"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, November 6, 2012

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the ROMANS – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Twelve: Part 3 – Christian Conduct

“On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Twelve: Part 3 – 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 (read about the four major trends that are influencing the persecution of the church in the preceding link at Open Doors ministry).

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:

Fervent Servants Aflame –

ROMANS 12:11

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord

Part of our witness to the world as Christians is our industry and integrity; we are to excel in our work ethic, doing our very best with diligent attention to detail and creating a superior product, by the grace of God, for the glory of God, all our labors motivated not by our desire to please our employer (primarily) but the LORD, because ultimately, HE is why we do it (COL 3:23).

I remember the interview for a previous job I held: I told the Superintendent of our department that though the company would issue my checks, I am really working for the LORD Who seeks and knows my conduct and will judge my performance on that Day when I see Him face to Face.
Any supervisor might be able to observe me for a time, but God’s eyes are always upon me, therefore I shall always intend to do my very best at any task that’s assigned to me.

Work can also be a means with which to worship God, as we offer our service unto Him, and not to mere man. It’s as though the LORD Himself came down out of heaven and asked me, “James, would you please do these tasks for Me?”

Serving the LORD in this capacity is every bit a ministry as standing in a pulpit and teaching God’s Word; it is both an honor and a joy. In light of such a question, what Christian wouldn’t obey such a request and obey to the fullest extent of their abilities, empowered by God’s available grace?

What’s even more incredible is that not only do we receive a pay check for the work accomplished, but that the LORD has reward in store for those who honor Him in such faithful conduct! Astounding!

In a day such as today, when work ethics are suffering terribly (the old adage holds true doesn’t it? ‘Good help is hard to find’) such Christians who are not slothful, but ‘fervent servants’ of the LORD ought to be in very high demand!

Conversely, Christians who are slothful and negligent in their work duties reflect poorly upon our King whom we are to serve and represent!

Hope With Instant Prayer – 'Ready To Meet'

ROMANS 12:12
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

What the world thinks of as ‘hope’ and what the Bible refers to as ‘hope’ are two entirely different things; in fact, they are polar opposites! The worldly idea of hope is something that is devoutly wished for, but very uncertain, and one may wish (against the odds) that they acquire that which is hoped for:

“I hope I win the Power Ball this week!” for example.

However, the biblical definition of hope is altogether something else: “expectation, confidence, to anticipate with pleasure, looking forward with assurance; it has to do with the unseen and the future.” Such hope is fixed upon the Person of Christ (see ACTS 16:19; COL 1:27) and involves His resurrection which we will share in on that glorious Day of His Return to take His bride to heaven with Him (ACTS 23:6) and the righteousness of the saints (GAL 5:5) and the hope of the Gospel (COL 1:23), among others.

We are to rejoice in such hope, expressing such gladness and cheerfulness over the certainty of our future, that nothing can deter us, or dissuade us from such hope!
It is because of such hope that we are able to endure all the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” as Hamlet stated in his soliloquy, all the burdens, discouragements, sufferings and persecutions and tribulations that this world is fraught with.

It is a steadfast hope, immovable and certain; an absolute unshakable knowledge that the LORD is in fact returning to this world to set up His Kingdom and end all sin and sinful deeds; ruling with absolute justice and order in His reign of grace and peace!
TITUS 2:12-14 
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
For more about this biblical form of hope, check out a ‘Smoke Signal’ FROM the MIND of FIRE! A HOPE BEYOND AS WELL AS FOR LIFE

RUN the RACE: Staying ‘On Track’ in the midst of Tribulations –

In fact, such hope enables us to be “patient in tribulation” that is to say, to endure any of pressures of life, troubles and sorrows, which would naturally include heartaches, anguish, anxiety and persecution.
It’s been stated many times before, that the Christian life is not a quick sprint that’s over with in just seconds; it’s a long distance marathon run, a grueling struggle at times and at such times patience (or as its translated often “endurance”) is crucial.

Too many times we have encountered professing believers, those who claimed to be Christian at one point, but gave up because “it was just too hard”.
Scripture speaks abundantly of this required commodity from our heavenly storehouse:
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (See also 2 TIM 2:24)

HEBREWS 10:34-37
34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.  36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

And these two scriptures from:

JAMES 1:2-4 
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

and JAMES 5:7-8
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 
8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
I’ve often said, “God’s patience is infinite; but mine is on ‘Life support’ (as in the kind of "Life" spoken of here:) JOHN 14:6!”

How often in the midst of trials, temptations and struggle have we had to wait upon the LORD, seeking from Him His grace and power to endure these hardships and we do well to remind ourselves of –
ISAIAH 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

And also from:

ISAIAH: 33:2 
O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble (See also ISAIAH 25:9; 26:8).
Of course there is the New Testament counterpart, in a sense, found in ACTS 1:4 where the LORD instructs His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father (the Holy Spirit; ACTS 1:4).

We also must often wait in our own personal ‘Jerusalem’ in waiting upon the LORD for renewed strength and vitality to bear up under the weights of trials and tribulations that we are so prone to in this fallen world, or even in waiting upon God for a mission He has made known to us and is calling us to.
The Father uses such times in His glorious and awesome wisdom for our own good, doing a work of purifying and strengthening (even though at such times as these, we feel deplorably weak and insufficient!); see ISAIAH 48:10.

To be “patient in tribulation” is to endure and persist in following the LORD in the midst of the afflictions, pressures, troubles, anguish, burdens, and also persecutions. This is the legacy for all followers of Jesus!
We can expect nothing less than this, since our own LORD suffered such things, and since He did, we also must if we are to be true followers:
JOHN 15:18-20
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also (see also JOHN 7:7).
In much of the church’s history, the members of the body of Christ have known poverty to one degree or another, persecution, imprisonment, rejection, loneliness, torment and blood and death with no certainty in employment or a safe dwelling: precisely as our own LORD suffered!

How different things are here in America! The church has abundance and enjoys a level of materialism equal to that of the world – and yet, should it be so? I must question my own life and go before the LORD in seeking an answer – am I a godly Christian? Is my spiritual life as prosperous as (or more properly, far exceeding) my life in material possessions?

If so, where then is the promise of God’s Word for me:
1 TIMOTHY 3:12–13
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
However, I believe the day is coming, and sooner than perhaps we might expect, when the church here in America will join the brethren the world over, who at this very hour are suffering terribly but bearing nobly such things with thanksgiving, having such honor from the LORD (See ACTS 5:40-42; 1 PET 3:13-15).

May the saints here in America remain steadfast in their walks with the LORD, drawing ever closer and more intimate with Him, our awesome God and partake deeply of such fellowship in the Spirit with our King, that our lives will glow with holy righteousness of heavenly quality and the Light that those who dwell in the spiritual darkness of this world hate, and find cause (falsely so) to persecute us!

Persisting In Prayer Perpetually –

I believe that patience (or endurance) has the secret to its longevity among the saints who display such a life by the personal times of prayer that they exercise persistently or as it’s stated here, “continuing instant in prayer”.

The word for “continuing instant” found in this verse is the same one used in ACTS 2:42,46 where the disciples continued in the breaking of bread and fellowship (in the temple) as well as the apostle’s doctrine, and prayers.

The word means, “to be earnest towards, persevere, to be constantly diligent, or attend assiduously all the exercises or to adhere closely to, to wait on, to be strong towards intensely.”

This should be our attitude in prayer, particularly when dire need and hopeless circumstances appear all about us as is the case during times of persecution and suffering.

So very much can be said about prayer, that it would take up the remainder of this study; as most of you are aware there are beautiful books about prayer, such as by E.M. Bounds, Andrew Murray and A.W. Tozer and I recommend any of these for your consideration!

For those of you who may be new to the faith, these book (links to them above) may prove very useful and I would encourage you to get a copy. 

Prayer is simply communication with God, speaking to Him from the heart in your own words (there are form prayers that people memorize by rote and recite them mindlessly, but this is not genuine prayer, any more than reading off of a script to a friend is genuine communication!).

Prayer comes in many forms such a petitional prayer, intercessory prayer, supplications as well as praise and worship – all are forms of communication from God’s children to God Himself.

Prayer issued to God by His children are heard of the LORD – not so about people of this world who are not by nature, God’s children.
The only prayer from an unconverted sinner that God will hear is, “God be merciful to me a sinner”, that is a prayer of repentance before the LORD, a broken and contrite heart is one that God will not despise, and all who come to Him, He will not turn away (See LUKE 18:10-14; PSALM 34:18; JOHN 6:37).

You can pray any time, any where and talk from the heart to the LORD as you would your own father, or your best friend, because the LORD God is both of these and MORE to those who are truly His children (See MATT 6:9-13; JOHN 1:12; 15:15; ROM 8:9).

People pray the ‘Our Father’ by rote, which is against our LORD’s own admonition to not pray in “vain repetitions” (MATT 6:7); one must note carefully that when the LORD’s disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He said,

“After this manner therefore pray ye…” or in other words, when you pray, do so after this fashion (and not this prayer exactly as the prayer itself).

He was teaching them a model for prayer and if one breaks down this model prayer, one can see all the elements of worship, petition for His kingdom to arrive on earth, for His will to have dominion in all things, petition for daily necessities such as food, and petition for the forgiveness of sins and for ourselves to be merciful to others, as well as petition for protection against Satan and his kingdom of darkness. This model prayer ends as it begins: with worship.

On a final note in this brief treatment on prayer, this is not an exercise we conduct in trying to persuade God to do what we want; I like how Dave Hunt said “Fasting and prayer until God gives us what we want is nothing more than a hunger strike!

Rather it is a spiritual communion with the LORD by which He, by His Spirit directs our prayer and thus our hearts to come into alignment with His own heart. Only those prayers that are in accord with the will of God, will the LORD answer.
1 JOHN 5:14-15
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
On with our study in Romans 12 . . .

Charity With Clarity – 

ROMANS 12:13

Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Note that this is according to the necessity of the saints, which are the bare necessities of food, water, clothing, etc. No saint should ever stand idly by when they know of needs among their brethren.
1 JOHN 3:17
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
Paul encouraged the saints in Corinth towards such charitableness and explained how to honor God in giving to the needs of others in 2 COR 9; note particularly vs. 6-9, and 12.
All saints are to be given to hospitality, literally “a love for strangers” (1 PET 4:9), and most especially elders of the church (1 TIM 3:2; TITUS 1:8) and it may not be at all uncommon that angels could check out our hearts to see what sort of reception we would give to strangers (See HEB 13:2).

I recall a time when Anne Kisly (co-writer and administrator for TTUF) and I came across a couple in the dead of winter, standing in ankle deep snow on a corner near a shopping mall, freezing in their thin coats, shivering with signs imploring for help. We exchanged glances and she pulled her car over.

We asked about their situation and believed that these two were in genuine need (and their little dog as well). We left to get them some necessities, but made sure that they would stay put until we returned.

When we procured these items for their good and drove back to that corner, not only were they and their dog gone, but all their meager belongings, the candy wrappers that were on the ground at their feet… and even their foot prints - the snow was smooth and unmarred! We stared at each other slack-jawed and came to the same conclusion: angels!

It was a most astounding experience and one that I will never forget!

The PRINCE of Peace and His Persecuted People

ROMANS 12: 14

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

This Pauline admonition harks back to the very words of Christ Jesus Himself:
MATTHEW 5:43-45
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Obviously for one to “love [ones] enemies” goes contrary to human nature; the same goes for blessing those that curse us and doing good to those that hate us. Yet we see these very things in the life of Jesus Christ, whose life we are partakers of, by means of the Holy Spirit (JOHN 20:31; ROM 6:4; 8:10).
We at TTUF have a heart for the persecuted of the world and have a link to Persecution.org on our web site to keep the body of Christ informed as to the plight of our brothers and sisters the world over so that we might pray knowledgeably for them.

As stated at the beginning of this article, persecution is increasing exponentially and when one investigates the statistics, it’s quite alarming how rapidly the fires of persecution are spreading.

Books on the subject are the classic FOXE’S BOOK of MARTYRS as well as the two volume series of JESUS FREAKS by VOICE of the MARTYRS and DC TALK.
See also: http://www.persecution.com/

It should be understood that Christians are not ‘door mats’ to be trampled under for the sake of appearing as weak and docile people; rather we are to emulate our King in His own conduct in humility and humbleness.
Such characteristics are not demonstrations of weakness, but the very opposite: it is great power under complete restraint.

Consider our LORD in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas came with an entire entourage of the Temple Guard armed with swords and clubs. Peter came to the defense of the LORD (a rather inept attempt!) with a sword of his own; yet what were the LORD’s words to him?
MATTHEW 26:52-57
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. 
57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
There are different ideas about how many soldiers comprise ‘a legion’ but according to Scofield’s commentary, the typical Roman legion comprised of anywhere between four thousand to six thousand soldiers. Let’s just say, four thousand for the sake of this discussion.
Recall the event of the angel of the LORD going through the camp of the Assyrians, and killing in a single night, 185,000 trained, professional soldiers (2 KINGS 19:35).

Let us assume that this is an average angel of intermediate power. If every angel of the more than twelve legions that our LORD had at His beck and call were of an equitable power, this means that all of this angelic host could have, that night in Gethsemane wiped out 8,880,000,000 souls or well over the entire population of planet Earth!

This is enormous angelic power at our LORD’s command, to say nothing of His own inherent power where He could have quite ably spoken this entire universe out of existence! Yet, instead – He allowed Himself to be bound and carried away by that pitiful little band of Jewish soldiers! THAT is Humility – Great Power Under Control.

Such power we have in Jesus name, that Satan and all his hosts tremble and quail, we who are soldiers and warriors of the cross! Yet we are also ambassadors to this world!

The Age of Grace – The Ambassadors’ Mission
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Loving one’s enemies is the command of Christ; throughout the history of the church (so-called) there have been moments of tragedy where those in Christ’s name declared war on ‘the infidels’ and the Crusades resulted and countless numbers were slaughtered!

Many in these days point this out and declare Christianity a fraud, Jesus a fake, and the Bible a false book. However, as we have just seen, we are to love those who hate us, bless those that curse us, do good to those that persecute us – not declare war upon them and slaughter them in Christ’s Name as the Roman Catholic Church had done in the Crusades!

On a side note: these same people will criticize the Old Testament accounts of Israel killing men, women and even children of foreign nations as a barbaric act, at the command of a blood-thirsty God.
However, in context of these Scriptures that record such events, we must remember that God is not only Creator, but He is also Judge and holds such authority in judging nations and the people of each when they are in rebellion against His will.

Such was the case when God spoke to Abraham regarding the exodus of the Hebrew nation from Egypt to Canaan, where the pagan peoples for hundreds of years refused to repent and turn from their wicked ways (see GEN 15:15-17)!
So, in His sovereignty, the LORD God used His people Israel to carry out the executive order of judgment upon these unrepentant people.

However, in this present age of the church, God is offering His grace through the Person of His Son, the LORD Jesus Christ and for those who receive Him, their sins are judged already at the Cross.
Those that refuse Christ remain in the present state of unrepentant hearts and thus under judgment which shall be meted out when He returns (2 THESS 1:7-9).
We as the ambassadors of Christ are to beseech these to be reconciled to the One Who died for their sins and Who offers eternal life through His Spirit.

Touching Lives: With The Hands of the HEAD, JESUS our LORD –

ROMANS 12:15

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

I can never read this verse without thinking of a story I once heard:
A mother and her young five year old son were sitting on their screened-in front porch on a balmy summer evening. Next door they saw their neighbor just come outside to sit on his own front porch. It was the old widow, Mr. Johnson who only just lost his wife the week before.

The mother encouraged her son to go see Mr. Johnson and see if he could cheer him up a bit with a little visit. The lad scrambled off his mother’s lap and ran next door and knocked on Mr. Johnson’s screen door, with his mother watching from afar.
The lad climbed onto the old man’s lap and the two seemed to just sit in each other's presence for some time. Finally, they embraced and the boy returned to his mother, and she noticed that his little face was wet with tears.

"What did you and Mr. Johnson talk about honey?" she asked.
"We didn’t talk about nothing Mom, I just helped him cry" he answered.
There are times when words are futile to the hurting heart that knows such anguish as to be unreachable with any form of comfort other than another heart that is anguished in sympathy with theirs.

Weeping with those that weep is a legitimate aspect of ministry.
Rejoicing with those that rejoice, because of some blessing and, or gift from above is likewise something we are admonished to do in Scripture, and not rather employ such things as jealousy and envy.

As we are in fact, the body of Christ, when one member rejoices or mourns, all members do so because we are one in Christ and what affects one, should affect us – such should be the love, empathy and care for each other (See 1 COR 12:25-27).

ROMANS 12:16-18
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

The WORD instructs us to be of the same mind as Christ, Who while He is God Almighty, came to us in utter condensation from the glorious realm of heaven, to this fallen rebel planet as a humble servant (PHIL 2:4-6) Who turned the other cheek, sought out the lost, taught us in the way of righteousness in accord with the true intent of Holy Scripture and incredibly offered Himself up for our sins!

This is how our minds should be one towards another, to have the same passionate love and care for one another as Christ has for us! In fact, He has commanded us to do so!
JOHN 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Who could we possibly see as so beneath ourselves that we would refrain from associating with, or even having a conversation with, when our own LORD of Glory came down to us sinners and commune with us in meals and relate to us as He taught us and led us to Himself Who is the Truth?

He condescended to the greatest extreme in order to reach the vilest of us; we have no right to complain or refuse condescending so short a distance to reach others “of low estate”, even those we might deem repulsive or unlovely.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers, the Overcomers –

We are responsible to have peaceful relations with everyone; we must endeavor to do all that we can to obtain and retain such a position; there are those however that refuse any such peaceful co-existence and in such a case we can say “as much as lies in me, I have sought peace” and the LORD is satisfied with such a peacemaking child (MATT. 5:9); most especially with those who seek peace between God and sinners! 

However, this must be underscored: the endeavor to be at peace with others does NOT mean that we compromise the truth - we must always declare the truth, the reason of the hope that we have with meekness and respect (1 PET 3:5). Our co-existence is not about esteeming all beliefs as equally valid, but about harboring no ill will and a desire to reach the lost as able ambassadors with tact as well as truth.

ROMANS 12:19-21
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

In light of these closing remarks of biblical counsel from the apostle Paul, there is an article I wrote for TTUF regarding our conduct in the face of those who seek to oppress and demean, persecute and dominate – and how as children of God we are not to retaliate or seek retribution, but rather “give place to wrath” (easier said than done, right?) and allow the LORD as the Holy Judge to conduct all such acts of righteous and holy vengeance in His Royal Reckoning at the Great White Throne judgment:
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Peter suggested to the LORD that forgiveness for offenses should be extended to seven times. The LORD responded with "seventy times seven" - have you ever wondered why He multiplied it by a factor of seventy?
Here is one suggestion: we know this number from a prophetic passage found in DANIEL 9:
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
This is the well known 70 Weeks Prophecy, which entails 'prophetic weeks' known in the Hebrew as shavuahs; or weeks of years. Each of these prophetic weeks is equal to seven years, and since there are 70 of them, you could say "seventy times seven". At the end of the 70th (last) week of Daniel, the Messiah will return to judge the world and reign in Israel for 1000 years.

Perhaps the LORD was saying to Peter, You just keep forgiving, don't keep track of wrongs, just forgive and leave the judgment up to Me, the Righteous Judge!

He is indeed our peace in the midst of such insufferable storms of hatred, injustice, persecution and oppression – such things as may well be coming to our American shores! The link above provides extensive commentary on this (and other related issues) based on PSALM 37.

As heralders and ambassadors of the Gospel, let us conduct ourselves as worthy representatives of the Kingdom of Heaven and honor our Holy King by such conduct! INDEED our mandate from this passage in Romans is quite clear: let us overcome evil with good!
JOHN 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

1 JOHN 4:3-6
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

1 JOHN 5:4-5
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.
Thus ends chapter 12 of Romans!

Chapter 13 picks up where 12 left off and counsels us further with that wisdom that is from above, starting with our relationship with government as well as our relationships with one another, and that kingdom of darkness that holds sway in this fallen world, but one that we should always contend “in the power of His might”!

1 comment:

James J. Fire said...

The woman of Revelation 12 is indeed Israel, for the genealogical lineage of Jesus Christ is of Israel, through Abraham, David and the Davidic line to Mary and her legal husband, Joseph.
According to Revelation 12: 5, it is this woman that gives birth to this child who "will rule all nations with a rod of iron"; that is to say, Christ who is pictured elsewhere with the rod of iron, ruling (and smiting; Rev. 19: 15 for example.
As for the description of this woman herself, this is not the first time we have seen her. She is likewise described (albeit in slightly different context) in the book of Genesis -

GENESIS 37:5 - 11

5 "And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

6 "And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

7 "For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

8 "And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

9 "And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

10 "And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying."