YES, I BELIEVE

August 31, 2015

Resurrection-Doubting-Thomas

“And straightway the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

These words have been a help and strength to thousands of souls in their pursuit of salvation and the gifts of God. Notice that it is in relation to an afflicted child that they were pronounced, in the fight of faith when seeking healing from the Lord Jesus. In them we see that in one and the same soul there can arise a struggle between faith and unbelief, and that it is not without a struggle that we come to believe in Jesus and in His all-power to heal the sick. In this we find the needful encouragement for realizing the Savior’s power.

I speak here especially to sufferers who do not doubt the power or the will of the Lord Jesus to heal in this day without the use of earthly remedies, but who lack the boldness to accept healing for themselves. They believe in the divine power of Christ, they believe in a general manner His good will to heal; they have acquired, either by the Scriptures, or by facts of healings by the Lord alone which have taken place in our days, the intellectual persuasion that the Lord can help even them, but they shrink back from accepting healing, and from saying with faith, “The Lord has heard me, I know that He is healing me.”

Take notice first that without faith no one can be healed. When the father of the afflicted child said to Jesus, “If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us,” Jesus replied: “If thou canst believe.” Jesus had the power to heal and He was ready to do it, but He casts responsibility on the man. “If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth” (R.V.). In order to obtain your healing from Jesus, it is not enough to pray. Prayer without faith is powerless. It is “the prayer of faith” which saves the sick (James 5:15). If you have already asked for healing from the Lord, or if others have asked it for you, you must, before you are conscious of any change, be able to say with faith, “On the authority of God’s Word I have the assurance that He hears me and that I shall be healed.” To have faith means in your case to surrender your body absolutely into the Lord’s hands, and to leave yourself entirely to Him. Faith receives healing as a spiritual grace which proceeds from the Lord even while there is no conscious change in the body. Faith can glorify God and say, “Bless the Lord, 0 my soul. . . which healeth all my diseases” (Ps. 103:1—3). The Lord requires this faith that He may heal.

But how is such faith to be obtained? Tell your God the unbelief which you find in your heart,. and count on Him for deliverance from it. Faith is not money by which your healing can be purchased from the Lord. It is He who desires to awaken and develop in you the necessary faith. “Help my unbelief,” cried the father of the child. It was his ardent desire that his faith should not come short. Confess to the Lord all the difficulty you have to believe Him on the ground of His Word; tell Him you want to be rid of this unbelief, that you bring it to Him with a will to hearken only to His Word. Do not lose time in deploring your unbelief, but look to Jesus. The light of His countenance will enable you to find the power to believe in Him (Ps. 44: 3). He calls on you to trust in Him; listen to Him, and by His grace faith will triumph in you. Say to Him, “Lord, I am still aware of the unbelief which is in me. I find it difficult to believe that I am sure of my healing because I possess Him who works it. And, nevertheless, I want to conquer this unbelief. Thou, Lord, wilt give me the victory. I desire to believe, I will believe, by Thy grace I dare to say I can believe. Yes, Lord, I believe, for Thou comest to the help of my unbelief.” It is when we are in intimate communion with the Lord, and when our heart responds to His, that unbelief is overcome and conquered.

It is needful also to testify to the faith one has. Be resolved to believe that which the Lord says to you, to believe, above all, that which He is. Lean wholly upon His promises. “The prayer of faith shall save the sick.” “I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Ex. 15:26). Look to Jesus, who “bare our sickness” (Matt. 8:17), and who healed all who came to Him; count on the Holy Spirit to manifest in your heart the presence of Jesus who is also now in heaven, and to work also in your body the power of His grace. Praise the Lord without waiting to feel better, or to have more faith. Praise Him, and say with David, “O Lord, my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me” (Ps. 30:2). Divine healing is a spiritual grace which can only be received spiritually and by faith, before feeling its effect on the body. Accept it, then, and give glory to God. When the Lord Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the child, he rent him sore, so that he was as one dead, inasmuch as many said, “He is dead.” If, therefore, your sickness does not yield at once, if Satan and your own unbelief attempt to get the upper hand, do not heed them, cling closely to Jesus your Healer, and He will surely heal you.

I KNOW THAT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I HAVE BEEN DIVINELY TOUCHED AND HEALED, I HAVE TRAVELED THE COUNTRY WITH ORAL ROBERTS AND SEEN GREAT HEALINGS. AND THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE HEALING DIDN’T COME, WE ARE PROMISED DIVINE HEALTH IN HEAVEN, FOR SOME TIME AND SOME ILLNESSES WE MUST WAIT, I CAN’T EXPLAIN THE ‘WHY’ OF THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. AS SOME ONE THAT SUFFERS FROM CHRONIC PAIN THAT IS SOME DAYS CRIPPLING AND DAYS WHERE THE DRUGS GET THE BEST OF ME AND WIPE ME OUT, I DO NOT COMPLAIN OR EVER DOUBT. GOD LOVES AND CARES AND HIS WAYS ARE BEYOND UNDERSTANDING. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE PAIN GIVES ME CLARITY OF THOUGHT AND KEEPS ME GROUNDED IN HOLINESS.

SO WE CONTINUE TO PRAY AND BELIEVE,

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

the beast part two

August 30, 2015

the bible

WE’VE HAD SO MANY QUESTIONS TO COVER THIS ONE TOPIC ABOUT END TIMES, SO WITHOUT ANY SENSATIONALISM WE WILL COVER IN MULTIPLE PARTS THE MARK OF THE BEAST.

Exhortation to Hear (13:9-10)

13:9-10 If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

It is clear from verse 8 that the universal worship of the beast will achieve at long last the characteristics of a world religion in that it will be ecumenical. The desire to have all Christian churches unite, or to even go one step further and unite all religions of the world, has been advanced as a desired goal. It is questionable whether this will be achieved prior to the end of the church age. However, in the great tribulation as here described, a world religion will be advanced which will have as its focal point the worship of a man chosen and empowered by Satan himself. In that day, true believers on Christ will be separated from this world religion and will be the objects of its fearful persecution. From a biblical point of view, the concept of a world religion prior to the second coming of Christ will be far removed from a true recognition of God.

The invitation “If any man have an ear, let him hear” emphasizes the preceding relation as a matter of great moment to which any man should give attention. Here, as in the Gospels where a similar expression is found frequently (Matt. 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35), the invitation concludes the revelation on which the exhortation is based. A close parallel as well as a contrast is also observable between this invitation and the invitation to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 where the exhortation is to “hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.” The omission of the phrase “unto the churches” in 13:9 is most significant and tends to support the teaching that the church, the body of Christ, has previously been raptured and is not in this period. This instruction is not addressed to the churches. The exhortation in Revelation 13 is much wider. It is to anyone who will listen, and the message is not addressed to the church as such but to the entire world.

Reinforcing the exhortation is the warning of the ultimate sovereign justice of God which will be brought to bear upon this scene of wickedness. A number of variations occur in the text of verse 10, but the general meaning is clear. The best texts seem to read, “If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goes. If any man is to be killed by the sword, he must be killed by the sword.” In a word, it is the law of divine retribution. Those who persecute the saints and lead them into captivity must in turn suffer the righteous wrath of God. In this ultimate triumph and judgment upon wicked men lie the patience and faith of the saints in their hour of trial. The Scriptures frequently mention this final vindication (Gen. 9:6; Matt. 5:38; 26:52; Rom. 12:19; Gal. 6:7). The same truth which serves as an encouragement to the saints acts as a warning to their persecutors. Their ultimate doom is assured as in this case at the end of their brief period of power (Rev. 13:5; 16:6; 18:2-3, 5-8, 20; 19:20).

Taken as a whole, the first ten verses of Revelation 13 predict a future world government which from God’s point of view will be a continuation of the ancient Roman Empire expanded ultimately to cover not only the area of the ancient empire but the entire world. This government will be empowered by Satan, and its primary objective will be forcing the whole world to worship Satan and his human representative, the world dictator.

The purpose of Satan to take the place of God in this future great tribulation is the motivating power behind Satan’s activities today. Satan’s desire to be like God originally plunged the universe into sin (Isa. 14:14). His program has never changed, and he is seeking today as throughout his career to lure men to obey him instead of God. In the great tribulation this purpose will be transparently clear, and after its manifestation it will be brought into divine judgment.

PRAY FOR MABEL A. SHE HAS WATER ON THE BRAIN AND THE DOCTORS ARE CONCERNED AS TO WHAT IS CAUSING IT.

PRAY FOR NANCY AND HER QUEST TO FIND A GUY TO DATE THAT IS TRULY A BELIEVER AND DEDICATED TO THE LORD AND IS WILLING AND ALREADY CELIBATE AND WILLING TO WAIT FOR MARRIAGE. (HEY PEOPLE STILL EXIST THAT HONOR GOD WITH THEIR BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT)

the beast

August 29, 2015

jackolanterns-6-500x375

I’m very careful when I preach from the book of Revelation, and make sure that I discuss all the possible interpretations because the book will never be completely understood by man. I will remind folks to stay away from Dakes bible and books, and E.W. Bullingers bible and  book and Hal Lindsay. There more on the list but I’ll save that for later.

Part one, we’ve had so many questions about this I will cover in in parts.

The Emergence of the Beast out of the Sea (13:1-2)

13:1-2 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

In the first ten verses of chapter 13, a character is introduced of central importance to the events of the great tribulation. This passage is first of all a revelation of the revived Roman Empire in its period of worldwide dominion, but more especially this paragraph directs attention to the evil character who exercises satanic power as the world dictator. The revelation is introduced by the expression “And I stood upon the sand of the sea,” which in some versions is included in the last verse of chapter 12, instead of the first verse of chapter 13.

A textual difficulty also appears in the expression “I stood.” Some manuscripts read, “he stood,” the change being effected by the dropping of one letter nun from the end of the verb estathe„. If the letter is properly dropped, it indicates that the dragon himself stood upon the sand of the sea. If the letter is added, it means that John stood upon the sand of the sea. The difference is not of great moment, but inasmuch as it is more likely that a letter be dropped than a letter added to the text, some scholars continue to feel that the Authorized Version is correct and that John stood upon the sand of the sea. The reading supporting the translation “he stood,” that is, the dragon himself contemplates the scene, has better manuscript testimony and seems to fit well into the context. Chapter 13 would then be the next action following the act of the dragon in chapter 12.

As John watches the scene, he sees a beast coming up out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns. Ten crowns are seen on the horns, and on the seven heads names of blasphemy are written. The identity of this beast is quite clear in its reference to the revived Roman Empire, as the description is similar to that found in Daniel 7:7-8 and in Revelation 12:3 and 17:3, 7. The stage of the empire depicted by the beast is the period after the emergence of the little horn, the future world ruler, displacing three of the horns (Dan. 7:8). The description fits the time of the empire during the great tribulation. The fact that the beast rises out of the sea is taken by many to indicate that he comes from the great mass of humanity, namely the Gentile powers of the world. Others take it as a reference to the Mediterranean, namely, that the beast will arise from the Mediterranean area. Probably both are true in that the beast is a Gentile and does come from the Mediterranean scene.

  1. B. Elliott, in keeping with his historical view of Revelation, identifies the beast out of the sea and his associate, the beast out of the land, as Roman popes and the papal empire. The reference to the sea portrays the invading Goths descending on the Roman Empire. The difficulty with this historical view as with other historical interpretations of the book of Revelation is its lack of uniformity, with literally dozens of explanations on a given symbol depending on the time and circumstances of the expositor.

The monstrosity of seven heads and ten horns probably refers to the remnants of the confederacy which formed the Roman Empire in the beginning, namely, the ten nations of which three were overthrown by the little horn of Daniel 7:8. The ten crowns, therefore, refer to the diadems or symbols of governmental authority. The fact that they have the names of blasphemy (“names” is properly plural) indicates their blasphemous opposition to God and to Christ.

Some consider the seven heads as successive phases of governmental and political history during this period. Others believe that they are simultaneous kings who are subrulers under the beast. The successive idea seems to be borne out by Revelation 17:10-12 where the heads are indicated to be successive rulers. The difficulty can be resolved by regarding the heads as successive, referring to kings or emperors, and the horns as kings who will reign simultaneously receiving their power from the beast (cf. Rev. 17:12). John may be seeing the beast in both its historic and prophetic characters.

The beast is further described as being comparable to a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion, and as receiving his power, throne, and authority from the dragon, that is, from Satan. The selection of these three animals is related to the similar revelation given in Daniel 7, where the successive world empires are described by the lion, referring to Babylon, the bear, referring to Medo-Persia, and the leopard, referring to the Alexandrian Empire. The fourth empire gathers all these elements and characteristics in itself and is far more dreadful in its power and blasphemy than the preceding empires. The beasts selected, as many have pointed out, are typical of the revived Roman Empire in the great tribulation, having the majesty and power of the lion, the strength and tenacity of a bear, and the swiftness of the leopard, so well illustrated in the conquest of Alexander the Great. In addition to these natural symbols of strength is the added factor of satanic power coming from the dragon, Satan himself.

The Deadly Wound of the Beast (13:3)

13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

John in his vision sees one of the heads of the beast as wounded unto death, and the apparent parallelism is to the slain Lamb, described in 5:6. John further observes that the deadly wound (literally “plague”) is healed and that the entire earth marvels at the beast. Countless views have been offered in the interpretation of this verse, one of the very common ones being to identify the person wounded to death and healed as some historic character. Among the more common suggestions are Nero, Judas Iscariot, and in modern times such personages as Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin. The multiplicity of suggestions seems to be evidence in itself that these explanations are not the meaning of the passage.

The wounding of one of the heads seems instead to be a reference to the fact that the Roman Empire as such seemingly died and is now going to be revived. It is significant that one of the heads is wounded to death but that the beast itself is not said to be dead. It is questionable whether Satan has the power to restore to life one who has died, even though his power is great. Far more probable is the explanation that this is the revived Roman Empire in view. As Alford states, “This seems to represent the Roman pagan Empire, which having long been a head of the beast, was crushed and to all appearance exterminated.” It is questionable, however, whether Alford is right in saying that “the establishment of the Christian Roman Empire” was the stroke which caused the death.

The identification of a head with the government over which he has authority is not a strange situation. The person is often the symbol of the government, and what is said of the government can be said of him. Although verse 3 will continue to be a subject of controversy, the theological reasons for resisting an actual resurrection of a historical character to head the revived Roman Empire are so great as to render it improbable even though such personages as Nero and Judas Iscariot will continue to attract the attention of modern students of the book of Revelation. The beast is both personal and the empire itself; so also is the head. The revival of the future empire is considered a miracle and a demonstration of the power of Satan.

The Worship of Satan by All the World (13:4)

13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

The final form of apostasy is not simply the worship of some pagan deity but the worship of Satan himself who in his whole program seeks to be “like God” (Isa. 14:14). Because men worship Satan, they also worship the beast, that is, the man who rules over the revived Roman Empire. He is Satan’s substitute for Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, and to him the world as a whole flocks to give homage, indicated in the questions “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” The point in history where this takes place is apparently at the beginning of the great tribulation when the head of the revived Roman Empire, described here as the beast, is able to assume authority over the entire world. The basis for this authority is undoubtedly power given to him by Satan himself which is aided by a world situation in which there is no serious contender for his office. It may be that the battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39, predicting the destruction of the northern confederacy, takes place just before this, thereby removing the threat of eastern and northern powers to his authority and reign. The answer to the question, however, is to be Christ Himself manifested in His power at His second coming, who will cast the beast into the lake of fire. Until that time the beast is allowed to reign and fulfill his place in human destiny.

The Blasphemous Character of the Beast as World Ruler (13:5-6)

13:5-6 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

The evil character of the world ruler of that day is shown in his boasting and blasphemy. A similar description of the same character is given in Daniel 7:8, 11, 25. His authority continues for forty-two months, again the familiar three and one-half years of the great tribulation. It is probable that the person who heads the revived Roman Empire comes into power before the beginning of the entire seven-year period of Daniel 9:27, and as such enters into covenant with the Jewish people. His role as world ruler over all nations, however, does not begin until the time of the great tribulation. From that point, he continues forty-two months until the second coming of Christ terminates his reign. It is evident that blasphemy is not an incidental feature of his kingdom but one of its main features, and he is described in verse 6 as blaspheming against God, against the name of God, and against the Tabernacle of God, as well as against them that dwell in heaven. As Satan’s mouthpiece he utters the ultimate in unbelief and irreverence in relation to God. If the king of Daniel 11:36-45 is the same individual, as some believe, he does so in total disregard of any god because he magnifies himself above all (Dan. 11:37).

The Universal Dominion of the Beast (13:7)

13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

As is anticipated in Daniel 7:23, where the beast devours “the whole earth,” here the worldwide extent of his power is indicated. The expression “it was given to him” refers to the satanic origin of his power. Acting as Satan’s tool, the beast is able to wage war against the saints throughout the entire globe and to overcome them. (Cf. Dan. 7:25; 9:27; 12:10; Rev. 7:9-17.) In the will of God, many believers in Christ among both Jews and Gentiles perish as martyrs during this awful time of trial, while others are preserved in spite of all the beast can do. The ultimate in worldwide authority is indicated in verse 7, in that “power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” The dream of countless rulers in the past of conquering the entire world is here finally achieved by this last Gentile ruler.

The universal authority of the beast over the entire earth is stated specifically in the latter part of the verse. The word peoples should be inserted after the word kindred as in the best texts, making the verse read “power was given him over all kindreds, peoples, and tongues, and nations.” As the nouns are properly singular, the clause is better rendered “and authority was given to him over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” Such authority was anticipated by Daniel (Dan. 7:23) where it is stated that the fourth beast “shall devour the whole earth, and tread it down, and break it in pieces.” The dream of world conquest achieved in part by the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires is now for the first time realized completely and is the satanic counterfeit of Christ’s millennial reign permitted by God in this final display of the evil of Satan and wicked humanity.

The time of this universal sway is clearly indicated in verse 5 as being forty-two months, namely the last three and one-half years preceding the return of Christ. This period is otherwise described as the great tribulation. It is apparent, however, that as the period moves on to its end a gigantic world war is under way continuing to the time of the return of Christ. This war is in the form of a rebellion against the universal sway of the beast and comes at the very end of the tribulation time. A universal kingdom and a world war could not coexist, since one is the contradiction of the other. The alternative view of J. B. Smith, that all passages speaking of conflicts between the nations must precede the time of tribulation, that is, refer to the first half of the seven-year period, is without proper justification. This would put the natural development of the end of the age in an unwarranted stricture.

The Universal Worship of the Beast (13:8)

13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Just as the entire world is under the political domination of the beast, so all the world except the saints will worship him. Some like J. B. Smith have read into the phrase “dwell upon the earth” a particular class of people. It may be that they are contrasted to those who worship the true God in heaven. Rather than designating a particular class of people, however, the intention is to include everyone dwelling upon the earth, excluding only those who are saints. Walter Scott defines the term as meaning that “all save the elect are referred to.” These who thus worship the beast are described as not having their names written in the book of life, a book frequently mentioned in the Revelation (3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19; cf. Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3). Those worshiping the beast are the unsaved of both Jews and Gentiles in contrast to saved Jews and Gentiles whose names are written in the book of life.

A further description of the book of life is given as belonging to the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The translation here follows the order of the Greek. Most expositors have taken the expression “from the foundation of the world” to refer to the writing of the names in the book, rather than to the slaying of the Lamb which occurred on Calvary. This verse presents a number of problems.

Some references to the book of life seem to indicate it is the book of the living, namely, of all born in the world, and that those who do not trust in Christ are blotted from it leaving only those who are saved (cf. Rev. 3:5; 22:19). The reference to 22:19, however, in the best texts, concerns the tree of life rather than the book of life, and it seems preferable not to distinguish between the book of life belonging to the Lamb and the book mentioned in 3:5, as Walter Scott does, referring to the latter as the book of profession. The simplest explanation here seems the best, namely, that their names were written in the book of life from eternity past. This was made possible by anticipation of the future dying of the Lamb on their behalf. Though somewhat involved, the ultimate meaning is simply that all who are not saved will worship the beast and that those who are saved will not worship him. The reference to “the foundation of the world” cannot be limited, as J. B. Smith does, to the beginning of the Old Testament, but rather, as the Greek indicates, to the beginning of the “cosmos,” that is, the ordered events which predate human history.

Love me tender

August 28, 2015

good_shepherdblacksheep

What can I say, I love word studies, so this month my devotions (personally) have been in Romans chapter 12 (if you are building your devotional library let me recommend two books on Roman’s; Newell, single volume and Barnhouse (multi volume)

Romans 12:9

The apostle Paul is calling for the LOVE of God’s people to be:

  • “without hypocrisy” — NASB, NWT, ASV, NKJV

  • “sincere” — NIV, NAB, NEB, TEV, SEB, Berkeley

  • “not deceitful” — Lamsa

  • “genuine” — RSV, Goodspeed, McCord

  • “real” — NCV

  • “true” — Williams

  • “without dissimulation” — KJV

  • “Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them” — LB

  • “Let us have no imitation Christian love” — Phillips

WORD STUDY

The Greek word anupokritos appears six times in the pages of the NT documents (Rom. 12:9; II Cor. 6:6; I Tim. 1:5; II Tim. 1:5; I Pet. 1:22; James 3:17). It is used with reference to Love three times ……. Faith two times ……. and Wisdom one time. This word never appears in the Greek OT writings, and appears only twice in the Apocrypha (Wisdom of Solomon 5:18; 18:16). It means “to be an actor on the stage …. to play a part, to simulate, feign, pretend” (Wuest, p. 213).

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES

Lev. 19:18, 34 Matt. 22:36-40 Mark 12:28-31 Luke 10:25-28 Rom. 13:8-10 Gal. 5:13-14 James 2:8f I John 3:18

COMMENTARY

“Love stands at the head, and is the fontal source of all separate individualized duties … and the main point on which he insists is sincerity” (Maclaren, p. 262).

“Christian love is a love which is cleansed of self. It is a pure outgoing of the heart to others” (Barclay, p. 177).

“Hypocrisy is, of all vices, one of the worst to which Christians may be addicted. The most vehement denunciations of the Master himself were directed against it” (Coffman, p. 433).

“Genuine benevolence is not that which merely professes attachment, but which is evinced by acts of kindness and affection” (Barnes, p. 280).

“The apostle counsels genuine love that takes its cue from God’s love in Christ and is out for the very best for other people” (Layman’s, p. 1411).

“Feigned love is hate disguised. Love was so prevalent, and so strongly characterized the early church, that he who had it not was tempted to simulate it” (Lipscomb, p. 225).

“If there be supreme love of God in the heart, all duties toward God will be discharged. If there be the love of the neighbor as of the self, all duties toward mankind will be performed” (Shedd, p. 366).

“Love is primary, but if it is not sincere, it is not real love but only pretense. The whole of the believer’s conduct should be bathed in love. If he fails to love his brother, doubt is cast on his professed love for God” (Expos. Comm., p. 132).

“Genuine love is Paul’s bidding: Not stage-actor love” ….. it is the “supreme fruit of justifying faith, and must be found in every believer” (Lenski, p. 766).

“Love is undissembled, it is the unaffected Christian grace” (Expos. Greek, p. 691).

“Have no hypocritical love; let not your love wear a mask; make no empty professions. Love God and your neighbor; and, by obedience to the one and acts of benevolence to the other, show that your love is sincere” (Clarke, p. 139).

Remember Peggy G, and her radiation therapy

Kim and her battle with cancer

Olivia doing quite well, keep on praying

Virginia M, still fighting but losing ground

Roger, E, brain cancer

Rolfe, also brain cancer

Maritus, new to the faith, just gave her some study books and a bible to help her. She is looking for a church home that’s near where she lives as she doesn’t have a car.

And Micah, going to prison, will turn himself in tomorrow, 7 years federal

Remember Nathan and his 20+ hard time federal prison, his wife gets sentenced next week

mountain top

August 27, 2015

the sky is the limit

The solution of the moral problem in the Christian life through the power of the Spirit is remedied by the Holy Spirit filling the life of the believer and enabling him to achieve the miracle of a God-honoring life. It is clear, however, that the ministry of the Spirit to a yielded believer who is walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit has tremendous effects upon the total life of the believer, all of which are related in one way or another to the moral issue. An important result of the ministry of the Spirit to the believer is that he is taught the things of God. Christ in the Upper Room prophesied that the Spirit would teach His own. He told His disciples, “When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of himself, but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you.” The Spirit of God is the Master Teacher, who as the omniscient God can guide the Christian in the comprehension of all truth. As such He will not speak primarily of Himself, but shall be a means of communicating to the believer that which God wants him to know. It is most significant that His primary task is to glorify Christ or to magnify the perfections of Christ, and make Christ real and precious to the believer.

Another major passage dealing with the teaching ministry of the Spirit is found in 1 Corinthians 2:9—3:2 . Here revelation is given that the believer in Christ is taught things by the Spirit which cannot be known by man naturally. This requires, however, on the part of the pupil that he be teachable, that is, be sensitive and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Corinthians who were carnal or fleshly were able only to receive the milk of the Word, the partial and simple truths that were related to their limited spiritual experience. Inasmuch as comprehension of the truth of God is essential for intelligent life and service, so a walk of fellowship with the Spirit in which the divine Teacher can display the things of God is an important aspect of God’s present program for His own.

The ministry of the Spirit is not only to instruct Christians in the revelation of the Word of God and to understand what might be called normative truth, but the ministry of the Spirit is also to apply this to the particular situation of the individual Christian in the form of guidance in decisions that need to be made. It is only as the Christian is a living sacrifice, is transformed by the renewing of his mind and not conformed to this world, that he is able to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom 12:2). Guidance is given those who are already committed to the will of God as illustrated in the servant of Abraham who testified in his search for a bride for Isaac, “I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (Gen 24:27). Guidance is not only the privilege but the mark of a true believer as brought out in Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The leading of the Spirit according to Galatians 5:18 is far superior to direction by the Law in that it is personal and adapted to the individual life.

One of the by-products of the ministry of the Spirit to each believer is that he has assurance of salvation. According to Romans 8:16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” The same thought is brought out in Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 4:13 . Obviously a real intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit speaks of a relationship which includes salvation and brings comfort and joy to the believer because of assurance of his present and future salvation.

In like measure the presence of the Holy Spirit leads the believer into a true worship of God and an admiration of the infinite perfections of God. The believer who is filled with the Spirit is able to enjoy worship, fulfilling the description, “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:19-20). As the Spirit reveals the glories of Christ and the perfections of God, the believer is inspired by the Spirit to worship in spirit and in truth. Such exercise of heart is far superior to the rituals of man which often lack reality of experience.

The ministry of the Spirit to the believer also is related to his prayer life inasmuch as he needs to be guided in his prayer life, burdened by the love of God for others, and constrained to become involved in the prayer needs of those about him. According to Romans 8:26, the Spirit also intercedes for Christians “with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Inasmuch as the Spirit is ministering to the believer as well as interceding for him, He can guide and direct the effective prayer exercise of a believer, presenting his petitions and worship to the Lord.

The ministry of the Spirit to the believer in all of these things—teaching, guiding, assuring, inspiring worship, and guiding prayer—is vitally related to the spiritual life and holiness of the individual believer and affects the quality of his life as it reflects the holiness of God.

The ministry of the Spirit also is manifested in holy works or service for God, and it is clear that only as the Holy Spirit works within an individual can he really have the bountiful life of service for others which is the Christian calling. This was anticipated by Christ in John 7:38-39 where He spoke of rivers of living water as proceeding from within the believer. Such an abundant blessing is not possible to man naturally and can only be fulfilled as the believer fulfills the good works for which he was created in Christ (Eph 2:10). The holy life of service is, therefore, also a result of the ministry of the Spirit in the life of the yielded believer and is related to the ministry of the Spirit to promote holiness in the life.

In addition to all these important aspects of spiritual life, it is obvious that the Holy Spirit of God also works in the character of the believer himself and produces in him the evidence of His working in the fruit of the Spirit. According to Galatians 5:22-23, in contrast to the works of the flesh, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.”

The entire work of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, related to the moral experience of the believer. This, of course, begins with his salvation which makes it possible for him to be released from the slavery of sin and able to choose the way of righteousness. The indwelling Holy Spirit is provided by God to give the enablement and provide the ministries which are necessary to the believer as he lives in this sinful world.

The most important aspect of the Holy Spirit in relation to the moral life of the believer is found first of all in the necessity to yield to the Holy Spirit and to let Him direct, guide, and empower according to His will. The inevitable areas of failure which come into the life of the believer through unyieldedness and sin are bound to require confession of sin and restoration according to God’s invitation. The child of God must be in fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit in order to achieve the high quality of moral experience which is expected of believers whose proper standard of life is the holiness of God Himself.

Many factors are related to the holiness of God as seen in the believer, including the ministry of the Spirit in teaching the truth of God, in guiding, in decisions based upon the normative truth of the Word of God, in worship, in prayer, in service, and finally in the transformation of the believer himself. The fruit of the Spirit is manifested through him and that which is so contrary to the flesh becomes the dominant experience and fruitage of his spiritual experience. It is only when all these factors combine that true morality is achieved and the believer’s life is indeed that which reflects the glory and perfection of God’s own infinite holiness. Although the experience of this is necessarily somewhat qualified and relative in this world, the believer is assured that his longing for complete conformity to the will and character of God will be achieved in eternity if only partially realized in time. The tragedy is, however, that so many are content with living in the low lands when they could be having the joy and peace of Christian experience and the fruitage in their own lives and in the lives of others that comes from dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Holy living is possible only by the Holy Spirit.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

YIELD TOO

August 26, 2015

Yield_Sign_in_New_Hampshire

A major factor in achieving holiness is fellowship with the Holy Spirit. The partnership of the believer and the indwelling Holy Spirit in all that is undertaken for God is absolutely essential to achieve the will of God. This in turn depends upon intimate fellowship between the Spirit and the believer. The entrance of rebellion and a continued state of being unyielded to the Holy Spirit will greatly harm and hinder the communication of the will of God and the power to accomplish it.

Like the alcoholic that hits rock bottom, God wants fellowship, you get to choose how that fellowship is initiated. If you read your bible you know that God is a jealous God, he will have no other gods come between you and him. You can be unyielded and reap years of wasted days, building nothing for your future in the kingdom to come, wood, hay and stubble or you can be found not wanting and hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

You can bend your knees or have God break your knees. Forget about all the talk about free will and God is like a warm blanket just pulled from the dryer; have you read the Old Testament that God has not gone away. As a Christian I do have grace and mercy and longsuffering, but God also wants to hear from me and have me depend on Him and not upon my own self.

It is because of this obvious requirement for achieving excellence in moral experience that the believer is exhorted in Ephesians 4:30, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” This command directs our attention first of all to the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person who has intellect, sensibility (feeling), and will. The Holy Spirit has feelings and is sensitive to the presence of sin in the life of a believer. Rebellion against the direction of the Holy Spirit in the life constitutes an offense to His holy character and can result in great loss to the individual believer.

Grieving the Holy Spirit originates in quenching the Spirit or hindering the Spirit’s direction and empowering of the Christian life. When this is persisted in, it results in loss of intimate fellowship and the full ministry of the Spirit to the individual. He no longer is filled with the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, or taught by the Spirit, and in various degrees is removed from the effective ministry of the Spirit to him. The result is that the Christian is thrown on his natural resources and may often act much like a person who is not a Christian.

The emotional life of the believer may have its ups and downs, quite apart from the matter of spiritual fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and physical weariness, discouraging experiences, and hunger or pain may affect the spiritual experience of the spiritual life. The long-range effects of walking without the Spirit’s direction and power, however, soon become evident both to the Christian and those who observe his life.

It is probably true that the great majority of Christians have in some measure grieved the Holy Spirit and are living on limited enablement in their spiritual life.

The decline of a person’s spiritual experience because of grieving the Holy Spirit does not affect his relationship to God in grace nor does it affect the certainty of his eternal salvation. Because a true believer is the object of divine grace, there is always the open door back into fellowship through confession of sin. According to 1 John 1:9, the remedy for having grieved the Holy Spirit is found in genuine confession of sin where the promise is given, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This assurance and invitation is given in a book of the Bible dedicated to the revelation of fellowship with God and is directed immediately to Christians. Confession of sin on the part of an unsaved person would not in itself provide forgiveness or salvation. The text presumes that there is already a relationship to God in grace to which appeal can be made. The forgiveness is not a matter of law or legal obligation, but rather a relationship between a father and his child. Just as for unsaved people the exhortation is summed up in the word “believe,” so for the Christian who has grieved the Holy Spirit his obligation is summed up in the word “confess.”

It is obvious that confession must be genuine, it must be from the heart, and in the nature of the case it involves judging the sin as sin which has grieved the Holy Spirit. Confession by its very nature involves self-judgment as brought out in 1 Corinthians 11:31. The text according to1 John 1:9, however, assures the believer that upon confession he can be sure of forgiveness because God is faithful to His promise and just inasmuch as Christ has died for sin.

Confession is on the human side and reflects the adjustment that is necessary in human experience and personality to restore the marred fellowship with God. According to 1 John 2:1-2, it is clear that on the divine side the adjustment has been already made. Christ as the advocate of the believer has already interceded for him for, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Inasmuch as the divine side is always in proper adjustment, a Christian out of fellowship is obligated to perform his own act of confession and by this means is able to be restored into close fellowship with the Lord.

The necessity of a close fellowship with the Holy Spirit through yieldedness of heart and confession of known sin is indispensable to achieving the moral excellence required for a life that is truly honoring to God. Christians are solemnly warned that those who trifle with their moral obligations may subject themselves to God’s own discipline. As illustrated in the Corinthian church, Christians are warned, “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor 11:31-32). God permits His child time in which to evaluate his life, judge his sin, confess it and be restored into fellowship. Failure to do so, however, invites the chastening judgment of God. As was true in the Corinthian church, it is possible for Christians to suffer physical illness and even death as a result of failure to walk in fellowship with God and avail themselves of the open door of restoration. It is so unnecessary for Christians to suffer needlessly as brought out in 1 Peter 4:15 where Peter states, “Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.”

I find it interesting that Word Perfect or Microsoft’s Word, dictionary does not recognize the words “yieldedness or unyielded” and that my friend is the ah-hah moment.

YIELD, PLEASE

God bless from scumlikeusuchurch@gmail.com

Pray for Peggy who has started radiation therapy this week and is really bummed.

Olivia is doing amazing well and is actually working 3 days a week 7 hours a day which is a miracle and she wants to praise God and thank you all for the prayers.

Pray for Kim and her fight against cancer

Pray for those who live with chronic pain and the emotional freight train that comes with it.

YIELD

August 25, 2015

Yield_Sign_in_New_Hampshire

In establishing a believer in Christ, the work of the Spirit which is related to salvation prepares the individual for a life in the will of God. There are a number of important factors bearing on this.

The believer has (1) a new nature,

(2) the life of God in him,

(3) is related vitally to God and to other believers in the baptism of the Spirit, and

(4) possesses the presence of God in his body and consciousness.

This sets the stage for an effective expression of a life on high moral standards in keeping with the character of God. It is intrinsic in this new relationship that a young believer only recently entering into salvation in Christ can nevertheless experience and know the will of God and achieve a high moral standard.

 Sometimes the change is dramatic as compared to former life and fulfills the concept of conversion as it relates to a spiritual experience. Another factor, however, is evident and that is the maturity which is achieved only in time which gives the believer in Christ greater understanding of the will of God. Maturity must be developed in coping with situations that are not expressly covered by the Bible and relating the life of the believer to the total program of God as he understands it. Obviously maturity takes times whereas spirituality is a possibility for a believer immediately upon conversion.

The major point in the whole relationship of the Holy Spirit to the believer’s morality is that prior to conversion the believer was hopelessly a slave to sin and incapable of pleasing God. In his new salvation he is set free and now has the principles and the power to lead a life that is in keeping with the standards of God.

Although his achievement of moral excellence may always be relative in this life, it is tied in with the power of the Spirit in his life and the degree to which the Holy Spirit fills him and directs him. A believer now has the power given by God to yield himself to God and be an instrument of righteousness instead of an instrument of sin. The subsequent holy life remains the pattern of experience to be followed today. There are three major factors in this: (1) yieldedness to the Spirit, (2) fellowship with the Spirit, and (3) the ministry of the Spirit.

Yieldedness to the Holy Spirit

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer provides an inexhaustible and constant source of spiritual direction and empowerment. The ministry of the Spirit, however, is not automatic and is not effective without cooperation on the part of the individual, hence the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to “Quench not the Spirit.” This command, included in a series of other exhortations, puts the finger upon an essential requirement for vital Christian life and conformity to the moral will of God. Quenching is a concept used in relation to extinguishing or suppressing a fire. In Hebrews 11:34 the heroes of faith are said to have “Quenched the violence of fire.” In the spiritual conflict discussed in Ephesians 6:16, the shield of faith is “able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Hence, it may be concluded that quenching the Holy Spirit is to suppress, stifle, or otherwise obstruct the ministry of the Spirit to the individual. In a word it is saying, “No,” and replacing the will of the Spirit with the will of the individual. This, in brief, is the whole issue of morality—whether man will accomplish what he wants to do or whether his life is surrendered and yielded to the will of God.

The major conflict of all creation is between the will of God and the will of the creature. This began with the original rebellion of Satan against God outlined in the five “I will’s” of Isaiah 14, summarized in the ambitious goal, “I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). This original act of rebellion against God on the part of Satan was extended to the human race in the Garden of Eden. The conflict of the ages is accordingly between the will of the creature and the will of the Creator.

In order to attain a biblical standard of morality, it is necessary for the believer to be like God and this involves yieldedness of his own will to the will of God. Accordingly, in Romans 6:13 the exhortation is that we should stop presenting (present tense) our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness, and once for all (aorist tense) present ourselves to God as a single and definite act. In doing this we should let the Holy Spirit direct our lives and guide our steps and thus achieve the moral standards and goals which are God’s will for us.

A similar exhortation is found in Romans 12:1 where the believer is exhorted to present or yield (aorist tense) his body as a living sacrifice once for all and thereby achieve through knowledge and fulfillment “that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom 12:2). Many believers in Christ have never realistically yielded themselves completely to the will of God, and accordingly their whole life is spent in self-will and self-direction instead of achieving a high standard of fulfillment.

The command of 1 Thessalonians 5:19 is probably best interpreted as “Stop quenching the Spirit.” The implication is that there have been hindrances to the will of the Spirit being established in the life of the believer, and this action of hindering the Spirit should be stopped. There can be no achievement of the moral purpose of God in the life of the believer apart from an intimate and vital relationship between the guidance and direction of the Spirit and the life of the individual.

Yieldedness to the will of God implies, first of all, yieldedness to the Word of God and the standards of moral excellence which are set forth in the Scriptures. Many issues which face the Christian, however, are not taught explicitly in the Bible. Hence, second, there must be yieldedness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to the individual to provide guidance in these matters, that is, to apply the general principles of the Bible to the particular issue which is facing the individual.

Third, in addition to being yielded to the Word of God and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, yieldedness implies adjustment to the providential acts of God, whether it be Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” or anything else which might prompt rebellion against God’s dealings with His child. The believer must be willing to accept divinely appointed situations, although free to pray and ask God to change them. The role of the Spirit in comforting the believer is often related to providential situations in which, contrary to the believer’s own desire, God is fulfilling His purpose in providing a means and context for life which ordinarily would not be the situation of human choosing.

The supreme illustration of such yieldedness is, of course, Jesus Christ. This is described in Philippians 2:5-11, and speaks of His condescension and humility. Christ is revealed as being willing to be what God wanted Him to be, willing to do what God wanted Him to do, and willing to go where God wanted Him to go. In a similar measure Christians in the will of God may have unpleasant tasks to perform which require yieldedness of heart and the sustaining grace of the Holy Spirit. Like Christ, the believer must say, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Moral excellence in the life of the believer is inseparable from a vital communication and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit which is only possible when the believer is yielded to the Holy Spirit.

YIELD,

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

ZIPPERS

August 24, 2015

marshmallow

What do you think is more important; a theological framework to be able to discuss your cogent thoughts at Starbucks or controlling your zipper??

I’ll give you a clue, it starts with a Z

 

Doesn’t matter what your age, gender or sexual preference God tells everyone to control the zipper.

The pen might be mightier than the sword, but man oh man, a sex life out of control is disaster.

 

The moral crisis of contemporary society is a pointed reminder of the need for a new morality. Such a goal is not achieved by lowering former standards of morality to correspond to present behavior. Such a move is simply to condone immorality and to develop an amoral society. Rather, in harmony with the doctrine of the holiness of God, the goal should be realized of achieving in a new way a morality in keeping with the Scriptures and the character of God. The realization of such a goal is possible only by supernatural power such as is provided by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

Here’s a good question for you, one I won’t answer in this devotion (not today)

 

 

What’s the difference between a godly person being moral and an atheist being moral?

 

 

The billboards read: “No God? No Problem. Be Good for Goodness’ Sake,” and “Are You Good without God? Millions Are.” The point is clear: Morality in no way depends on belief in God. And why should it?

So if I’m a Christian, what compelling argument is there for me to behave?

 

 

(again, more questions than answers, I don’t want to spoon feed anybody, think about this a bit). A decision you come to on your own will be more defensible than a decision you adopt.

 

 

Note, by the way, that objective morality is the issue here. Clearly, no God is necessary for the make-me-up morality of relativism. Universal moral obligations, however, require transcendent grounding. That’s the argument.

 

 

I am always surprised at the numbers of emails I get asking me questions about sex, as a culture we are obsessed with it. But when I get letters from 9 year old girls asking if it’s ok for them to have some form of sex (more on that later) I really question the moral fabric of our society.

 

 

When I do marriage seminars I put a box out on the first night telling people that they can drop in any question they want, and I always set the tone that I’m half crazy and definitely have stepped over the line somewhere in the seminar to let them know any question is alright, except for goats, chicken feathers and frogs, all the questions are the same.

 

 

See everybody is asking the same questions, the church is just to insecure and wrapped to tight to answer the questions. Well not here, I mean seriously, we are called scumlikeuschurch, you think we are normal?

 

 

So get ready this week as we step off the edge.

 

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

 

And if you are a stuffed shirt, religious egg sucking legalistic, hypocritical, backstabbing, cheating, wrapped to tight turd, yes you can still voice your opinion, but you might not like my answer.

not ashamed

Brad submitted some great questions about the church so here hopefully are some good answers.

By definition, the Church is the “Body of Christ”, that community of the redeemed of which He is the Head. “And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18, KJV)

The Church came into being because “Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25, KJV). It is nurtured by His own dynamic life “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26, KJV). Christ will come to claim it as his “bride, [as one] adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2, KJV), “that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27, KJV).

Its birth was confirmed by the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-11) who also provides the power for its self-perpetuation through witness to the world (Acts 1:8).

The Church is Both Visible and Invisible:

The invisible Church is that larger body of believers who, down through the ages, have sincerely trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19, KJV). One becomes a member of the invisible Church when he receives Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior (John 1:12).

The visible Church is the present-day universal Church, composed of local groups of Christians, In it are bothe the “wheat and tares” (Matthew 13:25-40) – the truly redeemed, and many who are not.

Those churches who, down through the centuries, have denied “the faith which was once delivered” (Jude 3, KJV), would be identified as apostate.

When a person experiences the new birth, becomes a member of the invisible Church. He should seek to identify immediately with a local, biblical assembly of believers in order to take an active part in worship, fellowship, evangelism, Bible study, and prayer. This is a responsibility which the Bible teaches: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV).

  1. The church is one.

Eph. 4:3-6. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all in all.

  1. The church is one body with many functions; each member has a purpose.

Rom. 12:4-8. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

  1. Together, Christians constitute God’s household, in which he lives by his Spirit.

Eph. 2:19-22. You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

  1. Keep the unity of believers; don’t follow men, but Christ.

1 Cor. 1:10-17

1 Cor. 1:11-13. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you. Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

  1. Gifts of the Spirit differ. Each member must use his or her gifts to serve others.

Eph. 4:11-13. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

  1. Each member of the body is necessary. We need on another.

1 Cor. 12:12-31.

  1. Christ is the head of the church, his body.

Eph. 1:20-23

Eph. 1:22-23. God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Eph. 5:23. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

  1. Christ loves the church.

Eph 5:25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .

  1. Attend worship services faithfully.

Heb. 10:25. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

  1. The psalmist longed for the house of God.

Ps. 84.

  1. The meaning of the communion of the saints is beautifully taught in Paul’s letter to Philemon.

The book of Philemon (Paul writes the letter to his “dear friend and fellow worker” on behalf of Onesimus, Urging Philemon to receive him back as a “dear brother.”)

Vv. 10-12. I appeal to you for my son Oensimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him – who is my very heart – back to you.

Vv. 15-16. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good – no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

  1. Elders are God’s appointed shepherds placed over the flock of Jesus Christ

Acts 20:28. “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”

  1. Office bearers must warn the wayward.

Ezek. 33:7-9. Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.  When I say to the wicked, “O wicked man, you will surely die, ” and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.  But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

  1. God condemns and warns unfaithful shepherds.

Ezek. 34:1-16

  1. Jesus prays for the church.

John 17:6-26 (Jesus’ high priestly prayer)

  1. The church is a great multitude gathered from all nations and tribes.

Rev. 7:9. After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and if front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

  1. Discipline begins with personal admonition.

Rom. 15:14. I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Col. 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymn and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

  1. Restore one who has fallen, with gentleness.

Gal. 6:1. Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

  1. Seek to save an erring sinner.

James 5:19-20. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

  1. Forgive and restore one who repents; love him.

2 Cor. 2:7-8. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

  1. Do not fellowship with one who will not repent.

1 Cor. 5:11. Now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man do not even eat.

  1. Jesus gives us the procedure for church discipline.

Matt. 18:15-18. If your brother sins against you, go and show him his faults, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.  I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

  1. Christ has given the keys of the kingdom of the church.

Matt. 16:19. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

  1. Purge out the old leaven.

1Cor. 5:1-13

  1. Excommunication is sometimes necessary.

2 Thess. 3:14. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.  Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

  1. Jesus commends the church for faithful discipline.

Rev. 2:2. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.

  1. Jesus rebukes the church that does not discipline.Rev. 2:14-16. I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Isarealites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitan. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

There are three common questions people ask about the church: Is it really necessary to attend church? What is a church? Which church should I attend?

BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

The church is so important that Christ died for it (Eph. 5:25). And Christians are instructed by Scripture not to neglect church meetings (Heb. 10:25).

 

Is it really necessary to attend church? To understand why church attendance is so important, it is necessary to know the meaning of church.  We often think of a church as a building, but the New Testament Greek word ekklesia, which is translated “church,” means an assembly of people.  Literally, ekklesia means ” the called-out-ones.” So when the writer of Hebrew 10:25 urges Christians not to neglect their church meetings, he is not stressing the importance of a church building, but the frequent gathering of Christians for worship, fellowship, and study of God’s Word.

Going to church will not save you, but if you are a Christian, you need to attend church for your own spiritual growth and the encouragement of others.

What church should I attend? That question cannot be answered by a denominational name, style of worship, or list of weekly activities. You need to find a church where:

Worship permeates ever activity: “May he [God] be given glory forever and ever trough endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:21). Jesus said that “where two or three gather together because they are mine, I will be right there among them.” So it must be that when Christians gather at church, they should experience a little bit of heaven, because Jesus is there.  In heaven the angels sing: “The Lamb is worthy. . . the Lamb who was slain.  He is worthy to receive the power, and the riches, and the wisdom, and the strength, and the honor, and the glory, and the blessing” (Rev. 5:12). Attend a church where the people enjoy worshiping the Lord. And that can be done in a variety of styles.

The Word of God is taught accurately and clearly. “Faith comes from listening to this Good News- the Good News about Christ” (Rom. 10:17). If you attend a church where the Bible is faithfully taught, you will find it easier to follow Paul’s instruction: “Know what his Word says and mean” (2 Tim.2:15). And you will “grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . . ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Attend a church where you will hear God’s voice above all the other voices.

Fellowships is sweet among the Christians.

Fellowship is more than having dinner together. It is a close bond between Christians that results in helpfulness, kindness, doing good, and encouragement (Heb. 10:24, 25). Attend a Christ-centered church that clearly teaches the Bible where you can enjoy rich fellowship, not merely superficial relationships.

Service is performed in love and in the name of Christ.  Christian service may take many forms (singing, teaching, witnessing, helping the poor, etc.) but it is only pleasing to the Lord when it is the direct result of worship. In fact, worship and service are inseparable; every task should be done as worship unto the Lord. “Remember what Christ taught and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be a representative of the Lord Jesus, and come with him into the presence of God the Father to give him your thanks” (Col. 3:16, 17). Attend a church where service unto the Lord is more than a Sunday affair.

Is church membership important? Acts 2:40-47 describes the growth and activities of the early church. Verse 47 says that “each day God added to them all who were being saved.” That clearly shows that all who are saved are part of the church.  So joining the local church is not a requirement for salvation, but a way you can publicly announce that you are a member of God’s family.  However, from a very practical standpoint, the establishment of a membership role enables church leaders to know who they can count on. Consider church membership a commitment to Christ and other Christians, and be sure the church leaders really can count on you.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Please send us your prayer requests and questions

Pray for Brad and kim as they look for a new church in a new town

Pray for Charlie and his mom who is suffering from dementia

Paul, who had a huge fight with his wife today and said somethings he shouldn’t have said.

Angel, who needs to make a lifestyle choice the will either improve his relation to the Lord or damage it even more.

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Two things I have to constantly remind myself about, “I’m not perfect and I’m not in control”.

 

 

The Apostle Paul was a devout Jew; in fact, he was a zealous Pharisee. From all outward appearances, Paul was the best specimen of Judaism one could ever hope to find. But when the risen Savior confronted him on the road to Damascus, Paul came to recognize that he was “bankrupt,” spiritually speaking. After he came to faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior, Paul’s whole value system was inverted. In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul tells us how the things he formerly viewed as assets he now looked upon as liabilities, because of Christ. And now, those things that he once looked on as liabilities Paul recognized as assets. Now, Paul considered it a privilege to enter into the sufferings of Christ, even to the point of identifying with Christ by being put to death for the sake of the gospel.

Our text in Philippians 3:12-21 takes up where Paul left off in verse 11. Our text has two main paragraphs, verses 12-16 and verses 17-21. In general terms, verses 12-16 explain Paul’s perspective on the past, the present, and the future. The Christian does not live in the past, but with an eye to the future. Verses 17-21 contrast Paul’s perspective on the past, the present, and the future with that of the enemies of the cross. They pride themselves in their past accomplishments and live for the present, ignoring the future. Paul does not take the saints who erred in verse 15 nearly as seriously as he does these unbelievers in verses 18-19. Together, these two paragraphs sharpen our focus on the goal toward which every Christian should be striving. Let us carefully listen and learn from these divinely inspired words, which are as applicable to us today as they were to the Philippians centuries ago.

Not Yet Arriving, But Still Striving

(3:12-16)

12 Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: forgetting the things behind and reaching out for the things ahead, 14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. 16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained.

It’s the long vacation trip with the kids in the car; “are we there yet” it can seem like we’ve been traveling a long time yet in the economy of God we might have barely moved forward at all.

We were on our way, but we had not yet arrived.

This is what Paul is trying to convey to the Philippians about his spiritual journey and theirs. When Paul was an unconverted Jew, he actually thought he had arrived spiritually.

If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more: 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee. 6 In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless (Philippians 3:4b-6).

Who could attain any more than this? Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ opened his eyes to the fact that he had not arrived at all. He was not furthering the cause of God; he was opposing it. He had not arrived; he was not even on the right path. He was going in the wrong direction!

Having come to faith in Christ for his salvation, Paul knew that he was on the right path and going in the right direction. But he also realized that he had not yet arrived, and that there was a difficult course ahead, which required perseverance and discipline.

23 I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it. 24 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. 25 Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. 26 So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. 27 Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:23-27; see also Hebrews 12:1-13).

This is not to say that Paul was pursuing sanctification by his own strength, but that in the strength God provided he was pressing on in his walk, living out the life of Christ, and stretching forward to the upward call (Philippians 3:14).

There have always been those who have sought to portray a very different image of themselves than that which Paul conveys here. They want us to believe that they have already arrived spiritually. If they could, they would have us believe that they live above the struggles, temptations, and trials of this life. They are not open and transparent about their struggles and failures in their Christian life. They would be very reluctant to admit their failings, and some would deny that they sin any longer. If we were to believe such folks, then we would be very inclined to follow them because they are so much more spiritual than we are.

Paul does call upon his readers to “follow his example,” but he does not do so claiming to have already arrived. Paul calls upon us to “follow his example” in striving toward the goal of maturity in Christ. Paul is not a super spiritual man who has arrived, who is beckoning to us to follow the trail he has already blazed; Paul is on the pathway, pressing onward toward maturity, urging us to join with him in his pursuit of maturity in Christ.

Paul’s words were intended to correct an error known as “perfectionism.” In its simplest form, perfectionism is the belief that one can arrive at perfection in this life. Believe it or not there are those who actually believe that one can reach sinless perfection in this life. I’ve never really known a person who claimed to have arrived in this sense, but I have known a number of people who think that they have arrived in the sense that they are a whole lot further down the path of perfection than others. Comparatively speaking, they think that they are a great deal more spiritual than others. I must say that they seem to think they are much more spiritual than others think they are, others who know them well.

Paul is absolutely emphatic about the fact that he has not yet arrived, so emphatic that he repeats himself twice: “I have not yet arrived” (see verses 10-11, 14, 16). By inference, he does so more often than this. Paul has been gloriously saved (3:4-9), and his salvation experience has commenced the process of his sanctification. But that process, commenced at his conversion, is not complete.

If the Apostle Paul has not arrived spiritually, then certainly no one else has either. The consequence of this fact is that no one is free to sit back, resting upon their laurels, as though all they must do is to wait for our Lord’s return. The Christian is not to be content with the status quo, but must press on toward the goal that has been set before him. And that is precisely what Paul does, while challenging us to follow his example. The goal is two-fold; it is both general and specific. The general goal toward which every Christian is to strive is that of the “upward call”—either the day of our death, or the day when our Lord returns for His saints, to snatch them up from this world to be with Him forever. In one sense, this is an event in the future, which draws nearer by the passing of time. In another sense, it is a future event which we are to pursue, and to seek to hasten.

There is a second goal toward which we should be striving. The first goal was a general one; the second goal is more specific. We should be striving toward that particular purpose for which Christ called us. We were saved “unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10), and we know that God has a particular plan for each one of us, just as He had for Paul (see Acts 9:15-16; 26:15-18). We have each been saved for a particular purpose, for a particular role in the body of Christ, and for a unique ministry to that body (see 1 Corinthians 12). Paul expressed his eagerness to fulfill his calling, and we should do likewise.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air (1 Corinthians 9:26).

5 You, however, be self-controlled in all things, endure hardship, do an evangelist’s work, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as an offering and the time for me to depart is at hand. 7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! 8 Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing (2 Timothy 4:5-8, emphasis mine).

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, 2 keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

If we are going to press on toward the goal before us, then we cannot keep looking behind. That is why Paul tells us that we must be “forgetting the things behind and reaching out for the things ahead” (verse 13). Just what are the “things behind us” that we are to forget? I would be inclined to think of these “things to forget” in two categories: (1) things from our non-Christian past; and, (2) things from our past as believers.

First, let’s consider the things of our pre-Christian past. When Paul came to faith in Jesus Christ, he realized that all of the things in which he had boasted were really “dung.” He also realized that in persecuting the saints he had been opposing his Lord. Paul would certainly not wish to cling to the past in terms of these “accomplishments,” because they were not accomplishments at all, spiritually speaking. But he also needed to accept the fact that when he came to faith in Christ, he became “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that the guilt of his past had been washed away by the blood of Christ. There was no great profit to his agonizing over his past. Paul was deeply committed to the doctrine of sovereignty, and thus he must trust that God had used even his wicked deeds against the saints for their good, and for God’s glory (Romans 8:28).

Second, let’s consider the things of our Christian past. If we are to fix our eyes on what lies ahead, then we cannot be obsessed with anything in our past, even our past as believers. Let me suggest some of the things in this category that we should “forget.”

We should forget the sins and failures of our past. We must first have dealt with these issues, for Paul is surely not giving us an excuse for failing to deal with matters that require some kind of action on our part. Debts should be paid. Confession should be made and reconciliation sought. Lessons should be learned, and changes should be made. But once we have dealt with our failures, we should leave them and move on. Having dealt with the past, we should not dwell on the past.

We should forgive and forget the sins that others have committed against us. We need to learn to forgive those who have sinned against us, and to leave their offenses behind us (Matthew 5:43-48; 18:21-35; Luke 11:14; Ephesians 4:32). Bitterness is the lingering hostility that results when sins are not forgiven and forgotten, and thus it is forbidden (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:19).

We should forget our apparent successes in the past. How easy it is to rest on our laurels and to dwell upon past successes. We cannot look back if we are going to press on. We do not win races by looking backward, but by focusing on the finish line. I should also caution that those things we may consider to be successes may prove to be something else when we stand before Him who knows all:

2 Now what is sought in stewards is that one be found faithful. 3 So for me, it is a minor matter that I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord. 5 So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God (1 Corinthians 4:2-5).

I should hasten to add that there are many things that we should remember, but these reminders are to serve as incentives for us to press on. We see this in Peter’s second epistle:

10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin. 11 For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you. 12 Therefore, I intend to remind you constantly of these things even though you know them and are well established in the truth that you now have. 13 Indeed, as long as I am in this tabernacle, I consider it right to stir you up by way of a reminder, 14 since I know that my tabernacle will soon be removed, because our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me. 15 Indeed, I will also make every effort that, after my departure, you have a testimony of these things (2 Peter 1:10-15, emphasis mine; see also Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 1:6; 4:11-14; Titus 3:1; 2 Peter 3:1ff.).

The things we are to remember are those things that will cause us to set our eyes on Jesus and to press on to the goal of our upward call.

The goal that Paul pursues is the “upward call.” This certainly seems to be a reference to the rapture of the saints, when our Lord comes to take His saints home (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Therefore our race is not finished until we have either died or have been raptured into heaven. No one is permitted to slack off until the finish line, until their race is won. Why is it, then, that there are some professing saints who look back to their salvation, years earlier, but who have been “on vacation” ever since? Over and over in this epistle, Paul has his eyes on the finish line, which is still ahead and toward which we must strive (see 1:6, 10, 21; 2:9-11, 16; 3:11, 20).

Those who are truly mature, Paul writes, will concur with what he says. In other words, they will agree that salvation is just the “starting gun,” just the beginning of the race that we are all to run, and that the goal will not be reached until after our death or our upward calling. They will agree that no Christian “arrives” in this life, but keeps pressing on toward the goal. Those who think otherwise, God will correct.

Verse 15 is not an excuse for looking the other way when our brother or sister is overtaken in a fault (see Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-2). We are “our brother’s keeper.” We are instructed to admonish, rebuke, and correct (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Timothy 3:14-17). In Philippians 4:1-3, Paul will seek to bring about the reconciliation of two disputing women—Euodia and Syntyche. Paul is speaking about a particular point of view here, as I understand him. He is speaking to those who would suppose that they can arrive or have already done so. We need not wear ourselves out trying to convince them that they are still struggling with sin. God will make that all too plain to them in time.

Paul ends this paragraph with a word of exhortation: “Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained” (verse 16). Paul has been encouraging us as saints to join him in pressing on in our faith and walk. We have yet to finish the race, but we must fix our eyes on the goal and strive in His strength to reach that for which we were called. The one thing we must never even consider is turning back. There is no level of attainment that is high enough—we must press on, forgetting the past. There is no level of attainment so high that we are allowed to slack off, performing beneath that level which has already been attained. Put as briefly and pointedly as possible, THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR BACKSLIDING.

Follow Me, Avoid These

(3:17-21)

17 Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example. 18 For many live (about whom I often told you, and now say even with tears) as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end will be destruction. Their god is the belly. They exult in their shame. They think about earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.

In verses 12-16, Paul conveyed the Christian’s perspective and practice regarding the past, the present, and the future. When he comes to Christ, the Christian has not arrived. He must forget the past (bad and good) and press on to that for which he was called in Christ. He must press on toward the upward call. One’s conversion is the starting line, and one’s death (or the rapture) is the finish line. We dare not slack up in our striving toward the finish line, until we have reached the goal. No Christian has “arrived,” and thus they must continue to strive.

In verses 17-21, Paul exposes the danger of a very different perspective of the past, the present, and the future. Paul began this chapter with a word of warning concerning the Judaisers who believed in salvation by works. He now turns his attention to this group once again. There is one significant change here, which should be noted. Earlier in this chapter, Paul has dealt with error on a more doctrinal level. The “dogs” he warned of were those who took pride in human works and fleshly efforts. They trusted in themselves (or in their heritage as Jews) rather than in Christ alone. They thought they had arrived, while Paul knew that he had not. Now, Paul calls our attention to the works of those who are the enemies of the cross. It is the lifestyle of the false teachers which often betrays them, not just their professions or doctrinal creeds:

15 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matthew 7:15-23).

1 But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves. 2 And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction is not asleep…12 But these men, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed—do not understand whom they are insulting, and consequently in their destruction they will be destroyed, 13 suffering harm as the wages for their harmful ways. By considering it a pleasure to carouse in broad daylight they are stains and blemishes indulging in their deceitful pleasures when they feast together with you. 14 Their eyes are full of adultery that do not stop sinning; they entice unstable people. They have trained their hearts for greed, these cursed children! 15 By forsaking the right path they have gone astray, because they followed the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, 16 yet was rebuked for his own transgression (a dumb donkey, speaking with a human voice, restrained the prophet’s madness). 17 These men are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm, for whom the utter depths of darkness have been reserved. 18 For by speaking high-sounding but empty words they are able to entice, with fleshly desires and with debauchery, people who have just escaped from those who reside in error. 19 Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved (2 Peter 2:1-3, 12-19,).

It is no accident that in Acts 20:28-32 Paul warns the Ephesian elders concerning false teachers (some of whom will arise from their own number). In the verses preceding this warning, Paul emphasized that he had taught them all they needed to know (see 20:20, 27), and by inference indicating that there was no need for “new” teaching, beyond what he had taught. And so Paul first warns about the content of the false teachings, because it will depart from the truth. But immediately after verses 28-32, Paul speaks of his conduct in the gospel ministry, and how he did not covet the gold or silver or clothing of those he served. Paul labored with his own hands, so that he would not be a burden on the saints. Instead of being supported by them, he supported them. No false teacher would live this way, and so Paul contrasts his conduct with that of the false teachers. They can be known both by their content (doctrine) and their conduct.

In our text, Paul takes the same approach. He tells the Philippians to imitate him in his lifestyle and to identify others who live the same way (men like Epaphroditus and Timothy come to mind because of Philippians 2:19-30). Paul then contrasts the “enemies of the cross of Christ” with himself and others like him in verses 18 and 19.

18 For many live (about whom I often told you, and now say even with tears) as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end will be destruction. Their god is the belly. They exult in their shame. They think about earthly things.

Paul’s label for these intruders is significant. He calls them the “enemies of the cross of Christ” (verse 18). By this expression, I take it that they are opposed to the pure gospel. I would assume that they do not preach the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of eternal life based upon the shed blood of our Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. But I think Paul goes beyond this. They are enemies of our Lord’s cross, I believe, in the sense that they want nothing to do with bearing a cross themselves, as Jesus instructed:

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

There would be no denial of self for these counterfeit saints of whom Paul warned. Far from taking up their cross in this life, and living in the light of eternity, these folks are hell-bent for eternal destruction because they are consumed with the present, and not with the future. They are not compelled by Christ and His gospel; they are dominated by their own appetites. Their “god” is their belly. I don’t think it is just the belly and food that Paul is referring to, but their appetites, which includes the whole range of physical desires. They find joy in those things that are their shame. Their value system is upside-down.

In verses 20 and 21, Paul contrasts the perspective of the Christian with that of the counterfeit saint in verses 18 and 19. The Christian knows that his true “home” is in heaven, and not on earth. Even the Old Testament saints knew this:

13 These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. 14 For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:13-16).

But these mere earthlings to whom Paul is referring are those whose home is this world, and whose rewards are fleshly, experienced now. The Christian knows he is a foreigner in this world; the counterfeit is completely at home here and now.

The Christian eagerly awaits the return of the Lord Jesus to this earth, knowing that when He comes, He will transform our humble bodies into glorious bodies, like His own glorious body (verse 21). In other words, Paul is once again speaking about “that day,” the day of our Lord’s return, and of the marvelous resurrection which we await, and which takes the terror out of death. The same power that enables Him to resurrect and transform our mortal bodies is the power which He possesses to subject all things to Himself. What a contrast there is between a true believer and a counterfeit saint. It is evident in their doctrine; it is evident in their attitudes; it is apparent in their conduct.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com