Living Word Magazine
LIVING WORD GOING DEEPER INTO GOD’S WORD
Issue 2 September 2011
Readers of the Lost Ark Going Deeper into God’s Word Issue 3 October 2011
GOING DEEPER INTO GOD’S WORD |
Living Word Bible Studies Online UK
GOING DEEPER INTO GOD’S WORD BUT NOW IS CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD 1COR 15:20 (AV)
Autumn leads to Spring Here in Great Britain we are beginning of the season we call autumn (fall). The leaves on the oak, chestnut and sycamore trees are turning brown and falling to the ground. Many small mammals will go into hibernation.
But these animals will wake up and begin their lives again next spring when the snows melt and the temperature of this mild land rises. The trees will put forth new buds and new leaves will grow. The barren ground of my home land will again be filled with blue bells, daffodils and cyclamen.
When a loved one dies, it is natural that we should grieve, but we do not sorrow like those who have no hope. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Jesus those who sleep in him." We shall see our loved ones in Christ again, even more surely than I shall see the daffodils in the spring garden, or the anemones in the woods. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and he who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
© Davi Sales Readers of the Lost Ark? – Biblical Truth about the Ark of the Covenant
This month's featured study is 1 Corinthians 15, Paul's great defense of the doctrine of the resurrection.
Every year, the reality is the same. The death of autumn and winter gives way to life in the glorious spectacle of a Welsh spring!
It has been a great comfort to my heart in times of bereavement, and I share it with you, as it speaks of the certainty of our glorious reunion.
This fall I have planted a large bag of daffodil bulbs in my mother's garden. To be honest, those bulbs don't really look as if there is much life in them.
There is always hope for the Christian, even in death.
But I plant them in hope of seeing those beautiful blooms, our national emblem, in February or March.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
“O death where is your sing, o grave where is your victory.” “So my dear brothers and sisters comfort one another with these words.”
(c) David Watmough
Evangelism – the great need of the hour. Cover photo © James Steidl. Autumn Leaves © Marek Kosmal
GOING DEEPER INTO GOD’S WORD |
October’s Book Review and Reader’s Articles
HOW TO GIVE:
Darwin God’s Ambassador By George Di Palma. Troubador £9.95 www.troubador.co.uk
1. Freely (Mat 10:8 2 Corinth. 9:6) 2. Good measure (Luke 6:38) 3. As God has prospered (1 Corinth. 9:16) 4. Willingly (2 Corinth. 8:12)
5. with purpose (2 Corinth 9:7) 6. Cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9.7) SEVEN BLESSINGS PROMISED FOR GIVING:
The reader should not suppose that the author is a scientist, or an expert. He does not set out to prove Creationism by carefully examining a series of scientific theories. Rather, he brings
1. Returns on the basis of giving (Luke 6:38) 2. Reward (Mathew 10:42) 3. All grace abounding (2 Corinth 9:8) 4. All sufficiency (2 Corinth 9:8)
together a host of clear arguments and reasons
5. Eternal Righteousness (2 Corinth 9:9)
for rejecting evolutionary theory and accepting
6. Increased fruits (2 Corinth 9:10)
the validity of the claims of Genesis.
7. Enrichment for all things (2 Corinth9:11)
What I particularly liked about this book were
I hope these Verses are a blessing to and as
the numerous citations of leading protagonists in the debate over the last 100 or so years. The
you know all what the Word says is true. From Pastor Isaac Mwagi (Kenya)
author brings together such a wealth of quotes and anecdotes that any preacher or Pastor
would find this book a helpful addition to his tool kit. It will supply a miniature arsenal of material to use whenever we are called upon to offer "sound teaching and refute those who oppose it" in this matter of evolution verses creation. I certainly enjoyed reading this book and
wholeheartedly endorse it.
Pastor Mathew Bartlett
Pastor Gill’s Crusade in Pakistan. Please pray.
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Photo: © Dwayne Oakes
Christ’s Resurrection – Our Resurrection!
Read: 1 Corinthians 15 By Mathew Bartlett
According to the Scriptures. As Christ's death is attested by the OT prophetic writings, so is His resurrection (Isaiah 53.10 and Psalm 16.10). V2 This is what Paul had preached and which they had believed, and only as they held firm to the truth of this gospel could they stand firm in Christ.
Evidence of the Resurrection The Gospel of Christ v1 Paul reminds the Corinthians that the gospel which he preached, and which they had believed, was not his own idea, for it originated with God (Gal. 1:11-12 and 1 Tim. 1:11). They had been dead in trespasses and sins, and their behavior was evil (1 Cor. 6:10-11). But the gospel of Christ had wrought a tremendous change in their lives. Paul reminds them of the content of his message: Christ died for our sins. Christ's death was one of atonement. Having no sin of his own, He died for guilty sinners, satisfying the demands of Divine justice. According to the Scriptures. Christ’s death for sinners is attested by the Old Testament prophetic writings (e.g. Isaiah 53.8 and Ps 22.15).
He was buried. The burial of Christ is mentioned in all four gospels as conclusive proof that Jesus actually died. Morris says "The burial of a dead body is the necessary prelude to an empty tomb." The third day he was raised to life. God the Father raised Christ from death to live forever.
V3-4 Not only does Scripture bear witness to Christ’s resurrection, many people saw and heard Him after he had risen from the dead. They touched him (Luke 24:39), and ate with Him after He rose from the dead (Acts 10:40-41). V5 Paul's list is not exhaustive. The first witness he calls is Peter - not the first to see the risen Lord (that was Mary Magdalene) but the first of the twelve to see Him. Then all twelve followed on the same day with the exception of Thomas, who saw him a week later. V6 After this, Christ appeared to over 500 at once, whom we assume to be the crowd of disciples gathered in Galilee in obedience to his command (Matt. 28:716). Not only were these witnesses reliable, most of them could still be called upon, for they were still alive at the time of Paul's writing. The law required 2 or 3 witnessed to establish any matter as conclusive, but here we have over 500 witnesses to call upon!
V7 This verse must be understood of those, including the Lord's brother James, the eldest son of Mary and Joseph, who were called by the Lord Jesus to be his special messengers although not among the twelve or the original 500.
Christ's last appearance to His disciples was on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem from which he ascended to heaven (Luke 24:50-51). V8 But there was to be one final appearance. Paul’s words “last of all” indicate that this event was never to be repeated, as the risen Christ appeared to Paul (not in vision, but in person) near Damascus. One born out of due time. If Paul had been born at all, he was only a boy when Jesus had ascended. So his meeting Christ came later, after Christ's ascension, that he might be commissioned as an apostle. Thus all the apostles were commissioned by Christ in person. V9 Although he was called to the highest office in the church, Paul recognized his unworthiness, having persecuted and made havoc of the church before Christ appeared to him.
V10 It was God's will that by showing his grace to the chief of sinners he might offer an example for others who would later believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 1:15-16) God's grace made Paul an apostle to the Gentile nations, and .had such an effect on him that he worked tireless ly and strenuously for his Lord; more so than any of the other apostles. Yet this work was accomplished by God's grace, strengthening and enabling Paul to do all that God asked of him. V11 The Corinthians could not fail to recognize that this message of Christ's death and resurrection is what Paul and the other apostles preached, and which they had believed.
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The Importance of Christ's Resurrection V12 Here is our key verse. For some at Corinth taught that there was no resurrection of the dead. "Dead men don't rise," they said. V13 Paul replies that if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not raised.
V14 What would the consequences be for us if Christ were not rai sed from the dead? Firstly, the gospel message would be a fairy story and the faith of the Christian would be fantasy. V15 The apostles would be found out as liars, who told lies about God. For they had said that God raised Christ from the dead, and He could not have done so, if the dead do not rise. V16 For if the general fact is that there is no resurrection then the particular fact is that Christ is not risen.
V17 If Christ is not alive, then either God did not accept His sacrifice as perfect and suffici ent atonement for the souls of sinful men, or the whole thing is a hoax from the beginning. Your belief in Christ is useless, for if He is dead, he can't save anyone. If Christ is not raised we are still under the condemnation of sin. V18 Consequently, there is no way of salvation, and those who have fallen asleep (died) trusting in Christ are now in hell. V19 If our hope in Christ does not extend to life after death, then we are to be pitied more than all men, for why should we deny ourselves and suffer for our faith if life on earth is all there is?
The Fruits Resurrection
V20 Paul's previously stated and substantiated fact is that Christ is risen form the dead. The first fruits were the part of the harvest which grew first and was offered as holy to God, thus consecrating the whole harvest.
They were taken as a pledge of God's favor that the whole harvest would follow.
Since it is God who put all things under him, it is obvious that God himself is not put under him.
Though Christ is the first to rise from the dead he will not be the last. Christ has risen as Head of a new creation that will share in His resurrection. Although those whom Christ raised from death during His earthly ministry died again, He has now become the first of a new order risen never again to die (Heb. 7:16).
V28 So Paul tells of a time when the Son will joyously, submit his own self, though co equal and eternal, to the father, that God may be all and in a ll.
V21 Death was not the original purpose for God’s creation. As through one man, Adam, death came to mankind, so also by one man Christ, comes the resurrection of the dead to eternal life. V22 As all men are in Adam subject to mortality and death, so all who are in Christ shall share His nature of immortality and life(Phil. 3:21 and 1 John 3:2). V23 All men are not raised at the same time. First, Christ rose from the dead. Then those who are His shall rise from death at His coming. (See 1 Thess4) Then shall the end come. The events which lead up to this are clarified in Revelation. Christ shall reign over the earth as David did, until no other authority remains but his. This can be seen in the context of the millennial reign of Christ on earth. Then comes the second resurrection, when unbelievers shall rise to stand before the great white throne of God, followed by the eternally blessed state, which Paul means here when he speaks here of "the end". V26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Morris says "At present no man can resist the touch of death - then death will be able to touch no man." With the matters of eternal life and judgment having been forever settled, sins punishment (death) will never again be matter needing God's (or our) attention. V27 Paul quotes the Psalms (8:6) to show how God has subjected all things to His risen exalted Son (Eph. 1:20-22, Heb. 2:8; Matt. 28:18, and Phil. 2:9-11).
"It is best to understand it of the Son's giving up the account of his kingdom to his Father; when it will be seen that he has done all things in his name, acting by his power, and to his honor and glory. Having accomplished everything he undertook and was entrusted with, he delivers up the result of his work to God. His work being finished, he remains as God-man and our High priest forever, for the virtue of his sacrifice and intercession will always remain, but he will no longer need to plead and intercede for us as he now does; He will then be the immediate light of the saints and will reign in and over them forever - but not on his own, but as God and with God the Father, Son, and Spirit, who are the one true and living God; to whom all the saints will have immediate access, in whose presence they will be, and with whom they shall have uninterrupted fellowship. All the three divine Persons will have equal power and government in and over all the saints;" my précis from GILL
Baptism - symbol of death and resurrection. Defending the doctrine of resurrection, Paul points to the Corinthians' baptism. V29 Why were you baptized if the dead do not rise? Baptism is an outward expression of an inward faith in the risen Christ. By it we affirm our union with Christ by burial into his death and our union with him in his resurrection. We have died to the old life that we might live for Christ. If there is no resurrection then baptism is meaningless.
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Paul sums up the attitude of those who deny the truth of the resurrection by quoting Isaiah- enjoy life while you can, for there is nothing hereafter. If there truly were nothing hereafter then such advice might be suitable. But the plain fact is that there is something hereafter (Heb. 9:27). That is why Paul like Moses chose rather to face hardship and persecution with the people of God than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:25).
False Teachers Rebuked
(c) 1David Asche
Christian Endurance Evidence for the Resurrection V30 Why would the apostles continually put their lives at risk by preaching the gospel of a crucified and risen Savior if it was all untrue? V31 The believers knew that Paul was continually laying down his life for the church, and that their own church in Corinth was a result of his selfless ministry - a daily dying to this world for Christ's sake. Why would Paul and the other apostles give their lives for others, gaining no worldly advantage, if there was no profit in the next life either for them or for anyone else? V32 The same could be said of Paulâ€™s ministry in Ephesus, where he "carried his life in his hands" at all times.
A violent riot lasting over two hours was stirred up by the silversmiths, who were angry that the conversion of a large number of people to Christ was destroying their trade, which was associated with idol worship. These furious men are the "wild beats" referred to in this verse. Why would Paul choose to make a stand for Christ in the face of such opposition if he - and his converts - had nothing eternal to gain by doing so - for they certainly made no material gain by it.
V33-34 These verses give both a rebuke and a warning. A man is what he believes, in the sense that his belief will govern his behavior. Those who gave their ears to false teaching were allowing their good character to be undermined, for the doctrine of no resurrection produces the licentiousness described in v32 i.e. it doesn't matter how we live. Such false teaching can lead us from Christ to everlasting despair. So Paul tells his readers to wake up to the truth which leads to righteousness and godly living. Stop listening to lies, which lead you to godlessness by giving you an excuse to sin! Stop sinning! Those who propagated and received this doctrine did so because they did not know God or the Lord Jesus Christ. This should shame the Corinthians. They were living in such a way that these peopl e could feel at home among them. Acts 5.13 They were so slack in matters of faith that lying teachers were accepted without scrutiny. Rev 2.2
An Illustration from Nature V35 Paul foresees an objection: "How can the dead rise, seeing as their bodies have returned to dust?" Gen 3.19 V36-37 Such objectors are men devoid of understanding - fools. Even in nature, what we plant in the soil dies. When you plant a grain of wheat, what grows is not a grain of wheat but a living plant.
The original grain is no more; it has
died, its purpose having been fulfilled. Thus we see that the principle of death and resurrection is illustrated in nature. V38 God the creator is behind this spectacular every day miracle. God purposed that each seed should produce fruit after its kind (Gen. 1:1112).
V39 Every living creature has been given a different body. Animals have bodies which are very different from plants. Consider the many differences that exist between different kinds of animals, fish, and birds. V40 An abundant variety can be observed in the creation of all things God has made - both on earth or in the heavens. V41 The celestial bodies, the sun, moon and stars are all different. Each star is unique in its size and glory. Mankind is still finding out how vast and varied the universe is. Cannot the God who gave bodies to all these created things in a moment of time by his word, give a resurrection body to the dead?
We Shall be Changed V42 So the body we shall be raised in shall differ from our present body of dust. The human body is at present subject to decay - in the resurrection it will not be subject to decay. This means it will never diminish in its strength, will never age, will never weaken or become tired or sick. The principle of death will not be present in it. V43 The human body is sown in dishonor, for man is made of the dust of the earth. In this sense, man is not of great significance (Psalm 8:4). This is his humble state. Yet when he is raised in glory, his nature will not be derived from the earth, but from God. Then shall we possess the full honor of the sons of God (Matt 13:43 and 1 John 3:1-2).
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Even the fittest and strongest human body is feeble and weak. For example, no undefended human body can resist a knife blade or bullet. The body’s frailty is associated with the creation of man from dust. But when we are raised we shall not live by flesh and blood but by power of God. V44 Though above the animal creation, man is made physically with a body that functions rather like the bodies of animals. Our natural bodies are suited to our earthly environment. We have lungs to breath oxygen into our blood, a heart to pump that blood around the body. The spiritual body will need none of these organs, and will not be subject to present limitations. Vine defines the "spiri tual body" as "such as is suited to the heavenly environment." V45 The first man was the prototype. Man was not intended to remain a man of dust. There would be a second man. God made the first man Adam a living, animate creature with an eternal soul. His descendants were like him. So the second (final) Adam, Jesus Christ, became in his resurrection a life giving spirit, sharing HIS resurrection life with all who believe on Him. V46-49 This was the divine order. First, the natural creation, then the new creation brought to life by Christ. As we have lived as natural men in natural bodies like the first Adam, so we shall live in spiritual bodies like Christ's. (v49) It was for this purpose that Christ shared our humanity: in order to destroy death and bring us to eternal life (Heb. 2:14-15). V47-48 So we shall receive new bodies like Christ's glorified body. Christ not only came from heaven, but dwells there now, and so his body is fitted for living eternally in heaven. V50 For it must be made clear that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. One day we shall share heaven with God, who is an eternal spirit - and how could a body subject to decay live in a place where there is no decay?
V51 Paul reveals what can only be known by divine revelation (mystery). Firstly, not every Christian will die. Hence our death is not the necessary precursor to resurrection, Christ's death and resurrection is. Morris says "Some will not die, but whether we are among that number, or whether we die before the day, we shall all be changed." We shall receive a new body fitted for eternity (Phil. 3:21). V52 This event will happen instantaneously, quicker than the smallest time that can be measured by man, for time to God is of no importance. Trumpets were sounded to indicate particular events. Here, the event being heralded is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for his saints, and it is the last trump because it is the final unveiling of God's eternal purpose for his people (1 Thess. 4:16). God himself shall decide the time of this unveiling.
53 In order to live and reign with Christ, the saints must first be changed in the way here described. Though at present we are subject to decay and to death, we shall be so no longer. As Morris puts it "The body is but the clothing of the real man. In the life to come the real man will put on another suit." V54 The present frail body will be done away with and we shall have new bodies like Christ’s. This will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, who predicted an ultimate abolition of death with all its effects (Rev. 21:4). Death is swallowed up in victory: that is, gulped up entirely - to be completely consumed in Christ's victory, the victory he won by his death and glorious resurrection. Though the victory is already won it awaits fulfillment in us
V55 The reality of the resurrection is the motivation behind the selfless, fearless service described earlier. Death has no more venom or pain for the Christian. What harm can it do us? None! That is not to say a Christian will not experience physical pain in dying. But that death is not an event to be feared by a believer.
It cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:3839). Death cannot keep our bodies any more than it can keep our souls, for our bodies, as well as our spirits and souls, belong to the one who has conquered death.
V56 It was because of our sin that death had power over us, for the law pronounced the death sentence on sinners - "the soul that sins shall die". It was because of Adam's sin that death entered the world and it is our sin that separates us from God. V57 Jesus Christ has delivered us from the death sentence of the law, for he was punished in our place - fulfilling the law's justice. Hence we are now free men and "the terrors of law and of death with me can have nothing to do".
Living in the Light of the Resurrection V58 Having concluded his defense of the all-important doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, Paul exhorts his readers that in the same way that wrong teaching had influenced some to live wrong - to live for now - so this blessed and glorious truth should motivate and inspire us to live for eternity. So certain is this event that it is as if it were here already. By doing the work of the Lord, by desiring things spiritual, we can never be losers, but only winners! We are more than conquerors through him who loved us!
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The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit By
Derek R. Williams. Image ÂŠ Photoquest
This Month: Part 3.The Fruit of the Spirit Read Galatians 5:22-23 Part of the Work of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life is to produce in him/her the fruit of the Spirit. The seed of the Fruit of the Spirit is sown in us when we receive Jesus Christ into hearts, it then must grow and mature. Notice that it is fruit and not fruits; it is one and not many. I would liken it to a blackberry or raspberry - one fruit, but made up of different pieces. The center of the fruit is love and gathered around it are joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Against such there is no law - in other words no law can enforce this fruit into a person, for it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Of this fruit, P. Borrington says, "joy is love's strength; peace is love's security; longsuffering is love's patience; kindness is love's conduct; goodness is love's character; faithfulness is love's confidence; gentleness is love's humility; and self-control is love's victory." The fruit can be put into three groups: love, joy, and peace are the manifestation of the Life of the Spirit, resulting from fellowship with the Lord Longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness refer to the spiritual life in its manifestation to others Faith, meekness, and temperance describe Christian conduct in the face of trials and opposition. All these depend on love being central to
As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 13:13 "Now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
It is a joy that our tongues cannot describe, for it is full of the glory of the Lord.
Definitions and Exposition
Peace. The Hebrew word is Shalom, used as a greeting among Jews. It means harmonious fellowship between God and man and between men.
Love The Greek word used here is agape, that is, love unstained by evil, love of a deepest reverence, the love of God. This is the love that has to be deeply embedded within our spirits by the Holy Ghost. It is the love that bears all manner of wrongs, envies not, nor boasts, has no pride that does not behave in a shameful or disgraceful manner, nor just look out for oneself. It is not easily aroused to anger nor think evil of others nor delight in sinful behavior but delights in the truth of God. It believes and has a hope in all things concerning Him. It is the love that is able to cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). It is the love which never fails (1Cor. 13:4-7). Joy. This is the exuberance of joy that bubbles over. The early Christians used it as a form of greeting with the meaning good health to you, may your life be full. This is the joy of companionship and union with the Lord. It is Christ's own joy, the joy of His presence, and so is not dependent upon circumstances. That is why we are able to rejoice in times of trouble (2 Cor. 7:4), and count it joy to face difficulties (James 1:2). We are strengthened by this joy Neh. 8:10.
It is the peace of reconciliation that was made by Jesus Christ on the cross between man and God and the rest and contentment that follows (1 Col. 1:20).
It is the peace that Jesus gave us and left with us (John 14: 27), a peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7), for it is the peace of God. Because the seed of peace has been planted in our hearts how should we behave towards God, to one another and to all men? Paul tells us that the message of reconciliation has been committed to us (2 Cor. 5:18) and in order to convey this message effectively we must be at peace with each other and with all our fellow men (Rom. 12:18). We are to let the peace of God rule in our hearts at all times (Col. 3:15). In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that peace-makers would be blessed (Matt. 5:9). Longsuffering or patience. Ivor Rosser says of this fruit "it has an enduring quality of
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self-restraint in face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish -an indispensable virtue which is always pardoning and always loving". This is the longsuffering/patience that God has with the believer and unbeliever alike. It is the very nature of the Lord Jesus Christ which He showed to His disciples and to us, also to His enemies (1 Pet. 2:23). We cannot fulfill this nature of longsuffering ourselves, for it is produced by the power of the Holy Spirit (Col. 1:11). In order for "brethren to dwell together in unity" this fruit is certainly needed (1 Pet. 3:8-9). Gentleness and goodness. These fruits go together. Gentleness is that considerate thought given to others, not the l ooking on the outward appearance or action of a person and judging accordingly. It is the weighing up of all things and then dealing in a gentle manner. The Greek writers employed this word to characterize nurses, teachers, or parents with trying children. Goodness could be said to be the actions carried out as a result of the fruit of gentleness reigning in the heart. It is the good deeds that are done in grace, tenderness and compassion. It was the goodness of God that led us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). The tender, loving, and gentle heart of God was revealed by His good works, in particular the gift of His only Son, and this is that which by His grace brought us to repentance.
Faith. This is not the same as saving faith or the Gift of Faith; faithfulness is meant. It is that living and loving allegiance to Jesus Christ, that full commitment to Him whatever happens. Jesus gave warning concerning the unfaithfulness of His own in the last days (Luke 18:8 and Matt. 24:12). We should take this to heart and make certain that we live by His grace so that this fruit may grow in our hearts and we remain true and faithful to Him. Faithfulness is that standing firm in times of persecution and suffering. It means holding fast to the word of God in the face of untruth and error. We must learn to be faithful in the little things so that God can trust with greater things. The original meaning of the word was to melt and flow in a liquid state.
Ivor Rosser says “true meekness possesses the softness of affection and disposition”. Meekness. This is that temper of spirit in which we accept God's dealings with us without disputing or resisting.
The stony heart, bitter spirit, strong will, and quick temper must be replaced by this meekness". This is the meekness that Jesus had and of which He invites us to learn of Him. Temperance. This is self-control and thus speaks of the strength to control, which can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is by this fruit of the spirit that we decide not to yield to the works of the flesh, and ins tead yield to the Holy Spirit. Only as this fruit develops can we overcome our self-life and the weakness of the flesh.
MORE STUDIESON THE HOLY SPIRIT For our series “The Theology of Pentecost” visit the editor’s blog at:
The fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Prayer: God our Father, we thank you for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, producing in us the fruit of the Spirit which is the likeness of Jesus. We pray that today we might humble ourselves and submit to your will, that the image of your Son Jesus Christ might be revealed in us more and more. Amen.
Gal 5:22-23 (NET Bible)
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The Lyrics of Life Everyday truth from the book of Psalms. Photo © Brad Calkins
Kiss the Son lest He be angry Psalm 2:12 (c) Mark Baskett
Christ the King by Mathew Bartlett
Psalm 2 begins with a picture of a world in rebellion against God. Men would get rid of God altogether if they could. They consider serving God to be bondage, whilst in fact it is true freedom.
No one can ultimately free themselves from their obligations to their creator (Heb. 9:27). What does God think of those who think that they can throw Him off? V4 tells us that He laughs at them not literally - the picture shows it is futile for man to think that he can be free from God's rule. If men will fight against God, God will have them in confusion. When men rejected and crucified God's Son, they thought that they were having their own way. By killing Christ man thought that he had succeeded in getting rid of God, but in fact God was fulfilling HIS OWN purpose (Acts 2:23). He says My purpose will win over all others (Isa. 46:9-10). He confounded them, for although they crucified Jesus; God raised him from the dead and exalted Him (Eph.1.20-22). Men rejected Jesus, but God has made him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). V6 It is set apart - my holy hill – with an elevated position - hill and lastly it is the dwelling place of God, for Zion is where the temple stood. So Christ is holy, set apart and exalted high above all heavens, so that he might reside eternally in all his fullness within His body – the church.
Through Christ's death, the church is also made holy with Him (Heb. 2:11) and shares His exalted position (Eph. 2:6). Christ’s church has become the dwelling place of God throughout eternal ages by the Spirit (Eph.2:22).
By his exaltation Christ has been made head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22). V7 Explains to us what right this King has to reign, for He is the only begotten Son of God, the One who was with the Father in the beginning (John 1:1-2). Christ has the Divine right to rule, since He is not only God Himself, but has also, as a man, been appointed to rule by God the Father. In V6 we see that God has anointed him to be King. In fact, Christ means anointed one. Our King Jesus has been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34). V8 Some kings covet gold or silver, but these mean nothing to our King. He values the souls of men above all else. He came to seek and to save the lost, redeeming people to God by His blood. Jesus is the king who wants to reign in the hearts and lives of men and women. That is why he tells us to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). One day he will come to reign on earth with absolute authority (Psa. 72:8). Those who refuse to obey and submit to his rule will be completely broken and eternally ruined -as when you break a clay pot with an iron bar there is no hope of repairing it again. Christ is the supreme authority in the universe. At present we may submit to Him voluntarily to be saved (Rom. 10:9).
But if any will not submit to Him now, they will one day be forced to do so, for every knee MUST bow to Jesus (Phil. 2:9-11). Then they will bow to hear God's judgment "Depart from me into everlasting fire" V12 The Psalmist warns rebels to submit and to kiss the son. In ancient times the kissing of the hand showed devotion, the person was saying "I am your servant," or "I am yours." It was an act of worship. We are reminded in Rom. 12:1 that this is our reasonable service. We give ourselves to Him. After all He has done for us, what else could He expect? It is only our reasonable service. Those who continue to rebel and harden their hearts against God will taste his anger. If his wrath being aroused just a little is enough to utterly destroy you, what about the full force of his wrath, which the scripture says will be poured out upon all those who do not believe?
In v5 we see that this will take place suddenly, as God breaks through to make an end of man's insolent rebellion. When Christ comes again He will bring the wrath of God (2 Thess. 1:7-10). The final destruction of unbelievers will come suddenly and unexpectedly (1 Thess. 5:3). But for those who believe the promise is given of eternal life. They will be blessed eternally (Acts16:31).
Since Jesus is King, we should let Him rule in our lives. To surrender means to obey Him. Will you let Jesus be King of your heart today? Will you surrender yourself entirely to Him?
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Prayer is God’s Method An extract from “Kneeling we Triumph” by Edwin & Lillian Harvey ISBN 1-932774-08-4. 128 Pages Price $6.00 Reproduced by kind permission of Harvey Publishers. www.harveycp.com
(c) M. Stewartl
I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands (1 Tim. 2:8).
Men ought always to pray (Luke 18:1). Praying always with all prayer (Eph. 6:18). KNEELING WE TRIUMPH
Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure. —D. L. Moody.
Prayer is not our message; it is the method of God for the message.
Everything is by prayer. I did not even read the Book of Acts in seminary. I had always considered it a historical document. When I got into it later, it was a brand new book to me. I discovered that the method of the Spirit of God in that book was a prayer method, and I started praying for a spiritual awakening. About that time I began to read everything I could find by Charles G. Finney. I discovered that his revivals were based on prayer, that the spirit of prayer is the spirit of revival.
Then I met an old Methodist lay preacher and through him I learned that in the early American revivals they used to major in prayer—nights of prayer, all kinds of prayer. The evangelists would preach on the subject. And as in the Book of Acts, they "continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." So I came to have a kind of vision of prayer—not a picture vision, but an inward vision. I sensed that if God is going to do it, it has to be by prayer. Prayer is not just a good idea—it is His divine plan. . . . Our generation has yet to see prayer as a ministry, and to take God at His Word on this subject. It is while we pray that God works, if we can but see Him—not merely before, or after prayer. Our idea is, "Let us pray, and then get on with the work." But prayer is our real work. We so often think of prayer as a prefi x or a suffix to an otherwise busy round. But God’s works are wrought as we pray, and while we pray. It brings a revolution to any minister or Christian, once he believes God’s Word on this point. His works are done through prayer, for He always works out from His throne by intercession. It is not only His intercession, but ours too, for, by His Spirit, He not only prays for us, but in us. He gives us of His own great praying—and that is true praying indeed. We are not just to imitate His praying, but to enter into it, receive it, and have it enter into us. That is how we enter into His works, become "laborers together with God," and learn to cease from our own works. We learn in this way to work with Him, instead of for Him. Sons, and no longer slaves.
Then after we have prayed, we walk with the Lord Jesus into the works He has wrought in answer to prayer. Prayer is our real work. Working is drudgery. Even working for the Lord is dreary. But working with Him is delight.
In His Kingdom, it is those to whom He ministers who minister. The conquered conquer, and the followers of Christ lead others.— Armin Gesswein. God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it. —John Wesley.
Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.—D. L. Moody. The Young Men’s Christian Association can be traced to the kneeling figure of a very young man, George Williams, who believed that by prayer he could influence his companions in the large draper’s establishment where he worked. Conditions among the young employees were dreadful, but he won them one by one and this is his own account of how he went about it: "The Lord having closed me in, I was enabled to plead, and I beli eve the Lord has given me . . ." (three names of assistants in the same business). "O Lord, now come down and let me plead with Thee until I prevail." At the end of the year there were nine, and in a few brief years the whole establishment had felt the impact of this young man from the country who dared defy the wickedness in London, and claimed for Christ those whom Satan had captured.
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Our In Depth Study. Revelation 8. By Derek
R. Williams. Photo © Godfer
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Trumpet Judgements. Prelude to the Seven Trumpets v1-6. 1. "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."
The final seal, the seventh, is broken so the whole scroll is now open revealing the detail of all God's purposes for the earth. In contrast to the previous triumphant songs of the multitude in heaven there is now an awesome silence in heaven for half an hour. This awful stillness was in anticipation of the judgement about to be released on the earth by the sounding of the seven trumpets. "It was a hushed and threatening stillness before the outbreak of a storm." (Dr. Basil Atkinson) 2. "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets." It would appear from this verse that there are seven angels who stand before the presence of God continually awaiting His bidding. From Luke 1:19 we know that the archangel Gabriel is one of these. To these angels were given the seven trumpets.
3-4. "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand."
Before the trumpets sounded, another angel came and stood over the altar (see Rev. 6:9, it is the brazen altar or altar of burnt offering). The officiating priest in the temple would take fire for his censer from this altar and offer the incense on the golden altar. He had a golden censer and to him was given a great quantity of incense.
The First Trumpet – The
JFB suggests that this incense was given to the angel by Christ that it might be added to the prayers of all the saints. The idea is that the prayers of the saints are intermingled with the burned incense representing the sweet smelling and acceptable sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. We pray to God the Father through Christ, in the Name of Christ and our prayers are effectual in and through Him.
As soon as the first trumpet is sounded there followed hail and fire with blood (Vincent: in blood rather than with blood thus the hailstones and fireballs fell in a shower of blood). It would appear that they both fell at the same time. Hail and fire in Scripture are used as instruments of judgment (Ex. 9:23, Isaiah 30:30). They were thrown to the earth with great violence, burning up a third of all the trees. This does not mean that one specific area was affected, but a third of trees throughout the world are destroyed. All growing vegetation (green grass) was burnt. This would give rise to great famine
5. "Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake." Immediately after this the angel takes up the censer, refills it with fire from the brazen altar and throws it to the earth, showing that God's fiery judgements are about to descend on the godless in answer to the prayers of the saints (Rev. 6:10). This is accompanied by a great tumult of voices, thunders, lightnings and an earthquake - a great upheaval and universal disorder. 6. "So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." At this the seven angels with the trumpets get ready to blow their mighty blasts.
Vegetation Struck. v7. 7. "The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up."
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8-9. "Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."
At the sounding of the second trumpet a burning mass as large as a mountain (meteorite) was thrown into the sea and a third part of it become blood. This great catastrophe would bring devastation to a third of the seas. So whereas the first trumpet affected the land the second affects the sea. A third of all the creatures who live in the sea were killed and a third of all maritime vessels destroyed. This would again cause vast worldwide economic and social problems.
The Third Trumpet - The Waters Struck. V10-11. 10. "Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water."
When the third angel blew his trumpet, a massive (megas) burning star fell from heaven contaminating a third of the rivers and springs. 11. "The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter." Although we are not told the origin or nature of this star, the name given to it, Wormwood - bitterness, describes its effects on the water supply. One third of earth's fresh water supplies were contaminated and many died because of this.
Tatford points out that the star referred to here is not the same as that in 9:1.
The Fourth Trumpet - The Heavens Struck. V12-13. 12. "Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night."
At the fourth trumpet a third of the sun, moon and stars were struck so that they gave only two thirds of their light to the earth.
13. "And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!" Before the final trumpets were sounded John saw a solitary angel (or possibly eagle, a symbol of judgement) flying in the highest point of the sky, crying with a loud voice three times, "Woe!" These woes correspond to the number of trumpets left to sound and signify the severity of the judgements they will announce.
Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of
the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of
the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not
Coming up in Revelation 9 Evil Unleashed. Locusts from the Abyss. & the Satanic Army.
shine, and likewise the night.
This was not total obscurity as in the case of the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12 - 13). Jamieson, Fausset and Brown allege that this partial obscurity comes between the prayer of the martyrs in the fifth seal and the last overwhelming judgements on the ungodly as the sixth seal is opened at the eve of Christ's coming. The verse could imply not only physical darkness, but the moral and spiritual wickedness and ignorance which will cover the earth at this time. (c)Dennis Owusu-Ansah
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The Ark of the Covenant By Mathew Bartlett
The spiritual significance of the ark and the mercy seat. Read: Exodus 25:10-16 & 27:1-9 All scripture quotes from the Authorized Version.
Picture: © James Steidl
Introduction Of all the furniture and fixings of the Tabernacle, God first of all indicated to his people that an Ark was to be made. (Exodus 25:10-16; Exodus 27:1-9) The first word from heaven to Moses was, “let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. And they shall make an ark of acacia wood” (Exodus 25:8, 10). This implies that the ark was of first importance, and that the rest of the items of worship revolved around it. When a man designs and builds a house, he leaves thought of the furniture till afterwards, but the fact that the ark was considered first reveals that God's beloved Son, and that “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17).
Such was the importance of the ark that it was to be placed in an area called the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest was allowed to enter, once a year, and even then not without presenting the blood of the sin offering made on the Day of Atonement.
Atonement. The ark was the symbol and sign of God's presence among the people of Israel. God told Moses: (Exodus 25:8) let them make for me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them. And the center of that sanctuary was the Ark of the Covenant. So much did the idea of God's presence among them being represented by the ark, sank so deep into the minds of the Hebrews, that when the ark was captured by the Philistines, it was taken as the sign the God, their glory, had departed from them (! Samuel). Yet again, this was a mere symbol. God allowed the ark to be captured as a sign of his disfavor concerning the sinful practices of the nation, and especially the priesthood led by the immoral Hophni and Phinehas, whose sin Eli the high priest failed to challenge. But when the ark was in captivity, it held its captors captive!
For everywhere the ark went, God commanded plagues and destruction on the people until it was returned. Even when the ark was brought back to Israel, the people of Beth Shemesh showed disrespect to God by opening the lid, and above 50,000 of them died. These vents are probably the inspiration behind the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Starring Harrison Ford, the film depicted a fictional adventure revolving around the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. Actors speak of the ark "leveling mountains" and destroying the enemies of God's armies. In reality of course, this never happened. When the enemies of Israel were defeated before them, it was because of God's presence not the ark.
The ark was intended by God to be rich in its symbolic teaching for us as Christian believers
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The Specifications of the Ark The ark was a chest made of acacia wood, overlaid within and without of pure gold. At the top was a crown of gold which held the mercy seat and cherubim. Two rings on each side, with staves, made the ark portable. Inside the ark were four items of supreme importance: the two tables of the law (Exodus 25:16), the book of the covenant (Exodus 24:7), the pot of manna (Exodus 16:33; Hebrews 9:4), and Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:10; Hebrews 9:4).
The Spiritual Significance of the Ark The ark and all its contents speak of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the acacia wood we see His perfect humanity, while in the pure gold His perfect divinity. The ark was fashioned with a crown of gold at the top. Men crowned the Lord Jesus Christ with thorns; but God crowned Him with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9) and set Him at His own right hand far above all principality and power. The name of Jesus is the name above every name. The four rings of gold and the two staves are what linked the ark to the people. Because of them, they could know that the ark was meant to accompany them wherever they went. The staves were never to be removed, revealing the constancy of Christ's commitment to his people. He is always available to them He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
The Contents of the Ark The golden pot that had manna” (Hebrews 9:4). Moses was commanded to “lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for [future] generations” (Exodus 16:33). This manna was the bread with which God fed his people for 40 years in the wilderness, and in John 6:31-38 Christ used it to illustrate his own claim to be "the bread of life." The manna, although supernaturally provided, did not impart spiritual life, for Jesus said “Your fathers ate manna, yet are dead." By partaking of Christ the bread of life, "a man may eat and live forever." Aaron’s rod that budded (see Hebrews 9:4).This situation arose where Aaron was challenge by the people as to his election by God to the office of high priest. God answered the grumblers by inviting them to leave one rod in the tabernacle overnight, each rod representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Next morning, Aaron's rod had not only blossomed, but produced almonds (see Numbers 17:8), thus vindicating God's choice of the house of Aaron to be High Priests before Him. The Lord Jesus Christ, although not born to the house of Aaron, is made our High priest forever, by the power of His own endless life. Unlike Aaron, he will never die, and so does not have to pass on the priesthood to others. The budding rod is a picture of His incarnation, crucifixion (Isaiah 53:2, 8) and resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:4). The fruit which he produces is in the lives of those he has redeemed and who share in that resurrection life of Christ, and one day he shall present these before God his father (see Hebrews 2:13; Psalm 22:30).
“The tablets of the covenant” (Hebrews 9:4).
These two tablets of stone contained the moral law, the Ten Commandments, detailed in Exodus 20:1-17. Jesus was the only One who kept the whole law. In the words of prophecy it is recorded: “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the Book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7-8). When He appeared in the flesh He said, “I did not come to destroy [the Law] but to fulfill [it]” (Matthew 5:17). Paul reminds us: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).
(c) Davi Sales
The book of the covenant (see Exodus 24:7 and Deut. 31:25-26). At one time the ark contained the book of the covenant, which contained the scriptures which had been received up to that point, containing not only the moral law (as was written on the stone tablets) but also the other civil laws which God commanded Moses to give the people.
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Even this book was sprinkled with blood, as were all the people who heard it read to them, (Hebrews 9:19-20) revealing that another covenant would come, and be ratified by the blood of Christ, and involved the blotting out of our sins and transgressions of the law committed under the first covenant.
Most scholars have considerable difficulty in assigning a reason for each of the measurements of the ark (2½ cubits long and 1½ cubits high and wide). We must admit that some details of scripture reveal that the fullness of the divine mind is unknown to us : “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33) The contents of the ark reveal Christ to be: our wisdom - the Book of the Covenant; our righteousness - the tablets of testimony; our eternal life and satisfaction - the pot of manna; and our enduring and faithful High Priest - the rod that budded. Indeed, Christ is all things to us.
The Covering of the Ark The Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17-22) The mercy seat was made from one slab shaped piece of solid gold (2½ by 1½ cubits), which fitted exactly inside the crown of the Ark of the Covenant. Two cherubim were hammered into shape at the two ends of the mercy seat, not separately, but from the same one piece of gold as the mercy seat.
Their wings were raised to cover the mercy seat; and the faces were bent downwards, gazing at it. Unlike the ark, the mercy seat was made of pure gold (see Exodus 25:17-18). No wood was used in its manufacture. The mercy seat points to Christ in his nature as divine and able to forgive our sins and show mercy. Only by shedding his blood on the cross could Christ make grace and forgiveness available to guilty men. Every year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the blood of propitiation was sprinkled upon the mercy seat. Paul speaks of Christ as our Propitiation, or Mercy Seat. He says:
“God set Him forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:25). Jesus has made “propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17). John has the same thought when he says: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
The mercy seat is a symbol of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which we can know reconciliation, forgiveness, justification and peace. Cherubim in scripture often speak of God's justice. We first see them in Garden of Eden with “a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).
They are often depicted as messengers of God's judgment (see Ezekiel). Some suppose them to be above the mercy seat, ready to pour out the judgment of God, unless atonement is made.
When God passed through Egypt in judgment, He first warned His own people to sprinkle blood upon the doorposts and lintels of their homes, for he said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). God's judgment holds back its sword because the blood has been shed and sprinkled. The flaming sword of God's wrath was sheathed in Christ (Psalm 85:10). In John ,we see two angels in white one at the feet, the other at the head where the body of Jesus had lain, indicating to us, that atonement had been both made and accepted (John 20:12).
The mercy seat appears to provide part of the crown of the ark, and indeed Jesus would never have been crowned with glory and honor had He not fulfilled God’s perfect plan of redemption. Because he is crowned, we can be sure that the mercy seat will never become for us a throne of judgment, but is forever a throne of grace.
Conclusion In the Ark of the Covenant and its mercy seat we see a glorious picture of our exalted Lord, who reaches out to us in mercy on the basis of the finished work of Calvary.
Reader, have you trusted Christ to forgive and cover all your sins? Do so today! You will find a righteousness, eternal life and satisfaction in Him alone.
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“Christ died for our sins and rose again the third day.” 1 THE ONE WHO DIED The One who died was the Son of God. He was pure and holy - without sin. He became a man for one reason - to die for our sin. We have all sinned. The Bible says “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” 2
Our holy God must punish sin. An eternity spent away from God in a place of punishment is what we all deserve. But God loves us and made a plan to save us from sin’s punishment. God’s plan was to lay all our sin on His Son Jesus Christ, who willingly took our punishment instead of us. Having taken our sin away in His own body on the cross, Jesus’ body was lovingly laid in a tomb by His followers
The tract quoted here is called Stages of the Cross Price £2 per 50 (includes UK postage)
THE ONE WHO ROSE AGAIN After three days in the tomb, Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive today. The Scripture says “It wasn’t possible that death should hold Him.” 3 Because Jesus is alive He is able to forgive your sin and give you eternal life. Are you tired of living in sin? Is it hard to live away from God? Then come back to Him today. He will welcome you as you trust His Son, the Lord Jesus, as your Saviour. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” 4
THE ONE WHO SAVES Jesus saves us from the everlasting punishment we deserve for our sins. He is the only one who can save us, for “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name given to men by which we must be saved.” 5 Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” 6 The Lord Jesus Christ is not just another religious leader. He is the one whom God has appointed to judge the living and the dead. Jesus will return to earth again, for God has decreed that one day every knee shall bow before His Son and every tongue must confess him as Lord. YOU WILL MEET JESUS ONE DAY If you receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour, He will welcome you to his heavenly home, for he has prepared a place for all who believe in Him. But if your reject Jesus as your Saviour, His words when you meet will be “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” 7 The One who died, is the One who rose and is the only One who can save you from sin’s punishment. He will do it today, if you ask Him to, for: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 8 Scri pture references: 11 Cor. 15:3; 2Heb. 9:22; 3Acts 2:24; 4Acts 16:31; 5Acts 4:12; 6John 14:6; 7Ma tt. 25:41; 8Rom. 10:13
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The Gospel Preacher’s Hand Book (Part One). Read: 2 Corinthians 4 Paul impressed this awesome responsibility on his young understudy Timothy when he wrote to him, "I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word!" 2Tim 4:1-2
The man who wrote these words was the apostle Paul, a preacher of the gospel. As we preach the gospel in our town, are there any lessons we can learn from his life? The answer must surely be yes, for not only throughout his whole life, but with his whole heart, from the time of his conversion, Paul proclaimed the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us examine:
His Continuance Gospel
It is easy to become discouraged in our work of preaching the gospel. We may work hard, expending large amounts of our time, energy and money for the kingdom of God without seeing any visible return. But whilst Paul himself had many reasons to be discouraged, he never lost heart. He never gave up in his ministry of preaching the gospel. Why? It is because he recognized:
His Calling Paul's ministry was not his own idea. It had been given to him by God (Gal 1:1). He realized that he could not give up, for a great responsibility had been laid on him (1 Cor. 9:16). Our responsibility in preaching the gospel is a serious one, for the effects of the gospel are two fold, for those who believe are saved and have eternal life, whilst those who do not believe are eternally damned (John 3.18 and Mark 16.16).
What man is competent to be employed in the work of leading souls to Christ? No one could be, except by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank God that with the call to preach will always come the gift and empowering of the Holy Spirit to fulfill that calling.
His Debt Paul was not called to preach the gospel on the basis of his merit. He never forgot that he was a sinner saved by grace. He refers to himself as the chief of sinners, formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor of the church, and always remembered that he owed everything he had to God's grace (1 Tim 1.12-16) He recognized that there was a debt to be paid “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome” (Rom. 1:14-15). Since Paul was a forgiven sinner, he found it necessary to tell other sinners of the way they too might be forgiven. Since salvation is a gift of grace, we can never repay our debt to God. But with the bestowal of grace comes a moral debt to tell our fellow men so that they might share it too. The greatest service the Church can ever give to the world is not social care, education or debt relief. It is not handing out food parcels or housing the homeless, as important those practical expressions of Christianity are. The greatest service we can ever give the world is to preach the gospel.
His Privilege It is a tremendous privilege to be called to preach the gospel. Paul told Timothy that the blessed God had entrusted him with the glorious gospel, for which privilege he thanked Christ Jesus our Lord who enabled him and put him into the ministry, (see 1Tim. 1:11-12). Whenever a man is sent to represent his country in another state he is called an ambassador. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 5:20 “Now we are ambassadors for Christ.” What a privilege bring Christ's message of forgiveness to those who are lost and dead in sin. The verse continues “as though God did beseech you by us”. I wonder do we fully realize that when we preach the gospel it is GOD speaking through ME or YOU. There can be no greater privilege than to be a spokesperson for God.
His Confidence in the Gospel Paul had great confidence in the gospel, for through it is revealed:
Christ's Glory In 2 Cor. 3, Paul compares the glory of the new covenant with the glory of the old. The old covenant had such glory that Moses' face shone wi th its reflection as he read to the people. The children of Israel asked Moses to cover his face with a veil for they could not bear to look at it. Yet this reflected glory began to fade as soon as he left God's presence, since the old covenant was to be abolished. Now, if the law, which brought condemnation (the death sentence for sin) was glorious; how much more glorious is the gospel which justifies and brings eternal life. If the law is the death sentence then the gospel is the life sentence, for the gospel announces God's pardon for sin.
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The messengers of the gospel are heralds announcing the King's pardon (Isa. 52:7). Such messengers can afford to make their message plain. The gospel does not need any accouterment, for it is filled with Divine glory. Why should we be discouraged to preach such a glorious message? We do not, says Paul, lose heart or become discouraged in preaching this glorious gospel (v1)
Christ's Power Human ability was not enough to face the difficulties and opposition which the apostles did. It would have proved too much, even for the strongest man. But the servants of Christ had within them a strength and power that nothing could crush or overcome. God by His Spirit continually renewed, revitalized and strengthened them. This is the power of God is in us (2Cor 3:5, 2Cr.o 4:7 and 1Cor. 2:3-5). This is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, the .. mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:19-20).
With such power in us, we may be pressed and thronged by troubles, but we are not crushed by them. We are at a loss to know a way out but we have a God who made a way through the Red Sea! Christ's power enabled the apostles to joyfully endure persecution, counting it a privilege to suffer for His name. Because of his Power "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.." As we face the challenge of preaching the gospel to unconverted men and women today, we are assured that Christ's power in us is all the qualification we need.
God's Faithfulness Another reason why Paul never gave up in gospel ministry is because it worked. As they preached they expected God to work. God said, "My word will not return to me void," and they believed it.
Wherever they went preaching the gospel it resulted in souls saved and churches started. In spite of discouragement, false friends, Christians turning away, plus the constant danger of travel and persecution, Paul found a constant source of joy and comfort in those who had come to Christ. It wasn't for nothing. In the midst of his Pastoral difficulties, Paul did not look at his feelings, or at the results, but to God in faith. His faith was that God is faithful. He will keep his word. We leave the results of our work to him. Faith persists despite our sufferings and trouble, so in faith we continue to speak God's word (Ps. 116:10).
The Content of His Gospel For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord 2 Cor. 4:5
We preach Christ crucified 1Cor. 1:23 Kruse says, "In the gospel the lordship of Christ is proclaimed and people are called to give their allegiance to him, but the one to whom they are called to submit is also the crucified one, the one who died for them. These two basic elements of the gospel need to be held together for if they are not the gospel itself is distorted" (see Rom 10:9). Through that cross Paul preached that we can be reconciled to God, redeemed by Christ's blood; forgiven for our sins, accepted as His sons; declared righteous; made holy and heirs of God.
The greatness of Christâ€™s glory impelled Paul to preach him, and only Him. A Christ centered gospel brings Christ glorifying results. Recalling the time (Gen 1.3) when God brought light into existence out of darkness, Paul sees an illustration of what happens when a soul is converted. Though kept in darkness by the god of this world, we are brought out of darkness by a new creative act,as God shines His light, through the gospel into our hearts. This light is his divine nature, expressed in the person of Christ Jesus, which shines into our benighted spirits so that we are born of His Spirit.
Paul's preaching of the gospel was always Christ centered. It exalted and lifted up the Lord Jesus Christ before all men. To Paul, Christ is the very outshining of God. He is the son who was with God and was God. He is the creator, and sustainer of the universe. It is only through him that we come to know the Father. That is preaching the gospel. This is the content of the gospel we must preach today
If our gospel is not Christ centered, it will never produce the Christ glorifying result of saving men and women, but if it is, Jesus said "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord 2 Cor. 4:5 We preach Christ crucified 1Cor. 1:23 PART TWO NEXT MONTH: HIS CONDUCT IN THE GOSPEL AND THE CONSUMMATION OF THE GOSPEL.
GOING DEEPER INTO GOD’S WORD |
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Needed: Evangelism Now!
© David Watmough
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 (NET)
Never before has the Western world been so hardened and indifferent to the message of the gospel. Yet it is that very gospel message which is able to deliver men and women, and bring them “from the power of Satan unto God.” (Acts 26:18 AV). Paul said “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (Rom. 1:16 AV). Christians must evangelize (proclaim the gospel, making known God’s terms of forgiveness, and inviting men to Christ) at the present time more than ever before. If we believe that Jesus Christ is coming again, and that this world will one day end in judgment, then we must tell everyone we know about Jesus before it is too late.
Reader, be on the alert to tell someone today about Jesus. We are not all called to be evangelists, but we are all called to be witness for Christ.
So let us “do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5 AV).
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