"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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Saturday, December 19, 2015


By James Fire

We  have crossed the midway point in the Gospel of MATTHEW, and have completed chapter 15. We now have the privilege of examining the next chapter that includes a warning from the LORD Jesus to “beware of the leaven [doctrine] of Pharisees” who seek signs from God for their own gratification, but ignore those signs which the LORD has given! 

Believing themselves to be the spiritual authorities of Israel (and in a sense, they were), they expected a warrior Messiah Who would vanquish Israel's enemies, and raise up the nation to glorious heights; of course, with themselves prominently in power.

. . . Wrong! The Messiah came first as the LAMB of GOD and the kinsman goel to take away the sins of the world, and later return as the LION of the TRIBE of JUDAH and the kinsman redeemer as well as the avenger of blood.

In this chapter we also read about the awesome pronouncement of the church and her authority based on the Rock – mentioned for the first time by the LORD. Also the requirements of discipleship are mentioned here. It's going to be a great study!

MATTHEW 16:1-4
The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

This is a remarkable, even astonishing request by these religious leaders! After all the miracles, healings, deliverance of demoniacs, even raising the dead – and these Pharisees and Sadducees had the audacity to ask for a sign?! All of these signs were in apparent fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies; they indicated that the Messiah had come (IS 61:1-2a)! This is what the LORD was referring to when He spoke of “the sign of the times” - that the very acts and deeds, teachings and miracles that He performed were the signs of the time of the Messiah's arrival!

But this Jesus, claiming to be a 'Messiah' was not the sort that the religious leaders wanted; they wanted a warrior like Joshua or David that would overthrow the oppressive reign of the Roman Empire (At that time Israel's government was taken away, there was no king, no throne and the nation was nothing more than an insignificant province of the Empire), and instead they found One that told them to love their enemies, to forgive and show mercy, that even the Gentiles would be saved in His Kingdom!

What the LORD gave them was a strong rebuke! While they had enough discernment to understand signs of the weather, they refused to see and understand the Messianic signs – the Messiah Himself (!) that were right before their very eyes! 
The LORD had granted a multitude of prophetic signs throughout Scripture; to ask for more than what has already been provided is an indication of a “wicked and adulterous” kind of people. The supreme and final sign that the LORD gave to the nation of Israel was “the sign of the prophet Jonah”. 

We learn what this is from an earlier chapter in MATTHEW (There we see that the Pharisees asked for a miraculous sign from Jesus also, which means that this is the SECOND TIME that these Pharisees made such a request!):
MATTHEW 12:38-40
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ! Jonah in this instance was a type (or model, or example) of the Messiah in that just as he was in the belly of the whale for those three days and nights (and the fact that we have none other than JESUS CHRIST Himself Who testified of this event; we who know Who He is, understand that this was a real event not an allegory or fable!) likewise the LORD would be buried 'in the belly of the Earth – in the tomb of Joseph Arimathea (MARK 15:43-47) – and then rise again, just as Jonah left the whale and came into the city of Nineveh. 

It's noteworthy to understand that after Jonah's 'resurrection' he came to pronounce judgment: likewise after the LORD's resurrection (and ascension into heaven), once He returns, He also will pronounce judgment over all the world (JOHN 5:22).

And yet, despite the astounding, inescapable and glorious truth of the resurrection of Christ, still the Jewish leadership (in the majority) were in disbelief! Just as the LORD expressed the truth of this in the real-life account of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar (LUKE 16:30-31) these religious leaders refused to believe even in the face of such a tremendous witness of the resurrected LORD! How tragic that the religious will prefer their religion over Jesus, and refuse to believe the Gospel during the time in which the LORD is reaching out to them, and He eventually 'departs from them', leaving them in their deplorable spiritual condition of unbelief (HEB 3:12). The same can be said of the whole of humanity, in the incontrovertible fact of the LORD's resurrection, the majority of people will not believe.

MATTHEW 16:5-12
5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

The disciples had misunderstood the LORD – not for the first time, and certainly not for the last! about the matter of bread, or specifically of leaven (what we call yeast today). He explains more plainly what He is talking about – or rather what He is not talking about, by reminding them of how He had provided bread for them on more than one occasion. 

Providing sustenance or other necessaries would never be a problem for our LORD where our needs are concerned; something we would do well to remember (PSALM 23:1-2,5)!
What He was referring to, as we shall now see, was something altogether different:
Leaven is a symbol of certain things in Scripture: sin, typically of pride and, or malice and wickedness, and also wrong, invalid teaching (man-made doctrines whose source is typically pride; see MATT 15:1-20):
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
The Pharisees and religious leaders of Israel of that day were guilty of both: pride (Read MATT 23) and wrong, invalid teaching (MATT 9:15-17; 15:8-9).
We need to bear in mind that in the last days, the kingdom of heaven, as represented in the following parable as the three measures of meal offering (which according to Levitical Law must be unleavened bread; see LEV 2:4-5) will eventually be overwhelmed in leaven – false teaching and pride, and this is exactly what the condition of the apostate church will be in the days of anti-Christ:
MATTHEW 13:33-34
33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. 34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
And now we come to one of the most powerful, beloved portions of Scripture, as found here in MATTHEW 16:

MATTHEW 16:13-18
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

First of all, is there any significance to the mention of Caesarea Philippi in this portion of Scripture? Yes, I believe so; let me explain why:
Caesarea Philippi, found in the Golan Heights  of the northern region of Israel, northeast of the Sea of Galilee is where the LORD and His disciples, after feeding the multitude in MATT 15, took a ship and sailed across Galilee until they arrived here, a city of Hellenistic culture, given over to profuse idol worship. Here is an artists rendering of what this ancient city looked like:

Here is how this area of Banias (the area within Caesarea Philippi where idol worship was centered) looks today:

You will note many concave areas with arches in the side of the cliff; these were shrines where the various idols were placed and adored; among these shrines you will see a much larger and deeper shrine (lower left in picture, partially obscured by the boulders). At one time, this is where a river flowed out from an underground source. It was believed that where any source of water came from the earth, that was the location where the gods would manifest, and this is where the prominent shrine to the god of Pan was located.

We understand that there really are no such things as 'gods' as in minor deities like those that were worshiped among the ancient cultures (and even today in witchcraft, other pagan-oriented religions as well as Hinduism and polytheistic religions). The apostle Paul clarified that the idols carved and erected in his day and in antiquities were actually honoring demonic entities:
1 CORINTHIANS 10:19-20
19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
The Psalmist likewise testifies of tribes of Israel in the days of the Old Testament, who failed to destroy all the pagan nations of the land, and as a result succumbed to the worship of their false gods, even to the point of sacrificing their own children to them, and in all actuality, offered them up to demons!
PSALM 106:34-38
34 They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them: 35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. 36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. 37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, 38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.
The god Pan represented perverse sexual practices and orgies, drunkenness and was the patron god of shepherds and their flocks; he is seen as the half-man/half-goat personage typically with a pan-flute (deriving its name by this god); he has goat horns and hooves (this image is often used to portray Satan in medieval Christianity). In ancient mythology he is the leader of all satyrs (the half-man/half-goat creatures modeled after his own image). For more about Pan and the region of Caesarea Philippi go here.

In ancient times, when city-states were more common, walls were erected around the populace for their protection from enemies (and the elements as well). Within the entrance ways of any city, there were chambers located just inside of the gates, where the city authorities would preside and conduct business with incoming visitors of governmental and military importance. Thus “gates” connotes with the authority of such cities.

We as Christians understand that the LORD Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself made flesh has absolute supremacy over all the authority and power of the enemy, that is Satan and the fallen angels and demons in allegiance with him. 

The LORD's arrival to this location was by no means incidental; He was proving a point: that He Who is the Rock of the church, has authorized us, His saints to assault the “gates of hell” - the very authorities of the demonic hosts and Satan himself and that these authorities cannot prevail against us.

Since gates are stationary (they can only swing in and out on their hinges) it's reasonable to conclude that it's the church, the body of Christ that is to go on the offensive and bring the fight to the enemy, and in doing the work of the Gospel, and spiritual warfare, depopulate his kingdom of souls who will heed the Word of the LORD!

On a side note, this is why we at TTUF believe that the church will be raptured prior to the 70th week of Daniel; why we cannot be present during the time of the anti-Christ, the Beast of Revelation (and Daniel) which states that the Beast will overcome the saints (tribulation saints (DAN 7:21; REV. 13:7), not the church saints). 

Christ has emphatically stated that the “gates of hell” that is, all the authority of Satan will not prevail against us; therefore the saints mentioned in Revelation and Daniel must be a different category of saints, saints born “out of great tribulation”. If the church were still on Earth at that time, we would prevail against the Beast, not vice versa! 

When the LORD Jesus came into Caesarea Philippi with His disciples, He asked them who people thought He was, and disciples answered, saying that the people considered Him as one of the prophets – even John the Baptist risen from the dead! Then He asked them who they themselves (His disciples) thought He was, and this is where Peter shines in wondrous declaration!

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The apostle made this declaration in the place where a myriad of false gods were worshiped – none of these were living at all, but the LORD is “the Son of the living God”! 

In so saying, Peter acknowledged that Jesus is indeed the MESSIAH KING of Israel. Any one who has studied the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament will readily understand that in the sum of these Scriptures, the Messiah is portrayed as Deity, that is, God Himself; up until this time there were a few that acknowledged the LORD Jesus as the Messiah as well as He Himself (JOHN 4:25-26; MARK 14:61-62)! Yet Peter is the first to perceive that He is the only begotten of the Father, “the Son of the Living God”.
We understand that because Jesus the Christ, our LORD and Savior, is the Messiah of Israel as well as  the WORD made flesh and therefore GOD (JOHN 1:1-3, 14). We have treated this subject previously on TTUF and you may read this series beginning with the first article, here 

MATTHEW 16:17-18
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Any one who comes to understand who Jesus is, does so by the Spirit of God; Humanists will claim that He was a good person; philosophers will say He was a supreme example of morality; mystics and Hindus will say that He was an enlightened soul, even an Atman. Jehovah's Witnesses will claim He was the arch-angel Michael; New Agers will sometimes claim He was the ambassador of some of our 'Space Brothers'! 

Yet when the Father draws a person to the Son, He brings to them a level of understanding that is impossible for human perception to obtain; “flesh and blood” cannot perceive such truth. Apart from the Spirit of Truth bringing Light into the mind of fallen man, there can be no true understanding of Who Jesus really is. 

Being the Son of the Living God, the only begotten of the Father (JOHN 1:14) signifies that He is as much God as the Father is, and the Holy Spirit. Again, Peter then not only declares Jesus as the Messiah (as Peter's own brother Andrew had done previously; JOHN 1:41) but also as the Son of the Living God.

The LORD then declares that this man to whom the Father revealed such truth is “Peter” whose name was Simon. The LORD later called Simon by the name of Cephas (that is, “stone”). Yet here he is referred to as “Peter” – (Greek: petros or a “small rock”) in comparison to “this Rock (Greek: petra or “large rock”)”.

Roman Catholic proclivities designates Peter as the foundation for the church, thus justifying the appellation of being the first pope. However, taking this passage in the context of the whole of Scripture, we appreciate the fact that the LORD God is our “rock of salvation” and Jesus is spoken of as such by both Peter and Paul. 

For a very good exposition of this, have a look at this article from the site www.doctrine.org (Please note that this author does not necessarily agree with everything contained in this article). The church founded upon the LORD Jesus Christ – and Him alone, is invincible where the kingdom of darkness is concerned! No church founded upon any human being, even an apostle, could know such power and invincibility (1 COR. 1:11-13)!

That the church should be founded on a fallible human being, who not only was prone to error and mishaps, but was even rebuked as the 'mouth piece' of Satan (as observed in this chapter) is wholly unsupportable by Scripture, which in it's entirety expresses our GOD as the Rock of salvation, a sure foundation – which is the chief Cornerstone that the LORD established (that Cornerstone being Christ).

For a comprehensive view of the two foundations of life, those being Christ and the other being the world system as governed by Satan, see this three part article, beginning with Part One 

MATTHEW 16:19-20
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

To whom do these keys of the kingdom of heaven belong? Peter alone? Or strictly the apostles themselves? Or to the church in general? It must be rightly observed that these keys are those with which things on Earth are bound and the promise is given that these things will likewise be bound in heaven.

To answer this, we look at a parallel passage in MATT 18th Chapter:
Here the LORD is addressing the subject of “the church” - He mentions this term 'church' only twice in all of the Gospel accounts (in MATT 16 and MATT 18 here). He doesn't specify any of the apostles or even leaders of the church (pastors, elders, etc) but refers to “two or three” - two or three what? Members of the church of Jesus Christ, saints, born again believers.
MATTHEW 18:18-20
18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Rather than belonging only to some form of 'religious hierarchy' as holders of 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven' the wielders of such are any of God's children, and in matters of seeking restoration of saints who may have trespassed against us (MATT. 18:15), it would seem those best qualified to handle these keys are those who are as humble as a child (MATT 18:1-4) and truly spiritual (GAL 6:1-3).

When equipped with the truth of God's Word, and His Spirit that dwells within all of God's children, we have need of no greater authority in seeking out the lost and declaring that their sins are cleansed, if they truly repent and receive Christ as LORD and Savior (JOHN 20:22-23: ACTS 26:18; EPH 1:7: COL 1:14).

The Roman Catholic church for nearly two thousand years has made the claim of absolute and exclusive authority to dispense the grace and salvation of Christ through its priesthood and sacraments; however, we know that which the Roman Catholic church considers “blasphemy” and “anathema” is actually biblical truth.

That there is no need for rituals or sacraments, nor a particular priesthood empowered to absolve sins is clear from the counsels of Scripture; rather only the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – wholly and distinctly without any such rituals or rites, and the blessed institution of Christ Himself: the church founded upon the ROCK, who according to Peter (That the Roman Catholic Church claims as their first pope) comprise a “royal priesthood”  (meaning that all born again believers are priests of God):
1 PETER 2:9
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light
For more on this see the following Four Part series on the religion of Roman Catholicism:
The Roman Catholic Church: Its Dogma and Destiny

Why was it that Christ forbade His disciples to identify Him as the Messiah? I believe because He wanted His actions and words to speak for themselves; He did not want to follow the pattern of fake Messiahs that had come before (and after) Jesus, who were zealously promoted by their followers. All of the signs were there; the facts of prophetic fulfillment spoke for themselves for any who would investigate. There are over 300 Messianic prophecies that the LORD Jesus fulfilled from the Old Testament. Herbert Lockyer has done us a tremendous service in tracking these down and documenting them in his book All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible.

MATTHEW 16:21-23
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

It was at this time, and not before, that the LORD began to reveal what would transpire in a small march of days – He would go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the religious establishment and then be killed. The shock of that statement must have dumbfounded the disciples and stunned them with disbelief. Perhaps the shock was so great, that they failed to hear the last part of His statement:

That He would rise again on the third day . . .
The prophets of old were almost always martyred in Jerusalem, at the hands of the rebellious nation that insisted on delving more deeply into the idolatry of pagan nations. From the king on down, the government was typically corrupt and most of the nation did “evil in the sight of the LORD”. 
There were only a few exceptions to this deplorable history in Israel; one such case was the reign of Josiah, whose mandate was to return the nation to the LORD God. Yet eventually, the Houses of Israel and Judah would plummet into such apostasy, that the LORD had no choice but to pass judgment by sending the nation of Babylon and bring Israel into captivity.

And here, the Messiah King of Israel, “the Son of David”  is on the scene, but He has been summarily rejected by the nation and once it was official (The Sanhedrin insisted that the miracles of Jesus were performed by the power of Satan, and not by God, thus rejecting the witness of the Holy Spirit; see MATT 9:32-34; MATT 12:22-32), He then began to speak of His impending death, and His resurrection, as well as the church.

Peter, who only moments before was granted heavenly insight by the Father, and declared the Messiah to be the Son of the Living God, suddenly finds himself rebuking Jesus, and sympathizing (so it would seem) with such talk as 'dying' and assuring Him that this will never happen!

In turn, the LORD rebukes Peter, or as the text indicates, Satan, who most likely put such thoughts into Peter's mind; yet the LORD had discernment to know the source of such words. In MARK 8:33 it states that the LORD first turned to the disciples (as if making sure they were paying attention) and then rebuked Peter. No doubt He wanted to make sure that they were aware of Satan's tactics and ploys – and that he, the chief adversary savors (phroneo - that is, is mindfully affectionate and attracted towards) the things of men and not the things of God.

The disciples were interested, among other things, in a position in the Kingdom of Israel (MARK 9:34) – but the LORD was dedicated to dying for the sins of the world, saving souls and not merely establishing a reign. Had that been His only inclination, and were He not the spotless Lamb of God, Satan's offer to grant Him all the kingdoms of the world would have been more reasonable to such an ordinary man interested in self-promotion and power). 

Israel likewise was more interested in “the things of men and not of God” - for they crucified God, in favor of keeping their own religious power (MATT 27:17-18). What neither the Sanhedrin or Satan seemed to realize was that this was God's plan all along – that the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Suffering Servant should be pierced and hanged on a tree in order to redeem sinful man.

MATTHEW 16:24-26
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Not only did the LORD drop this bombshell of 'bad' news on His followers, but He then challenged those who were intent on following Him. He calls His own to pick up their cross in self-denial and death. These words came from the Prince of Life? What sort of talk was this? 

In those days, crosses were used by the Roman government (who perfected the art of this torturous form of capital punishment from the Persians) to execute criminals. Yet what sort of criminal activity would His disciples ever be involved with?
Only those that involved rebelling against the evil god of this world (2 COR. 4:4).
And besides this, the sort of cross-carrying that the disciples of the LORD Jesus have been involved with for the past two millennia all over the world has to do with identifying with the cross of Christ and dying to their sinful nature so that Christ may live more abundantly through us!

A far cry from any 'purpose driven' or 'best life' philosophy or self-esteem Gospel that is too, too prevalent today in the professing church! The cross of Christ is not only instrumental in the destruction of our sins and the judgment of God that would carry out sentence upon them, it is also the means by which Christians identify with the death of Jesus Christ, and see the death of sinful self, step by step in the blessed stairway to sanctification.

Salvation entails all of the redemptive actions of Jesus Christ, including justification, sanctification and glorification. We have done a series on the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life. To view Part One of this series, go here

The sinner that would cleave to their own life, adamantly excluding Jesus from having any part or even most parts is their 'own god', the 'captain of their destiny' and doomed to eternal perdition for rejecting the Author of Life. There are countless numbers of people that decline the Gospel simply because they like their life just the way it is, they like the activities that they are involved with and the people they associate with. They seek to save this life of theirs, but it's based on the rule and philosophy of this world: a sinking ship indeed. 
Because of this, the paltry life that they cling to will soon be gone, and they have nothing left but to face the judgment of God upon their sin, and then everlasting perdition.

For those who forsake their own lives, their own plans, ambitions, philosophies, ideals and proclivities and instead embrace Christ and the salvation He brings: they shall live this life in the blessed union with Christ, fellowship with the LORD God and His saints, with persecutions while still here, and afterward receive the greater blessing of being in the LORD's visible Presence in a glorified body, never to grow old, or know pain, suffering or loneliness. 
So, we take up our crosses and follow the LORD, understanding that after the Cross there is Resurrection and then a Crown. 

MATTHEW 16:27-28
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

There is no escaping judgment for any one, whether sinner or saint; the difference however is the sort of judgment that one will be subject to. For the sinner, they shall stand at the Great White Throne judgment where their lives of sin will be measured up against the Holy Law of God, and there it will be determined that they all are guilty before God without one answer to make for themselves. It will be a day in God's Holy Court – with no mercy to extend, only pure justice (ROM 3:18-20; REV.20:11-15).

For the saint, they shall stand at the bema seat of Christ, the place where all of our works done in Christ's name will be judged, much like the Olympic athletes are judged for their performance. Those who have been faithful in the work that the LORD has called them to, shall be rewarded; a lack of reward does not mean a loss of salvation, but a loss of any potential reward (ROM 14:9-11;  2 COR 5:9-11).

And what did the LORD mean by verse 28? That we shall discuss in our next study, in MATTHEW 17th Chapter in this series The GOSPEL of MATTHEW: The MESSIAH and HIS MESSAGE!

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