At the Name of Jesus

‘“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also, but all these things they will do to you, for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me (John 15:20, 21).”’

Fallen Men and Women (Romans 1:18-2:3)

People do not like it when you tell them you have a very *personal Friend (John 15:14) whose name is Jesus. Jesus is not welcome by most of them. They are annoyed by Him. His very name is an affront to their way of life and their interests and all they love. Most of them are selfish, and as far as they are concerned the world revolves around them. What they desire and what they want is what counts! They are egocentric to the core, and many of them don’t care about fellow human beings. They have no conscience (1 Timothy 4:2) and no feelings for the deprivations and sufferings of those less fortunate than themselves. As long as they are ‘all right Jack’ the world is ‘hunky-dory’.

The very name of Jesus is an anathema to them. They ask, “Why does He give His love freely (Romans 5:8)? Why does He forgive those who hate Him (Cf. Matthew 12:32)? Why does He show kindness to the weak, widows, orphans (James 1:27), the disenfranchised and the poor of this world?” Why is He merciful towards them (Deuteronomy 7:9)?”

They are so far removed from such love by their sin, they have no understanding of God’s love. Therefore it makes no sense whatsoever to them.

Jesus is an enigma to them. They do not get it. They reason that if He is such a generous, caring and loving person – a God of love (1 John 4:8), why does He judge people and send them to hell (Revelation 20:13-15)? Yet at the same time they try to convince themselves there is no such place as hell, so why should they care? They are not going to end up there, but they have a nagging doubt.

Paradoxically, although they claim they do not believe in Jesus, they resent His commands. They dislike Him and rebel against Him (Cf. Isaiah 65:1, 2). They say, “Who is He to tell us we should not have sex outside of marriage? What right does He have to define marriage? Indeed, why should marriage be between one man and one woman for as long as they shall live (Genesis 2:24)? Furthermore, what’s wrong with men who identity themselves as women? Why can’t they be allowed to act as if they are (Cf. Deuteronomy 22:5), even though they cannot bear children and they are endowed with male genitalia?” They ask, “Why shouldn’t men have sex with other men, or women with women (Romans 1:26-28)? Why shouldn’t women have the same freedom as men and have whatever sexual relationships they desire?”

They resent what they perceive as unwanted and unwarranted intrusion into their lives. For that reason there’s no way they could have Jesus as their Friend. Besides, He would also have to be their King (1 Timothy 6:15)! No longer could they live as they want……… But what they don’t know is that true freedom, joy (1 Peter 1:8) and satisfaction can only be found by those who have a loving relationship with Jesus. No one could have a better Friend (John 15:14, 15); for He loves His friends to the extent that He gave His own life for them so that they may live with Him forever (John 3:16).

Salvation, Judgment and Jesus’ Exaltation

Christians, just as your Friend was persecuted, so too, you can expect to be persecuted by those who hate (Cf. Deuteronomy 7:10) His name (John 15:20, 21).

Your solace and consolation is in Him, because He is **all-knowing and He loves you. He knows absolutely everything about you – even more than you know yourself. He is the One who made you (Psalm 139:13-16), the One who has charted and predestined your life from beginning to end (Ephesians 1:11). He sustains you, He feeds you, He clothes you, and by His Spirit He guides you. He loves you. He makes you members of His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) and He gives you brothers and sisters in Him (Matthew 12:50). He bestows upon you an inheritance (Acts 20:32; 26:18). That is why you love His name.

By contrast, His wrath will be revealed to the unrepentant who ‘suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).’

They know of God; for He is ***evident to them (V. 19) by His works of creation, by His Word the Bible, and through His Son, but they do not give Him the glory (V. 21). They worship and serve ‘the creature rather than the Creator (V. 25).’ ‘In the lusts of their hearts’ they ‘dishonour their bodies among themselves (V. 24).’ They know they deserve hell, and that they deserve God’s judgment, and yet they do not turn in repentance and kneel before Him while asking for His forgiveness. In their stubborn, self-inflicting blindness and deafness, they are determined not to see, and not to hear, and not to understand.

But if through God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8) they humble themselves and repent of their sins (Mark 1:15) and ask Him for His forgiveness, He will grant them their request (Matthew 7:7-11) and give them His peace (Philippians 4:6, 7).

There will be no escape from judgment, for everyone: saved or unsaved, will bow the knee at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:9), and confess He is Lord. Some will reap eternal life, and the others will reap everlasting torment (Cf. Daniel 12:2).

In all of this, Jesus will be exalted – His name will be held on high; for He has the highest of all names:

‘Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9,10).’

*Jesus is Personal

**The Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of God

***The Mystery of God’s Progressive Revelation

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Priests of God Today

‘“Now therefore if you will obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.These are the words you shall speak to the children of Israel (Exodus 19:5, 6).”

Our understandings of things change over time; hopefully we grow wiser, and more knowledgable.

I distinctly remember, when I was a boy, the awe I had for the priest of the church of which I was a chorister. We choirboys referred to him as the ‘vicar’, and we always held him with great respect. He was the one who taught us the tenets of the Christian faith. Before confirmation we had to be able to recite the Apostles’ Creed. This I learnt with great difficulty; for my understanding of it was shallow, and my ability to learn by rote was abysmal.

A priest for me was someone like the ‘vicar’. He was a man of the cloth, a man in holy orders. I can’t remember his name, but my Mum and Dad addressed him as the ‘Reverend’. To me he had a status that set him apart from us ordinary people. He was up there with the angels. If he were to visit the house, my mother would politely usher him into the guest room, where the best crockery and tea set would have been made ready for the occasion – not that we as a family had many such meetings. They would only come about through necessity for sorting out the details of things like weddings or  funerals.

I struggled in my mind to come to grips with the hierarchy the Church. There were archbishops, bishops, canons, curates and deacons, and why were they treated as if they were superior and separate from the laity? In addition to the churches, there were monasteries, friaries and nunneries. It was very perplexing, but for sure, all of them were closer to God than me and my Mum and Dad!.

Why was the church divided into Catholics, C of Es, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Unitarians and Baptists? Why all these denominations, and yet they all claimed to worship the same God? Their leaders claimed they were priests of God. Doctrinally they set themselves apart on account to their creeds, professions and statements of faith – even their administrations within their ‘institutions’ were different, as were their buildings in which they worshipped. Nearly all of the ‘clergy’ when conducting their ‘services’ dressed in ‘priestly’ garments.

Not much has changed, and those in positions of authority within these ‘institutions’ still consider themselves as priests of God. They conduct the eucharist, sing vespers and keep to the church calendars of their denominations.

True Priests of God

As I said at the beginning: “Our understandings of things change over time; hopefully we grow wiser, and more knowledgable.”

For me it has been a lifetime of change, but now at last I am convinced I know the true nature of what constitutes a real priest of God. It’s simple: He or she is a ‘believer’ and a ‘follower’ of Christ. All genuine priests are chosen by God (1 Peter 2:4), and they are made priests by His Son (Revelation 1:5, 6).

Peter the Apostle in his first Epistle wrote these words: ‘Coming to Him as a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4, 5).’

He also wrote: ‘But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy (1 Peter 2:9, 10).’

So priests are ‘holy’ and ‘royal’. They ‘offer up spiritual sacrifices’ and they ‘proclaim the praises of Him who called’ them ‘out of darkness’ into God’s ‘marvellous light’. Collectively they present their bodies as a ‘living sacrifice’ acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).

The writer of Hebrews comforts them with these words: ‘For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).’

While living on this earth, God’s priests are tempted to sin, but nothing can change their status in Jesus. He has made them forever, ‘kings and priests to His God and Father (Revelation 1:5, 6).’ They reign now on earth (5:10; 20:6) and with Him in heaven. Together they are God’s  ‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Cf. Exodus 19:5, 6).’

If we [believers] are priests of God, by Jesus Christ, then ‘let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,’ while not forgetting ‘to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:15, 6).’

Let us rejoice because we have a great High Priest who sits ‘at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (Hebrews 8:1).’

We are God’s holy priesthood and His special people.

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The Meaning of Life

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-4).’

World View?

Professor Brian Cox has presented shows around the world with the aim of explaining to large audiences what is the current understanding about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the universe. The title of his shows is ‘Universal: Adventures in Space and Time’, and the advertising blurb says that Brian and his fellow podcaster, Robin Ince, offer ‘a fascinating insight into the workings of nature at the most fundamental level.’

Selina Altamonte says in an article at *Honeycombers that at an interview with Brian before the start of his Singapore show he was asked the question, “As a scientist, where do you find the sublime?”

He replied: “That’s the foundation of this show, actually. It may be an exaggeration, but I think the only interesting question is, ‘What does it mean to live a small, fragile and finite life in an infinite universe?’ What the show does is give an insight into the size and scale of the universe – and how physically insignificant we are in that universe. But also, I argue that as an intelligent civilisation, we may be quite rare in the universe – and therefore valuable.”

He went on to share a quote of the physicist Richard Feynman,What, then, is the meaning of it all? What can we say to dispel the mystery of existence? If we take everything into account, not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn’t know, then I think that we must frankly admit that we do not know. But, in admitting this, we have probably found the open channel.”

With regard to, “What is the meaning of it all?” he said, “But I argue that meaning exists because we exist. I don’t think there’s any such thing as ‘global meaning’ – I think that meaning is local and emergent and temporary. But, let’s say that in the Milky Way Galaxy, Earth is the only planet with a civilisation on it – which is quite possible. I’d argue that from a biological perspective, that means that this planet is the only place where meaning exists in the Milky Way. And that, for me, is sublime.”

At the end of the interview he comes to the conclusion, “Earth – is extremely rare. If, as I think, that meaning is an emergent prophecy, the universe means nothing without life. And there might be very few places where there’s complex life, and therefore very few places where meaning exists. This is one of them.”

Biblical View?

When you see the universe through the lenses of a telescope you observe the glorious creation of God. You see elements of His glory. The Psalmist states, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).’

This is sublime meaning. God created His universe to reveal Himself to mankind. This Psalm continues, ‘The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple (V. 7).’

John the Apostle points to the life-giving Creator, saying, ‘“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11, 12).”’

Brian asked the question, “What does it mean to live a small, fragile and finite life in an infinite universe?”

From the believer’s understanding, if there is no God and no eternal life, there is no real meaning to our present existence. The smallness and the fragility of life has its purpose; for we are made aware of the vastness of God, and of His eternal nature. We are given a glimpse of His kingdom yet come (Revelation 21:1, 2), and He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13) – He who bears witness of our sure hope of eternal life with Him (Hebrews 6:19, 20).

Brian observed, “We may be quite rare in the universe – and therefore valuable.”

Biblically, the earth is singular, and it is unique. God made it (John 1:1-5), and He will sustain it for as long as He has predestined it to exist (Cf. 2 Peter 3:10). We are indeed, valuable; for God values us (Cf. 1 Peter 2:4) to the extent that He sent His Son to die on the cross (Romans 5:8) for those whom He loves. He rose from the dead so that we [believers], like Him shall rise from death to eternal life (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Brian asked, What can we say to dispel the mystery of existence?” He replied: I think that we must frankly admit that we do not know.”

Life for him is a mystery, because it has not been revealed (Colossians 1:26) to him that God is real. God is Spirit (John 4:24), **all-knowing, all-powerful, and He exists everywhere. For those who know these truths, there is no mystery, because for them the Light (John 8:12) shines in the darkness. The One who made the universe (John 1:1-5) has been manifested (Ephesians 5:13, 14).He is the Son of God who came to earth to reveal the mystery of existence. Therefore there is now no mystery for those who believe. Christ has come, He has risen and He will return from heaven for His elect (Matthew 16:27).

‘Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen (Romans 16:23-27).’


**The Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of God

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Church Ministries

Ephesians 4:11, 12, 15, 16: ‘And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ ….. that …..speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.’

Every member of a church has a ministry in addition to proclaiming the gospel. God equips the people of His church with the *gifts and skills that are required for the building up of the body in love (V. 16), but what is sometimes overlooked is the defined roles of certain members. Take for example, the passage above where five separate ministries are identified. Each of them have distinctive job titles; there are: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.


An Apostle [ap-os’-tol-os] is one who is sent out from the church as a delegate to meet people. He is a representative of the Church as well as being a commissioner of Christ. He’s very much like an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). Christ sent His disciples to preach repentance, heal the sick and to cast out demons (Mark 3:14, 15; 6:10-12).


A New Testament Prophet [prof-ay’-tace] is one who speaks openly proclaiming divine messages. Agabus was one such prophet (Acts 21:10). He prophesied of the time when Paul the Apostle would be bound in chains at Jerusalem (V. 11; 21:33). Judas and Silas were also prophets (Acts 15:32-34). If a prophet spoke at a meeting, others were to judge what he said (1 Corinthians 14: 29-33), but women were to remain silent (V. 34), and if they wanted to learn something, they were to ask their husbands at home (V. 35).


Evangelists [yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace’] are preachers of the Gospel. One such person was Philip who lived in Caesarea. He had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8, 9). Jesus is the One who commissions them (Ephesians 4:11). Paul told Timothy he was to do the work of an evangelist to fulfil his ministry (2 Timothy 4:5). Basically, an evangelist is one who proclaims glad tidings and the good news of the gospel (Isaiah 52:7).


Figuratively Pastors [poy-mane’] are shepherds, whose job it is to tend their sheep. The risen Jesus commissioned Peter to be His shepherd with instructions to feed His lambs, and to tend and feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). That is the way in which a pastor fulfils his calling. He should be caring and vigilant. In the New King James Bible, the actual word ‘pastor’ occurs only once, and it ranks fourth in a list of five offices/appointments (Ephesians 4:11).


Teachers [did-as’-kal-os] are the last-mentioned of the five callings that are listed in Ephesians 4:11. Their function is to provide instruction. Literally, they are instructors. Although placed last by Paul, that does not necessarily mean they are the least important; for Jesus Himself was the greatest of teachers (Matthew 4:23; 23:8; John 3:2). James warns teachers of the consequences of getting their teaching wrong. He tells them: ‘My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that you will receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1).’


Another ‘office’ of the church is that of Deacon [dee-ak’-on-os] or Minister. He’s the equivalent of an attendant, waiter or servant. Timothy says of him: ‘Likewise, deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience, But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. …. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12).’ It’s not a trivial job, but a position for the truly humble who can have the privilege of serving the church in the likeness of Jesus (Matthew 20:28; John 13:14, 15). [Note: In the New Testament Deacons and Ministers are identical; they are one and the same.]


1 Corinthians 12:28 sets out what would appear to be an order of priority with three of the ministries we have been considering in Chapter 4 of Ephesians. Here’s the Corinthian text: ‘And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, and after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.’

So Paul may have had it in mind that some ministries are more important than others, but one thing is obvious, there are six identifiable ministries; each of them with their own job titles. They are not necessarily hard-cut and fixed, because there may be blurring at the edges between ministries; for example, a teacher of the Word by the very nature of his calling is one who serves.

In many of today’s churches Pastors are expected to be jacks of all trades, and doers of them all! This is an unfair burden, and members of a church where this is the case would do well to look to the Lord and ask Him if they can help in any way.

As stated at the beginning, ‘Every member of a church has a ministry in addition to proclaiming the gospel. God equips the people of His church with the *gifts and skills that are required for the building up of the body in love (Ephesians 4:16).’

*Gifts from God

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To Whom Shall We Pray?

‘And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD (Genesis 4:26).’

While participating with my friends on Twitter, someone asked the question, “To whom does a Christian pray?” It seems pretty obvious it is to God, but there was some confusion. They were asking if one should pray directly to God the Father or to Jesus His Son or to the Holy Spirit. Some said you never pray to the Spirit, but always to the Father, through or by the Spirit. Others said you pray to Jesus who is the Advocate who presents your prayers and petitions to the Father. He is the One who makes them acceptable to His Father, and pleads to Him on your behalf. You pray in His name for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3; 1 John 2:12), and ultimately every prayer is said *to the glory of God.

If we examine prayers that have been said by the saints of the Old and the New Testaments we should come up with a positive answer to the question, “To whom does a Christian pray?”

Prayers in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament the first instance of the mention of prayer is in Genesis 4:26, which says, ‘ …. men began to call upon the name of the LORD. This is Jehovah, the self-existent, eternal God; the God to whom Moses prayed these words: ‘“LORD why does Your wrath burn against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand (Exodus 32:11)?”’ It’s straightforward; he prayed to the LORD who is Jehovah, the self-existent eternal God.

Daniel prayed in Aramaic to the same God who was the God of his fathers. He said,“I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For you have made known to us the king’s demand (Daniel 2:23).”’  He prayed this prayer to the Almighty God, his ‘elahh.

In Old Testament times God gave the Holy Spirit on a temporary basis to certain individuals to enable them to carry out special tasks. He would anoint them with the Holy Spirit (Cf. Samuel 16:14) for their empowerment. King Saul was one such person, and he prophesied as a result (1 Samuel:10:6, 11), but there is no record or him praying ‘in the Spirit (Cf. Ephesians 6:18)’; Jude 1:20). He did, however, pray to God, enquiring of Him, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hands of Israel?” ……. (1 Samuel 14:37).’

Many other Old Testament characters such as Moses and Aaron prayed to the LORD. One of the more famous prayers is that of King Solomon, when he stood before the altar of the LORD at the dedication of the temple. He said: “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts (1 Kings 8:23).” This long prayer of praise and supplication continues until verse 53 where Solomon concludes by asking His LORD to listen to his prayer because it was for His people whom He had brought out of Egypt, according to the promise He made to Moses.

Prayers in the New Testament

When instructing the Disciples as to how to pray, Jesus told them to pray to His Father, just as He did (Luke 22:42; 23:34; John 17:1). He said,“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come (Matthew 6:9, f.f.).”’

A revealing insight into New Testament prayer can be found in 1 Corinthians 14:15, where Paul instructs the church that it is more profitable to pray with the spirit and with understanding, than with a **tongue which cannot be understood, unless there is an interpreter. He notes that speaking in a tongue is a spiritual gift (V.V. 1, 2). The one praying normally prays, ’with the spirit,’ and, ‘with the understanding.’ Spirit’ with a small ’s’, as in this instance, means a person’s ‘rational soul’ – not the Holy Spirit. Praying with ‘the understanding’ means ‘with the intellect.’ So the one praying to God (V. 2) speaks intelligibly as he normally does. In this way he can be understood by those who have gathered with him in prayer, thus enabling them to add their ‘amens’ if they so wish.

Interestingly, Stephen when he was being stoned to death, prayed to ‘Lord Jesus’, i.e., his Master Jesus. Here are his words: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:59, 60).’

Paul also prayed to the Lord. He explained to the Corinthians, ‘Concerning this thing [a thorn in the flesh] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9).”

Paul wrote to the Ephesian church advocating they should pray ‘in the Spirit’ with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).’ Unlike the Corinthian passage mentioned above (1 Corinthians 14:15), where Paul spoke of praying ‘with the spirit’, in this instance the praying is under the influence of the Holy Spirit, i.e., the words are given to the speaker from the Spirit. The one praying ‘breathes’ them out. This is Holy Spirit generated prayer from one who has received the Spirit (Cf. John 20:22).

Paul and Silas prayed directly to God, as recorded in Acts 16:25: ‘But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.’ This is a demonstration of Spirit generated prayer. It was done in faith (Mark 11:23, 24; James 1:6) and God acted accordingly.


God hears our prayers (1 John 5:14), and in post-Pentecostal times, we Christians have the Holy Spirit who indwells us (1 Corinthians 6:19); therefore we can pray ‘in the Spirit’ or ‘with our spirit’. And we are free to pray directly to our Father, just as Jesus has taught us. Because we have a personal ***relationship with our Lord, we can also pray directly to Him (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8).

The Holy Spirit gives life to those who are spiritually dead (John 3:3-8). He empowers (Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:4) and He leads (Romans 8:14). He also sends (Acts 13:4), but I cannot find an instance in the Bible where ii is mentioned that He he has been prayed to. He lives within us and He is our Helper (John 16:7) who helps us pray.

Paul exhorts us to: ‘take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints- (Ephesians 6:18).’

Please take note that ‘The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16b).’

*Do All to the Glory of God

**Speaking Tongues

***God/Man Relationships

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The Law of Christ

‘For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).’

 ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12).’

‘You are My friends if you do whatever I command you (V. 14).’

Didn’t Christ come to set us free from the fetters of the law?

The Law of Sin and Death

Indeed, Jesus did come to set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) and to bring us into His kingdom (Matthew 6:33) of everlasting life (John 3:36) and love. In the ultimate kingdom (Revelation  21:1) will there be a need for any law?

Out of the nations, God chose the Jews to be His very own; a special people (Deuteronomy 7:6) precious unto Himself. He gave them His law (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5, 6), and if they obeyed it to the letter and from the heart, He would take them from slavery in Egypt to a land of plenty which would be their very own (Exodus 3:8). They would live there in peace and plenty (Ezekiel 34:25-30). But, as we know, they utterly failed to keep His law (Jeremiah 9:13-16). They were a faithless, unbelieving nation, and as a result they suffered badly. They were torn from the land God gave them, and they were forcibly taken to other lands (2 Kings 17:5-23; 18:11; Jeremiah 39:9).

Despite their disobedience to God’s law, He had mercy on them (1 Kings 8:23; 2 Chronicle 6:14), and for the sake of His name (Isaiah 48:9-11) and promise, He gave them a time of peace (1 Kings 5:12) and prosperity (2 Chronicles 9:13-22) in the land during the reign of Solomon. He was appointed by God, and God gave him wisdom (1 Kings 3:11-13), but he disobeyed Him and took to himself many wives and concubines. They led him astray to the extent that he worshipped their gods (1 Kings 11:4-11).

Towards the end of his life, Solomon wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes in which he truthfully revealed his understanding of life. He concluded that man should, ‘Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether it is good or whether it is evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; Cf. Deuteronomy 10:12).’

The truth of this is beyond question (2 Peter 1:19-21), but if we consider the matter further, how does it fit with the teachings of Christ? Well, we must understand that He fulfilled His Father’s law precisely and perfectly. He was without sin, and never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). He came to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17), and that is what He did. Why? Because He came to call a new nation out of a metaphorical Egypt, i.e., the world (John 3:16), and to take them into a land of peace and plenty (Matthew 19:29; John 10:10).

The Law of Righteousness and Life (The Law of Christ)

As God chose the Jews (Deuteronomy 10:15), from whom came the Christ (Hebrews 7:14), so He also chose a new people who would be precious unto Himself (1 Peter 2:9, 10). Jesus would draw this people to Himself (John 12:32). They would be taken from a land of darkness and evil, and they would be transported to a land of light and love (Colossians 1:13). God chose to do this because He loved the world (John 3:16).

This brings us to a point where the law of Christ was established at the cross. Jesus said, “It is finished (John 19:30).” He had done everything necessary to bring it about. – a new law for a new people. In a nutshell, Christ established His law (Hebrews 7:12) of love. God Himself is love (1 John 4:8) and He sent His Son (V. 9; Galatians 4:4) to reveal to the world the nature of His love. He came in Person to take us [believers] to a new land (John 13:36) of peace and of love where we shall dwell with Him forever (John 14:3).

However, there are some who claim they are Christians, and yet they try to live their lives by obeying God’s Old Testament law [the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:24-26; Ezra 7:6)], instead of living by faith in His Son (Romans 1:17; Galatians 2:16) and in obedience to the law of His Son (Revelation 22:14).

All true Christians endeavour to obey the law of Christ, by loving Him and loving one another (John 13:34, 35). It’s as simple as that, but it is only possible for those who have been born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; 1 Corinthians 2:14). In bearing the burdens of others they obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). It is not their obedience that brings their salvation, but their faith in Christ, which is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

Christians fail (1 John 1:8), just as the Old Testament Jews failed, but God accepts Jesus’s sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27) on the cross as full payment for their sins. Jesus suffered (1 Peter 2:21) on their behalf (3:18) and set them free (Galatians 5:1) from everlasting torment in hell (Matthew 25:46), which is their just reward (Romans 1:32).

They are taken from fetters in a land of darkness and death (Cf. Job 10:21), and they are translated into a land of light (1 Peter 2:9, 10) and love, where they serve their Lord and God in perfect freedom (Galatians 5:13, 14). This is the land of Love [God] where the only law is love (Romans 13:8, 10).

We [believers] have the Land (Kingdom) in part now, but in full (1 Corinthians 13:12) when Jesus comes again for His own (Matthew 16:27; 25:31).

“Maranatha. Come Lord, come!”

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Gifts from God

Paul the Apostle was passionate about God’s gifts to His sons (Galatians 4:4, 5), and he often drew attentions to them in his epistles to various churches. His desire was for members of the churches to use their gifts for the building up of God’s body (1 Corinthians 14:12), for enabling them to preach the gospel of salvation (Cf. Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15) to those in darkness to bring them into the light (Cf. Acts 26:18).

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul highlights various kinds of gifts that are given to members of the church. They are distributed to them by the Spirit (V.V. 9, 11). Out of all of the gifts Paul states that love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). He says, ‘And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing (13:3).’  At the end of Chapter 13 he tells them that they should abide in faith, hope and love, the greatest of which is love (V. 13).

Paul refers to these gifts as being ‘spiritual (12:1),’ and they are distributed by (V.4) or through (V. 8) the Holy Spirit. They are manifestations of the Spirit (V. 7), and they are ‘for the profit of all (V. 7).’ He identifies gifts of: ‘healings (V. 9), working of miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, different kinds of tongues’ and ‘the interpretation of tongues (V.V. 8-10).’ He also mentions: ‘gifts of …… helps, administrations,’ and he speaks again of ‘varieties of tongues (V.V. 28, 30).’  All of these gifts are given to members of the body ‘as He wills (V. 11).Members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:27) were to desire the ‘best’ gifts (V. 31).’ [Some translations replace ‘best’ with ‘greater’ or ‘higher.]

Paul told them that *speaking in tongues edified the speaker (1 Corinthians 14:4), but prophesying edified the church, and the one who prophesied was greater than the one who spoke with tongues, unless the speaker of tongues interpreted what was being spoken (V. 5). He explained that it was important for speakers to profit the church by speaking ‘revelation, knowledge, prophesying and teaching (V. 6).’

The great thing about these gifts is that they are for building up the church, which is then equipped (Ephesians 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:17) for preaching the gospel of salvation to the world. This is the church’s primary role – to carry out the great commission of the risen Jesus. He commanded His disciples thus: ‘“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19, 20).”’

Now for these gifts of the Spirit and of God to be exercised, the church must meet in ways conducive for practising them. The way most churches meet is not helpful. Normally the main meeting is on a Sunday, and the members usually sit in rows facing so-called leaders who address the assembly. There is no interplay between the ‘speakers’ and the ‘recipients’, and there is little input by the mainly, passive ‘audience’. The exceptions are when they sing hymns and songs, and when they add their “amens”  to prayers said by those doing the leading.

Sadly, the question that should be asked is, “Who is doing the leading?” Is it the Holy Spirit? Should not the Holy Spirit speak or express Himself through every member of the body? You might say, well, He does, because each person present is tuned into Him and speaks with Him silently in their hearts. They are therefore not passive, as one would assume by observation. Yes, to a certain extent this is true – if they are born of the Spirit (John 3:3). So perhaps it’s not as sad as one might suppose?

Nevertheless, there is room for much improvement in the churches. Perhaps they should consider offering more meetings of the type that was typical of the early church, i.e., in peoples’ homes? They met together for fellowship; quite often to eat meals and to give thanks for their salvation (Acts 2:42). At these gatherings, the members would be ‘filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in’ their hearts ‘to the Lord ….. submitting to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:19-21).’

These were all-member participation meetings where the gifts of the Spirit were exercised by each according to the measure of their gifts. In this way the church was built up, and it was very effective in evangelising by preaching the gospel of the good new of Jesus Christ to the world (Acts 2:47).

Paul said the greatest gift was love (1 Corinthians 13:13), and he was absolutely right; for God is love (1 John 4:8), and He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16) to demonstrate His love (1 John 4:9, 10).

*Speaking Tongues

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