A True Prophet

Beginning with the Law:

 Deuteronomy 18:21,22.    You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. 

Sounds a little bit simplistic doesn’t it? And yet you have to know the Law and the prophets. Here is why.  Jesus knew every Word of God, and it is the basis for understanding every word He spoke. Satan knows every word of God, even trying to use that word in tempting Jesus.

Every Word of God that you have failed to learn and keep in your heart becomes a weapon for the enemy to use against you. For every Word of God you know and keep is a weapon of warfare for your spirit, under the Remembrance of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s something Jesus said about His return:

Matthew 24:27.  For just as lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.  

Based on Deuteronomy 18:21 above, understanding this verse is simple; you will see me when you see me. All speculation about when Jesus is going to return is harmful, and I have in fact spoken in detail about this in the previous essay.

Here is what Jesus says about the day of His return:

Luke 17:26-30.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building;  on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all.  So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  

So to answer the question do we think Jesus returns at a time of imminent destruction of the earth, the answer is no, this is a Shia Muslim belief, and the reason Iran is so eager to provoke a nuclear confrontation with the U.S. and the world.

What this also tells us is that just before each of these judgments, essentially one man stood between the everyday life of everyone and imminent judgment, thus we should continue to intercede and try to delay the coming of the Lord as if  we are that man.

 2 Peter 3. ‘for His longsuffering is reckoned as salvation.’ 

All eschatology dealing with interpreting prophecy to predict when something is going to happen is the work of error. Prophecy is rightly interpreted when we see fulfillment and know this is from God. No prophecy is given for experts to use to make predictions. God’s purpose in giving us prophecy is to insure us that He is, in fact, in control. If He can tell us the end from the beginning, we can rest assured.

John 16:1.   These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.   

2 Thessalonians 2:3.   Let no one deceive you in any way, for that Day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the one destined to be destroyed.

The Day of the Lord will not come until after the man of lawlessness is revealed. We will know him when we see him, because he has been described to us. Yet so many commentators continue to speculate on who they think he is, calling him the antiChrist,  until we find out that he isn’t. There should be a Hall of Fame for world leaders who were identified as the antiChrist, and a Hall of Shame for the false teachers who speculated on prophecy that is given so that we will know him when we see him.

Wait on the Lord. What I say to one I say to all: Watch and Pray.

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.’” 

Sanctified By The Eternal Spirit

Hebrews 9:14  How much more will the blood of Messiah—who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God—cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The work of the Holy Spirit is to perfect our spirit and our conscience, in the presence of God. To enjoy access among those who have been sanctified.

Hebrews 12:22,3.   But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect.

A Sanctified Conscience

Acts 20:32.  So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Acts 24:16  I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

Acts 26:18.  That they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

John 17:19.   And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Hebrews 2:11.  For both He who sanctifies and those being sanctified are all from one so He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.

The Mystery of The Faith

1 Timothy 1:5. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.

1 Timothy 3:9.   Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

2 Corinthians 1:12.   For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

2 Corinthians 4:2.  Instead, we renounced the hidden shameful ways—not walking in deception or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by the open proclamation of the truth.

Titus 1:15  All things pure are for the pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

Hebrews 10:22. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Enduring for Conscience Sake 

1 Peter 2:19.    For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

1 Peter 3:15, 16.  Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 

Sanctified and Useful

2 Timothy 2:19-21.   Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” For in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.  Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

Isaiah 5:16.   For the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and the Holy God shall be sanctified in righteousness.

The Single Eye of The Spirit, a Sanctified Conscience

1 John 5:20.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life.

To be given “an understanding”; Greek dianoia: “a way to understand” means that The Logos, the Son of God is the lens through which we view life and rightly comprehend His intent. He has “given us insight”, a clear heart vision to reflect our minds upon and know “the true God and eternal life”. To have inspired comprehension.

Psalm 119:130.  The unfolding of Your words gives light, giving understanding to the simple.

Paul prayed:

Ephesians 1:18.  That the eye of our understanding would be enlightened to know the hope of His Calling, and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to “open our understanding”.

Luke 24:32.  Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?

Those who reject the Lord have their understanding “darkened”.

Ephesians 4:18. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them due to the blindness of their heart.
Romans 1:21. Their thinking became futile, and their senseless hearts were made dark.

The Evil Eye

Luke 11:34. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when your eye is evil (distorted), your body also is full of darkness.

In the parable of the vineyard workers, the landowner says:

Matthew 20:15.   “Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or is your eye evil because I am good?”

An “evil eye” is the failure to rightly comprehend good and evil.

Isaiah 5:20.  Woe to them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for  darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Christian maturity in the Spirit of Truth brings discernment.

Hebrews 5:14.  Solid food is for the mature, who through practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil.

1 Corinthians 4:5.  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

John 3:21.  Whoever practices the truth comes to the light, that it may be made known that his deeds have been accomplished in God.

Ephesians 5:13. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

The Light of Life

John 8:12.  Jesus said, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

The energy of sunlight that gives life to all creation is but a type. The Light of Truth is  the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Life from the Son of God.

Hebrews 1:3. The Son is the radiance of His glory and the imprint of His being, upholding all things by His powerful word.

The Son of God is:
John 1:9. The true light, coming into the world, that gives the light of life to every man.

To walk in the Spirit is to walk in the Light. To walk in the Light is to admit our faults to one another, to be made whole.

1 John 1:7 & 9. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

All worldly knowledge conspires to distort the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to blind the eye of the spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:3 & 4. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

And thus we know what we are called to be a light.
Matthew 5:14-16. You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

A Pure and Sincere Understanding

2 Peter 3:1. Stir up your pure mind (comprehension) by way of remembrance.

The eyes of your understanding is referenced, although dianoia is translated ‘mind’ here and in a couple of other key verses. To be clear: the Greek word for mind is ‘nous’, as in Romans 7:23; ‘the law of my mind’. Peter here speaks of sound comprehension, as in:

1 Peter 1:13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind (dianoia=comprehension), be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Again, dianoia is translated mind, when understanding is often used. Dia is way, path, or channel through; implying the way to understand, or comprehend. The expression ‘gird up the loins of your mind’ is a powerful image of sound understanding. Loins refers to the hips, our strongest, weight-bearing joint, and critical for keeping our balance (spiritual). God’s ‘ball and socket’ design is used extensively in modern engineering design. Therefore, a sober, pure and sincere mind keeps us walking in ‘the light of Truth’.

As Paul prays:

Philippians 1:9-11. And this I pray, that your love may abound in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

This is what is meant when the Lord instructed:

Mark 12:30.  ‘Love the Lord with all of your mind’ (comprehension).

Hebrews 8:10. And, ‘I will put my laws in their mind’ (comprehension)

A Willing Heart

Exodus 35:21.  And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and 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 35:29.  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.                                                 

1 Chronicles 29:9.  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.                           

When the Holy Spirit 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 Spirit corporately, there were added about 3,000 souls! Even more impressive than the numbers though, was the immediate change of heart.

Acts 2:44,45.  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 4:32.  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.                                               

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 His Spirit?

Psalm 110:3.  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.