Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ephesians 3:20-21 comments: exceeding abundantly

20  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Another thought that we’re given by Paul on God’s abundance toward us is this one.

Philippians 4:19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

And then, a promise by Jesus Christ Himself to His Jewish disciples when He warns them about pursuing the wealth of this world system. Mammon is a Syriac word personifying money and the financial system of the world.

Matthew 6:19 ¶  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    25 ¶  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

According to the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside each believer God by virtue of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary and His resurrection from the dead can and will provide what we need in a far greater and more abundant way than we can ask or even think. Our problem is that we want and think we need some worldly things that are destined to burn up in the conflagration that will precede the creation of the new Heavens and the new Earth before we seek the Kingdom of God or without seeking it at all.

  2Peter 3:8 ¶  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    9 ¶  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

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

Throughout all ages of future time, throughout eternity, the church will be the glory of God as He shows His love and kindness to a called out assembly of Jews and Gentiles whom He has made spiritually alive and granted eternal life with Him.

Ephesians 2:7  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

But, right now, God is capable of providing everything you need. If you take the view from eternity what you need right now is a deeper and better understanding of who God is, what He has done, and what His will is. It is very important for a Bible believing Christian to read through his or her copy of the Authorized Version also called the King James Version or King James Bible from cover to cover repeatedly.

The Bible is the principal way that God speaks to the believer. This is in direct contradiction to the humanist whose principal guiding light comes from his or her conscience. But, we believe that sin can sear the conscience and make it unresponsive to God’s calling so the postivist’s “Inner Light” is usually just inner darkness. It is beneficial and good to read the Bible without commentary, to read it with good commentaries, to do Bible studies, and to listen to good preaching that is faithful to doctrine and the word itself. Good preaching also has the benefit of calling you to action or contemplation, imparting information about God and God’s will you had not thought about or knew or perhaps reviving a cold spirit into a renewed faith and purpose. It is a vehicle by which God can speak to your spiritual heart.

Bible reading is the foremost means by which a believer allows the Holy Spirit, unfiltered, into his or her spiritual heart to change and mold, to sanctify the believer into the man or woman that God wants them to be. Of course, like being affected by preaching, this result requires that the person believe what he or she is hearing or reading and wanting to be changed by it. It is also a great thing to listen to the Bible on CD or other device like an Mp3.

God has abundant riches to offer you if you are submitted to His words written in His Book applied to your heart each day. But, He can and will supply all of your needs today. Look to Him first. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ephesians 3:16-19 comments: rooted in love

16  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Paul prays that we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit, in the man inside, not the person of flesh we still have to deal with but the saved man who is at odds with the man of flesh. Paul already told us that it was his calling to teach the unsearchable riches of Christ back in verse eight.

In Romans Paul speaks of how God’s longsuffering attitude is supposed to reveal, “the riches of his glory,” to us.

Romans 9:22  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23  And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24  Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

It is the Spirit of God which strengthens us so that Christ can live in our hearts by faith. It is an act of God, not of your good wishes or feigned spirituality.

The prayer continues that we be rooted in love. This love is clearly meant to be the love we have for God and the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ and the love we have for the lost. A Christian who has read the Bible at any length would see the dozens and dozens of verses referring to this. There is Jesus’ conversation with the lawyer in Matthew 22:35-40.

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

 There is the chapter on charity, the active love that Christians are to have for each other*, in 1Corinthians 13.

1 ¶  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 ¶  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 ¶  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

There is also Jesus’ command to His disciples.

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

God Himself doesn’t wish that any person should spend eternity in agony without Him.

1Timothy 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

You can separate religions into two groups, with one whose belief that the Creator of all loves mankind dearly enough to live as one of them and to die for them paying for all of their actions against Him and each other with His own blood, and then every other religion. But don’t get haughty. You didn’t do anything. You had nothing to do with this happening. You were a recipient of His mercy, which you don’t deserve, if you have trusted Christ.

There are many other verses that show you that the prime motivation for action for the Christian must be a love for someone other than themselves.

Paul uses the phrase, “all men,” twenty nine times in his letters revealing on many occasions what is to be our response to the lost.

Here is something he wants us to comprehend.

Romans 8:38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There are four dimensions listed here in verse 18; the breadth, length, depth, and height. Paul is trying to explain how big Christ’s love is for us, something beyond our understanding and beyond space and time.

He wants us to know the love that comes from Christ, which is greater than all knowledge, that we can experience God’s abundance. Fullness is FULL – NESS as in abundance or full or completely filled or completely realized.

Deuteronomy 33:16  And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.

1Chronicles 16:32  Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.

Psalms 16:11  Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalms 50:12  If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

Psalms 89:11  The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.

Psalms 96:11  Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

Psalms 98:7  Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

Ezekiel 16:49  Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

John 1:16  And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Romans 11:12  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

Romans 11:25  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Romans 15:29  And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 4:4  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

Now meditate on verse 19 again. It’s incredible. Be filled with Christ’s love.

John 15:13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

We, as humans, can comprehend no greater sacrifice than to give up our lives for those we love.
To be filled with all the fullness of God we must seek to know the love of Christ, to understand it. In the political speech of modern American evangelicals there doesn’t seem to be a lot of understanding of love, least of all a love for God. We talk about our rights all the time but what about God’s rights over us?

Rooted in love, the basis of our faith, not in agreement with or participation in another’s sin but expressing an active and living concern for their salvation and their genuine physical welfare, understanding the love Christ has and had for all human beings.

*Charity is the love of one’s brothers and sisters in Christ, a love that means nothing if it is not active, which crosses all dispensations. Charity begins at the family or house of God. If you have no charity for your brethren you will certainly not have any for the world at large.

  • James 2:15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
  • Colossians 3:13  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
  • 1Peter 4:8  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.(see Proverbs 10:12).
  • 2Peter 1:7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit: Some Thoughts on what a Christian should have

(Note: This is a call to action and contemplation. It is not meant to be a definitive and exhausting investigation of the Fruit of the Spirit. There are many interesting things found in this passage, significance of the number ‘nine’ in the Bible and connections and cross references that can be made. However, this is not a Bible study, but more of a plea to consider to whom you really belong.)
The Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The fruit is the produce of something. It is the result of some action having been taken, an investment having been made. In the earth seeds are planted, the young plant is cared for, and the result of the effort is fruit. In this the Holy Spirit of God is implanted in a person when they trust the Lord Jesus Christ and in His righteousness and not their own for eternal life, and when they believe what He has said about Himself, and believe that He rose from the dead after His crucifixion. The fruit of the Spirit is the proof that the person has actually been born again, been saved. If these fruit aren’t apparent in the Christian’s life although they don’t always come at once but may take many years to grow and ripen by a strong and vital prayer life and time listening to God through His words in His book; read word for word, heard line by line, and preached faithfully then the self-styled saved person must be a very shallow and immature Christian, if he is a believer at all.
What does it mean to have these fruits or proofs of the Spirit dwelling in a Christian? If you will notice bigotry, paranoia, fear, rage, love of violence, and selfishness don’t appear in this list. Should not a great many Christians think clearly about what they believe about things they encounter daily and who the source of those beliefs are?
1. Love. The first proof or fruit of the Spirit is love. When asked, the Lord Jesus Christ explained what the two greatest commandments were.
Matthew 22:34 ¶  But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36  Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38  This is the first and great commandment. 39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Loving God with everything you have and loving your neighbor as yourself are fundamental to following Christ. (Your neighbor is defined in the famous ‘Good Samaritan’ story as anyone you come in contact with in Luke 10). Jesus also pointed out that this would be a distinguishing mark of his followers, their love for each other.
John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
            Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, explains this further in his chapter on charity, which is defined in the Bible as the Christian’s love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. (It is not about our definition of charitable giving as you can see by verse 3).
            1st Corinthians 13:1 ¶  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
            4 ¶  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
            8 ¶  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
            The apostle, John, in a letter, also emphasizes this.
1John 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.12  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Christians are even supposed to love their enemies.
Luke 6:27 ¶  But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28  Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. 30  Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31  And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32  For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33  And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34  And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35  But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ as unlovable as they may be? What about the stranger you meet that is need? The lost soul bound for perdition? Do you love your enemies and those who have used and hurt you? What about God Himself?
2. Joy. Rejoicing accompanies joy as the wise men experienced when the pursued the star that led them to the child, Jesus.
Matthew 2:10  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
The Psalmist links gladness and rejoicing in the Lord.
Psalm 32:11  Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
But joy comes from a willing heart to give to God.
1Chronicles 29:9  Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.
God is our joy.
Psalm 43:4  Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
Importantly, joy and consolation are linked in Philemon. We are restored in consolation, we are comforted in consolation. Consolation is a key concept to understand joy by.
Philemon 1:7  For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
Romans 15:5  Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
2Corinthians 1:5  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7  And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
2Corinthians 7:7  And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.
Philippians 2:1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2Thessalonians 2:16  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Hebrews 6:18  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:  
And joy is also linked with glory.
1Peter 1:8  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Joy is a wonderful gift from God for when you have it you are overwhelmed by it and when you don’t have joy you are painfully aware of your lacking. Are you filled with joy? The foundation of joy is a grateful heart, a thankful heart.
Isaiah 51:3  For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
3. Peace. We speak of peace of mind, peace of heart, and peace and quiet. But, mankind is constantly, in his natural state, at war with his Creator. Our hearts are in and of themselves wicked and our flesh constantly strives against God’s authority.
Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
                In our natural state we do not receive things that God wishes to reveal to us. So, the unsaved man, the man or woman who does not believe and trust in Jesus Christ, or believe in the truth of His Book, the Bible, is incapable of understanding it.
            1Corinthians 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.
                Our natural state is in rebellion against God’s authority and that rebellion is akin to witchcraft itself so the natural man is an idolater who worships an authority other than God, himself.
            1Samuel 15:23  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
            But, Christ has made peace between us and God. As verse 14 of chapter two of Ephesians says, “he is our peace.” He made peace between us and God, who He is in the flesh, at the Cross of Calvary.
            Colossians 1:19  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
            Because of Christ, we have peace with God.
            Romans 5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
            The God of peace is not angry with you. His wrath isn’t on you. Your future is not in doubt. He has forgiven you because you trust Him, believe on Him, and believe what He did in the flesh at the Cross and in His resurrection. You trust that by His righteousness and perfection and not your own you will see eternal life. You are not walking around wringing your hands afraid that God is mad at you or that in the natural sorrows and griefs of this present evil world that He is somehow wanting to punish you and buffet you. If you truly believe in what the Bible says about you and about Him you should be at peace knowing He has forgiven you and put your sins as far away from His view as the east is from the west. You speak to Him in confidence.
            Philippians 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
            Being “careful” in this passage means not worrying. Anxiety and a constant state of worry and fear is not a sign of peace. Do you feel the peace of God in your heart, Christian?
4. Longsuffering. Accompanying longsuffering is compassion, mercy, grace, and truth.
            Psalm 86:15  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
            God’s mercy and willingness to be longsuffering has led many a person to faith in Christ because God was willing to give them more than enough time to repent of their wickedness and of what they were holding onto thinking it would get them to heaven, whether it be church membership or simply a “do unto others as” attitude, a feigned spirituality.
            Romans 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
            In this verse goodness and forbearance are synonyms with longsuffering. “Despisest” means to hold in contempt, to look down upon. Whenever someone says someone is good run a word search on “goodness” and compare the person to the Biblical definition.
            Longsuffering requires an attitude of putting others first, of holding yourself in lower esteem than you have for them, of being patient with other people and circumstances.
            Ephesians 4:1 ¶  I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 ¶  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
            Longsuffering is patience but more than patience.
            Colossians 1:10  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 ¶  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
            But even more importantly note in verse 11 that it is longsuffering with joyfulness. You aren’t enduring with bitter resentment, but you have a grateful heart for God’s longsuffering attitude is far greater than yours will ever be. Be joyful, giving thanks, and be joyfully patient or longsuffering. This is proof that you have the power of God on your life when you can endure troubles and trials, nuisances and dangers, with a longsuffering attitude always aware that God has endured far more and for far longer than you will ever be called to do. If you are patient with joy, mercy, grace, and goodness you are longsuffering. Are you, Christian? Or are you full of rage and impatience, wrath and annoyance at people and circumstances? Is your attitude pleasing to God and does it draw men and women to Christ?
5. Gentleness. So, men may be asking themselves if this isn’t a feminine trait. It may be odious to a macho manly man or someone who thinks he’s a tough guy to imagine being gentle. Well, if a man is so insecure in his manhood or is willing to sacrifice the leading of the Holy Spirit for some type of social, movie, or playing field construct of what it means to be tough I can only pray for him. He’s headed for misery as a Christian and God will have to either take or come close to taking someone very special in his life in order to get his attention. It can be a child, as in my case, or it can be a spouse, parent, or dear friend. But, the point is that gentleness is a fruit or proof or result of having the Holy Spirit of God inside you.
            Gentle is the manner in which a caregiver takes care of little children, cherishing them, affectionate toward them.
            1Thessalonians 2:7 ¶  But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8  So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
            We are not called to be argumentative, hostile, or belligerent to others, particularly not to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
            2Timothy 2:24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
            We’re not to be disrespecting people, being malicious in our speech, or haughty in our mannerisms.
            Titus 3:2  To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
            The wisdom that Christ gives us, if your wisdom is from Christ, has a gentle quality about it, unlike what some fundamentalists like to claim.
            James 3:17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
            So, if you want to be a bad-a, a no-quarter-given-none-asked type of guy there are plenty of philosophies and religions that will suit you better than Christianity. I know of one prominent religion in particular that is a haven for the violent, the immature, the selfish, and the misogynistic but there is no place in Biblical Christianity for those attitudes.
            Do you have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you? Are the fruit of the Spirit we’ve discussed so far apparent in your dealings with others or are you just playing a role like an actor who has no real investment in his character?
6. Goodness. By God’s definition, human beings aren’t good, willfully so.
            Psalm 14:2  The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
            Goodness is an active thing, not simply a state of being. Goodness results in good, that which is beneficial and useful even selfless, being done.
            Exodus 18:9  And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
            Numbers 10:32  And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the LORD shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.
            Romans 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
            In the second chapter of the Bible good, that which is beneficial and useful even, is contrasted with evil, defined in many places as either a disaster or calamity, or malicious, violent, and self-centered.
            There is no room in goodness for malice or violence. Goodness seeks only to provide a benefit to someone. Mercy is goodness.
            Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
            One aspect of God’s goodness is His mercy toward us. In what way are you good? Do you always seek to benefit others by your actions? Is your behavior a win-win type where everyone winds up with something beneficial and useful or are you the kind of person who needs, has a pathological need to dominate other people, to take advantage of their physical or mental weakness, their lack of experience, their naiveté, or maybe what you perceive as their spiritual blindness or bad choices? Do you seek to do good because goodness is not something you can claim while you sit idly by and watch people suffer either physically emotionally? Goodness is a call to action. You are not saved by works nor do you stay saved by works but Christians are called to do good works because they are saved. Is goodness a gift the Holy Spirit has given you?
7. Faith. This fruit of the Spirit is a gift from God. Like the other fruit this is not generated of its own in the natural man or woman where God is concerned. On the most basic level faith is believing.
            Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
People have faith in all sorts of things. We have faith that the morning will come because it always has, or that the light switch will turn the lights on because it always has, or that a particular chair will hold our weight because it always has. Some people have faith in something they haven’t experienced and no one has ever witnessed firsthand because someone they trusted told them it was so. Some have faith that life happened on earth by a random assortment of events and that no god was involved because someone told them it was so whose word they trusted. Some have faith that birds became reptiles, that blood and DNA can last tens of millions of years, or simply that at no time and at no place in the universe has there ever been the God of the Bible.
            So, clearly, faith is typically either the result of expectations created by past experience or it is a sort of wishful thinking based on the agreement of the statements of someone we trust with our own worldview or opinions or even fear. But, the faith that is a fruit of the Spirit is none of those. It is a revelation of God planted in the heart of a person. It is not generated by the person. If you have faith because you need there to be a God you do not have the faith of God. If you have faith because you can’t handle the pressures of life and its sorrows without believing there is, “something else,” then you do not have the faith of God.
            The famous English leader, Oliver Cromwell, is quoted from his 1647 Putney Debates as saying, “…I know a man may answer all difficulties with faith and faith will answer all difficulties really where it is, but we are very apt, all of us, to call that faith, that perhaps may be but carnal imagination, and carnal reasonings.” So it is, often when men claim to be speaking something that “God has laid on my heart,” it is but their own opinion filtered through the lens of the Bible and when people claim to have faith it is really their own hope, fantasies, and desires filtered through the language of the Bible.
            Deep faith is a gift from God. It did not come from your superior sense of the spiritual.
            Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  
            Romans 12:3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
            Every man here, as in Titus 2:11 where “all men” is used is referring to those who believe by its context not to every person on earth.
Deep faith is defined in the Bible by not only where it comes from but what it is.
Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
So, the kind of faith the Bible is talking about is not always the kind of faith you have when you watch the sunrise, see the light come on in the room, or sit down in a chair. It is not always the kind of faith you have when you believe what someone in authority or someone you respect tells you either. It is the kind of faith, at least in Galatians 5:22 and cross references in Ephesians and Romans,that is imparted to the believer by God and allows them to believe and have faith in the face of horrible circumstances or attributing events and circumstances to God that others simply write off as good or bad luck. The believer can know this because this knowledge, this belief, and this faith comes from Him.
Jesus criticized the Jews who, having seen direct evidence of His identity or at least His power, still questioned.
Matthew 16:8  Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9  Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Jesus also gave a warning to those who rejected His authority and the things that He said to them.
John 12:48  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
It is certainly true that many young Christians have come to faith and trusted Christ because they trusted a faithful mother or father’s words. But the faith mentioned here and in Hebrews, chapter 11, is a faith that God Himself imparts into a person. This faith is not based on sight. It is not based on signs. It is not based on receiving any promises or answers to prayer as assurances. It is based on an act of God in a believer’s heart and makes absolutely no sense to the outside world. It is a faith like that of the three Hebrew young men who when Nebuchadnezzar  threatened them with the fiery furnace declared they would honor God alone even if He didn’t save them. Pay close attention to verse 18.
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 superhuman faith, unnatural faith. It passes all understanding. The apostles saw Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead and they had the faith that came from that witness to believe in His authority and believe His words. But it was a supernatural faith that took Peter from denying he knew the Lord to being willing to die for the gospel. Do you actually think the Peter manifested in the Gospels and Acts came up with that on his own?
Philippians 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Do you have this kind of faith? Have you even prayed for it?
8. Meekness. Moses was said to be meeker than any man on the face of the earth.
            Numbers 12:3  (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
            But, Moses led millions of Hebrews out of Egypt, as we know, and was before that a man of violent action when necessary as the following verses attest.
            Exodus 2:11 ¶  And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12  And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand…..16 ¶  Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17  And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18  And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19  And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.
Moses was no Caspar Milquetoast of H.T. Webster’s iconic comic strip, The Timid Soul, from the early twentieth century. Moses was hardly meek by human standards, raised a prince of the world’s greatest superpower of the time, probably trained in every martial art of the time, competent with spear, sword, dagger, and chariot one could safely assume. He most likely knew Egyptian religion, their views of history, and how to lead an army or get a government project accomplished. So, what does this meekness mean?
The meek are contrasted against the wicked.
Psalm 147:6  The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
They are linked to the poor in many places but here is one example.
Isaiah 11:4a  But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth…………
(In the Bible, the rich are often portrayed as evil because of their idolatrous dependence upon their wealth and their oppression of the poor while the poor are usually displayed in the opposite light as dependent upon God although both are held to the same moral standard.)
They are lowly in heart in this verse speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 11:29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
They have a quiet spirit.
1Peter 3:4  But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
So, here we have characteristics of meekness and attributing those characteristics to one of the most formidable leaders of history as well as the Lord of all creation. How is that possible and what does it mean?
Clearly, the meekness these two individuals in the Bible expressed was a surrender and submission to the will of God the Father, the soul of God, the origin of God’s divine will and intentions. Moses and Christ in His humanity were meek towards God and this meekness was revealed in their constant concern with doing God’s will.
Just as Solomon, although the wisest of all men in history, failed in his humanity, the subject of another time, so did Moses in the incident at Kadesh in disobeying God reveal his humanity. But, meekness, true meekness, is being subject to God’s will, realizing your dependence upon God’s mercy, and not going against or ahead of God or doing more than He tells you to do based on your own presumption.
Are you meek toward God? Toward God’s will? Has God’s will for your life been less than pleasing to you? Were your parents’ not rich enough? Are you not attractive enough, athletic enough, healthy enough, smart enough to suit your ambitions or fantasies? Are you dissatisfied, not with the things your sin has caused in your life which you should be, but with the things that God has allowed to happen over which you have absolutely no control or how God has used the consequences of your failures to a greater purpose?
In our natural state we chafe at God’s standards of righteousness. We don’t like not being able to dominate others, to control events, to be told that gossip, fornication, sexual immorality as defined by God, violence, usury, theft, making fun of others, and things like exploitation of others are not acceptable to Him. When we first believe we often aren’t willing to put our sexual desires, tobacco use, alcohol or drug (legal or illegal) use, prejudices, bigotry, dress, entertainment preferences, employment, or the things we love on the proverbial table, as usually there is something of our carnal past we hold desperately onto even if it is only an attitude, for God to possibly eliminate from our hearts, as He so wills. In our natural state we may agree that God exists, believe in the resurrection, trust in Christ’s righteousness and not our own to get to heaven, and long for a relationship with God daily and yet still hold onto a pet sin like a small child clutches a beloved stuffed animal.
Or, we might announce our trust in God and then immediately, in the most unmeek fashion, declare how we will not do this or that anymore, telling the world and issuing an unintended challenge to the spirits of evil in the unseen world that we, in our best humanistic fashion, with all the best intentions, but with complete impotence of will, be holy. Subconsciously, as we inevitably fail and become discouraged in our humanistic declarations and poorly reasoned drivel, we begin to be self-righteous. Disappointed in ourselves but not willing to be meek to God’s will and allow Him to change us through His word we point fingers at others, often at people who don’t even believe and rant and rave about their sins and how “they” are destroying the country or civilization itself or are bringing on God’s judgment.
But we don’t accept that the only thing that has changed about our country or our civilization is Christians themselves. They no longer hunger for God’s will in their lives. They no longer want Him to speak to them through His word. They no longer desire to surrender every aspect of their lives to His determinations. Unsaved people have not changed in two hundred years. They do and think exactly the same way they’ve always done even back to the colonial days when the average person drank three times the amount of alcohol we do today and any study of crime in early America will show that the only difference between the lawless and the immoral of then and now is that so-called Christians today accept more of what they do as a-okay.
How did Moses, a man of action and authority, become meek toward God? Toward His will? It was not simply a decision He made to submit to a higher authority, a supernatural authority than himself. I believe the answer can be found in Exodus 3. First, God introduced Himself to Moses. Then, God overcame every doubt Moses brought up regarding his own feelings of usefulness in God’s purpose. God even used Aaron and Zipporah, Moses’ wife, in this effort to make this proud man meek toward God’s will. God created a Moses meek toward Him and His will. It was not a facet of Moses’ natural character, but a work of God.
Have you prayed for God to make you submit to His will? Be humble to His command? Be prepared for His service? Are you meek toward God? Does He have to bend you and break you to make you have any value in His plan?
Psalm 37:11  But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Matthew 5:5  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
9. Temperance. The concept of self-restraint in behavior or moderation in expression was not alien to the Greek world. In our history the word “temperance” has come to stand primarily for abstaining from alcoholic beverages, a relatively new idea in Christianity as until recently drinking water alone that had not been converted into an alcoholic beverage was a risky proposition fraught with the possibilities of diseases such as cholera. The temperance in the Bible is the more general self-restraint, or self-control. Peter ranks temperance above knowledge.
            2Peter 1:5 ¶  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity
Proverbs is filled with admonitions about self-restraint. For instance,
Proverbs 16:32  He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Controlling your temper and your passions is a vital part of the Christian life as Paul will point out in Ephesians.
            Ephesians 4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27  Neither give place to the devil.     
            Here, Paul shows us that losing control of one’s temper, letting it boil until anger becomes wrath, is playing into Satan’s hands. Self-restraint in our emotional life and particularly regarding anger is taught by parents to children by example. Some people are raised with an example of hot-tempered flashes of childish and spoiled acting mothers and fathers who are no better than children themselves. So, while it is good to speak of how you should have temperance in your passions that suggestion leaves people cold who were not raised with such a blessing. How do I gain control over my raging temper? How do I keep from hurting or alienating the people closest to me or keep from taking an action that could affect my whole life or the entire life of another person in a moment of anger?
            You have two choices besides just ignoring it and living with the consequences. One, the solution of most of Christianity is to purpose to control yourself. It is pure humanism in its aspect. It says from the pulpit or the book that now that you know what it means to be a Christian you need to clean up your act and behave. That sort of thinking makes Christianity more of a philosophy, a political ideology, or a form of gentlemanly manners. The other choice is to seek God’s changing of your life and as with the other fruit to plead with God to impart these fruit to you.
            But that prayer is only half the effort you should make. Letting God speak to your spiritual heart through His word in His Book is vital to lasting change and to your success in expressing true Christian values. Every day you should read the Bible, asking God to speak to your heart and to change you. Acknowledge that you are a sinner and that you can’t help yourself. Regularly, you should gather together with other believers to pray, to worship, to study God’s word, and to hear it faithfully and truthfully preached. The fruit or proofs of the Spirit are important. Read the first six verses of the book of Colossians.
              Colossians 1:1 ¶  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, 2  To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    3 ¶  We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4  Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5  For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6  Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
            If you want to bear this fruit as a Christian read your Authorized Version of the Bible, also called the King James Bible, as God has laid His particular hand of wisdom and understanding on the translators of that Book. Read it from cover to cover, believing it, trusting in its words as the very word from God, and ask God to change you and mold you, to sanctify you for His purpose with it. You can’t do it yourself. You can’t trust your own intellect or your own conscience or mind to change deep-seated prejudices, weaknesses, or family traits.
John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
There is no way to overemphasize the power of God’s word to effect a change in the Christian’s carnal heart.
John 17:17  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
If you desire the fruit of the Spirit coming out of your life as a testimony for others you will realize that in your humanity you can’t create them yourself. You need Christ’s Spirit working through His words changing your spiritual heart. Your good intentions will avail nothing. With regard to spiritual things they are like physical exercise, profiting little. The key to living as God would have you do is found in His Book, not in those good intentions.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ephesians 3:13-15 comments: the whole family in heaven and earth

13  Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

He tells them not to be dismayed at the suffering he is going through for them. There is an age old literary device copied from the Bible where in a secular novel the hero, a type of Christ, suffers for the heroine, a type of the church. He who is stronger and powerful and noble and righteous sometimes even lays down his life for the object of his love, who can not do that for herself. He would sacrifice all for her glory. Paul, as a type of Christ, suffers for the little church bodies he has planted. He desires that they faint not.

14 ¶  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul is in awe of God’s plan and in the position of worship for God’s glory.

Psalm 95:6  O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

Notice the connection of “worship” and “bow down”  by “and” making them synonymous.

Isaiah 45:23  I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Romans 14:11  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Philippians 2:10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Modern versions of the Bible lending authority to Westcott and Hort’s Critical Text eliminate, “of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ based on a few corrupted manuscripts from the 4th, 5th, and 9th centuries.

15  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

This is the only time the word, family, is used in the New Testament.

The family of God are all those who are on earth and who have gone on before which are God’s whether they be an Old Testament Hebrew or your saved grandfather who passed away or those sitting here, hearing or reading this who are saved.

The Church Triumphant is in heaven and the Church Militant is down here still doing battle, according to the old ways of looking at this.

You have a group of Gentiles before the Law from Adam to Enoch who believed God, as an example. Then you have Gentiles who become Hebrews such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The next group are Jews under the Law. You have Gentiles under the Law who placed their faith in God. You have then the church, the bride of Christ, which we are.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

You then have Tribulation Jews and Gentiles under the Law. Then, there are millennial Saints walking by sight as Christ is right there.

Paul has told us previously that we are already in heaven even though we are also here on this earth. What was said for chapter 2, verse 6 bears repeating here.

Our future is waiting for us in heaven. If you don’t believe you can be in two places at one time then read this;

John 3:13  And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Your dead spirit was born again and saved and now you are waiting for the redemption of your body in real time. We are there already, though, in the sense of eternity. It’s already happened from the perspective of eternity, but as a temporal creature we have to wait, in time.  You’re already in heaven with Christ from this perspective.

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

An angel is an appearance, a presence, as in Isaiah 63:9, of persons, sons of God, churches, children, God Himself, and, I’m sure, many other things which somehow are projected by the representation that an angel is somewhere else in space-time.

Job 1:6  Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

John1:12  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:

Perhaps the saved will replace the sons of God who, “kept not their first estate,” and, “the third part of the stars of heaven,” who followed Satan in Revelation 12:4, stars representing angels as in Revelation 1:20.