Quality of Life

‘Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst (John 6:35).”’

One’s quality of life is of enormous importance (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20). We hear every day of tragic happenings that adversely effect the lives of children and adults alike (cf. Luke 13:1-5).

Thousands, if not millions of children are born with abnormalities, and some are injured through accidents, while others are damaged or scarred mentally on account of abusive parenting, or because they have been abandoned by their parents, or perhaps orphaned through wars and natural disasters.

*UNICEF is an international organisation whose purpose is to support children worldwide; particularly young people who are in dire need of the basics of life, i.e., a home, food, clothing, decent living conditions, education, health care; and above all, responsible adults who really care for them with genuine love (cf. Luke 12:22-31).

We hear a lot these days about people who struggle to live because of severe disability, incurable pain, chronic or terminal illness. Today there is a call for the legalisation of **euthanasia in the UK where it has been ***debated in Parliament, but never sanctioned on account of the prevailing views of MPs. Generally Christians do not support euthanasia, because of biblical teachings – primarily, the ****sanctity of life and the commandment of God not to kill other human beings (Exodus 20:13).

What Qualifies as an Acceptable Standard of Life?

What qualifies as an acceptable standard of life will vary according to individuals and their circumstances.

Two years ago I underwent a serious operation that could have threatened my life, and it was necessary for me to have another operation six months later. Prior to the first operation, for a period of three months, I suffered with pain, which at times was so severe it was excruciating. Sleeping for any beneficial length of time was impossible, and eating was a struggle. I found it hard not to be depressed, and I was concerned for my wife and my daughters for whom I was becoming a burden.

Moving from my bedroom to the bathroom and back was a painful business. Getting up and down the stairs was more taxing. Attending hospital appointments by car or taxi was equivalent to being in a torture chamber, because every movement and jolt inflicted pain. On account of my suffering I seriously considered ending my life. I repeatedly prayed to God asking Him to relieve me of my agony, and to strengthen my faith. I pleaded for strength and perseverance, and for help in being a good Christian example to those who did not know Jesus. God never let me down. He was there with me through all my trials. He was and is my constant *****hope.

I am grateful for all the loving support from the church of which I am a member. Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ lifted me up in prayer, visited me and chatted with me on the phone (cf. Galatians 6:2).

Today, my condition has very much improved. I no longer suffer severe pain – just minor discomfort. Much of the time I feel as if I’m ‘normal’. I can walk and get about without difficulty; I can even drive the car! So I would describe myself as one who has a very acceptable quality of life. I praise God (Psalm 146:2) every day for every breath He gives me, and for His many blessings.

The Best Quality of Life is Yet to Come!

I know in my heart that God has in store for me, and all Christians, a quality of life that is beyond our comprehension – a new existence of infinite wonder, beauty and loveliness (1 John 3:2, 3). God promises us life in abundance (John 10:10), and to a large extent we have it now by being in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2), but in the life to come when ‘“there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4),”’ our quality of life will far exceed anything experienced on earth.

A Note to the Reader

Whatever quality of life you have at this present time, if you look to Jesus and put your trust in Him, you can know that He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus, the righteous Son of God, has suffered more excruciatingly than we can possibly imagine to take away our sins (John 1:29), and to take upon Himself the punishment we deserve.

If you believe in Him and trust Him, you have a guarantee (Ephesians 1:13, 14) that in the life to come, all be well with your soul. You will have peace and eternal life in Him (John 3:16; Revelation 1:4-6).

*UNICEF

https://www.unicef.org.uk

**Euthanasia

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/introduction.shtml

***General debate on the existing law relating to assisted dying

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/backbench-business-committee/news-parliament-2017/assisted-dying-general-debate-17-19/

***Hansard – Assisted Dying

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-07-04/debates/EFD57ADB-AE18-4D6B-9DA8-CCDDF99D1D0A/AssistedDying

****The Sanctity of Life

http://request.org.uk/issues/life-and-death/sanctity-of-life/

*****Hope

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2020/01/07/hope/

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Repentance

‘“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30, 31).”’

My dictionary defines repentance as, ‘deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like’ – also – ‘regret for any past action.’

From a biblical perspective this is a very shallow definition. The significance and importance of evangelical [saving] repentance cannot be understated. Without repentance there can be no salvation. Jesus came to save sinners (cf. Matthew 1:21; 9:12, 13; 1 Timothy 1:15), and at the start of His ministry He commanded everyone to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).”’

This repentance is absolutely essential; for He came to save sinners – not the righteous: ‘When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Matthew 9:12, 13).”’

This means that everyone is in need of salvation; for absolutely everyone enters life as a sinner (Romans 3:23). The snag is we don’t realise our need of forgiveness – at least, that’s before God reveals to us our pitiful state before Him. He convicts (John 16:8) us of our sin and of His righteousness, and of the judgment to come. As rebellious creatures in the image of Adam we offend Him, and yet in His mercy He loves us to the extent that He sent His Son on a rescue mission to take away our sin by dying on a cross. We are washed clean by the blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:19, 20).

Genuine Repentance

A key factor in the process of salvation is our repentance. So what exactly is involved in repentance?

Well, for a starters it’s not like the regret, or even remorse (Matthew 27:3) that Judas was struck with after his betrayal of Jesus for the gain of thirty pieces of silver. Judas had no change of heart, which is an essential factor of genuine repentance. Judas felt sorry for himself, and he couldn’t live with that burden of guilt; so he hung himself, and in some mysterious way he fell headlong into the Field of Blood (Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:13-20).

A person who genuinely repents, confesses his sins to God, and God refashions his mind so that he has a desire to live in obedience to Him. He has a determination to live for Him, and to His glory. He becomes a child of God (John 1:12), and a willing servant of Him (12:26).

The transformed ‘sinner’ to ‘saint’ first recognises and feels his guilt for his rebellion against God (cf. Psalm 51:4-6), but at the same time he trusts Him to forgive him (v. 9). He is abundantly grateful for the mercy of God, in that He sent His Son to die on a cross to give him eternal life (John 3:16).

In response to that great act of mercy his desire is not to sin (Psalm 51:10). By the enabling of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; 14:26) he turns from sinning to God and consecrates himself to living a holy life – a life of walking with God in obedience to His commandments. In Paul’s words the sinner’s sorrow brings about a changed disposition: ‘For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10).’

An Appeal

Dear reader, if you have as yet not repented of your sins, please take note, that ‘now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).’ Leave it no longer; for you know not when the Lord will come again to judge in righteousness (Acts 17:31).

Peter reminds us: ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).’

And John assures us: ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’

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Systems

‘’Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You (Jeremiah 32:17).’’

Spoken Language

Language is a conceptual system.

To verbally communicate with understanding, it is necessary for speakers to express their thoughts in an orderly fashion. For effective communication, both the speaker and the hearer must know and adhere to grammatical rules of syntax.

Every language must function within the parameters of its own logical system. Languages may be similar, and they may have common parts of speech, such as verbs, nouns and adjectives; they may also have their peculiar idiosyncrasies.

You might say that each language is a complete system based on common understandings of the meanings of words. When words are arranged logically within grammatical contexts they can convey meaningful information from speakers to hearers. Thus parties can engage in discussions for sharing their thoughts.

We use both spoken and written language to express our feelings, our desires, our needs, our displeasures and our loves. Language empowers us. We can use it to speak up for issues we believe in, such as freedom of speech and respect for others.

The Language of Visual Imagery

There’s another sort of systematic language of which we may not be aware. It is the language of communication and persuasion through visual means. Advertisers use it to good effect for encouraging people to buy goods or services. Graphic artists, commercial or otherwise, appeal to our sense of sight. They use colour, texture, shape and form to gain an entrance into our minds.

Without realising it, from an early age, we all learn to ‘read’ and ‘interpret’ drawings and paintings. Each painting or drawing is a system in itself, because it functions by conforming to the rules of a particular format – for example, it may follow the optical rules of impressionism, the illusionary rules of pointillism, or the mind-bending rules of surrealism.

According to our preferences we may be attracted to a particular style of painting; and when we have an affinity for that type, there’s a good chance the artist will successfully communicate his feelings and concepts to us. We’ll like what he has to say, and we’ll probably seek out more of his works for our enjoyment.

So what’s all this got to do with our Christian beliefs?

Tomes have been written on the subject of theological systems based on the Bible. The mainstream ones championed today are: Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology and *New Covenant Theology.

We can spend precious hours of our life studying these theologies in the hope that we may gain a better understanding of the Bible, but logic dictates they can’t all be right!

There’s no doubt that systematic theologies can be very influential in shaping our interpretations of God’s Word; therefore we must be circumspect, and we must test (1 Thessalonians 5:21) each system for its veracity.

Just as we learn to ‘read’ a painting with understanding and learn to speak a language for expressing coherent concepts, we must read the Word of God with understanding (Matthew 13:23) and speak it to others to the praise and glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

As we study the Bible we learn that it is far more than a system – It is the very Word of God that gives us a glimpse of Him (1 John 1:1-4). We learn (Acts 17:11 Romans 15:4) that He is our awesome Creator who has brought into being (John 1:1-3) every system, every dynasty, every star, every atom, and the very air we breathe! We learn that all things are under His **sovereign control, and we humbly acknowledge that everything exists for His glory.

Amen.

*My Understanding of New Covenant Theology

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/06/my-understanding-of-new-covenant-theology-nct/

A. Blake White’s ‘What is New Covenant Theology?

https://www.blakewhite.org/blog/2012/04/what-is-new-covenant-theology.html?rq=new%20covenant%20theology

**Freewill and the Sovereignty of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/04/20/free-will-and-the-sovereignty-of-god/

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End of the Age

‘“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:42-44).”’

Some Christians are obsessed with forthcoming events that have been prophesied to take place at the end of the age. Christ has told us to be vigilant and to be prepared for His second coming [see verses above], but He has also given us other commands to be obeyed. We are to be loving (John 13:34), compassionate (1 Peter 3:8) and Christlike, but our great mission is to *proclaim the gospel, i.e., to tell people of all nations to repent and to believe in Jesus (cf. Mark 1:15). We are to make disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19, 20). This is the great commission given by Christ to His church. He gives this command to every single member of His church, to every believer and lover of Him.

In obeying the command to be watchful (Matthew 24:42), some Christians have become so occupied with searching for signs of Christ’s second coming that they have very little time or concern for the great commission of making disciples. They have no time for carrying their cross (Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:27), serving one another (Galatians 5:13) and for dispensing Christ’s love. For them Christ’s return has become an obsession.

There’s a huge pitfall in expending too much time and energy on the subject. To begin with, there are **four main millennial scenarios, and two of them differ on the timing of Christ’s second coming for His saints (Matthew 25:31). They all agree on the timing of the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) which will take place after the millennium. They are all in accord concerning the certainty of a millennium (Revelation 20:1-7), and two camps place the period of the tribulation (Daniel 9:26; 12:1, 29; Matthew 24:21) immediately before the millennium. Some believe the millennium is literally a span of a thousand years in real time; while others understand it to be a figure of speech symbolic of a long period of time, and yet others believe we are already living in the millennium which according to them started at the time of Christ’s ascension.

Others have different notions regarding the timing of the tribulation, and indeed, some believe that it took place when Herod’s ***temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70 (cf. Mark 13:1-3).

Christians have argued about the sequencing of end time events ever since the New Testament (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5) was written, which indicates that the matter is never going to be resolved by men. Indeed, Jesus Himself said, ‘“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:36-39).”’

We cannot change times and events that have been predestined (Romans 8:29, 30; Ephesians 1:5, 11) by God from before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), but we can be grateful and thankful, praising the Father for His grace and mercy (Exodus 34:6), because He has set us in time and space to be His children (John 1:12). Through the loving obedience of His Son (cf. Matthew 26:42) who gave His life for us He has made us partakers of His kingdom (25:34). Whatever sequence of events will ultimately take place, we [believers] know that we are secure in Jesus (Hebrews 13:5). Not one of us will be lost (John 6:39), and we shall all praise Him, adore Him and worship Him for evermore in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1).

Meanwhile let us be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2; 16:13), true to His Word, and obedient children in Him (1 Peter 1:14).

Jesus said, ‘“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates of the city (Revelation 22: 12-14).”’

‘He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen (vv. 20, 21).’

*Proclamation of the Gospel

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/06/12/proclamation-of-the-gospel/

**The Resurrection [See ‘Timing of the Resurrection’]

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/06/06/the-resurrection/

***The Temples of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/02/05/the-temples-of-god/

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The Mysteries of the Kingdom

‘He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matthew 13:11).”’

In the everyday sense, a ‘mystery’ is knowledge withheld. In Scripture it is knowledge that is made known by divine revelation, i.e., knowledge revealed in a manner, and at a time appointed by God, to those who have been illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament prophets wrote and spoke their prophesies, but they did not fully comprehend them. An understanding of them would come later, when a knowledge of God’s purposes would be revealed to the writers of the New Testament. God revealed these hidden mysteries to Paul the Apostle and to other writers of the New Testament.

In Colossians 1:26-28 Paul tells of a significant mystery that was made known to him and which he earnestly imparted to the church. He wrote of ‘the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.’

Note that this mystery is revealed to God’s saints (v. 26) – not to the natural man who does not receive the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).

And what exactly is this ‘mystery’? It is the knowledge of the *’hope’ which is laid up for those with God-given faith by His grace (Ephesians 2:8). They have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus, and their sins have been forgiven (Colossians 1:14). They will inherit eternal life, i.e., ‘the riches of the glory,’ because of Christ in them (v. 27).

Having made peace through the blood of His cross, Jesus ‘has reconciled all things to’ His Father (v. 20). This is true of all born-again Christians who were once ‘alienated’, and by their wicked works were ‘enemies’ of the Father (v. 21).

The Blindness of Israel

A fundamental aspect of God’s mystery of salvation is the blindness of Israel (Romans 11:25), which is still true today. Jews do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, and they cannot comprehend a Jewish remnant ever sharing the kingdom with Gentiles on account of their common salvation – despite the fact the Jews were to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; Luke 2:32; Acts 26:23)

Not only are the majority of Jews blind to the mystery of salvation through the blood of Jesus, but in this respect they are no different to the majority of Gentiles. By contrast, Jesus explained to His believing disciples,’“To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may not see and not perceive, And hearing they may not hear and not understand; Lest they should turn  And their sins be forgiven them (Mark 4:11, 12)’’”’

But there will come a time when there will be an influx of Israelites into the kingdom, as the following verses testify: ‘And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come from Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins (Romans 11:26, 27).”’

Paul is not prophesying that every physical descendant of Abraham will be saved; rather that the new Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), which is composed of both Jews and Gentiles, will be saved. They are the ‘new creation’ spoken of in Galatians 6:15: ‘For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.’

Jews and Gentiles Comprise the Kingdom

Paul sums it up this way: ’In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him (Ephesians 1:7-10).’

He goes on to explain: ‘For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles – if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may know my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power (3:1-7).’

Just as Paul could not restrain himself from preaching the mystery, as Christ’s ambassador (6:20), I pray that we too have the same faithful zeal as ambassadors of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:1). Amen.

*Hope

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2020/01/07/hope/

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Hope

‘Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).’

What is this *’hope’ of which Paul writes in Romans and in his other epistles?

Paul didn’t want us to be ignorant (Romans 11:25), or in any doubt about our faith; for our hope is in Jesus who is at the heart of the **gospel of salvation. The mystery (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9, 10) of that Hope was revealed to Paul, i.e., the gathering together of all things in Christ Himself who preached His gospel of salvation (John 11:26) and gave His life for it (John 3:16). Paul wanted all the churches to be inspired by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) and to be equipped (Ephesians 4:12) for the preaching of this good news [gospel] to the whole world.

This Spirit-powered proclamation of hope was first manifested at Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) at the formation of the church. The apostle Peter boldly announced to those who had gathered together from many parts of the known world the message of this glorious hope. He said the gospel would be preached to the whole world. In the words of Jesus those assembled together would be witnesses to Him: ‘“in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).”’

The New Kingdom of Hope

God’s Scriptures inform us that He created the world (John 1:1-3) for this very purpose, to bring unto Himself a redeemed and precious ***people who would live with Him and His Father forever (Revelation 21:3, 4). This state of perfection (cf. Hebrews 7:11) is the hope He gives to all believers in His Son (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47).

The Scriptures do not inform us in precise detail as to the nature of the new kingdom, but in the knowledge that God gives us of Himself through the revelation of His Son and through His Word and through His creation, our expectations will in no way match the reality which will be far more wonderful, awesome, beautiful and mind boggling than ever we could imagine. This is the most desirable life for which anyone could lust. We are told not to lust (cf. Exodus 20:17), but it is not a a sin to ardently desire to be in the presence of God. We can’t love Him enough for all that He has done for us and is doing for us and has in store for us.

The Good News of Hope

Because of the ****revelation of Himself and the good news of our salvation we worship Him. He is our hope. He is our all (Colossians 3:11). Although we may lack many things and find ourselves in extremely difficult situations – even some of our brothers and sisters in Christ who face death on account of their hope – we can’t stop praising God and giving Him the glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

Our hope is summarised by Peter in the first chapter of his first Epistle, verse 3:

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed at the last time.’

Paul also encourages us with these words:

‘For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope, because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of the corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:20, 21).’

‘Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance (Romans 8:23-25).’

‘For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Jesus Christ, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:4-6).’

Appropriately I’ll finish by quoting from Paul’s epistle to the Romans:

‘Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13).’

May this be our everyday realisation.

Amen.

*Is there Hope Beyond Lawlessness?

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/11/22/is-there-hope-beyond-lawlessness/

*A Christian’s Hope

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/08/04/a-christians-hope/

**Proclamation of the Gospel

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/06/12/proclamation-of-the-gospel/

***Biblical Perspective – God’s People

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/04/26/biblical-perspective-gods-people/

***The Redemption of God’s People

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/12/03/the-redemption-of-gods-people/

****The Mystery of God’s Progressive Revelation

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/03/13/the-mystery-of-gods-progressive-revelation/

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Beware of Satan

‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).’

In my experience very little is said from the pulpit about satan, and yet he is the adversary [antidikos] of Christ for as long as he has opportunity (2 Peter 3:7). Of course he is no match for Christ who has already conquered him (cf. John 16:33) by rising from the dead (Mark 16:6) and by making the same prospect of resurrection true for all who are in Him (Romans 8:11). As Christ rose from the dead, so shall all believers rise from the dead at His second coming (1 Corinthians 15:20, 52).

Satan has been vanquished; for all true Christians have already risen in Christ (1 John 5:20) in spirit. They have been enlivened by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) and they have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). They constitute His living body (cf. Romans 12:1) on earth. In that sense the Kingdom of God is already established on earth, as has been the case since the resurrection of Jesus. God’s will is being done (Luke 1:2) by those who love and obey Him (cf. John 15:14). His church is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17) and His house of prayer (1 Timothy 2:1).

Nevertheless satan continues his attacks on the church (cf. Revelation 2:10) and he would like to destroy it, but that will not be possible; for God’s will will be accomplished (Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 16:18).

I can understand preachers focussing on Christ (cf. Matthew 6:33), rather than on His adversary, but New Testament writers were keen to warn their brethren to be on their guard against satan (Ephesians 6:10-18). Therefore all who preach the gospel, i.e., disciples of Christ, should also warn of satan’s designs.

His desire is to bring down as many as he can (1 Peter 5:8) and to keep his victims in the realm of evil. Those who are not yet born of the Sprit (John 3:3-8) may be unaware they are aligned with him, and others may even rejoice in their rebellion against God. Some wilfully join forces with satan to attack and persecute Christians. We see persecution of this sort around the world, particularly in *China and **Iraq. In the former country many Christians have been imprisoned on account of worshipping Christ. Their meeting places have been destroyed because of government policies against organised religions. There have been beheadings of Christians in ***Nigeria.

The evil power of satan is patently obvious (Ephesians 2:2). He is cunning (Genesis 3:1-7) and deceptive. He seduces the unwary with his idols (Ezekiel 20:39) that appeal to the lusts of the flesh (Romans 1:24, 25). In worshipping them, satan’s victims are lured into dungeons of darkness where the only prospect for them is pain and death (John 3:19). Greed, self-indulgence (Romans 1:29; Ephesians 4:18, 19) and idol worship (Isaiah 2:8) inextricably suck them into a frightening blackhole of no escape, unless the Lord intervenes (Isaiah 2:19-21; 2 Peter 2:9, 10) and brings redemption (Titus 2:11-14) through the saving power of Jesus.

When we preach the gospel, which we [believers] all do by our actions and words, satan will try his utmost to discredit our witness. Therefore it is imperative for us to be on our guard (Ephesians 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8, 9) by always honouring God’s word and following the example of Jesus (Matthew 4:4). Every word that departs from our mouth should be said in love (Ephesians 4:29), unlike the words of those who love darkness (V.V. 17, 18) rather than light.

‘Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:13, 14).’

*Mass arrests of Chinese megachurch members continue; some ‘violently beaten’

https://www.christianpost.com/news/mass-arrests-of-chinese-megachurch-members-continue-some-violently-beaten.html

**Iraq’s Christians ‘close to extinction’

https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2019/08/06/iraqs-christians-close-to-extinction/

***ISIS ‘beheads 11 Christian hostages’ on Christmas Day in shocking new execution video in Nigeria

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10625706/isis-beheads-11-christian-hostages-christmas-day-execution-video-nigeria/

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