The Word of Our Testimony

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not be afraid or worry about their threats. Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you, yet with humility and reverence—keeping a clear conscience so that, whatever you are accused of, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Messiah may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good (if it is God’s will) than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17.

We are instructed in this passage to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you”. This verse gives an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Greek: logos. Over 65% of the time, logos is simply and banally translated word, giving us the vaguest notion of the meaning that is being conveyed. We have an expression in English to convey the point of getting to the heart of the matter for clarity in conveying the truth. We say that for “all intents and purposes”, something to be true. The Logos of God conveys in a very pure sense His intent and purpose behind His creation. This is why the Son of God is described by John as “The Word”, The Logos. Because of this fact, Jesus can say of Himself:

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13.

The Truth that the Son of God is His Logos is fully expressed for “all intents and purposes” in this one verse:

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power;For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”                                                Revelation 4:11.

Consider now another example where logos is used, but simply translating as “word” failed to convey enough information, so another choice of words is utilized.

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,  until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.   Acts 1:1&2.

Here Luke opens his second book by referring to his first book, which we call the Gospel of Luke, as the former account(logos). He refers to his first book as a logos, in which he describes his “intents and purposes”in the opening verses.

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us,  just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus(lover and beloved of God), that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. Luke 1:1-4.

So we see Luke describe his logos as a narrative “set in order” from first to last to convey a  “perfect understanding”. This “orderly account” is to insure the certainty of the things that we are instructed and hold fast to in faith.

Now returning to our primary text, if we are to give “our logos for the hope that is in us”, we must establish ourselves firmly in the context of an orderly account based on a perfect (mature) understanding of the word and work of God in our life.

We are to be judged by what is found of us in “the Lambs Book of Life”. Will there be a full account found there, or will we be just a footnote in someone else’s logos. This is exactly what we are being called to do with our life as a narrative of the Work of His Spirit. This is the correct understanding of the statement: “we overcome by the word(logos) of our testimony.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.  Revelation 12:11.

In the hope of eternal life,

The Remembrancer

Judge Yourself

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. 1 Co 11:31&32.

If we are to judge ourselves, by what standard are we to discern the body  (V.29)? Paul provides the answer to this question in Colossians 2:

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. Col 2:16,17.

Many translations fail to get the gist of 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 as many translations do, because the point is by what means 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:

“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. Matthew 23:23.

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:

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!’. Matthew 7:22,23.

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. Perhaps you had done many wonderful works, but then decided to take up with another brother’s wife.

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.     Ezekiel 33:13.

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

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 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.   Ephesians 2:8-10. Think on these things.

A Circumcised Heart

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all the males must be circumcised. This is why circumcision was such a hot topic in the early church discussion in regards to expectations placed upon gentile believers. Paul resolved the issue in Romans chapter 2:28 & 29: for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God. Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to in the spirit and not in the letter. But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God. When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul:

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Gal 1:10.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts. 1 Th 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts”. Granted, He certainly does do this, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question, am I pleasing men or God. This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.” The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, let them that glory, glory in the Lord is a paraphrase of a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is not so much attempting to teach a lesson here, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance. By mentioning this he is calling to mind something he no doubt taught on extensively while in Corinth. Why do I say this?  Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts chapter 18, and verse 4 says that he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Then he receives from the Lord in a vision by night “be not afraid but speak and hold not thy peace, for I am with you and no man shall set on you to hurt you, for I have much people in this city.” Vs. 9 & 10. And then verse 11 tells us that he continued there for 18 months, teaching the Word of God among them. So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians chapter 1:26-29; for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text? Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, Egypt and Judah and Edom and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. Jeremiah 9:25.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word. For Paul wrote in 2 Co 3:15-17; even unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel.

This will be an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God Paul speaks about in 1 Co 4:1 & 2; let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

In order to be a faithful steward, a man must know what these mysteries are to which Paul speaks.

For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. Romans 11:25.

 

The Blasphemy of a Messiah

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

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 facts that came out at the trial of Jesus Christ.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

Pilate saith unto them, Take ye 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.           John 19:5-7.

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 is much attested. For messianic Jews to simply proclaim Yeshua haMashiach in Israel or anywhere in the world in nothing new under the sun.  If you want to stir up the status quo, preach the Son of God. 

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 themselves: 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.  Acts 5:34-39.

It is noteworthy that this same Gamaliel was the headmaster of the school of the Pharisees where Saul trained. (Acts 22:3). 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:

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. Matthew 26:63-66.

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..

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

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

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 Gamalieland taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.  Acts 22:3.

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

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.              2 Peter 1:17.

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’?   John 10:36.

A Spirit made Willing

And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willingand they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. Exodus 35:21.

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.  Exodus 35:29.

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. 1 Ch 29:9.

When the Holy Ghost fell on the day of Pentecost, a miracle occurred which had happened only briefly in the lives of God’s people in the past. The disciples numbered approximately 120 in the upper room that day. Immediately after they received the gift of the Holy Ghost corporately, there were added about 3,000 souls! Even more impressive than the numbers though, was the immediate change of heart.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need. Acts 2:44,45.

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Acts 4:32.

So we see the need of God’s Spirit to move for people to have a willing heart; to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, to prepare for Solomon to build a Temple, and for the saints to build a New House for God in the body of Christ.

In these last days, will our hearts be willing when God pours out of His Spirit?

Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. Psalm 110:3.

 

Found Faithful

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Co 4:2.

To be faithful to the Gospel is to go beyond belief. Those who have heard and believe the Gospel Paul identifies as “the called”.

“among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ”. Romans 1:6.

This is just a first step, in what is “a walk of faith”, while abiding in the gift of the Spirit. For Jesus said this to His followers, many of whom would fall away:

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

Seek the Lord for a personal  dispensation, and be among the elect.

if indeed you have heard of the dispensation (=stewardship) of the grace of God which was given to me for you. Ephesians 3:2.

Now you will have a direction to allow your faith to be transformed to faithfulness.

and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Rev 17:14.

And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Mk 13:27.

Jesus told Thomas, who doubted:  “be not faithless;  be faithful”,  not “believing”, as most translations render John 20:27.

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Rev 2:10.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.        Rev 3:11.

Receive Grace for Grace

And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.“  John 1:16.

What, then, is “grace for grace”?

I have always understood this Hebraism by the words of the Lord to His disciples:
“freely ye have received, freely give”. Matthew 10:8.

Churches are full of people every Sunday morning who have received God’s grace, as evidenced by the fact that they got out of bed. Hallelujah!

The body of Christ continue to touch lives by the hands of those who give grace. Who have received grace, for grace.

The testimony of Christian maturity is found in the words of Paul:

Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, “because I have you in my heart”; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel:
ye all are partakers of my grace.Philippians 1:7.

The unmerited favor of God is a theological definition of grace that is universally accepted among Christians.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. 2 Co 9:8.

A Holy Ghost definition of grace: the all sufficiency of God that enables us to abound in every good work in service to the body of Christ.

Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. (charity) 2 Co 8:7.

Since it is still better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), continue to freely give, for we have received of His Fullness.