Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ephesians 4:12-13 comments: unity in Christ

12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

To perfect something is to complete it, to finish it.

2Chronicles 8:16  Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected.

Colossians 4:12  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Based on the context, to perfect something can be slightly different than to be perfect. For instance in its first use it defines that Noah was a just man in that he had none of the taint, perhaps, presented by the intrusion of the spiritual creatures called the sons of God who took on human form and produced abnormally large offspring who had a great influence on the pre-Flood world of men. This genetic purity can also be related to us in the form of not being tainted by the world and adopting its values. Noah completely went against his generation as one man standing against the multitude. They must have thought him insane. He also walked with God.

Genesis 6:9  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Genesis 6:4  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.(for “men of renown” see Numbers 16:2 to see men of influence and the ability to lead others).

Or in the case of Asa.

1Kings 15:14  But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.

The definitions, then, of perfect have to do with being completed, finished, having all you need from the builder to be useful for the purpose he intended. It also carries a notion in some contexts as being just or righteous (Psalm 7:9; Ecclesiastes 8:14 for just and righteous having similar meanings), untainted from the world, and walking with God. This is also something that can only be accomplished by the Master Builder lest your good works be just humanistic effort or the results of a nice personality. I’m sure Hell will be filled with nice people, however.

The callings of evangelist, pastor and teacher, then, are to be used for providing the saints, the believers (1 Corinthians 14:33 for the churches containing saints), with part of what they need to be completed, finished, a building for God to dwell in.

The body of Christ, the church, is a spiritual building in which God dwells.

Ephesians 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The body of the believer is a temple where God dwells.

1Corinthians 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

It will not be finished and completed, perfected, until we are in the presence of God, when our physical bodies as we know them now, have died.

God sanctifies us, sets us apart for His purpose, through His word.

John 17:17  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

These callings mentioned in these verses of evangelist, pastor, and teacher are to work under the direction of the Holy Spirit to do their part in finishing this building of God. We are to be edified, not indoctrinated. It is not the purpose of evangelists, pastors, and teachers to deliver politically charged harangues or to speak great swelling words about how great their country is or how to live the way they live with the values they have is Godly. They are to speak God’s word, show their congregants how to access its rich treasure and be fed on their own, and to teach and explain its precepts, its principles, and its values.

Any pastor or teacher or evangelist who, by twisting the words or using them out of context to prove a point leaves the body bewildered, confused, or thinking they might as well not read and study God’s word on their own because they have no hope of understanding it, is not doing the work of the ministry but doing the work of the Devil.

The Bible is God’s finishing tool, his plane, his hammer, his saw, with which He makes perfect the building He has built for Himself. Apart from it the church is a social or political club, something to do on a Sunday or a Wednesday with no particular value to God, although in times past a great value to the state in teaching submission to wicked political leaders and the wealthy and powerful.

God has given us people who have a calling to lead us on spiritually. What is the goal of these callings? Their purpose?

13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

The goal is the unity of the faith, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, being complete, just, and righteous, in the abundant grace and power of Christ Himself.

Previously in this chapter of Ephesians we have discussed unity.

Ephesians 4:3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

David noted in the Psalms;

Psalm 133:1  « A Song of degrees of David. » Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

The bond of peace referred to in verse 3 is our commitment to bind ourselves in peace. The preaching of the word should produce unity in the body of Christ, drawing us together to focus on Him and not ourselves. Our differences and the conflict those varying opinions will cause fall off like dead skin when we are truly focused on Christ Himself, following Him rather than the most dominant personality in the church building.

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, 2  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

We can know that there is a God, there is an intelligent designer, by simply looking at creation and being honest with ourselves. We can’t have a knowledge of God, who He is, what His expectations and will is, or how He loves us but through His words in His Book. Having God’s word preached and taught, and then feeding on it ourselves is the surest way we have of gaining knowledge of God.

God is not the subject of laboratory experiments. He cannot be conjured up by either priest, prophet, or scientist. God is a person with self-identity and a will who will reveal Himself to whom He will. He has revealed Himself to all mankind through His Bible.

It is by Christ that all things were created and it is by Christ that all things are sustained and held together.

Colossians 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

John 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Earlier, in chapter 3, Paul said, with the wisdom given to him by the Holy Spirit;

Ephesias 3:9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ…

Knowing who made you and having a knowledge of them, and having a relationship with them, letting God speak to you through His words in His Book and you speaking to Him in prayer is essential. Bible believers have already gone way beyond the arguments between militant evolutionists and those who promote intelligent design. We know the designer and have an intimate walk with Him. The others will argue about whether or not we were designed by intent or just happened as a result of a random accident of nature until they settle down to the eternal destiny at death.

Preaching and teaching must give us a knowledge of Christ, draw us together in the unity of faith, teach us to be complete, just and righteous…

Titus 2:11 ¶  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

We will never arrive at that fullness of Christ until we are with Him in Heaven itself, a called out assembly, a church made perfect in Christ.

Hebrews 12:23  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,

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ephesians 4:11 comments: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers

11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Apostles and prophets are synonymous terms and were sent by God;

Luke 11:49  Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

Apostles preached;

1Timothy 2:7  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

Prophets preached;

Nehemiah 6:7  And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.

Luke 16:16  The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

In fact, prophesying is preaching;

Acts 21:9  And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

Romans 12:6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

1Corinthians 13:9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

Here, we can see the synonymous relationship between pastor and teacher. A pastor is supposed to be a teacher, as well.

1Timothy 3:2  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

2Timothy 2:24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

Timothy, a young pastor, is key here to understanding the meanings of these words; pastor, teacher, and evangelist.

Timothy is not only a bishop or pastor, but does the work of an evangelist in preaching the gospel.

2Timothy 4:5  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

It appears to me from reading the Bible literally that the Prophets of ancient Israel went out preaching a warning about what was to come while the Apostles of Christ preached that Christ had come. Both of these offices and callings were to the community and the world at large. Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers appear to be directed to operate within the church body itself.

So, when you do the work of a Prophet or an Apostle it is outside of the confines of the body of Christ but when you are doing the work of an Evangelist, Pastor, or Teacher you are working within the church, among the saved.

I certainly understand if you disagree. Some assumptions have to be made on these definitions as the Bible in this regard is written as if assuming this knowledge is common within the church.

The important thing to remember is that these callings are given from God, not career choices.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ephesians 4:10 comments: above all, distinct from all, near to all

10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Christ is higher than the kings of the earth.

Psalms 89:27  Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. 

Christ is the authority over the kings of the earth and has made His people, no matter how humble or uneducated or unsophisticated, kings and priests to God the Father.

Revelation 1:5  And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Christ is above all heavens. There are three heavens in the Bible. There is the heaven in which the birds fly and clouds float, there is the heaven of what we call Outer Space, and there is the heaven that is the abode of God and the blessed dead. Christ is above all we know or think.

In fact, Christ is as far above the greatest saint as He is the greatest sinner as the famous Congregationalist preacher, Jonathan Edwards, pointed out in his sermon, “Pardon for the Greatest Sinners.” So, Christ’s greatness is no impediment to your believing and trusting in Him and being accepted by Him. It is in His nature to have mercy and to answer a plea for salvation.

Romans 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

One of the basic doctrines of Christianity, or at least the Christianity of the Bible, is the Omnipresence of God. He is distinct from His universe but is everywhere present.

David said;

Psalm 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

God told Jeremiah;

Jeremiah 23:23  Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? 24  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

So, as God’s presence is everywhere in the universe He is also near to each of us. This is the doctrine of His Immanence.

Acts 17:24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27  That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Back in verse six we saw God’s Transcendence, as in this verse, it shows that He is above and distinct from all He has made.

6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

God told Isaiah;

Isaiah 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Again, David said;

Psalm 108:5  Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;

But, just remember, that as far above all things that God is;

Psalm 138:2  I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ephesians 4:9 comments; the reality of Hell

9  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

Here we have a clear enough statement that Christ entered Hell at His crucifixion but those who assert that He suffered in Hell in our place are wrong as He went there to preach to the captives.

1 Peter 3:18 ¶  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19  By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

There is a physical Hell, a place of suffering and torment, that is, in type, a jail or prison, a holding place until the end when all of those who have rejected Christ’s free offer of salvation spend their time after death until death and Hell itself are thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

But Christ has the keys to both.

Revelation 1:18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

There are those that say that there was a Paradise, a place of rest, next to Hell, until Christ set the occupants free and took them to Heaven. They refer to these verses before the Crucifixion.

Luke 16:19 ¶  There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20  And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21  And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

(As an aside, notice the condition of the man in Hell. He asks for mercy but does not repent of his wickedness. He still believes the poor Lazarus is his inferior and should serve him. He does not beg to be freed from his prison but only to be comforted. He doesn’t want his brothers to come there. Why, because he is compassionate and doesn’t want them to suffer as he is? Or with his lack of repentance and arrogance could there be some other reason? Perhaps a dread of being faced with what they probably have against someone as wicked as himself? Those in Hell know that it is a just punishment. Their true nature comes out, their bitterness, their wrath, their arrogance, and their lack of repentance and their rejection of salvation even though, “one,” that is Christ, arose from the dead.)

In spite of the statement that there is a, “great gulf,” between Paradise and Hell, these authorities claim that they were next to each other.

There are also these statements on the Cross.

Luke 23:42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. 
Based on these verses the authorities mentioned claim that Jesus took Paradise to Heaven with Him, as Paul and John both attest that this is now where the Paradise of God is.

2Corinthians 12:4  How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Revelation 2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Hell is referred to as a prison and here Satan is released from this prison for a time before being cast into the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 20:1 ¶  And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 7  And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8  And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9  And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

There are several places in the book of Isaiah where the prison is mentioned as well, which could be a prophetic reference to Hell.

Isaiahs 42:7  To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Isaiah 49:9  That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

Isaiah 61:1 ¶  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Regardless of any distinctions between Hell before Christ’s Crucifixion or after, Hell is a real place. It is referred to as not only a prison, but a bottomless pit.

First, for Satan’s destination;

Isaiah 14:15  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

And for the unsaved Gentiles of the Old Testament;

Ezekiel 32:21  The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword. 22  Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword:23  Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living.

And in the Tribulation to come;

Revelation 9:1  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit 2  And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit….11  And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

Revelation 11:7  And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

Revelation 17:8  The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Revelation 20:1  And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand….3  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

What is a pit without a bottom that has sides? It would appear to be a circle, which is what the center of the earth, or the heart of the earth would be. Hell, then, is far beneath our feet but we would not see it with our eyes if we could drill that far and probably not hear it with our ears, as it is not physical things bound there but souls of men, awaiting judgment.

The Hebrew word, Sheol, is translated as both grave (31 times) and Hell (31 times) and the pit (3 times). There are those who play the Hebrew game like those who play the Greek game who insist that it should always be translated as, “the grave,” rendering verses like the following totally gibberish.

Deuteronomy 32:22  For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

A fire in the lowest grave? What in the world would that mean?

Psalm 18:5  The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

What pain is there in the grave, if you’re dead and your bodily sensations have ceased?

Psalm 116:3  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Those who play the Greek game would not translate Hades, the Greek word, as Hell, because to the Greeks, Hades was the place of the dead spirits, not necessarily a place of punishment as it is said to be over and over again in the Bible. Jesus Himself likened it to a place of burning as in the place outside of Jerusalem where trash was burned and there was a continual fire. There are several dozen references made by Jesus to fire and everlasting fire and unquenchable fire in the gospels as the destination of many.But you will find that Bible commentators and philosophers who are going to Hell often try to air condition it first.

Hell is real. The Lake of Fire unquenchable for eternity is real. It is the natural destination of all human beings. But, there is hope. Trust, believe in, and believe the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ephesians 4:8 comments; He led our captivity captive

8  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Wherefore means, “for that reason or purpose,” which we simply think of as,” why.”

Psalm 68:18  Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

These gifts of faith, grace, and mercy, of eternal life with our Creator come not out of our following a certain moral path, although we are called to do so, not out of our doing good works, although we are called to do so, and not out of our church attendance or membership or performance of rituals, although we are called to unite regularly with other believers in the worship of God. They come from believing certain things.

Believing what God has said;

Romans 4:3  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Believing what Christ said about Himself;

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.

Believing that Christ rose from the dead;

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.

Believing that Christ is the only way to God and to eternal life;

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.

The greatest bondage that man and woman are under, besides sin, is death. Sin is the cause of biological death.  Even atheistic evolutionists understand that death is an aberration although they reject the why and the how. I refer you to a book written by William R. Clark, a professor of Immunology at UCLA, entitled, Sex and the Origins of Death. In that book he clearly states on page 54, “Death is not inextricably intertwined with the definition of life.”

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:……….21  That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ conquered death and Hell. He led our captivity captive.

Revelation 1:18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ephesians 4:7 comments: faith, grace, and mercy

7  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

We do not all receive the exact same faith.

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.

Each of us, as individual persons, is given what we need if we will avail ourselves of it, though, so that we have no excuse.

Titus 2:11 ¶  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

God has measured out grace and faith to all of us. We are not all the same. It is wrong to judge another person by your convictions or by the strength or seeming weakness of your faith. He has given every one of us Christians, in the faith that resulted in our salvation, how we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, living soberly, righteously, and godly in this world always looking up and waiting on the Saviour to appear. We are guaranteed that much faith and grace and that’s all we really need.

Soon, Paul will talk about different gifts given to different members of the body of Christ.

Romans 12:6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

In this verse, specifically, it is talking about how each of us is given grace as measured out by Christ. We are justified by God’s grace.

Romans 3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

It can also be said that we are justified by faith and it is by faith we can enter into God’s grace.

Romans 5:1 ¶  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

What exactly does the word, grace, mean? From the very first use of the word in the Bible we see that it is God’s approval.

Genesis 6:8 ¶  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Lot, in Genesis 19:19, shows us that a result of finding grace is mercy.

Genesis 19:19  Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

So, first, our faith, a gift from God, causes us to receive grace, and God’s mercy as a result. In the end, it is all God. We are just vessels to receive what He has to give us or to reject it. It starts with our faith as Ephesians 2:8,9 explains, a gift of God.

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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ephesians 4:6 comments: above all, through all, and in us

6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

As Moses repeated to the children of Israel from God’s word to him;

Deuteronomy 6:4  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Jesus Christ confirmed;

Mark 12:29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

As did Paul;

Galatians 3:20  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

The unity of God is a very important Biblical concept to understand. God is not three separate individuals, three separate Gods. That is where some religions mistakenly view Christianity as a form of idolatry. Note the following verses;

Genesis 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis 3:22  And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Then, pay close attention to this verse;

1John 5:7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

(Contemporary Bible versions based on the Westcott-Hort heretical text remove this verse from the Bible as being a late addition when the evidence shows it was quoted or alluded to in virtually every century of Christianity and even the editor of the Latin Vulgate, Jerome, admitted that it was in the original. It is also in Wycliffe’s medieval Bible).

What are these three? And how are they one? God is composed of three parts, as we are and as the higher animals are. He is composed of a soul, the seat of self-identity and will, a spirit, the Holy Spirit, the principal way He operates throughout His creation, and a body, a physical image, the likeness of God. Unlike we temporal beings, earth-bound, those three parts of God can act independently and apart from each other in space-time. Were we to be disconnected from our spirit or soul we would cease to live physically.

For man’s body, soul, and spirit;

1Thessalonians 5:23  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the beast’s soul and spirit;

Numbers 31:28  And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep:

Ecclesiastes 3:21  Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

Why would the beast’s spirit go down into the earth? It is important to know what man’s spirit does.

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

God uses your spirit to see you from the inside, all of your thoughts and your physical processes. Your spirit does not know God until you are born again, however, because it is a dead spirit inherited from Adam. Beasts are not accountable for salvation as they have never been in rebellion against God. Their suffering and death is a consequence of Adam’s sin.

Paul talks about how he wants to know Christ as Christ knows him using the word, apprehend, an older meaning being to know.

Philippians 3:12  Not as though I had already attained (understand –Psalm 139:6; Proverbs 1:5), either were already perfect (finished and complete -  2 Chronicles 8:16; Colossians 4:12): but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

We are made in the image of God as in we are made in the form of God’s physical appearance. See the word likeness in the following verse;

Genesis1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

In Adam’s perfect state he looked like God. He had the likeness of God which is the appearance but in his sin that appearance was compromised. Adam’s son, Seth, was made in his likeness and each generation bears that removal from God’s perfect likeness.

Genesis 5:3  And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

Mankind is deteriorating so rapidly from the point of view of genetics that he could not be much older than a few thousand years. I have a National Academy of Sciences article by researcher, James Crow, from 1997 entitled, “The High Spontaneous Mutation Rate: Is it a Health Risk?” where he laments man’s deterioration and calls for government action as if the government could do something about the effects of sin.

Another paper I have from 1995 from the Journal of Theoretical Biology by Alexey Kondrashov cries out, “Why Have We Not Died 100 Times Over?” Clearly, the human race should have been extinguished by now based on scientific reasoning. Each time our cells divide information is lost. 

You can see it in real-time as you age. Just look in a mirror holding a picture of yourself at 15 or 20 years of age.

But, those men and women who believe will be returned to better than that perfect image that Adam bore of God. We will be like Christ and will not sin again.

Romans 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

That completeness and perfection is our destiny in Christ.

The three operational parts of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or Ghost, are mentioned throughout Scripture. First, we saw the words us and our in Genesis’ first chapter and then later, when God viewed the work of man at Babel.

Genesis 11:7  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

The three parts of God are active in creation right away in the first three verses of Genesis setting the understanding for us in all future references.

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 (the part of God that interacts with His creation) moved upon the face of the waters.

3 ¶  And God (the Father, the seat of self-identity and will)  said, Let there be light: and there was light (the Word spoken and the Light being God the Son, also the physical image of God, His person).

The three parts of God are expressed all through the Old Testament. God the Son walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam.

Genesis 3:8  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence* of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

*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.

No man has seen God the Father at any time. He is a Spirit in distinction from other spirit beings which He created.

John 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

God the Son, being the, “express image of His person,” is who is seen virtually every time a person sees an angel or appearance of God or talks to God face-to-face in the Bible. As God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is seated at the right hand of the Father now we will not see Him face to face until He returns. We have His Book, the Scriptures, the Bible which tells us about Him and through which He speaks to us. The three parts of God are mentioned throughout the Bible but also in the same verse in several places by different speakers.

Jesus refers to the three as quoted by Matthew.

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:

Paul refers to the three.

2 Corinthians 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

The Apostle, John, refers to the three.

1John 5:7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Repeating verse 6, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Isaiah 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God is as far above the greatest saint as He is the greatest sinner so that God’s greatness, above all, is no impediment to your coming to Him. He’ll come to you.

David pleaded;

Psalm 25:11  For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.

It is the very fact that our sin is so great, so hideous, and so vile that we can call on God who is so great, so perfect, and so merciful to us because it is in His character to forgive. The God who made all things is not a part of all things but is above all things.

When Paul is arguing with the Greeks in Athens he quotes a pagan poet and prophet, Epimenides from his 6th century BC poem, Cretica, when the poet said, “For in you we live and move and have our being.”

Acts 17:22 ¶  Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27  That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

    32 ¶  And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

The Greek wrote this about Zeus and Paul, acknowledging that to the Greeks Zeus or Jupiter in Rome, was the supreme god, used this well-known phrase to point out how dependent we are upon the real God who he linked to a monument to a god the Athenians exalted named “The Unknown God.” The legend had it that there had been a plague centuries before and sacrifices were offered to every god that the Athenians thought they might have offended but the plague continued in spite of that religious effort. So, Epimenides thought that there was a god they were not honoring, whose name they didn’t know, so they sacrificed to him and the plague ceased immediately. This supposedly resulted in the monument to the unknown god whom Paul is insisting is really the God of creation.

So, God is above all things, through all things, and as Jesus and Paul both points out dwells within the believer.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

And Paul;

Romans 8:11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

1Corinthians 3:16  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

2Timothy 1:14  That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ephesians 4:5 comments: one Lord, one faith, one baptism

5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Now we know that there are many gods, small g, and lords, small l.

1 Corinthians 8:4 ¶  As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5  For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

This is the unity of Christianity not found in competing rituals or church organizations but that we believe that the way to God and to eternal life is through the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith, which earlier was said was a gift from God, is that God came to earth and lived as one of us, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead for our justification.

Jude 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The baptism that is the means by which we are put in Christ and He in us is that baptism of the Holy Spirit we receive upon profession of our belief. Here are two distinct kinds of baptism. John’s immersion of Jews in water was a ritual purification based on their repentance but Jesus came with something greater.

Mark 1:8  I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 1:5  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Still, in the earliest days of the church, composed almost exclusively of Jews, there was still a call to national repentance with the Holy Ghost/Spirit promised afterward.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

But, when Peter dealt with individual Gentiles in the matter of their salvation they had received the Holy Ghost already upon their profession of faith and baptism became an ordinance, a sign of their already being in Christ, the water baptism not being the means by which they were put in Christ as they had already received the Holy Ghost and were saved.

Acts 10:47  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Again, remember that the Lord promised something greater than water baptism.

Acts 11:16  Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

Water baptism, performed by immersion, as the word baptism refers to being dunked, drowned, and submerged all throughout Greek literature, is a sign, a type, a symbolic action, and faith is predicated upon belief not a ritual act. and lacks the urgency and effectual consequences of the baptism in the Holy Ghost upon your profession of faith.

John 4:2  (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

1 Corinthians 1:14 ¶  I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15  Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16  And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

17 ¶  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Water baptism is a type of salvation, representing salvation in its appearance. Notice like figure in this passage.

1Peter 3:21  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism by which we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.
What is evidence that one has been baptized by the Holy Ghost or Spirit? In the early church when the apostles were walking the earth and there was no complete Bible containing the Old and the New Testament the ability to speak in other human languages without being taught them was present.

    Acts 2:1 ¶  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

    5 ¶  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7  And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11  Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12  And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13  Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

But, if you want to see evidence today, now that the Apostles are gone from us and the Bible is complete and perfect, then look for the proof or fruit of the Spirit in a Christian’s life. This is what the presence of the Holy Spirit produces. This is a more sure thing than a supernatural sign allowing them to do something that points to themselves as being possessed of a special gift.

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. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.