Well ordered House

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Is Your House In Order?

Isaiah 38:1

Hezekiah was sick. The Bible says he was at the point of death. Isaiah went to him and warned: “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

What should that mean to us today?  “Put your house in order!” This is not about re-arranging furniture or cleaning house. This is not about getting your last will and testament ready, signing a living will or anything like that. The house, here, is life! The order is not about worldly affairs, but spiritual. The urgency is to have your life right with God! That includes:

Full repentance of all sin. Think of this as holding nothing back – giving up every sin you know you are guilty of and taking nothing against God to your death. The goodness of God leads us to full repentance (Rom. 2:4). Christ gave His life in order for repentance to be meaningful and available to us.

Full submission to God. We cannot get our house, our life, in order – without full submission to God. God means everything; God is first; God is perfectly trustworthy, and I obey Him with a whole heart to glorify Him now and to prepare myself for death. Jesus describes this as loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37).

Full trust and obedience in Christ.  Are you aware of God’s love, as expressed in the death of Christ (Rom. 5:6-8)? What impact has that awareness had? Let that conviction result in obedience to Christ. He is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:9).

I must get my house – my life – in order through full repentance of sin; full submission to God and full trust and obedience in Christ.

Now keep in mind – Hezekiah had notice. There is nothing in the Bible anywhere that could be understood as a guarantee that we will have notice before our death! So there is no recommendation out of Isa. 38 – to wait till you have notice.

The recommendation is to get your life right before you die by full repentance; full submission to God, and full trust and obedience in Christ.

1 Jno. 5:1-5

John’s First Epistle

1 Jno. 5:1-5

Faith is the Victory

 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burden-some. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? -1 Jno., 5:1-5

The object of gospel preaching and the object of the New Testament is to bring people to believe that Jesus is the Christ, then instruct the believer in the activity of that faith. One crucial part of this is loving the God who loves us. Such faith coupled with love will create desire to obey His commandments.

It is bewildering, given what this passage says, that people would object to obedience. Faith in Christ produces obedience, and if we love God (who loves us), why wouldn’t there be powerful motive to obey the commandments written in the New Testament? It is bewildering.

Further, “his commandments are not burdensome.” If I know what I believe, who I believe in and I love God and want to go to heaven, no commandment would refused. “His commandments are not burdensome.”

The victory over sin … victory over conflict … victory over tiresome … victory over hopeless is to be found in the activity of our faith in Christ.” “For everyone who has been born of god overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world, except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Punctuation!?.

The following article was written by F.W. Emmons in 1873. As you read the two statements, please note that each one is exactly the same, word-for-word, yet note how different the meanings are. Why? The only difference is in punctuation. Much in life depends on where we put the periods and the commas.

The Evil Man

He is an old and experienced man in vice and wickedness. He is never found opposing the work of iniquity. He takes delight in the downfall of his neighbor. He never rejoices in the prosperity of any of his fellow creatures. He is ready to assist in destroying the peace of society. He takes no pleasure in serving the Lord. He is un-commonly diligent in sowing discord among his friends and acquaintances. He takes no pride in laboring to promote the cause of Christianity. He has not been negligent in endeavoring to stigmatize all public teachers. He makes no exertions to subdue his passions. He strives hard to build up Satan’s kingdom. He lends no aid to support the gospel among the heathen. He contributes largely to the evil adversary. He pays no attention to good advice. He gives great heed to the devil. He will never go to heaven. He must go where he’ll receive the just recompense of his reward.

The Good Man

He is an old and experienced man. In vice and wickedness he is never found. Opposing the work of iniquity he takes delight. In the downfall of his neighbor he never rejoices. In the prosperity of any of his fellow creatures he is ready to assist. In destroying the peace of society he takes no pleasure. In serving the Lord he is un-commonly diligent. In sowing discord among his friends and acquaintances he takes no pride. In laboring to promote the cause of Christianity he has not been negligent. In endeavoring to stigmatize all public teachers he makes no exertions. To subdue his passions he strives hard. To build up Satan’s kingdom he lends no aid. To support the gospel among the heathen he contributes largely. To the evil adversary he pays no attention. To good advice he gives great heed. To the devil he will never go. To heaven he must go where he’ll receive the just recompense of his reward.

The Worldly Church

{Didn’t intend for this one to go out immediately. I hit the wrong button. But will let it stand as a 2nd post for today.}

THE WORLDLY CHURCH

I read a book a few years ago, by R. Kent Hughes – about how modern religion has embraced the world, become worldly – and therefore, cannot reach the world with the gospel.  While I’m not in agreement with Hughes on what constitutes responding to the gospel, his observation below is insightful and frightening. After reading Robert Gundry’s book – Jesus the Word According to John the Sectarian, Hughes offered this observation:

“Who can deny Robert Gundry’s assertion that the evangelical enterprise has become worldly, that materialism grips the church, that pleasure-seeking dominates us, that evangelicals watch sensuality and violence like everyone else, that immodesty is de jure, that voyeurism and pornography and sexual laxity and divorce are on the rise, and that we, like Lot, could find that Sodom has been born anew in our own homes. God help us if while decrying sin, we are sprinting headlong after it. We must lay this to heart: A worldly church cannot and will not reach the world. The church must be distinct from the world to reach the world.

We must set ourselves apart to God if we hope to reach the world.”

SOURCE

Hughes, R. Kent. Set Apart: Calling a Worldly Church to a Godly Life. Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Help

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Help Is Available

One of the great benefits we can have in Christ is simply HELP. That’s right. “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted,” (Heb. 2:18). When I experience difficulty here on the earth (and this earth is a difficult place to live), I have a Savior who can help. He is not a remote onlooker. He has participated in human life on earth. He has been through the human experience. Now He is in heaven, at the right hand of God, and He is there to help (“aid”) His people. How does He help us?

He helps us by delivering us from sin. He said one time that sin is a master that holds us in bondage (Jno. 8:34). Only Jesus can free us from that master, by cleansing us, giving us new direction and teaching us how to live without being ruled by sin. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace,” (Eph. 1:7).

He helps us by His example. As we follow Him – as we think the way He thought, react as He reacted, and obey God as He did, we are helped in handling the sufferings and temptations we face. There is no better example. In fact, there is no perfect model of human behavior save Him who died for us after living completely without any sin! One way He comes to our aid is, through His perfect example.

He helps us by His teaching. Not only does He show us how to live, He tells us how to live. Through His teachings in the first four books of the New Testament, and the teaching communicated through His apostles in the rest of the New Testament, we have the instruction we need. He said this one time. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matt. 7:24-27). He doesn’t promise to prevent all the storms in life. He says, if we will hear and do what He says, we will have the strength to endure those storms and survive (see also 2 Jno. 9). Jesus is the help we need – and He helps through both His example and His instruction in the New Testament.

He helps us through the promises of the gospel. In essence He has said: “regardless of what you may have to endure on earth, there will be a perfect existence for you when I come again. Just trust Me and obey!” So, when we are troubled or frustrated by the physical pain, the emotional stress, the persecution and injustice we experience and observe – we take our rest, our confidence and stand upon His promises. Those statements generate within us, hope, motivation and comfort. It helps to believe what He said:  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jno. 14:1-6).

He helps us through His attitude of care and mercy.  If we believe in Him, we know He is a merciful and faithful High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 1 Pet. 5:6,7). Jesus is an authoritative Ruler and Commander, but not like a cold, human dictator who cares not for his men. So, we can follow His example, obey His instructions, reply upon His promises and be comforted by His attitude of love, care and mercy for us.

He helps us through His intercession on our behalf. We approach the Father in prayer through Jesus Christ, who is our Mediator, our Intercessor and Advocate with the Father. He ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). And “…if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” (1 Jno. 2:1).

Now, what kind of a problem do you have? Just name the problem!

Do you suffer under the guilt of some transgression or a life of sin? Are you under the pressure of some specific temptation now? Have you been trying to serve God through the doctrines and commandments of men? Are you having trouble coping with the daily pressures of life – physical pain, emotional pain, a struggle in some relationship? You cannot name any problem that Jesus cannot help you handle! He can help. And that doesn’t mean He will suddenly make all the trouble go away. Remember, there will be storms. But with Him at your side and you on His side – you will survive the storms. Come to Him in obedience and stay there! He will help.

Heb. 7:1-17

Hebrews 7:1-17

Jesus, Priest Forever

Hebrews 7:1-17 (ESV)

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers,[a] though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. 11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

When you read the Old Testament references in Genesis 14 and Psalms 110, and then you arrive in the book of Hebrews – it is clear what God did. He set up a priests-king before the law of Moses, to whom Abraham paid tribute. God set this up, to foreshadow Jesus becoming our priest forever, not in the line of the Levitical priesthood.

The Jewish readers of the Hebrew epistle were likely being tempted to return to the old priesthood system they had left. The writer is urging them and teaching them to consider Jesus as the Superior and final High Priest, who offers access to God to all who obey Him.

There has been a change in the law and the priesthood. It is evident, if we want access to God, that blessing is available only through Jesus Christ.

King and Kingdom

A King – Therefore, A Kingdom

Warren E. Berkley

From the very beginning of the Hebrew epistle the writer repeatedly states that Jesus Christ has become king. Not that he was a king; not that he will become king someday. The gospel truth is, Jesus Christ has become king. Peter announced this on the day of Pentecost and it remains true today. Jesus Christ is the King, seated at the right hand of God (Acts 2:29-37). Notice:

Heb. 1:8 — to the Son God said: “your throne, o God, is forever and ever; a septer of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom.”

Heb. 2:9 — Jesus is said to be “crowned with glory and honor.”

Heb. 3:6 — Jesus is “a son over his own house, whose house are we …”

Heb. 12:2 — after Jesus endured the cross, he “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Now it doesn’t require great scholarly judgment for us to see this. If Jesus has been made the king; If He ascended into heaven to the right hand of God, to rule as king – there is a present kingdom, over which He rules!

Indeed, there is a kingdom that presently exists and Heb. 12:28 declares this is “a kingdom which cannot be shaken.” The old Jewish system had been shaken. The Jewish theocracy had been shaken. The devil was shaken (Heb. 2:14). The writer says to his Hebrew brethren: you are part of something that cannot be shaken! {Think about what a statement of encouragement this must have been to those persecuted Jewish Christians who took this.}

Here is the kingdom Daniel prophesied of in Dan. 2:44 when he spoke of a “kingdom which will never be destroyed … It will itself endure forever…” Those who obey the gospel are delivered from the darkness of sin, and “translated …into the kingdom of the son,” (Col. 1:13). Have you obeyed the gospel? Are you a citizen in this eternal kingdom?

“Killing”

Scriptural Authority For Killing

Warren E. Berkley

Now that I have your attention, this article is not about justifiable homicide, capital punishment, use of force by law enforcement, self-defense or combat warfare. Those issues deserve careful study, but they are not within the scope of this article. What I have in mind is not as dramatic yet fundamental, practical and personal.

In the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians, similar to his other writings, he gave Christians instruction for their use in continuing in the faith (Col. 1:23). People who have been converted to Christ must take action to keep their minds and bodies in the Lord’s service, and this means the daily work of combating sin. Being buried with Christ in baptism is the beginning of your life’s work being faithful to Christ. {When you read and study Colossians, don’t miss the description of conversion: dying with Christ [2:20], being buried with Him in baptism [2:12], and raised with Christ [3:1]. Every biblical conversion is here represented. In obeying the gospel, we personally participate in the benefits of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. For more commentary on this, read Romans 6.}

You must renounce all sin and error in your initial repentance (Rom. 6:1-13). Then, the converted person must continue to refuse and renounce sin after baptism and until death. In Colossians 3:5, here is that point as written by Paul: “Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

One way to get this point is, focus on that phrase: “put to death.” What do you do when you put something to death? You kill it. This is not about simply expressing your distaste, indifference or any sort of diplomatic peace accord. You cannot carve out some sort of peace treaty with the devil, where you agree to consider what he offers or remain neutral until tempted. Colossians 3:5 is about protecting yourself by execution, by killing sins that solicit your participation. The “members” of the old man of sin must be killed, put to death. As a Christian, you must be armed for self-defense against the sins of the old life.

This is not about the literal killing of people, sinners or tempters. This is about putting to death the parts (members) of the old sinner that implore your present participation. This is scriptural authority for killing – in the sense conveyed in the text – and God has given us the instrument of execution: The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).

This necessary execution of sin will lead to glory when the battle has ended, “when Christ, who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory,” (Col. 3:4).

Dishonoring the poor

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Dishonoring The Poor

(Jas. 2:6)

Warren E. Berkley

Once in a while we all need to be reminded of the simple moral imperatives and prohibitions God has communicated to us through His inspired writers. Could it be, the simple things can be easily dismissed from memory?

It is sinful to dishonor the poor. To ignore or discount someone because they have less than you or lower income is simply sinful. To treat someone with contempt, coldness, prejudice or disapproval because of their financial status or misfortune is simply sinful.

While this is conveyed throughout Scripture, it is riveting to the honest Bible reader in James chapter two. James describes a not-so-hypothetical case. A poor person enters an assembly and is almost completely dismissed as unimportant. At the same time, one who appears to be wealthy is given first class treatment.

After describing the event, James condemns the attitude by saying to those guilty of this prejudice: (1) You are showing partiality, (2) You have become judges with evil thoughts, (3) You have acted against God’s will, (4) You have dishonored the poor, (5) You have blasphemed “that noble name by which you are called,” and (6) You have violated the law of love. James’ conclusion is: “you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

Truth to learn: What we make, what we have, where we live, what we drive, how we dress, how much we have saved, how fortunate we have been . . . all such matters should never be the basis of our judgment and treatment of others.

See James 2:1-13

and Prov. 29:7

1 Jno. 4:13-21

John’s First Epistle

1 Jno. 4:13-21

Abiding, Loving and Resisting Hate

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.   And this command-ment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. – 1 Jno. 4:31-21

John describes relationship with Christ with this expression: “we abide in Him and He in us.” And, “He has given us of His Spirit.” This is a reality because the Father sent His Son. People who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, step into that light and walk in the light are said to be abiding in Him.

All of this speaks dynamically that “God is love” and this gives us confidence on the day of judgment. God started this. “We love because He first loved us.”

As we respond to God’s love and practice love ourselves – hate is resisted and excluded. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar. for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”