Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mark 5:24- 34 commentary: Christ's power to heal

5:24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. 25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 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? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

This woman didn’t even seek God’s attention. She just believed that if she drew near to Him and touched Him she would be healed. She had already tried every temporal way to be healed and had spent all of her money. She came to Christ and drew near to Him to be healed of her sickness.

There are two types of Christians in type in this passage in Mark. One, Jairus, pleads with God to come to him and he wants to journey with God. The other just, in their misery, draws near to Him. Both will get, by faith, what they desired. I am sure there are many more examples that can come from these events.

Twelve is an important number in the scriptures. Twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, 2 x 12 elders sitting around the throne of God, 12 baskets of food left over after feeding the 5,000, twelve years Sodom and its allies served the king of Elam, twelve princes from Ishmael, etc. etc.

Twelve years this woman suffered before she was healed. Like people who follow a false religion she suffered many things at the hands of physicians before finding true healing in Christ. They will give all their money and time to false preachers who twist the Bible into knots to justify their own delusions of grandeur and then when all is said and done nothing is accomplished but to leave the sinner still bent over and bleeding, but now broke and more hopeless than ever until they turn, not to men, but to the Saviour.

5:28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

Jesus, unlike a physician or human religion, heals instantaneously and completely, not just temporarily.

5:30 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?

Jesus is aware that He has been touched and that a sinner is healed.

Luke 6:18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.

Virtue is inherent power harnessed to do good. It is the power of God to do His will in the world which we as believers are given.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

2Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

2Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

Virtue is moral courage, moral power. The fictional character, Tom, in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin conquered his final foe with moral power, refusing to do evil unto death and even converting his two murderers to Christ before his death. The evil Simon Legree is left a shattered shell to finish out his life and enter Hell in abject misery.

The real-life William Kiffin was a Baptist minister in England. He once obtained the release from prison of a judge who had sent him there previously. He was a man incapable of revenge and totally dependent upon God. He did good to those who hurt him and lived his life in such a way that even a wicked king, Charles II, refused to believe any bad intent on Kiffin’s part. He refused to accept another wicked king, James II’s, declaration of liberty of conscience for he knew it was a fraud. He watched sons die and grandsons be executed but his character and Christian humility was beyond belief as he taught Baptist principles and doctrines in a country that executed men for doing so. He had moral courage, moral power, and virtue his entire life as a Christian and nothing said against him could stick because his most ardent enemies knew he would do no wrong..

There are people today who try to pretend that they are the conduit through which Christ heals.

Proverbs 25:14 Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.

They are fakers and frauds. Come to Christ and draw near to Him to be healed. Ask Him to come to you and with you to be healed. You don’t need an intermediary.

5:31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

The disciples, particularly Peter, are incredulous that He asks them, in this crowd, who touched Him.

Luke 8:45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

5:32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

Here is another point of how the word, all, is used. All can be without exception as in all men are sinners and all can be without distinction as in what she said was the truth, or as part of my analogy, all men can be saved or it is God’s desire that all men be saved.

5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

This was a clear, physical healing. Let’s look at the type for us. Like in salvation, God responds to our faith by making us whole and healing us from our sin. Now, she would still have been healed if she didn’t make this public profession she made in verse 33 but it would have been different. We are called to make a public profession and, in my understanding in the New Testament church, your baptism was the public profession of faith. Your faith, or more completely, God’s response to your faith, will make you whole.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Latest Reading

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly

This is a classic must-read for anyone interested in slavery or Christianity. Uncle Tom is the singlemost Christ-like figure in modern literature. His spiritual victory over the vicious Simon Legree is a classic.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mark 5:21-23 commentary; Jesus alone can save

21 ¶ And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. 22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.

We’re going to have two examples, two types, of the Christian who gets saved in these gospel passages. This man believes in faith that if Jesus will just touch his sick daughter she will be healed. Now, we must remember that Jesus is physically present on this earth in a human body, which He has not been in that regard since His ascension. His Spirit resides in millions of human bodies today but He in His ministry of physical care for the Jewish people is not in evidence. The typology here is to our salvation, not physical healing. God can heal anyone He chooses to without anyone laying hands on them but a doctor or perhaps no one at all, but through prayer and humility.

We do not live in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry nor do we live in the age of the Apostles. But, thinking of Jesus’ physical healing of the Jewish people and contrasting it with our salvation we can make several appropriate points. Jairus had faith that Jesus was enough. He, a man of responsibility and authority, believed that Jesus alone could make his daughter well. He is an example of a parent today who prays mightily and persistently for his child to be saved.

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

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

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. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Now, with regard to the physical body, we live in a fallen world in fallen bodies, dying every moment, slowly aging or deteriorating from disease. We await the adoption, the redemption of the body but it is not here yet.

Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

There are some Christian groups who insist that if you just have enough faith you can be healed of any deadly disease. This is also humanism, the have faith in your faith crowd. They will proceed to the gospels written under the Law to Jews with a physical Jesus healing physical sicknesses in a foreshadowing of healing the spirit. Or they will thumb through Acts looking for the signs of the Apostles who are all gone now, and maybe wander on over to the book of James speaking doctrinally to Jewish believers in the Tribulation and anoint dying people with oil in a desperate hope that they will be healed. When their demands on God are not met because what they want is not Biblical, not of God, their faith is destroyed. There is no promise in the current church age that you will automatically be healed of a physical sickness just because you demand it.

Christians are funny folks. A young man who seeks a mate in bars and nightclubs will say, “well, I guess it’s not God’s will that I meet a nice girl.” God isn’t even in his search for a suitable partner but suddenly its God’s will that he be single. A person will clean up their act temporarily assuming that the sickness a loved one faces is a punishment for the lifestyle of someone else, something not even mentioned in the part of the Bible given to him or her. When their “reform” fails to heal the loved one they revert to their former self but in a magnified wickedness because they are now mad at God for not doing something He didn’t promise to do.

In like manner you might have a loved one who is enchained by the bondage of wicked pornography, destroying his or her family and self-worth. You might have a loved one wrapped in the arms of the mistress, alcohol. We shudder to think that like Israel who had gone to Assyria rather than God for help, then gave up their material worth to Assyria to obtain that help and then lost their own bodies and nation to Assyria, our loved ones have looked to an evil for comfort, something other than God, not of God, an evil which will take everything they have and then take them as well. We pray for deliverance to Christ. We plead with Jesus for help. We believe that Jesus is enough. We often don’t consider the willfulness of the person for whom we are praying in resisting God’s will.

Now, let’s look at Jairus’ daughter. She is helpless. She can’t heal herself. She is unable to resist healing or to resist death. Jairus himself is helpless. There is nothing he can do to save his daughter. He can only seek Jesus. That is all we can do, knowing that Jesus alone is sufficient to save our child. All his daughter can do is to receive the healing that Christ alone can give. He comes to fall at Jesus’ feet, which is the physical act of worship.

Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. (see also Revelation 3:9; 19:10; & 22:8.)

Jairus acknowledged that only Christ could save his daughter. The only hope for your loved one is Christ. Pray that it be His will to overcome any resistance to that salvation because it is God’s will that every person be saved.

Matthew 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Typologies always break down eventually. The comparison between Jairus and his daughter and you and your child’s salvation breaks down when it is realized that Jairus’ daughter is helpless and couldn’t resist being healed any more than she could resist dying. Your child can simply set his or her face against God and refuse to be healed spiritually, in spite of the protestations of the Calvinists to the contrary. Pray that Christ will break their will not to be saved or delivered from their chosen bondage. Pray fervently and without ceasing. Trust me, He hears you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mark 5:18-20 commentary: publish the great things Christ has done for you

18 And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. 19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. 20 And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

Decapolis, from the Greek words, Deka, for ten, and polis, for city, the ten cities, was a region on the eastern side of what is now Israel. Some of the cities would be in Jordan now, and the furthest north, Damascus, is in Syria. Most of them, except for Damascus, were founded between the death of Alexander the Great and the conquest of Palestine by the Romans. In their beginning, those cities founded by Greek conquerors had a Greek culture in sharp contrast to the surrounding Semitic people. The existence of a herd of pigs, forbidden to eat under the Law given to Moses, shows how much this was a Gentile dominated region. Until the emperor, Trajan, added Arabia to the official roster of Roman claimed territories, Decapolis would have been the frontier area for the empire in that particular part of the world.

Psalm 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

This man who had been delivered of so much pain and anguish wanted desperately to go with Jesus but Jesus ordered him to publish, to let everyone know, what had been done for him in his home cities. There are many great preaching illustrations from these verses but one might be how as much as we might think it would wonderful to go home to be with the Lord as soon as we are saved we are told to stay here and publish what a marvelous thing Christ has done for us in our home city. Of course, there are Christians who are mighty witnesses for God down the road but who don’t even know their own neighbors much less publish what God has done for them to those folks.

How many of your neighbors have you visited? Handed a gospel tract to or helped in some way to show your love for them and Christ’s love for them? Does your family know your testimony? Do you have a sound witness to them and those who live around you? If the people closest to you in your family or neighborhood aren’t drawn by you having the fruit of the Spirit of God flowing from your life what makes you think God is going to give you the blessing of seeing people saved twenty miles away? It’s possible the only way that your neighbors and family know you’re a Christian is by your conspicuous absence on Sunday morning or Wednesday night.

In your day to day activities around the people you spend the most time with, at work, at home, in your neighborhood, at the local market, what is your testimony? Is it that of a person of character who is grateful to Christ for His mercy and loves other people or are you known as a pain in the neck who just likes to point attention to how different or weird they are? Maybe no one who lives around you even knows what you are?

Publish in (fill the town in which you live in the blank) how great things Christ has done for you.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Latest Reading

John Lewis Gaddis, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). This is an outstanding study of the origins of the Cold War in all its complexity and confusion. A must read for anyone interested in the history of the era many of us were born in and spent a great deal of our lives under the the threat of its possibilities.

Mark 5:6-17 commentary: into the deep

5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, 7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. 8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. 10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. 14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. 15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. 17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

It would appear that modern Bible translators don’t even need to defer to corrupt Alexandrian manuscripts to attempt to downplay the deity of Christ. In this verse, most of the apostate, counterfeit versions remove “worshipped” from the verse in favor of the weaker “fell on his knees” or “bowed down” which hardly carries with it the same power as the word translated 60 times in the KJV as worship or a form of that word. One more reason that if you think of an NIV or an NASV as the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) you are actually holding a butter knife.

Devils know who Jesus is. This devil(s) runs to worship Christ. So, what good does merely acknowledging and worshipping Christ do? It didn’t do much for this devil(s).

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Now, think, Christian. The one who wants you to relish in your personal suffering and to even seek and be proud of how much you can torture yourself for Christ and make yourself uncomfortable is Satan. You have a devil if you are proud of the hour you spend on your knees praying and hurting. Just because you worship Christ acknowledging Him and His mastery over you means nothing if it is a source of pride. Judas even calls Him “master” over and over. But, devils never call Him “Lord”.

Mark only focuses on one man but in a similar account in Matthew there are two although there are some differences in the context. Either Matthew is speaking about a different event or Mark has simply narrowed the focus down to this one individual rather than the two. Whether Mark is merely focusing on one of two individuals or not historical accounts often vary in their focus. A book on the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War that focuses on the heroic actions of the 20th Maine on the slope of Little Round Top does not mean that there wasn’t a Wheatfield or a Peach Orchard or a Pickett’s Charge as well.

Matthew 8: 28 ¶ And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

Gergesenes is another name for Gadarenes.

5:7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

The devils acknowledge who Jesus is and they know what time they have. The devils will go crazy on the world when it’s their time. You would go insane if you could see what is around you in the spiritual world.

5:8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

Notice the singular again, “thou unclean spirit.”

5:9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

There are many devils in this man that are also called an, singular, unclean spirit that calls itself by a singular pronoun, he. Many devils can make up one devil. One possibility can be that the Devil can manifest himself into many devils as the Holy Spirit can exist completely in millions of believers and yet still be one Holy Spirit.

5:10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

Luke gets specific about this and says the following;

Luke 8:31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. 32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. 33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.

We know that “the deep” is not the lake because they chose themselves to go into the lake and the devils were afraid to be sent far away. What is “the deep”? In this context it is not the water. Perhaps there are some hints in these verses.

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 6:12 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.

Job 38:30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. 31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? 32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? 33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

Reading the first few verses of Genesis carefully might imply to you that “the deep” is outer space.

Genesis 1:1 ¶ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 ¶ And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 6 ¶ And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

5:11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

Devils crave a body and animals will do. Obviously, not only humans, but animals can be possessed by unclean spirits.

5:13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

There are possibly a thousand unclean spirits in a man or more.

5:14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. 15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

Devils like nakedness. Contrast the shame that a Godly person feels about his or her public nakedness by the statements in Genesis 2 before the Fall and the understanding of good and evil. People who insist on displaying their nakedness to the world are not innocent little children who have no understanding. They are adults possessed by an unclean spirit which somewhat explains pornography and much of the activity at the beach, which, as I have heard, 95% of Americans live within an hour of.

Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

5:16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.

Devils make a person hurt themselves, they want a body to inhabit, and they are drawn to water.

5:17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

Often, when God’s power is manifest in a person’s life his family and friends want nothing more to do with him because they want Jesus to leave.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mark 5:1-5 commentary: a picture of devil possession

5:1 ¶ And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Note the singular, an unclean spirit. An unclean spirit is a devil. There is a Devil who is over many devils and there are unclean spirits that do his work and his bidding.

An interesting contrast appears with this verse in Isaiah;

Isaiah 65:4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

Devils are attracted to bodies and to graveyards and tombs.

5:3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

Devils are unusually strong.

5:4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Here is an excellent study on demonic possession. Notice what the followers of Baal in the Old Testament did in an attempt to manifest their god before Elijah’s challenge.

1Kings 18:28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

Now, note the expressions of grief at the death of the emperor of Tang Dynasty China, T’ai-tsung from historical writer, Will Durant;

“When he died the grief of the people knew no bounds, and even the foreign envoys cut themselves with knives and lancets and sprinkled the dead emperor’s bier with their self shed blood.”

Devils encourage self abuse and self damage including religious processions in Iran (Shi’ite Muslims) and the Philippines (Catholic Christians) and the self cutting behavior of some young girls. There are numerous examples of self-mutilation in religious rituals from all over the world as well as in literature. Self-mutilation as a religious ritual is a common theme in mankind’s religions.

Christ does not call us to mutilate ourselves like the popular Christian philosopher, Origen, live on a platform in the desert high off the ground to mortify the body like the ancient monks, or to think that we please Him by deliberately making ourselves suffer as I have heard some modern Christians say. Such behavior is the work of devils.

For those of you who don’t believe in the importance of the Bible God has preserved for us I would warn you that if you believe you are saved because you have “chosen” Christ let me point out to you how to tell if you are merely devil-possessed. If your Christ encourages you to hurt yourself or allow others to hurt you as a sign of your sanctification. If you seek to be uncomfortable rather than simply denying your Self and selfishness, but actually look for ways to cause pain and suffering to yourself. If your Christ makes you feel that it’s okay to glorify yourself or mankind in general, your nation, your government, or to place anything above the God who created you. If you are constantly lamenting how your gender, your race, your culture, your country is mistreated and misunderstood. If you are always beating yourself with sins that are forgiven. If you are drawn to death, destruction, violence, graveyards, battlefields, or anywhere else where death is prominent out of morbid curiosity or entertainment RATHER than merely seeking understanding or to remember the fallen. If you love horror movies, war movies, action-adventure movies or anything else where scenes of gruesome death are reenacted with buckets of fake blood, screaming, and agony. If your religious practices require suffering rather than putting Christ first, which leads to self-will worship.

You might possibly be saved. But, you are most definitely infested with devils. I won’t argue with you about whether a Christian can be oppressed or possessed but only say that if a devil has got your eyes, your tongue, your hands, or your mind then whether you call that oppression or possession it makes no difference. You need the cleansing that is only found in God’s word.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mark 4:35-41 commentary: trusting no matter what

Mark 4:35 ¶ And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Your service for Christ will invariably take you into storms. Notice also that others, not among the closest of the disciples, followed in other small boats. All of the followers were in danger, not just the ones He empowered to do the greatest works. Many of the multitudes who were able followed after Christ and suffered the same danger as the Apostles. But Christ is in control.

Psalm 138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

Psalm 143:11 Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

Proverbs 11:8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.

4:38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

He expects faith from you. But there will be times when you might wonder if God cares for you at all, when things get really bad, overwhelming.

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Jesus is in control of the storm.

Psalm 65:7 Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.

Psalm 89:9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

Psalm 107:29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

Mark 4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

The disciples are in wonder at what Christ can do and you will be, too, if you let Him work on you with His word. You will see things that you thought you were overcome by removed like dead skin. Although, I personally, am a very wicked individual, I have seen this and wondered myself, “what manner of man is this”? What a great God we have.

When you realize that God is in control of the universe and all events and that nothing happens that He does not either will to occur or permit to happen you will be amazed, looking for His hand in every event of your life from success at work to a diagnosis of a deadly disease, from the joy of a new baby to the grief of the loss of a loved one. We are to have faith even unto death. Remember that we live in fallen bodies in a fallen world because of mankind’s sin, starting with Adam. Satan is the god of this world and the de facto ruler of it. Christ is the answer for the problem of death and sin. We must physically die in order to be in heaven with Christ (unless the Translation of the Church happens in our lifetimes.) We can never get there in this body as it is now constituted; decaying and dying as we speak. Christ is calling those who trust in Him out of this world and the death that comes with it. He demands faith and trust. We can’t cross that bridge unless we believe it will hold us up until we reach the other side. Note what Job said in the first part of the fifteenth verse of chapter 13 of his book;

Job 13:15a Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…..

And what Daniel’s three friends said to King Nebuchadnezzar;

Daniel 3:17 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.

This is a great problem for many Christians. We think we should somehow be exempt from pain, grief, anguish, disappointment, sickness, accident, and even physical death. We want our assurances now, in this life, and we want our rewards and the results of our faith here and now, as well. We don’t want to go through the storm at all. But, we will, no matter how much we wish it were not so. Always remember who is in control, though. Think in terms of eternity.

Herein lies the difference between the philosophical Christians such as were this country’s Founding Fathers and the Bible Believer. The philosophical Christian views Christian principles as a good thing, something for good people to adhere to such as the Sermon on the Mount. But, when it comes to disease, misfortune, and death he or she has no more to cling to than the atheist. They have not experienced a real Risen Saviour in their life, nor have they had a relationship with their Creator. In the end there is only fear, sadness, and, perhaps, doubting. Maybe even they are ready to give up and feel that they’ve led a good life and if there is an afterlife they’ll have a chance to get there and not burn in Hell, if there is one. In the end, they have just as much uncertainty as someone who doesn’t believe in The Golden Rule.

But, the Bible Believer, as weak and frail, or as ignorant and uneducated as he or she may be, has the assurance of eternal life as soon as they trust Christ and how He works in their lives each day strengthens that faith so that they know in their hearts what the future holds, no matter what may come on this earth, an eternity with the one who created them. That is the essence of salvation, belief in a supernatural Saviour who rose from the dead and trust in Him.

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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mark 4:33-34 commentary: speaking in parables

33 And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. 34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

Jesus talked to His disciples in parables in front of the crowds but explained those parables when they were alone. Why was this? I’ll repeat some things I said earlier in the chapter when the question came up.

To these people who want the truth God promises to give more truth. Read your Bible once through and God will give you truth. Read it through multiple times and you’ll keep growing as He gives you more truth. If you reject what little truth He has given you, He’ll take away what little you have. There will be a great test for Christians. The more you read the greater the challenge will be when Satan attacks you with doubts and unbelief. The closer you get to God, the deeper the mud, the thicker the briars. The Christian must keep pushing through toward the goal of knowing God and ignore Satan’s pleas and attacks and his deceptions. This is not about salvation but about your sanctification, being set apart for God’s purpose through Jesus Christ.

Many people who get deceived start out with the right intention but one little twist of the truth takes them far off the mark. Others start out using God’s word to justify their convictions rather than being merely open to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance and then they wind up way off the mark. In church when we talk about not setting a stumbling block before other Christians we often forget to mention that twisting the Bible to make your own personal convictions doctrine is just as wicked as putting a bottle of hooch in front of an alcoholic.

I’ll give you two examples. Modern Christians, brainwashed in government schools, will accept the current scientific theory about the origin of life and the age of the universe, atheistic and materialistic, totally without proof of any kind other than the vain ramblings of so called educated men and women. They will try to hold the two very conflicting beliefs; that God created all things by His Word, and that all existence, including the complexity of life, happened by chance. In the end they will wind up with a strange and very twisted view of reality that denies the Bible that God has provided. The ultimate conflict arises in their hearts. They cannot be special creations of God and random accidents of impersonal nature at the same time. Heresy and Christianity as a philosophy, with Christ as merely the ultimate philosopher and teacher, are the result if they don’t just outright leave the faith entirely, to be kicked around by Satan.

The second example I’ll give you is of a fundamentalist Christian. He or she has a conviction that women should not wear slacks because of the immodesty of most styles and verses such as this one written under the Law;

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

The fundamentalist then takes the word, breeches, which was the underwear that Aaron and his sons wore;

Exodus 28:42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

….and make them trousers, an item of apparel that wasn’t even written about for hundreds of years after this, a Persian innovation for riding on horseback, used by both men and women. Fundamentalist dictionaries of Bible words will even mistakenly call breeches, trousers. Do you think the deception ends with just one word? If you do you are not reading the Bible. Everything you believe must be examined in the light of God’s words in the Bible as your final authority in all matters of faith, practice, AND doctrine. I assure you it is not a far distance from calling breeches trousers to Ron Williams of Hephzibah House infamy telling you to spank a six month old baby. All you have to do is to take your own personal convictions, fetishes, and perversions and find a verse to justify them.

The Bible is God’s truth revealed. Just be after God’s truth and what is right, and plead with Him not to let you be deceived or to deceive others which was one of the prayers of the translators of this Bible.

Deuteronomy 29:4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

Isaiah 6:9 ¶ 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.

Isaiah 44:18 They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

Jeremiah 5:21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:

Isaiah 66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

If you reject salvation and truth then God will deceive you or allow you to be deceived. Yes, our Creator will deceive men who reject His salvation. God examines the heart and what happens after that is up to Him if you are worshipping self. I have been to a few church services that were humanistic in execution and were self worship. God will propound that foolishness which serves only Satan by deluding those self worshippers.

The lesson in these verses seems clear to me. Those of the multitudes who came for a physical benefit but lacked true belief and genuine faith would go away but those who sincerely wanted to know more would have approached Jesus. The majority did not. Those Christians today who want to know more about God’s words in His Book will dig deeper and deeper into it to seek more. Those who don’t want it, aren’t interested in it, and won’t hear it will not. The latter will be deceived.

There are preachers and scholars out there who spew out foolishness because in their heart they have rejected God’s words and God has turned them over to delusions and falsehoods. And sadly, there are Christians who follow them, always looking for an excuse not to believe and their false teachers giving them many.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mark 4:30 - 32 commentary: evil in the church

30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

Here is a comparison set of verses in Matthew;

Matthew 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Obviously, the mustard seed sown in the earth here experiences unnatural growth. The fowls of the air, as has been shown previously, is a reference to devils. This “great tree” has devils hiding in its shadow or in its branches. It is either the spiritual Kingdom of God or the physical Kingdom of Heaven. The mustard seed is faith.

Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

Notice the prophetic content of both of these verses. The unnatural growth of public Christianity is revealed by the unnatural growth of the mustard plant in the two contrasting passages. In the passage in Matthew evil gathers in the branches which would be a metaphor for the evil that exists in the ranks of the organized churches such as the Roman and the Anglican; where in one faith is commanded to be in the hierarchy and the other has become just a system of philosophy with little spiritual value. This is the kingdom of heaven, a reference to a physical organization composed of a popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and priests. The physical church organizations throughout history eventually manifest themselves as oppressors who link with a government to murder millions. There are saved people in these churches but they are led by devils, often.

The passage in Mark refers to the Kingdom of God, the spiritual kingdom which is inside the believers and unites them all in Christ. The evil here is not in the true church but uses the shadow and authority of its branches to do its evil. This would represent church groups led by malicious and false preachers, phony faith healers, misogynists, and abusers of all kinds hiding in the shadow of its branches but not being a part of the tree.

So, in these passages God covers the fascist, ecclesiastical organizations of history as well as the individual churches led by wicked abusers and false prophets. He who has ears let him hear.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mark 4:29 commentary: the harvest is come

29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

Just a thought. How wonderful it would be to be taken to heaven the moment you are saved. But, we are reaped in the fullness of time. Many people who are saved wonder why God took so long to harvest us. Some people arrive at the understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ as children, some at an advanced age. The word is planted and each person grows until the time is right and their hearts are willing to receive what the Holy Spirit is opening up to them.

I was taken to church as a young child, a few times later on, but faith wasn’t spoken of much in my home. What the practice of religion in my family had become was more of how you appeared to others; paying your bills, having nice things, dressing your children in nice clothing, not associating with riffraff, not drinking alcohol, keeping your yard nice, and your car washed. Success in life was a sign of not only God’s blessing but His approval.

Reading the Bible was rare, in fact, I never remember it being read aloud by my father or mother in the home. Meeting with other people of faith for worship was not a priority and eventually abandoned completely. As my parents became more “sophisticated” and “cosmopolitan” there were a few drinks with friends. The generation of Americans that came out of the Great Depression viewed what you could give your family physically as being of far more importance than the spiritual. There was a sense of shame at not having so any extreme within the bounds of the law was good to at least appear as if you “had something.” Many people were deep in debt trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”

I grew up on movies and television, with fictional characters as my role models because while the true role models in my life were good people, they did not fill the void that only God can fill. I learned my manners from characters played by Humphrey Bogart and Alan Ladd and the like. My heroes were characters in old movies and television. My spiritual world was empty, or at least I thought so, but I was being constantly manipulated and driven by forces I did not understand.

Leaving home, away from the watchful and often disapproving eye of parents, I became immersed in evil doings and evil thoughts. I enjoyed the lust of the flesh and thought only of what pleased me. My peers became of the lower and lower sort of persons until I finally had gone so far into the swamp that I was sent away to a very bad place in which, in spite of my surroundings, God protected me from all of the evils that you read about as happening in such a place. Even the most evil and vicious of people were kind to me but not others, so I know that God’s hand of protection was on me. It was through these times that I witnessed the lives of true, Spirit-filled Christians. These weren’t people who just focused on acting “good.” Some didn’t even have that option. These were people who believed and trusted and yearned for Christ’s righteousness. They lived their lives in faith. Some had the wrong Bibles. Some belonged to the wrong church. Some also had some screwy doctrines. But, all of them were clearly moved by the Spirit of God.

Eventually, the day on March 19, 1986, when my future wife, Beth, asked me if there was any reason why I shouldn’t pray to surrender my life to Jesus, I simply could not think of any reason. The proof was there to overcome my atheism, my pagan idolatry, and my selfishness. I knew that I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the tracts I had thrown away, the Christians I had mocked, the blasphemous jokes I had made, were overcome by the quiet and steady witness of faithful Christians whose lives were Scripture. No words, no invitation to church, no threat of damnation ever affected me more than the simple faith of common people who trusted a Risen Saviour and showed that every day.

You should knock on doors. You should pass out tracts. You should invite people to church. But your testimony day to day is the only Bible some people will ever read. At a time when you don’t know or even understand the harvest will be ripe and God will put in the sickle to reap. God’s words, at least to some extent, were put in the hearts of these Christians and those words were lived out, at least to some extent, before a vile, vicious unbeliever who worshipped only himself. But God gave the increase. Of course, there is another story of a long struggle with sin and selfishness as a Christian, and many setbacks to my walk with Christ, but that is another story, as the Christian has the Spirit of God living in him but walks around in a body of sinful flesh.

The Holy Spirit uses the image of a sickle reaping a harvest in regard to not only those ready to be saved but those ready to be judged.

Revelation 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

Notice the comparison in Joel 3:13.

Joel 3:9 ¶ Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: 10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. 13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. 16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. 17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

Whether this is a reference to the battle of Armageddon or a reference to Christ’s return you can see the terrible judgment that will fill the area of Israel.

In this verse in Mark it appears, though, that Christ is referring to a harvest of souls for God, the result of God’s word being planted in men’s heart. All through history this sowing and reaping has been going on with the word planted in men’s hearts and a new creature being made who no longer hungers for sin but now hungers for God.

2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

As well, throughout history, these bodies of flesh have been planted in the ground, buried at sea, cremated, and in every sense been dissolved.

2Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2Corinthians 5:4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

2Peter 1:13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

For no physical body made of the elements of the earth can live forever.

1Corinthians 15:35 ¶ 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. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

And our hope is in this resurrection as well. The Adoption is one of the great Biblical doctrines, not just of a spiritual existence with God but eventually a physical body.

Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mark 4:26-28 commentary: what you don't know

26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

God gives the increase. God gives blessings. We all know someone who is real tough that breaks under God’s word and someone who seems really nice and reasonable whose heart remains hard as a rock. It often makes no sense.

Here is another verse that underscores how man does not know why, or really know how.

Ecclesiastes 11:6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

Science, it can be admitted, is a very important way of understanding the world around us and predicting the way things will work. But, the truth is, that mankind reads his conclusions back into the data to come up with a comprehensible explanation of why things happen. There is a philosophical ignorance that even the most intelligent people have.

Don’t assume you know what God is going to do. Don’t assume you know what is going on in a person’s heart. In our modern world we want precision and are slaves to a clock but there are things we simply can’t know. We witness, we pray, and yet it is God who gives the increase.

You plant the seed, you water, and you pray and wait on the Holy Spirit to work, knowing that you might not witness the results on this earth. There are humanistic seminars given on soul winning, on how to manipulate people into a “decision for Christ.” These remove the fact that there is a loving God working on a heart willing to believe and a soul winner sent by God to that person. It is not a sales job, a psych job, an emotional manipulation or magic. If you reduce it to a humanistic approach it is not of God.

We have to get past a world of owner’s manuals, step-by-step instruction booklets, sales seminars, and time clocks and open ourselves back up into a world where a living God engages willing hearts and sends out ministers to minister. And just accept the fact that you don’t know what’s going to happen when you measure out the word. You just know that God will get the glory.

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mark 4:23-25 commentary: even that shall be taken away

23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

The phrase used in verse 23 is repeated several times in the first few chapters of Revelation. The word, hear, in this context, means to hear with understanding.

Nehemiah 8:2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.

Job 34:16 If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.

Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

Proverbs 4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

Jeremiah 5:21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:

In verse 24, to mete is clearly defined as to measure out, to dole out, to give out. Look it up. The Lord Jesus Christ did not just demand that the Apostles tell others about how to get saved but;

Matthew 28;19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Teaching all nations would not involve making the Bible a confused mess by not rightly dividing it as called for in 2 Timothy 2:15. Saying things like the Old Testament Jews were looking forward to the Cross when the Jews of the Gospels clearly had no idea what was happening or saying that the Bible is all the same forcing verses in different parts written to different peoples to contradict each other is not teaching anyone anything. You will be held accountable for how you presented God’s word. These verses about parables are about understanding, being willing, having ears, and being willing to give. Denying the final authority of the Bible in all matters of faith, practice, and doctrine while setting up conflicting authorities so that you can be the final authority is not meting out the words of God as He expects you to do.

There are many preachers out there confusing their congregations and making the Bible, if they even have the Bible, a closed book for them and making it difficult to understand. It is enough to deal with the hardness of heart of unbelief without making it tough for those who want to be fed with God’s word. The church is the people of God meeting to worship. The house of God is where God dwells which is in God’s people. The church is not a building or an organization. The house of God is not a building or an organization. God does not come down on a congregation of believers. If He’s not already in them, they are lost, and therefore not His church. There are no angels with wings in the Bible. The Devil is not a fallen angel, he is a cherub, a living creature, reptilian in form, not a chubby little baby. Baptism does not save you. There are no sacraments in the Bible. Salvation is predicated upon belief not works. I have given the verses so many times.

God has given you much. What are you doing with it? Will you be given more or will what you have be taken away? God expects more from you, Christian, than from those who don’t know the truth. These verses are not about material possessions or health literally. There are about your understanding and how you impart the truth of God to others, how you measure it out. If you wonder why so many people come forward in a fundamentalist church service to “get saved” but very few ever darken the door of a church again then think very clearly about what you’ve measured out to them of the truth.

When evangelical churches like the Baptist, the Methodist, and the Presbyterian began replacing God with the government in the 1800’s to make society better and began placing their faith and their frustration in men who ran for political office God took away their understanding, allowed the Bible that saved them to be replaced with counterfeits, and made them spiritually powerless as they grew politically stronger. Satan is the god of this world and the stronger a church becomes politically the weaker it becomes spiritually. It got so that at the end of the Civil War Ulysses Grant said that there were three political parties in the United States to contend with; the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Methodists. The Christians in America were given much but that was taken away. While they were glory-glory-‘hallelujahing’-his-truth-is-marching-on God’s glory was departing.

Also, a significant amount of Americans, a majority even, have never been a member of a church, even in colonial days. The unbelievers derived a great deal of benefit though by the activity of Christians. But, increasingly, as they would not hear and clung to worldly philosophies and godless ideologies from Marx to Darwin to Freud, even that which they had was removed.

In William Jay’s (son of Founding Father and First Chief Justice of the United States, John Jay) 1849 book A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Mexican War he says on page 289 after an argument about whether or not it was America’s military prowess that made the country great and ensured our freedoms finally concludes, “Were we permitted to trace effects in their causes, in the moral government of the world, we should doubtless find that much of our prosperity as a people flows from the labors of faithful pastors, self-denying Sunday-school teachers, and sincere, zealous, but humble Christian men and women. It is chiefly by such patriotism, gentle and noiseless as the dew of Heaven, that our land is clothed with moral verdure and beauty, and that those who sit under their own vine, with none to make them afraid, are indebted for the peace and security they enjoy.”

Now, the conservative Christian sends out emails to his or her friends equating the soldier to Jesus Christ and doesn’t feel that that is blasphemous. I know and respect a lot of service people and former service people but they are not sinless nor are they God in the flesh and I don’t know of one who joined the service with the intention of dying for my sins.

The liberal Christian lost his way long ago. President Obama, in his famous and classic “Call to Renewal” speech lamented how the left had forgotten that all of the great liberals of the past where Christians. He said, “…there are some liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word "Christian" describes one's political opponents, not people of faith…..secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

The left has abandoned the faith that inspired them because the activist Christians viewed the government of man as God’s agent on earth and lost their way.

Both right and left were given something to start with, a belief in the power and reality of Jesus Christ, whether they believed Him to be merely a great teacher of morals and not God in the flesh as Thomas Jefferson believed or whether they believed that Christ is the Lord as Andrew Jackson believed. But, as the left looked more to government programs and the right looked more to war and military power as the “strong arm of the Lord” the spiritual power of the nation waned until now you’d be hard pressed to get an unchurched person to even enter a church except out of morbid curiosity.

Gone are the days when revivals would sweep a city and leave it changed for months, when even the most godless reprobates suddenly became more civil and more civilized, when in a city like New York hundreds of thousands would come to Christ through the Fulton Street Revival in a period of 18 months. God moved in a period of time that was cold for faith. Slavery divided the country on the brink of Civil War. There were 30,000 unemployed, homeless men in the streets of New York. Alcoholism and crime were rampant. A young minister began to pray by himself in 1857 and within a matter of months revivals had broken out around the city joined by men and women to the tune of 50,000. Within that 18 month span some people estimate a million people were saved.

It’s gone. God has taken the glory away from America. We traded that glory for our 30 pieces of silver. America is now Babylon and God is judging it. Read Revelation if you wonder what part America will play in the end. Why? Because of homosexuals? Abortionists? Drunks and drug addicts? Hardly. The glory has left America because Christians left the Bible and the God of the Bible. They traded their birthright for some bread and lentil soup like Esau and God’s hand of mercy and blessing is being pulled away from this country. Evangelical Christians stopped believing in the Divine Right of God and started believing in the Divine Right of the State. Now, both left and right go to the polls and try to vote for a messiah and/or a national pastor. The left no longer believes in any god but their own good intentions and their own carnal desires and the right has chosen the god of war, Mars, and the Syriac word for money personified, Mammon, as their deities of choice. And even the little faith we have is being taken away from us as we speak.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mark 4:21, 22 commentary: no secrets

Mark 4:21 ¶ And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.

This is a scary verse and it should be, particularly for a lot of “holy” Christians, although literally Jesus is referring to spreading the knowledge of Him and letting the world know about Him and His message.

Matthew 10:26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

But, just think about God’s knowledge of your “secret” thoughts, intents, and deeds.

1Corinthians 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

First, the Christian must understand that he or she has the Spirit of God living inside them. He sees every cellular function and knows every thought and it is through Him that we have constant access to the throne of heaven. It is not necessary for God to look down from heaven, peering through the clouds and cupping his spirit hand over his spirit ear to hear us speak and think. He has this knowledge from inside of us through our spirit.

Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Psalm 44:21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

The time is coming;

Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

We have been told, as Christians, commanded even;

2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Not many people are prepared to have their thoughts and intentions judged. Not many at all. We have a Book that does that to us as we submit to it by reading and believing it.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God also sees things on earth directly through appearances known as angels.

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Churches have angels before God as well which is apparent by reading the first few chapters of Revelation. And, yes, God can also see from heaven as time and space are no barrier to Him as He is beyond time and space and their constraints.

Exodus 20:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

Genesis 22:11 ¶ And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

So, God has a number of ways He can see every deed and thought of mankind. Remember, also that God is not a part of His creation but separate from it. He is present everywhere and at all times in some way which is hard for us to fathom. There are no secrets; no secret thoughts, no secret deeds. You didn’t get away with it. You will answer for it now or later, but you will give an answer for what you have thought or done.