The Book of Life

1 Peter 3:13-17.  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.                          

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:

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

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

Revelation 4:11.  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.

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.

Acts 1:1&2.   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.

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.

Luke 1:1-4.    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.               

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.

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

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…

God Assessment

Job 10:12.  You have granted me life and favor, and your visitation has preserved my spirit.       

The word visitation-pekuddah (H6486) from pakad (H6485)-to visit, provides a basis for understanding the nature of covenant promises and the hope of prophecy. The Israelites for 400 years in Egypt clung to this prophetic word from Joseph:

Genesis 50:25.  And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel saying God will surely visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here.                                 

This covenant oath and promise between Joseph and his descendants continued as a memorial and became the words used by God to introduce Moses as their deliverer. The fulfillment of this promise becomes a remembrance of God and is prominent in the narrative.

Exodus 3:16.  Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say unto them….”I have surely visited you and that which is done to you in Egypt.”

Exodus 4:31And the people believed and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.  

 Exodus 13:19.  And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath saying “God will surely visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.”                       

A deeper understanding of this word is necessary to grasp the statement “your visitation has preserved my spirit” in Job 10:12.

Pakad appears 90 times in the book Numbers, and is the basis for the title. The first four chapters of Numbers recounts a series of censuses that God commanded Moses and Aaron to make of the congregation of Israel.

Numbers 1:2 & 3.   Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of names, every male by their polls. From twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel you and Aaron shall number them by their armies.         

Verse two describes a numerical count (take the sum) and means a head count; “by their polls” literally means “by their skulls”. Verse three uses the word pakad “number them by their armies”.

So what is the relationship between “to visit” and “to number” when the word pakad appears? Pakad actually means to make an assessment, to observe to determine your physical, mental and spiritual state.

The key here is the phrase “that are able to go forth to war”. This is more than a head count, but also an assessment. And so in Exodus 4:31 “He looked upon their affliction”, the visitation is concerned with the state of being.

This correct understanding of “to number or to visit” forms the basis for both ministry and fellowship.

James 1:27.   Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction to remain unspotted from the world.    

This verse doesn’t limit ministry to widows and orphans, the emphasis is upon all who are afflicted with these two as prominent examples. Visitation also defines the role of leadership in the church.

Matthew 24:45.    Who then is a faithful and wise servant whom his lord has made ruler (more correct is caretaker) over his household (congregation) to give them meat [spiritual sustenance– “I have meat you know not of… -John 4:32-34] in due season. (as the need arises) 

Ministering to the saints is a visitation to preserve the spirit of the church.

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

 

With A Strong Hand

Exodus 12:14.  So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.    

The first memorial found in the Law of Moses is to perpetuate the memory of the night The Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, while ‘passing over’ the houses of Israel having the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintel.                          The intent and purpose of this memorial feast is given as an answer to a question anticipated from the children of the household.

Exodus 12:26&27.  And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 

In passing over the firstborn of man and beast among the people of Israel, a special relationship was established between the Lord and the firstborn, and the consideration of this fact carries over to the feast of unleavened bread.

Exodus 13:1, 12,13.  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.  And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s.              

Thus, the firstborn males who open the womb became the purchased possession of the Lord. This also was established as a memorial for every generation.  The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are linked for this purpose, to perpetuate this memory. 

Exodus 13:8-10.  And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.  It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.  You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year. 

Many consider that the observance of the Passover is to commemorate the deliverance of the children of Israel  from the bondage of slavery. This is actually given as the basis for keeping the Sabbath.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15.  Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.  And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.   

The feasts include special Sabbath Days for this observance. This makes the following exchange between Jesus Christ and the Jewish citizens of Jerusalem all the more fascinating.

The Truth Shall Make You Free

John 8:31-36. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free?  Jesus answered them,  Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but the son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. 

The intended memory to perpetuate in the keeping of the Sabbath failed to produce the desired remembrance!

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.