Not Condemned

1 Corinthians 11:31&32.   For if we were judging ourselves thoroughly, we wouldn’t be coming under judgment. But when we are judged, we are being disciplined by the Lord so that we might not be condemned along with the world.                                                         

We judge ourselves by discerning the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:29. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

Paul elaborates in Colossians 2:

Colossians 2:16,17.  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (is?) of Christ.                                         

Many translations miss what Paul is saying here, and modify verse 17 drastically. There seems to be the notion that “the body of Christ” at the end of the verse seems to just hang. The authorized KJV adds the word “is”, while other translations completely change the text to “the reality is Christ (Messiah). Verse 17 cannot be separated from verse 16 because the point is on what basis are we to be judged. It is not by what you do or don’t eat, or any other religious observance, which are a shadow of things that are now established in the body of Messiah.

Allow me to give you an example. I have heard on many occasions a believer say; ”I am in the church every time the doors are open!” That’s great, but here’s what the Lord says about religious observance:

Matthew 23:23.  Woe to you, Torah scholars and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint and dill and cumin, yet you have neglected the weightier matters of Torah—justice and mercy and faithfulness.  It is necessary to do these things without neglecting the others.      There are weightier matters with which we must concern ourselves, and these are established within the functioning body of Messiah. At the judgment, no one is going to hear; “Ah yes, my good and faithful servant. You were in the church every time the doors were open. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

Consider these words of the Messiah:

Matthew 7:22,23.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’. 

We may perform many wonderful works, but did we know our Master’s voice. Did we perform His Will, or our own in His Name. This must be given serious consideration. 

Ezekiel 33:13.  When I tell the righteous that he will surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered. But in his iniquity that he has committed, he will die.     

The Lord has ordained the good works that we are to abide in through faithfulness.

Ephesians 2:8-10.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God.  It is not based on your deeds, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which God prepared beforehand so we might walk in them.   

Preach The Son of God

Acts 9:20.  At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.   

How much significance should be placed on this point that Paul immediately began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God?  First, consider the evidence that came out at the trial of Jesus Christ.

John 19:5-7. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.Pilate said unto them, you take him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.  The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.           

At a public trial, the testimony of His accusers was that Jesus must die for claiming to be the Son of God. Now the man who was previously persecuting the church, one of high esteem among the religious leadership, was preaching this very thing! This is an extraordinary turn of events, that the one who was identified and accepted by the original disciples as the “apostle to the gentiles”, would first boldly preach in the synagogues of every place he visited.

For many have come before and after claiming to be a messiah, a fact of which has often been attested. For messianic Jews to simply proclaim Yeshua haMashiach in Israel or anywhere in the world is nothing new under the sun.  If you want to stir up the status quo, preach the Son of God. 

Acts 5:34-39.   Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.  For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined , who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.                                 

It is noteworthy that this same Gamaliel was the headmaster of the school of the Pharisees where Saul trained. And who was the one man that disregarded this advice and set off on a murderous rampage against the church?  Irony!

Before appearing at the judgment seat of Pilate, Jesus was examined by the High Priest, along with the scribes and elders. Many false witnesses came forward to accuse Jesus, but none of the charges held. Then the High Priest played his trump card:

Matthew 26:63-66.  But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.                                  

And so the religious authorities found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death for claiming to be the Son of God. Then Saul, upon his conversion immediately preached this in the synagogues, thereby, bringing the same charge against himself. Then he gave this testimony of himself before his conversion.

1 Tim 1:13.  Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

This is his conversion, to embrace what was called blasphemy, and reject what was before:

Acts 22:3.   I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.                                

The Lord Jesus Christ expects us to preach His Blasphemy, for this is the most excellent glory that He received:

2 Peter 1:17.  For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.   

John 10:36.  Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 

The Apostle

Malachi 2:6, 7.  The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity.   For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

The apostolic message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; is played out as a living parable through the narrative of Israel, the covenant people of God. Jesus taught that many are called, but few are chosen.

In Israel, a nation of priests became a tribe chosen to the service of the sanctuary. A particular family  within that tribe, beginning with Aaron, the brother of Moses,  would minister in the Holy Place. This is further refined by a chosen son of Aaron receiving a covenant of friendship with God for his faithfulness.

Numbers 25:10-13.  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 

Therefore say, Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.

Zealous with the zeal of God is echoed in the teaching of the apostle Paul, along with the injunction from Malachi 2, that the “priest’s lips should keep knowledge”.

1 Corinthians 14:12.  Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. And ‘it is good to be zealous in good things always’ (Ga. 4:18).

When we are encouraged to ‘come boldly before the throne of Grace’, it is on behalf of the church that should be our primary purpose. This is where we obtain words of ‘edification, exhortation and comfort’ that we may ‘receive from the Lord that which we present unto others’ for the building up of the body of Christ.

To recognize and receive from the messengers of God is the basis for an active faith working in the body of Christ.

John 6:29. Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.

The Holy Spirit, sent by the full authority of Jesus Christ, enables mature men and women of the church to do the work of God as His ‘dwelling place’.

Ephesians 2:20-22.  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.

You will know them by their fruit…

Friend or Foe?

James 4:4b.   Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Man must accept responsibility for the fact that his nature has corrupted the world.

Genesis 6:11, 12. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all mankind had corrupted his way upon the earth.

The spirit of the world is common and familiar to the human spirit. We must be sanctified to serve the Lord in newness of life by the Spirit of Truth.

1 John 2:15-17.  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing  away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.

All creation groans under the burden of man’s fall from grace.

Romans 8:19-21.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

Jesus Christ restores our relationship with God, that was severed by sin.

Isaiah 59:1, 2.  Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Man’s nature is hostile to the divine nature, which must be received as a gift of God.

2 Peter 1:4. Thereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

To be delivered from that nature, man must be separated from the world into the Kingdom of God; to experience deliverance from corruption.

Romans 5:10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The divine nature is not obtained by genetics, personal improvement or education.

John 1:12, 13. As many as received Him, He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Life in Christ by the Will of God separates us to be useful to His purpose. Many have placed their hope in the Grace of God, but grace without purpose leads into error.

2 Timothy 1:8, 9.  Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

We must be born from above by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit to truly love God, and one another.

The Message: God Is Love.

1 John 4. 

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.  My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

Set Free from sin, set free to Love

 

Faithful Men

2 Timothy 2:2. And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit unto faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

The Memorials of God exist to perpetuate the memory of His intent and purpose. A faithful man understands that his commitment is not only to learn and live in the Remembrance of the Lord, but also to discipleship and the passing on of the doctrine of Christ to faithful men. This is what brought about the calling of Abraham.

To Command your Children and your Household

Isaiah 18:19.   For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

This testimony of God concerning Abraham is echoed in the testimony of Cornelius.

Acts 10:2.  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.

A righteous man instructs others in the way of the Lord to keep right judgment.

Psalm 106:3.  Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that does righteousness at all times.

To Love what He Loves

Psalm 33:4, 5.  For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in the Spirit of Truth. He loves righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

To love righteousness and judgment is to abide in His presence by the Spirit of Truth; for “righteousness and judgment is the habitation of His Throne.”

A Righteous Nation under God

Jeremiah 22:3. Thus saith the Lord; Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.

We stir up our hearts by the Remembrance of His compassion for those who are afflicted.

Psalm 103:6. The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

Genuine conversion is only accomplished by the righteousness from above.

Isaiah 1:27. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

Born from Above

1 John 2:29.   If you know that he is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of him.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit through faithful men.

John 16:8.  And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.

 

 

The Voice of the Spirit

John 17:1-3.   He said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so the Son may glorify You. Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, so may He give eternal life to all those You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah, the One You sent.

How do we come to know God and obtain this eternal life? The ones we know; we recognize their voice.

John 10:4  The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them; and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Whether we are listening to the spoken Word or studying devotionals, praising God or meditating in His presence, the one goal remains constant: to know His voice.  One of the  earliest ways that the priesthood referred to the Lord was “The Voice.”

Numbers 7:89, JPS Tanakh.     And when Moses went into the tent of meeting that He might speak with him, then he heard the Voice speaking unto him from above the ark-cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and He spoke unto him.

The point of this is that we can listen to the Word of God being read aloud or preached, and hear the voice of the Spirit as a life giving word from what is being spoken if we abide in the Spirit. Haven’t you had the Lord drop something into your spirit while listening to preaching?

Titus 1:3.   He has made manifest His Word through preaching.

1 Corinthians 1:21.   For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

Romans 10:14&15.  How then shall they call on the One in whom they have not trusted? And how shall they trust in the One they have not heard of? And how shall they hear without someone proclaiming? And how shall they proclaim unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim good news of good things!”

This is why the message must not deviate from what was presented by the first apostles.

John 6:63.   It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no benefit. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life. 

John 16:7&8 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.        

It is always the work of the Holy Spirit to convict someone to repentance.
This is why Paul said:

1 Corinthians 2:1-5.    When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with excellence of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery of God. For I decided not to know about anything among you except Yeshua the Messiah and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The Message of the Messiah must register to the listener through the Voice of the Spirit, not our own. In this knowledge of God is the continual blessing.

Revelation 1:3.   Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

John 3:29     He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.

Born Again From Above

 

You Must Be Born Again

John 3:3.  Jesus answered and said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 8:23.  And Jesus said to them, You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

Colossians 3:1-3.   If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are from above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

John 7:17.   If anyone is willing to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or I speak on My own.

John 13:20.  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

John 6:29.  Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.

The Testimony of John the Baptist

John 3:27-36.  John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but, I have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

James 1:17.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

The Doctrine of Christ

John 5:19, 20.  Then Jesus answered and said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son does nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

Matthew 5:8 . Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

2 John 9.  Whoever goes on (without seeing God) and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

Matthew 11:27.  All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and to whom the Son wills to reveal.

John 6:63It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Romans 8:11-14.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

The Testimony of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:9-16.  But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

But God is revealed to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

John 3:18  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe are condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 5:25, 26.  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.

The Father Has Exalted The Son

1 John 5:5.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:10.  He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

1 John 4:15.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

John 20:31.   These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 13:16, 17.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

He who Abides in the Holy Spirit Has The Father and The Son

1 John 2:6.  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk as He walked.

Galatians 5:16.   I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 

The Gifts of The Spirit Edify the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:7   To each person is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the benefit of all.

Galatians 5:22-25.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

James 3:17.   The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Hear and Live

Isaiah 66:5. Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His Word.

John 5:25.  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

The Son of God speaks to our spirit and gives overcoming life to those who listen and obey. This verse does not speak of the resurrection of the dead, but of being born again from above.

For immediately after, Jesus says:

John 5:28, 29.  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice; and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Note in verse twenty five, the statement ‘the hour is coming, and now is’.  Jesus uses this expression to contrast His Revelation to that generation to His final Apocalypse at the end of the age. We find the same structured logos in chapter four.

John 4:21.  Jesus said to her, Woman believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 

Jesus refers to the soon destruction of the second temple and the end of Levitical worship in Jerusalem. Then He makes clear the Truth of worship. 

John 4:23, 24.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.

Worship in Truth ceased from temples built with hands, but continues in hearts united by The Holy Spirit.

Drink With A Hearing Heart The Water of Life

John 7:37, 38. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those entrusted to Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet  given because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Son of God has been glorified. The river of life flows from the throne of God to give life to those who listen and obey. This is the message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

Genesis 3:8. And they heard the voice of the Lord God as they walked in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Deuteronomy 5:24. The Lord, our God, has indeed let us see his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice from the midst of the fire. Today we have found out that God may speak to a mortal and that person may still live.

2 Peter 1:17, 18. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Revelation 3:22. To the one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying now to the churches.

Revelation 22:16, 17. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.  The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him who hears say Come! And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

FALSE PROPHETS

People often speak of “war and rumors of war”, as well as global disasters as being signs of the end time. I would ask you today to look with fresh eyes and consider the Lord’s heart in this regard.

Matthew 24:1.  And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to Him to show him the buildings of the temple.

At the end of a busy day,  Jesus and his disciples find a quiet place, and they simply comment on the view of the temple mount. The Lord surprises them with a very precise and shocking prophecy.

Mt. 24:2.  And Jesus said unto them,  See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.         

Jesus has mentioned a few times that He would face rejection and death in Jerusalem, but now He speaks of God’s soon judgment on the city and they immediately make a jump in their own minds that this pertains to the end of the age.

Mt. 24:3.  And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?     

We know that most of the Lord’s followers would have lived to see the destruction of the temple, this event was not a herald of the end times. While the questions reveal what was on their hearts, only the Lord’s answers can show us His priorities.

Mt. 24:4.  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you 

Now if we pause here in the discourse and ask the question, “what do you think was the Lord’s primary concern regarding the subject of signs and the end of the age? Your answer should be that He was concerned with deceptive teachings that would come forth in this regard. Did He not once say this concerning signs:

Matthew 16:4.    A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.

He continues the discourse by elaborating on the subject of deceptions, not signs.

Mt. 24:5.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

To be clear here, the Lord is not talking about anyone claiming to be the Messiah. Anyone who comes “in His name”, are claiming to be legitimate ambassadors speaking on His behalf.  The claim “I am Christ”, should be translated: “I am anointed”, because christos means anointed, and this is a claim that every false teacher, preacher and prophet is making these days. This is more than a sign of the end times, this is a caution for the wise follower to avoid being deceived.

Mt. 24:5.  And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 

These words “the end is not yet” should be enough to convince you that quoting “wars and rumors of wars” as if to imply that the end of the age is upon us is to greatly discredit your understanding.

Mt. 24:7.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Yada, yada, yada….
Mt:24:8.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.  

Now this is something to consider. This expression of early birth pangs says a lot about being misinformed. Most people know that you don’t rush to the hospital with the first contractions of birth. Couples are coached to time contractions to be sure that labor has begun. However, there are still occasions where an expectant mother is rushed to a hospital, only to return later that evening saying; “false alarm”. A good possibility is that  greater awareness avoids reacting inappropriately to the beginning of sorrows.

Mt. 24:11  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  .

Again with the warnings and concerns over being deceived.

Mt. 24:12. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

This verse uses the word agape for love and therefore cannot be interpreted as a state of the world we live. Only believers can know the agape love of God, and only believers can lose their “first love” and fall away due to lawlessness (iniquity) within the church.

2 Thessalonians 2:3  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.

This is why Jesus now says:

Mt. 24:13.   But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

There are two verses I will now post for consideration on this topic.

Luke 21:24.  And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled.

Notice that this is the “the end of the age” for the Gentiles, and the sovereignty of Jerusalem is a legitimate point of inquiry.

Romans 11:25.  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should  be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Again with the Gentiles in the age we now occupy. With a growing number of Jews in Israel who see the historical Jesus (Yeshua) as the Son of God and Messiah, we draw closer to a true remnant in the promised land. Another reality worthy of attention.

Matthew 24:24.  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Let me speak frankly to younger readers. Years ago, few preachers claimed to be anointed or to have “the anointing”. Now, essentially everyone on television, radio or otherwise makes this claim. They are the same people who love to talk about “the signs of the end times” in Matthew 24, without realizing they are fulfilling prophecy in so stating.

Galatians 3:29.  And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

The text of Galatians 3:29 begins “de ei hymeis christos”, and the word christos means anointed, thus “if you are anointed” (or claim to be). Compare this to Matthew 24:5: For many shall come in my name saying I am anointed (christos) and shall deceive many.

This is why Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruit”, not who they claim to be as testimony of themselves. This is an antichrist spirit that had already manifested in the first century church.

1 John 2:18.  Little children it is the last time and as you have heard that antichrist shall come even now are there many antichrists whereby we know that is the last time.

Now please consider what Paul is saying:

2 Corinthians 10:7: Do you look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is anointed let him of himself think this again, that as he is anointed even so are we anointed.

Among the first century church there already were many preaching “in that name” and claiming an anointing to do so, and yet they were contradicting what Paul and his companions were preaching!

I implore you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ:

1 John 4:1.   Beloved believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

A Parable of Faithful Ministry

The Beginning of the Gospel

According to Mark, the gospel begins with John the Baptist, the focus of our parable.

Mark 1:1-3. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets: behold I send my messenger before your face which shall prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.                                                  

We are given two scriptures, from Isaiah 40, and from Malachi 3, from which the ministry of John the Baptist draws an anointing from the Spirit of Truth. The gospel of John tells us the ministry of John the Baptist also served as a test on the hearts of all who heard his message.

.John 1:6, 7. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness to testify of the Light that all through him might believe.

It is said of John that he was sent from God. Compare this to the answer Jesus gave to the question: what must we do to perform the works of God?

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said: this is the work of God: that you believe the one whom He has sent.

The words of all who are sent by God become a basis for faith.

Ephesians 2:20.  Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.  

A Voice in the Wilderness

Jesus was asked by what authority he acted upon.

Matthew 21:24-27 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, did it come from heaven or of men? They answered Jesus, we cannot tell. And He said unto them, neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.  .

Because the chief priests and elders refused to acknowledge the ministry of John the Baptist as being sent from God, Jesus refused to answer their questions, though they had the authority to ask, for He answered to a Higher Authority.

 Matthew 21:32.  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him.

We can see here a fulfillment of the word spoken in John 1:7, that all through him might believe. The religious leaders were denied repentance even with the witness of mighty miracles of God, because they rejected John. 

Luke 7:30.  And all the people that heard him justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves (literally ‘within themselves’), not being baptized of him.        

John 10:41, 42. And many resorted unto Him and said John did no miracles but all things that John spoke of this man were true. And many believed on Him there. 

So we see that those who received the baptism of John also remained to hear him preach. Jesus fulfilled the words spoken before by this prophet, which confirmed their faith. Those who rejected the baptism of John knew nothing of the word that he preached concerning the Christ.

The Spirit and Power of Elijah

Matthew 11:13-15.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you will receive, this is Elijah which was to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

The relationship between John the Baptist and Elijah was a stumbling block for the Jews at the time that Jesus was ministering the gospel. When the authorities in Jerusalem sent emissaries to inquire into the baptism of John, he was asked point blank:

“Are you Elijah?” 

John 1:19-23.  He answered, I am not. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord, as spoken by the prophet Isaiah.                   

John again testifies to the scriptural authority and anointing for his ministry. The Holy Spirit clarifies this by a prophecy given to Zachariah by the angel who announced the child’s conception.

Luke 1:17. He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 

The angel here references a prophecy of Malachi that Jesus also alludes to in Matthew 17:11 when He said Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things.

Malachi 4:5, 6. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 

Jesus understood that anyone waiting for Messiah would expect Elijah first, and he was provided in the person of John who came in “the spirit and power of Elijah”.

The Acceptable Year of the Lord

The greater stumbling block for the Jews was that the Messiah would come twice, first as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. At the end of the age He will complete all prophecy with the day of God’s wrath. Consider how he works around this issue in Luke chapter four in the synagogue of Nazareth one Sabbath day when He was chosen to read from the prophet Isaiah chapter 61.

Luke 4:18, 19. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised.

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 

After stopping the reading abruptly, he sits back down and every eye is on Him, wondering why He has stopped. He then declares, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your hearing.” So why suddenly stop reading? Because Isaiah 61:2 continued, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God”. We see the first and second coming mentioned in one verse, and Jesus declaring the fulfillment of only the acceptable year of the Lord.

So why do Bible scholars claim that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years?  In  accordance with the Law of Moses, all Jewish men were required to appear “before the Lord” for three feasts. Do we really think that Jesus came to Jerusalem three times as prescribed by the Law, worked miracles, declared Himself to be the Son of God and provoked the religious authorities by calling them a generation of vipers and then said No? Okay, I’ll try again next year for the less acceptable year of the Lord round two. Once Jesus reached the age of 30, He began His ministry and fulfilled His Father’s Will. When He comes again it will the Day of the Lord.

Receive from Heaven

John 3:22-24.  After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea and there He tarried with them and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim , because there was much water there and they came and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.                             

There comes a point in everyone’s ministry when they must make the right decision and abide under the anointing they received for the work they were chosen to do. Two ministries are in the Judean wilderness, both baptizing. This is an awkward situation but nothing bad has come of it yet. Ultimately questions will be asked and there will be an accountability required of us.

John 3:25-27. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John and said unto him Rabbi, he that was with you beyond Jordan to whom you bore witness, behold, the same baptizes and all come to him. John answered and said a person can receive only what is given them from heaven.                                                  

This discussion raises more questions than answers and demands a serious pause for consideration. John’s ministry is quickly becoming a lesson for future disciples to draw wisdom. Why does John even still have disciples? And is he now addressed as Rabbi? Notice the way they describe the Lord as “he that was with you”. Why did he not become a disciple of Jesus with the revelation he had received concerning Him?

John 3:28.  You yourselves testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah,’ but rather, I am sent before Him.

Friend of the Bridegroom

John 3-29,30. He that has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice, this my joy, therefore is fulfilled. He must increase and I must decrease.

We now come to one of the more frequently quoted verses: He must increase but I must decrease. If only that were true, John would have quietly faded into the background. We would say “whatever happened to John the Baptist, he was so prominent at first and then he just seems to disappear from the narrative.”  

Oh, that makes sense, once Jesus was baptized he had fulfilled his mission. The only lingering question would be, why did he not follow Jesus? Instead he ceases to be a voice in the wilderness and goes to Jerusalem. Notice the Bible doesn’t say “and the word of the Lord then came again unto John and said, go tell that rascal Herod he can’t have his brother’s wife.”  Maybe he was just bored, but now we find him in prison, his head soon to be placed on a platter.

Matthew 11:2, 3. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him are you He that should come or do we look for another? 

This is astonishing! John was informed of God how to identify the Messiah. He witnessed the Holy Spirit descend from heaven in a bodily form and light on Jesus like a dove. He testified, this is the Son of God! And now he asks, “Do we look for another?” He is actually saying, if you are the Messiah, why am I in prison!? Aren’t you supposed to be restoring the kingdom of Israel, aren’t you supposed to restore the throne of David!?

The Least in the Kingdom

Matthew 11:4.  Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see. 

Jesus tells John’s followers that the works of Christ speak for themselves. Then he adds another critical word for us to always consider:

Matthew 11:6.  And blessed is whosoever that shall not be offended in Me.          

This was the Lord’s pointed word to John, are you offended in me? We can never allow our own expectations to distort our understanding of what God has chosen us uniquely to have as a stewardship. John and his followers were expecting a King, not a Lamb of sacrifice.

John the Baptist teaches us that we can come out from under our anointing, we can walk and speak in the flesh what we believe to be the word of God, even quoting scripture verbatim, and there will be consequences. Condemning Herod was not kingdom business, not the Gospel message that Jesus came for: “to save the world, not condemn”.

Matthew 11:11. Truly I say unto you among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.                                                   

My beloved brethren, abide in Christ, and remain among the least of these.                    Keep a good head on your shoulders!

John 1:15.  John testified about Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, The One who comes after me is above me, because He existed before me.’”