies. When the first astronauts were on their way back from the moon, looking at the beautiful planet earth, they were aw struck at its beauty. Over the radio they began to read Genesis chapter 1. All that were listening could hear the astronauts declaring the glory of God. There was no doubt in their minds that there was a God that created the heavens and the earth.
It is with this view of the power of God that causes man to lowly esteem himself. Back in Psalm 8:4 David stated, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” Man is in the business of building himself up. When man does not consider the power of God in creation he will begin to leave off God because he sees himself as something great. But God’s children are without excuse. In Romans 1:20, Paul states, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”. Those saints in the bible who were blessed to see God for who he is had a very small opinion of themselves. Nebuchadnezzar learned that lesson well.
God also has power in preservation. All things of this world since they were created continue to exist. Astrologers can predict things happening out in space down to the very second. This is all possible because of God’s perfect and powerful work. He controls the waves and sets their bounds (Job 38:11). So long as this earth is here there will be springtime and harvest and seasons will continue to exist. Man has no power over the strength and power of God. And when this earth is destroyed, it won’t be by man’s hand. God didn’t need man to create this earth and he certainly doesn’t need us to help destroy it (2Peter 3:10-12).
Praise the Lord for his mighty power!
Sin, Salvation, and Practical Sanctification
Download PDF – Sin Salvation and Practical Sanctification
The bulk of our text will be found in Leviticus, chapters 13 and 14. It is with the thoughts of the Leper that this subject can be brought out concerning Sin, Salvation, and Practical Sanctification. While not many types found in the bible have a direct parallel (that is word for word comparison) concerning some subject, we can find in the above mentioned chapters that there are some very striking similarities with man and who he is and God and what he has done.
In Mark chapter 2 we read of a man who was sick of the palsy. He was borne by 4 men to Christ and they uncovered the roof and let him down. Christ said, thy sins be forgiven thee. But others around said, “only God can forgive sins”. Then Christ, knowing their hearts said, “Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.”
Diseases in the bible often typify man the sinner and his condition. The disease of leprosy also well depicts man, who is eaten whole with sin. Whether leprosy is inherited is hard to say, but one thing I do know, our sinful nature is! We inherited that from our father Adam. Romans 5:12 states, “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”.
There was a change in Adams position after the fall. To “fall” is to have a change of position. But there are those who would suppose the opposite by saying man is now a free moral agent. Well, if man were a free moral agent before the fall, and then a free moral agent after the fall, there would then be no change of position. And if there is no change of position, how could you say that Adam fell? Or what of the other side of the ditch? There are those that would say Adam was predestined to fall, he had no choice, that God fixed it so he would fall and then God could save him. And then after his fall man is in a state where he cannot help. So, man couldn’t help him self out before, nor could he help himself out after, this view if fatalistic. If that is the case, there still is no change his condition. And how could you say that Adam fell if his condition did not change?
The truth of the matter is Adam was given a law by God in the Garden of Eden. It was a law that he could keep. But after he transgressed that law he is unable to help himself because he fell. Therefore we see a change of position. Adam was able to keep the law of God, but after the fall Adam is now dead in trespasses and in sins. We inherited the sin in Adam. We didn’t become a sinner when we committed a sin; we committed a sin because we are by nature sinners. Psalms 51:5 says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me”. This doesn’t seek to justify our sins, but only explains where our nature came from.
A few comparisons can be drawn between the disease of leprosy and our sinful nature:
Leprosy is deeper than the skin: In chapter 13 of Leviticus the sign of one who had Leprosy was that “the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh”(v.3). Sin too, is deeper than the skin. Our sinful actions and what we say, think, and do are not from the surface but from something much deeper down. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The problem is with his heart. The things that are manifest on the surface just serve to confirm what is deep within. Christ said in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” This is who man is by nature. This is what is in his corrupt heart. Nothing in there can be found that is God honoring, but all is to the satisfying of man. In Psalms 14 we read, “the fool hath said in his heart there is no God”.
We feel that we can cure a man of his problems. If he is away from God, in our eyes, and living a wicked life then all he needs to do his turn his heart to God. But if the problem is heart problem, then only God can make a change in ones life. And it will take that before there will be a change in ones condition.
Leprosy spreads: In Leviticus 13:8, “And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy”.
Sin like Leprosy can and often times does spread. Isaiah 1:5-6 states, “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Here God tells Israel that they are consumed and that it has spread over there whole body.
It is so tempting at times to just “dabble” in sin. We are foolish enough to think that we can stop at any time and that we won’t allow sin to reign over us. It was just a look that caused David to ultimately commit murder by having Uriah killed. It was just a look that Lot had when he pitched his tent toward Sodom. James said in Chapter 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”.
It is a daily struggle to not let sin reign in your mortal bodies. But yet we must continue to fight against the temptation and desire to be lured into sin. Paul said, “If ye walk after the flesh ye shall die. But if ye, through the spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”.
Leprosy can separate us from our family: In Leviticus it tells us that “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be” (v.46). What a terrible and sad situation it would be if you or I were removed from our family and those we love because of our disease. The family is where you find support, love, affection, and a since of being. To dwell alone is to be separated from all those rich qualities that come from the family unit. The family that I have under consideration is not the natural family. Though indeed it would be a sad situation to be removed from your natural family. But it is the church family.
Yes, we are all sinners and unworthy of a place in His house. But letting sin to continue in our life to the point that it consumes us and brings reproach upon the church can cause one to be removed without the camp. What a sad thing it is to see one taken away from the family because of a continuance of sin in his life.
Leprosy, when spread, will numb the nerve endings: It has been said that when one has leprosy in his hands he can touch a hot iron and never feel it burning his skin, he is completely numb to pain.
Sometimes we can get so far into sin that we begin to justify everything that we do. We might say, “God would not let it grow if he didn’t want us smoking it”, or “God would not have made something beautiful if he didn’t want us looking at it”, or “Christ drank wine, so it is OK for me to drink all I want”. Or we just simply say, “I am a sinner, and that is what sinners do, they sin!”
We can come to the place in our lives that we begin to justify all that we do. Paul said in Ephesians 4:17-19, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” What a shame it is to see one who is in this place. I thank God for conviction. For if one is convicted of his sins and by the grace of God, begs forgiveness, then he is not past feelings. And I pray that I never get past the feeling of when I do wrong! I pray that I would always feel guilty of the times that I stray away from God in my sins.
Leprosy is contagious: You would not want to be next to someone who was a Leper. You might just get the disease by being around him.
In this life it does not pay to associate with those who are “eat up” with sin. It could be that you might get the same disease. And the more we are around it the more we are apt to fall into it. There is much peer pressure in the schools today and even in college. It is acceptable to live a sinful life in many college social circles and you are looked at as odd if you do not live the same as them. But we need to stay away from such temptations in our life, that we may remain spotless from the corruption of this world. The same pressures are also found in the work world.
Also, one that is left in the house that is leprous and not removed may infect the whole house. If one were not taken out of the church for committing reproachful sins, it might entice other members to follow the same course, not fearing the judgment of the Church.
Now we turn our attention to Leviticus chapter 14. It is the chapter concerning the “law of the leper in the day of his cleansing”. We have shown how that leprosy in many ways is comparable to the sin that is within us. Now we can see how that the leper is pronounced clean and is free from his disease. What a wonderful story this illustrates when we consider the grace of God in salvation towards those who were full of leprosy.
Notice early on that the leper is brought to the priest, and the priest goes out to him. Here we see no action on the part of the one who has the leprosy. Neither is there action from the dead alien sinner to obtain regeneration. He is dead and unable to lift up so much as a finger in his dead state. John 6:44 states, “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up again at the last day”. It was David, a great type of Christ, who went and fetched for Mephibosheth. He couldn’t come to David, nor did he want to. It was Christ who went to the dead and raised them out of their dead condition. He said, “Lazarus, arise”; “young Damsel, arise”; “young man, arise”. And they were all obedient to the voice of Christ.
In Verse 3 it states, “And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper”. Christ died for the sins of His elect on Calvary’s cross. The words that Christ cried out on the cross; “it is finished”, declared that the work of redemption was complete.
There was an offering that had to be performed. The priest would take two birds, alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest would kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water. Then the other bird that was alive would be dipped in the dead bird’s blood. And the priest would then sprinkle the blood upon him that is to be cleaned from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean. Then the living bird would be let loose in the open field.
The two birds represent Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. One of the birds was killed in an earthen vessel over running water. What a wonder type of Christ this is. The water speaks of the divinity of Christ. And he came to this earth in an earthen vessel. Paul spoke of our bodies as being an earthen vessel in 2Cor. 4:7. In 1John 5:8, “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one”. Christ came IN earth, that is to say, in an earthen vessel. The Spirit is speaking of the Holy Spirit, the water is the divinity of Christ, and the blood speaks of his perfect humanity. What were they bearing witness of? That he was the Christ. A bird was killed because of a leper. Christ came here and died on Calvary to cure our leprosy.
The other bird was set free in an open field. No finer place for a bird to be set free than in an open field. Christ ascended to his Father after having accomplished the work that he was sent to do. And we were in Christ for he “hath quickened us together with Christ, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2.4-6). The blood of that dead bird was sprinkled upon him that was to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times. It device that was used was the cedar wood, the scarlet, and the hyssop. The hyssop perhaps was tied by the scarlet to the end of the piece of cedar wood. Its purpose would then be used as an applicator to sprinkle the blood upon the leper.
What a great type is shown here. Christ died for our sins on Calvary. It was there that the price was paid in full. If Paul said that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, then we would have to conclude that Christ did the work while he was in the world! But there is a time in every child of Gods life when that salvation is applied to him, just as it was applied to the leper. There is a vital application of that salvation which Christ has purchased for us on the cross. This is referred to as the new birth!
It is in the new birth that the salvation of the cross is applied to us, it is then that we are sprinkled with His blood. 1Peter 1:2, “Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit; unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”. It is then that we are cleansed by the “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:3-5). And every child of God will have that salvation that was wrought on Calvary applied to him sometime between conception and death.
It is then that we, as the leper, are pronounced clean! We are pronounced in the court of heaven. Paul said in Romans 3:24, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. He declares us just in the courts of heaven and none dare bring a railing accusation against one of His (Rev. 12:10-11).
PRACTICAL SANCTIFICATION: After the leper was pronounced clean, and the live bird was turned loose in the open field, the one who was cleansed would wash his clothes and shave off all his hair, and wash his body in water that he may be clean (Lev. 14:8).
This was a sign to all that was around this man that he had been pronounced clean. No doubt the people would look and take notice. Paul said in Romans 6:4 that if we have been buried with Christ and raised with Christ, legally and positionally, that we should walk in newness of life. Also in Ephesians 4:24 Paul said that we put on the new man.
The child of God who sees what he was, a leper, and sees who it was that has cleansed him, should have the desire and longing to live a life that would be an example to those around him. In Luke 17:15-19, there were 10 lepers that were healed. But only one turned to Christ to worship him. Christ said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” May we be as the one, who turned to worship Christ and not the other nine who went on their way.
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Proverbs 9:1, “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars”
Does God have a local Church in this age? When the Apostle Paul wrote, “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,” that he was speaking of all of God’s children (Hebrews 12:23). The word “Church” by definition is “A called out assembly”, and God will call all those for whom he died from a death in sin to a life in Christ.
The bible is also very clear concerning a local “called out assembly” as well. The Apostle Paul was clear in some of the opening remarks of his epistles to whom it was he was writing to, and would often reference the Church. For instance: “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth”, “Unto the churches of Galatia”. The Apostle Paul told Timothy in 1Tim.3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.”
The wise Solomon speaks of the local church in the book of Proverbs. He states in chapter nine that, “Wisdom hath builded her house”. Wisdom is used here as a noun and can only be referenced to Christ, for He is Wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:24 states, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” What a fitting name for the Savior! It was the wisdom of God that justice was satisfied in that nature that sinned. God could not just look over sin and impart mercy at the expense of justice. It was the wise woman of Tekoah that told King David, “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him”(2 Samuel 14:14). It was in Christ that sin was judged, condemned, and paid for, Romans 8:3, “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”. Yes, it would take wisdom of God to impart mercy and grace towards his beloved and to turn his hands of love and affection towards his elect. The Lord sums up Christ as Wisdom through his work on Calvary by in Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
It is Wisdom who hath builded her house! We as Carnal man often get the idea that we can just put a sign over the door and start meeting and it will be the Lord’s church. But it is Wisdom that builds the house, not man. Zechariah 6:13a states, “Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory”. While it is true that those in His church have a responsibility to build in the church through knowledge and truth, it is Wisdom that first must build the church! The Apostle Peter spoke of our responsibility in 1Peter 2:5, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Romans 12:1 and Hebrews 13:15 tell us what the sacrifices are.
“She hath hewn out her seven pillars”. This is speaking of the soundness of Gods house. Christ told the Apostle Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The rock is speaking of Christ, not Peter. The Lord’s house is a kingdom that cannot be moved or shaken (Hebrews 12:26-29). No matter how hard Satan tries or how persistent wicked man is, he will never be able to overthrow God’s house nor rid it from this earth. His church will stand and the truth of the gospel will be preached from it until Christ comes to redeem his elect.
What a great blessing it is to be in His church! Wisdoms house is for the simple. It is for those who with open mind readily receive the message of sovereign grace. Wisdoms house is made up of those who are hungry for spiritual sustenance, and thirst for the message of salvation for ruined sinners. She is an oasis for the weary pilgrim who is journeying through this life, waiting for the time that they are carried home. It is then that the journey will end!
This is the house I want to be part of while in this desert land. Paul said in Hebrews 3:6, “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end”. May we continue to hold fast our confidence and rejoicing of the hope which God has given us!
The Hem of His Garment
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Matt. 9:20- “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment.”
This account can be found also in the gospel of Mark and Luke. It will be best to use all three gospels so that we might obtain a clearer picture. This story concerns a woman who has had an issue of blood for 12 years. She has been to many physicians and has given all her money to them, but they have not helped. In fact her condition is continuing to get worse. Mark 5:26, “And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse”.
No doubt she had a strong desire to be rid of this plague. When she had heard of Jesus she said within herself, “If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole”. Mark records, “…If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole” (Mark 5:28).
What meaning can we derive from this incident? There is no doubt that it actually happened. But what can we learn from it? God does not introduce to us a story in His word just for the sake of entertainment. If we look at this account literally there is much we can learn. It is in our times of sickness and physical ailments that we should look to God for healing. God still heals! I don’t think this is an instruction for us not to seek professional medical doctors for physical and sometimes mental needs. I do believe that it is telling us that no matter what doctor we go to, only God can provide the healing that is needed. So while we allow the doctor to operate on us, our faith should be in God who guides the surgeon’s hand.
While the literal meaning of this story provides us with instructions on the healing power of God, there is also a deeper spiritual application that we hope to look into. We will first attempt to look at what this account is not saying.
The end result of this story is, “…thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace”. The word “whole” in the Greek is “Sozo”, which means “save”. This word is also used in Luke 7:50 where Christ spoke to the woman who came in and had washed His feet with her tears and did wipe them with the hairs of her head. Christ said, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace”. So we see that whatever this story is talking about it is speaking of one who is saved by their faith.
Many scholars will interpret this story and use it to illustrate our need of eternal salvation. “You”, says the scholar, “must seek Christ and reach out to him by faith if you are to be saved”. And the penalty for not doing so will send you straight to hell! This interpretation only serves to cause further distress to the child of God and is so full of holes it won’t hold water!
We will only make note of a few observations that show a glaring contrast to the interpretation just mentioned. It is noted that her condition continues to get worse even after failed attempts with the many physicians that she has consulted with, Mark 5:26, “And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse”. I can’t imagine anything worse than spending eternity in the lake of fire, a place void of the presence of God Almighty. Hell is described as a place of tormenting flames. But I don’t see how this woman (who supposedly needs eternal salvation) could continue to worsen her eternal state if she were Hell bound to begin with. The bible says that she grew worse. And I don’t see how you could get any worse than eternal flames.
The scriptures tell us, “When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment”. This implies someone who has been influenced by the news of Jesus and then set out to seek and find him. These characteristics are contrary to the one without Christ, the dead alien sinner. Paul tells us in 1Cor. 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”. John 9:43,47 states in words to clear to miss, “Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word”. “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God”.
While man can hear the letter of God’s word spoken by an audible voice, the dead alien sinner has no spiritual ears to hear and is not capable of hearing Gods word nor does he want to hear them. “They are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely” (Ps 58:4). That seems like strange language that a deaf adder would stop up her ears. But it describes well the condition of the alien sinner who can’t hear spiritually and doesn’t want to hear.
The dead alien sinner will never be found to seek after the Lord. John 6:44 says, “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”. In Romans 3, Paul describes the man dead in trespasses and sins and starts out by saying, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God”. The dead alien sinner cannot come to Christ; neither does he seek after Christ. Life precedes action. A simple rule that can be used in rightly dividing God’s word is- never ascribe godly works to a dead man. If one has a desire to seek after Christ, if one has a love for Christ, if one has a hunger and thirst for the things that be of God, if he has an awareness of sin and conviction of wrong doing, he is not in need of eternal salvation but rather this describes one who already has eternal salvation.
If this woman, with an issue of blood, was not someone who was in need of eternal salvation, then what was it she was in need of? No doubt her faith saved her, but from what was she saved? There are a lot of things in this life that we need deliverance from. But one of the greatest things the child of God can be saved from in this life is false doctrine.
In another place we read a similar account, “And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole”(Matt. 14:35-36). Notice this passage is referencing those who already have knowledge of him! And what was the response? They went out into the country around them and brought unto him all that were diseased! It didn’t say they brought back all that would come, or all that could come, or even all that were healthy, they brought unto Christ all that were diseased. Such should be the effect of God’s word to us. O’ that we might rejoice in His word and desire to bring in those that are in need of healing! They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. Notice they too could be made whole by touching the hem of his garment.
Herein lays the diamond in the rough! Let us for a moment look more closely at this garment. Many things about the Jews were symbolic. Their sacrifices were symbolic; the type of food they were to eat (or not eat) as well as their clothing was symbolic. In Numbers 15:37-40 we have this recorded concerning the garments that the Jews were to wear; “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God”.
These garments with the blue around the borders were a constant reminder to them to keep all the commandments of the Lord. Whenever they were tempted to sin, the blue fringe of their garment would be a monitor to them not to break God’s commandments. The reminder was with them wherever they would go, they were wearing it. And if they kept not His law, the boarder of their garment was there for a reminder that they had transgressed. Even though the Jews were commanded to remember and do all the commandments of the Lord, the purpose of the law was not to make them wholly and without sin. The purpose of the law was to show sin as exceeding sinful.
Romans 3:19-20 tells us, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin”. The Mosaic Law was not given to the children of Israel for a means of establishing righteousness (Gal.2:21 “…for if righteousness come by the law, then
Christ is dead in vain) but rather it was to show just how far from righteousness they were! It was impossible for the Jews to keep the law, for they were sinners. How discouraging and down trodden they must have sometimes been in their failures as they were constantly reminded of God’s law.
That same law is now written on our hearts. He has not written his law on tables of stone but in the fleshy tables of the heart. It is when the child of God is regenerated by the Spirit of God that this law is written on his heart. It is then that he sees the huge weight of the law pressing him down. The Apostle Paul wrote of his experience of Grace in Romans chapter 7. He said, “I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died”. The law shines the light on our sinful nature and shows us who we really are; vile and polluted sinners!
It is then, under the heavy weight of the law that we see the plague of sin in our bodies. It is then that the child of God sees his helpless and ruined state. Only then will he cry out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death”? This woman of whom we speak has had a plague for twelve years and Mark 5:26 says, “And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse”.
There are many so called “physicians” out there who think they have the remedy for your terminal sickness. There is “Dr. Works” who says that you must do some work in order to save yourself from this terrible condition. And he has other Doctors that are under him. They are Dr. Baptism, Dr. Perseverance, and Dr. Fatalist to name a few. These worldly “physicians” will do nothing to help you, but rather you will only grow worse as the weight of sin continues to press you down. And they demand a lot out of you as well! Perhaps they have convinced you that you are cured by your own works only to have them question the effectiveness of the remedy!
But all these doctors use the law unlawfully. The same perverted use of the law is seen in the Pharisees of yesterday and today. Matt. 23:4-5 states, “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments”. Matthew Henry comments on this verse,
“…The Pharisees were not content to have these borders like other people’s, which might serve God’s design in appointing them; but they must be larger than ordinary, to answer the design of making themselves to be taken notice of; as if they were more religious than others”.
It was an act of self righteousness that they would enlarge the borders of their garments. They would do this in an attempt to show others that they were within themselves a more holy people. But Christ could not be fooled. It is in this same 23rd chapter of Matthew that Christ repeatedly refers to the scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites”.
There was only one that could keep the law of God. Christ said in Matt. 5:17-18, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”. Christ declared his righteousness by fulfilling the law. His temptation in the wilderness was not a test of his strength but rather it was to confirm with us that he could not fall into temptation. Therein lays the glaring contrast between man the sinner and Christ the righteous.
But the gospel message is one of comfort and good news to the diseased and plagued. It is a message of redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sin. How is it that God, who gave us the law, can forgive us who will never be able to keep the law? It is because Christ died a death of substitution. Our sins were laid on him on Calvary and his righteousness was given us. 2Cor. 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”. O blessed news for the sin sick soul! His work was complete on the cross at Calvary. “For by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).
Matt. 9:21- “For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole”. It wasn’t her righteousness that would heal her, for she had none. It wasn’t the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, for neither did they have any but were only hypocrites. The true healing was trusting in God and His righteousness. Apostle Paul reminds us of the purpose of the law in Gal. 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith”. She declared to herself and others around her that her sole reliance for righteousness was Christ and him alone. The touching of his garment was a manifestation of the child of God who is justified by faith.
One who is justified by faith first sees his depravity, of which only God can show to the sinner’s heart in regeneration. It is then that for the first time he feels to be condemned and ruined, having no hope. He may seek comfort from the religions of this world, but that never does satisfy his longing heart. But then, through the gospel, he hears of the Kinsman Redeemer. He hears about the one who paid it all and has completed the work of salvation. He desires that comforting message and receives it into his heart and is given an earnest of the Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession.
It is then that this poor sinner is saved. Not eternally saved, for he already has that. He is saved from false religion that would forever cast doubts and fears in his heart. He is saved from the just demands of the law that can never be fulfilled in him. He is saved! What a salvation that is in this life! Paul spoke of those who needed such saving in Romans 10:9, “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”.
Paul speaks to the Ephesians concerning this great deliverance in Eph.1:12-14, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory”.
It was when she touched his garment that Mark 6:30 states, “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?” Christ knew who it was that had touched him, but he wanted those that were around him to know, that they might know where that virtue (power) came from.
She received healing power from God. John 1:11-13 states, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. This receiving of Christ is not for eternal salvation, for they are already born of God. It is a receiving of Him in the gospel that he is the Christ that should come! It is receiving by faith the gospel message that salvation is entirely of the Lord and that without his bloodshed on Calvary Hell would be our lot. It is then, when we receive the message of Christ that he gives us power to become the sons of God. It is becoming the sons of God by manifestation. God gives the child of God power to manifest to himself and others around him, by his walk, that God is his salvation, his hope, and his all.
Dear friends, it is in the Lords Church that the spiritually diseased and sin plagued sinner can find a healing. His train fills the temple and it is there that we can gather around his open word and hear the message of salvation. It is there that we can touch the hem of his garment, the one who fulfilled the law to a jot and tittle, and find deliverance from every wind of doctrine that blows across this land. It is only then that the child of God can “go in peace”. May we receive the finished work of Christ on Calvary in our hearts, and may we be troubled no more, thanks be to Him!
Three For Three
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Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Sometimes you don’t have to dig deep in God’s word to find the truth concerning salvation, you just have to believe it! People often times have the excuse, “I just don’t understand the bible” or, “it is to complicated for me”. I find when talking to people that the bible is really not complicated to them at all; they just don’t believe what the bible says! “Let God be true, but every man a liar”.
I will confess that there are difficult passages in the bible to rightly divide. And often it takes light to gain more light. To gain a greater understanding in God’s word we have to study and give ourselves to prayer and meditation, asking God to reveal His wondrous truths to us. When you were of age to start school did you start in 10th grade? Of course not: You weren’t ready. You first started in Kindergarten and year-by-year you advanced in your knowledge and continued to move up in grades. We first have to take baby steps in God’s word to grow in knowledge. You start first on Milk before you can ever eat meat. It our diligent studies we are able to study the word of God “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line: here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:13).
But there are passages in the bible that don’t require a great deal of knowledge to understand; we just have to take them at face value. The text that is before us is such a one. Don’t try to read between the lines; don’t try to assume within yourself that the angel of the Lord is saying something subliminal or that there is another meaning all together. Lets look at what he says and take him at his word!
In this text (Matthew 1:21) we have the words of the angel of the Lord to Joseph. Mary and Joseph were espoused to each other; they were engaged, not married as of yet. And for this reason Mary was still a virgin. But she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. When Joseph had learned of this he, “being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily”. It was then that the angel of the Lord told Joseph, “fear not to take Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost”.
Now there were three things that the angel of the Lord told Joseph: three very important things!
“And she shall bring forth a son…” Is there any question in your mind as to what this means? Do you believe it when you read it? Did she bring forth a son? Yes, she did bring forth a son! We read in Luke 2:7, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn”. This was not when Christ came into being, for He has always been. It was Christ with His Father and the Holy Ghost that said, “Let us make man in our image”. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. The Word is speaking of Christ. Further reading will reveal this in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” There is no doubt that Christ is and has always been. But he was born into this world robed in flesh “and was made in the likeness of man”. Isaiah 9:6 states, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”. Most people will not argue with you on this very plain fact that Christ was born into this world by the Virgin Mary. And what a wonderful truth it is!
“…and thou shalt call his name JESUS…” This was the second statement that was made to Joseph. God had already chosen a name for Christ. Is there any question that Mary and Joseph called him Jesus? Luke 2:21 states, “ And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb”. What a fitting name for the Lord of Glory, for Jesus means Saviour! It describes who he is and his work. A farmer farms, and a teacher teaches, and my friends, and Saviour saves! His name is found over 900 times in the New Testament. This second statement is also a very plain fact and no one who believes in the New Testament would dare argue this fact.
“…for he shall save his people from their sins”. Now we come to the third statement. You have taken the first two statements at face value. Will you now take this one for what it says? The “for” in this statement declares why he is named Jesus, it declares his person and work. But notice more closely the words following it, “he SHALL save HIS people from their sins”. The word “shall” is defined as something that is inevitable. The word “his” is defined to indicate the one or ones belonging to him. Now we know that the text is saying, will we believe it?
This text does not say, “he will make a way for all mankind whereby they can obtain salvation from their sins if they choose”. No, listen again. It says, HE SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS! Did he do it? The answer is an unequivocal YES! And when was this work done? Paul said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”. If Christ came into the world to do the work, then we would have to say that the work was finished while he was in the world. If not, then Christ failed and Paul is a liar!
Christ’s cry on the cross declared the work was accomplished when he said, “It is finished”. Paul exclaimed in Hebrews 10:11-13, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified”. Christ being “sat down” implies that he is resting from his work. And if he is resting from his work, he is finished. And those he died for have been perfected forever!
Did Christ die for everyone? Yes, everyone that the Father had given him. And he will not lose a one! Christ said in John 6:37-39, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day”. But did Christ die for all the family of Adam? No. He died for the “sheep” not for the “goats”. Are you a sheep or goat? If you have a love for God, if you are convicted of your sins when you do wrong, if you look forward to the day when you will be housed in Heaven with God, then I have some good news for you. You are one of his already! He died for you and the work is complete. He saved you on Calvary’s cross. And it was never because of anything you said or did, but it was all according to his mercy, grace, and purpose. 2Timothy 1:9 states, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”.
You believe the first two statements. Will you believe the third? Will you take it at face value for what it says? In doing so you will find a comfort and consolation in God’s word knowing that you are one of his and that nothing can separate you from what he has done, “for he shall save his people from their sins”. Thank God for his precious and comforting truth!
Obedience To God
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What does obedience to God mean? How do we treat our relationship with God on a daily basis? What is it that we want out of life? What is most important to us? What is your life centered on?
These are very basic but deep and thought provoking questions. When was the last time you stopped and thought about just one of these questions. I think it is important for us to evaluate our lives from time to time and make a “progress check” concerning our goals and desires in this life. Think about each one of these questions and consider carefully your answer as we begin to speak about obedience to God. Life is full of paved roads and also bumpy roads. Which road we travel in this life has a great deal to do with our obedience to God. Obedience to God is not just a Sunday ritual or something we strive to do in times of despair, but it is a way of life. If we don’t set our minds and hearts in obedience to God we are setting ourselves up for discontentment, sorrow, failure, defeat, heartaches, and much more.
Obedience to God is doing what God says to do, when God says to do it, and how God says to do it. It seems like such a simple concept, but how easy is it for the cares of this world to snuff out our fellowship with God! It is also a fact that God always rewards obedience to him. In the bible rewards are spoken of for the child of God in this life. There are no rewards in heaven, for heaven is by the grace of God. But in this life God rewards those who are obedient to him. Deut. 28 speaks of blessings for those who hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord, to observe and do all his commandments. It also speaks of curses to those who will not hearken nor observe to do all his commandments and his statutes. Isaiah 1:19-20 says, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it”.
In Samuel 15 we read of Saul’s disobedience to God. He was to destroy all of Amalek and take nothing. When Samuel came to him he could hear the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen that was taken, along with King Agag. Saul’s excuse was that he was planning to use those animals as sacrifices unto God. In the verse 22 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”. As a result of Saul’s disobedience God had rejected him from being King over Israel. Have you ever wondered how many blessings you have missed out on because of your lack of obedience to God? I do not think I would like it if God were to say to me, “lets look at your past and see how I could have blessed you if you had not done this, but rather done such and such”! But we will not be successful in our obedience if all we do is look at our past errors and see where we have gone astray or where we would have changed things. We must be willing and ready to move ahead in our service to God. The blessings are still there for us.
Obedience is not a gift that we are born with it is a learning experience. A child learns obedience by his parents. And as he learns to obey, he learns that there are rewards to follow. It is to often the case today that children are not taught properly how to obey, and as a result they have no respect for others and have more problems with life issues. There are those that might ask, “How are we to obey God when we can’t hear him”? This is a good question. Certainly in God’s word we read where God spoke directly to individuals and we know that God does not speak to us now in an audible voice. But God does speak to us in his word. 2Timothy 3:16-16 states, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”. God’s word furnishes us with what we need to maintain good works before God. He speaks to us through His word.
It is with these thoughts of obedience that I would like to look at Luke 5:1-11 which states, “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”
In these verses we have 3 examples of Peter’s obedience to Christ.
- In verse 3 Christ enters onto Peter’s boat and prays him to thrust out a little. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
This first act of obedience may not seem like much at first but it brings Peter into the blessings of God. No doubt Peter was tired from fishing all night and also a little down because they had caught nothing. When Christ came by they were washing their nets by casting them into the sea to clean them. It would have been so easy for Peter to say, “I am tired and have caught nothing, why don’t you use one of these other ships?” As we continue on in this paper consider what Peter would have missed out on if he had declined to do Christ’s will. It was a small favor. When God teaches us how to obey, as a father does with his child, he starts off small. But my, how those small acts of obedience can lead right into the blessings of God!
What was the blessing that Peter gained by this act? His boat became Christ’s pulpit as he preached to those on the shore. Not only that but Peter was also sitting right there with him in the boat as he was preaching! What a blessing that would be to sit next to Christ as he preached the gospel out of your boat to the people on the shore! No obedience to God is too small. It may be that those small acts of obedience will lead to greater blessings. This certainly was the case with Peter.
- The next step in Peter’s obedience is found in verse 3. Christ said unto Simon, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught”.
This may perhaps have seemed like a fruitless command of Christ. Peter had already been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Peter could have easily said, “I am tired and really need to get home to rest, I know how to fish and I have been here all night and I am telling you there are no fish here”. But Peter had already been blessed to hear Christ’s sermon and had began to look up to Christ, even though at this current time he may not have known just who Christ was. He was obedient to Christ and launched out into the deep and let down his net. Peter’s faith in Christ had begun to be exercised.
Being obedient to God is not always doing what we want to do or what we would like to do it is doing what God would have us to do. It is when we read God’s word or are convicted by the gospel and we are moved and motivated to say, “I want to walk in obedience to God”. Then it goes beyond just saying it, but doing it. James 1:25 says, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed”. The devil and our sinful nature are always there to encourage us to walk in disobedience to God. But James said to submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Satan’s goals are to get our minds off of God and on the things of the world. So many people in this county are in bondage to debt and owe their whole paycheck to someone else just so they can have things that they can’t afford. Debt ruins countless marriages and is the cause of so much stress and anxiety in this country. The Apostle Paul said in Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
What was Peter’s reward for obeying Christ? It was the biggest catch he had ever had in his life! There were so many fish that it began to break the net and he had to get another ship to come over and help. This great blessing would serve to increase his faith in Christ. Now he could see clearly who Christ was, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
- The third example of Peter’s obedience was when Christ said, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. This was said in Matthew 4:19. John 10:11 says, “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”
What a great act of obedience this was! Peter would now have to leave his livelihood and all that he knew behind. Now God had brought him to a larger act of obedience, but it would be met with larger blessings. Peter had been brought to the place that he was ready to sell out to the Lord. His selling out was not with any promises of blessings. Christ had promised him nothing, but had simply said, “Follow me”.
Have you yet reached the point that you are ready to sell out and leave all behind for the Lord? To put Him first in all that we do, to seek His favor and will and to walk humbly in obedience to Him is selling out to Christ. To say, “I will follow thee wheresoever thou goest” is selling out. And it too is met with blessings from God. In Mark 10:28-30 it says, “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
Consider what all Peter was blessed with by following Christ. He walked with Christ in close fellowship while on this earth. The Apostle Peter was on the mount of transfiguration and saw Christ in his glory. It was Peter who Christ had blessed to preach on the day of Pentecost. All these blessings and more were given to Peter simply because he was obedient to Christ. Again I ask the question as before: What if Peter had not obeyed Christ in letting him preach out of his boat? It was that small act of obedience that set in motion all the blessings that Peter would enter into. And so it is with us that those seemingly small acts of obedience can lead to great blessings in God.
Did all these acts of obedience prove that Peter would not make any mistakes? If we are obedient to God does that mean we won’t still make mistakes from time to time? Peter made mistakes and it is an unfortunate fact that we will make mistakes from time to time. But the rewards that God blesses his obedient children with are not lost because we fail from time to time. Lets look at a few of Peter’s mistakes and see how we have made the same ones from time to time.
In Matthew chapter 16 Peter rebuked Christ and said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee”, speaking of Christ’s death. Christ answered Peter and said “Get behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men”. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Lesson: Gods ways are not our ways.
In another place we read where Christ bid Peter to come out of the ship and walk on the boisterous waves. As Peter was walking to him he looked down and as a result he began to sink in the sea. Lesson: We should not take our eyes off of Christ. As long as our eyes are on him we are able to keep our troubles under us, but as soon as we look at our troubles and not on him we will begin to sink.
In John chapter 13 we read where Peter did not want Christ to wash his feet. Peter said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet”. Lesson: It was no doubt very humiliating for Peter to allow Christ to wash his feet. It would be a hard thing for me to let the very Son of God, the creator of the universe to bow down and wash my feet. But humility comes before service. In order to be in service to God in all obedience it takes humility. That is a hard one for us. Most of us don’t like to humble ourselves. But this is essential if we are to be obedient to Christ.
As they were coming to take Christ away to Calvary, Peter drew his sword and cut one of the men’s ears off. I believe he was trying to take his head off but missed. His anger was a result of them coming to take Christ away. Christ told Peter, “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword”. Lesson: Don’t fight God’s battles. Even the battles that may come our way from time to time are the Lord’s. Romans 12:19 states, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Peter denied Christ 3 times. Prior to that Peter said in Matthew 26:35, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” Lesson: Don’t ever boast about how strong you are, or what you will do or not do. James 4:13-15 states, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” We should always be looking to God for help and trusting in him in all that we do.
Begotten By The Word of God
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James 1:18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creature.”
James speaks of Christ who has begotten “us” with the word of truth. Surely being begotten of Christ is a good and perfect gift from above. That is what James was referring to in verse 17. The word “begat” means: to bring forth from the womb, or to produce”. The “word of truth” is no doubt speaking of Gods written word. Paul said to Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”.
These simple thoughts bring up a very good question. Is the gospel the means of being regenerated? At first glance this verse may appear to be saying that. But before we jump into taking a firm opinion on this, let us first consider a few other truths found in Gods word.
The Greek word for “begat” can also be found in the closing phrase of the 15th verse of the same chapter where James said, “bringeth forth” death. James certainly was not speaking of being regenerated in this verse. James is showing how man is responsible for his deeds, from conception to death. “Then when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”. Man has no one to blame for his wicked deeds but himself. It certainly is not God that has tempted him to sin; it is all of man’s own lust.
Next, James begins to speak of good and perfect gifts from above and uses again the analogy of a birth, “of his own will begat he us with the word of truth”. There are other places where the analogy of birth is used:
1 Corinthians 4:15, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel”
Galatians 4:19, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you”.
Philemon v.10, “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds”
In none of the references aforementioned is the Apostle Paul referring to being regenerated or born again, yet we see the analogy of a birth being used to show how Paul had labored with them in his ministry. Again we ask the question: is the Gospel instrumental in one being quickened by the Holy Spirit? Must one hear the Gospel to be born again, regenerated? My answer to that is no!
It is unfortunate but true that man exalts himself to the position and power of Almighty God, assuming a partnership with God in eternal salvation. Is the sovereignty of God reduced to relying upon man to assist God with His plan of salvation? Does God need us? The Lord asked Job, (38:4)“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding”. Isaiah 63:5 states, “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me”.
My friends, God the Father did not need us to create the heavens and the earth. He created all things in six days by his almighty and sovereign power. God the Son did not need us on Calvary; we were like sheep gone astray and had turned everyone to his own way. And just as God the Father and God the Son were sovereign in their work, so is God the Holy Ghost in quickening whom he will.
The Holy Ghost is sovereign in his work of regeneration and, thankfully, is not dependant upon man to carry out his work. Christ was speaking to Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of John concerning the doctrine of regeneration. Christ compared the method of the new birth and the work of the Holy Spirit as the wind, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whiter it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit”. The wind blows when and where it pleases. We are powerless to alter the direction of the wind. But we can see the evidence of when the wind has blown. The evidence of the wind blowing might be as small as a gentle rustling of the leaves in a tree to a storm that has left cars on their tops and houses lifted from their foundation. It isn’t the wind that is seen in any case, but rather the evidence that the wind has blown.
Christ goes on to say, “So is everyone that is born of the Spirit”. Everyone is born by the miraculous and sovereign operation of the Holy Spirit of God. The wind of God can blow on the one who dies in infancy, it can blow on the ones who are mentally incapable of understanding Gods word, it can blow in the far regions of the world to those who are in a distant far off land and have never heard the gospel, the wind of God blew on all his elect in the Old Testament. The wind bloweth where it listeth! And unless the Spirit of God has regenerated you you cannot even hear God’s word in a spiritual since. Christ said in John 8:47, “He that is of God hearth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God”. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God”.
If the scripture title were a reference to being regenerated, surely Christ would have always had a desire that it be preached to “all the world”. But Christ said in Luke 10:21, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise a prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight”. Also in Matthew 10:5, “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. If the gospel was so instrumental to Gods plan of salvation, why would he try to keep it from some?
So what is James talking about in the 18th verse? Remember whom he is talking to. Ch. 1:1 says, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings”. James is talking to the Jews. It was Christ who had begotten them by the word of truth. The truth originated from Christ and produced a people among the Jews that believed His word. They were referred to as a “kind of firstfruits”. Firstfruits were the first of the crop that was offered to God. The first fruit signified two things: 1) If God was pleased with the firstfruits then he would bless with a bountiful harvest, 2) The firstfruits was just the very beginning of what was yet to come.
The believing Jews were the first to hear the gospel of Christ. Paul said in Romans 1:16, “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”. Also in Ephesians 1:12 states, “…That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ”. It was the Jews that first trusted in Christ.
There was now a new way of worship that Christ had set up in the New Testament church. This new worship would begin with the death of Christ, when he was seated in the throne of glory. Matthew 19:28 states, “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”. There were Jews that followed Christ in the regeneration, that is to say, in the new way of worship. The worship of God would not be confined to a Jewish temple, but men of God could praise and worship God in any place, as long as the worship was in spirit and in truth. The worship of God in truth would not be confined to a few among the Jews, but would expand out into the Gentiles. It was not law worship anymore, but grace worship. The sacrifice of animals would no longer be required, as the ultimate sacrifice and the one to whom all sacrifices pointed to was crucified on Calvary’s cross.
It was a new way of worship and Christ begat them, as their originator, by the word of truth. This begetting didn’t make children of God; but Gods word fed those who were already children of God. The Jews, which followed Christ, were a kind of firstfruits of those who would most surely be blessed to hear the gospel truth of Jesus Christ our Redeemer and to join His local church, the Bride of Christ!