Sanctification and Perfection

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17).”

‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).’

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”’

The ultimate destiny of the saints, i.e., those called by God (1 Corinthians 1:9; Jude 1:1), is to dwell with Him in His new and perfect earth (Revelation 21:1).

Their transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17) from being sons of Adam into sons of God (John 1:12), takes place at the moment of their new birth, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). Having been made perfect (1 John 2:5) in Him, they will live with Him for ever in His perfection.

Although made perfect at that point in time of new birth, the lives they live are far from perfect, for they continue to sin (cf. 1 John 1:8, 9). They will never live perfectly until they have been raised from the dead, when they will be like Christ (3:2). Only then will their total transformation have taken place. They will exist in the new *reality of a new life with their new spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:44).

Sanctification

From the moment of being born again of the Spirit, Christians embark on a journey of progressive sanctification. They are spiritual babes who are limited by the encumbrance of their flesh. Having entered the realm of the spiritual kingdom of God, they endeavour to live under the kingship of Christ, while physically living in a cursed world (Genesis 3:17).

When in this state, Paul the Apostle said of himself, ‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).’

Paul’s desire was to be perfect (Matthew 5:48) like Christ. He set us an example of how to live under His kingship. He said, ‘Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1),’ and ‘Therefore I urge you, imitate me (4:16).’

Paul did not shy away from the fact that he sinned, and he was an imperfect example. For him Christ was the example, but he [Paul] was the attainable example. Unlike Christ, Paul was born a sinner (Romans 3:23) – Christ was born without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and He never sinned (cf. John 8:46).

Perfection

God’s word clearly acknowledges that believers sin, and if they confess their sin and repent, God forgives them (1 John 1:9). Thus, although they are seen by God as being perfect in His Son from the time of their new birth, it’s patently obvious they are not perfect, for as long as they are in their earthly bodies. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41; cf. Galatians 5:17).

Jesus commanded people to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), while knowing He was the only perfect Man who would ever walk the face of the earth. [Note: God made Adam ‘good’ (Genesis 1:31), and He made him in ‘His own image (v.27), but he sinned (3:6), and therefore he was not perfect.]

Unlike us, Jesus was both God and Man, and hence His perfection. By giving us this command to ‘be perfect,’ it would seem He was commanding the impossible, but He made it possible through the sacrifice of Himself. He died and paid the penalty for our sins, wiping them clean; and thus He confers to us His perfection. We are sanctified in Christ.

But only through faith, and by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8), can we enter into that state of perfect sanctification.

*The Reality of Now

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/11/28/the-reality-of-now/comment-page-1/#comment-1532

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Worship During the Coronavirus Pandemic

‘“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23, 24).”’

Nothing could be truer than the words of Jesus (John 14:6). In the statement above He tells us that from the moment He spoke to the women at Jacob’s well (4:6), true worshippers worship their heavenly Father in spirit and truth – that is with their affections, their desires and their will.

With this disposition they keep nothing to themselves. They are conscious that the Father *knows everything about them, and there is no nook or cranny that is not seen by Him (Psalm 139:1-16). They recognise that all things come from Him (1 Corinthians 11:12) and that they are His subjects (Matthew 6:13). He owns them (cf. Psalm 50:11, 12), and everything He has created.

This wholehearted dependance upon God elicits great praise and adoration of the One who supplies their every need (Philippians 4:19). They endeavour to praise and to worship Him all day long, and they seek to please Him. However, there are times when they stumble, and they need to confess their sins (1 John 1:9) and to seek His forgiveness. This is true and acceptable worship of the Father, in spirit and in truth.

On a personal, level, if we don’t worship Him in this way, let us plead for His mercy, and ask Him to help us to worship Him as He desires, and as He has commanded (cf. Exodus 34:14; Matthew 4:10). He created us to worship and to adore Him forever (Revelation 5:13). This is the prime reason for our existence, but He also created us to have pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11; 36:8) in His new earth to come (Revelation 21:1), where we shall have an inheritance in Him (Ephesians 1:11; Revelation 21:7), and we shall be His inheritance (cf. Deuteronomy 4:20; Psalm 94:14).

Why is it then, that from the time of Jesus’ statement, it’s patently obvious that not everyone worships the Father in spirit and in truth?

Well, Jesus never said everyone would worship His Father in this way.

When praying to His Father, before His disciples (John 16:29), Jesus prayed for the salvation of His elect (17:9, 11), i.e., the remnant referred to by Paul, in Romans 9:27 and 11:5, who worship Him in spirit and in truth. This remnant is the true church of Jesus Christ. They are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 79:13), not the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) who are cursed and destined for ‘the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 41).’

Individual believers, each in their secret place, and when gathered together, pray to their Father (6:6), and they worship Him in spirit and in truth. When joined together in this way they commune with one another (1 Corinthians 10:16). They pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18), through the Son to their Father, who is not a remote (cf. Acts 17:28), austere god, but their loving Father, who cares for their every need (Matthew 6:31-34).

Satan’s intervention?

God allows Satan and his cohorts to use their evil powers (cf. Job 1:6-12; 2:3-8) for harm, but in the end, good prevails for the ones He loves (Job 42:12-17; Romans 8:28).

It must not be forgotten that the LORD is the Sovereign King of the universe, and He *controls all things and He brings to fruition what He has decreed (Isaiah 55:11). He spoke to Cyrus saying: ‘“I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and I create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things (45:7).”’

Could it be that in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic our Father is allowing satan, ‘the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2),’ to bring calamity to the nations? Could it be that God is putting His people to the test of true faith (James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:6-9) and true worship in spirit by isolating His church in lockdown?

We in the UK, and others worldwide, cannot meet with our brothers and sisters in Christ (cf. Hebrews 10:25). We cannot gather together for communal worship, and we cannot physically meet for the breaking of bread (1 Corinthians 11:20). We cannot baptise our Lord’s disciples in water (Matthew 28:19) and we cannot present betrothed ones to our Father to be joined together in holy matrimony (Mark 10:6-9).

If the Coronavirus is a deadly weapon of satan, it is wielded with power granted to him by God, and for as long as God protects and shields His people (Psalm 91:4), satan is powerless to stop them from worshipping Him.

Even now we can join together via the Internet for communal praise to His name, and to pray for the world, and for those who are suffering. There’s absolutely no way that satan can separate us from the love of Jesus (Romans 8:3. 39). We are His and He is ours (John 10:27- 29). We are in Him and He is in us (John 17:20, 21).

By His mercy and grace (Psalm 145:8), we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

‘Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and your buckler (Psalm 91:3, 4).’

*The Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/04/14/the-omniscience-omnipotence-and-omnipresence-of-god/

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One Another

‘“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34, 35).”’

You can be sure that where there’s repetition in the Lord’s word, what is being said is important – no more so, than with the term ‘one another’, which in the New Testament is mentioned 59 times! The same term is also translated as ‘each other’, and both terms are used in the context of behavioural relationships between two or more people.

It’s always about how Christians are expected to treat their brothers and sisters in Christ – their actions, in light of their intentions. In every instance it is to do with the conduct of church members when they engage with others, individually and collectively.

The fundamental, overarching behavioural rule is for things to be done in love, in the ‘agape’ sense, i.e., charitably, and with no expectation of anything in return – a love that is freely given, irrespective of the response that may come from those to whom love is shown. Thus, the instigator’s intentions and desires are always for the good of the recipients.

Mentions of “One Another” in the New Testament

Let’s examine a few of the 59 mentions of ‘one another’ or ‘each other’, within their contexts, to see if we can learn something from them that may help us to live out the word of God (Philippians 2:12) to the best of our ability.

Fundamental in our Christian life is our desire to love one another as Christ loves us. We love Him, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our response is to love Him and to do as He has commanded, i.e., to love one another (John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17). Paul the Apostle exhorts us to ‘Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love (12:10a). and to ‘….. love one another (13:8).’ In Galatians 5:13 he tells us to ‘….. serve one another in love.’

In our love for one another we are to ‘ … stop passing judgment on one another (Romans 14:13), and we are to, ‘honour one another above ourselves (12:10b).’ Primarily, we are to, ‘Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2),’ which is His law of love (Matthew 19:19).

In our relationships we are to be forgiving (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) and submissive to one another (Ephesians 5:21). Within this context we are to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), and we are to bear with one another (Colossians 3:13).

A very important rule for all of us is building each other up in our daily lives. We are to ‘encourage’ one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11) in our devotion to Christ and the pursuit of living holy lives to His glory.

Christ’s *relationship with His people should be reflected in His people’s relationship with one another. As He loves them, so they should love one another (John 13:34).

*God/Man Relationships

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/17/relationships/

59 X ‘One Another’ or ‘Each Other’ Found in the New Testament

1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)

   2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)

3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)

4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)

5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)

6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)

7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)

8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)

9. “…Honour one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)

11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)

12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)

13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)

14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)

16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)

17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)

18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)

19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)

20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.”
(Galatians 5:15)

22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)

23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)

24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)

26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)

27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)

28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)

31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)

32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)

33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)

34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)

36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)

37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)

38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)

39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)

40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)

41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)

43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)

44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)

45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)

46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)

48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)

49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)

50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)

51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)

52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)

53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)

54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)

55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)

56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)

57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)

58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)

59. “…Love one another.” (II John 5)

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Scrutiny

‘For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).’

‘Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1, 2).’

We all know what scrutiny is, and how in our times, those in authority are placed under scrutiny. At PM’s Question Time in Parliament, the Prime Minister is challenged by MPs to account for the Government’s actions, policies and intentions. In our free society [UK] our leaders can be held to account. If found wanting they may be humbled to resign and to relinquish their responsibilities on account of their failures or misconduct.

As Christians we are exhorted to scrutinise ourselves, to examine everything we say and do (cf. Psalm 26:2; 1 Corinthians 11:28; Galatians 6:4), to ascertain whether we are faithful to our calling. We are called to love the Lord our God (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22), and to love one another as Jesus loves us (John 13:34). We are also called to love our neighbour (Matthew 19:19), and in so doing to be a light that reflects the light of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6), and thus point to Him for salvation. We are to make disciples and to teach them all that Jesus has commanded us (Matthew 28:19, 20).

God places us where He would have us (1 Corinthians 7:20, 24), and it’s in those settings that He provides all our needs (cf. Genesis 22:14) for carrying out the mission He has commanded. He gives us His authority (Matthew 28:19, 20), for us to act boldly (cf. Philippians 1:14).

Scrutiny within the Church

Not only are we to scrutinise ourselves in our everyday setting, but particularly within the body of the local church of which we are members.

I Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us to: ‘Test all things; hold fast what is good.’

Paul, writing to the Roman church, was assured they were mature enough to be able to admonish one another. He wrote: ‘Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another (Romans 15:14).’

We should accept admonishment from those in the church who have authority over us; namely those appointed by God, i.e., the deacons or elders who shepherd, teach and lead us. Paul encourages us to respect them, and to accept admonishment from them. He wrote these words: ‘And we urge you, brethren, to recognise those who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you (1 Thessalonians 5:12).’

So testing and admonishing are important aspects of the Christian life.

If we are to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), we need to ‘scrutinise’ them; that is to look deeply into matters and to examine their details. During the process, we should beware of being judgmental of others (Luke 6:37; 1 Corinthians 11:31); that is not our task; for judgment comes from God (cf. James 4:12). Jesus is the ‘Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).’ He is holy (cf. Acts 4:27) and just. He is fully aware of the minutest of details.

Although He is Sovereign, that does not absolve us from our responsibilities; for we are free in His Spirit to overcome sin. Where we fail, He will forgive us, if we come to Him in repentance, and ask Him for His help (1 John 1:9).

Above all, we need to scrutinise ourselves, and if we are found wanting, we must admonish ourselves; then put right what is wrong; apologise and say sorry for any grief we may have caused the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and to those we have wronged. We must forgive, in order to be forgiven, as our Lord commands.

For the sake of the church; that is all members comprising the ‘body’ of Christ, we [not just a pastor or elder] should admonish others who stray from God’s word. The Bible is our guide, and therefore all actions and words should be scrutinised according to the teachings of God in His word. Where people stray from biblical doctrine they should be corrected, and if they fail to acknowledge their fault and turn from it, they should be warned. Where they continue in their disobedience, after the due process of coming before others, and even the whole church, if necessary, they should be excluded from the fellowship, until such time that they repent (Matthew 18:15-17) .

Scrutiny must be a continual process, both for the individual and for the church.

God judges our every word, and He rewards those who are faithful (cf. Hebrews 11:6) and true to His word. We must love one another as Jesus loves us (John 13:34), and we can only do this by His grace, but nothing is impossible for Him (Matthew 19:26); therefore nothing is impossible for us, within His will (6:10).

“May His will be done, and may we be found guiltless in the merits of His Son.”

“Amen.”

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Memorable Words of Jesus

‘And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can *come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more (John 6:65, 66).

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Then Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (vv. 67-69).”’

Jesus spoke many words, and John the Apostle described Him as ‘the Word.’ – the very Word that spoke the world into being (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 11:3). His word and words are powerful beyond measure. Nine times in Genesis 1, we find the formula ‘God said’. God spoke each phase of His creation into being.

We who love Jesus, cherish His words, and many of us commit certain of them to memory. We have our favourites, and perhaps the most loved is: ‘“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”’

I have set out below a selection of what for me are His memorable words, and I’m not surprised that many of them are found in John’s Gospel. John was one of three disciples who were members of an inner circle, which was very close to Jesus (cf. Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9). Toward the end of his long life, John recalled some of Christ’s words, and recorded them in his gospel, in the hope that readers might come to believe in Jesus (John 20:30, 31), and to have eternal life.

As you would expect, every extract has been taken from at least one of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and I have arranged them in that same order.

My Selection

Matthew 4:4 ‘But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”’

Matthew 5:3 ‘“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”’

Matthew 5:10 ‘“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”’

Matthew 28:18-20 ‘And Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “ 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 I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.’

Mark 1:14, 15 ‘Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”’

Luke 2:49 ‘And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”’

Luke 22:42 ‘…. “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”’

John 3:3 ‘Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:16 ‘“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”’

John 6:35 ‘And 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 7:37, 38 ‘On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water,”’

John 8:12 ‘Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”’

John 10:10 ‘“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”’

John 11:25, 26 ‘Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:43 ‘Now when He had said these things, He  cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”

John 13:34 ‘“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”’

John 14:6 ‘Jesus said to Him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”’

John 19:30 ’So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit’

My Favourite

Do you have a favourite? And, if so, what is it? That’s a hard one to answer, but for me, it is the very last on the list, “It is finished!”

For me, it has the greatest meaning; since it records the moment of completion of all the works of Jesus while living on the earth. He had done everything that had been required of Him by His Father to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus gave absolutely everything He had to give – He gave Himself, as the perfect Man without sin (Hebrews 4:15) in order to accomplish the salvation of His elect.

He could have given no more. He humbled Himself (Philippians 2:8) and suffered the most horrendous death on the cross. He placed His faith in His Father, whom He believed would raise Him from the dead (Acts 10:40). Not only did He raise Him, but He exalted Him (Philippians 2:9) to sit at His righthand in heaven (Acts 5:31). There He mediates for His saints (1 Timothy 2:5), and at their resurrection He will draw them to Himself (John 12:32).

In the Greek language of the New Testament, the phrase “It is finished!” is one word [tel-eh’-o], and it means to ‘bring to an end’, and ‘paid in full’. Jesus completed His ministry, and He paid the price for our salvation (cf. Galatians 4:5), i.e., He redeemed us, and set us free from sin and the penalty of everlasting torment (Luke 16:28; Revelation 14:9-11). He has made us to be inheritors of eternal life (Matthew 19:29), and we shall dwell with Him forever in His new earth (Revelation 21:1).

“Praise Him! Praise Him! All you saints.”

* “Come unto Me.” – The Words of Jesus.

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/11/19/come-unto-me/

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An Easter Meditation – The Transparency of Jesus

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12).’

‘“I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing (John 18:20).”’

By ‘the transparency of Jesus’, I mean the openness of His dealings with people, both Jews and Gentiles. After His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17) and His retreat to the wilderness for forty days (4:1-11), He entered the public arena. Straight away He preached His gospel of repentance (v. 17). During His three year mission of mercy He preached the way (John 14:6) of salvation to people in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Decapolis and Perea. He spoke in their synagogues, cities, villages and the countryside, and before visiting these places He sometimes sent His disciples ahead of Him to herald His coming (Luke 10:1).

Only on certain occasions did He meet with His closest disciples to speak to them alone, perhaps to explain the parables (Matthew 13:36) or to tell of things that must take place (Matthew 24). Several times He told them He would be going to Jerusalem, where He would be crucified, die, and be resurrected from the dead on the third day (20:17-19).

Christ’s Journey

His journey from relative obscurity, as the Son of the carpenter Joseph, to His ignominious and very public death on a cross, as King of the Jews (John 19:21, 22), testifies of His great love of the world. He sacrificed Himself to save those who are called (3:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2).

Weakened by His flogging (Matthew 27:26), and tortuous ordeal at His mock trials for blasphemy and sedition, He was unable to carry His cross the whole way from the judgement seat (John 19:13) on His trek to Golgotha. Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry it for Him (Matthew 27:32).

At Golgotha they stripped Him of His clothing (cf. 35) and nailed Him to a cross for all to see. There they looked and saw His blood-stained, scarred body, and they blasphemed Him (27:39). It was an unimaginably arduous and painful mission of salvation, and of submissive obedience to His Father (26:42; John 10:25).

His Ministry

At first He was rejected by His own brothers (John 7:5). Undeterred, He gathered around Him a motley crew of twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1-4), eleven of whom He would transform by His teaching and by His example. They would come to realise He was unlike any other man, and one by one, as they followed Him, they came to believe He truly was the Son of God (cf. John 20:26-29). Even His own brothers and mother eventually believed (cf. Acts 1:14). Indeed His brother James (cf. Matthew 13:55) became the leading elder of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13). After the church fled on account of Herod’s persecutions and imprisonments, James circulated his Epistle which exhorted them to live holy lives and to do good works (James 2:17, 18).

Matthew in his Gospel chronicles the comings and goings of Jesus. He records His teachings for both those who would follow Him and for those who would reject Him.

From the time He was in Capernaum He ‘began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17),”’ and He ‘went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people (v. 23).’

On ’… seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him (5:1).’ At that time He set forth His law for all to follow, and the dire consequences for those who foolishly disobey them (cf. 7:26, 27).

As He continued His journey of compassion He healed the sick and cast out demons (8:1-17), and the multitudes followed Him (v. 18). He told them many parables (chap. 13), but afterwards, when He returned to Nazareth, they were offended by His teachings (v.57), and because of their unbelief ‘He did not do many mighty works there (v.58).

After the beheading of John the Baptist, He got into a boat and went to a deserted place. ‘But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities (14:13).’ He healed them and miraculously fed them by dividing five loaves and two fish (vv. 17-21). On another occasion He fed four thousand in a similar way (15:32-39).

Jesus was Transparent

He openly taught many people (John 18:20).

However, if I continue telling of all the things I know He did, I would have to write a very long book (cf. John 21:25). Instead I’ll bring this short Easter meditation to a close and suggest you search the Bible for pearls of wisdom and the words of life (John 6:68) that are found in it. Then go and preach the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20) to those who are in need of Him and of His salvation.

“Lord, let us imitate You (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1) and be transparent with our lives, so that Your light will be seen in all that we do and say.”

‘Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).’

May the Lord bless you.

Amen.

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Logic Verses Faith

‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:1-3).’

I’ve been toying with this subject of ‘Logic Verses Faith’ for some time, and I’ve been diffident whether to pursue it here on my blog, because whatever I write, I want to build up believers in their faith, and I also want to give to those who do not have it, an inkling as to what it’s like for the believer who does.

The Challenge

A Christian is a person with God-given *faith. He receives it as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). It has nothing in common with man’s ability to reason, which we call logic. Faith does not rely upon tangible objectivity that is confirmed by the five senses, and yet in itself it is not illogical; for it exists in the mind, and it makes sense for the one who has it. It is just as real for him as logical, tangible objectivity is for the one who does not have God’s gift.

The thinking, logical unbeliever will challenge the believer by saying his faith is not real; therefore it is invalid. It makes no sense, because it’s neither rational nor objective. The believer will counter that argument by saying his faith is very real, and it works in practice. He will say that when he prays in faith to God, God will respond in His own time. His response may not always be evident, and, indeed, He may never reveal the outcome to the believer, but whatever it is, it is always for his good (Romans 8:28).

Faith is an inward trust in God that may be confirmed by the visible outward actions of the one who has faith; for example, a **martyr manifests his faith by his stand for Christ – even to the point of death. He does not recant his belief. He courageously takes a leap of faith into God’s presence, with an ardent longing to be with Him. He may recall Paul’s words, ‘For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).’

This is far from the logic of the unbeliever; but for the faithful in Christ it is his unshakable logic. He knows that Christ died and rose from the dead; and that he too will be resurrected to life in Him.

“What better logic can there be?” asks the believer.

For him it’s not a rhetorical question, because God has given him a steadfast faith, and he knows it! God proves it to him through the testimony of the Spirit who indwells his soul. Christ and the Holy Spirit live in him (John 14:20; 1 Corinthians 6:19); therefore for him his faith is entirely logical. Everything makes sense to him, and he rejoices in His gracious and loving Saviour.

The unbeliever yet again questions the believer, and asks, “What about Noah’s ark? How could all those animals get into the ark, and how could they survive that long? And, really, how could Jesus be born of a virgin? Furthermore, how could God create the world in six days, when twenty-four hour days did not exist? And don’t the scientists prove rightly that the world is trillions of year old?”

You can see that from the unbeliever’s viewpoint the Bible is nothing more than a collection of fairytales; fantasies created by men. He says there’s no difference between the Bible and any other book. It’s just a book.

The man of faith knows the unbeliever is in a hopeless position. He is spiritually dead, and thus he is spiritually blind (1 Corinthians 2:14). Although he lives in the flesh, He is unable to engage with the Spirit of Truth. He cannot ‘look’ on Christ ‘and be saved’, (cf. Isaiah 45:22) because God has not opened his spiritual eyes with the salve of faith. The believer knows this, because he once was blind, but now he can see.

The Reality of Logical Faith

Both the believer and the unbeliever physically live in a fallen and cursed world, but the believer in his faith truly lives in another realm – in God’s spiritual kingdom. He has a dimension of existence that the other does not have. The unbeliever lives in the spiritual kingdom of the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), and he is unable to escape his clutches, unless the Son of God rescues him. Sadly the lost soul cannot cross over from the kingdom of spiritual death into the kingdom of spiritual life without being given the breath of life (Job 33:4), i.e., the vital oxygen of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:3-8).

Until that happens he can never understand and know the logic of God-given faith. He cannot through his own efforts break free from the shackles of spiritual and physical death. He is blind, deaf and dumb. Only Jesus can give him eternal life (John 3:16). He does this by opening the eyes of the faithless. He opens their ears to hear, and He gives them hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26). It’s all of Him and nothing of them. They were dead in their trespasses and sin; unable to escape the clutches of the evil one. But in God’s mercy, by faith, they were drawn to Him. The logic and reality of God-given faith is very real to them.

If you are not yet a partaker of this faith and desire it; God will not refuse your request (Matthew 7:7). Ask, Him; ‘taste and see’ (Psalm 34:8), for God is good.

‘…. since we are surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1, 2).’

Amen.

*Faith

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/12/25/faith/

**New Testament Martyrs

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/06/21/new-testament-martyrs/

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The Unpalatable Gospel

‘“And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name (Acts 10:42, 43 [ESV]).”’

The gospel of Jesus Christ has never been comfortable for those who hear it. Even for the converted, on hearing and understanding (Matthew 13:23) the gospel for the first time, it is a disturbing experience; but why?

Because the revelation of Jesus Christ in all His glory and holiness is an awesome, life-transforming experience. On account of the intervention of the Holy Spirit, the newborn in the Spirit know they are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). They have been given complete forgiveness, because their sins have been washed away by the atoning blood of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 12:11).

On hearing and understanding the gospel (Matthew 13:23), the Holy Spirit revealed to them their *total depravity, i.e., their evil nature. They acknowledged their loathsome and despicable state before God. They realised they were obnoxious to Him, and their actions and idolatrous lusts made them deserving of death (Romans 1:32). They were a stench before His nostrils, and yet, in His great mercy and forgiveness (cf. Exodus 34:6) He looked upon them with compassion, and He removed His just wrath from them (cf. Isaiah 54:8-17).

Furthermore He demonstrated His great love (Romans 5:8) by giving them His Son (John 3:16) as a sacrifice to appease His anger. In effect, the second Person of the Trinity, by dying on the cross, suffered the punishment due them. God the Father also suffered, as He observed the unimaginable suffering of His Son. In this suffering and alienation, Jesus placated His Father’s wrath and removed it from the repentant sinner.

Paul explained to the Roman church that God set forth His Son ‘to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness …. that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).’

When faced with the truth that every person will be judged (Hebrews 9:27), the unregenerate, on account of their carnal nature, naturally resent being told they are guilty. But at the end of time they will find themselves standing before the Supreme Judge, who will be seated on His white throne (Revelation 20:11-15). They will claim they are innocent, and they will have the audacity to come up with plaintive pleas. This will not wash with the Judge, and they will be found guilty. He will sentence them to be incarcerated into hell where they will experience everlasting torment (cf. Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50).

Mercy

But where there is condemnation there is also mercy (Exodus 34:7).

If beforehand, during his first life, a person confesses his guilt before Almighty God, and he humbles himself, and he repents and believes; God will forgive him (Acts 2:21). He will be accounted righteous (Romans 4:5), and at the resurrection he will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10, 11), where he will be found not guilty. Furthermore, he will be given an inheritance which Christ has laid up beforehand for him in heaven (John 14:2; 1 Peter 1:4).

In view of the above, why is it that preachers are reluctant to present the whole truth regarding God’s justifiable punishment of sinners who do not repent? Why do they shy away from preaching the whole truth? By excluding words such as: accursed (1 Corinthians 16:22), wrath (Romans 1:18), gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12), fire, brimstone (Psalms 11:6) and torment (Revelation 14:11), they do not present the full gospel. Neither are they merciful; for by not preaching the whole gospel they preclude the hearers from fully understanding and receiving the blessings of God’s mercy.

To present a sugar-coated, diluted gospel is itself an anathema. Paul warned against such preaching – that includes the preaching of an incomplete gospel. With conviction and passion he wrote, “Let them [false preachers] be accursed (Galatians 1:8)!”

Finally: ‘But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul (Ezekiel 3:19).’

*Total Depravity

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/09/18/total-depravity/

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What is Your Testimony?

‘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 no have life (1 John 5:11, 12).’

When we read or hear testimonies they often follow a pattern consisting of three parts: (1) What the person was like before conversion. (2) How they were converted. (3) What they are like after their conversion. These are often self-centred ‘I/me’ testimonies. Somewhere in the middle, or at the end, a mention is made of Jesus. Now, of course, not all testimonies follow this pattern.

But What does the Bible have to Say about Testimonies?

We find that the testimonies of the saints in the New Testament invariably point to Christ. They focus on Him, and they tell of things they saw and heard concerning Him. They tell of their personal experiences, and of God’s truths that the Spirit has revealed to them (John 16:13).

The greatest testimony came from Jesus Himself, when He said, ‘“Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness (John 3:11).’ The whole of the Godhead testified through the Son (John 8:18).

Nicodemus and the Pharisees were blind to the fact that the promised Messiah had come, and that He was present with them. Despite meeting and hearing Him, they would not receive His testimony. They would not receive Him as their God – their Emmanuel (cf. Matthew 1:23). However, others, including many Gentiles, saw and heard Him, and they believed and testified that He was the Messiah (John 4:39, 42).

Jesus more than once testified of Himself. He said,‘“He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony (John 3:31, 32).”’ He also said, “I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me (John 8:18).”’ 

John the Apostle wrote: ‘And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows he is telling the truth, so that you may believe (John 19:35).’

The whole of John’s Gospel is a personal testimony that accords *glory to Christ for His work of salvation. He declared, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).’

This is the purpose of testimonies (1 Timothy 1:15). They are to point to the Lord Jesus who saves (John 3:16, 17), and they are to tell of His glory. They should also tell of the judgment to come (cf. John 5:24).

Peter in Acts 10:40-43, while speaking to the household of Cornelius, said to them, ‘Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

Yes, whenever we have opportunities to witness, let us ‘testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24),  and by all means, speak of our own transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17) through the workings of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). But let us make it a priority to tell of the *glory of God’s Son, so that people may look to Him and be saved.

God spoke to the nations through the prophet Isaiah saying,’”Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:22).”’

*The Glory of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/01/07/the-glory-of-god/

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Growth

At the bottom of my garden there’s the most wonderful weeping willow, and at this time of the spring equinox, its sprouting leaves are a lime green. As the cool east wind blows, the boughs respond; they curtsy, sway and bob. Scintillating sunlight reflects from this shimmering vision. The tree is vibrant, full of *life. Hidden beneath its weathered bark, and within the channels of its trunk, life-giving sap syphons upward from well-spread roots, to the graceful fingertips of this alluring creature.

I remember planting this willow as a sapling. Over the years it has grown, and mushroomed; not unlike the figurative mustard tree (Luke 13:18, 19) spoken of by Jesus, in which the ‘birds of the air’ nested. Collar doves have made it their home. They love perching on its highest branches from where they can survey their patch of lawns, borders, shrubs, and a cosy arbour entwined with trailing honeysuckle, yet to blossom. Squirrels, robins, great tits, and a nocturnal badger share this space. Thriving, colourful, herbaceous plants display their beauty. Primroses, polyanthus, daffodils and tulips offer their fragrant scent to a solitary buzzing bee. Their leaves absorb the sun’s rays for energy and delight in its warmth. At sunset, they furl their petals to protect themselves from the starry night’s sharp frost.

God’s life-giving power is plainly seen in every one of His creatures. Even the daises display His beauty – and, just hear the cheerful, chattering notes of our resident robin, as he valiantly defends his territory. Don’t tell me there is no God!

‘For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20, 21).’

All Growth Comes from God

All growth comes from God (cf. Psalm 65:10), because He gives life (John 6:63) to every living thing, and where there is life there is growth. However, here’s what Paul wrote to the Ephesian **church:

‘…. we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, 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 (Ephesians 4:14-16).’

The ‘body’ is the church – itself a spiritual organism, composed of ‘living stones’.

Peter, addressing the churches of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia encouraged them with these words:

‘Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil, speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to 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 2:1-5).’

From the writings of these two apostles we learn that the church is a ‘body’ composed of ‘living stones’. Its members are united in Christ, and they work together as one in Him. They feed ‘upon the pure milk of the word,’ which nourishes them, and they ‘live’ by it (Matthew 4:4). Jesus gives them His ‘living water’ (John 4:10-13) upon which they feed, and grow. They are built together in the love of Christ, who is their Head (Ephesians 5:23).

They are a ‘spiritual house’, a ‘holy priesthood’ who offer ‘spiritual sacrifices’ to ‘God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).’

“Thanks be to God for all who are called to be saints; for those who ‘call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:2).’”

*Life

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2020/03/13/life/

**Who are the Church?

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/28/who-are-the-church/

***Priests of God Today

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/11/09/priests-of-god-today/

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