"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 . . . . . Our Website is UNDER CONSTRUCTION, please be patient!



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Monday, February 27, 2012

JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel – Part FIVE

By James Fire

Disciples Alleged Counter-claims to Jesus’ Deity –

Obviously the arguments that deny the deity of Jesus Christ must have some substantiation (supposedly) from the Scriptures, but when examined carefully such arguments fall apart. Let’s start with one of these, often used by Jehovah Witnesses based on the first verse in the Gospel of John:

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

Jehovah Witnesses claim that in the Greek, this verse states that “…the Word was a god” not “the God”; that there is no definitive article preceding the word for God.

So is the “Deity of Christ” actually biblical? Another article from Got Questions? has some pertinent and biblical insights into the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New:

Read more!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

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

Chapter Eight: Not Living in the ‘Condo’s’ Anymore!

~~ By James Fire

I originally intended for the study this chapter to be divided into two parts, but when it came around to this portion (vs. 29 and 30) I realized that this would take some substantial exposition. So now, here is the last of the three segments for your perusal and hopefully your edification and blessing!

OK, now we’re going to get into some theologically deep waters in these next two verses. . .

Rom 8:29-30
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified
We’ll take these very important words one at a time; much theology has been written concerning God’s “foreknowledge” and His “predestination” and of those considered the “called” and “justified” – we shall tread lightly, carefully and not speak beyond what the Scriptures tell us (and soundly ignore the predilections and perspectives of views found at the theological extremities in Christian scholarship).

Foreknowledge is a word used (in different forms) four times in the New Testament; once here in our text concerning the saints, and also in Romans 11:2 in regards to Israel; Acts 2: 23 in regards to Jesus Christ and His crucifixion and 1 Peter 1:2 which also concerns the saints, that is “the elect”. The words “foreknowledge, foreknow, foreknew” are expressed in these two Greek – proginosko and prognosis.

Proginosko means, ‘to know beforehand’, foresee; also foreordain (as in 1 Peter 1:20 in regards to Christ as the Lamb of God).
Prognosis means, ‘foreknowledge’ and is one aspect of God’s omniscience (“all-knowing”); it is implied in God’s warnings, promises and predictions. In Acts 15:18 God’s foreknowledge involves His electing grace, but this does not preclude human will. He ‘foreknows’ the exercise of faith that brings salvation. See also Gal. 1:16; Eph. 1: 5, 11” From notes as found in Strong’s Concordance.

It’s often been asked, “Which do you believe: God’s sovereignty or man’s moral agency expressed in his free will?”

My common response is typically, “yes.” Which is passionately protested and the claim is made that I can’t have it both ways.

Yet Scriptures speak of God’s foreknowledge, His predestination (Eph. 1:5, 11); His election (1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1: 10); that all derives from His omnipotence, omniscience and sovereignty, and likewise the Scriptures speak equally of the ‘whosoever will’s’ and the ‘if any man’s’ that supports that we have a choice to make (See also: Matt. 16: 24-25; Luke 9:5; John 6:51; 7: 17, 37; 10: 9; 12: 26, 47, Rom. 10: 9-10 etc.).

Granted, that in ourselves there dwells “no good thing” as we have heard from Paul himself earlier in our study (some have suggested that by receiving salvation with our own will, that would intimate some innate goodness within us, which of course doesn’t exist) – but even a villain will reach out for a life preserver that’s tossed to him in his moment of need as he is nearly drowned in a powerful river stream.

And should any good or merit be attributed as something inherent within us beforehand because we receive salvation through Jesus Christ by our own volition, then might evil be attributed to Adam beforehand because while still in an innocent state there in the Garden, he (and Eve) chose to disobey God?

No one can possibly boast that they had anything to do with their salvation, merely because they received it – any more than a person could brag about how heroic they were in opening the front door (Rev. 3:20) to allow the firemen into their burning house and save them!

At the same time, we understand that because of the naturally sinful heart of man, there is no way possible for him to comprehend God, the Scriptures, the very work of salvation by “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:14) but that he is in dire need of guidance and understanding by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2: 12-13; John 14:26; 15: 26-27; 16: 13-14), whose office is indeed to lead people to Jesus Christ (as well as the Father’s – John 6:44).

I think as we examine the issue of mankind’s ability to choose which way he will go, that God’s sovereignty is even higher, greater and more glorified because in the midst of such power of choice in the minds and hearts of billions of souls living on this planet, His ultimate will shall be fulfilled, precisely as the Scriptures foretell! Heaven will be full of saints, glorifying God, despite the fact that they were all rebels and sinners, but because of God’s grace shed upon them, they willingly came to the cross and were touched there by His almighty love, His majestic grace and His profound peace!

“Predestinate” is the next word to examine, and it’s important that as we consider what this is, we do so in the light of God’s foreknowledge! His foreknowledge enables Him to see what transpires within the confines of time; His predestination is empowered by what He decrees in eternity; both work in conjunction with one another and presents no tension or conflict whatsoever once we understand the vantage points of temporal reality and eternity.

“Predestinate[d]” is found four times in the New Testament as well: twice in our text, and also Eph. 1: 5, and 11. The same Greek word is used in all instances.

Proorizo means, “to limit in advance, to predetermine, to determine before, foreordain”. Such examples are cited here in the following verses: Acts 4: 28; 1 Cor. 2: 7; Romans 8: 29-30 and Eph. 1:5, 11.
In the case of Acts 4: 28, it’s clearly seen that the people mentioned committed such things against the “holy child Jesus” that were determined before by the hand of God. Would this mean that Pontius Pilate had no other choice but to hand down a guilty verdict (despite the pressure from the Sanhedrin for him to do so) or that Judas Iscariot could not have done anything other than to betray his Master?
Or . . . is it in God’s foreknowledge, knowing who Pontius was, and Judas and the Sanhedrin and its members, and elected them to the positions they held, He correctly (since He is incapable of error) anticipated or foresaw what decisions would be made?

The wisdom of God is elaborated upon in 1 Cor. 2:7, specifically that wisdom that was ordained before the world began, that is, plainly speaking, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of the cross, which is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1: 18 – 25). It’s so very reassuring that long before Eve ever conversed with the serpent in the Garden (and no, I don’t believe that was some Hebrew allegorical myth!), that the LORD God knew full well what would transpire, and already had the remedy in Mind. Such majesty in the sovereignty of God!

In the references found in Ephesians, we see how predestination has worked in the church of the saints, and secured “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” in accord with His choosing us “in Him before the foundation of the world” (vs. 4) that is, creation – which is extremely pertinent because time is as much a part of this world as is space, and energy and matter, and so on. Again, God, via predestination within the realm of eternity can fix into place, what His foreknowledge perceives what transpires within this ‘capsule of creation’.

Then in vs. 11, it speaks of the obtaining of an inheritance via predestination, and in accord with the LORD who works “all things” after the counsel of His own will. Does this mean that God is the marionette and we are simply puppets being pulled by Divine strings? Were such strings pulled that caused Lucifer to say “I will be like the Most High” and for Adam and Eve to chomp on forbidden fruit? Or is it that, in light of the events that God knew would take place (foreknowledge), He orchestrated His plan that would use such events to bring about (predestine) “the counsel of His own will”?

Such an inheritance granted, and predestined by God, should bring an enormous comfort for the saint who can ‘bank on’ God’s integrity and promise. Later in vs. 13 it speaks of the “earnest” or ‘down payment’ as we would call it – of the Holy Spirit, as an assurance that the LORD will in fact return to redeem the entire possession (our fallen, sinful, corrupt bodies as earlier mentioned in our text).

Then there is the text before us in Romans 8: 29 – 30: It’s interesting to note that where predestination is mentioned in regards to the church, it’s always associated with the ministry of Jesus for His body.
Here in this passage from Romans, and the earlier one in Ephesians, it speaks of saints being “adopted,” “conformed to the image of His Son,” their “justification” and their glorification and their “inheritance”. That once we are “in Christ” as members, baptized into His body, that God’s course is steadfast and true; unalterable it would seem, which is in accord with one of my ‘life verses’:

Phil 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [to complete fully] it until the day of Jesus Christ:

In Scofield’s notes he explains about the foreknowledge, predestination and election of God:

“Observe in the last clause of this verse, that God’s purpose not His foreknowledge, is first in the order of the chains of verbs occurring in vv. 28-30.” References on foreknowledge are as follows: Romans 11:2; Acts 2:23; 4:28; 1 Peter 1:20. On predestination: 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:11 and 1 Peter 1:20; and a substantial note based on this last reference from Peter’s epistle:

“The sovereign choice of God is foreordination, election and predestination logically originated in the divine decision based on His eternal omniscience of all possible plans of action. The order logically, not chronologically is omniscience, divine decision (foreordination, election, and predestination) and foreknowledge.

As God’s decision is eternal however, so also His foreknowledge is eternal. As foreknowledge extends to all events, it includes all that is embraced in election, foreordination and predestination. Election is therefore according to foreknowledge and foreknowledge is according to election, meaning that both are in perfect agreement.”

Also notes on Eph. 1: 11:

“Predestination means to mark out or determine beforehand. In Scripture this idea is more inclusive than election. The latter is always limited to those specially chosen of God. But predestination includes the salvation of the elect and also all other acts and events in the universe, to distinguish two classes of decreed events: (1) events divinely caused, such as salvation of the elect; and (2) events divinely permitted. To say that God predestined the evil acts of men does not mean that God caused these acts, for this would make God the author of evil. Rather it means that God, foreknowing how men will act under various circumstances, determined beforehand to permit them to so act; thus making the acts certain to come to pass, as parts of His total plan, yet leaving all men fully responsible for what they do (Luke 22:22).

The Biblical truth of predestination raises difficult intellectual problems, but these cannot be escaped by rejecting predestination and affirming foreknowledge. For, if God foreknows all events, then they are just as certain as if they were predestined.”

And on the doctrine of election:

“In both Testaments the Hebrew and Greek words are rendered ‘elect, election, choose, chosen’. In all cases they mean, simply, chosen or to choose, and are used of both human and divine choices. (1) In the latter use of election is (a) corporate, as the nation of Israel or of the church (Is. 45:4; Eph. 1:4); and (b) individual (1 Peter 1:2). (2) Election is according to the foreknowledge of God (1:2) and wholly by grace, apart from human merit (Romans 9:11; 11:5-6). And (3) election proceeds from the divine volition (John 15:16).

“Election is, therefore (1) the sovereign act of God in grace whereby certain persons are chosen from [eternity] among mankind for Himself (John 15:19); and (2) the sovereign act of God whereby certain elect persons are chosen for distinctive service for Him (Lk. 6:13; Acts 9:15; 1 Cor. 1:27-28)."

God’s foreknowledge is steeped in prophetic relevancies in the Scriptures; for example, it was prophesied that Judas, the son of perdition would betray the LORD for thirty pieces of silver. God in His foreknowledge knew decisions that were Judas made would eventually lead him to the point that Scripture foretells.

Yet even though such was prophesied, Judas bears the full brunt of the responsibilities of his decisions and actions. Judas wasn’t forced by God to do what he did, but he was foreknown by God what he would do, and was by the sovereignty of God divinely permitted to do so.

So we have seen some things about the foreknowledge and predestination that God uses in His relationship with the world and the church; then there is the “called” of God. Everyone that is a believer, disciple, born again saint of God has been called by our Father Who has drawn us to Christ Jesus our LORD and Savior. This calling when it involves persons means “to summon” or “to bid”.

When the LORD Jesus explained to His disciples who the greatest in the kingdom would be, the Scriptures state that He called a small child to Himself (Matt. 18:2), this was likewise a summoning (a different Greek word employed in this verse, but with the essential meaning being the same: “summon”).

There are some that can’t quite place the exact time when God summoned them into the Kingdom; others (like me) can. In any event, this calling results in a dynamic which results in spiritual life – we become justified in Christ Jesus, and just as such justification takes place, the saint can rest assured (by God’s predestined plan for us) that we will be glorified and receive an inheritance! How gloriously wonderful is that??

Rom 8:31-32
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Many people in the world have this image of God as an angry, vengeful Being Who is simply biding His time before He unleashes bolts of lightening and cosmic doom upon them. And certainly, God is angry with the wicked every day (Ps. 7:11), and there is that verse that indicates that God hates all workers of iniquity (Ps. 5:5), but one may certainly be angry with those who are loved, and God’s hatred against such workers of iniquity is because of their unrepentant hearts. These verses taken in light of the beloved verse of John 3:16 reveals that God has shed His love upon the whole world (humanity at large) so that those “whosoever” will believe in Him would not perish.

God is reaching out to the lost and has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez. 33:11). He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Even some Christians feel that God is looking down upon them disparagingly, shaking His head at them with disapproving eyes. Yet if such a one is genuinely in Christ, they are seen by God the Father in the same way as He sees His Holy, Righteous Son.
I like how John MacArthur puts it:

The atonement on the cross works in such a way, that God looks upon me as though I lived the life of Jesus Christ, and He looked upon Jesus on the cross as though He lived my life.”

His perfect righteousness is transferred to my account while each and every one of my sins was laid to His account! Not just mine of course, but all the sins of the world – all laid to His account!

Tell me that God is ‘against us’ in any way! No, God looks with tremendous favor on His children! He loves us so much that He heaps blessings upon us, and not only that, but also chastens us when we misbehave – all out of a heart of love (for any good father will see to his children and desire to bless them, to see them joyful and filled with the assurance of his love, even when it comes time for some discipline)!

Psa 118:4-6
Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

See also Num. 14:8; Ps. 3:6; 20:7; 23:4; 27: 3; Isaiah 12:2 and Hab. 3:18.

God delivered up His own Son for judgment, condemnation and for the suffering of His wrath against the sum total of sin and for us, He has granted “all things” – if this isn’t lop-sided, I don’t know what is! Yet this is the nature of grace (unmerited favor) given by God. He and the Holy Spirit didn’t take a vote on Who of the trinity should go down and die for the sins of the world, and Jesus just got outvoted 2 to 1! No, He went willingly and laid down His own life: He didn’t suffer the death of a martyr, but rather gave His life for the sheep which He loves (John 10:11, 17-18)!

It’s the same God that offered up His only begotten and beloved Son, that offers “all things” for us: and what are “all [those] things”? Cadillac’s? Mansions? Fat bank accounts? Wardrobes so huge it takes a room-sized closet to contain them all?

Why would we want to settle for such paltry pieces of penury when we could partake of “that better part” as did Mary, the sister of Lazarus? That is, the very love of Jesus, His joy, His peace and Presence, His victory over sin in our lives? That “life more abundant” in blessed communion and fellowship with our Savior that has nothing whatsoever to do with our circumstances or situation or possessions, but rest solely upon the ROCK of our SALVATION!

Obviously I don’t mean to say that God can’t or doesn’t bless His children with material blessings; of course He does! However, His heart is that we should esteem these sorts of things lightly – because they are here today and gone tomorrow and can bring no lasting satisfaction; rather that we would esteem such fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship we enjoy in the Father and the Son, and the instilling of the character of Christ in our lives because these things are eternal and bring the true sense of fulfillment and satisfaction – not ‘stuff’.

See Matt. 5: 3-12; 1 Cor. 13: 4-8; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1: 3-6.

Rom 8:33-34
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us

Satan would love to charge and condemn us for every single sin we have ever committed or will commit, but his charges cannot stick to the saint of God who is trusting in Christ and for whom "there is now therefore no condemnation", who has a tender heart of repentance towards the Father, and has in the inner (spiritual) man an abiding hatred for sin (though the flesh yet craves it!).

We are justified, period!

If perhaps Satan may whisper in your ear concerning some sin committed just today, you can readily agree with him in regards to your fault, but then turn right around and confess that sin to the LORD in genuine repentance, and He will faithfully forgive that sin and cleanse you from all (note: not ‘some’ or ‘most’) unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Our faithful High priest does indeed make intercession and has provided reconciliation for us (Heb 2:17-18).This same High priest is also our defense attorney or “advocate”

1 John 2:1-2
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world

The evidence for our justification is that empty tomb in Jerusalem where Christ Jesus once lay, but only for three days . . . when He rose, having died (not for His own sins – He had none!) for our sins, He by that resurrection proclaimed that our sins have been abolished and He is the victor! Hallelujah! See 1 Cor. 15: 20-23.

Rom 8:35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us

Does verse 36 seem to contradict verse 35 to you? Or what about vs. 37 from 36? If God indeed loves us, why then would He allow us to be “killed all the day long”? And “slaughtered”?
And if we are such conquerors, then why is it we would suffer such defeat in martyrdom and death?

The answers are quite simple actually.
The magnificent and marvelous demonstration of God’s love was proven by the cross of Christ, and if saints are tortured, slaughtered and martyred for their faith, this is a test of their love for God, and by the LORD’s grace, He provides the holy resolve to persevere in such dire straits.

The child of God then demonstrates not only their love for the LORD, but the faithfulness of God in providing such things as are necessary to endure such “tribulations or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword”.

We are more than conquerors because of the truth that our victory is not of our own making, and if the enemy would defeat the church, he must do so by defeating the Head of the church, Who Himself seized the victory 2000 years ago on a wooden cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem! Our victory is ‘a done deal’! And as Warren Weirsbe once said: “We fight not for victory, but from victory!”

2 Cor 2:14
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place

See also: Psalm 44:5; Matt. 16:18; Lk. 10:19; 1 John 5:4; Rev. 15:2.

Rom 8:38-39
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Paul here states that he is “persuaded”, that is, peitho in the Greek: “to be persuaded, convinced, to win over, to trust, believe, to have confidence in, to bring about a change of mind, an actual and outward result of the inward persuasion and consequent faith.”
Such spiritual assurance is secured for every true believer in Jesus Christ, as is amply demonstrated in our text here; also consider:

Hebrews 10:22-23
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

There is nothing in death and any venue that leads to this inevitability that can thwart God’s love from resting upon any of His children. Likewise there is nothing in life what with all the burdens, struggles, temptations, fears and disappointments, or as Hamlet said in his soliloquy -

“Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them... Who would burdens bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?”

- that can deter the love of God from us! No powers residing in the dark hosts of Luciferian forces, as powerful as they may be, can interfere with the love of Christ Jesus our LORD from overwhelming us with an accompanying peace that is easily afforded to the saints! No regrets from the past, no challenges in our present, and no anxieties about our future can keep the love of God from any who come to Him through the LORD Jesus Christ!

1 John 4:9-10
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins

It’s no wonder that we love the LORD – considering how good, noble, gentle and full of tender mercies, how holy and pure, righteous and supremely loving He is! Yet the very idea that God would go through all the bother in becoming a man, LEAVING the glories of the holy heaven and all the angelic attendants at His beck and call and enduring such afflictions by being in the presence of sinful, wretched humans who for the most part, gave Him nothing but disdain and mockery and who wanted nothing from Him except His death – just so that He could demonstrate His love for us by being our sacrifice Lamb, slain for our sins! THIS IS THE MARVEL OF THE GOSPEL and the LOVE which is its very heartbeat; the heartbeat of God!

Such love is what we were made for, in fellowship with the living God, and once the church crosses over the great divide of the space/time continuum and steps into eternity, we will no longer “see through a glass darkly” but face to Face – and know the fullness of the love of God experientially, undiluted and everlasting!

1 Cor 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known

May we even this day, delve more deeply into the fathomless wells of God’s love, for He delights in our company (as difficult as that may be to imagine: can you picture God getting excited to have us present at His throne of grace in prayer and fellowship?) and longs for such sweet fellowship and communion with His beloved babes and blessed children of His charity!

Prov 3:12
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Pro 15:8-9
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.

Jere 9:24
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Psalms 25:6
Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old

This concludes the study in Romans chapter 8; next time we will enter a new section in this epistle, where Paul addresses the issue of Israel and compares this wayward nation with the present church, of which he is an apostle, and reveals that the LORD has yet some significant plans for the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

After this, Paul gets practical – which he most often does, after laying down the theological foundations of God’s Truth (which he concludes for the most part in chapter 8 for the church; 9 through 11 for Israel).
Until then saints, let us keep ourselves in the love of God! Amen!
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A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Eight: Part Two

Chapter Eight: Not Living in the ‘Condo’s’ Anymore!

~ By James Fire

We’ve all driven by old buildings with signs out in front that read “Building – Condemned: Do Not Enter”. It’s understood that that building is no longer sound or suitable for habitation and is scheduled to one day soon be demolished, and swept away in order to make the property it sits on more useful for a new building.

Once Adam fell into sin, and the curse of sin was proclaimed, he along with Eve and all of their progeny were condemned with all of creation that they were given stewardship over. Creation and God’s finest achievement: man himself, were no longer sound or suitable for His purposes and habitation. On a day scheduled in the Mind of God, everything would be demolished and swept away in order to make room for God’s new creation, but there was still hope that man would be an integral part of this!
Humanity from the very beginning continues in such a fallen state of depravity; such sinful souls are repelled and offended at the holy Light that is God, preferring instead the darkness of their own depravity, secured by satanic bondage:

John 3:18-20
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Earth has become ‘Planet Perditious’ and its inhabitants are the infantry of iniquity under the command of “the god of this world” (1 Cor. 4:4) who wars against the righteous saints of the LORD. Because of this persecution, we are made to suffer; not only from this, but by enduring life in this fallen creation full of violence, misery, sickness, oppression, injustice and everything that’s associated with death and destruction we likewise suffer and long (even groan) to be released from such and enter into God’s presence where His glory will be revealed in us (Rom. 8: 18, 22) and such sinful darkness is no more.

There is a glorious day coming for the saints where we will know deliverance from our bodies of corruption, sin and death as well as from this corrupted creation suffering from sin’s curse and enter into a new creation (which we will witness first hand at it’s making!) where only righteousness dwells! All of this starts for us when our LORD Jesus, our BLESSED HOPE appears, takes His church away from Planet Perditious and brings us home!

This is where we pick up in our study of the book of Romans, in Chapter Eight and beginning with verse 17.

Rom 8:17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together

The beautification of God’s glory upon His greatest creation was something He had intended all along, since the Garden of Eden; but when Adam fell, such intentions were ‘altered’ (not that God need alter His plans from His own perspective, seeing that He is eternal and His foreknowledge is all-encompassing). Yet even in this alteration the glory of God would be all the greater, for in Christ Jesus, we who are His saints have gained far more than Adam ever lost! Adam was given stewardship over the Earth, but the saints of the church will reign in heaven! Adam was granted the blessings of God’s creation as it was then, but the saints are joint-heirs with Christ (Who inherits ALL things!!)!

So we see the progression as the Apostle Paul lays out for us in this epistle: he begins by showing that every one is unrighteous, then how we can obtain righteousness via justification, through Christ Jesus and committing our faith upon Him; from there he addresses the idea of sanctification and holiness in a practical sense. In chapter Eight here he reveals how God intends to bring glorification to His saints!

Rom 8:18-20
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope

Understanding that we are not citizens of this world, but rather of the kingdom of God; we are foreigners here, pilgrims and ambassadors – we are representatives of the ‘culture of Christ Jesus’ which is based on holiness procured by His death and resurrection and the subsequent inhabitation of the Holy Spirit within us.
This understanding should diminish any mystery as to why the world hates us: this world, subverted and subjected by the spirit of rebellion that is Satan, rejects anything of God, including His children. It’s inevitable as we shine the holy Light of God from our lives that we will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) as well as suffer in even our presence in this fallen world of sin. See also: Acts 5:41; Romans 8:36; 2 Cor. 1:7; 11: 23; Phil. 3:10; 2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 11:25; James 5:10; 1 Pet. 2:20; 5:10.

However, Paul brings us cause for rejoicing: such sufferings “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”!!

This “manifestation of the sons of God” speaks of that time when the LORD returns at His Second Coming to take His bride (the faithful church) away with Him to heaven (an event that could happen at any moment, even perhaps before you have the chance to finish reading this article!). Once “the time of Jacob’s Trouble” is completed (Jeremiah 30: 7; Dan. 9:24-27; a time of seven years total) the LORD will return visibly to the world (the official inauguration of His Second Coming) with His church beside Him, manifested as the saints who are complete in Christ – this will bring about a time of the Messiah’s reign as the rightful King of Israel and the world will enjoy peace under the benevolent rule of the Prince of Peace!

Once that reign of 1,000 years is completed, the old Earth and the old Heavens will be done away with (Isaiah 65: 17 – 18; 66: 22; 2 Pet. 3: 10 – 13; Rev. 21: 1) to be replaced by a new Earth and Heavens – an astounding event that we shall witness with our very own glorified eyes and praise God for with our glorified voices!

Until that time, we remain here, ambassadors for Christ, heralding the Gospel before the lost whose hearts are “subject to vanity” that is ‘emptiness’.
It’s been said that at the very center of our being there is “a God-shaped hole” that only God Himself can fill. We may try to find satisfaction and fulfillment in the things of this world and pursue all the usual things that we suppose will bring us happiness – and for a time, they may – but eventually it just ‘gets old’ and we are left with emptiness: “vanity”.
Such subjection to this vanity is not without hope however, because the LORD uses that emptiness along with the longing to have it filled to cause people to pursue fulfillment. Coupled with the Holy Spirit, whose mission is to lead people to JESUS, THERE IS HOPE while the seeker yet lives. I’ve often used this acronym to describe this condition and its only answer for fulfillment (I’ve even done a couple articles FROM the MIND of FIRE about this): O.A.S.I.S. or Only the Almighty Savior Immanuel Satisfies (type “OASIS” in the FMF search engine ‘Scoping out this Mind’ to read those articles).

From the commentaries of Pastor John Gill (He preached in the same church as C. H. Spurgeon over one hundred years earlier):

“For the creature was made subject to vanity…”

"This designs the vanity and emptiness of the minds of the Gentiles, who were without God and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, without the law and Gospel, and grace of God; also the vain conceits they had of themselves, of their wisdom, knowledge, learning, and eloquence; likewise their vain philosophy, particularly their gross idolatry, their polytheism, or worshipping of many gods; together with their divers lusts and vices, to which they were addicted, to such a degree, that they might be truly said to be made subject thereunto, being under the government of these things, slaves unto them, and in such subjection, as that they could not deliver themselves from it; though it is said,
“…not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in
Though they were willingly vain, yet they were not willingly made subject to vanity; they willingly went into idolatrous and other evil practices, but the devil made them subject, or slaves unto them; he led them captive at his will, and powerfully worked in them, by divine permission, so that they became vassals to him, and to their lusts; for he seems to be designed, "by him who hath subjected the same", and not Adam, by whom sin entered into the world."
Rom 8:21-23
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body

Deliverance: this is what is needed for us wretched souls – deliverance from the judgment of God, deliverance from bondage to sin, deliverance from slavery and ownership of Satan, deliverance from this present age of rebellion and iniquity, deliverance from this fallen world and to the glory of heaven! All of this is procured through the LORD Jesus Christ; the only thing required is faith in Him, and His Word (and He is as good as His Word!). There is NOTHING that can deliver us “from the bondage of corruption” except JESUS! Not psychology, or philosophy, not our own (dead) works in some vain attempt to prove ourselves worthy or noble in our own right . . . nothing, nothing but the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins as the old song goes.

As we examine history and look at what at first appeared to be some of mankind’s greater, nobler and seemingly good establishments (take the founding of America for example, the Constitution and the liberty it purports to provide; or other cultures that had built similar examples of justice and peace) – eventually, whether in decades or centuries, such noble dreams deteriorated, fell into dilapidation, and were eventually thoroughly corrupted as liberty was abrogated by oppression.

As brutal and harsh and corrupt as the Roman Empire had become, one must remember that it was founded as a republic – a government that would rule by just law. It was a vision of freedom and true liberty, but such things are tenuous and fragile because of the sinful nature of man, and the spirit that rules this world (Satan) that would always seek to pervert and subjugate the souls of humanity under oppressive rule.

Frank Herbert, author of the Dune series took the old expression of “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and turned it around by saying, “The corrupt are drawn to power.”

Conversely it’s also been said that “Great men do not seek power, great men have power thrust upon them.” Great men are humble men and are not interested in ruling over others, but because virtue and integrity are noted in such men, others recognize the need for them to assume power, for they will respect and not abuse such power.

In the film Gladiator, Marcus Aurelius had this to say about “the dream that was Rome” . . . “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish... it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter.” And we all know how Rome became utterly corrupted, don’t we? Anyone see some parallels regarding our own (once) beloved America?

The only man who was and is, and ever shall be incorruptible is Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, God’s only begotten Son Who wields all power and authority (Matt. 28:18) – that’s absolute power! Yet He is absolutely incorruptible and therefore truly the only one, bar none who can rightly rule with perfect justice and righteousness.

We who shall be delivered from this corruption and into the glorious liberty that awaits us will likewise be suited for rule; to the degree that we are Christ-like, by that same measure we are able to rule with integrity and righteousness. With six thousand years of historical evidence, this generally cannot be said of rulers of humanity, particularly in the 20th and now the 21st centuries!

This present creation including the animal kingdom, as well as the Earth itself are suffering from the ravages of sin; we who are members of the kingdom of God are likewise suffering and longing for “the adoption” or “redemption of our (carnal and sinful) bodies or as the Bible makes reference to, our “flesh”. Note in verse 23 it states that we “ourselves . . . have the firstfruits of the Spirit . . .” which intimates of course that having the first fruits, we shall enjoy the full harvest later, and so we shall!

1 John 3:2
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is
See also Phil. 3:21; Col. 3:4; 1 Pet. 5:1; and 1 Cor. 15: 44, 49.

2 Cor 5:1-5
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit

Here Paul refers to “the earnest (or pledge or ‘down payment’) of the Spirit, which relates directly to “the firstfruits of the Spirit” as mentioned here in Romans. The very idea that one day, when the LORD returns and takes us home, not only will we have glorified bodies that will never know the corruption of sin, but that the simple thought of ‘sin’ will never even occur to us – as though the very word and concept of sin will be wiped away from our vocabulary – and it will be! That in itself will be a kind of ‘heaven’ to rejoice in, amen?

Rom 8:24-25
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it

There is a word mentioned here repeatedly that is most significant: hope. Something that is a rare commodity these days; we wonder if there is any hope for America, any hope for our way of life surviving, and in the face of nuclear weapons, and others that are even more terrifying . . . we wonder if there is any hope for this world!

Answer: YES! But it’s not found in any human agency or power or authority. It’s found solely in the Man from Galilee! Our very salvation is “by hope” – and faith – in the LORD Jesus Christ. The Greek word employed here is elpis (noun form) or elpizo (verb) and its definition is quite pertinent:

“To expect, trust, hope, things hoped for; to set one’s hope upon (See 1 Tim. 4:10; 5:5; 6:17; Matt. 12:21; Luke 24:21; Rom. 15: 12, 24 (“trust” in the preceding passage is actually elpizo in the Greek).). It means to anticipate with pleasure, expectation, confidence, a forward looking to the future (as in Titus 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:21); the ground upon such hope is based (Acts 16:19; Col. 1:27 – “Christ in you, the hope of glory”). We have the hope of the resurrection (Acts 23:6), the hope of the promise (Gal. 5:5), the hope of righteousness (that is, complete conformity to the image of Christ in God’s will, at the coming of Christ; Col. 1:23), the hope of the Gospel (Col. 1:5), the hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2), the blessed hope (Titus 2:13)) and more besides!

This ‘hope unseen’ is the closest thing that the world can come to in their attempt to describe the faith of the believer, which they claim is a ‘blind faith’. Not so; our faith is not only in the invisible God Whom we have not seen, but also in His Word and how we see its veracity proved out in this world and in our lives. In the world, we understand that the Bible holds up its integrity even under the heaviest scrutiny and is accurate historically, geographically, in archeology and even in science, but most notably in the realm of the prophetic and how God’s foresight regarding our future is absolutely 20/20 in accuracy.

In our very lives we understand that the Word of God is true because as we bow to the truth of the Scriptures and obey them by believing the Gospel, our hearts are transformed, just as the Bible explains it.

Yet there is that aspect of hope that is “not seen” because our future redemption (of our corrupt bodies as well as our fallen world; vs. 20 - 23) is something not observable at this time. Yet this hope doesn’t ‘hang on nothing’ because everything we have experienced as Christians has verified that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God, and entirely trustworthy; prophecy has been fulfilled up to this point, and it shall continue to be fulfilled because of the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God Almighty.

In plain language, God’s ‘track record’ over the course of these approximately 6,000 years is impeccable, and so we can rightly place our hope in this up and coming redemption of our bodies and creation!

Rom 8:26-27
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God

Here we have some more groaning, but in this instance, it’s actually the Holy Spirit within us, moving with intercession on our behalf because there are times of deep anguish and pain that we are beyond words. Strangely enough, God is adept at translating the language of ‘groaning’ even if we can’t and not only considers this prayer but is entirely intent on answering such!

Just think about this: God, the Holy Spirit, absolutely perfect and all knowing, is interceding for us, the children of God! Not only that but even the LORD Jesus Christ, the God-man is likewise interceding for us (vs. 34)!! With such ‘prayer partners’ like these, how can we possibly rob ourselves of peace and contentment (though I often can!), being assured that the LORD will faithfully lead and direct us “according to the will of God”, every step we take, knowing each step long before we take it!

And now we look to another beloved verse, one that is practically as well known as John 3:16 –

Rom 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose

It must be noted that some Christians quote this wrong, leaving out the entire verse after “together for good” – God doesn’t work all things together for good in some abstract sense and for people in general but for “them that love God” and “them who are the called” (emphasis mine).

If it wasn’t God we were talking about here, I would find this verse quite baffling; most of us could work some things together for the good of others; some of us that are more resourceful and clever might be able to work more things for the good of those we love, but ALL things?! Yet God in His infinite wisdom, knowledge, power and love is quite able to do so, even if we ourselves can’t understand or perceive how any particular ‘working’ incorporates “all things . . . for good”.

For those of us that love God, we can rest on this precious promise; for those of us who are “THE called”, a very denotative phrase, referring no doubt to those who are saints, saved by the blood of the Lamb (see Rom. 1:6-7; 1 Cor. 1: 2, 9; 2 Thess. 2:14 and elsewhere). And what is this calling as saints of God? It’s His own purpose, granted to us through Christ long before the world ever began . . . not some ‘Johnny-come-lately contrivance of a popular pastor who feels that the saints need to be “driven” in some purpose that the church can come together and agree on (side note: sheep are led; goats are driven . . . interesting!). The word “purpose” appears thirty six times in the KJV of the Bible; of particular note are these:

Romans 9:11, 17; Eph. 1:11; 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9; 3:10; 1 Jhn. 3:8.

2 Tim 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began

So much for those books by Rick Warren! He would have us, by our own works, establish the kingdom of God – wrong! The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that God establishes in the hearts of believers who have placed their faith in JESUS! It cannot possibly be established by any works of our own!

The kingdom of heaven will arrive once the Messiah, the King of Israel (the nation around which the kingdom of (“from”) heaven will revolve) arrives, and not a moment sooner! Such Emergent/heretical authors as Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and others would turn the church of Jesus Christ, which He has purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28) into a social workers agency that would focus on the physical needs of this world and somehow present this agenda as “the gospel” which is not “another gospel” at all, but a satanic imitation (and a poor one, I might add!) –

Gal 1:6-7
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ
(See also 2 Cor. 11:4)

Getting back to God’s own purposes in our lives; as He works all things to the good for those of us who love Him and are the called, we may have our faith challenged in accepting all things, even tragedies, as those instruments by which God is working “for good”.

Some of these things, we may never have an answer for, nor understand how God could possibly work such things for good, this side of eternity. However the LORD sees everything; beyond the limited scope of time and our understanding – and works with eternity in view: all we can do is simply trust that He knows what He’s doing; and He does (whether we believe it or not)!

He is working in us the glorious character of Christ Jesus, rendered in the powerful pigments of the Holy Spirit as He paints this work of art (“workmanship” in Eph. 2:10) in our lives, which in turn enables us by the same Spirit to complete those works, in accord with HIS purpose, which He ordained for us before we were ever born! See also: 2 Cor. 4:16-17.

Note to Readers: I anticipated that the completion of this chapter would be in two parts, but as this portion is already quite lengthy, chapter 8 will be treated in three parts. This is the end of part Two. I will immediately post part Three once this part is posted. God bless you!
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel – Part FOUR

By James Fire

JESUS’ CLAIM To Be GOD – A Comparison Between OT YHWH and Jesus Christ
Both Jews and Muslims, and people belonging to such groups as the Jehovah’s Witnesses hold a strong belief in the singularity of God’s nature – that He is ONE God; they view the Christian doctrine of Trinity as a pagan form of polytheism (a multiple number of Gods). To answer this question, we turn to the following source Got Questions?:
Do Christians Believe In Three Gods?
~*“Jesus claimed to be God, both directly and by necessary implication from what He said and did.
He claimed to be Yahweh (YHWH; seen in Scripture as “Jehovah” or “LORD”. Yahweh is a special name God gives Himself in His Self-revelatory accounts in the Old Testament. Other names/titles of God are Adonai and Eloheim, but these can also apply to people (Gen. 18:12) or people, angels or false gods (Deut. 6:14).

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