TRUTH: Who has a Futile Mind, Darkened Understanding and are Excluded from the Life of God?

December 11, 2017

The response on social media is amazing and baffling at times. I can post something on social media about the most arbitrary matter and receive all kinds of likes and responses. When it comes to Christ Jesus, the likes and responses are drastically lower. Now, that does not bother me because I do not post anything to receive likes and responses. I am past that stage in my maturation. I post to share for the benefit of all regardless of what I share. Nevertheless, Christ is the most important part of my life – He is my life, so I share about Him in obedience and hopes to encourage another to know and pursue God through Him. “for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:18  I share so you can know the TRUTH: Who has a Futile Mind, Darkened Understanding and are Excluded from the Life of God?

TRUTH: Who has a Futile Mind, Darkened Understanding and are Excluded from the Life of God? I am sure you would agree that anyone in that position has a tough go of living life now not to mention the afterlife. Let’s let the scriptures answer that question for us. I want to allow God’s Word guide us to the TRUTH.

Ephesians 4:17-23

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

TRUTH: Who has a Futile Mind, Darkened Understanding and are Excluded from the Life of God?

What does Ephesians 4 have to say in response to that question? The futile mind or vanity of mind refers to man’s perverseness or deprivation in his thinking. Understanding refers to a consciousness characterized by a perverted moral impulse. Darkened refers to eyes, mind and understanding deprived of light i.e. God’s way of life or path of life. Excluded/alienated from the life of God refers to being shut out from one’s fellowship and intimacy with God. He/she has no relationship with God. The hardening is synonymous with hardening like a callous. It is metaphorically of dulled spiritual perception.

The person who continually ignores the Word of God and obedience to Him/the Word is he Who has a Futile Mind, Darkened Understanding and are Excluded from the Life of God? We all have to determine where we are in regards to our response to God. For the person Paul is describing here, they have lost so much by rejecting God. Their mind, understanding, hardening of their hearts “have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” Surrendering to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the remedy for this condition. We all know where we stand. Assess and govern yourself accordingly. 

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TRUTH: God Gives Grace to the Humble, but Opposes the Proud

December 6, 2017

It has been written that grace and pride are eternal enemies. Pride demands that God bless me in light of my perceived good deeds, whether real or imagined. However, grace is not afforded to us on the basis of anything in us, good or bad, but only on the basis of who God is. TRUTH: God Gives Grace to the Humble, but Opposes the Proud

Proverbs 26:12 say, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. “Pride assumes the position opposed to God. Pride says, “I am”.  In Isaiah 45:5, we know that God has said “I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.” Jesus also stated “I AM” connecting His deity with the Fathers. See Jesus’ 7 I AM Statements.  TRUTH: God Gives Grace to the Humble, but Opposes the Proud

Andrew Murray said that pride is “the root of every sin and evil.” Pride is indeed the beginning of every sin. Satan was cased out of Heaven because of pride. Throughout the Scriptures you see the prideof:
• Ability (2 Chronicles 26:15-16)
• Position (Matthew 23:6)
• Achievement (Daniel 4:22)
• Wealth (1 Timothy 6:17)
• Possessions (Matthew 6:19)
• Knowledge (Isaiah 47:10)
• Learning (1 Corinthians 8:1)
• Spiritual attainment (Luke 22:24)
• Self-righteousness (Romans 10:3)
• Being esteemed or liked (Galatians 1:10)
C.S. Lewis called pride “the great sin.” All followers of Christ are encouraged to read his chapter by that title in Mere Christianity. In that book, Lewis said, “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…
… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.
Another great in the faith, the late John R.W. Stott said, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”  TRUTH: God Gives Grace to the Humble, but Opposes the Proud
“When we have exalted ourselves in pride, God does not want to punish us and bring us low but rather to forgive and restore us. He says again and again in Scripture, humble yourselves, and I will exalt you. This gives us hope and encouragement. God takes pleasure in our efforts to humble ourselves, and he loves to bless and exalt the humble. For just as pride is the root of all sin, so “humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue,” John Chrysostom  TRUTH: God Gives Grace to the Humble, but Opposes the Proud
All those men echoed what God has said in His Word. In the book of James, James continued to give us practical ways to combat the sin of pride in everyday life. We see in verse one that pride causes fights and quarrels. We see that prayers go unanswered because they are submitted in pride. Pride causes compromise through desiring to be friends with the world which makes us enemies with God. TRUTH: God Gives Grace to the Humble, but Opposes the Proud

James 4

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

God wants us to be broken over the sin of pride, so we can be one with Him which will lead to Him being gloried in this world through us. We have one application to this text – HUMBLE OURSELVES. No matter how humble we may think we are, there is pride lurking in our hearts and minds – waiting to assume lordship of our thoughts, words and actions. How we respond will determine whether God opposes us or exalts us. James tells us that God will draw near to us when we draw near to Him. Without humility, we will never draw near to God.  The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness and absence of self. The Greek word translated “humility” in Colossians 3:12 and elsewhere literally means “lowliness of mind,” so we see that humility is a heart attitude, not merely an outward demeanor. TRUTH: God Gives Grace to the Humble, but Opposes the Proud. 

“Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

TRUTH: Don’t Walk Like An Egyptian

December 1, 2017

In the post TRUTH: The Most Important Body System, Christ was discussed as the most important part of the church which is called the Body of Christ. All members of the body have a part to play. All of us are supposed to be growing in the unity of the spirit (v3) and unity of the faith (v13). In order to grow, the Word of God repeatedly tells us how we should walk i.e. live. Our walk is that which is “signifying the whole round of the activities of the individual life, whether of the unregenerate or of the believer (Strongs). TRUTH: Don’t Walk Like An Egyptian.

I am dating myself when using the term TRUTH: Don’t Walk Like An Egyptian. Walk Like an Egyptian” is a song made famous by the band The Bangles. The song was released in 1986. I mean no disrespect to anyone who is of Egyptian heritage, but in biblical times, anyone who was not Jewish was called a Gentile. While God’s promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3 included every people group, those of his immediate lineage were considered God’s chosen people. It is in that light, that I use the phrase TRUTH: Don’t Walk Like An Egyptian. Then and now, God calls for His people to walk or live differently than those who do not follow or serve Him. This is where we pick up Paul addressing the Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:17-19

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

One of the first verses I learned was Romans 12:2. It says, “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” It undergirds what Paul is telling the Ephesians in verses 17-19. Paul is declaring that since they, the Ephesians who are Gentiles, have become a part of the Body of Christ, a follower of God through Jesus Christ, they are live like it. TRUTH: Don’t Walk Like An Egyptian.

Both Romans and Ephesians call for followers of Jesus to walk or live like Jesus. In Roman’s 12:2, Paul tells us how to do that. In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul tells us why we should not do that.

  • It is makes their mind or thinking futile
  • It darkens one’s understanding
  • It continues one’s exclusion from God
  • It deepens the hardening of one’s heart
  • It keeps one ignorant of God’s expectations
  • It delivers you over to more perverse desires.

This is why I tell the TRUTH: Don’t Walk Like An Egyptian. All of those outcomes await those who fail to walk like Jesus. Later in Ephesians 5:8, Paul tell us to “walk as children of Light.” In 1 John 1:7, but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

If you want to have fellowship with God, follow the TRUTH: Don’t Walk Like An Egyptian.

TRUTH: The Most Important Body System

November 29, 2017

At the school where I work, the Life Science teachers are teaching on the Body Systems. Those teachers have engaged kids in discovering the purposes of organ systems such as nervous, digestive, respiratory reproductive and circulatory. Students have been posed the question which of the organ systems are most important. You should have seen the students when they were shown a video when they say a person living without lungs; then, one living without a heart. There was major debate about the TRUTH: The Most Important Body System.

Again, I continue to maintain the parallels between the physical realm and the spiritual. The physical always mimics the spiritual as God is Spirit that is eternal which means He had no beginning and has no end. He has always been and will be. In chapter 1 of Ephesians, we learned that the church makes up the body of Christ. Of God about Jesus, Paul said, God “gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Romans 12 tell us “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” The church makes up the body system of Christ, of God. Of that, there is no debate about the TRUTH: The Most Important Body System; however, we tend to forget that. 

In Ephesians 4, Paul was expounding on what he told them in chapter 1.

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

It is clear that the church, the body of Christ, is made up of believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and God who came lived, died and was raised again for the forgiveness of sins. The believers or members of the body of Christ have different roles/responsibilities non of which are more important than the others. It is clear that Christ is TRUTH: The Most Important Body System. Jesus is The Most Important Body System. In verse 16, the text tells us of Christ that “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies” 

Just to cement the matter about Christ being The Most Important Body System, consider these two texts:

Acts 17:26-28 – 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

Colossians 2:19 –  and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

Know you know the TRUTH: The Most Important Body System is Jesus Christ. Are you apart of His body, the church? Have you surrendered your life, your heart, your will to Him as Lord and Savior? Romans 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Surrender and follow Jesus to be a part of His body. Without Jesus, you cannot function well and as intended with full life functions. You would are missing Him, The Most Important Body System.

TRUTH: The Offices of the Church

November 20, 2017

In the United States federal government, there three branches to the government: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. There are offices in the government with the highest office obviously being the Office of the President. Though that is true, there are many offices/agencies that comprises our government such as Energy, Defense, Transportation. The Legislative and Judicial branches have offices too. All offices/agencies are designed to support the government to ensure its efficient (don’t laugh) and effective functioning for the citizens of the United States of America.

I have long purported that the physical realm mimics the spiritual realm. This can be seen in the structure of the church. There are offices that Jesus established in the church which are designed to build or equip the church so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:10) What are those offices that Jesus established for the church.

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Guzik writes, “the offices themselves are a Divine institution and not a human invention.” These are offices or structures of the church which are different from the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the church mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.

apostles (apostolos) –  is a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel as in the 12 Apostles; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”) (with miraculous powers):—apostle, messenger, he that is sent. In Jesus’ day, there were many disciples of Jesus who numbered into the hundreds. Of which, Jesus chose twelve to be called Apostles, again one who is sent. In the strictest of sense, there were qualifications for the Apostles:  (1) They had to have seen the Lord. (2) They had to be an eyewitness of His resurrection. (3) They had to be invested with miraculous sign-gifts. (4) They had to have been chosen directly by the Lord or by the Holy Spirit. Are there apostles today? In a true Biblical sense probably no; however, there are those who have taken the title of apostle today in a means to distinguish themselves, but the only distinction in Christ is for Christ.

prophets – (prophētēs) – The Strong’s Concordance presents prophets as

  1. in Greek writings, an interpreter of oracles or of other hidden things

  2. one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation

    1. the OT prophets, having foretold the kingdom, deeds and death, of Jesus the Messiah.

    2. of John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus the Messiah

    3. of the illustrious prophet, the Jews expected before the advent of the Messiah

    4. the Messiah

    5. of men filled with the Spirit of God, who by God’s authority and command in words of weight pleads the cause of God and urges salvation of men

    6. of prophets that appeared in the apostolic age among Christians

      1. they are associated with the apostles

      2. they discerned and did what is best for the Christian cause, foretelling certain future events. (Acts 11:27)

      3. in the religious assemblies of the Christians, they were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak, having power to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, convict, and stimulate, their hearers

The Old Testament prophet was determined to be true if his prophesies were 100% accurate. In the New Testament, they are always subject to the discernment and judgment of the church leadership (1 Corinthians 14:29). As with the apostles, modern prophets do not speak in the same authority as the first century prophets brought God’s foundational word spoke (Ephesians 2:20). Hebrews 1 conveys how God speaks today to the people. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins,he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” I am not saying that there are not prophets, but I am saying not to the degree they were in the Old Testament. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.

evangelist (euaggelistēs) – a Biblical and ecclesiastical word, a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist (Vulg.evangelista). This name is given in the N. T. to those heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles: Acts 21:8Ephesians 4:112 Timothy 4:5.  In a broad sense, we all are called to be evangelist in that we are called to proclaim the gospel to people – Romans 1:16.

pastor / teacher – many scholars have combined these two into one. I tend to agree with them. In a church, pastor is the presiding officer of any congregation as Christ is the Head of the church. It has been pointed out that Romans 12:7 separates the two. pastor (poimēn) is a shepherd the one who tends the flock. It is more than just feeding them, it is overseeing them watching over their welfare. This is where the teacher office or role is significant. A shepherd who feeds the flock the Word of God through teaching them the Word of God. Teacher (didaskalos) in the New Testament is one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man.

These are the TRUTH: The Offices of the Church

TRUTH: Christ Ascended

November 15, 2017

I have struggled to interpret and communicate what I thought God was saying to me about Ephesians 4:9-10 (NASB and following references)

(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

Others have commented that “He ascended” refers to Jesus’ resurrection. Of that TRUTH, I concur. Jesus did ascend or rise from the grave and from this earth. Listen to what one of the disciples said happened with Jesus from Acts 2:22-28

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.25 For David says of Him,

‘I saw the Lord always in my presence;
For He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted;
Moreover my flesh also will live in hope;
27 Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’

 

Acts 10:40-42

38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.40 God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

Here are other references that affirm Christ’s resurrection (Matt 28:5, 6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5, 6; Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31; Rom 4:24; 6:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Cor 6:14; 15:15; 2 Cor 4:14; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1 Thess 1:10; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 1:21)

In those passages in Acts, Peter was responding to questions about who Jesus was and what He did. Peter affirmed that Christ fulfilled prophesy that Jesus would rise from the dead as well as to rise to heaven. Jesus even told us that He would ascend. “Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me.John 7:33 Now, that is the TRUTH: Christ Ascended.

Jesus said that if He did not ascend that the Helper, the Spirit of Truth would not come to empower all believers to live the life God has called us to live. It is through the Spirit that God changes our character and works to equip and empower us to do His good work. Furthermore, the power that was exerted when Jesus was ascended is the same power that works in us.  Also, Christ is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34).

Early on in Ephesians 1, Paul tells says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,” That is the beauty of the TRUTH: Christ Ascended.

 

TRUTH: I Got Benefits

November 8, 2017

Open Enrollment season has just concluded. It is that time of year when employees select their non-health and health insurance needs. Whether dental, vision, long-term disability, or medical coverage, those who have employers who offer insurance had to chose. As a child, I often heard people talk about jobs that had good benefits. I did not realize that was until I asked, but I truly understood when I was an adult. People will take a job that pays less for benefits that are far greater. TRUTH: I Got Benefits

Likewise, there are benefits in the spiritual realm. The benefits of surrendering one’s life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are innumerable. As I was praying with a group of men this morning, we read Psalm 3. I want to focus on those benefits I read in Psalm 3 and verse 8 as well as related verses. TRUTH: I Got Benefits

Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountainSelah.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.

Arise, O Lordsave me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be upon Your peopleSelah.

The benefits underlined above are tremendous. They remind me of 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says, “ But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nationa people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” TRUTH: I Got Benefits

 

Benefits (NASB)

Psalm 3:8 – Salvation belongs to the LordYour blessing be upon Your people! 

Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?

Psalm 37:39 – But the salvation of the righteous is from the LordHe is their strength in time of trouble.

Psalm 62:1 – My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.

Isaiah 43:3 – “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.

Isaiah 43:11 – “I, even I, am the LordAnd there is no savior besides Me.

Isaiah 46:6 – “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me

Isaiah 44:8
‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’”

Isaiah 45:21
“Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together.
Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it?
Is it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me.

Hosea 13:4
Yet I have been the Lord your God
Since the land of Egypt;
And you were not to know any god except Me,
For there is no savior besides Me.

Jonah 2:9
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.”

Revelation 7:10 – and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

TRUTH: I Got Benefits as a person of God’s own possession. I belong to God. I Got Benefits because I belong to God. I am a chose race or people. Jesus tells me that in John 17:16 – “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” The benefit coverage I purchase on my job or not just for me but also my family. Similarly, the benefits that Jesus purchased by His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension are not for Him but His family of which I belong. Do you belong to the family of God? Have you answered the call to TRUST Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If you have, you belong to the family of God with all His benefits. TRUTH: I Got Benefits; Do You?

TRUTH: Unity for the Called, but We are Different.

November 6, 2017

In the post TRUTH: Unity for the Called, a call for unity among believers whether Jews or Gentiles was made by Paul for “God’s intent [was make us unified] – so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph. 3:10). After establishing that position, Paul goes on to emphasize the TRUTH: Unity for the Called, but We are Different. While we are to be unified, God gives gifts of varying degrees and kinds to make known the manifold wisdom of God through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Let’s see this in Ephesians 4

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.Therefore it says,

When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men.”

The reality is that we are one body i.e. unity, but we are different. Another way to say that is TRUTH: Unity for the Called, but We are Different. Unity but different has been made over and over.

Romans 12:4 – For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,

1 Corinthians 6:15 – Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!

Ephesians 2:19 – So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,

Ephesians 3:6 – to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,

Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each oneof youwith his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

The notion of being one but being different is captured in the gifts that God has given

1 Corinthians 12:4 – Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
Ephesians 4:8 – Therefore it says, “When He ascended on highHe led captive a host of captivesAnd He gave gifts to men.”
Hebrews 2:4  – God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
TRUTH: Unity for the Called, but We are Different. Despite having these different gifts, Paul’s point is that we must stand unified because the point of our gifts is to accomplish the work of God with those gifts. What is the work of God – Jesus answers that for us in John 6:29 – Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”  When we believe or have faith in Christ, who is the gift of God the enables the Holy Spirit to give other gifts, we fulfill God’s purpose to make known the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
TRUTH: Unity for the Called, but We are Different. Our differences must not be over emphasized. Certainly, we must not become prideful because we have a certain gift as all gifts are just that – a gift. Paul tells us that Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” None of us should boast. What we have that is good is a gift. We are different because God wanted to use our difference for His kingdom and His glory not ours. 

TRUTH: Unity for the Called

November 2, 2017

In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul had spent time outlining all that God had done for the Ephesians and for us as fellow Gentile believers. He ended those chapters with “20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21.

When it comes to Paul’s epistles (letters) which are some books in the New Testament, it is generally accepted that Paul shares doctrine or what we are supposed to do as followers of Christ. Then in the latter portion of the book, Paul shares how we, as followers of Christ, are to live out that doctrine or what we are supposed to do.  The book of Ephesians is no different. TRUTH: Unity for the Called

Ephesians 4:1-6

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

Call in the Greek is klēsis (klā’-sēs) which is the divine invitation to embrace salvation in the kingdom of God,

Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 30 – and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Romans 11:29 – for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
1 Corinthians 1:9 – God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Galatians 1:15 – But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased

Why does God call people?

Ephesians 3:10-11 – God’s intent – so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made  known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 2 Thessalonians 2:14 – 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God wants to gain glory for Himself. Ultimately, that is why demands that we walk in the TRUTH: Unity for the Called.

In these first six verses, we see the outline for us to live by the TRUTH

Mentality for UnityChrist’s Charity (What v 1 )

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. Walk refers to the way you live.

Because of our relationship with Christ, we are supposed to live a new life as 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. ”We know from Romans 8 that Paul tells us we have an obligation to be led and to live by the Spirit. Where he ultimately tell us “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. ”Paul also tells us in Galatians 5:16 to But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. While we are commanded to walk as such, the bible is clear that God desires us to obey him out of love and thankfulness. The call is the divine invitation to embrace salvation in the kingdom of God where He called us out of darkness into light, from not being a child of God to being a child of God will privileges. It is the grace of God that should create an attitude of gratitude that drives our mentality for unity.

Means of Unity – Christ’s Character (How v 2-3)

with all humility (lowliness) and gentleness (meekness) – Paul is calling for us to be humble. Remember his words in Philippians 2 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also  for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Christ could have exercised authority or power, but because He was submitted to God our of their purpose, He did not. Likewise, we should not exercise power, authority or control simply because we can.

with patience (longsuffering), showing tolerance (fore bearing) for one another in love, – Again, Paul is asking us to endure one another patiently and bearing one another’s differences, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies through love (agape) i.e. good will, brotherly love, love feast. We see that in Colossians 3:12-13 – So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

Motivation for Unity – Christ’s Consonance – Consonance (oneness) of the church (Why v4-6 )

Unity – henotēs (he nah tace) unanimity, agreement or oneness. Used only twice in 4:3 and 4:13 it is from the root of the word which is translated as one – the same oneness that Jesus prayed for in John 17:11, 21, 22, 23

John 17:11 – I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world,and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
John 17:21-23 – 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me

Romans 12:5 – so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

one body – Romans 12:5 – so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and
individually members one of another.

one Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:13 – 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into
one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we
were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Ephesians 2:18 – for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit
to the Father.

one hope – Ephesians 1:18 –  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the
riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

one Lord – 1 Corinthians 8:6 – yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from
whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus
Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

one faith – Acts 15:8-9 – And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.  Romans 3:22 – even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; Galatians 3:26 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

one baptism – Romans 6:3-5 – Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

one God and Father – Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! Zechariah 14:9 – and the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.

Now we know the basis for Unity of the Called.

Mentality for UnityChrist’s Charity
Means of Unity – Christ’s Character
Motivation for Unity – Christ’s Consonance

TRUTH: The Power of the Church II

October 26, 2017

Whether political, electrical, or physical, most of us understand power to mean the ability, capacity or authority to do something. The Greek word for power is dynamis (dü’-nä-mēs) which means strength power, ability. We know that we need power to do any kind of work. With all the storms that hit Puerto Rico, we continue to hear that most of the island is without power. In that sense, we are talking about electrical power for generators, lights, refrigerators, etc. The power of the storm is exemplified in the destruction that it left in its path. If we consider another world crisis, the threat of nuclear destruction between North Korea and the United States of America, that is another form of power at the atomic level.

In Ephesians 3, it is used in verses 7 and 20 of the divine power considered as acting upon the minds of men. I would also add acting on the hearts of men. \

 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.  (NASB)

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. (NIV)

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)

I don’t have a lot of time this morning, but I wanted to get this out. In the spiritual context, we need to know, understand and TRUTH: The Power of the Church. Make no mistake about it, the power of the church is the Holy Spirit. We clearly see that in the verses above. We also see that great power in Ephesians 1:19–232:56

Remember that I asked you to meditate on the thought that it is the Holy Spirit of God that powers us to accomplish the work of God. I also asked you to remember the phrase – work of God. According to dictionary.com, work is defined as exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil. Generally, we all would agree with that definition; however, spiritual matters are not general tasks. Spiritual matters are ordained by God designed to bring glory to Himself. As such, we need to be clear on why we need to know the TRUTH: The Power of the Church.

Biblically, how do we define work. The Greek word for work is ergon. Strong’s Concordance of Greek words defines ergon or work as:

  1. business, employment, that which any one is occupied

    1. that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking

  2. any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind

  3. an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words tells us the following about ergon or work. (note – the links below will not open in a new window and will lead you away from this page).

Work (Noun and Verb), Wrought:

denotes

(I) “work, employment, task,” e.g., Mar 13:34Jhn 4:3417:4Act 13:2Phl 2:301Th 5:13; in Act 5:38 with the idea of enterprise;

(II) “a deed, act,”

(a) of God, e.g., Jhn 6:28299:310:3714:10Act 13:41Rom 14:20Hbr 1:102:73:94:3410Rev 15:3;

(b) of Christ, e.g., Mat 11:2; especially in John 5:367:32110:2532333814:111215:24Rev 2:26;

(c) of believers, e.g., Mat 5:16Mar 14:6Act 9:36Rom 13:3Col 1:101Th 1:3, “work of faith,” here the initial act of faith at conversion (turning to God, 1Th 1:9); in 2Th 1:11, “every work of faith,” RV, denotes every activity undertaken for Christ’s sake; 2:17; 1Ti 2:105:182Ti 2:213:17Tts 2:7143:1814Hbr 10:2413:21; frequent in James, as the effect of faith [in Jam 1:25, AV, “(a doer) of the work,” RV, “(a doer) that worketh”]; 1Pe 2:12Rev 2:2 and in several other places in chs. 2 and 3Rev 14:13;

(d) of unbelievers, e.g., Mat 23:35Jhn 7:7Act 7:41 (for idols); Rom 13:12Eph 5:11Col 1:21Tts 1:16 (1st part); 1Jo 3:12Jud 1:15, RV; Rev 2:6, RV; of those who seek justification by works, e.g., Rom 9:32Gal 3:10Eph 2:9; described as the works of the law, e.g., Gal 2:163:25; dead works, Hbr 6:19:14;

(e) of Babylon, Rev 18:6;

(f) of the Devil, Jhn 8:411Jo 3:8.
See DEED.

Clearly, there is biblical work. In response to the question of “What must we do to do the works God requires?”, Jesus said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 Furthermore, in John 17:4, Jesus said, “ I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” Undoubtedly, work involves tasks, but the greater emphasis here is on our belief in Christ. It is our belief in Christ that makes us a part of God’s family, that enables us to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit.  Micah 3:8 says, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord

It is the power of the Holy Spirit that is the emphasis in the verses we were looking at in Ephesians 7 and 20. We know from Acts 1:8 that it is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to do the work, which is primarily to believe in Jesus, God requires. It is the same work stressed by Paul when he said, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Again, we see the TRUTH: The Power of the Church. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to participate in God’s eternal purpose which is “… that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” (Ephesians 3:10).

I want to know, and I want you to know the TRUTH: The Power of the Church. Without the Spirit of God, we cannot know God nor do the work of God, for He is The Power of the Church. If I find myself struggling, being frustrated, failing and failing, it is because I have attempted to live life on my own without The Power of the Church. When I see that, I confess that sin. Surrender control to the Holy Spirit and am empowered to resume my work, believing in Jesus, to accomplish tasks prepared in advanced for me.