The Grace of God

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

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The Glory of the Latter Temple

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 28, 2014

This paper will be looking at some key verses in the short prophesy of Haggai.

The prophet Haggai finds the returned exiles to Jerusalem too busy about their own business to be finishing God’s business. Through him, God reminds this remnant of His prior judgments on their blessings, and exhorts them to put Him first and get the house of worship completed. He meant a physical house, as the New Covenant had not yet come. However this physical building never did attain to the earthly glory of the first house built by Solomon. These were the days of “small things” (Zech. 4:10)–not to be despised, but also not to be thought of as the full manifestation of what God was accomplishing. The old men who had seen the former temple wept to see this new foundation laid (Ezra 3:12), perhaps remembering the former glory, which was even now passing away (2 Cor. 3:7). Soon the covenant which was centered around the earthly temple would be obsolete (Heb. 8:13), and Jesus indicated such to his disciples when they asked Him His opinion of the temple in their day–

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matt. 24:1-2)

Keeping in mind Jesus’ future words about the destruction of the earthly temple, let us look at Haggai 2:5-9, wherein a wonderful promise of future glory–pertaining to the temple–was made:

‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

First, notice that the Spirit was promised to be with those who were now obeying Him, just as He was with those who previously came out of Egypt (before they backslid). The remnant had endured 70 years of exile. Many unbelieving branches had been cut off and thrown into the fire (judgment), but the remnant “people of God”–the called out ones–the congregation of the Lord–had survived (Jer. 5:10; 11:16-17; Ezek. 19:10-14; Jn. 15:1-8; Rom. 11:1-27). After the first generation of redeemed Israelites had perished in the wilderness, it was needful for the survivors of the following generation to know God would be with them. And now, after so many Israelites had been vomited out of the land never to return again, it was needful for this small remnant to know that God would again be with them. Regardless of how many are “cut off,” God will always be with the remnant who returns to Him in truth!

Second, God promises to shake ALL the nations, that the treasure of the nations (indicated by silver and gold owned by the Lord) would come to “the Desire of all Nations.” The Desire of all Nations is undoubtedly Christ Himself, the redeemer of all men. The gold and silver treasures are those from the nations who would hear His voice and come to Mt. Zion to be redeemed of the Lord and dwell peacefully with Him and His people (Isa. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-5). The writer of Hebrews tells us the international Church is the fulfillment of these promises (Heb. 12:22-23). These treasures would be refined and purified by the Lord Jesus, as gold and silver in a fire (Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2-3) to become vessels of honor (2 Tim. 2:20-21).

Third, the glory of the coming latter temple would be greater than the former, and peace would be given in this place. God cannot have meant the second temple built by the returned remnant, for even after Herod refurbished its buildings in Jesus’ day, Jesus gave no honor at all to these, but promised they would be destroyed (and they were.) He spoke mysteriously of His own body being a temple, which would be destroyed by men and raised again in three days by His own power (Jn. 2:19-21). The Lamb (Jesus) is the temple in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22). When Jesus rose from the grave, new construction began in the Spirit! The cornerstone was laid once and for all in Zion. Justice was the measuring line and righteousness the plummet. Hail swept away the refuge of lies (“I am a child of God because of my ancestry”), and waters overflowed the hiding place (“God won’t take my sin into account.”) (Isa. 28:16-17) Listen as Paul describes both the glory and the peace of the latter temple:

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:11-22)

Notice that converted Gentiles were (past tense) aliens from Israel, but in Christ Jesus, they have been brought near (to be grafted into the olive tree.) Jesus Himself is our peace, and we and other saints (both Jewish and Gentile) are being built together and growing into a holy temple! Jesus is the Cornerstone, and the apostles and prophets make up the rest of the foundation upon which we all must be built. This is the absolute fulfillment of Haggai 2:5-9. The nations are being shaken, and God’s treasure is coming to the Desire of All Nations. God’s temple is glorious in the earth–much more glorious than anything built by the hands of men could be, for God does not dwell in temples made with hands, but in His people (Acts 17:24; I Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16). Jesus has given peace to His disciples, a more lasting and true peace than the world gives (Jn. 14:27); He is their peace, and He has given Himself to them.

Peter also echoes this truth in I Pet. 2:4-9, reminding believers that only those who come to Jesus are God’s chosen people because they have come to the Chosen One–

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,

“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone,”
and “A stone of stumbling

And a rock of offense.”
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

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; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

In conclusion, the glory of the latter temple is already present in the world, and construction is ongoing. When we see the light shining in the faces of our brothers and sisters–and when we see them at peace while the world falls apart, we see a bit of that glory. It is treasure hidden in earthly vessels, to be sure, and carnal eyes will overlook it, but God chooses the weak things to confound the mighty. We need not look for a temple made with hands in the Middle East, as some are falsely teaching–such a temple would be blasphemous in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ and the temple He has been building (His Body, the Church). When the temple is completed and every living stone has been set in its walls, then shall be revealed to every eye the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2).

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Judgment is Coming on America

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 27, 2011

Please take a moment to visit this precious fellow-saint’s blog. Truly, Wisdom is still crying out, but so few are listening.  Read, understand, and spread the message far and wide!  God bless you.

Today, as in the days of the early Church, Christians endure persecution on varying levels.  Whether we are hearing news of a precious Saint who was murdered for the cause of Christ, or seeing slurs and racism based upon our political views, we know that all who live godly in Christ WILL suffer persecution.  Yet we cry Wisdom and pray that sinners will repent of their wickedness and find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Recently, the state of New York passed a law sanctioning their approval and legalization of homosexual marriage. (Read More)

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Speak, Christian! (Even if Your Voice Shakes)

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 17, 2011

Yesterday I saw a picture of an old house, with these words graffiti-painted on, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

I was reminded of one of the first tests the Lord laid on me as a new believer. I had been asked to testify in a child-custody case. To testify meant  saving a young boy’s chance to spend time with his Christian father. It also meant losing the love and respect of many relatives, who were intent on dividing this same father and son, no matter how unjust. As I entered this test, I knew that God wanted me to testify, and that come-what-may, all I had to do was tell the truth without malicious intent, and God would be pleased.  This I did with much fear and trembling. That child is now a man, and has since expressed gratefulness for what I did, now that he understands what was happening.

It was some time after testifying in that case that I came across this verse,

A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies. Prov. 14:25

To speak truth at cost to yourself is not merely an exercise in self-abasement. It saves souls!

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.  If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;   if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Prov. 24:10-12

Dear Christian, every day souls are being drawn away unto death and are ready to be slain. Even in the professing Church, there are many who think they know God, but need a true witness to show them who God really is and what He requires.  We who know the Holy One dare not pretend we do not see those who have been taken captive by the devil to do his will; we dare not continue on our way, silent in the face of their destruction, saving our own lives callously while others perish.

We are God’s witnesses. We don’t have to convince every man, but we do have to “warn every man” (Col. 1:28) and  in meekness instruct those who oppose themselves, in hope that God will yet grant them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. (2 Tim. 2:25)  God is the final Judge, but we are the kingdom of God’s ambassadors, pleading with the rebels while they yet have a chance, “Be ye reconciled to God!” (2 Cor. 5:20) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men! (2 Cor. 5:11) Knowing also the goodness of the Lord, we cry with the Spirit to all who thirst, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17)

There are many costs to the faithful witness even here in the United States–the loss of friends, finances, reputation, etc.  Unfortunately, not every person will turn at the Lord’s loving rebuke; some may even want to kill the messenger.  Most people in the darkness hate the approach of light; they prefer darkness because their deeds are evil, and they do not wish to give them up (John 3:19-21). You will be despised in this world the moment you are willing to lose everything in your life for Christ and His gospel, and yet this is exactly what you must be willing to do. Satan will begin to stir up hatred against you; perhaps you will be falsely accused by others. Remember the words of Jesus–

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.   Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matt. 5:11-12

Listen to what the Lord told Jeremiah, when he was afraid to speak for the Lord:

Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.   Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.  Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. Jer. 1:7-9

Has He put His words in your mouth, Christian?  Spring up, oh well!!  Speak truth faithfully, and with the loving intent to save lives–even if your voice shakes, so that the One who made you His witness may say at the end, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. 25:21)

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Put Away Your Whoredoms

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 16, 2011

Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. (Ezek. 43:9)

When you find yourself lacking the presence of God–and indeed, by your sins, you have erected a wall between you and Him (Ezek. 43:8), there is only one thing to do–put away your whoredoms and the carcasses of your kings. God is holy. Those wicked things you are embracing while professing to be the Bride of Christ testify against you. Do you think God doesn’t see your whoredoms?–He certainly does!

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (Prov. 15:3)

Those movies you watched that dishonored the Lord, those websites you visited that you KNOW are evil, those impure thoughts you entertained, those close friendships you are cultivating with people in the world that hate God, that God-less music you have developed affection for, the lust for material things that you have bowed down to, the refusal to give God first place in your heart, and the stubborn hardening of your heart at His gracious reproofs–these are your whoredoms.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  (James 4:4)

Those evil things you have allowed to rule over you, those sins you have refused to crucify and insisted you had to serve, your own flesh which you have obeyed when you ought to have made it subject to the law of God–these are the “kings” you must slay by the power of the Spirit.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.   Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Rom. 6:12-13)

There is only one King who has the right and authority to rule over you, and that is King Jesus. Has He not proven that He is a good King, worthy of your single-hearted love and devotion? Has anyone else, so highly exalted, ever given so much to save you–you who, by your continuation in rebellion, would crucify Him again?!

Has He not proved to you that all other kings are harsh taskmasters, and that the “pleasures of sin for a season” are fleeting, and end only in death?

Have you not reaped what you sowed, just as He said you would?

When you wore His good yoke, was it not a much easier yoke than the yoke of sin?

Wasn’t a clean conscience much easier to bear than the guilt that weighs upon your soul now?

Wasn’t it better, dear Prodigal, back when you served your Father? What have you gained by insisting on your own way?

Wouldn’t it be better for you now to go back, humble yourself before Him, admit you are no longer worthy to be called a son, and ask for His mercy?

Aren’t His servants faring better than you are now, while you eat food fit for pigs and sit covered in shame?

Come to your senses and stop sinning! Return to your Father, and humble yourself. He will run to you, wash your sins away, and reinstate you as more than a servant–as His child.  All of heaven will rejoice with Him when you repent–when you put away your whoredoms!

Thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.  Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.  Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? (Jer. 3:2-4)

Hear the Father’s heart–even now He desires you to cry unto Him, to remember how He guided you in days gone by, to be ashamed of your idolatry and PUT IT AWAY FROM YOU. Do not have a “whore’s forehead”–brazenly refusing to be ashamed, citing some false doctrine like “once saved always saved” to excuse what cannot be excused. You cannot continue to fellowship with “pigs,” feasting on the same food (partaking of the same sins) they do, and also fellowship with God!  He will not be one of your many gods.  You must choose you this day whom you will serve.  You must come out of the pig pen and begin the journey home!

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?…  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Cor. 6:14-18)

Dear reader, if you are backslidden, I pray you will turn at God’s loving reproof. Today is the day of salvation.

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The Field is the World

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 15, 2011

When discussing the rampant sin in the professing church, how often have you heard, “The church is full of wheat and tares. We can’t tell the difference between the two, so we just have to wait until the end and let God remove the tares.”

I submit to you that this is a wrong interpretation of the passage in question, Matt. 13:24-30. Let us examine it.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:  but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.   But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.   So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?   He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.   Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Notice that when tares appeared, the servants of the householder immediately recognized them as tares rather than wheat.  Servants of God can recognize the children of the devil and the children of God. “For every tree is known by his own fruit.” (Lk. 6:44)

Later in the chapter, when the disciples asked Jesus to help them understand this parable, Jesus declared the following:

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;  the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;  the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.   As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;   and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.   Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (vss. 37-43)

The field is not the church. I repeat, THE FIELD IS NOT THE CHURCH!  The place where wheat and tares must be allowed to co-mingle until the end is THE WORLD.  In the world, there will always be wicked people and righteous people. If the righteous were to go about “gathering up” the tares (killing them!) before the appointed time, it would bring hurt to the wheat. Instead, the righteous must wait patiently for the angels to gather “all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” and cast them into the furnace of fire.  Vengeance is the Lord’s, and He will repay. Untold harm has come to the testimony of the church when “holy wars” have been carried out in the name of Christ. These are the premature “gathering of tares” to which Christ was referring. While the door of salvation stands open, it is still possible for the children of the devil to repent and believe, and become children of God. In the meantime, the servants of God must be content to allow the wheat and tares to grow up together in THE WORLD (not the church!)

Now it is true that wicked men have crept into the church unawares, perverting the doctrines of God (Jude 4), but that is another subject.  The subject at hand is whether or not the righteous (wheat) and the wicked (tares) are permitted to grow up and produce fruit together in the church.

The belief that the the field of wheat and tares is the church, rather than the world as Christ taught, has caused leaven to spread unchecked in the church. This parable has been wrongfully used to ignore the Apostle Paul’s admonitions in I Cor. 5 to:

MOURN over sin in the church (vs 2),

JUDGE the deeds of wicked men in the church (vs 3, 12),

DELIVER sinners to satan for the destruction of the flesh (vs 5),

PURGE the leaven of sin out of the church (vs 7),

STOP having fellowship with wicked people who profess to be Christians (vss 9-11), and

PUT such people “away from among yourselves” (vs 13).

If we are to do all these things, is it not obvious that we must first judge the tree by its own fruit?–that we must discern whose works are inspired by the devil?

Paul asks in I Cor. 6:3-5,

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?  If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.  I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

Paul is reproving the church for failing to judge appropriately! Is there no one in the church who is wise enough to judge between what is good and evil? How can this be, among the very people who will judge angels?

Again, in Eph. 5:3-7, Paul writes:

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.   Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.   Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

We, the saints, are not to allow wicked people to remain “among us” in the church, turning a blind eye to their wicked works, saying “God will deal with the tares in His own time.” We are to purposefully refuse to be partakers in other men’s sins, and to keep ourselves pure (I Tim. 5:22). This means there must be church discipline. The sinner must be confronted in love, and commanded to repent. If he does not repent, we must separate from his company. There is not to be a mixing of holy and profane in the house of God, but a distinct difference between the two. It is this very mixing of holy and profane that has caused untold reproaches to fall unjustly on the name of Christ!

When sin is rampant in the church, and you hear the tired excuse, “God will deal with the tares in His own time,” and “it isn’t for me to judge,” remember that Jesus said THE FIELD IS THE WORLD.  Stand against the false teaching that the field is the church. The Bride of Christ that Jesus will come for is a pure Bride that lives in daily communion with Him, hearing His voice and following Him, and having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness that the children of the devil continue to produce.  Obey the Holy Ghost-inspired words of Paul–“Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

God bless you!

 

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Legalism, Obedience, and the Apostle Paul

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 14, 2011

If you are a Bible-believing Christian who loves Jesus, keeps His commandments, and teaches others to keep His commandments, you’ve probably been called a “legalist.” According to those who bring this charge against you, the Apostle Paul would have called you a legalist too.

The argument goes something like this: If you think you have an obligation to obey God, you have a works-based salvation. You can’t earn your salvation, so you can’t lose it no matter how much you disobey God. Believing and teaching that you must obey God is legalism.

This is an astonishing charge, since part of the great commission is teaching others to obey Jesus’ commands! (Matt. 28:19-20)

It is assumed by many people that the Apostle Paul equated careful, love-motivated obedience to God’s moral law with legalism, but this is simply not true. Where Paul taught that “the law” has no bearing on salvation, he was not  referring to loving adherence to God’s moral commands, but to the keeping of the Judaic law.

Paul taught repentance and faith to every person (Acts 20:21). A person who repents (God’s first requirement) is a person who turns away from known lawbreaking (sin) and submits to the law of God, indeed has the law of God written on his heart. Without this heart change from rebellion to submissive obedience, there is no salvation possible. When Paul taught repentance, he was essentially teaching transgressors to return to obedience to God.

Where Paul asks, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3:2) he is reminding the Galatians that they were not saved by attending to Jewish ceremonial laws (such as circumcision), but by receiving the Word of God with real faith (the kind of faith that is not a hearer only, but a doer of the Word–James 1:22). Paul had to spend considerable time refuting the troublesome Judaizers, who confused new Gentile converts by teaching them that unless they became good Jews–celebrating the correct feasts, being circumcised, etc.–they could not be saved. While there is nothing wrong with attending to such Jewish practices, and there is some spiritual benefit for those who recognize their typological significance, they remain only shadows of the true spiritual heritage we have in Christ, and are not mandatory for salvation. Anyone who attempts to make these old covenant requirements, or some other man-made requirements, binding for salvation is a legalist in the true Biblical sense.

The truth is that Paul himself would be considered a legalist by many today, if only they would pay close attention to all that he wrote! Unfortunately, many teachers today wrest some of his teachings from their context, while ignoring others, in order to uphold their false, sin-excusing doctrines.  Apparently men were already wresting Paul’s teachings to their own destruction in Peter’s time, and Peter acknowledged that some of Paul’s writings could be hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). However, there can be no doubt that Paul taught Christians to obey God’s moral law, which is the same law summed up by Jesus as love to God and love to neighbor, upon which all the law and prophets hang (Matt. 22:37-40).

Notice that Paul taught the Jewish rite of circumcision has no bearing on salvation, while obedience to God’s commands is extremely important.

Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. (I Cor. 7:19)

Please examine these important teachings by Paul:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise. (Eph. 6:1-2)

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor. 6:9-10)

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience…But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds. (Col. 3:5-9)

Noting the highlighted portions of the previous verses, it should be clear that Paul taught people they must obey their parents, must not have any gods before the Lord (idolatry), must not covet, must not lie, must not steal, must not murder, must not take the Lord’s name in vain (blasphemy), and must not commit adultery (among other things). Paul has here upheld 8 of the 10 moral commandments, and has clearly stated that some of these sins will exclude one from the kingdom of God! Here is the ninth:

If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. (I Cor. 16:22)

Is Paul not teaching that we must LOVE the Lord our God (the first commandment) or be cursed?

Truly, the law of God was written on Paul’s heart, and he taught others to obey God. His problem with “legalists” was with those who wrongfully insisted that Gentiles convert to Jewish ways, not with those who obeyed God’s moral law from the heart!

 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Rom. 6:16

What? Obedience leads to righteousness? Indeed it does, and here Paul agrees with John, who wrote that only those who DO RIGHT are considered righteous! (I Jn. 3:7) Paul also wrote the following:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Rom. 8:13

That’s a big IF, friends. According to Paul, you have to mortify the deeds of your body by the power of the Spirit if you want to retain spiritual life. And Paul lived what he preached–he kept his own body under subjection lest after preaching to others he himself should be a castaway (I Cor. 9:27).

One last, very important passage by Paul:

God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:  but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:  for there is no respect of persons with God. (Rom. 2:6-11)

What did Paul say would happen to those who do not OBEY truth?–They will have indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish! What did Paul say one must do to receive eternal life?–Patiently continue in well-doing (doing what is right or LAWFUL according to God’s standards!)

It truly is amazing that anyone would believe or teach that lawlessness is permissible in the Kingdom of God. To be part of this kingdom, one must faithfully serve its King!! Remember dear friends, Jesus Himself testified:

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom ALL THINGS THAT OFFEND, AND ALL THEM WHICH DO INIQUITY;and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 13:41-42)

God bless you!

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A Space to Repent

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 12, 2011

Right after delivering the powerful directive, “Unless you repent, you will perish,” Jesus told an important parable:

A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?  And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Luke 13:6-9)

The Lord wants fruit. In the parable of the four soils, He taught that there are four types of people to whom the Word of God comes, and only one of those four soils produces fruit “with patience.” (Luke 8:5-15) Of the three nonproductive soils, one has the Seed/Word of God stolen by satan before it can even germinate, one receives the Word with joy and believes for a while but in time of testing falls away, and one “brings no fruit to perfection,” being choked with “cares and riches, and pleasures of this life.”  It is very important that we examine ourselves to see if we are now in the faith–or if the soil of our heart is currently producing “fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:22)

It is not enough to have had a moment of faith sometime in the past–to have received the Word with joy, to have believed for a while, or to have produced immature fruit which has never been brought to perfection. In John 15, Jesus taught that we must abide (remain) in Him in order to continue to produce fruit. Attached to this command is a warning: all branches that stop abiding in the Vine will become fruitless and wither away. What will be their end?–being cast into the fire!

Returning to the parable in Luke 13, I notice that for three years the owner of the vineyard sought fruit on a certain fig tree. Finding none, he opted to cut it down, lest it overwork the ground for nothing. But the dresser of the vineyard pleaded for one more year, in which he would do everything in his power to make this tree fruitful–loosening the soil around the tree, fertilizing it, etc. This tree had one last chance to produce fruit or be cut down; this tree had “a space to repent.”

The false prophetess in the church of Thyatira had a space to repent, but she had not repented, and she would be judged. She had been teaching believers they could fornicate and partake of the table of demons as well as the table of God (Rev. 2:18-23). These same false teachings are abundant in our churches today, and many have been deceived by them, “having itching ears” that desire to live in sin while professing to know God–they profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.(Titus 1:16)

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Tim. 2:19)

There is a space to repent of these wicked works and wicked teachings–only a space, and a space has an end. There is a day in which we must “seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isa. 55:6) In Noah’s day, there was a space to repent that lasted 120 years, while Noah preached righteousness and worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling, obeying God’s instructions carefully. Jesus taught that the end will come “as in the days of Noah”–while people are at ease, not considering the end of their careless rebellion against God, judgment will come upon them suddenly, and they will find to their horror that the door of salvation has been closed to them.

With Paul, I beseech you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, even as others have done to their own destruction. (2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:15) To hear His voice when you know you have been lukewarm and fruitless, is to receive a merciful space to repent. Remember the lesson in I Cor. 10:1-12–many came out of Egypt, were baptized in the sea, and drank of Christ, only to be overthrown in the wilderness because they did not hold fast to the truth and continue to produce the good fruit of holiness to the Lord.

John the Baptist spoke to the Pharisees, “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matt. 3:9) I say to my readers, “Think not to say within yourselves, I have had a good beginning and have served in the church, and I don’t need to repent of my lukewarm and divided heart or my friendship with the world–for I say unto you that Christ will spew out the lukewarm and cut down the fruitless!”

While your space to repent remains, draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:8-10)

Begin today to bring forth the fruits consistent with repentance! “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matt. 3:10) The axe is laid, even now, dear reader!

May God bless you.

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Guarding the Fruit (Lessons From the Garden Part 2)

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 10, 2011

In my last post, I described a garden that had a rough beginning, but was really looking beautiful. The lesson I learned was that we must not grow weary in well doing, for we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.

If I thought that was the end of the story, and I could now sit back and wait for the fruit to drop into my hands, I was wrong. My first culprit seemed to be plant shock, and perhaps fungus. Now that those are under control, my garden has a more insistent predator. In one week’s time, a rabbit has finished off an entire row of lettuce plants, and most of a row of bean plants. Not only that, he destroyed all the marigolds I planted all around the garden. There are lots of leafless and flowerless stems left, looking stark and sad against the brown mulch.  That’s alot of work and watering seemingly for nothing.

I confess I am discouraged. But this time, I know that self-pity is a waste of time, and is a robber of the good fruit that follows patient endurance.

Obviously, sin has ravaged our earth, and producing fruit here is not going to be an easy task, whether we are referring to physical fruit or the more important spiritual fruit. It is going to take more work than we understood when we came to Jesus on that happy day that He washed our sins away and made us “the planting of the Lord” (Isa 61:3). We have to fight more than drought and blight; there are predators sent by satan to make us fruitless even after we have produced life and made some progress. Satan knows that if we are fruitless, we shall be hewn down with all the fruitless trees which are cast into the fire (Matt. 3:10).

Satan is not going to rest while we casually produce fruit and effortlessly plunder his dark kingdom. That is why we must “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (I Pet. 5:8-9)  After all, God hasn’t called us to a life of ease. In fact, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1) that stretch out upon their couches and entertain themselves while the church around them falls into ruins and disrepair. God has called us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

Follow Him where? Wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4).

What if He leads us into trouble and hardship? Follow Him, for “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

What if He leads us into the valley of the shadow of death? Follow Him. We will not fear evil even there; even surrounded by enemies, He spreads a table before us.

There are many enemies, there is much work to be done, there is the hope of a harvest, but there are so few willing to labor and overcome.

Saints, all around us we see (in the Spirit) the broken walls of a destroyed city–the city of the Great King–seemingly in ruins. Apostasy is here. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many (for Jesus) has grown cold (Matt. 24:12). If these anathemas describe you, there is no time to lose–rise and shake off the dust, repent!  Fan into flame the gift that is in you before your lamp goes out and the light that is in you is only darkness!

False teachers have ravaged the sheep and fattened themselves on their flesh, and those who haven’t utterly been destroyed wander on every hill like “sheep without a shepherd,” following every wind of doctrine. It is easy to think there is nothing we can do, and this is precisely what satan wants us to think. He wants us to grow weary in well doing, so that we pine away in self-pity & the harvest never comes. Wave after wave of setbacks will come. We are called not to wilt under the pressure, but to overcome them in Jesus! You must not shrink back when everyone else says it’s hopeless, for “if thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Prov. 24:10) And “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38) Have the footmen already wearied you, fainting saint? God will soon ask you to run with horses. Has the land of peace seemed  too difficult? The Jordan will soon swell (Jer. 12:5). Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, but you will not take the kingdom without the faith of Joshua and Caleb.

I am reminded of Nehemiah, who arose in the night and went “by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.” (Neh. 2:13)  I don’t think the word choices in this verse are by accident–“the gate of the valley”–“dragon well”–“dung port”–all seems dismal and overwhelmingly hopeless. But our God brings life out of death, starting with the passion in our hearts to make a change whatever the cost to us, however heavy the cross. Just as I must now construct a wall around my ravaged garden to keep future predators out, Nehemiah would eventually oversee the daunting task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in the face of tremendous opposition.

I sometimes look at Acts 2 wistfully–all seems blissful–the saints living, eating, and ministering together and enjoying peace while God added to the church daily. But we do disservice to ourselves if we forget that all of life proceeds in seasons. We must understand the times we live in and behave with the wisdom God gives. There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted (Eccl. 3:2). There is a time to celebrate the good harvest of the Lord, and a time to mourn for the devastation around us, seeking to repair the breaches in the house of the Lord wherever we find them–we must keep in step with the Spirit. When predators come to rob the fruit in the garden of the Lord, it is not time to go into hiding or to lounge at ease on our couches, feeding ourselves on past harvests, but to stand and fight, not “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12)

Beloved, fortify your life and your labor against the wiles of the devil, having your spiritual armor on at all times (Eph. 6) and determining that as long as you have breath, you will serve the Lord wherever you are, however you can. In humbled ruins, there are dormant seeds.

Scripture says “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Tim. 4:1-2) Many of the mighty are already fallen; many are already turned aside after satan. But do not let the ruins and devastation immobilize you; continue rather “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth…that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. 2:25-26)

Every soul recovered is another stone in the rebuilt wall, and even one soul makes a lifetime of backbreaking toil worthwhile.

As for me and my vegetable garden, it is time to dig a trench and plant a fence.

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If We Do Not Give Up (Lessons from the Garden Part 1)

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 4, 2011

At the start of spring this year, I planted some heirloom vegetable seeds in trays which I kept by a warm window. I dutifully watered them and watched them grow. When they began to look spindly and sick, I started putting them outside in ever increasing intervals to be strengthened and hardened by the sun and wind.  My husband had plowed up a garden plot for me, and when the time seemed right, I dug rows and trenches with a shovel by hand.  I mulched the trenches carefully to inhibit weed growth and planted my seedlings, carefully adding some cow manure to each hole in which a seedling would begin its new life. Then I watered my new outdoor garden carefully, expectantly.

Within a week, there was clearly something wrong with the plants. I saw to my dismay that they had spots on them and were yellowing and sickly. What could have gone wrong? Immediately, great discouragement descended on my heart like a heavy cloud. God didn’t care about me, my good dreams, or my hard labor–so said a little voice that I quickly hushed, knowing the voice was lying.  Still, despite knowing God loved and cared for me, my garden was so disappointing after so much work, I ignored it for 2 days, thinking I might even abandon the project.

On the third day, I woke up with a new determination not to give up. There was still life out there; there were things I hadn’t done yet. I had some ideas I had to try.

As I went out into a very hot day and began working that garden, the joy of the Lord washed over me.

I almost wept as the Holy Spirit reminded me, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:9) I felt His pleasure; He was pleased that I had not given up. He cared about me, and was using my garden to remind me of great spiritual truth.

Isaiah sang a song about his Beloved’s vineyard in Isa. 5–

My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

The Lord knows what it’s like to work hard and expect good grapes, yet see only the “wild grapes” of disobedience.  Thankfully, He does not give up easily. Though judgments would fall upon this vineyard that had not produced the fruits of righteousness, there was yet hope, and He would one day “see the travail of His soul, and…be satisfied,” for by His knowledge He would justify many and would bear the iniquities of those who would repent and believe (Isa. 53:11).  He would not simply turn His back on the human race, these sheep who insisted upon going astray. He would do everything possible to save them first.  Not only would He give His own life for them, but He would teach others to do the same–to labor hard, to suffer long, to feel the bitterness of disappointment, and to wait patiently in hope.

As we work as co-laborers in the harvest fields of the Lord, let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not–or if we do not give up.

I know that despair threatens to engulf us as wisdom cries from our bellies, and we see so many foolish people refusing to hear the word of the Lord. But we must not give up.

I know it sometimes seems hopeless, but love ALWAYS hopes, and is willing to suffer long–we must not give up.

As our Lord looked through the cross to “the joy set before Him,” so must we–“Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Heb. 12:3)

Today, my garden is thriving. It had a very troubled beginning, but now it is possibly the loveliest garden I’ve ever had. A friend reminded me that this describes God’s people–troubled beginnings that turn into lovely and fruitful gardens under His patient care.  How true!

God bless you!

Immature Roma tomatoes growing in my garden.

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Graves of Craving

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 17, 2010

 

Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Num. 11:4-6         

Here was a people miraculously saved out of Egypt and graciously delivered from the cruel bondage they had once endured. Not only had they witnessed incredible miracles all along the way, every meal was itself a miracle–bread from heaven which would fully sustain them. What did they have to say about this wonderful food? “Our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”      

Is this attitude not prevalent among those professing to be God’s people? “We don’t want to hear the Word of God–that dusty old book is not exciting. Take away this manna from before our eyes. No, but give us something more pleasing to our flesh, something like what we freely ate in the world!”       

The “mixed multitude…yielded to intense craving.” Next thing you know, the Israelites “yielded” also, and were weeping for food other than what God had provided. There are those among us who will cause us to stumble if we don’t keep a careful guard on our flesh. We have a choice to yield ourselves to God, or yield ourselves as slaves to our fleshly desires (Rom. 6:16).        

“We remember the fish…” moaned the Israelites.  Oh, when we look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly–watch out! At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper (Prov. 23:32).  If we spend our time lusting for our former way of life, we will surely have opportunity to return (Heb. 11:15).  “It was well with us in Egypt,” they said (Num. 11:18). Really?!         

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. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Pet. 2:21-22      

  

God gave this message to the people through Moses:         

Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” Num. 11:18-20          

You want something else besides manna? God will give it to you! Do you realize when you prefer the food of the Egyptians to the Bread from heaven, you despise the LORD? The LORD gave the Israelites the desire of their hearts:        

But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was aroused against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving. Num. 11:33-34         

Jesus Christ is the true Bread of heaven (John 6:32-58), the Truth (John 14:6), and the Word of God (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13). If we eat of Him on our sojourn here, we will not die.   

He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Deut. 8:3    

Do you hate the Word of God? Do you despise this daily bread? Would you rather diet on things more pleasing to your flesh?        

Then God will give you what you desire.         

Those who reject truth will be given over to damning deception and delusion, just as the Israelites were given what they desired and subsequently struck with a plague.         

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess. 2: 9-12         

If we cry for Egypt’s meat, not being satisfied with Jesus Christ, we may get exactly what we crave–and Egypt’s reward along with it.         

He also rained meat on them like the dust, feathered fowl like the sand of the seas; and He let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings. So they ate and were well filled, for He gave them their own desire. They were not deprived of their craving; but while their food was still in their mouths, the wrath of God came against them, and slew the stoutest of them, and struck down the choice men of Israel. Psalm 78:27-31         

So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving (Num. 11:34).  “Kibroth Hattavah” literally means “Graves of Craving” !         

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace…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. 8:5-6, 13         

Dear reader, don’t let a fleshly craving of any kind lead you to your spiritual death. Feast gratefully upon the good Word of God who was sent to heal you (Psalm 107:20). Keep your flesh subdued, lest because of it, you become a castaway (I Cor. 9:27) and join the dead in the Graves of Craving.          

God bless you!         

  

       

         

  

     

       

  

   

     

  

 

   

  

 

 

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