"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The HARBINGER – HOAX or HISTORY?



By James Fire

For several months now I’ve heard many Christians talking excitedly about this book entitled The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn, a professing Messianic Jew and pastor of The Jerusalem Center, a worship center in Wayne, New Jersey.

I was looking forward to reading it myself until I heard from sources I deem reputable that it was not a sound treatment, and because I was very occupied elsewhere, I dismissed such an opportunity to have a look at it.

Then there came controversy and debate over this novel (which Cahn claims is based on factual information) on whether or not it portrays accurately issues on Israel, America, the judgments and the covenants of God, as well as other crucial matters regarding hermeneutical perspectives on the Scriptures.


So I decided to get a book about it by David James (HARBINGER: Fact or Fiction, a primary source for this article) as well as borrow a copy of the Cahn novel from a friend.
Read more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST: ISRAEL

by A.M. Kisly

It's Wednesday evening, November 14, 2012. 

An urgent prayer request was posted on Joel Rosenberg's blog moments ago, for Israel.  We are re-posting on our website for the purpose of mobilizing the body of Christ to pray!



Psalm 122:6 states: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love you.
 
'A special blessing is guaranteed to those who will pray for the peace of Jerusalem. One thing the Scriptures
make clear is that the peace of Jerusalem is tied in with the Second Coming of Messiah, and the prerequisite to the Second Coming is Israel’s salvation. So, when believers pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they are praying for the salvation of the Jewish people. Those individuals who pray regularly for the salvation of the Jews are guaranteed certain blessings not available by any other means. That is how individual believers can become participants in the blessing aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant.' ~ Arnold Fruchtenbaum


From Joel Rosenberg's blog:

Urgent prayer request: Hamas violence escalating rapidly .…raining rockets on Israel …IDF calling up reserves, preparing to invade Gaza ...latest details. -


(Netanya, Israel) — UPDATED: We urgently need Christians around the world to pray for peace and to mobilize your family, friends and churches to pray and fast. The  situation here is rapidly going from bad to worse. It is nearly midnight here, and the battle between Hamas and Israel has been intensifying hour by hour throughout the day. 

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror organizations — backed by Iran — are firing rockets, missiles and mortars at innocent civilians in Israel, along the southern border. Each act is a war crime. The Iranian-backed terrorists are also firing from behind innocent civilians in Gaza, often from hospitals, mosques and schools. Thus, each act is actually two war crimes. In just the past several hours, the terrorists have fired more 50 times at Israel. That’s more than 100 war crimes. Since Saturday, they have fired at Israeli civilians more than 200 times. That’s more than 400 war crimes.  Yet the world is paying very little attention and doing little to stop the terrorist attacks. Israel, therefore, is moving swiftly to defend herself. 

Read more!

Monday, November 12, 2012

LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS – Part 7 & 8

by A. M. Kisly 

More Problem Areas We Will Encounter in the Last Days!

Matthew 24:5-8

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.

I apologize for have gotten away from this series.  As you know the Lord directs our steps.  Things pop in and out of our lives that need focus and attention and we must follow the Lord's direction. 

In our last post in this series, we covered parts 5-6 dealing with a couple of problems areas we will encounter in the last days.  In this segment we will continue on with this same thought, dealing with physical upheavals and spiritual warfare...something we can all relate to. 

In the past couple of weeks we've seen the Northeast portion of the United States hit with Hurricane Sandy which turned into a Super Storm after colliding with another storm system to the west.  We've read the news, people are suffering, they've been heaved from their homes and are living in desolation..no roof over their head, no electricity, no heat, no water.  As organizations and ministries rush to aid in this tragedy, this is just the beginning of the sorrows that lay ahead.

Just this past week we've received an urgent prayer request from the churches in Syria,


"The letter expresses incredible courage, faith and resilience in the face of increasingly dire conditions. It is clear that Syria is experiencing a war within a war. Christians are caught in the crossfire and are being driven from their homelands on account of their faith. This is a complex situation, but we need the media to tell the story of what's really happening to the Church. The astonishing spiritual maturity of suffering Christians in Syria should prompt us all to prayer and action.
"

I could write volumes of examples and events happening around the world....yet are people heading the warnings?  Is the Church?

The Church is also battling intense Spiritual Warfare.  Every kind of immorality is being thrown in our face. We are witnessing apostasy in the church.  The church is sick, she has compromised with the world and the world's philosophies and as a result we are watching a great departure from biblical truth.

What is the Christians response to these events?

Let's begin: 

Read more!

Stand For Life – Defend the Innocent!

by A.M. Kisly

In 1973, in the era before 4-D ultrasounds made their way into the lives of ordinary American couples, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to specify when life began in the historic case known as Roe v. Wade. In fact, when read with its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, Roe allowed for abortion to take place during all nine-months of pregnancy. That's why abortionists were able to get away with the heinous practice of partial-birth abortion.

When President Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (S. 3) into law on November 5, 2003, pro-lifers saw the culmination of an eight-year struggle led by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and congressional pro-life leaders.

The bill represents the first direct national restriction on any method of abortion since the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand in 1973.
 

A Gallup-CNN-USA Today poll conducted in late October found that among  "young adults" (age 18-29), the ban is favored 77-19%, while among the older groups, support was 68-25%.  A Gallup poll conducted last January, which specified that the method is "conducted in the last six months of pregnancy," and has a life-of-mother exception, found 70% for a ban.

Despite the fact that the vast majority in the United States support a ban on partial birth abortion, President Barack Obama has pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, lifting ALL federal regulations on abortion.  This would include parental consent, and the ban on partial-birth abortion.  The result of this reckless act would be at the very minimum 125,000 additional abortions each year. And here is the rest of it.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the ROMANS – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Twelve – Christian Conduct

By James Fire

In this final installment of chapter Twelve of Romans, we will examine the very practical aspects of Christian conduct in various situations, among them, persecution, which is increasing the world over exponentially.

Many of you are aware of the fact that more Christians have been martyred in the last 100 years than the entire history of the church since its inception! That is a remarkable statistic, especially when one considers the massacres of believers committed by the Caesars of Rome and the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church!

We’ll get into all of this in time, but for now, let’s begin with verse 11:
Read more!

Monday, October 22, 2012

ISRAELOLOGY – Why Israel Matters To the Biblical Christian - Part Two

~ ~ By James Fire

The Promises and Covenants with Israel Have Been Broken? 

There are those that believe that since Israel has rejected their Messiah, the LORD Jesus Christ that the promises of God to build them an everlasting kingdom where Jesus, the Son of David, would rule from His father’s (David) throne have been done away with. Jesus was crucified, being rejected by Israel’s ruling authorities, and so these people believe that the promises once given to Israel have been given now to the church.

This is called Replacement Theology and is unbiblical (we will see why this is so in the following second half of this two-part article)! To help us address this issue (and some others) we now want to listen to an interview (approx. 34 mins.) with Paul Wilkinson from SAID ministry (Saints Abounding In Discernment) by Michael-Anthony Rene Chavez; Michael-Anthony is in ministry with SAID along with Sergio Martinez. Also on this same page, be sure to read Sergio’s article about John Piper and his views on Israel; biblical or not? You can read more information about all this from Paul Wilkinson as well as Jacob Prasch’s own insights in a SAID radio interview, all found on this page above! Here is another presentation by Paul Winkinson at The BEREAN CALL Conference regarding these issues: Christian Palestinianism (1 hr. 06 mins.) 


Read more!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

ISRAELOLOGY - Why Israel Matters To the Biblical Christian - Part One

~~ by James Fire

Bible scholars and theologians study with a methodology known as Systematic Theology. This is a study that organizes biblical subjects and topics into categories that makes it more accessible and easier to study and understand.


Some of the subjects in Systematic Theology are such as follows:


Soteriology - the study of salvation.

Pneumatology - the study of the Holy Spirit
Ecclesiology - the study of the church.
Christology - the study of the Person of Jesus Christ.
Eschatology - the study of prophetic last things and events.

And many others subjects...


One subject however is missing in any version of Systematic Theology you might look at:


Take your Bible and find Genesis chapter 12 and place your thumb there; now find Acts chapter 2 and place your finger there and pick up your Bible holding it in between these two chapters.
There are a lot of pages there between your two digits! What primary (among hundreds of secondary others) subject that this section deals with? ISRAEL!

Do you suppose that Israel is important to God?
You would sure think so, judging by how much Scripture He has given that deals with this nation (and there is a lot more said about Israel well past Acts chapter 2 as we shall soon see)!

Read more!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Thirteen:


by James Fire

Now we continue in our study in this awesome epistle by the apostle! As with the previous chapter and the ones following,Paul turns from the doctrinal to the practical (as he most often does in his epistles). In this chapter we will examine the practical aspects of civil duties and obedience to “the higher powers” which God has ordained Himself. Then he gets into the love we have as a result of the spiritual rebirth in Christ which fulfills the law of God, and in turn leads us to sanctified living.

In today's world one is hard pressed to find a government that is just and supportive in its protection of its people; some governments are even extremely tyrannical and despotic – speaking primarily to the Marxist-Socialist forms as well as the Islamic Sharia nations (whose subjugation and oppression of non-Muslims and even Muslim women is notorious!). What is the Christian's stand in the light of such conditions we find the world over, politically speaking? We shall examine these issues and more in Chapter Thirteen as well, as we travel on the road of righteousness!
At the end of ROMANS 12, Paul writes: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (ROM. 12:21).
 
This is the conduct of a Christian in any circumstance; we are accountable to the LORD always, and if we are obedient to Him, then our conduct will be good. Let us keep this in mind as a yard stick of sorts as we examine this chapter.

ROMANS 13:1-2

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

These powers are authorities in government, we know this by the context of these several verses. The admonition here is that we keep ourselves under the authority of government officials where civil matters are concerned. Our God is a God of order, and the political form of government known as Anarchy would not be in accordance to our God of order. We know the term “law and order” and the two go hand in hand. So that order may be maintained, there must be enforced law, and law is legislated and enforced according to the order that establishes it. When God made the different aspects of His creation in the first Six Days, at the conclusion of these, He pronouced that His ordering of things was “good”. So must we do 'good' by maintaining the order that God established in our society.

Paul's admonition goes on to say that those who resist this order shall receive civil and temporal damnation (or “judgment”); this has nothing to do with spiritual issues of salvation vs. damnation) because these orders in and of this world which is “ordained of God” (ACTS 23:2-5); just as He has ordained the nations themselves using the division of languages as a basis for these designations (GEN. 11:7-8). God will ordain at times even the basest of men as rulers in this world (DAN. 4:17) who will abuse their power as a contrast to the One Who is the Messiah, whose rule will be one of order, righteousness, justice and peace.
Aside from citizens being submitted to authorities and thereby keeping law and order according to the will of God, the saint is to honor God by likewise doing so (TITUS 3:1-3), and by praying for them (1 TIM. 2:1-2). It is often tempting to forego praying for our political officials when they are despised for what they stand for (things that God Himself despises: the endorsement of sinful lifestyles, the murder of the unborn, socialist policies which use 'taxation' as a justificcation to steal from the have's and give to the have not's) but we are nonetheless obligated to pray for them.

ROMANS 13:3-5

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Paul elaborates here that rulers are not something to be feared by those who are doing good, and obedient to the law; those who are criminal in intent will flee for fear upon the sight of flashing blue and red lights atop a black and white unit. The apostle reminds his readers that these are “minister[s] of God” and “revenger[s] to execute” punishments upon evil doers.
This presupposes that the government is established to enforce just laws by which good and obedient citizens may live without fear for predatorial criminals, who themselves would have every reason to fear, should the law find them out!
So there are two reasons for the Christian to obey the law of the land: to live a life without fear, and also because our conscience holds us bound to follow the LORD's commands (2 COR. 1:12; 1 TIM. 1:5; 1 PET. 3:16), such as these notable ones before us (See also: 1 PET. 3:13; 4:14-16):
ROMANS 13:6-8

6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
 
Taxes are never a favorite subject of mine in the study of Scripture, nor am I overjoyed in having to pay for them; yet they are a form of economic obligation whereby those civil servants whose station in any nation for the preservation of law and order are furnished with finances necessary to fulfill their respective tasks. Not only taxes and tariffs (“tribute” and “customs”) are to be given willingly by the saints of God, but also respect (“fear”) and honor to all officials in their capacities of duty.

No where in Scripture can we find an admonition clearer than that given by the LORD Jesus Christ Himself on this very subject:

MATT. 22:16-21

16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
 
We understand that the money system that we (and nations the world over) are subjected is not a just system, to say nothing of a system that is supported by our Constitution. That it is a fiat currency printed as a private property of a central banking system (the Federal Reserve), and that it is essentially illegal. Are we then permitted to forego any obligation in taxation, because it is an unlawful system? There could be an argument made for this case, no doubt; however, for myself – I will “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's” and let the LORD deal with the illegal activities and and lawless deeds perpetrated by the creators of this 'Creature from Jekyll Island'. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_fed04.htm

We are to be indebted to no one – to pay our bills in a timely fashion (I've spoken with Christian and non-Christian businessmen and they complain the most about their (fellow) Christians who owe them money for services rendered!). To be indebted is a poor witness indeed; but I'm not speaking of indebtedness where loans are concerned necessarily. Yet even where these are concerned, Christians ought to be timely in their monthly payments – to do otherwise is displeasing to the LORD of justice and fairness.

We are allowed one aspect in life, where we owe others: that is to love one another, and by so doing fulfill the law (JOHN 13:34-35; 2 JOHN :5-6). Since love is the fulfillment of the law, one must wonder how and why those who espouse Hebrew Roots Movement dogma and the requirement to “keep the law” cannot simply rest in this truth, that all one need do is love the LORD and others, and thereby all the particulars and details of the law are kept in the spirit in which they were intended.

Respecting and obeying the authorities is the theme of these verses, but the question arises on the matter of authorities and governments that are corrupt, dishonest, even unjust or cruel. Are we obligated to obey them as well? It's noteworthy to consider that the Roman government itself was extremely corrupt in the LORD Jesus' day, and even more so during the days of the apostle Paul; no where in Scripture does it state that we are allowed to disobey these authorities where civil matters are concerned. Should any government enact laws that would insist our disobedience to God and the truth of His Word, then we must speak as Peter spoke to the Jewish authority of the Sanhedrin (in this case, they demanded that they stop preaching this Jesus and His gospel):
ACTS 4:19-20

19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
In this case, the apostles resisted the command of this political/religious authority in keeping silence regarding the Person of Jesus Christ and followed rather the command of their LORD and Savior (MARK 16:15).

Here in America we have had the privilege of a great experiment, fully realized in the writing and implementation of the Constitution of the United States of America, a constitutional republic based on just law – in the case of America, the law as found in Holy Scripture.

Not many Americans can rightly guess who the leader of our nation is; most will say the President of the United States. In reality he is the head of the Executive Branch; others may indicate Congress, but they are the representatives of the Legislative Branch, and the Supreme Court is the authority of the Judicial Branch. However, all three Branches and their respective leaders have all made oaths and swore to uphold and protect the 'leader' of our nation, that is, the Constitution itself which is to guide our government in policies concerning the people and rightful rule.

The fact that our Constitution is being dismantled and replaced by Socialist proclivities in order to abrogate the freedoms and rights of the American people; and further to form a more perfect union of iniquity and perdition with the forming global government is in evidence. What are we as Christians to do? Continue to pray for our officials. Continue to obey the civil laws where they don't overtly contradict God's Word. Continue to share the Gospel, pray for our nation, and to show forth all of these things with an eye towards prophetic Scripture in hailing the nearness of the Great Tribulation as well as the LORD's return and the coming Judgment.

It's very easy to get worked up and angry at the injustices we witness and those we anticipate in our near future, as well as the stripping away of our Constitutional rights as Americans. It's understandable how we would want to restore our nation and stand united with one voice against the bloated Federal government and declare that “Enough is enough!” To restore the just and fair Balance of Powers to the Three Branches of government as outlined by our Constitution so that Washington once again becomes a servant to the people and not the other way around.

However, we as Christians are obligated to keep our allegiance to the Kingdom of God first and foremost and to understand the mind of the LORD in these last days. It is to our credit to lay the injustices perpetrated against us at the nail pierced feet of “the Judge of the whole Earth” and not seek vengeance ourselves (GEN. 18:25; IS. 63:4; ROM. 12:9).

Consider what Psalm 37 tells us regarding the evil leaders of this world system:

ROMANS 13:10
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

On the issue of the grace of God and the law, consider these two articles, beginning with Part One:

ROMANS 13:11-12

11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

“Knowing the time” is in reference to the knowledge and awareness of where we stand in relation to the prophetic time clock that God holds in His eternal hand. Paul here refers to the night and to darkness which have the spiritual implications of iniquity, disorder and lawlessness which will only increase as we draw nearer to the end times; in Paul's own estimation, “the night is far spent, the day is at hand” - the night of man's sinful and corrupt rule, culminating in the very reign and ruin of “the man of sin  http://www.theredpillconsortium.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-one-world-leader-even-him-whose.html (2 THESS. 2:3) and the day, which is “the day of the LORD” (2 PET. 3:10) where the LORD Jesus Christ will have direct interaction with the church, Israel, the world and all creation at large and assume the rightful rule as LORD of all!

“...our salvation is nearer than when we believed.” What can this possibly mean? Are we who are the body of Christ, Christians that are born again in Jesus by His Spirit already saved? Certainly! But this refers to our very bodies which are still corrupt, prone to sin via the carnal nature and in need of redemption, which will occur when we meet the LORD in the air on that glorious Day (ROM. 8:23; 1 COR. 15:50-54)!

The provison of the armor of Light by the LORD of Light has two purposes: to expose those things that are hidden in the dark of this world, and to protect the wearer from any invading darkness. As was stated by Coriakin the Magician in The CHRONICLES of NARNIA – 3: Voyage of the Dawn Treader: 

“To defeat the darkness out there, you must first defeat the darkness that is inside yourself.” 


Light spiritually speaking refers to the very opposite of darkness: order, law, purity and holiness.   See also: 1 JOHN 3:2; JAMES 5:8; EPH. 5:14-16.

ROMANS 13:13-14

13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
 
Verse 13 refers to such darkness; verse 14 is the light as given by the LORD to His choldren – as we “put on” the LORD Jesus Christ, we find incredible liberty that enables us for the first time in our lives to walk in the Spirit, to follow the LORD and to resist sin (GAL. 4:31-5:1, 16-18). Putting on this “armor of light” is synonomous with “putting on the LORD Jesus Christ” - which protects us from personal peril and also any harm from the enemy's vicious assaults as we venture into his kingdom of darkness to rescue Satan's slaves of sin from their miserable plight of bondage and corruption.

This concludes this study and we shall now venture forward to Chapter 14 and the near conclusion of this epistle to the Romans by the apostle Paul, on this Road of Righteousness!










Read more!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PRE-TRIB OR POST-TRIB RAPTURE?


by Anne Kisly

The following article by Dave Hunt shows a clear distinction between the Rapture and the Second Coming.  It is our desire that you will read and study the scriptures for yourselves in order to obtain a proper understanding.  We do not appeal to human authority, but rather to have the Holy Spirit teach us, according to 1 John 2:27. 

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."  1 Corinthians 15:51-52, KJV


--------------------------------------------------------------
 by Dave Hunt
 The Berean Call
--------------------------------------------------------------

  PRE-TRIB OR POST-TRIB RAPTURE? 

The Rapture of the church involves all believers being caught up to heaven -- those just resurrected, together with those alive at the time (1 Thes 4:13-18). If it occurs at the beginning of the tribulation period, then clearly Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation to rescue Israel in the midst of Armageddon is a separate event. According to Zechariah 14:3-5, "all the saints" must accompany Christ back to earth. But if the Rapture occurs at the end of the Tribulation, it must be simultaneous with the Second Coming, making them one event. Which is it: two events separated by seven years, or one event with two diverse purposes?

This question, though it has nothing to do with the gospel of salvation, divides much of the evangelical church. Happily, it can be settled rather easily. The descriptions in Scripture of the Rapture and Second Coming respectively are so different in so many details that they could not possibly be describing the same occurrence. We can’t cover all of these distinctions, but here are a few:

1) At the Rapture, Christ does not return to earth but catches believers up to meet Him above the earth, taking them directly to heaven: "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (Jn 14:3); "caught up...to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thes 4:17).

In contrast, at the Second Coming Christ returns to this earth to rule Israel and the world from David’s throne in Jerusalem: "his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem" (Zec 14:4); "the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk 1:32, 33); "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him....The armies which are in heaven followed him....Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Rv 19:11-15).

2) At the Rapture there is a resurrection of all believers who have died up to that time: "the dead shall be raised incorruptible" (1 Cor 15:52, 53); "the dead in Christ shall rise first..." (1 Thes 4:16).

In contrast, at the Second Coming there is no resurrection until Antichrist is defeated, he and the false prophet have been "cast alive into a lake of fire" (Rv 19:20) and Satan has been bound in the "bottomless pit [for] a thousand years" (20:1-3) -- none of which is even remotely related to the rapture of believers to heaven. Then, to "the first resurrection" which occurred at the Rapture are added a unique group: "them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands...they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (4, 5).

3) At the Rapture, the bodies of living believers (like those who are resurrected) will be changed to become immortal: "We shall not all sleep [i.e., die], but we shall all be changed...the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [who are living] shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Cor 15:51-53); "we which are alive...shall be caught up together with them [the resurrected saints]...to meet the Lord in the air [clearly requiring immortal bodies]" (1 Thes 4:17).

In contrast, at the Second Coming all of the saints return with Christ from heaven and will therefore already have been changed into immortality: "the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee" (Zec 14:5); "I saw heaven opened [and one] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood...and the armies which were in heaven followed him [to] smite the nations" (Rv 19:11-15).

4) The Rapture occurs during relative peace and prosperity, when the world does not expect judgment from God: "And as it was in the days of Noah [the last thing they expected was God’s judgment]...they did eat, they drank...married wives...were given in marriage [and as in] the days of Lot...they bought, they sold...planted... builded....Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Lk 17:26-30).

Again in complete contrast, the Second Coming occurs in the midst of the worst war the world has ever seen and following the greatest devastation this planet has ever suffered or ever will: "then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world...nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved" (Mt 24:21, 22); "behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed...power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger....There was a great earthquake...every mountain and island were moved out of their places...[men] hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks...for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rv 6:8-17); "and the four angels were loosed...to slay the third part of men" (9:15); "and the...sea...became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And...the rivers and fountains of waters...became blood...the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and...men were scorched with great heat...and...there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth....And every island fled away and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail [of large stones]...every stone about the weight of a talent" (16:3-21); "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True....And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen....And I saw the beast [Antichrist], and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and...the false prophet [and they] were cast alive into a lake of fire..." (19:11-21).

5) The Rapture occurs when conditions in the world seem to indicate that all is well, when very few expect Christ to return and He catches even the church by surprise: "of that day and hour knoweth no man...in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Mt 24:36, 44).
 

In contrast, when the Second Coming occurs, not even Antichrist is caught by surprise -- the many visible signs alert everyone that Christ is right at the door: "when ye shall see all these things, know that it [Christ’s coming] is near, even at the doors" (Mt 24:33); "the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse" (Rv 19:19).

6) The Rapture occurs when the church is sleeping, with little expectation of the Lord’s return: "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept" (Mt 25:5); "Watch ye therefore...lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping" (Mk 13:35, 36).

In contrast, the Second Coming occurs at the end of the Tribulation in the midst of worldwide devastation and hopeless distress; the Antichrist and his armies are attacking Israel, much of Jerusalem is already captured (Zec 14:1, 2), and Israel is on the verge of annihilation. It is inconceivable that the church, if it were still here, would be slumbering in complacency and under the delusion that "surely Christ wouldn’t come now"!

7) Since the Rapture instantly takes us, without dying, out of this world of sin, pain and sorrow to be forever with Christ and like Him, never more to grieve Him, it is called the "blessed hope": "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Ti 2:13); "every man that hath this hope" (1 Jn 3:3).

In contrast, the Second Coming (or a post-trib rapture at that time) could hardly be called a "blessed hope," inasmuch as very few Christians (if the church were still here) would survive to enjoy it. Having refused to receive the 666 mark of the beast "in their right hand, or in their forehead" and therefore being unable to "buy or sell," and refusing to "worship the image of the beast [they would] be killed" (Rv 13:15-17). It makes no sense to suggest that if you can secretly eat out of enough garbage pails to avoid starvation and still keep one step ahead of Antichrist’s world police death squads, "Blessed hope! You’ll be raptured at Armageddon!"

8) As for the Rapture, unquestionably, the early church was taught to expect it at any moment and to eagerly watch, wait and look for Christ’s return, when He will catch all believers up into His Father’s house to be with Him eternally: "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord..." (Lk 12:35, 36); "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil 3:20); "...ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven...even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thes 1:9, 10); "looking for that blessed hope" (Ti 2:13); "unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb 9:28). One does not watch, wait and look each day for something that cannot happen until Antichrist’s advent or the end of a seven-year tribulation. Thus, there must be a coming of Christ that could happen at any moment.

In contrast, the Second Coming, by very definition as described in Scripture, cannot be expected momentarily. Therefore, none of the scriptures just quoted concerning watching and waiting and looking for the Lord could refer to the Second Coming or to a post-trib rapture of the church. These scriptures could therefore refer only to a pre-trib rapture.

9) The pre-trib Rapture has a powerful, purifying effect upon those who have this hope in Him. The fact that it is to be expected at any moment can only mean that it must come before Antichrist is revealed and before the Tribulation. If Christ could come at any moment, there is no time to waste, no time to delay witnessing, no time to indulge in sin with the idea of repenting and changing one’s ways later: "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming" (1 Jn 2:28); "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (3:3).

In contrast, anticipation of the Second Coming (or a post-trib rapture at that time) could hardly have a purifying effect, because it can’t take place for at least seven years -- plenty of time to delay witnessing, getting right with the Lord and holy living until later. In fact, the Lord said that believing he couldn’t come at any moment would have the opposite effect from purifying believers: "If that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants...and to eat and drink and to be drunken; the lord of that servant will come at an hour when he is not aware" (Mt 24:48, 49; Lk 12:45, 46).

10) The Rapture is not only an event that we are to expect momentarily and to eagerly anticipate, but we are to ask our Lord to come immediately. Here is how the Bible ends: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come....Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rv 22:17, 20).

In contrast, the Second Coming is not of such a nature and timing that we could ask Christ to effect it right now. Since Christ obviously cannot return to the earth in judgment to rescue Israel, stop the destruction at Armageddon and destroy the Antichrist along with his kingdom and his armies until the end of the Tribulation, for us to cry out to Christ, "Come, Lord Jesus!" would be like demanding payment on a debt that isn’t due for seven years. Yet, "the Spirit and the bride" do cry out, "Come, Lord Jesus." We can only conclude that there must be a coming of Christ that could occur at any moment. It cannot be the Second Coming or a post-trib rapture. It can only be a pre-trib rapture.

11) There are at least two events which occur in heaven for which the church must be present and which, therefore, cannot take place until the Rapture occurs: the judgment seat of Christ, and the marriage of the Lamb to His bride: "for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom 14:10); "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor 5:10); "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted [to] be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white [as a result of her cleansing at the judgment seat of Christ]" (Rv 19:7, 8). Both these events occur prior to Christ’s return to earth and thus demand a prior rapture.

It is clear that the Second Coming cannot occur until these two vital events, which demand the presence of the church in heaven, have taken place. It is only after the Lamb has been married to His bride that she accompanies Him back to earth to rescue Israel and to destroy Antichrist and his armies: "And the armies which were in heaven followed him...clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (Rv 19:14).

We know not why the Bridegroom tarries, but exactly as He foretold, the church is asleep. In that context, our Lord added: "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" (Mt 25:6). May each of us be listening eagerly for that cry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Indeed, we ought to be sounding it aloud, for the Lord could come at any moment to take us to Himself. So let us watch and wait and look for Him in eager anticipation -- and encourage others to do the same. It will have a purifying and motivating effect in our lives.

Please read: The RAPTURE of the CHURCH: The WHO and WHEN Of It All (Series)



You may also want to listen to The Rapture of the Church: Countdown to Eternity, by Dr. John Whitman

THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST - Audio by Alexander Scourby

Read more!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the ROMANS – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve– GOD’s GIFTS of LOVE

~~ By James Fire

Having completed chapter 12 up to verse 5, we have examined the spiritual truths that involve our transformation via the sanctifying power and process of God’s Spirit and this transformation is manifest among the members of the body of Christ.

From verses 6 through 13 we see the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit in the body of Christ, and as such how they are to be used for the mutual edification of the body. Such gifts are as indispensable as they are priceless as we shall soon see. They are only properly used in the lives of those who are so sanctified and transforming in their minds to become Christ-like in character and operate in the will of God. Such gifts and the concept of the gifts of the Spirit are to enhance, not disrupt the unity expressed in the body of Christ as God intended:

GOD’S GRAND GIFTS OF GRACE –

ROMANS 12: 5-6
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith
;


The word for gifts is “charisma” in the Greek, and such gifts are according to the grace of God; the word for grace is “charis” and as you can see, the two words are very closely related. Even when one considers this superficially, it’s recognized that any gift of God is entirely by the grace of God. The paramount example of ‘grace in action’ is the gift of eternal life –

ROMANS 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord
.


On the side, observe how “death” is the “wages of sin” or simply – we get death as our justly earned payment as a result of sin, that which we labor for (and a life of sin is in a very real sense, laborious!) whereas eternal life is not justly earned, but freely given by God’s grace (unmerited, unearned favor) through the LORD Jesus Christ.

Any of these gifts of the Spirit are granted by the grace of God; one does nothing to earn them, nor are they justly given, but freely lavished upon us, God’s children, by our loving heavenly Father. These gifts are diverse and suited to each saint, according to the plan of God and that work which He has ordained for them (Eph. 2:10). What a comfort it is to know that the LORD in His infinite wisdom, His limitless power and His eternal love has our entire life in view; that He knows every turn in the roads of our lives and has provided everything we need in order to fulfill His good will and purpose in our lives (Romans 12:2; Eph. 1:11; 3:11)!


PROFITABLE PROPHECY –

The first gift spoken of here is prophecy and for those who have such a gift, they are to operate in this gift according to the “proportion of faith”. Every instance of the word “prophecy” (and its related words) in the New Testament is the same Greek word: propheteia and it means the following: “prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily fore-telling.

It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means; it emanates from God and is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present or the future (Rev. 10: 11; 11: 13).
It signifies the “speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God” and is expressed either in the gift or of that which is prophesied (i.e. the Scriptures themselves, as certainly godly men were moved of the Holy Spirit to write them; 2 Peter 1: 19-21).

So rather than some means of ‘fortune-telling’ as it were, by God through His prophets, its simply the revelation of God’s plan for the ages as recorded in Holy Scripture. Since the canon of Scripture is now closed, there are no new revelations given to us by the Spirit of God (contrary to what many like the Kansas City Prophets and New Apostolic Reformation adherents believe), only deeper revelation that already exists in Scripture, given to those who exercise diligently in the Word of God and as mature believers are able to digest ‘the meat of the Word’ (Heb. 5: 12-14) and those deeper revelations will never contradict the Word in any capacity; otherwise they are to be rejected because only that which is recorded in Holy Scripture as the veritable Word of God is the supreme and singular authority!

Prophecy and prophesying today is in the proclamation of the Scriptures as one is empowered by the Spirit to expound on the written Word and what it declares of God’s plan whether concerning the past, present and, or future.

“. . . according to the proportion of faith” means that we are to conduct any such prophesying in accord with faith towards God and His Word, and that any such conduct must not exceed that which is given us (in this case, the gift of prophecy) by God. In other word, we are not to prophesy beyond that which the LORD directs us. The Christians conduct, whether relating to prophecy or for example, our own humility (see vs. 3), is always by the operation of faith.


HOW MAY WE BE OF SERVICE? –

ROMANS 12: 7-8
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness
.


So often we think of a ‘minister’ in somewhat reverential terms, but the term really only means attendant or servant; some would even go so far as to say ‘slave’ which is hardly a revered position in life from a human perspective! Paul, Jude, James (the LORD’s half brother) and Peter refer to themselves as slaves of Jesus Christ (which harks back to the concept of a doulos or bond slave in the Old Testament; see Exodus Ch. 21; also Deut. Ch. 15); Romans 1:1; Philip. 1:1; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1. These were all ministers of the LORD Jesus Christ and for His sake, servants of the church; quite different in concept to what we often think of as a ‘reverend’, or ‘minister’.

MARK 10: 42-45
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many
.


Obviously God sees servant-hood quite differently! God is the absolute Ruler of all creation, and yet His heart is a giving heart, abounding in grace and mercies, desiring to bring restoration to humanity, not ruin; to bring salvation rather than destruction.

Thus any who exhibit such a heart towards others, mirrors the heart of God, and of course we understand that no can truly do such, unless they are empowered by the Spirit of God and directed by His Word. Such servant-hood is truly a gift of God!


TO TEACH THE TRUTH –

Teaching is a particular form of service and it also is a gift (even in the secular realm it can be stated that a particular person is ‘a gifted teacher’) from God, imparted to certain of His saints as those who are particularly apt to teach (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24). Instruction, learning doctrine, that which is taught are all words associated with this ministry as pertaining to the imparting of truth as found in the Word. Matt. 15:9; Mk. 7:7; Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:22; 1 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 6; 6:1, 3; 2 Tim. 4:3 and Titus 1:9 among many other references all have to do with the ministry of teaching.

There are many things being passed off as ministry in the church today, and specifically in the area of teaching, but such instruction is not based (either in part or whole) on the Word of God. Incredibly there is ‘Bible studies’ based on The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren and the novel entitled, The Shack by William P. Young!

Truly, this is an indictment against the professing church! That the very Word of our God should be given, entrusted in fact, into our keeping – that such is given along with the Holy Spirit Who brings understanding of these Scriptures and empowers us to live out the Truth it reveals and we divide our attention by giving heed (either partially or wholly) to such books written by men?!
It could well be said to such people what our LORD Himself said to the religious leaders of His day:

Mark 7:6-8
6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do
.


This is not to say that books written by Christians are not helpful (I have a rather extensive library myself and am blessed by the writings of many godly Christians), but no such books, commentaries, systematized theology series should be the focus of study for the disciple of Christ – we are to “continue” in His Word in order to be His disciples (John 8:31), not the words of mere men, even godly men who have the Spirit!

To find a church today that will faithfully teach the Word, and even more so, live out the principles of its Truth (It’s worthy to note that in Acts 1:1, Luke refers to the ministry of the LORD Jesus as “all that Jesus began both to do and teach”, which tells us that doing the will of God is a priority over teaching the will of God, via His Word) is becoming a most difficult task in this day of apostasy. If you belong to such a fellowship, be admonished to lift up the pastors and elders in fervent prayer that they remain in this place of blessing and not stray from this holy calling!

EXALTING GOD IN EXHORTING OTHERS –

Exhortation is yet another gift from God, and one that I believe I have been gifted with (as well as teaching) by God’s grace alone:
“Exhortation” is the word paraklesis and it’s related to the word parakletos, which is the word used both of the Holy Spirit and the LORD Jesus Himself (as well as the Father!) as “Comforter” (John 14:16; 2 Cor. 1: 3-5); paraklesis means “a calling to one’s side, an exhortation, consolation, comfort” and it often combines encouragement with alleviation of grief. See Romans 15: 4-5; 1 Cor. 14: 3; 2 Cor. 1: 3, 4-7; 7: 4-7, 13; 2 Thess. 2:16. Such comfort in exhortation is also coupled together with “waiting” for the coming Messiah which is a consolation to those whose hearts are His!

The very fact that exhortation, consolation, comfort are all words (in the Greek) related to the office of the Holy Spirit as well as the Godhead in general as the Comforter speaks clearly as to how exhortation is to be conducted: gently, with firm conviction, with the one who is in need as the focus of ministering with unconditional love, while at the same time pointing incessantly to the LORD Jesus Christ and His Word as the ultimate solution to any dilemma; putting their needs above one’s own as one seeks to be a vessel through which the Spirit of God Himself can minister to the hurting one in need is what it means to truly be a “son of consolation” as was Barnabas (Acts 4: 36).

Exhortation likewise has the connotation of confronting the rebellious wherever reproof and, or rebuke is required. Such extreme measures are nevertheless to be done without undue emotion (especially of the hostile sort) but with “righteous judgment” instead (John 7: 23-25).

2 Timothy 4:1-3
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears
;


Along with the gift of teaching, exhortation is a constant companion and ally and conjunctive to 'teach, educate, impart knowledge and understanding' as well as warning for the flock against unsound doctrines and practices that are not merely non-biblical, but far more often than not satanic in origin (See 1 Tim. 4:1-3)! Much of what is posted in TTUF is exhortative in content, informing and warning against unbiblical teachings, practices, policies, etc.

ROMANS 12: 8
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness
.


TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE – THIS ISN’T THE QUESTION! –

The defining attribute of God’s unconditional love is in the word “give” as one can readily perceive in the beloved verse of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .” and just as God gave of Himself, that which was most precious to Him (His only begotten Son!) likewise here in this passage, he that gives (to impart to others something precious and a part of oneself; consider Romans 1:11) must do so with simplicity or in other words without any self-seeking and with generosity.

Again, using Barnabas in the book of Acts as an example, this saint sold land that belonged to him and brought the money for distribution to the needy Jewish believers in Jerusalem (who for their faith in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel were shunned, rejected by the authorities, excommunicated from the Temple, and thus quite often refused employment and left in dire need).

Compare this act of selfless and generous giving with that of Ananias and Sapphira (See Acts 4: 34 – 5: 11) who sold land, kept back part of the price and yet claimed to have given the entire amount to the church. It wasn’t the fact that they kept back part of the price, but that they lied about it, and probably for the motive of self-seeking and “vain glory” in order to be esteemed by mere men that they were so severely judged.

A STRAIGHT RULER IS A LEADER IN THE NARROW WAY –

He that rules, that is, he who possesses authority and jurisdiction in any capacity, but especially in the house of God (See 1 Tim. 3:4) must do so with “diligence” which means “earnest, eagerness, to take care of, zeal; see 2 Cor. 8:7; Heb. 6: 11; 2 Peter 1:5; Jude :3” for such rule is another gift of grace, and such a gift ought to be handled with the utmost of care, for good ruler-ship in the nature of Jesus can get easily lost in the bustle of church ministry and prosperity and if not administered to the body with genuine humility can lead to pride, self-seeking, self-exaltation and ruinous results in the fellowship. Scripture is plain enough that if honor is sought of the LORD, one must embrace humility:

Proverbs 15:33
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility
.


Another facet of conduct for those in leadership is found in this passage in Peter’s epistle:

1 Peter 5:2-4
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away
.


Leaders in the church are those saints among their equals who are simply appointed by God to lead and are by no means superior (sometimes in some respects inferior in order to keep those in such positions humble) to other saints.
Pastors, elders and teachers, as well as others in authority like deacons and Sunday School teachers are not to lead by their own power or authority but by the authority of the Word of God. If any should extend their authority beyond the parameters of Scripture, they have gone too far.

No pastor has any right to dictate to any member of the church where they should work, where they should live, who they should fellowship with or marry unless by doing so the person in question is in clear violation of the teaching of Scripture.

Unfortunately today many pastors in too many churches see themselves as autonomous and unaccountable to Scripture by their congregations; they perceive that because they are ‘God’s anointed’ their word is beyond question and dispute and if any congregant is not obedient to such, they are seen as “divisive” and rejected, even banning from the fellowship!

Again, the singular authority for ALL in the church, including the leaders, is the Word of God! The very least esteemed in the church ought to be able to consult Scripture and if they see anything amiss in the teaching, ministry and practices of church leadership, approach such in a spirit of humility and a teachable heart and inquire, bringing such things into question in light of God’s Word and such a least esteemed member should receive a fair hearing and if they have rightly divided the Word of Truth and rightly perceived the situation, have such an admonition (and correction where needed) received. Sadly, this is more often than not the case!

LORD HAVE MERCY – AND US TOO! –

Mercy is likewise apparently a spiritual gift and such should be shown with cheerfulness. Mercy in this context deals with compassion that is active. One can feel sentimental and sympathetic with another in misery, but then do nothing about it.
“Mercy” as seen here is a motive that calls to action on behalf of others who are in need.

In such a day as today with hardships and cruelty aplenty with misery increasing at an exponential rate, the need for such active compassion is even greater. Consider what time spent with the lonely might do, an embrace to those who have suffered loss, a phone call or a letter written to encourage one who is bewildered and needs godly counsel in their dilemma, an anonymous check given to a needy family, etc.
Prayer of the intercessory sort is indispensable with this sort of mercy, and all such should be done with cheerfulness, that is, a perfect willingness and joyousness of mind with an attitude of hilarity!

A very dear brother of mine often comes into the room with an air of hilarity, with a bright disposition and a smile, full of good cheer and humor; at such times I can feel my spirits lift and a smile stretch across my face. Such a heart, brimming over with the Spirit of God can do wonders for those who are discouraged and downcast and are in need of such mercy and consolation as this gift of God’s grace supplies!

Psalm 57:1-3
1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
2 I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.
3 He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth
.

Joel 2:12-13
12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil
.

Hebrews 2:16-18
16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted
.


Let us continue in our study in Romans:

ROMANS 12: 9-10
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another
;


OFF WITH THE MASKS! –

Love is to be genuine, sincere and without any hypocrisy; the love for the saints one to another cannot be a mere human love (phileo) but the kind of quality that is found in the heart of the LORD Jesus Christ (agapeo) which is the unconditional, wholly potent love that emanates from God alone.

This is in accord with the LORD Jesus’ command that we love one another as He loves us (John 13:34-35)! This is impossible to manufacture by human effort or sentiment, but only as we yield to the Holy Spirit and allow this Divine love to flow through our lives, and such love that we are actually enabled to love our enemies (see: Matt. 5: 43-45; Luke 6: 27, 35)!
Having no dissimulation means to not put on an act, much like the ancient Greek actors who held an assortment of masks in order to assume different roles – no masks, no pretending for the Christian! Only genuine love created by the Spirit of God!


LEAVING AND CLEAVING –

Abhorring that which is evil is something that marks the Christian as being distinguished from their former life and from the world at large. Evil in this sense is “ruinous, degeneracy from its original virtue, diseased, derelict, vicious, malicious and hurtful and is associated with the sort of evil as practiced by the wicked, the devil himself and the demonic realm of the kingdom of darkness; essentially,” everything that is governing the wicked world-system that is under the ruler-ship of Satan, the god of this world. To abhor such is an indication of righteousness and godliness, which can only result from a genuine work of the Spirit of God in one’s life. Such righteous, godly conduct can hardly be manufactured by humans any more than the agapeo of God.

Galatians 1:3-5
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father
(see also John 3: 18-20; 7:6-8; 17: 14-16).


Cleaving to that which is good, is in a very real sense, the ‘flip-side’ of this and since there are none good, except God only (Lk. 18:18-20). The Greek word for cleave literally refers to an epoxy or glue that renders the two objects treated entirely stuck together so as to be permanently associated together.

The goodness spoken here is something morally pure (Gal. 5:22) and pleasing to God (Matt. 25:21; Eph. 5:8-10), therefore beneficial to the saint cleaving to such (being the first partaker of such fruit; 2 Tim. 2:6), to other saints who are recipient partakers of such goodness (Rom. 15:14), and sinners as well who may see such good (works) demonstrated in the life of a believer and glorify God for such (Matt. 5: 15-17).

1 Peter 3: 13-17
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing
. (see also 3 John :11)


Paul reiterates that the kindness, the affection and love among the brethren (and sistern too – sorry, couldn’t help myself!) ought to happen as a [super]natural experience because the same Spirit indwells all believers, having the same Father and same LORD and Savior – this is a family lineage whose Divine blood by which we are born into it is far thicker than any other blood (to say nothing of water!) and whose bond and loyalty far exceeds any earthly lineage, far into eternity.

Such is the family of God where even those who are husband and wife will have such a matrimonial bond severed upon entrance into the eternity of heaven, where they will enjoy eternal fellowship with God and the saints as brother and sister – and have such blessed, intimate fellowship there as they never experienced while here on earth, as will we all!

Honoring one another or esteeming the other more than oneself is part of that same ‘body ministry’ as spoken of in the previous study; an ‘others-centered’ theology requires an active pursuit in carrying such kindness and affection out among the saints! Paul exhorts the saints to be the leader by example in showing deference one to another; he does the same thing here as well:

Philippians 2:2-4
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others
.


The next and last section of Romans 12 will involve an examination of our conduct, among other situations, in enduring persecution. Something that is becoming all too common in the church the world over and something that we here at TTUF believe is soon to arrive here on our American shores.

What’s to be our response in such times? Need we fear such things? What are the effects of persecution upon the body of Christ? We shall deal with these questions and more in the next article!
In the meanwhile, may we all be about our heavenly Father’s business this day, and bless the saints with such love, service and esteem as will reveal the very nature of Jesus and draw us closer together with the cords of heavenly love!

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