The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Archive for the ‘Once Saved Always Saved’ Category

Striving Against Sin

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 26, 2016

30217You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. Heb. 12:4

My family knew a man who told us he was “struggling against the sin of pornography.”

It turned out he kept a big box of porn under his bed. He opened it when the urge hit, and then he felt some guilt afterward because he knew it was wrong, but his guilty feelings never drove him to change. When challenged with Scripture, he justified his sins by saying we all sin.

My friends, this is not striving against sin. This is making provision for the flesh and living after the flesh. He provided for his flesh by keeping the box beneath the bed when he already knew it was wrong. And he lived after the flesh by repeatedly obeying the urge to open the box. This man deceived himself that he was a Christian involved in the “struggle against sin.” He was actually a repeat-sinner in ongoing rebellion against God, experiencing worldly sorrow–a sorrow that does not lead to repentance and salvation (I Cor. 7:9-11).

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Rom. 13:14)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

Can it get any clearer? Unless we put on the LORD Jesus Christ, and put to death and mortify the deeds of the body, we will die. Period.

I could post the whole chapter of Romans 6 here. But here are some highlights–

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (1-2)

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. (5-7)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (12-16)

Either we are dead to sin and no longer living in it, or we are still obeying sin and headed to an eternal DEATH. We have a choice to make. To whom will we present the members of our bodies?–Sin or God? To truly be under grace is to be freed from the dominion of sin. If you are under the dominion of sin, you are separated from grace and need to die with Christ that you may also live with Him.

Jesus depicted the struggle against sin very graphically–

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30)

If you are offering your eye, your hand, your mouth, or your mind to sin, dare you believe that Jesus will accept your excuses after this stern warning about the peril of sin and its consequences?

“We all sin…”
“If my spouse/parents/children/problems were different, then I’d be different…”
“People hurt me, so I can’t help…”

Jesus won’t accept these excuses. He said cut off the hand or pluck out the eye. Do whatever you have to do to escape being cast into hell. Because you WILL be cast into hell unless you get the victory over sin. And the victory over sin comes through Him, but He doesn’t hand you victory on a silver platter while that wicked box is still under your bed, friend. Until you truly sorrow over your sin to the point that you are ready to fight to the death, the victory will not come.

Do you want to strive against sin and win? Here’s what that looks like–

March into your bedroom and pull that wretched box out. Take it outside and set it on fire. Confess to the Lord that you have done wicked things He hates. Confess that you deserve His judgment and there is no excuse. Ask Him to break your heart as His is broken over sin. Ask Him to show you how your sin exploits and hurts others (He will). Call up a strong Christian and tell him what you just did. Ask him to check up on you regularly and hold your feet to the fire. Give him access to your future internet searches. Search out and find every verse that exposes and condemns that sin, and post them around the house. Memorize verses about holiness, obedience, and victory in Jesus. Make a covenant with your eyes that you will not look lustfully at women (Job 31:1), and daily walk out that covenant. When you want to stop at the convenience store that sells dirty magazines, REFUSE to stop. In fact, don’t go to those stores. Don’t hang around people who look at porn. When you drive past a seductive billboard or half-dressed woman, train your eyes to look away, refusing to offer your eyes to unrighteousness. When you accidentally see an image that tempts you, immediately replace the image with Scripture or a remembrance of what Jesus did for you on the cross. Pray and take the way out by obeying Jesus no matter how strong the temptation is. Teach others that porn will take them to hell. If the internet is a problem, GET IT SHUT OFF. This is not too harsh, friend. This is not yet resisting to blood, and you have to be serious in the fight if you want to overcome.

When’s the last time you fasted from food and meditated on Scripture all day, so as to bring your body completely under subjection and get the victory over that evil thing you keep doing? It may take that. Do whatever it takes.

When you’re engaged in this kind of struggle, you can be sure that the Lord will come down and fight for you. He will not let you be tempted beyond your endurance, but will provide a way out. But too many are offered a way out and don’t take it. You must train yourself to take the way out. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Sin crouches at the door and desires to rule over you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT. You must! And you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, but if you ignore the way out provided and make provision for your flesh, you will fail of the grace of God.

I was delivered from cigarettes many years ago, when I cried out to the Lord and He told me to crush my cigarettes to bits and discard them. I had been praying for deliverance for a couple months, while asking my spouse to leave me a few cigarettes per day. As long as I made that provision for my flesh, I couldn’t quit.  But when I acted on the Lord’s command and crushed them up, told my spouse not to leave me any more, and also refused to ever buy a pack ever again, that was it. I never smoked again.

Of course the tempter tried to get me to return to my vomit. A few months later, I woke up on a summer night. The first thought that popped into my mind was, “There’s a pack of cigarettes on the counter (my spouse still smoked.) If you get up and smoke one on the porch, no one will ever know.” At that point, I had a choice to make. I could smoke it and blame my spouse for tempting me. Or I could resist the devil and REFUSE to even get out of bed. I chose the latter. Staying in bed was the way out. And I’m happy to say the tempter fled and the urge passed. God’s Word is true.

A dog  feeling a bit sad about devouring his vomit, and a washed pig “sorry” to have fallen in the mud again, is not a struggling Christian. Such a person was better off before knowing the truth–

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Pet. 2:20-21

Now maybe you don’t drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls who do. Maybe you pride yourself in that porn is not a problem for you. My question to you is this:  How is your character? Is it like the character of Jesus Christ? Are you rude to your coworkers? Do you steal time from your employer by being lazy? Are you impatient with your spouse or children? Do you let ungodliness come out of your mouth when you’re irritated? Do you have road rage? Do you harbor unforgiveness toward others? Do you threaten others, rather than entreat them? It’s easy to judge ourselves by a few externals and think we are doing ok compared to others. But comparing ourselves to others is not wise. Let us compare ourselves to Jesus, and the standards given to New Testament believers. Let us not be happy with external changes if our hearts are still darkened. White washed tombs are still filled with death. Let us pray that God will show us any wicked way in ourselves, and then begin to earnestly strive against sin.

If you are lustful, angry, violent, unthankful, lazy, greedy, impatient, unkind, etc., it’s time to crucify your flesh with its passions and desires. It’s time to fight like you’ve never fought before. It’s time to cry out to Jesus like you never have before. It’s time to flush your deceitful excuses and make humble confession to those you’ve been hurting. It’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and step into the light; God is not fooled, and those close to you are probably not fooled either. It’s time to fill your mind with all the Scriptures that apply TO YOU, not to your neighbor. It’s time to meditate on the Word day and night, and stop letting your mind fill with thoughts that lead to sin. It’s time to figure out what the way out looks like, and start taking it. It’s time to cut off the hand, pluck out the eye, memorize Scripture, become accountable to strong believers, fast, agonize, make it right with all those you’ve offended, and learn to do good.

If you continue in sin,

Your professed faith in Christ won’t save you.
Your excuses won’t save you (ie “The woman you gave me…”)
Your church attendance won’t save you.
Your exposure of false churches won’t save you.
Your doctrinal knowledge won’t save you.
Your Christian friendships won’t save you.
Your good reputation before others won’t save you.
Your exposure of OTHER people’s sins won’t save you.
Your “balancing the scale” with some good works won’t save you.

You might even have a blog like this one, and work hard to expose all sorts of things. You might witness on the streets or give money to missionaries. But if you don’t deal with that sin that you know about, and if you don’t change your behavior, Jesus’ stern warning about hell applies to you.

Sin desires to have you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT (Genesis 4:7). It is not those who hear the Word of God, but those who do it, who will be saved.

Advertisements

Posted in Backslider, Once Saved Always Saved, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obtaining the Promise

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 4, 2015

Speaking of Abraham, Heb. 6:15 declares:

And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Note that he did not obtain the promise immediately, but only after he had patiently endured the hardships of this life.

We must also continue in a faith like that, as the writer of Hebrews speaks again:

But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (10:32-39)

These early saints “endured a great struggle with sufferings.” They endured their own tribulations, and brought even more suffering on themselves by compassionately aligning themselves with other persecuted Christians. They were instructed to continue enduring, for only after enduring in the will of God could they obtain the promise. This is fully in line with Jesus’ teaching, “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22)

There is such a thing as not believing to the saving of the soul, or falling away in time of testing. This is a faith that refuses to endure hardship in the present life. Because it refuses to suffer now, it forfeits the Promise. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:17)

And what was/is the Promise? Is it a happy and care-free life on this earth? No indeed! The Scriptures are clear that the Biblical saints lived as pilgrims, like Christ, having no place to call home.

Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy, yes, with utter destruction. (Micah 2:10)

This world is not our rest. We are forbidden to love it or be a friend to it, precisely because it can never be our rest. It is defiled, and it will be burned!

Recently I’ve seen many Christian brothers and sisters having health problems, financial problems, and of course relational problems as they are cast out by those who claim to be their brethren. The whole creation is groaning, waiting for the sons of God to be fully and finally revealed. Is anyone groaning more than the true saints?

It is easy to fall away in times of testing, and these are most assuredly times of testing. It is tempting to think God has forsaken us; or that His giving us over to the slaughter, as it were, is unfair. It is tempting to reason that our doing good has only brought us harm, and to envy the ease with which the wicked sail through life claiming to be “blessed.” But we must consider not only what is happening now, but what will be the latter end for both the righteous and the wicked. We must see things with spiritual eyes rather than carnal eyes, lest we complain against God and fall in the wilderness, never entering into the rest which remains for His people. We have tremendous need of endurance if we are to finish this difficult race with a steadfast faith.

Please be encouraged if you are suffering as a Christian. God has chosen the poor of this world to inherit the riches of the next (James 2:5). God has chosen the weak of this world through whom to manifest His strength, and He has chosen to declare His Name through those who are despised (Psa. 22). If you walk by your spiritual eyes rather than your carnal eyes, you can endure like Moses (Heb. 11:24-27)–he was able to endure the wrath of this world’s elite and powerful, because he looked to the Invisible One, who would soon crush satan under his feet. He esteemed the reproach of Christ as the true riches compared to all that he could have had in Egypt (the world).

Our brother, who was crucified, wrote the following:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (I Pet. 5:8-10)

Until that day that He has perfected, established, strengthened and settled us, let us remember that the entire brotherhood of Jesus is experiencing sufferings with us. Let us be vigilant to guard our hearts against the devil’s schemes to get us to turn away from the Lord Jesus. No one else has the Words of Life; there is no where to go but to Him. We will suffer “for a while.” I know it can feel like our troubles are unending, but they aren’t. Our suffering is temporary and it will end. If we do not draw back to perdition, we will obtain the Promise, and He will wipe away every tear.

Posted in Apostasy, Once Saved Always Saved, persecution | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Those Who Are Called

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 4, 2014

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (I Cor. 2:22-25)


Who are “those who are called”?

Does God only call a select few from among the Jews and Gentiles, and enable only them to answer the call? Does God then cause those select few whom He called to inherit eternal life? If you only read the following passage, you might think so:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom. 8:28-30)

Paul is referring to those who presently “love God.” “Those who are called” = “those who love God.” Those who love God are “the called according to His purpose,” because they are submitted to His purposes rather than their own. And these, Paul says, were “foreknown” by God, predestined to look like Jesus, called to follow Jesus, justified and glorified. Paul speaks of these things as having already been done in the past, but this does not mean that a calling guarantees the final glorification. We need to carefully weigh this passage with other passages before concluding that God only calls certain people, or that one who is called always inherits eternal life.

Remember, Peter acknowledged that some of Paul’s writings were “hard to understand,” and “untaught and unstable people” were twisting his writings to their own destruction. Then Peter warns, “THEREFORE…beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” (2 Pet. 3:15-17) So let us have a look at other Scriptures that speak of our being called.

The call can be ignored with terrible consequences.

Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes (Prov. 1:24-26)

This call of God to hear His wisdom and submit to it has gone out since the beginning to all simple ones, scorners and fools (1:20-22). This is a call to forsake our own wisdom and cleave to God’s Wisdom (Christ.) But many refuse to take God’s hand, disdain His counsel, and reject His rebuke. He called, but they refused. It is only those who turn at God’s rebuke who come to know His words (1:23). Many in Jesus’ day had already been ignoring God’s call; thus their hearts were ill-prepared to see the salvation of God (Psa. 50:23). They would not turn at His rebuke, so they were denied access to His Words.

The call comes through/in God’s Grace.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace… (Gal. 1:15)

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. (Gal. 1:6)

This is the same grace that has appeared to all men and teaches them to live soberly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-12). When Jesus was lifted up, He drew all men to Himself. The ultimate display of God’s love should cause us to love Him and answer His call to be like Him. But there are some who count the blood of Christ a common thing and insult the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29).

The call comes by the gospel.

to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 2:14)

And to whom are we commanded to give the gospel?–to every creature from every nation (Mk. 16:15; Col. 1:23).

The call includes a command to repent (Not everyone repents).

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

Peter is teaching that everyone who is called can receive the promise if they repent! The call itself does not necessarily mean eternal life is guaranteed.

The call is a call to leave darkness and come dwell in light.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Pet. 2:9)

The call is a call to follow Jesus.

Early in Jesus’ ministry, He began to call men to follow Him. We should wonder what made Him call certain people and not other people in those early days. Why did He call fishermen and a tax collector, for example, rather than esteemed leaders of the day. Wouldn’t more well-known people have had more influence? Paul explained this in I Cor. 1:26-31–

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Notice:

1. The words “called” and “chosen” seem interchangeable in this passage. For example, “Not many wise…are called, but God has chosen the foolish.”

2. God purposely refrained from choosing that which had fleshly glory, so that no flesh could glory in His presence.

3. In so doing, He fulfilled His word in Psa. 18:27, 25:9; 147:6, 149:4; Prov. 3:34, etc., in which He promises to save and help the humble. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble!

Does this mean that someone who had an esteemed position among men could not be called, chosen, or saved?–No, for Paul was advanced in Judaism and his credentials did not keep him from being saved. Yet he had to humble himself and submit to Jesus, counting his credentials as rubbish (Phil. 3:8). Many who have the esteem of men will not risk losing it for Christ, as Paul did. Nicodemus also was a leader who was looking for truth, and Jesus responded to his search for understanding by teaching him.

The call is a call into the fellowship of Jesus.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (I Cor. 1:9)

Is one who is called into this fellowship guaranteed to remain in this fellowship?

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I Jn. 1:5-7)

We must walk/remain in the light in order to remain in fellowship with Jesus.

The call to fellowship with Jesus is a call to suffer patiently.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps I Pet. 2:21

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10).

not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. I Pet. 3:9

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. I Pet. 5:10

If we aren’t willing to suffer with Him, neither will we be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17).

The call is a call to fight a good fight.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Tim. 6:12)

The call is a call to be holy, obedient saints.

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: (Rom. 1:5-7)

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (I Cor. 1:2)

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (I Pet. 1:15)

The call is answered when someone obeys it by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called… (Heb. 11:8)

The call must be followed by knowing the One who called us.

As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (2 Pet. 1:3)

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

We must walk worthy of the calling! (Some do not!)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Eph. 4:1)

We do this by putting off the old man with all of its ungodly behaviors, and being taught by Christ how to live in true righteousness and holiness (same chapter, vss. 17-32).

We must be diligent to make our calling and election sure, lest we stumble!

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Pet. 1:10)

If you do these things you will never stumble“–the things mentioned in vss. 5-7. That is, we must add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. If we do not do these things, our calling and election are still unsure.

We must go past being called to being sanctified and preserved in Jesus.

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ. (Jude 1)

Those who are not sanctified are not doing God’s will (I Thess. 4:3). Only those who do God’s will and obey Christ’s teachings shall be saved (Matt. 7:21). We are sanctified and preserved as we abide in Jesus, the Word of God. Scripture is clear that those who don’t remain abiding in Jesus will be cut off the Vine because of their fruitlessness (Jn. 15:5-6).

We must go past being called to being chosen and faithful.

For many are called, but few are chosen. Matt. 22:14

Judas was called and even given supernatural power–

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. (Matt. 10:1)

Judas was chosen

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (Jn. 6:70)

But Judas was not faithful

This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. (Jn. 12:6)

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ (Jn. 13:17-18)

Those with Jesus are called, chosen, and faithful:

These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)

In summary, the call of God goes out through the earth to all nations, to every creature. So in that sense, all men are called to come to Christ. Yet, “those who are called” in our original passage refers to those who have not ignored the call (in general, the humble), have not received God’s grace in vain, have repented, and have obeyed the gospel. These are following and fellowshiping with Jesus, are suffering patiently, are fighting the good fight, are being holy and obedient, are walking worthy of their calling, and are being sanctified by Jesus as they abide in Him. These will inherit eternal life if they are faithful to the end, and do not turn from the heavenly calling as Judas did.

Posted in Calvinism, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Gather with Jesus or Be Scattered

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 13, 2014

The following is taken from Luke 11:17-26.

Jesus taught that His kingdom is superior in strength to satan’s kingdom, and demonstrated it by casting demons out of people. He has power in Himself to overthrow the devil’s hold on a person in order to “plunder satan’s goods.” God can and wants to deliver us from the power of darkness and convey us into the kingdom of the Son. (Col. 1:13)

Jesus issued this very black and white statement–

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Lk. 11:23)

We are either in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of satan. We cannot be somewhere in the middle. The only way to be firmly in the kingdom of God is to be gathering with Jesus (following Him as a sheep follows a shepherd). Any other posture is considered against Him, or treason. And to stop gathering with Him is to begin to be scattered.

Now look at His words in vss. 24-26.

It is not enough to have an emptied and cleaned out spiritual “house.” If we do not gather with Jesus–or fill our “house” with Jesus–we are just empty vessels, still useful to the devil in the future. He has only to search out our weaknesses to gain a foothold in our lives again. We can clean up morally and even profess to be the Lord’s, but if we don’t come to His table and eat His spiritual flesh and drink His spiritual blood, we have no life in us (Jn. 6:53-56). If we do not abide in the Vine, we are still in danger of a fiery destruction (Jn. 15:6). If we are not living according to the Spirit, we are easy prey for the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). There is no “eternal security” for those who aren’t continually gathering to Jesus.

We must never rest on our past deliverance. The cleaned-up state of our house today does not necessitate that it must always be so. Without active work, what is clean today can be filthy tomorrow. As a matter of fact, a once-evicted spirit can return with seven others more wicked than himself unless a person has filled his house with the Spirit of God! And who is God’s Spirit given to, but to those who are gathering to Jesus by obedience to His Word? (Acts 5:32) And so, to keep firmly in the kingdom of God, we must continue in our active devotion to its King.

Gather to Jesus and actively, decisively follow Him. Incline your ears and heart to His teaching, as recorded in Scripture, and your will to applying it. In Him is Life, and that Life is the light of men (Jn. 1:4). Without Him, the darkness will overtake us. But he who gathers with Him, to follow Him, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Jn. 8:12)

Posted in Apostasy, Backslider, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jesus is Life

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 28, 2014

And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom…Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. (Num. 17:5,8)

As High Priest, Aaron was a type and picture of the Messiah who was to come. After each tribal leader had offered up his own rod, God sent a sign to signify “the man whom I choose” by causing Aaron’s rod to blossom and bring forth ripe fruit in one day–quite the miracle, considering a cut stick cannot do anything but wither and die under normal conditions.

God has signified the Man whom He chooses as our final authority by raising Jesus from the dead. No other man has ever risen from the dead, except those whom THIS MAN called forth. The Father has set His seal on Him, and only the food which He gives (the manna of His very self) can give us everlasting life (Jn. 6:27).

Jesus testified of His own life, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (Jn. 10:18) He made this wonderful declaration about His power over life and death, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (Jn. 11:25-26)

The apostle John testified of Him, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (Jn. 1:4) And also, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (I Jn. 5:11-12)

The Psalmist testified, “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. (Psa. 36:9)

The apostle Paul wrote to fellow believers, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:4)

Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (Jn. 10:27-28) False teachers twist the end of verse 28 by teaching that even if we stop following Jesus, we will never perish. But the person who is listening to the Spirit of God will see that the sheep who never perish continually follow Jesus, and as they follow Him, He gives them eternal life. A Shepherd cannot feed the sheep who have wandered away; He only feeds those sheep who are with Him. The eternal life is in Jesus, and when the sheep become disconnected from Jesus, they are disconnected from eternal life. Jesus said this another way in John 15, where He warned that apart from connection to the Vine/Himself (the only source of life) a branch will be fruitless, wither and die.

All over the world, people are searching for life in places where there is no life. They search for it in money and the things money can buy. The eyes of man are never satisfied, however, and anyone who loves the world separates himself from the love of the Father (Prov. 27:20, I Jn. 2:15). Searching for life in riches ends in destruction (I Tim. 6:9).

Many search for life in preserving and beautifying their physical bodies. While it is wise to be clean, eat healthful foods and exercise, a pursuit of true life in these things will yield disappointment. These bodies are sown in corruption, dishonor and weakness; such as they are, they cannot inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 15:42-54). Consider how the celebrities “perfect” themselves with plastic surgeries, only to die in the end–their secrets exposed to the whole world on the pages of tabloid magazines. A well that can hold no water–no matter how beautifully formed and painted on the outside–is still a lifeless, empty well. The only way we can truly contain Life–and possess an “incorruptible inheritance” (I Pet. 1:4)–is to be born again and have the Spirit of God living in us.

The only source of true life is Jesus. He is the Rod that budded and produced fruit even after being dead and buried. “Whoever drinks of this [physical] water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Jn. 4:13-14)

Dear reader, do you have in you “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life”? Do you have the witness of the Spirit of God continually guiding your steps, correcting you when necessary, comforting you in your sorrows, empowering you to be a witness to His eternal truths?

Some people–who follow Jesus for a while–find that His teachings begin to disturb them, and they leave Him. (Jn. 6:60, 66) They don’t always confess that they have left Him. Often they just begin to twist or ignore His words, while still professing to be His sheep. But in their hearts they have left Him, for His unadulterated Word finds no place in them. They suppress the Truth because of their love for unrighteousness.

When Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter responded–

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Jn. 6:68)

Indeed…no matter what perils and disappointments we may face in this life, to whom–besides Jesus–shall we go? There is no one else who has the words of eternal life. There is no other Messiah, no other Way that won’t destroy us, no other source of Living Water, no other sustaining Bread of Life, no other Word without a hint of falseness, no other Rod which has miraculously budded and produced such glorious fruit. Whoever lives [because of connection with Him] and believes in Him shall never die. Do you believe this? These are spiritual words which only a spiritual man can receive. If you are that spiritual man, keeping hearing His voice and following Him. He is our Life!

Posted in Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Perishing From the Assembly

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 25, 2014

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (Jn. 10:14)

In the rebellion of Korah, the dissenters falsely declared that the Lord was among “every one of them.” (Num. 16:3) Moses responded that the Lord would show who was His and who is holy, and He would cause the one He chooses to come near to Him (vs. 5). It was clear to Moses that the Lord was not, in fact, among every one of them. The Lord demonstrated who were His and who were not by swallowing the rebels alive into a pit. They perished from among the assembly (vss. 32-33).

Today there are so many who claim that the Lord is among them while they rebel against God’s chosen Leader (Jesus Christ). But what did Jesus say? He knows His sheep, and they know Him. They believe He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so they follow Him (Jn. 10:27).

I remember telling a young man who unashamedly admitted living in fornication that he was not the Lord’s sheep. He kept telling me how sad it made him feel for me to say such a thing, and he pressed me to confess that he was the Lord’s sheep based on his having prayed a prayer at one time to be saved. I refused. How could I claim he was the Lord’s sheep when Jesus said His sheep know His voice and follow Him, refusing to obey the voice of a stranger? (Jn. 10:4-5) After trying for two years to get this young man to come to a place of repentance, he still defended his sinful lifestyle and wicked heart. He still argued against holiness and obedience to the Lord every chance he got, most often while “fellowshiping” with other Christians. The true sheep do not do these things, and such “fellowship” is worthless, as light is forever divided from darkness. When we figure out we are in the presence of an unrepentant Korah, we need to, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.” (Num. 16:26)

The Apostle Paul may have been referring back to the rebellion of Korah when he wrote the following:

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Tim. 2:19)

Despite the deceitful words and conjured-up doctrines of religious rebels, the Lord does know those who are His. He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, testing and proving and perfecting that which is real (Mal. 3:3). His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matt. 3:12)

Who shall draw near to the Lord? Is the Lord with us just because we insist He is? Can we be close to the Lord while disregarding His Word?

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. (Psa. 24:3-6)

What about the disobedient who insist that God is with them?

To these He says,

What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? (Psa. 50:16-17)

Just as Korah perished from the assembly, so these will perish from God’s assembly if they do not repent. They may hang around the congregation of the righteous, but they will not remain there. The wheat will be gathered to Christ, and the chaff will be thrown in unquenchable fire. They may fool some people for a time, but they will not fool the searching eye of the Lord. Many will go alive into the pit with choir robes on.

Religious people who feverishly work to draw more disobedient disciples after themselves are often admired and followed by many. They can have the biggest churches and appear to have thriving ministries. Nevertheless, they are late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots…for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 12-13). Don’t be fooled by appearances; one day after Korah made his bold claims against God’s authority, he was destroyed. The Lord knows those who are His.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psa. 1)

Posted in Apostasy, Judgment of God, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Treachery of Unbelief

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 20, 2014

 

I will be drawing select verses from Numbers 14, but you can read the entire chapter here for context.

Moses had sent the leaders of each Israelite tribe to spy out the land of Canaan, which God had promised to give them. When they returned, ten of the leaders gave the Israelites “a bad report,” faithlessly proclaiming, “We are not able!” (Num. 13:32). Caleb, however, boldly proclaimed, “Let us go up at once….we are well able to overcome it.” (13:30).

How did the people respond to this mixed review? Did they recall to mind God’s promises and the way He had so gloriously delivered them from the Egyptians (Exo. 14)? Did they consider how God had fed them miraculously in the wilderness, and provided water and shelter from hot days and cold nights by His fire and cloud? –Hardly. Instead they complained against their leaders and declared their wish that they were already dead! (14:2) Then they voiced their suspicion that the Lord had victimized their families, and decided to choose a leader who would lead them back into the bondage of Egypt (14:3-4).

Joshua and Caleb, horrified at this mass apostasy, tore their clothes and exhorted the people with the following main points:

1. The land is an exceedingly good land! (14:7)

2. IF the Lord delights in us, He will give it to us. (14:8)

3. ONLY DO NOT REBEL AGAINST THE LORD…the Lord is with us…do not fear them. (14:9)

How did the congregation respond to this show of faith?

They decided to stone Joshua and Caleb with stones. (14:10)

Note that the progression of the people into full apostasy was as follows:

1. They believed a lying report rather than believing God’s Word, even though God did have servants (Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb) who were speaking the truth faithfully.

2. They neglected to bring to mind the glorious victories God had already given them, or to trust His promises.

3. They complained and claimed to be victims.

4. They chose a replacement leader who would lead them back into bondage.

Is this not the same progression we see in professing Christians today? While God does have a few servants who remind us that we are well able to overcome all things in Christ, the majority of voices proclaim that we are victims of a God who has sentenced us to a losing battle until the day we die. Most choose to ignore the promises in God’s Word, and hold fast to the lying report instead. They complain against the truth tellers (verbally stoning them, if not literally), choose replacement teachers who tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3), and return like senseless animals to the vomit they had once left behind (2 Pet. 2:22).

While this may seem like average Christianity to those of us who have been pickled in this apostasy for years, it is really nothing short of treachery and rebellion against God.

God’s response to the unbelieving Israelites was to declare that the people had rejected Him (14:11). He was ready to disinherit them and start over with Moses. Moses pleaded for and acquired pardon for the people (19-20), but the Lord still firmly decided that none of those who rejected Him would ever see the land previously promised them (23). In fact, He said they had despised the land (31), just as Esau had despised his birthright before he lost it forever (Gen. 25:34). God called them an “evil congregation who are gathered together against Me” and proclaimed, “You shall know my rejection!” (34-35)

A few questions:

Are we victims of a God who has sentenced us to a string of losing battles, as so many say?

Does God smile upon our unbelief?

Is it a small thing to gather together against Him, to refuse to listen to His voice, and to reject Him?

Will He really reject those who reject Him?

Lest you think I am drawing a false parallel between the Old Testament Israelites and New Testament Christianity, the apostle Paul drew this exact parallel so as to warn all of us upon whom the ends of the ages have come (I Cor. 10:1-12). He very plainly warned us not to do as the Israelites did, lest we be destroyed in like manner as they were.

Who will inherit the land (salvation)?

But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. (Num. 14:24)

Reject every false report, believe God’s Word and follow Him fully. In Christ, we are well able to overcome!

Posted in apostasy, Calvinism, Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Whatever He Says, Do

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 3, 2014

So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.” (Gen. 41:55)

Here, Joseph is an Old Testament picture of the Son of God. When all the world is famished and on the brink of perishing, there is only one Savior capable of giving true help. “Go to Joseph” or “Go to Jesus; whatever he says to you, do.”

Mary, falsely worshiped by catholics as co-redeemer and co-mediator, recognized this truth about Jesus.

His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)

Do we have to do the things Jesus says to be saved from perishing? Remember His teaching about the man who hears Jesus’ sayings and does them, versus the man who hears Jesus’ sayings and does not do them. The first man’s life is preserved, while the disobedient man’s life is destroyed. (Matt. 7:24-27)

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matt. 7:21)

But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? (Lk. 6:46)

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.”’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the Lord. (Zech. 1:3-4)

Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; then the Lord will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you. (Jer. 26:13)

It is wholly true that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4) A man at variance with God’s Word is still abiding in death. It doesn’t matter how religious he is, or how many times he has prayed the prayer, or whether his whole church accepts him as a man of God. If he is not in submission to God’s chosen King–Jesus–he is still dead in trespasses and sins.

Jesus, God in flesh, demonstrated His absolute obedience to the Father’s will, giving us an example of the Spirit-led life. He did nothing and said nothing but what His Father told Him to do and say (Heb. 10:9; Jn. 5:17, 19; Jn. 4:34; Jn. 7:16). The Holy Spirit is given to all who obey God (Acts 5:32) and He leads us into all Truth, both in doctrine and practice. Everything we do and everything we say/teach is to be guided by the Father through the Spirit of Jesus in us. Any other “Christian life” is a counterfeit.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)

Why do we need to prove what is the will of God?–So that we can do it. Peter said–

But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10:35)

Today we have multitudes of teachers saying that we can do as we please, and as long as we give lip-service to God (calling Him Lord but refusing to work the righteousness that is His will), He still accepts us. Or they demonstrate–by accepting anyone into their churches that tithes or signs a piece of paper–that outward conformity is enough to be accepted. Not so. Unless a man is born again, and there is evidence of all things becoming new (as they come into conformity with God’s commands), that man is not yet in the Kingdom of God. He can’t even see it, let alone be part of it. Many attend church on Sunday mornings who don’t even seek out the will of God, let alone set the course of their lives to do it. Such people are not accepted by God.

And how is a man born again?–By the incorruptible Word of God when it is received into an obedient heart (I Pet. 1:22-23). And now we are to be “obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (I Pet. 1:14-16) The holiness required is the fruit that comes from the union of the Word of God and an obedient heart, out of which will naturally flow practical, observable righteousness.

If there is no obedience, there will be no life.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (Jam. 1:21-25)

Therefore, dear reader, whatever Jesus says to you, do it!

*A word of caution: there are some that create a Jesus of their own imagination. This Jesus is always whispering in their ear things that are questionable when held up to the light of the Written Word. Remember we have the “more sure word of prophecy,” the Scriptures. Test the spirits–test all voices in your head–test every voice that comes through a speaker–by the written Word. Jesus Himself demonstrated a reliance on what was already written when He was tempted (Matt. 4:1-11). We must do likewise.

There are many commands already written in Scripture that are easy to understand. There is much–again, already written–to be obeyed. Some run ahead of the doctrines of Christ and seek out “new revelations” so that they can appear more spiritual to themselves and others. They are deceiving themselves by focusing on unclear things rather than obeying what is already clear. They claim to be obeying Jesus, but in reality they are obeying a created idol in their imaginations that keeps them always learning but never knowing the Truth. Beware that the voice you are hearing never contradicts what is already written. (See I Jn. 4:1; Isa. 8:20)

Posted in Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Reciprocal Love

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 16, 2014

Many of us know what it is to receive reciprocal love. When we take care of a pet, and that animal voluntarily comes and shows affection toward us when it could run the other way, we are warmed inside by this “free will offering” of love. When our children do for us some act of kindness that goes over and beyond the rules, we experience the thrill of being truly cared for by them. There is something very precious about voluntary reciprocal love–not only to us, but to God.

God is love, and God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. While we were yet sinners–not concerned in the least about what God deserves–Christ died for us. While we still hated God, God cared to the point of His own hurt. While we were friends of the world, carnal, and enemies of everything good, God was working out a Way to redeem us and save us from our self-destruction.

What does such a God deserve? Does He not deserve sincere reciprocal love from us?

“We love Him because He first loved us.” (I Jn. 4:19)

And what does this love look like?

There are thousands–perhaps millions–of people who claim to love God while they live and behave in ways that make God sick and angry. Not only do they not reverence Him or do anything He says, they hate and hurt one another (sometimes even claiming they are doing it for God–John 16:2). But did not Jesus say, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me”? Yes, and He also said, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love Him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

God loved us through the sacrifice of Jesus. We owe Him love and gratitude in response to that gift, and our love will be evidenced by our keeping His commands. Our keeping His commands is the key to abiding or remaining in His love (John 15:10). Our reciprocal love toward Jesus will be met with MORE reciprocal love from God toward us.

The Apostle John wrote, “This IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” (I John 5:3) In this statement, John has written for us a very clear definition of the love of God. It has been, since the beginning of time, God’s will for men to heed His voice. This is only as it should be. He is the self-sacrificing Shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the benevolent Father; we are the children. He is the wise Potter; we are the clay–only useful to Him and others if we yield to Him.

However, men given over to the lusts of their own flesh despise authority. They want to be in charge of their own lives so they can do whatever seems good to them. Since they also want to be religious, they have decided for themselves that the love of God is something other than what the Word of God says. They have re-defined the love of God to be something that they find easy to fulfill. For some, going to church on Sunday fulfills their commitment to love God. For others, wearing a gold cross on their neck, or trying to be nice and agreeable (tolerating sin) is “proof” of their love for God, even while they ignore the things God says. But this “worship” toward God is not in Spirit and Truth, and God does not accept it.

For the person who has been truly born again by God’s Spirit, the commandments of God are not burdensome, because whatever is born of God overcomes the world (I John 5:3-4). True faith manifests as obedience to God because true faith recognizes that God is the wisest, kindest, and best Authority there is; and the only correct response to that authority is obedience.

David wrote in Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart.”

This is a far cry from a reluctant attempt to appease God here and there while still trying to live for ourselves as we please. If we are still trying to please ourselves, we have not yet been crucified with Christ to this world and our flesh. This is why we have no resurrection power to overcome the world. No one can serve both God and self. If self is still allowed to rule, we demonstrate that we do not yet recognize how criminal this usurpation of authority is. As rebels, we are contributing to the world’s problems rather than being helpful to the world. And despite any lipservice we give to God concerning the Sacrifice He has made, we show by our disobedience that we do not value that Sacrifice at all.

If we are playing at religion while harboring love for the world–and our temporal lives in it–in our hearts, we need to come clean and admit we are enemies of God (I John 2:15-16). We need to sorrow over this sorry condition we are in, and commit to seeking God until we are completely changed from the heart.

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. And His grace has the power to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-12). In other words, God’s grace–if it is not received in vain by a hard, stubborn heart that doesn’t care–has the power to produce in us a sincere reciprocal love for God that manifests itself in obedience to His commands. And only those who love Him in this manner will escape the curse of damnation that is coming on this world (I Cor. 16:22).

Posted in Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Seeing, Hearing, & Understanding

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 8, 2014

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ Matt. 13:15

Here we see that though the Word of God is sent to heal sinners (Psalm 107:20), they must see, hear, understand and turn in order to be healed. While turning is the act of repentance without which no one can be saved, I would like to focus this study on the seeing, hearing, and understanding that are also important. This is not a comprehensive study, but a starting point for the reader. Please commit some time to studying these passages for yourself with a desire to see and hear and understand what the will of God is.

In Deut. 29:4, Moses declares that although he has been faithfully leading the Israelites for years, God has not given the people hearts to perceive, eyes to see, and ears to hear. Why not? Is the fault God’s or the people’s?

In Isa. 6, the judgment of God is predicted by the prophet, by which God seals the people in their chosen blindness, deafness and lack of understanding until there is devastation and destruction of the people as a whole. Out of this destruction, a tenth (remnant) is manifested as faithful to God. It is this prophecy to which Jesus refers in Matt. 13:15, and it was fulfilled when the majority of the Jews rejected Jesus (the Word made flesh) and a minority repented and believed.

In Isa. 30, God provides further detail as to why the people were blind. They were seeking counsel from the world (Egypt) rather than from Him (vss. 1-2). God instructed Isaiah to record that the people were rebellious children who refused to hear God’s Word. They preferred their spiritual blindness so much that they even commanded those who could see, “Do not see!” (vss. 8-11) As the proverb correctly states, There are none so blind as those who will not see. Dreadful judgment would fall on this people because they despised this Word (of God) and trusted in oppression and perversity (vss. 12-14). But to those who would humble themselves and cry for God’s help and wait for Him to guide their steps, He would give them eyes to see and ears to hear His voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” He would give them understanding so that they would throw away their idols as the abhorrent, defiling things that they truly were (vss. 19-22).

Isa. 32:1-4 speaks of a time when ears will be opened, eyes will see, and hearts will understand under a King who reigns in righteousness. (That King has been installed on God’s holy hill; let all the earth acknowledge and worship Him.) The complacent daughters who are “at ease” in Zion are commanded to give ear to God’s speech (vs. 9), for the harvest they expect is not going to come in. While there are some who are seeing, hearing and understanding in Zion because they have submitted fully to Zion’s King Jesus, there are many more who are complacently on their way to a rude awakening. The competing voices of the world have led them by degrees away from giving ear to God’s Word and building their lives accordingly. They do not know that their “house” is not as destruction-proof as they think (Matt. 7:26-27).

When we can still hear the Voice saying “give ear,” we had better give ear. There may come a time when that Voice says instead–

Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed. (Isa. 6:10)

Likewise, when the Word of God says, “Walk while you have the light,” we had better have enough fear of God to get stepping. Otherwise the darkness may yet overtake us! (John 12:35)

Isa. 35 again pictures a time when the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. What we see in this chapter is a hungry and thirsty remnant of people who are weak in themselves and dependent upon God. Not only are they redeemed by the blood of Jesus from their old way of life, they are willing to walk the Highway of Holiness all the way to Zion. Make sure you are in this remnant!

In Jer. 5:20-25, God convicts the people of having useless eyes and ears again. And what are the causes?–No fear of Him (22), defiance and rebellion (23), and iniquity and sin (25). Indeed He declares that it is their sins that have withheld good from them! (25)

The prophet Ezekiel is commanded to receive into his heart and to hear with his ears all of God’s Words (3:10). He is then to relay God’s Words to other people whether they hear or refuse to hear (3:11). Both prophet and people have a choice to hear or to refuse to hear. If we hear and obey ourselves, we can be God’s spokesmen to others. If we do not, He will take away the candlestick of His presence and leave us and our “ministries” in the dark. Not only will we not see, we will be unable to help others. If we try to help others, we will only be the blind leading the blind into a ditch. Please understand that many ministries today are charging full speed ahead without the light of God! They do not even know that He is not with them.

In Ezek. 12:1, God again indicts this blind and deaf people, stating the reason for their blindness and deafness–“They are a rebellious house.”

Through the prophet Zechariah, God issues a scathing rebuke that blames the spiritually deaf for their own deafness–

They refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. (Zech. 7:11-12)

Stephen, speaking by the Holy Spirit, called his countrymen stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Whose fault was it that they had uncircumcised hearts and ears? Do we not have a duty to circumcise our hearts and ears to yield to the Holy Spirit of God when He speaks? Yet this crowd stopped their ears yet again at Stephen’s rebuke, and stoned him to death for his words. This is still happening today. Those who speak truth are often despised, while those who say pretty things that flatter sinful men are followed, supported and praised.

How do we respond to the Word of God?

Paul reminded Timothy that people will turn their ears away from the truth, having ears that itch for fables instead! (2 Tim. 4:3-4) They will not endure sound doctrine, and so will stop their ears to it. Why?–because of their own desires which conflict with God’s will and Word. It is a dangerous thing to set oneself against the Word of God! And unfortunately the devil has provided many teachers to satisfy the itching, uncircumcised ears of these rebellious people who abound today. But their rebellion will lead to their destruction if they do not turn around.

We are instructed to incline our ears to the Words of God’s mouth (Psa. 78:1). We are commanded to apply our ears to words of knowledge and our hearts to true instruction (Prov. 23:12). Inclining and applying are action words. God opens the ears of the poor–those who are not wise in their own eyes, but depend upon God to show them what is right (Job 36:15). Those who then do what He says will be blessed.

Repeatedly Jesus finished His teachings with this command, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” The Word and instruction of God has been sent to heal us, but we must circumcise our hearts and ears to hear. Otherwise our hearts will be like stony, unplowed ground, unable to be penetrated or made fruitful by God’s Word.

Additionally, we must walk by His light each day in order to see where we are going. It is in His Light that we can see light (Psa. 36:9). Just as the physical eye cannot see anything at all without the presence of some external light source (sun, moon, lamp, etc.), we cannot see spiritually unless we walk in and with the Light of the World. For thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. To walk with Him, one must follow Him. He alone knows the steps we should take and how to keep us on that Highway of Holiness that ends in Zion.

By worshiping blind and deaf idols, people become spiritually blind and deaf also (Psa. 135:15-18). This can occur even after being born again and washed; a washed sow can return to wallowing in the mud and become unclean again (2 Pet. 2:22). This happened to many in Israel (I Cor. 10:1-11), and it can happen to us if we are not careful to hear and apply God’s Word daily in our lives. The apostle John reminded believers to keep from idols (I Jn. 5:21), for idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9; Rev. 21:8).

When we turn from blind and deaf idols to the living (seeing, hearing, understanding) God, we are then changed into His image by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18). Our eyes and ears will then be opened to see and hear, even as the God we worship sees and hears. He will open our understanding to rightly understand the Scriptures He has breathed (Luke 24:45.) Just as Jesus went about opening the eyes of the physically blind, it is He who opens spiritually blind eyes of those who truly want to see. He counsels the lukewarm church to come directly to Him for forgiveness, sight, and true riches (Rev. 3:18). It is through knowing Him–Jesus–that we receive wisdom and revelation, and have “the eyes of our understanding” enlightened (Eph. 1:17-18).

It is my prayer that as you study these and other passages, you will hunger and thirst to see, hear and understand all that God wants to teach you. That you will repent of any known, willful rebellion against God, and trust in Jesus Christ fully as the only Way. There are many who profess to see, and to be leaders of others, but by their sinful actions we know them to be blind. Leave these blind guides and cleave to the Son of God who will never lead you astray.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day would not admit their blindness without Jesus and step into His light. They resisted and twisted, rather than submitted to, God’s Word; therefore their sins remained upon them despite their outwardly religious lives (John 9:41.) This is also the case with multitudes of people who go to church and profess to know God today; they are blind and in need of eye-salve from Jesus, but they insist they see.

May your eyes truly see. May your ears truly hear. May your heart truly understand. And may you turn that you might be healed.

God bless you.

Posted in Apostasy, Once Saved Always Saved, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: