Sunday, August 26, 2012

WATER BAPTISM


Water baptism is an ordinance or sacrament of the church of God.   It is symbolic of a spiritual death and resurrection.  We have died to the flesh and the world, we have been buried in a water grave, which symbolizes a cleansing of the filth of the flesh; and, we have been resurrected in Christ Jesus to a newness of life. 

Hebrews 6:1-3
1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this will we do, if God permit.
Let us take note of what the scriptures teach us. 
First, we are exhorted to progress forward in our understanding and build upon those things which we have already learned. 
Secondly, we should not need to be relaying the foundational beliefs which are mentioned here in verse one and two. 
Thirdly, the “doctrine of baptisms” is stated in the plural.  The letter “s” is put on the word “baptism” to convey the understanding that there is more than one. 

A study of the Holy Scriptures will reveal that the Bible teaches two baptisms, not one and not many.  Satan is always trying to take away or add to the commandments of God.  If God teaches us that there are two baptisms, Satan wants us to think that there is only one on that there are many.  Satan opposes everything God says. 

In this lesson we will examine the teaching of the church of God concerning the baptism of water.  Afterwards, we will examine the teaching of the church of God concerning the baptism of the Holy Ghost. 

Mark 1:6-8
6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

We have set before us the teaching of two baptisms.

John’s mission was to baptize with water teaching repentance..

Jesus would come and baptize with the Holy Ghost.

1 Peter 3:21, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”
Peter teaches us that this baptism of water is symbolic of our being washed from all our sins.  It is compared symbolically to the saving of Noah and his family when the world was cleansed of all its wicked people.  It is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.”  Water baptism does not save us from our sins, but it is part of our obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ. 

Matthew 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
This scripture gives us the proper invocation for the minister to use during the baptismal ceremony.  We are commanded to observe all things which were taught by Jesus Christ.  The ministry of the New Testament was commanded to baptize. 

John baptized with water.  Jesus’ disciples baptized with water while Jesus witnessed the ceremony.  The ministers of the early church in the book of Acts also baptized converts with water. 

Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Repentance must precede baptism; thus we understand than infants who are not capable of having godly sorrow for their sins and true repentance are excluded from this ordinance.  We are also instructed by these words that a heart change produced by repentance must be the experience of the believer prior to baptism.

1 Corinthians 1:14-17 "for Christ sent me not to baptize." 
The obvious message is that the ministry of reconciliation, of restoring the lost soul to its Savior carries a greater priority than that of baptism. 

Mark 16:16 "believe not shall be damned."
The scripture does not say that if you are not baptized you will be damned, but rather that if your do not believe unto salvation, you will be damned.

John 4:1,2 "though Jesus himself baptized not." 
If baptism was essential to the effecting of salvation, Jesus would have baptized all those who came to Him and believed on Him. 

Acts 10:34-48
Cornelius – saved, filled with the Holy Ghost, then baptized.  In this real life experience, we see that this devout man experienced a relationship with God which followed certain steps of faith.  First, he was saved by which means and faith he became a devout man.  Secondly, he was sanctified by the receiving of the Holy Ghost.  Thirdly, this man heard the instructions of the full plan of salvation and was obedient unto baptism as a public testimony of his faith in Jesus Christ.

Acts 19:1-7 John’s disciples were re-baptized. 
The disciples of John, who no doubt were baptized by John, were baptized again once they heard the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Jesus Christ and salvation is based upon the initial work of repentance and believing in Jesus Christ.  All other acts of faith and obedience must follow true repentance. 

1 Corinthians 15:29 "Baptized for the dead" 
Paul was not confirming the need to be baptized for the dead, as was erroneously taught by the Maccabees, who were prominent Jewish leaders before the time of Christ; rather, he was proving the point that there is life after death (as even the Maccabees acknowledged).  These all taught that there is a second resurrection to be experienced in the future of the soul.

Colossians 2:12  "buried with him in baptism…risen with him" 
Here is a clear interpretation of the sacrament of baptism.  We are symbolically buried with Jesus Christ (in this watery grave) and then we are "risen with him" into a newness of life.  This is a public testimony of our allegiance to Christ.

Acts 8:35-39 "they both went down into the water"  
Here is the mode and method of baptism.  These two men found sufficient water that they both could wade out into the water to a sufficient depth that Philip could immerse the Ethiopian Eunuch in the watery grave of baptism. 

Matthew 3:13-17, “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.”
Jesus was already holy, but it was needful that He set an example of a public testimony to the world.  It was not necessary for Jesus to be baptized except for the need to set an example for others to follow. 

Romans 6;1-5, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
There is a symbolic sequence of events in the plan of salvation, i,e, die-bury-resurrected-new life.  These spiritual events are portrayed in the act of water baptism.  Paul gives a plain statement of the mandate and mode of baptism. 

Have you repented of your sins? 

Have you been baptized by a true minister of the church of God who has authority to administer the sacraments of Jesus Christ in His church. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ADULTERY – DIVORCE – RE-MARRIAGE

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT
ADULTERY – DIVORCE – RE-MARRIAGE

The Holy Scriptures must be the authority and foundation for any subject, teaching or doctrine.
 
As we begin to study this subject, I believe it would be good and beneficial to expedite understanding if we would consider the relationship of Jesus Christ with the nation of Israel under the first covenant.  Stay with me now and let the Holy Spirit speak to your mind and heart. 

Was Jesus Christ the Lord and God of the Old Testament?

Daniel 3:24-25
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Why did Nebuchadnezzar say that the fourth man in the furnace was "like the Son of God?"  Because it was the Son of God.  It was Jesus Christ for by whom all things were made and without Him was not anything created. 
 
John 8:58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
 
The Jews knew that  Jesus was saying that He was the "I AM" who spoke to Abraham.  This made them so angry they wanted to kill Jesus. 

Exodus 3:14, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”

This God was Jesus Christ; and this Jesus was this God. 

Colossians 1:15-19
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Acts 7:35-40
35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Jesus was there "in the church in the wilderness" with the people of Israel.  They were His people and He was their God.  They committed spiritual fornication by making other gods to be their god.

Joshua 3:11-13
11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.
12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

Acts 10:34-36
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

Jesus Christ is "Lord of all."  He is the "Lord of all the earth."  Jesus Christ is the head of the church both in the New Testament and in the Old Testament.  Jesus Christ has always been the Mediator between man and God.  He was there in the Garden of Eden.  He was there with His people in the Land of Goshen in Egypt.  He was there on Mount Sinai.  He was Abraham’s friend.  Jesus was “Lord of all the earth” to Joshua and to the apostle Peter.   He was David’s Comforter and Song.  He was there in the fiery furnace with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.  Jesus Christ is the Mighty King, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the whole earth. 

In His relationship with Old Testament Israel, much is recorded in the pages of the writings of the Prophets.  We are clearly taught that He was married to Israel.  He was the Husband of the people of Israel.  Israel was His Bride. 

Jeremiah 3:14-15
14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Isaiah 50:1, “Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.”

Leviticus 20:10, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

Under the Old Testament, the penalty for commiting adultery was not divorce; but rather death. 

Jeremiah 3:8, “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; “

Ezekiel 23:37, “That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them.”

The people of Israel who committed spiritual adultery with their idols were no longer married to Jesus Christ, the Lord of all the earth.  Because of their spiritual fornication, they were separated from God.  They were as one who is dead.  Though the nation of Israel still continued to exist in this world, they were dead to their husband, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, the Lord of all the earth, was married to the church in the wilderness.  He was married to Israel.  Because they repeatedly committed spiritual adultery, he wrote them a bill of divorcement and put them away. 

Matthew 23:37-39
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

The house of Israel was desolate and forsaken.  The Bridegroom was no longer there. 

Now, we come to the New Testament and we find that Jesus Christ is married to the church of God which is the Bride of Christ which He purchased with His own blood. 

Is there a stronger relationship than the relationship of being joined to Jesus Christ through the work of salvation?  No.

Can that relationship with Jesus Christ be broken?  Yes.

Is our relationship with Jesus Christ compared to being married?  Is Jesus the Husband of His Bride, the church of God?  Is a saved person part of the church of God?  Are we married to Jesus Christ?

If an individual commits spiritual fornication, is that person still married to Jesus Christ?  No.

If an individual, who has been made one with another person by holy matrimony, commits physical fornication are those two individuals still bound together in holy matrimony?  No.

Why do people teach that marriage between a man and a woman can not be broken by anything except physical death?   Is a physical marriage in the flesh greater than a spiritual marriage to Jesus Christ?  How is that you can disannul your relationship with Christ by spiritual fornication; but, you can not disannul your relationship with a wife by physical fornication?   If a person divorces their spouse because of adultery, are they still married?  If the marriage has been dissolved because of fornication, are they still married?  If the marriage is dissolved because of fornication and the innocent person gets married to another, does that person have two wives or two husbands?  NO!

Jesus Christ said:
Matthew 19:9, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away [for the cause of fornication] doth commit adultery. “

Spiritual fornication breaks the bonds of unity with Jesus Christ.  Physical fornication breaks the bonds of holy matrimony between a man and a woman. 

This should not be a difficult issue to understand.  The confusion is because some people have been taught error and they have perpetuated that error by teaching it to others. 

Romans 7:1-4
7 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Ephesians 5:23-33
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Revelation 21:2-3
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Revelation 21:9-10
9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Matthew 5:31-32
31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced [for the cause of fornication] committeth adultery.

Mark 10:11-12
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

To be divorced and remarried without the death sentence of adultery is to commit the sin of adultery.

Luke 16:18, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

To be divorced and remarried without the death sentence of adultery is to commit the sin of adultery.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Purpose of Prophecy

Webster definition of “prophecy:”

1 : an inspired utterance of a prophet
2 : the function or vocation of a prophet; specifically : the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose
3
 : a prediction of something to come

If the inspiration for your words does not originate with God, then they are merely your words and not the words of God.  We ought to be slow to speak and swift to hear so that our words are inspired by the Holy Spirit and profitable to all that hear us.  

Does the Old Testament contain prophecy relative to our day?
Does the Old Testament contain prophecies of New Testament salvation?
Does this Revelation chart hanging here at the front of the building represent certain prophecies concerning the church of God and the children of God? 

Are prophecies sometimes given in symbols?

Prophecy has one critical component, without which there is no prophecy.
That component is that it is spoken or written by the inspiration of God.
The problem with our religious gatherings today is that too many of those who should be representing Jesus Christ are not being inspired by the Holy Spirit. 

Jeremiah 23:16-40
16 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.

This warning and command is to those people who have been listening to a false prophet.  Their pastor, preacher or teacher is speaking the words of his own mind and not the words which God has given. 

17 They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.

A false prophet will tell the disobedient person that he is safe in his sins and God will not punish him. 

18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?
19 Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

The judgments of God will come upon those who have prophesied falsely.

20 The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.

The expression “in the latter days” often refers to the time of the New Testament.  Perhaps in this context it is a reference to that time when the consequences of the sins of the people is made evident when the wrath of God is poured out upon their disobedience. 

21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

There are multitudes of false prophets in our world today.  They say they speak the truth, but their words are not in agreement with the righteous principles of God.  Their words are contrary to truth. 

22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

The truth will always turn people from error.  When the Holy Spirit is anointing and inspiring the words to be spoken, His words will guide the people into all truth. 

The purpose of prophecy is to increase the faith of the believer in the interactive relationship of men and God according to the plan of God.  We have this testimony from Jesus Christ:

John 14:29, “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.”

John 13:19, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”

The Word of God tells us that God will not withhold from His ministers what He is going to do in the future.

Genesis 18:17, “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;”

Genesis 41:25, “And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.”

Genesis 40:8, “And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.”

Amos 3:7, “the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets.

There is a strong warning against that false prophet who speaks presumptuously.

A person who speaks presumptuously is one who willfully and knowingly takes the liberty to overstep the proper bounds of truth.  A presumptuous act is not the same as a mistake or words which may lack wisdom.  

Deuteronomy 18:20-22   But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.  And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

God has purposely hidden His words in parables and symbols for the intent of revealing them to only those whose hearts are right in His sight.  

Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.”

Mark 4:11, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.”

Isaiah 46:9-10, “For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”

John 13:19, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”

John  14:29, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.”

Revelation 1:1-3
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Revelation 10:1-4
1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

Revelation 22:7-20
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

PRAYER AND FASTING

Understanding the subject of prayer and fasting is crucial to a victorious Christian experience.  Jesus clearly taught His disciples that some things can not be accomplished without prayer and fasting.  In the absence of a clear definition or example of what is required for God to honor a personal act of prayer and fasting, people have been left to apply their own individual interpretation.  Perhaps this is exactly what God wants each of us to do.  The attitude of the heart is more crucial than any external act or appearance.  One person may fast one meal with a true soul burden for a special need; and thereby, please God more than another person who may fast and prayer for several days for a selfish purpose. 

The Holy Scriptures seem to portray and favor the time requirements of an acceptable prayer and fasting to be at least 24 hours or longer.  Some would say that to fast from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. to be an acceptable day of prayer and fasting.  If a person ate breakfast at 5:00 a.m. and did not eat supper on that day until 7:00 p.m. they would have met the time requirements of a day of fasting.  In reality they have only fasted one meal.  Is this acceptable with God?  (And it may be under certain circumstances.)  Did the person fast and pray with a sincere burden for the special needs heavy upon their heart?  Or, did they fast and pray for the sole purpose of satisfying a rule and to gain the approval of some person or persons? 

The fleshly desires of the body are opposed to fasting.  The flesh enjoys the satisfaction of having its needs and desires met with an abundance of pleasure.  We are continually surrounded with painful circumstances involving great spiritual and physical needs.  People are bound by destructive, sinful habits.  They are greatly afflicted with terminal diseases.  In the face of all these needs, fasting only one meal appears to be an obvious yielding to the flesh.  The spirit of man longs to be in fellowship with God.  Our spirit hungers for that satisfaction which comes from doing the perfect will of the Father.  We need that loving approval and acceptance of the Father which is the reward for our loving obedience to His request.  In honest consideration of this important subject, the continual practice of missing only one meal and calling it a fast day seems to be indicative of one who is submitting to the flesh rather than the spirit. 

The act of fasting for the purpose of petitioning our Father is more about an effectual, fervent prayer than it is about missing a meal.  If a person has committed himself to fast and pray, he ought to, at the very minimum, pray during that period of time which he would normally devote to eating.  It would seem to be more in agreement with the idea of fasting and prayer if the person who is fasting could also draw away from the normal routine of his daily life and devote himself to prayer, meditation and the reading of the Word of God.  The purpose of prayer and fasting is not merely the denial of the flesh but the sincere petitioning of God to enlighten the understanding or to gain God’s divine intervention in some special need.  It includes the preparation of the heart and mind to grasp and hold fast to that certain measure of faith which truly believes that God will move to answer the prayer of faith. 

When you fast, you are not required to set the time to start and stop.  If you make a vow to God to fast for a specific time, it is imperative that you honor that vow.  Do not make vows to God lightly and break them without His permission.  God does not lightly allow us to break our vows, although there may arise circumstances where He would permit you to not fulfill a vow.   A fasting period may not involve a specific vow to fast a certain length of time.  It may simple be a burden to fast and pray until that burden is lifted from the soul.  Fast not for a specific time but rather for a specific victory.  Obedience in fasting clears the conscience of the desires of the flesh and inspires faith to believe God for what is requested.  Again I say, when you pray, pray not for a specific time; but rather for a specific answer and manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. 

The following scriptures will assist you in understanding the will of God concerning your habit of prayer and fasting. 

PRAYER

Psalms 66:18-20  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

Matthew 6:5   And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.

Matthew 17:21     Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Matthew 18:19     if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them

Mark 1:35   rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Mark 11:24-25     Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.  And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Luke 6:12   continued all night in prayer to God.

Luke 18:1   And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

John 14:13-14   And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.   If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Colossians 4:2   Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

1 Peter 3:7   that your prayers be not hindered

1 John 3:22  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

1 John 5:14-15     And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

FASTING

Ezra 8:21    I proclaimed a fast…that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones

Ezra 10:6    he did eat no bread, nor drink water:

Esther 4:16     neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise

Psalm 102:4    My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. 

Isaiah 58:3-7     Is not this the fast that I have chosen?

Jeremiah 36:6   in the LORD's house upon the fasting day

Daniel 9:3   to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting

Daniel 10:2,3  I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth

Joel 1:11-14  Sanctify ye a fast,

Jonah 3:4-10
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Matthew 4:2  he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Matthew 6:16-18  when ye fast

Matthew 15:32  I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. 

Matthew 17:21  but by prayer and fasting.

Mark 2:20   then shall they fast in those days.

Mark 8:2     I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:

Luke 4:2     Being forty days tempted of the devil.  And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. 

Luke 18:12  I fast twice in the week,

Acts 10:30   Four days ago I was fasting until this hour

1 Corinthians 7:5   give yourselves to fasting

After a careful study of the scriptures referenced above, we should ask ourselves some serious questions.

Do I fast and pray, properly, according to the instructions of God?

Who is fasting and praying as part of their resistance to Satan and their overcoming in the trials and tests of life? 

How often do I fast?  How often should I fast?

Do I fast merely to satisfy a rule and a schedule; or, is my fast the sincere sacrifice of my soul in bringing my burden before the Lord Jesus Christ? 

Are the spiritual ingredients of zeal and a strong hope in my fasting?

Do I doubt when I fast and pray?

Is my reason for fasting and praying a response to the leadership of the Holy Spirit? 

Am I asking according to the will of the Father?

How do I know the will of the Father?

Can the need and desire to know the will of God be part of the reason I am fasting and praying? 

I challenge you to fast and pray that you may experience the presence of God and therefore see the power of God.



His power will not be seen where He is not present.

His glory will not descend out of Heaven upon any without His approval.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Third Veil


 Have you passed through the third veil?  Beyond its partition is the anchor of the soul.  Without this experience the arm of flesh will resist you and keep you from knowing and doing the perfect will of God.  Ephesians 2:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”

The Jew and the Gentile had always been separated and divided.  They were not allowed to have fellowship in religious matters.  That middle wall of partition was none other than the work of the flesh.  Carnal men devised man-made rules to govern the relationships of people.  The gospel of Jesus Christ provides grace to crucify the flesh, have victory over personal opinions and extend the right hand of fellowship to every blood-washed child of God.   

The Holy Spirit has impressed this subject upon my mind with the desire to clearly set forth this truth for all to know and understand.  I pray that you will ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your mind and heart to receive what the Holy Scriptures teach. 

Hebrews 9:6-12
6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 10:19-22
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.

In Hebrews 10:20 we have the statement which teaches us that the veil in the Temple was symbolic of the flesh.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, became the blood sacrifice and sin offering which provides access into the ‘holiest.”   By this blood sacrifice, Jesus has entered into the Holies of Holies; and, He made it possible that we also may have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.”  The flesh is the veil which stands between justification and sanctification.  Through the sacrifice of the flesh of Jesus, He has made it possible that we can crucify our flesh and enter into the Holiest of Holies. 

Again, let it be emphasized that, this verse (Hebrews 10:20) clearly identifies the veil as a symbol of the flesh.  Just as Jesus Christ crucified His flesh so must we crucify our flesh.  The veil, symbolizing the flesh, is what separates the first room, the Holy Place, from the second room, the Holiest of Holies. The flesh is what stands between the experience of being a justified child of God and the experience of being a sanctified child of God. 

Too many people have the veil of flesh over their spiritual eyes preventing them from seeing the way into the Holiest of Holies.  Hebrews 6:18-20, “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:  Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”  Satan has strongly resisted the saints of God in keeping this experience hidden.  This second work of grace is an anchor of the soul.  There are people who know neither the doctrine nor the experience.  There are many who know the doctrine but not the experience. 

 As the veil in the temple was rent, so was the body of Christ rent.  The sacrifice of the Lamb of God not only provided the cleansing of our soul from the corruption of sin, it also provided a purging of our soul from the corruptible influence of a carnal nature.  Our flesh must also be rent, mortified, crucified upon that golden altar of consecration to the perfect will of God. 

There were three identical veils associated with the tabernacle.  The first was at the entrance to the Court which surrounded the Tabernacle.  The second was at the entrance to the Holy Place, the first room of the Tabernacle.  The third was at the entrance into the Holiest of Holies, the second room of the Tabernacle.  There was no sacrifice required for any person to enter through the first veil.  This veil represents the “call of God” for all to come into that heavenly place where they can be ministered to by hearing the Word of God.  There was a blood sacrifice required upon the brazen altar and the golden altar before one could pass through the second and third veil. 

These are the steps to full salvation” 1) the call of God to the sinner; 2) the forgiveness and pardon of personal sins; 3) the cleansing of personal, willful sin; 4) the purging of the carnal nature by the infilling of the Holy Spirit.    It is the perfect will of God to bring each believer into the Holiest of Holies, to the mercy seat, where He can commune with His child.  It is here where the mysteries of the Kingdom of God are revealed.  It is here where the anointing of the Holy Spirit is received to enable the child of God to be an instrument of righteousness in the hand of God. 

 Beyond the third veil was the second room of the tabernacle called the Holiest of Holies.  It was holier than the Holy Place.  It was were the high priest communed with God and received his instructions and counsel which he was to teach the people.  The Holy Spirit was with the high priest in this room, but the Holy Spirit was not given to indwell the heart of the high priest.  This gift and this promise were reserved for the day when Jesus Christ would provide a more excellent way.  Although the Old Testament children of God were obedient and faithful, they did not enjoy this special privilege.  Hebrews 11:39-40, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” 

Some have said that the veil was removed when the veil was rent at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  If it was removed then there would be just one room which could represent one cleansing experience.  This is not true.  If the veil was removed, making one room, then the anti-type would not be like the type.  The experience of salvation would not be like the symbol of our experience.  The truth is that this veil of flesh remains in every temple, which temple we are.  In every temple this veil of flesh must be rent and the child of God must go through and have victory over the flesh to dwell in the presence of God.

No person can know or hear the voice of truth except they answer the call of God to go through the First Veil and enter into the heavenly place of the Outer Court where the ministers of the Sanctuary make a public declaration of the gospel of peace.  Entering the Outer Court is equivalent to entering the worship service of the church of God; coming into the house of God where one can hear the songs of Zion, the prayers of the saints and the anointed preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

In this Outer Court, after passing through the First Veil, the Holy Spirit will speak to the mind and heart of those who have assembled themselves together.  One is invited to humble themselves and offer the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart.  A sin offering must be made upon the Brazen Altar.  That sin offering is the shed blood of Jesus Christ
Having been pardoned of sin by means of the sacrifice for sins, one is made holy, free from the guilt of sin. He becomes equivalent to the common priest who ministered under the First Covenant.  He is acceptable before God and washed clean.  He enters into the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, through the Second Veil, as did the priest to do service for God. 

Inside the Holy Place, the servant of God has access to the Bread of Life and the Light of Truth which are symbolized by the Table of Shewbread  and the Golden Candlestick.  Also, in this Holy Place is the Golden Altar which sits in front of the Third Veil.  The blood of the sin offering must be offered upon this Golden Altar before entrance is made into the Holiest of Holies.  Nothing is purged or made clean except by blood.  The blood always symbolizes the cleansing and purging power of the Jesus Christ, because He shed His blood for the sins of all men.   

Inside the Third Veil, which is the only one of the three that is referred to as “the veil” in the scriptures, sits the Ark of the Covenant, upon which is the Mercy Seat.  It is here and only here that the Spirit of God would come and commune with the High Priest.  It was here that the priest enjoyed the intimate relationship of the Holy Spirit whereby divine counsel was received for the instruction of the people. 

Who will suffer with the Savior and drink the cup of the crucifixion of the flesh.  Matthew 20:22-23, “But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with:”

Drink the bitter cup and you shall know the joy of the Lord. 

Crucify the flesh and you shall have the abundant life.

Listen to the Holy Spirit and He shall teach you all things and guide you into all truth.