The Standard Banner

The Greek word stauros means ‘stake’, ‘pole’ or ‘post’; but it is always  translated ‘cross’ in the New Testament. When a banner or image is attached to a pole, it becomes a standard. This is the imagery from the Old Testament that Yeshua uses to teach on His purpose.

And as Moses lifted up the (brass) serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:14, 15.

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death He should die.                                                                       John 12:31-33.

The standard of Christ is a simple statement:

“Death to sin!”

They overcame 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.

You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.                                           Hebrews 12:4.

Following the Standard

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.                                            Mark 8:34.

This statement makes no sense until translating stauros correctly, and becomes ‘pulls up his stakes and follows me’. Now we find a statement familiar in all ages as an expression of someone leaving his permanent dwelling to follow the Lord. This has been The Standard from the origins of Messiah.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.                                                          Genesis 12:1.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;  for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.                                                                  Hebrews 11:8-10.

The Heavenly Hope

But Yeshua said to him, “No one who has put his hand to the plow and looked back is fit for the kingdom of God.”                                                                                                             Luke 9:62.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly homeland. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.                                                                                                                               Hebrews 11:13-16.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.                                                                                                                                    1 Peter 2:11

To abstain is only accomplished by abiding in the promised Holy Spirit.

Three testimonies from 1 John 3:

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. V.6.

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. V.9.

Now those who keep His commandments abide in Him, and He in them. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit He has given us. V.24.

The Standard of Christ is love

He has brought me to the banquet house and his banner ( ‘standard’) over me is love.    SS 2:4.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love abides in death.  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.            1 John 3:14, 16.

To make the cross an icon of the church is to repeat what Israel did with the bronze serpent from the wilderness. It became an idol in Israel which was destroyed by Hezekiah hundreds of years later.

He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan (that brass thing).                             2 Kings 18:4.

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.                                                                             Exodus 20:4.

The Cross represents The Standard for Paul

For the message of ‘The Standard’ is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.                                                                                     1 Corinthians 1:18.

As for me, brothers and sisters, if I still proclaim circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the stumbling block of  ‘The Standard’ has been eliminated. Galatians 5:11.

Those wanting to look good outwardly are trying to force you to be circumcised—only so they will not be persecuted for ‘The Standard’ of Messiah.                                        Galatians 6:12.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in ‘The Standard’ of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.                                     Galatians 6:14.

He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, death now ‘The Standard’.      Philippians 2:8.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of ‘The Standard’ of Christ.                                                                     Philippians 3:18.

The Standard for Life: Crucified with Christ

For if we have become joined together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also will be joined together in His resurrection,  knowing our old man was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be done away with, so we no longer serve sin.  For he who has died is set free from sin.                                                                                                         Romans 6:5-7.

Now those who belong to Messiah have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.                                                                                                                           Galatians 2:20.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.                                                                                       Romans 6:22.

Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.                                                                                                                             Revelation 20:6.

The Standard Banner of Salvation

The Lord their God will save them in that day, as the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over His land.                                   Zechariah 9:16

When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.                                                                                                                                        Isaiah 59:19.

You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed for the truth. Psalm 60:4.

And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.                               Isaiah 11:10.

Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.                                         Isaiah 62:10.

Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.                                                                                           Isaiah 49:22

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A Gentile Passover

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all 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.

And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.   Exodus 12:48.

Paul resolved the issue:  for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that 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.     Romans 2:28 & 29.

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.                                  Galatians 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 Thessalonians 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts.” Granted, He certainly does try us, 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, he is  paraphrasing a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is attempting to remind them of instructions he gave while he was with them. 

Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts 18.  He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…then he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.   v.11.   

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: 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.                                                                                                        1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

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 of them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, 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&26.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word.  Even as Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

For 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.         2  Corinthians 3:15-17.

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 an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God revealed in Christ that Paul speaks of:

Let a man so account of us as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.                                               1 Corinthians 4:1&2

In order to be a faithful steward, a saint must know what these mysteries are of 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 has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.                  Romans 11:25.

Armor of Light

Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.  Luke 24:49.

Endued means to put on or be clothed in. While abiding with the indwelling Holy Spirit is essential, Christ must outwardly manifest in the character of the new man. This putting on of Christ became a centerpiece of the apostle Paul’s teaching.

Put on Christ

And do this knowing the time, that now is already the hour to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.       Romans 13.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.             Galatians 3.

The Spirit of Your Mind

As the truth is in Jesus, put off the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.    Ephesians 4.

Now you are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him in Christ, and Christ in all.  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body; and be thankful.       Colossians 3.

 

The Book of Life

In a recent discussion,  we reflected on the meaning of Jesus’ statement: 

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you’…Matthew 7.

I would like to elaborate on how this relates to the topic of memorial and remembrance. These words share a common root, and as a result are often mistranslated; memorial rather than remembrance, and vice versa.

The root word ‘zakar’ is mostly translated remembered or remember, and this demonstrates the real difficulty with Bible translation in general. Translators are determined to find one English word to represent the one Hebrew word, which is essentially impossible.

For example, the first time we see zakar in scripture is in Genesis 8:

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.

Finding difficulty in the idea of God ‘remembering’ something when He knows everything, I concluded that this was just a way of expressing God taking action in the affairs of man. This satisfied my understanding for a season, until studying Memorial and Remembrance. These three words form a three corded rope for understanding God’s covenant interests.

 The correct understanding of zakar is expressed by the definition:

‘To perpetuate the memory of’.

This now expresses Genesis 8:1 as ‘God perpetuated the memory of Noah (and mankind) and all creation.’   For another example:

And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.          1 Samuel 1:19. 

In restoring her fertility, God perpetuated the memory of Hannah, who gave birth to the great prophet and judge Samuel. Rachel, Hannah, Mary and Elizabeth are ‘memorialized” in the narratives of scripture, not just as mothers to famous men, but women of great faith and boldness in prayer.  Therefore, ‘the remembrance of them’ is the resulting inspiration throughout the generations.

Now, to being known by the Lord.

But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.     Revelation 21:27.

Jesus told his disciples;

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.   Luke 10:20.

Those who serve the Lord, who are the called, and the elect and the faithful (Revelation 17:14.) are ‘memorialized’ in heaven. Only they will be among those who hear ‘well done, my good and faithful servant.’

The Lord Be With You

 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who abides in Me does the works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.          John 14:8-11.

The Doctrine Of Christ.

Whoever moves ahead (oversteps) 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.  2 John 9.

To Abide in the doctrine of Christ requires a correct understanding of the Father-Son; Theos-Logos relationship.

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 the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.                                                       Matthew 11:27.

Messiah speaks here in His role as mediator.

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.                      Hebrews 9:15.

Now one can move ahead with a correct understanding.

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.         Matthew 11:28-30.

The Son manifests the Father and is; therefore, The Way and The Truth and The Life.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.                                      John 14:6.

 

The Firstborn Son of God

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14.

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.  Colossians 1:18.

To which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son,  today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”?   But when He again brings His firstborn into the world, He says “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”   Hebrews 1:5&6.

The love of God was revealed among us by this—that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.                     1 John 4:9.

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

The Voice gives the Most Excellent Glory

For He received from God the Father honor and glory when The  Voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.         2 Peter 1:17&18.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.   Galatians 4:4-7.

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.   Romans 8:29.

The Most Beloved Verses

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.                      John 3:16-18.

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 20:31.

The First Confession of Faith

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

For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?       1 John 5:4&5.

Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.   Romans 1:3&4.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  1 John 5:11-13.

 

 

Memorial of Mary of Bethany

Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:9; Matthew 26:13.

Ironically, in these two accounts, the words are spoken on behalf of an unnamed woman who came in during a dinner with Jesus at the table. “There came a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment and poured it on His head.”  The gospel of John fills in the missing pieces. Chapter 12 of his gospel identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of Martha, and Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead. Martha is serving the dinner.

This set the stage for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, for word of Lazarus having been raised from the dead had ignited the large crowds on hand for the Passover. The chief priests consulted to also see Lazarus put to death, because by reason of him many of the Jews believed in Jesus.

We are also informed by John 11:2 it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. This account is found in           Luke 7:37-50. The Lord uses this opportunity to make a very important point: “to whom little is forgiven, loves little.

This is not to say that some people are less of a sinner and need less forgiveness, but some fail to acknowledge their condition and need for reconciliation with God. The Pharisee saw himself as having a relationship with God, while looking down on Mary as a sinner. Thus she is told; “your sins are forgiven”, and “your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

In Luke 10:38-42, we find another narrative involving Mary and Martha, with Jesus a guest in their home. Martha was busy with much serving while her sister sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. Martha exclaimed, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her to come help me.” To which Jesus replied unto her, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

We cannot imagine wrong in someone with a heart to serve, but can see where there is a time for everyone to be still and know the Lord. However, Jesus is not just speaking to a willingness to serve.

We can see a greater concern for someone who is careful and troubled and should fully consider what the Lord is addressing.

The word translated careful here is used by Jesus repeatedly in His sermons, but the more typical translation in the KJV is “take no thought”, and means to be anxious.

Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than clothing? Take therefore no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.                                                                               Matthew 6:25,34.

Jesus also uses the same word to tell us not to worry about what we should say if our faith is put on trial, saying if we are delivered up, “take no thought how or what you shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same moment what you should speak.”                                                                   Matthew 10:19.

In His parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus describes the seed among thorns as someone who hears His word, but are choked with “cares” of riches and pleasures in life, and brings no fruit to maturity.                   Luke 8:14.

Paul tells us: “be careful” for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                                             Philippians 4:6 & 7.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.                                            1 Peter 5:7.