Sunday, January 29, 2012

WILLING AND OBEDIENT

There is great value in being willing and obedient.

I want us to think on the blessings which are promised to the willing and obedient.

Isaiah 1:19-20
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

God has given us a promise and all of His words are true. He will not fail to give us good if we do good. Evil begets evil; and, good begets good. If you do good, then good will come to you. If you disobey God, you will suffer the consequence for your wrong doing.

Right and wrong are never found in the same place, the same act, the same attitude or the same thought. Just as light and darkness can not exist together, neither do good and evil exist together.

Matthew 26:40-41
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The Word of God clearly teaches us that there is a continual warfare between the Spirit and the flesh. If you will be willing and obedient, you must continually choose to walk after the Spirit and not walk after the flesh. The desires of the flesh are contrary to the way of the Spirit. Your spirit may be willing to be holy, but your flesh is weak to resist the temptation to find comfort and pleasure rather than submission to the will of God.

2 Corinthians 8:11-12
11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.
12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

So we see that it is not sufficient to just have a willing mind, there must be a performance of the will of God. Many people want to be good, but that will not gain them the approval of God. They must crucify the flesh and yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

The joy of the Lord is our strength and that joy is only found in the hearts of those who are willing and obedient.

Jude 24
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Who are these that come before Christ with exceeding joy?
It is those who are faultless, without the reproach of sin.

Proverbs 12:20
Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Joy is found with those who give righteous counsel and those who receive righteous counsel. When we are willing and obedient, then we are happy and we have the joy of salvation making our souls strong.

God spoke to Isaiah and said, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” Is that just an Old Testament promise? Does it apply to us today? Yes, the New Testament re-establishes this promise to the children of God who follow our Lord Jesus Christ and seek those things which pertain to His Kingdom.

Matthew 6:31-33
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We have this promise that all of our needs will be met. The true child of God should not desire or expect more. We should be content with having our needs met. This world is not our home, we are merely pilgrims traveling through to our eternal home in glory. If we set our affections on the things of this world, we will surely miss heaven.

Galatians 5:22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

I want to provoke you to desire the joy of salvation more than the pleasure of this world. I want to stir up your mind to have a vision of God’s great riches which exceed all this world has to offer. If we become entangled with the affairs of this world, we will be in a state of bondage and unable to walk in the way which the Holy Spirit would choose to lead us.

Matthew 6:10-21
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In these twelve verses, Jesus gives us the keys to the Kingdom and the great storehouse of God.
• Thy will be done
• Give us our daily bread
• Forgive us
• Deliver us from all evil
• Accept us into your Kingdom
• Bless us with your power and your glory.

Here is the victory which overcomes the world and brings us into God’s divine favor as we willingly obey the commandments of our God.

Are you willing AND obedient, or just willing? Is the glory of God’s holiness evident in your daily life? Do you have power with God? Are your prayers being answered in a manner that exalts the righteousness and mercy of God?

If you think that you are willing to obey and you believe that you will be accepted into heaven; yet, you continually fail to walk in the light of God’s commandments, you have deceived yourself. You can not do wrong and be right. You can not be disobedient and have salvation and eternal life.

Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to your mind and obey His counsel.
Then you will have power over the flesh and victory over all sin.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

THE TEN VIRGINS

Matthew 25:1-13

I want to use this text because I firmly believe it addresses the issue which we face in these last days.

I want to use this text because I firmly believe it points to the principal reason Jesus came into this world to give us a more abundant way.

This text teaches us that very thing which makes the difference between the wise and the foolish. It teaches us how to keep that which makes us wise and keeps us from becoming foolish.

I believe that this message is one of the most important messages which must be preached in our day. If you do not understand this message, I pray that your desire for truth will motivate you to fast and pray that you may discern the difference between truth and error.

I must preach this message today because I believe the Holy Spirit has spoken to my heart and mind and placed such a heavy burden on me so that I can not refuse to speak. I would like to remind you of the sober warning which God has given to His ministers whom He has sent forth to warn the people. Turn with me to the book of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 33:1-7
1 Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

Now let us consider this parable which Jesus gave to His disciples and to us.

Matthew 25:1-13
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

In verse one, Jesus began this parable with the prophetic expression, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.” In the preceding chapter, which is part of this same message which Jesus delivered to the disciples, He spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. When He said “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins,” he was speaking of that time just before the second coming of Jesus Christ. This parable is of great importance to us, now.

First, let us consider the similarities of these ten virgins.

What are the similarities of all ten virgins?
All ten were virgins. What does that mean?
They were all pure, clean and undefiled by men.
We can be married to Jesus and still be virgins.
Mary had a son and she was still a virgin.

All ten had lamps. What does that mean?
They had light. They were not walking in darkness.
If you don’t walk in the light, you lose it.
You can’t have light and darkness at the same time.
Darkness is synonymous with disobedience.

All ten virgins began their going forth with light.
All ten went forth to meet the Bridegroom.
They were seeking after and waiting for the coming of the Bridegroom.
They all had an expectation of being received by the Bridegroom.

Verses one through seven do not give us a reason for the foolishness of five of these ten virgins. The five foolish virgins did not start out as foolish. They were judged foolish because of their failure to purchase a measure of oil to carry in their vessels before the test of weariness and sleepiness came upon them.

What happened to the ten virgins while the waited for the Bridegroom?

All ten virgins slumbered and slept. What does this mean?
They were not watchful for the enemy which comes to steal, kill and destroy.

Matthew 13:24-25 tells us what happens when men spiritually go to sleep. “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

Weariness comes to every child of God on this journey from Bethlehem to Calvary. Somewhere between when you were born into this family of God and the time of your death, you will become weary and you will face the temptations associated with sleepiness.

Now let us consider this important question: What is different between the five foolish and the five wise virgins?

The only difference mentioned in these scriptures is that the five foolish had their lamps, but the five wise had their lamps and also had oil in their vessels.
Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The five foolish went forth without oil in their vessels. They had the Light of Truth and a testimony of being innocent, pure and clean. But the wise virgins had both light and a measure of oil in their vessels. The five foolish did not consider purchasing the oil they needed until it was too late. Their light had already gone out.

Too many Christians go forth with the light of truth but fail to obtain that measure of oil which is so necessary to sustain them and enable them to endure until the Bridegroom comes.

Let us look again at this important text.

Matthew 25:1-13
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

This is a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven which is the Church of God which Jesus Christ purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28). The church is likened to ten virgins, which represent the moral purity of the true Christians who constitute the Church of God.

Jesus uses ten virgins because He intends to reveal and represent with symbolic language the divisive conditions which will exist immediately prior to the His advent at the end of time and the end of the earth.

Ten denotes the perfection of divine order pertaining to man’s responsibility to God. In units of ten, God sets forth the responsibility of men to obey God and keep His commandments.

Man was created with ten fingers and ten toes to do the works of God. This capacity for action implies responsibility; and, responsibility brings corresponding judgment or reward.

Genesis chapter one contains the words “God said” ten times. Man is responsible for the commands found in God’s Word. The Ten Commandments were given for man’s discipline and to determine his reward or punishment.

There were ten plagues sent upon Egypt for the punishment of their sins against the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In the construction of the Tabernacle, there were ten curtains, ten pillars and ten sockets. The tabernacle was built to remind the people and to instruct the people concerning their great responsibility to God.

Man is responsible for returning a tenth part of his increase to the storehouse of God. It is part of man’s duty and tribute to the ministers of God who stand as guides upon the Highway of Holiness.

In the parable of the Ten Virgins, their responsibility for keeping their lamps burning were rewarded or punished.

In the four gospels of the New Testament, there are thirty parables given from God to men. The Trinity (which is represented by 3) addresses man’s responsibility (which is represented by 10). Each parable has a distinctive message of truth concerning the Kingdom of God.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

This parable was not given to the world of sinners and religious hypocrites. It was given to the disciples to teach them the way to stay saved and endure to the end of life on this earth.

Matthew 13:10-11
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

The mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are revealed to church not the world. They teach that you must have both the Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Oil of the Holy Ghost in order to stay saved and endure to the end.

While Jesus was here in the flesh with His disciples, He gave them power to cure diseases and cast out devils. Seven days before Pentecost, He admonished them to not leave Jerusalem before or until they received the Oil of the Holy Ghost to go with them into the field of persecutions and the battle for the souls of men.

These were saved men, who had the light of truth. They were spiritual virgins, innocent of willful disobedience. They were seeking after and waiting for the Bridegroom to establish His Kingdom. Yes, I know Peter lied and cursed and sinned against his Lord; however, we also are told that he went out and wept bitterly in repentance for his failure to stand up for Jesus and not deny Him. Peter chose to protect his own flesh instead of being faithful to Jesus. That is what people do when they do not have the Oil of the Holy Ghost to enable them to keep their light burning in the hour of temptation.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

Foolish Christians fail to take the Oil of the Holy Ghost with them in their vessels.

If you have not received the Oil of the Holy Ghost since you believed; and you continue in that condition, the enemy will come in and catch you while you are sleeping and sow seeds of unbelief and fleshly desires and worldly ambitions which will spoil your soul.

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

Wise Christians take heed to the words of Jesus Christ and the Apostles and do not rest until they receive the blessing of being filled with the Holy Spirit. You may not understand the doctrine but you must understand your need. If you realize your need more of the grace of God in your life to overcome “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” you must go to God in humble consecration asking for that which you are lacking. If you do not, you will fall into sin.

One of the most significant signs of not being full of the Holy Spirit is the failure to produce unity of the Spirit and unity of the faith. People who do not have the grace of the Holy Ghost working in their heart will produce the smoke of confusion and strife in the midst of the battle. Truth does not cause strife and division. Rejecting truth causes strife and division. Men who are full of the Holy Ghost do not cause strife and division. People who do not have the Oil of the Holy Ghost will cause harm to the body because they have not sought after the truth with the grace and wisdom of God. Men who are full of the Holy Ghost will fast and pray until they knnow the mind of God. They will walk in the light of truth. Their judgment will be full of righteousness and mercy.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

This is where the danger of backsliding is found. When people lose their diligence and zeal to know and obey the perfect will of God they will fall into the snares of the enemy. When people go to sleep spiritually, they are in danger of waking up to their light gone out with no oil in their vessel.

The wise virgins slumbered. The foolish virgins slept. The Greek word for slumbered means “to nod”. The Greek word for slept means “to lie down in rest.” You do not “nod” when you are lying down to sleep. Picture in your mind’s eye a scene with two people in the middle of the night. One is sitting by his lamp, half asleep and half awake. He nods off from time to time, but he keeps his lamp burning by using the oil in his vessel. The other man is curled up in the corner, lying down in a resting position of sleep. He does not tend to his lamp and allows the flame of his light to go out.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

God lets us know that He always sends a warning to people. Some people will be able to recover themselves at the sound of the warning; others will hear the warning too late. Those who have prepared themselves with grace to endure the apostasy will maintain their light with the oil in their vessel.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

Although the five foolish tried to trim their lamps, it was not possible because their light had gone out because they had no oil in their vessel.
You can not trim a light unless you have oil to produce a flame.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

Here is the sad testimony: Our lamps are gone out.
In the sad condition of our day, many will not even admit and confess that their lamps have gone out. Religious pride has prevented many people from confessing their error. Although the Holy Spirit brings judgment and conviction, they will not repent.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

My oil is not sufficient for me and you. You must buy your own oil. You must pay the price and you must go to the only one who can sell it to you.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

This is not speaking about the Day of Judgment when Jesus Christ shall return.
On that day, there will be no time or opportunity for anyone to go purchase the Oil of the Holy Ghost. It is possible that in this very hour, the Holy Spirit will not do business with some people. Their heart and attitude is not right. Their searching and seeking is for their own pleasure and not for the glory of God.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

When people don’t do it right, they still want to come and be accepted of the Lord. Notice the words of Jesus does not report that they came with light and oil. In another place, Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21-24
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man,

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

If you don’t do it right, Jesus will not recognize you, or bless you, or hear your prayer.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Today is the day with the opportunity to do the right thing.
Tomorrow may be too late. Jesus may not offer you a way into His Kingdom when you get ready. Jesus will not hear your selfish plea. He will not answer when you call. You must answer when He calls.

To the sleeping, slumbering, lukewarm church of the Laodiceans Jesus has given a warning.

Revelation 3:14-22
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Wake up, you that have been sleeping and slumbering. Call upon God while it is still day. The end is coming when no man can work. Be sure your light is burning and you have oil in your vessel.

God bless you. Listen to His Holy Spirit. Do what He tells you to do, regardless of the cost.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

LAWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

What are the characteristics of the Laws of the Kingdom of God?
Are they universally required of every living person?
Are they applied individually according to ability and knowledge?
Does God ever have respect of person?

It may appear, to an unsaved person who does not believe in the infallibility of God’s righteousness, that God has respect of persons. This is the attitude of a self-centered person. It is like a child who resents another child being rewarded for good behavior and they do not get a similar reward even though their conduct was not acceptable. The carnal child who does not receive a reward is offended and accuses the person in authority of having respect of person.

Are the Laws of the Kingdom optional according to circumstances?
Are they always published in the Holy Bible?
Does God ever require some deed which is not set forth in the Scriptures?
Does God ever require something of one person which He does not require of others?

Consider the Rich Young Ruler whom Jesus told to go and sell all that he had and distribute it to the poor and then come and follow Him. Jesus does not tell everyone to sell all that they have before they can follow him. However, if you would understand the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, you would recognize that the principle is that everyone must be consecrated to the degree that all that we possess is on the altar and at His disposal to do as He pleases.

In principle everyone must sell all that they have and follow Jesus.
Jesus said in Luke 14:33, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

Proverbs 7:1-3
7 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

The Laws of the Kingdom of God are not just some commands written in a book. The Laws of the Kingdom of God are written upon the table of our heart. This means that the Holy Spirit has taught you what the commandments of the Lord are in your life. You do not have the liberty to pick and choose what commandments you must obey. The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and when He teaches you something you are commanded to obey that Law. If you refuse and rebel, you make yourself a sinner and a rebellious person. You can not be saved or have fellowship with God if you do not obey the commandments which the Holy Spirit writes on the table of your heart.

Jeremiah 31:33-34
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

God may use a man, a teacher or a preacher, to bring knowledge of His laws into your mind. It is then your responsibility to obey what the Word and the Spirit tell you is truth.

The Word and the Spirit are Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
The Word is not the written script alone without the Spirit of Jesus Christ who speaks to you.

Some people advocate that you do not have to believe what the preacher teaches until you have proved it for yourself by studying the Word of God. If you are walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit, your study of the Word will make allowance for the works of the flesh.

Hebrews 8:10-13
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Your first line of authority is not the preacher, but the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. When They speak to your heart and tell you that a certain thing is true, that is not the voice of the teacher or preacher, that is the voice of God. You must submit to that still small voice which comes to you and bears witness of the truth. Books, Songs, Sermons, Teachers, Preachers: these are all instruments of God. In addition to the spiritual voice of the Son and the Holy Ghost, God will use visual and audible instruments to help you learn the Laws of the Kingdom of God. At that moment when the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost speak to you, the Law of the Kingdom has come to you and your obedience is mandatory.

Hebrews 10:14-22
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
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.

Can the Holy Ghost put a law into your heart?
Can Jesus speak to you and make it a Law of the Kingdom?

Do you disobey the voice of the Lord and the Holy Spirit with the excuse that you have not studied it and proved it be truth?

Is the Holy Ghost your infallible counselor; or do you retain your own right to judge for yourself whether or not you ought to do what He says?

The Word and the Spirit, i.e. Jesus and the Holy Ghost, are not the authors of confusion. When either one comes to you with the light of the Laws of the Kingdom, there will be a clear understanding in your mind that you have heard from God. However, your flesh will hesitate and resist obeying the voice of God. If you give in to the flesh, the voice of God will decrease and become silent, leaving you in the darkness of your own fleshly mind.

Let the Word and the Spirit be the loudest voice you hear.
Have faith in God, He will teach you the truth.

Proverbs 19:20-21
20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.

When we stand before Jesus Christ on that great judgment day, we will not be judged according to our own laws which we have invented for ourselves. We will be judged according to the light of truth which Jesus and the Holy Spirit brought to us and spoke to our hearts. If we have disobeyed their voice, those truths will rise up in judgment against us on that day of judgment.

Monday, January 9, 2012

UNITY

What is Christian unity?

How is it achieved; and, how is it identified?

Christian unity is produced by having the mind of Christ. It is when persons, who have been delivered from all their sins by their works of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, have the same mind. In other words, they have the same purpose and motive. They have a common love for one another which enables them to work together agreeably, submitting one to another. Unity is not necessarily uniformity.

A church of God minister wrote the following statements:

“There are four things that are the basis of true Christian unity. The first is the recognition and acceptance of all Christians, simply because of their relation with Christ. The second is love of all Christians, just because they are Christians. The third, fellowship with all Christians, based on confidence toward all Christians. Fourth, a co-operative attitude toward all Christians. These four bases of Christian unity must be universal in their nature. They must include all Christians. A unity that is limited to a group is not Christian Unity – it is group unity. The unity of the church must be on a universal basis or it never will be attained, and it must have unanimity as it keynote.”

Write your comments at the end of this blog.
Tell me why you agree or disagree with the foregoing paragraph.

Do we believe that there are saved persons in denominational congregations?
If they are saved, are they not part of the church of God; which is one body, which Jesus Christ purchased with His own blood in accordance with Acts 20:28?
Some well-meaning Saints have identified others as a part of Babylon if they do not worship in one of the congregations with whom they have a working fellowship. To be accurate in our identification, we must recognize that Babylon is a system of man-made religious rules which hold people in spiritual bondage.

A person who may not have the same understanding as we do, may be walking in all the light and understand which God has given to him. If he is living free from sin, then he is a child of God. You can not live free from sin without the grace of salvation. If a person possesses the grace of salvation then he is part of the Bride of Christ and the Family of God. It is possible to be a member of a church of God congregation and be sectarian in heart. It is also possible to be part of a denominational congregation and be free from sectarianism.

Let it also be known that merely visiting a denominational congregation for the purpose of seeking some soul who may be searching for the truth does not make someone a Babylonian. Accepting and believing false doctrine contrary to what the Holy Spirit has previously revealed to you will cause you to become a Babylonian.
A person may be a member of a church of God congregation and have a sectarian spirit. In like manner, a person may be a member of denominational congregation and have a heart free from the influence of sectarianism.

I have recently been accused of being a Babylonian because I have attended congregations where the people do not have the same understanding of doctrines which I have preached for many years. I have been accused of being Babylonian because I do not believe that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent. I have the opinion that there are prophecies which have not yet been fulfilled and that Christ will not return until they are fulfilled. I have been denied fellowship with precious loved ones with whom I had enjoyed fellowship for many years because I did not conform to certain beliefs. The goal of my persecutors was uniformity not unity.

Have you mistakenly chosen uniformity of understanding over the unity of the Spirit? Uniformity of doctrine is the progressive fruitfulness of the unity of the Spirit. Unity of the Spirit, having the mind of Christ, must have precedence and predominance.

If you refuse to accept and fellowshp some of God's children who have a true experience of salvation and are living free from sin, then you are causing division and are guilty of sectarian conduct.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

THE DANGER OF TRADITIONS

What are traditions?

Webster Dictionary definition of tradition:
1 a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom) b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable
2 : the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
3 : cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions

I am very concerned about the effects of tradition upon the congregations of the church of God.

I believe that traditions have been a destroying influence upon the unity of the church.

In Webster’s definition of “tradition” entry number two is very troubling to me: 2 : the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.

People have been taught to believe certain information, beliefs and doctrine because that is the way Brother Somebody preached it years ago when he was our pastor. These dangerous traditions are beliefs which carry the force of authority without the written instruction of the Word of God. Pastor Brother Somebody has claimed to have received enlightenment on certain scriptures and taught his opinion as truth, when in reality the Bible does not teach what he believes. His beliefs are accepted by a group of followers and then passed on to their children and future generations.

If someone questions a tradition which has been handed down from previous generations, he is condemned as rebellious and un-submissive to pastoral authority. If he does not repent of his rebellion and accept the tradition as it was taught by the elders, he is excommunicated from the fellowship as a sinner.

Do not doubt the powerful influence of tradition upon others. Religious organizations are steeped in tradition. It has been so since the beginning of time.

The Word of God lets us know that there are good traditions and bad traditions. A good tradition will have as its foundation a righteous principle, though perhaps not specifically set forth in the Scriptures. A bad tradition will always have a divisive and destroying influence on Christian Unity.

Galatians 1:13-17
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Paul was a faithful adherent to the traditions of the sect of the Pharisees. He believed what had been passed down to him and he enforced these traditions on others. Although Paul was grossly wrong in his beliefs and conduct, casting Christians into prison and consenting to their death, he was practicing what he sincerely believed to be the truth of the God of Israel. I believe God saw in the man Saul an honesty and dedication which was influenced by tradition. Saul was no hypocrite. God saw that if Paul was shown the truth, he would stand for it with the same diligence with which he had enforced the traditions of the elders of Israel.

When Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, he did not go seeking to learn the traditions of the Christians. He went into seclusion in the desert of Arabia where he communed with God. He was first taught of the Holy Spirit and then he came forth in faith to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church of God whom he had previously persecuted.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Paul lets us know that some of the things which he taught were “traditions”.
It is a righteous and godly custom to gather together with the saints in an assembly for the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. This tradition should not be lightly set aside. However, it is not a sin if you can only meet with one or two others for the praise of God and the edification of one another. Jesus set the “standard” in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Paul enforced the beneficial tradition of assembling together with as many saints as possible. The true heart of a child of God will hunger for the fellowship of the larger body of believers. As time passed, the church established the beneficial tradition of assembling on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and during a mid-week service. This is a good tradition and helps the church stay healthy, strong and united.

Matthew 15:1-9
15 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

It is a good tradition to wash your hands before you eat. It is not a sin if you don’t.

It is a good tradition to share your inheritance and your financial success with the church; but, it is not a law of the kingdom that you must.

The law of the kingdom is “Christian giving.” The O.T. tithing law is a rule of discipline to teach carnal people the principle of giving. Will the N.T. Law of love and sacrificial giving require less? Christian giving should exceed the mere doctrine of tithing. If a professor of Christ is not giving the minimum of a “tenth of all” then he has fallen below the inferior standard which was established in the law of Moses and required of carnal men. Should the N.T. saint be less obedient, less consecrated, less sacrificial? I conclude that the principle of tithing is an O.T. law and a N.T. tradition which is founded upon the righteous principle of Christian Giving. Jesus required the rich young ruler to sell all that he had, give it to the poor and come and follow Him. That is the essences of Christian giving, obeying the Lord in all that He requires. The perfect will of God may go beyond tithing.

Colossians 2:6-8
6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

The traditions of men may often be founded upon the vanity of some man. Many traditions have been founded to exalt the man rather than exalting Christ and His righteousness.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-9
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

Paul was confident, and I share his confidence, that the traditions which he taught the people were godly and righteous. The traditions which he taught would produce good fruit and not cause division and strife. Traditions must be handled carefully, lest they become the principle basis for fellowship. It is a work of unrighteousness to use a tradition to excommunicate a person from the fellowship of the saints where there is an absence of clear evidence of willful sin.

1 Peter 1:16-19
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Every false doctrine is a tradition, an inherited, established belief which was started by someone, who was held in high esteem by his followers; and, that belief was passed on to succeeding generations. If you don’t accept the belief then you can not be accepted by the group.

What traditions do you hold?
Do you accept and condemn people on the basis of your traditions?
Are you willing to examine what you believe and prove whether or not your beliefs have a firm scriptural mandate?