Prayer…

We have touched upon the power of prayer briefly in my last post, but here I want to go a little deeper and get a little more definition and practical application going. I want to start out by looking at a question asked in the book of Job…

Job 21:15
What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?’

So, the question we are dealing with here specifically, is – how do we profit, or benefit, from spending time with God in prayer? We find part of this answer (and the main one that we are addressing in this post today), here…

Psalms 105:4
Seek the LORD and be empowered; seek His presence continually!

We find in other passages (particularly in Psalms) that God is our strength, but God had put things together so that we have to go seeking after Him for that strength, otherwise we would not be motivated to spend time with Him. Some will take argument with that statement…but when we do a scientific examination on this subject and question people about their prayer life, we find that even though people claim to love God, that love is not enough to motivate them to pray.

This brings us to an overwhelming observation; Jesus said…

John 14:12
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

What are the “works” that Jesus was doing? He was healing people, casting demons out of people, opening blind eyes and unstopping deaf ears, He was raising the dead and teaching people “the way of God.” So, if He said that those who believe will be doing the same things, why don’t we see these things taking place around us like they did in the book of Acts?

Part of the reason is that many people today believe a lie – they believe the Calvinistic stand that miracles ceases when John the Apostle died. They believe that God does not work through men today in the same way that He did in the gospel age, and most of them came to that conclusion because they didn’t see miracles taking place in their age. I can’t see air, either…but I am not dull enough to choose not to believe it just because I can’t see it.

If Jesus said that  believers would do these things, and we have thousands of people who claim to be believers, yet we see precious few (if any) of those believers performing miracles…then either Jesus lied, or there is more to the story. I do not believe that Jesus is a liar, so that only leaves one other explanation…there is more to the story than what we currently understand. The answer to this problem is…prayer.

Christians today – in America, anyway – seem to fail in their understanding of exactly what prayer is, what it does, and how it operates within the spiritual sphere of things. Just as the Psalmist states, we receive spiritual power from God by being in His presence in prayer. If we fail to spend adequate time in His presence through prayer, then we are powerless, inept, and impotent so as to do anything spiritual. What I mean is this…

If you don’t spend enough time in God’s presence through prayer:

You won’t be able to walk in the Spirit.

You won’t be able to walk in righteousness or holiness.

You won’t be able to crucify the flesh with its lusts and passions.

You won’t be able to walk in sanctification in your daily life.

You won’t be able to raise the dead or cast demons out of people.

You won’t be able to heal anyone, or to even love on certain people.

You won’t be able to change and be the person God wants you to be.

You will never be free from the addictions and hang-ups that you have in your life.

Because people in the past few decades have not known or understood the power of prayer, they have tried to do these things (and more) on their own…through having others pray for them, through programs and Christian self-help books and videos, etc. And when none of these things work (for none of them are empowered by the Spirit of God), then the person . . . in desperate frustration . . . turns to cling to one of the most dastardly tactics in false doctrine that satan has ever successfully implanted within the church. They begin to cling to the “grace is all and all” doctrine.

People in the Church who I call “grace-mongers” teach that grace is the all-in-all of God’s plan for salvation…they are playing right into satan’s hands when they do so. Grace does not cover everything, grace is not limitless, grace does have boundaries – and they are the boundaries which God has set, not man. If grace had no boundaries, then Paul could not have written that some of the Galatians had “fallen from grace.”

These people – who have tried everything (but themselves praying) – now come to believe that it has nothing to do with them. They come to believe that grace will take them home into the consummation of eternal life in heaven…and if they don’t wake up from this fantasy world, one day they will wake up in hell. God gave us prayer so that we could come to Him and spend time with Him in His presence. He gave us prayer so that we could spend time in His presence and receive the power and strength that we need in order to do all the spiritual things that we must do in order to walk with Him.

Grace does not cover our failure to walk in the Spirit, for Paul is adamant that if we fail to walk in the Spirit, being led by God’s Spirit, then we are not God’s children (Rom. 8:1-14). Grace does not cover our failure to walk in holiness and sanctification, and the Scriptures demonstrate that if we fail in this area, that we will end up in hell (Heb. 12:14). Grace does not cover our failure to strive to walk in obedience to God – it will cover our mistakes, but it will not cover a blatant disregard to even try to walk in that obedience…thinking that grace will cover it (I John 3:10).

Grace does NOT negate, nor take the place of, nor can it produce in us the things that only PRAYER can. The doctrine of over-extensive grace that these “grace-mongers” preach and teach effectively cause you to slip on the rocks and fall off of the narrow path, the only path that leads to heaven. This is how basic prayer is…

…you can’t even get saved – even by grace and faith – until you PRAY.

…you don’t have an intimate and personal relationship with God unless you are praying.

Prayer is much more than just intercession for others and praying for yourself. Prayer is communicating with God, spending time with Him just talking about things (and there are plenty of things that we can talk to God about – just as there are plenty of things that we can intercede for). There is no end to “prayer fodder”…that is, things that we can pray and talk to God about.

The main point of this blog entry, is that if you are not spending adequate time in prayer, in God’s presence, then you will never be able to do anything spiritual for God (and walking in obedience is a spiritual thing), just as Paul addresses here…

Galatians 5:16-17
16 But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the flesh wars against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

Yes…you cannot do the spiritual things that you want to do if you are walking in the flesh, and you cannot stop walking in the flesh and begin to walk in the Spirit if you are not spending enough time in God’s presence in prayer so as to be empowered to do so.

It is as easy as that – yet so many people fail to understand this spiritual principle. Prayer equals receiving spiritual power, and because we have thousands of “Christians” who don’t spend more than 15 minutes a day in prayer…we have thousands of powerless, impotent, basically WORTHLESS servants of Christ walking all around this country (and others), that can’t even spiritually punch their way out of a wet paper bag.

Thus the reason for all of the admonitions in the NT to pray…pray without ceasing…pray constantly…abound in prayer. And all of the examples of prayer in the NT…where Jesus went up for all night on a regular basis for prayer…where the disciples gathered together for prayer…where the ministers and early church fathers consecrated themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.

And with that we open another can of worms here in the States…impotent preachers who don’t spend enough time in God’s presence in prayer to even be able to preach their way out of a wet paper bag. It does not matter how much a pastor studies the Word of God, if he does not spend enough adequate time with God in His presence through prayer, then his preaching will be dry and full of flesh rather than living a full of the Spirit. A preacher who preaches out of the flesh does nothing but slowly kills his congregation.

Therefore…PRAY!!!

If it is hard to get started, then get together with others and have group prayer…get your prayer life primed in that group and then go home, shut your bedroom door, and begin praying on your own. When you pray, you enter into the very presence of God…the word for “seek” (darash) in the passage (Seek Yahweh and be empowered…) means to earnestly inquire from God through prayer and worship.

Begin to build your prayer life with God. To pray constantly means to pray several times a day…I started training myself to pray every hour on the hour, and chose different subjects to pray about for each time. I only started out praying 10-15 minutes at a time, but that adds up to over an hour a day…and pretty soon you will be praying for three hours a day and not even realizing it!

Blessings!

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Righteousness and Holiness

Righteousness and holiness…opposite (but complimentary) sides of the same coin.

Righteousness speaks of doing what is right in God’s eyes – walking in obedience to what He wants us to do.
Holiness speaks of keeping one’s self unspotted by sin and the world – walking in obedience to what God does not want us to do; in other words, the daily striving to keep one’s self pure (1 John 3:3   “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself because He is pure.”)

However, to practice holiness takes us into greater and greater measures of the spiritual, because to be holy does not just mean to be “set apart,” but to be set apart unto God, it speaks of a complete consecration of the whole man, mind, body, and soul. It means that we do not just live this life separating ourselves from sin, it means that the whole person dedicates his/her life to walking in obedience to God in every way humanly possible…just like Jesus did.

After all, this is part of the purpose of God in delivering us from our sins and sin nature…

Luke 1:68-75
68   Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people
69   and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,
70   as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old,
71   that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
72   to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant,
73   the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74   that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
75   in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.

Our enemies are sin and satan, and (praise God) BOTH are defeated in the life of the believer who aligns themselves with God in His Covenant. There is no refuge from either enemy outside of the New Covenant. Furthermore, we were not delivered from these enemies just to “rest in the work of Christ,” no, we were delivered to “serve Him without fear” of those defeated enemies. If one is walking in obedience to God (serving Him), then one has no fear of his shortfalls and momentary slippages into sin, because all such happenings are taken care of (I John 1:7).

We are told that we are to serve God “in holiness and righteousness” without fear of the occasional “missing the mark.” Holiness – to serve God by keeping yourself from sinful and worldly things that keep us distracted from what God does want us to do…serve Him by doing what is right in His eyes (righteousness). Why? As some without spiritual insight like to claim, why do we need to do anything?

Ephesians 4:20-24
20   But that is not the way you learned Christ!
21   assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
22   to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
23   and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
24   and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Why? Because the goal in this life is to be more like Christ, to be created after the likeness of God, which is only done so by practicing righteousness and holiness…by practicing doing what is right in God’s eyes, and by practicing TOTAL and COMPLETE CONSECRATION to God in holiness.

Granted, how do we do this in today’s world? It is hard, for one must “take up his own cross” in order to follow Jesus…the standard is the same today as it was the day Jesus spoke those words. It is harder today, only because we have become an “I want it now” generation…a modern generation with all kinds and sorts of worldly distractions calling our name, fighting fiercely for our attention…because even if your Waverunner isn’t sinful in and of itself, satan is using it to keep you from following Christ, no matter what you might argue or think.

1 John 3:10
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Hebrews 12:14
Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness – without which no one will see the Lord.

If we do not practice righteousness and holiness…

It is reported that the great revivalists Smith Wigglesworth and James Dunn both had encounters with Jesus right before their ministries took off in fire…that while praying for the infilling of the Spirit and for the gifts of the Spirit in operation in their ministries, the Lord said to them, “Stop praying for that, and pray to be more like Me.”

What was He saying? Jesus Christ modeled the fullness of human practice of righteousness and holiness…He was fully and completely consecrated to God in purity and walked in obedience to God, in the power of the Spirit, manifesting all the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus was HOLY, and what He told these two great men of God was to be like Him…practice holiness.

“Separate yourself from your sins, wholly consecrate yourself to God, to do what He wants you to do rather than the things that YOU want to do…THEN you will be a vessel of great usefulness to the Master.”

My First pastor had a great saying…”The world today has not seen what God can do through a man completely consecrated unto Him.”
That saying is true.

However, in a modern world where practicing righteousness and holiness is lain aside because “we don’t have to”…where does that leave us?

Blessings!

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UPDATE: What does “walking in the spirit” mean (and how to do it)?

Romans 8:3-4
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but who walk according to the Spirit.

In the passage above Paul uses the terminology “walk according to the Spirit” but in Gal. 5:16 he uses the terminology “walk in the Spirit”…

Galatians 5:16
But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

But what exactly does walking in the spirit mean? According to the Greek words and grammar, and the intended meaning behind them, let us examine the next passage…

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

To make a long story short (if you want some details let me know and I will add them, I am just short on time today), a better translation of the Greek grammar here gives us the following…

For those who live according to the flesh, devote their minds to pursuing the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit, devote their minds to pursuing the things of the Spirit.

So…what are the things of the Spirit that the believer needs to pursue? The short answer is – anything that emanates from, or leads to, the spiritual. A short list would be

(1)  Striving to walk in holiness.

(2)  Striving to walk in obedience to God.

(3)  Striving to spend as much time with God in prayer that we can.

(4)  For those who can, fasting with prayer for specific spiritual things.

The list goes on, but basically anything that either builds you up, or builds someone else up spiritually, or builds up the Kingdom of God, is a spiritual pursuit. We are either striving to do worldly, fleshly things (whether sinful in and of themselves or not), or we are striving to do spiritual things (reading your Bible, praying, evangelizing, etc.).

According to Paul in Rom. chapter 8, those who walk in the flesh cannot please God, saved or not, that is not the point. The saved person will go to hell just as the unsaved person will if they are not walking in sanctification – which is exactly what Paul talks about when he says “walking in the Spirit” (look up above again to Gal. 5:16).

Jesus says the same thin only in different words:

Luke 9:23
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

Luke 14:27
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14:33
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Why does Jesus say that unless we crucify our flesh/desires of the flesh that we cannot be His disciples? Because if we do not crucify the flesh with its desires and lusts, we will not want to follow Him – because the flesh wars against the spirit in order to keep us from doing the spiritual things that we might desire to do…

Galatians 5:17
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

A better (and less confusing) translation of this verse says…

Because the flesh wars against the Spirit, and fights against the spirit in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

This is why Paul continues in this same chapter to say that only those who crucify their flesh (along with its lusts and passions) can become one of Christ’s…

Galatians 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

So we have covered what walking in the Spirit means (to reiterate, it means that we live our lives in the pursuit of spiritual things, especially working daily on being holy – that is, practicing sanctification…keeping ourselves free from sin as much as possible), but if you are like me, telling you what it means and that you must do it…really doesn’t help me much unless you give me instructions on HOW to do it.

There is only one way for us to walk in the Spirit and please God…to walk in holiness and sanctification…to crucify the flesh and its lusts and passions which get in between us and the spiritual things that we want to do…and that is prayer.

Prayer has fallen along the way-side in this modern world, and that is a shame…because we cannot be what God wants us to be in this world without it…we cannot do what He wants us to do without prayer – it is as simple as that. Here is how it works…

Psalms 105:4
Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!

The verse reads a little differently in the Hebrew…

Seek Yahweh and be strengthened; seek His presence continually.

The ONLY way for us to receive the spiritual strength or power that enables us to perform spiritually, is through seeking God’s presence…that is, by coming into His presence. I have used this analogy before, but it is the closest thing that I can think of to illustrate this spiritual principle.

Think of yourself as a spiritual glow-in-the-dark item…just like the glow-in-the-dark toys we used to get as children. You take that toy and hold it up to a light-bulb which “powers” it up to glow…then when you turn out the light or go into a dark room, the toy would glow that eerie green color.

You are a spirit temporarily dwelling within a physical body of flesh, and the ONLY light source of energy to a spirit is the Father of Spirits – God, Yahweh. When we come into His presence and spend an adequate amount of time there, we soak in the Light of His presence…

Psalms 90:8
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.

Psalms 4:6
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O LORD!”

Psalms 89:15
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk in the light of Your face, O LORD,

Isaiah 2:5
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Remember Moses when he came down off the mountain top after spending 40 days and nights in God’s immediate presence? How his face glowed so brightly that he had to cover his head with a “gunny sack” until the brightness faded? When we spend time in God’s presence, we can become saturated by His presence, power, and Spirit…giving us the spiritual power that we need to dominate the flesh, rather than allowing the flesh to continually dominate over us.

How do we enter into God’s presence? According to the Scriptures, we enter into God’s presence through praise, worship, and especially prayer…

Psalms 95:2
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

While thanksgiving is a form of worship, the Hebrew here reads a little differently than this translation…

Come before His presence with song and shout praise to Him.

Psalms 100:2
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!

We have the idea of entering into God’s presence through prayer through Psalm 105:4 and others using the word “seek” in reference to His presence, for prayer is always the context of such seeking. We do not see any Biblical reference to seeking God in any other context or in any other way.

When we pray, or sing praise or worship songs to God, we enter into the spiritual realm, we enter into His presence. In the passages below, we “draw near” to God’s throne of grace, where God sits – we are drawing near into His presence…where we find help (power – in this case) in the time of need…

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 10:19-22
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

We have confident entrance into the Holy of Holies – the presence of God – because when Jesus died upon the cross and He uttered the words, “It is finished,” the atonement for sin was made and the veil in the temple separating men from the presence of God was torn into two pieces (Mat. 27:51). We enter today by the “new and living way” (of the Spirit – Rom. 7:6)  so that we can enter into God’s presence for life.

Here is the catchy part…praying is a spiritual endeavor, and speaking from experience, it is not easy (at first) to spend time praying. Here is my suggestion – get with some Christian friends or people from church, and set a regular time of prayer and come together for group prayer. Begin by everyone giving things to pray about, and then just all come together in a huddle and begin praying about those things.

It is easier to pray when you commit yourself to others to come together…and as many times a week that you can do so, do it! Soon, you will have the strength to pray on your own, and the more you pray the more power you accumulate. Remember that glow-in-the-dark illustration I gave earlier? That toy did not retain its glowing power for very long, and neither do we retain that power of God for long.

It is like a bucket for water with a small hole in the bottom…we need to constantly pray in order to first get that bucket full, and then to keep it full!!! As an example, all I can give you is my own experience…I try to pray for at least one hour a day, and at that rate it took me just about a month before I had the strength to snort at temptation and walk away – just like that!

A month may seem like a long time, but the more time we spend in God’s presence in prayer, the stronger we get…and there is no other way in order to receive that spiritual strength in order to walk in the Spirit. That is God’s way, and He does it for a reason…but we cannot get into those right now.

Remember all of the exhortations to pray…

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Ephesians 6:18
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Colossians 4:2
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 5:17
pray without ceasing,

…and the examples of such prayer by Jesus and others…

Matthew 14:23
And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone,

Luke 5:16
But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 6:12
In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.

Luke 18:1
And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Acts 1:14
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Acts 6:4
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

By not emboldening other words I am not dismissing them in the texts above, my point is to show the importance of prayer. If we spent today as much time as Jesus, His disciples, and others did…we would be walking in the same power that they did.

Recall that Stephen (Acts 6) was not an Apostle…he was just like you and me…and he performed miracles and signs of power. Even Jesus Himself was giving us an example – He was God in the flesh…but He laid His powers of deity down to walk in this life just as a man. the miracles and power that He displayed was an example of what we can also do if we fill ourselves up with God’s power through prayer.

Don’t believe me? Read John 14-15 and mark where Jesus tells us that we can do the same miracles that He did as long as we are walking and abiding in Him…and then remember that Romans 8 begins with those who are abiding in Christ – who walk in the Spirit, not the flesh.

There are your two motivations for praying as much as you can in order to receive spiritual power…(1) to perform in the supernatural, and (2) just to enter into God’s presence where there is fullness of joy and spiritual pleasures!

Psalms 16:11
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Blessings!

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A close look at Matthew 7:21-13

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Many who teach on this passage come from the Calvinistic persuasion and so teach that those Jesus addresses in verses 22-23 were never truly saved, but only those who thought they were saved – because of the false doctrine from Calvin of Unconditional Eternal Security. Many others teach on this passage do not understand covenant or covenanting, nor the principles by which ANE (Ancient Near East) covenants operated by.

First, if you have read the entries here on covenanting, you may recall that both Redemptive covenants of God (that is, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant) follow ANE covenanting principles, just as God designed them from the beginning. These redemptive covenants have what is called, “covenant law”…the covenant law of the Old Covenant was the 10 Commandments which are no longer in force today because the Old Covenant is no longer in force, being replaced by the New Covenant.

Covenant law had one purpose – it was the stated conditions for remaining in covenant relationship with God…that’s it. No one was ever saved either in the Old or today in the New Covenants by walking in obedience to covenant law…one is saved through union with God which one can only attain by first being in covenant relationship with God. Those who believe that Paul addresses people thinking themselves saved because they obeyed the Law of Moses, misunderstand that Paul is not addressing what the Scriptures teach, but what the Pharisees contorted and perverted. No where in the OT Scriptures is it taught that anyone was saved because they obeyed the covenant law (the 10 Commandments) – that belief arose during the Intertestimental Period between Malachi and Matthew, which we have no Biblical record of, but which is attested to through other historical writings.

In any event, this passage (Mat. 7:21-23) is Jesus addressing the people in the Sermon on the Mount, which when thoroughly examined, is an identical image of Moses being given the law by God and then turning around and giving the law to the Israelites. In the OT, Moses was the lawgiver…in the NT, Jesus is the lawgiver. Moses mediated the Old Covenant between God and men, and Jesus mediated the New Covenant between God and men 2,000 years ago.

Jesus stood on the mountain (just as Moses did) and delivered the covenant law to the people (just as Moses did before Him), and in Mat. 7:21-23 is part of that covenantal address. Jesus says in verse 21 that only those who walk in obedience to God will enter into heaven – and what He was talking about was obedience to the covenant law of the New Covenant, just as the Old Covenant. However, remember that they New Covenant is based upon better promises than the Old Covenant…

Hebrews 8:6
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

In verse 22 we find those who at one time were saved and walking with God in covenant relationship…because no man can cast out demons, prophecy, and do miracles in Christ’s name unless he is walking in covenant relationship with God. It is through Christ, the Living New Covenant (Isa. 42:6, 49:8), that God gives man the power and authority to do such things.

It is not about “works” which so many preachers and teachers today try to make the passage out to be addressing. Those in verse 22 WERE saved and they WERE walking with God and they DID have eternal life at one time…but since “once saved, always saved” doctrine is false teaching, those in verse 22 failed to take the next step and so in the end were cast into the Lake of Fire.

The Western Church today has a big problem, and like most cancers, it goes unnoticed almost until it is too late. Today the church is taught that one has eternal life simply because they believe (which is true); and that’s it…”once saved, always saved” is the motto spouted out by most churches in America and European countries today, but that is not what the Scriptures teach. The Scriptures teach that eternal life is only a state of being, that it has a purpose – and when observed as it is in the Scriptures, eternal life can then be more accurately identified as another prerequisite to attaining heaven…

John 17:3
And this is the purpose of eternal life, that they may come to know You personally, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Now, in verse 23 above we see that Jesus tells those in verse 22 who are not making it into heaven, “I never knew you.” And in John 17:3 above we see that the purpose of eternal life is so that we can get to know God on a personal basis. You Bible will not read the same as the text above because I translated it directly from the Greek, and (again) if you have read any of my posts before, you may remember that I repeatedly state that most of our translations today fail to bring the Greek grammar fully into view. Above is the meaning of the Greek text (with its grammar); the word translated as “that” in most of your Bibles is hina, and means that, so that, meaning for the purpose of.

The word translated as “know” is ginosko, meaning to know either in a beginning or completed sense, depending upon how it is used in the text. It intimates that such knowledge of someone comes by way of personal fellowship with, a knowledge acquired over time through experience. The word here is in the Present Active Subjunctive verb form, meaning that one can constantly or repeatedly come to know God through personal interaction with Him, but the choice is theirs to make. Hence, “they may come to know You.” Eternal life present, then, is NOT what we have been erroneously taught that it is today in many Christian circles.

There are passages in the NT that address eternal life in two different categories: (1) as a present reality (eternal life present) and (2) as a future consummation in heaven (consummation of eternal life). No one who has eternal life present is gauranteed to reach the consummation of eternal life in heaven…only those who come to know God will, and only by walking in obedience to the covenant law of the New Covenant, therefore remaining in covenant relationship with God in order to come to know Him.

Eternal life, then, is more clearly understood as a legal term by the covenant for remaining in covenant relationship with God. One who believes has eternal life present, but as John the Baptist says in John 3:36, the believer who does not walk in obedience to Christ will never make it to the consummation of eternal life, because the wrath of God STILL remains upon him (and in the NT Scriptures, Jesus and all of the writers intend one who believes as one who not only believes but walks in obedience to what he believes, so obedience is automatically part of believing in the mindset of Jesus, Paul, James, John, Peter, Luke, and Jude)…

John 3:36
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Those in Mat. 21-23 who were saved (what Jesus meant by them calling Him Lord) and who worked miracles in His name and then told to “depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness,” were those who did abide in the covenant and so had the power and authority of Christ to perform such miracles…but they missed the whole point of eternal life in that they failed to engage God in personal relationship. This is why Christ tells them, “I never knew you,” and what He means is that He never got to know them personally.  God knows about everyone who was ever born – He is God…but there is a very real difference between knowing about someone and knowing them personally, experientially.

I can read a book about your life, what you have done, your dreams and aspirations, your interests and so forth…and through that I can get to know a great deal about you, but I can never get to know you personally without spending time with you…and that is the same way with coming to know God.

Don’t be one of those people in Mat. 7:22-23….be one of those people who spend time with Him in prayer and come to know Him on a personal and intimate level, and make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb!

Blessings!

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The Most Important Thing

The more I meditate upon the Word of God and pray about what I see, for confirmation, the more I experience both exhilaration and sadness. Exhilaration at gaining a deeper insight into the mind of God toward us, and sadness at the amount of people who I am seeing leave the church for whatever personal reasons that they are doing so for. However, when all of those reasons are boiled down to where the ‘rubber meets the road,’ it all comes down to the fact that for whatever reason – be it the failure of their pastor in teaching the Word of God, or for the Christian today just playing church and not taking their walk with God seriously – the main reason they are leaving is because they don’t understand what Christianity is all about.

Jesus came to institute the New Covenant, in which we gain the atonement in Christ’s blood. The atonement in Christ gives us things that the atonement under the Old Covenant did not: The imputed righteousness of Christ, the imputed holiness of Christ, based upon these two elements of the atonement God proclaims us as justified; The combination of righteousness and holiness brings salvation from sin (the fourth element of the atonement), based upon these four elements, we have received redemption and reconciliation, for a total of six elements. All of these are given to us for one reason…because we need them in order to enter into God’s presence, in order to engage Him in personal and intimate relationship. Notice that eternal life is NOT in the atonement in Christ (much to the false teachings of Reformed Theology, which states that we have eternal life because Christ died on the cross…which is not Scriptural), we are given the elements in the atonement in Christ so that we can enter into God’s presence and engage Him in personal relationship and fellowship, for no man can approach God with sin in his life. The atonement in Christ has only ONE purpose: it is the basis for God’s forgiveness, and it cleanses us from sin…

Leviticus 5:18
He shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him for the mistake that he made unintentionally, and he shall be forgiven.

Leviticus 16:30
For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins.

As long as one continues to abide in the New Covenant relationship with God, the blood of Christ continues to cleanse us from all sin…

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

We need to remember that eternal life is spoken of as both a present day reality as well as a future consummation. In other words, just as Jesus says, if we believe in Him and walk in obedience to Him, then we have eternal life now – but those who do not follow through with the REASON that we have been given eternal life will not see life in eternity, just as the Scriptures teach…

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

So, the usual next question is this, “What is the purpose for eternal life?” I am glad that you asked, and here is the answer, straight from the mouth of Christ Himself…

John 17:1-3
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
3 And this is the purpose of eternal life, so that they might come to know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

God gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to all that come to Him, but that eternal life does NOT automatically mean that those who have it will go to heaven ‘no questions asks,’ and it is foolish for people to teach and preach that nonsense because it is not Scriptural. The gift of eternal life has a purpose, and it is NOT to get you into heaven when your mortal body dies…it’s purpose is to give you access to God so that you can enter into an intimate, personal, love relationship with God.

Jesus clearly stated that “the purpose of eternal life [is] so that they MIGHT come to know You, the only true God…” The purpose for having eternal life here on earth, in this life, is so that you can come to know God on an intimate and personal basis; and that is also the reason for your existence, that is the reason why God made you in the first place. Failure to understand this purpose, and to engage God in personal and intimate relationship, is why people are leaving the church today…because they want to experience God and have not experienced Him in church.

In my mind, failing to experience God in church is the pastor’s fault. I will be so bold as to also say that any pastor WORTH HIS SALT will understand the purpose for eternal life, he will also understand how to move his congregation into inviting the presence of God to come down into his church service in worship, so that God can manifest His presence in real and tangible ways. When people experience God personally, in real and tangible ways, they move closer to Him and develop that intimate personal love relationship which He is looking for in His people…when they do not experience God in real and tangible, personal ways…

Judges 2:7-12
7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel….
10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.
12 And they abandoned the LORD….

Experiencing God and coming to know Him on an intimate and personal basis makes the difference between a living faith and a dying / dead faith. Today the world is full of churches that fail to induce the presence of God into their services…they fail to invite the presence of God to come down out of heaven and visit His people, because the secret is that God will not come unless He is invited. Worship is our invitation to God to come and walk with us, among us, to move within and among us…and when worship in church services becomes something less than what worship is in reality, then it ceases to be an invitation and becomes nothing more than noise in the ears of God.

If you live in the United States you may know my references here, and if not then I have nothing else to compare my point with. In many church “worship” services today, we have substituted contemporary Christian songs for worship songs…but most of them are NOT worship songs. “The God of Angel Armies” is great when it fulfills its purpose as a contemporary Christian song, but it is NOT a worship song, just as many other songs pastors and worship leaders are substituting true worship for. Contemporary Christian music may give us the goose-bumps…but worship is NOT about you getting goose-bumps, it is about extolling and exalting the God of all Creation.

True worship magnifies God, not what God has done for us, nor how much we love God because of what He has done. There is a difference between praise and worship, and while praise is important and has its rightful place, it is NOT to take the place of worship. Praise God for His goodness and kindness and love and works which He has done among us…but worship is not praise, worship is making love to God, it is loving on Him in song, in worship we magnify Him, we adore Him, we weep before Him, we exalt Him. Praise brings joy to our hearts…but worship…true worship brings tears of love, it causes us to fall to our knees with hands lifted to Him in just loving on Him. When we invite Him into our services, then He moves…He speaks to the congregation through prophecies and tongues and the interpretation of tongues…He heals and binds up and delivers with a might hand.

When God is present we have anything and everything that we ever need. When He is not present, because our church leaders have failed to coax us into inviting His presence to light upon us, then we have nothing…we receive nothing…and we become disenchanted with the idea that God truly exists…and we walk away from even trying any longer.

I have seen young people who were raised all their lives in church, turn around and walk away from God… as well as middle-aged and elderly folks do the same, and it all boils down to one reason. Our church leadership (for the most part) does not walk with God, and when they do not walk with God they do not receive insight from the Spirit on how to conduct church so as to draw God’s presence to us. We do not, therefore, experience the reality and power of God in a personal way in church, and so we fail to go home and invoke the presence of God into our homes, bedrooms, and prayer closets…and we shrivel up…and we die spiritually… and then we walk away from the church altogether.

I have seen people who were in church most of their lives, suddenly “come out of the closet” and announce to all that they were homosexual…why? Because their church leadership did not invoke the presence of God into their church services…these people did not experience God in a real, personal, and tangible way; and so their faith wilted and died…giving way to other things.

The most important thing, my friends, is spending intimate quiet time with God, just you and Him alone in your room (or wherever). Fall down upon your face and worship Him in word and in song…sing worship songs to Him (“I Exalt Thee,” “I Worship You,” “As the Deer pants for water,” “I Love You Lord,” “All Hail King Jesus” etc…), verbally invite Him to spend some time with you where you are. Pretty soon the tears of love for Him will flow, His presence will be manifest where you are, and you will have started on a journey of love so strong that you will feel as if you just can’t contain it. Pretty soon, you may even begin hearing the very voice of God in your spirit…

I can’t even put into words what an experience that is.

Blessings!

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Matthew Vines…a Christian? Not according to the Scriptures.

Lately Matthew Vines has been making waves, claiming to be a Christian that loves the Bible and Christianity, but as Jesus said…

Matthew 7:16-20
16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Lest someone think that I am saying that he is a false prophet (as in one who foretells the future), the term prophet in the Greek can mean either one who foretells, or forthtelling…which means expounding upon something. Mr. Vines, according to the Scriptures, is not a Christian. I have no doubt that he claims to be one, but his fruit demonstrates otherwise.

In an article published on “Upworthy” (a web-based article chauffeur of supposed truth, but apparently they don’t check the articles published on their web site for factualness – otherwise Mr. Vines’ article would not be included), claiming only 6 passages of Scripture in the Bible that deal with homosexuality. Not only is he wrong on that basic tenet, but his conclusion and means of explicating the Scriptures he uses, are both out the window as far as any real and sound examination goes. Vines claims that he did “intensive study” on the issue and came to the conclusion that God does not speak against homosexual acts in Scripture, but against other sexual based misbehavior.

His first point in the article in trying to make us believe that homosexuality is not a sin in God’s eyes, is the story in Genesis 19 where God sends angels disguised as men into Sodom to pull Lot and his family out before God rains down destruction upon it. Vine’s claims that:

For centuries, this story was interpreted as God’s judgment on same-sex relations, but the only form of same-sex behavior described is a threatened gang rape.

Maybe it escapes Mr. Vines’ reading comprehension, but gang rape behavior was same-sex, homosexual behavior, while both rape and homosexual behavior are both condemned by God as punishable by death…so exactly how he thinks the fact of “gang rape” homosexual behavior is any less homosexual than a one-on-one homosexual rape encounter is any different, is beyond any sense or soundness of mind. Case in point, his first claim that the story of Sodom does not mean “God’s judgment on same-sex relations” is based upon his bias leading his mind where he wants to go, NOT where the Scriptures lead us.

His next attempt at decrying God’s judgment upon Sodom for homosexual lifestyles, is in quoting Ezekiel 16:49…might I add, out of context…

Ezekiel 16:49
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Vines tries to tell us that the sin of Sodom was “pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease,” and not aiding the poor and needy. The problem with Mr. Vines’ exegesis is, however, that he breaks several hermeneutical principles of bible interpretation, especially that of Context. When we read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 16 we come to see that God is addressing Jerusalem, and in His address He uses the term Samaria as a figure of speech for the northern kingdom of Israel, and He uses the term Sodom as a figure of speech for the southern kingdom of Judah…which together made up the nation of Israel.

Before Mr. Vines tries to exegete any more Scripture, he really needs to first drop his homosexual-based bias and then learn Biblical Hermeneutics (and apply some common sense). God was not addressing the city of Sodom which had been destroyed now for over 1,500 years – He is addressing the sins of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which He does quite often and refers to them as sisters, among other things. In short, Mr. Vines’ second attempt at making homosexual behavior likable to God’s standard of obedience flies in the face of Scripture, biblical hermeneutics, and common sense rendering of the text he uses.

Mr. Vines next attack comes upon Leviticus 18:22, where God says…

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

He goes on to claim that…

Other things called abominations in the Old Testament include having sex during a woman’s menstrual period, eating pork, rabbit, or shell fish, and charging interest on loans, but they’re part of the Old Testament law code, which was fulfilled by Jesus.

Part of the issue here is that Mr. Vines doesn’t know part of what he is talking about, or else is he purposely deceiving those who might read his article. Christ did NOT come and fulfill the ceremonial laws of “unclean foods,” neither does He have anything to do with fulfilling sexual intercourse with a woman on her menstrual period, nor charging interest on loans. The law code which Jesus came and fulfilled was the covenant law of the Old Covenant, which is the Decalogue (the 10 Commandments). All of the other laws stemming from these were social and ceremonial laws, and nothing which Christ fulfilled.

By his inference, Mr. Vines is trying to tell us that Christ took up into Himself homosexual sins and fulfilled any law speaking against it, and I am sorry to say that he does not understand what he is claiming nor trying to make us believe. Since homosexuality is against nature as God created it, Christ would not take up into Himself and fulfill a sinful behavior so that people may go around committing homosexual acts and be forgiven when they ask, yet continuing practicing a homosexual lifestyle. It seems to me that Mr. Vines wants to eat his candy and go to heaven too, but God does not work like that, and Mr. Vines is perverting the Scriptures in his attempt to make the general public (and worse, Christians) accept his thesis.

He continues with Hebrews 8:13 where he correctly (to my great surprise) reads the verse as saying that Christ is the end of the law of the Old Testament. He is correct there, but then sadly fails to understand that when Christ came on the scene and fulfilled the old law of the Old Covenant, He also established the new law of the New Covenant, which is called the Law of Christ (which I am surprised he did not try to twist in his efforts here, but perhaps he does somewhere else that I have not read yet).

Vines goes on in another failing attempt to exegete Romans 1:26-17…

Romans 1:26-27
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were inflamed for one another, men in men committing shameless acts and receiving in themselves the natural recompense for their actions.

…he tries to make us believe that what Paul is REALLY talking about here is lust…not homosexuality, but lust. He says that “the behavior he condemns is lustful. He makes no mention of love, commitment, or faithfulness,” meaning that if a man just lusts to have sexual intercourse with another man, without loving him, or committing himself to his partner, or being faithful to his partner, then it is sin. But, if the two homosexual partners love each other, commit to each other and are faithful to each other, then God does not condemn them to hell. Exactly where he gets this from the text is anyone’s guess, but he does not get it from the text, and that is the main issue here with this failed attempt. Paul’s CLEAR implication is homosexual behavior, but Mr. Vines cannot see that because he falls victim to the first part of Paul’s full statement…

Romans 1:18-22
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Vines goes on in his attack on the Scriptures by claiming…

His description of same-sex behavior is based solely on a burst of excess and lust. In the ancient world, same-sex behavior mainly occurred between adult men and adolescent boys, between masters and their slaves, or in prostitution. Most of the men engaged in those practices were married to women, so same-sex behavior was widely seen as stemming from out of control lust and vice of excess, like gluttony and drunkenness. And while Paul labeled same sex behavior unnatural, he says in 1 Corinthians 11:14 that for men to wear their hair long also goes against nature, and most Christians interpret that as a reference to cultural conventions.

First, his claim that homosexual behavior was seen “as stemming from out of control lust and vice of excess, like gluttony and drunkenness” is no where supported in any research that I have been able to locate. This claim appears to be a fabrication…although I must also point out that this article is found on an internet source and not in a religious or science journal of any kind, which simply means that one can claim anything he wants to and does not need to supply any kind of reference material where he supposedly gleaned this information from.

Second, the link between Paul calling homosexual behavior unnatural, and men wearing long hair as unnatural, is a leap in the extreme. Homosexual acts are unnatural because God created man and woman, Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve…and if He had, we would not be here to argue the point because sexual intercourse has two purposes: (1) for procreation (and no homosexual couple has ever produced a child – BECAUSE HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR IS UNNATURAL), and (2) for sexual pleasure. Homosexual acts are unnatural because God created the male organ (A) specifically for the female organ (B), NOT for the excretory system (C). That may be a bit graphic, but those are the facts.

When a male engages in a homosexual sex act with another male, he chooses to engage in an act which is as unnatural as human beings sprouting wings and flying. A man can strap on a pair of man-made wings and flap his arms and perhaps fly artificially, but that does not make the incident a natural one. When Paul addresses long hair he addresses men who might let their hair grow out down to the floor, and as he says, a woman’s hair is given to her as a covering. If she grows it out long enough, and pulls it to the front of her body, it covers her…but that really isn’t the point here. While hair may have been a cultural convention as Vines states, homosexual behavior was not. What’s more, Paul was addressing Romans, not Jews. God’s people already knew that homosexual behavior was a vile and gross act, but in Rome – in the spiritual darkness and void of God’s truth – they practiced such things, and so Paul was addressing those practices according to the revelation God had given to him. In short, Mr. Vines fails again, both in his exegesis of the Scriptures and in applying solid methods and principles of biblical interpretation.

Vines goes on to say…

In the last two likely references to same-sex behavior in the Bible, two Greek words, malakoi and arsenokoitai, are included in lists of people who will not inherit God’s kingdom. Many modern translators have rendered these terms as sweeping statements about gay people, but the concept of sexual orientation didn’t even exist in the ancient world.

First, malakoi does not specifically mean homosexual behavior, so I will not address it.
Second, the second word is arsenokoites, not arsenokoitai (which is the plural masculine form of the word). It is formed from two words; arsen (male) and koite (bed, bed-chambering), in which bed-chambering means sexual intercourse. This word specifically deals with a male who “beds” or “bed-chambers” another male: Homosexual acts. Vines is correct in repeating that those who engage in homosexual acts will not inherit God’s kingdom (and yet he appears to be living that very lifestyle…so what is he really saying), but then he goes off and makes a straight up lie to his readers when he claims that “the concept of sexual orientation didn’t even exist in the ancient world,”

If it did not, then, what was Paul talking about in Romans? I hope that people reading Mr. Vines’ articles are smart enough to see the obvious confusion in which he swims, and rejects his surmisings…but obviously my hope is thwarted, for the person who apparently posted his article claims to believe his nonsense, and also claims to be a Christian. It is sad to see people who have obviously been acquainted with church in their lives yet never come to know Christ personally, because such people go out of the church (or even worse, remain within the church) and listen so the nonsense such as what we have been discussing here. Yes, modern translators (in Vines’ words) render these terms as sweeping statements against homosexuals – because that is EXACTLY what they are.

Vines goes on…

Yes, Paul did not take a positive view of same-sex relations, but the context he was writing in is worlds apart from gay people in committed, monogamous relationships. The Bible never addresses the issues of sexual orientation or same-sex marriage, so there’s no reason why faithful Christians can’t support their gay brothers and sisters. It’s time.

First, Paul’s words are NOT “worlds apart from gay people in committed, monogamous relationships,” that is what Mr. Vines has come to believe based upon his bias for homosexuals. The homosexual sex act is not blurred, softened, nor tempered by “committed, monogamous relationships,” and to claim as such demonstrates just how far his claimed love for the Scriptures and God goes. Just as in Romans 1, men become lovers of themselves and what they want, and so set God aside, all the while claiming to put God first. The homosexual acts of a woman with another woman, or a man with another man, is what God commands is an abomination in His sight, and no committed or monogamous homosexual relationship is sanctioned by God as righteous.

Second, the bible does address sexual orientation (but definitely not same-sex marriage, because addressing homosexuality IS addressing same-sex marriage – it is an abomination and a sin in God’s eyes), and to say that it doesn’t is Mr. Vines’ bias speaking again, NOT the Scriptures. If a man’s bias is strong enough, it will cause him to see the color red as blue, and in psychology that is called schizophrenia (a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements).

Third, a person who is practicing homosexual behavior is not a Christian, for a Christian practices obedience to Christ and the Scriptures, and one who is practicing homosexual behavior is not walking in obedience to God or Christ according to the Scriptures. Therefore, no Christian has a homosexual “brother” or “sister,” Mr. Vines is out in left field with that statement.

Vines states in the beginning of his article that his slant on the Scriptures he presents to others actually changed his parent’s minds on God’s stand against homosexual behavior. I have seen this before, where a parent or parents just can’t deal with the thought of their child going to hell for the rest of eternity for their chosen lifestyle (for whatever reason), so they make friends with the sin, disregard God’s Word on the subject, and choose against the facts to believe the lie. Otherwise its just too maddening to think of your child burning for all eternity.

However, Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword, and that His teachings would set a father against a son, and a daughter against her mother…and that is what we are witnessing in these last days. The only thing I can say is this…the Rapture is coming, and when believers are taken out of this world in a moment, in the blink of an eye, that will be the last sign to those like Mr. Vines and all of the others who will be left behind to go through the Great Tribulation, that the Scriptures are correct and that God is real.

Blessings!

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The Nature of Eternal Life, part 4

Today I am only going to hit one passage because there is a lot going in within it. We will look at Matthew 7:21-23 in great detail, but I am going to begin by breaking it down into individual verses, then I will bring them all together again in a more grammatically accurate thought-for-thought rendering, rather than a word-for-word rendering where a lot of intended meaning in the Greek is lost in the English translations.

 

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 

21   “Not everyone who says [1] to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter [2] the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does [3] the will of My Father who is in heaven.

 

1.  “says” = lego, meaning to relate, recount, say, call; found in the Present Active Participle, meaning to continually or repeatedly do this action.

2.  “enter” = eiserchomai, meaning to go, to come into, to enter; in the Future Middle Indicative, meaning that this action will take place in the future, being accomplished by the subject of the verb (everyone).

3.  “does” = poieo, meaning to make, to do; expressed as an action that is continuous, repeated, habitual (practiced); it is expressed as a precept, requirement to do or perform, to fulfill. It is also in the Present Active Participle, reinforcing the thought of continual or repeated actions of obedience to the will of God.

Thus, a thought-for-thought (TFT) translation of this verse would read:

“Not everyone who consistently calls Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who continually obey the will of My Father who is in heaven.”

 

 22   On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy [4] in Your name, and cast out [4] demons in Your name, and do many mighty works [4] in Your name?’

 

4.  “prophesy,” “cast out,” and “works” are all found in the Aorist Active Indicative, meaning that it was a fact that these people prophesied, cast demons out of people, and performed “works of power” (dunamis). It also means that they did not continually do these things, but did them in the past and then ceased to do them.

A TFT rendering of this verse would be: (it really doesn’t change that much)

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast demons out of people, and in Your name accomplished many works of power?’”

 

 23   And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew [5] you; depart [6] from Me, you workers [7] of lawlessness [8].’”

 

5.  “knew” = ginosko, meaning to come to know in either a beginning or completed sense; in the Second Aorist Active Indicative, meaning the action took place in the past and was accomplished by the subject of the verb. In other words, “you” negated what needed to take place in order for the Lord to come to know them, they failed to do what was necessary in order for the Lord to come to know them.

6.  “depart” = apochoreo, meaning to depart, to go from; in the Present Active Imperative, meaning that it is a command.

7.  “workers” = ergazomai, meaning to work; it is in the plural and Present Deponent Participle, meaning that these people continuously or repeatedly performed the following…

8.  “lawlessness” = anomia, meaning lawlessness (not the absence of the law, but violation of the law in contempt [Thayer’s Definitions] – strong disapproval tinged with disgust). Zodhiates says “impious person,” or one who performs religious acts but lacks reverence for God.

Thus, a TFT rendering of this verse could be…

“And then I Myself will publicly confess, ‘You failed to do what was necessary in order for Me to know you, therefore I never came to know you. Depart from Me, you continual workers of lawlessness.’”

Or…

“And then I Myself will publicly confess, ‘You failed to do what was necessary in order for Me to know you, therefore I never came to know you. Depart from Me, you who continually worked in contempt of My law.’”

Either one would be acceptable (and I favor the second version). Therefore, bringing all these three verses back together again, a TFT rendering would read:

 “Not everyone who consistently calls Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who continually obey the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast demons out of people, and in Your name accomplished many works of power?’ And then I Myself will publicly confess, ‘You failed to do what was necessary in order for Me to know you, therefore I never came to know you. Depart from Me, you who continually worked in contempt of My law.’”

Scripture says that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13), and Christ is here addressing people who want to listen to Him, he is addressing those who desire to enter into heaven. He implies that just because one believes in Him does not mean that this person will enter into heaven, because he must do more than simply believe, he must also obey God. This is whole within the context of these three verses.

In verse 22 Jesus goes on to describe how certain people will react when they are not allowed into heaven, complaining that they worked powerful works of faith in His name…they were saved (and continued to call Him Lord), they were in legal covenant relationship with God, which is how they were able to perform works of power by God’s Spirit (if they were not in legal covenant relationship with God then they would not have had the Spirit in order to cast out demons, and in the case of giving prophesies, if they were foretelling, they could not do that either except by God’s Spirit – if they were foretelling, Jesus does not call them false prophets, so their prophecies must have come to pass). These people were in legal covenant relationship with God, which enabled them to engage God in personal and intimate relationship, but they failed to do so. Like so many today, they spent their time just standing and resting against the wall after gaining access to the throne room of heaven, and watched but did not engage God in relationship.

In verse 23 Jesus goes on to answer them, telling them that they had done exactly what He accused the Pharisees of doing in the days when He walked the earth, that they performed what was necessary by the law but did not love God in the doing (Luke 11:42). Their actions were not spurred on by love for God, but by other motivations. These folks did what was necessary according to the law of the New Covenant (love on people) in order to abide in the covenant, in Christ, but they did so with lightly in their hearts toward God, and did so (it would seem) in order to promote themselves. They may have began in right standing with God in their heart, but (most likely) they allowed the attention that comes with such public displays of power to go to their heads. If so, after a while, it became less about God and all about them.

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A Study on Eternal Life, part 3

John 5:28-29  ” Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice  and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

 

1.  “those who have done good to the resurrection of life” tells us that those who have “done good” are believers, because unbelievers will not attain to life.

2.  Since I am addressing this verse against the backdrop of the other passages already addressed, unlike some who take one passage and build a doctrine out of it and then search for other passages that seem to back up their biased interpretation, I will review the conclusions from those previous passages:

In order to receive eternal life…

(a)  one must believe (John 3:15-16; 3:36; 1:12-13; 5:24).

(b)  one must walk in obedience to God (John 3:15-16 and 1:12-13 according to                the grammar).

(c)  believing does not give one eternal life, it is only a prerequisite, a condition,     which gives one the right to become a child of God – it does not make him a child      of God (John 1:12-13).

To these points we now can confirm that obedience is necessary in order to obtain eternal life (which is contrary to certain teachings today from mere men), as the text in question demonstrates that those who will attain to the resurrection of life do so not only because they believe, but because they also “have done good,” which in NT vernacular, means they have walked in obedience to God. This, while those “who have done evil” will come to the resurrection of judgment.

Again, I am aware of passages that can be utilized in a contradictory manner against this meaning of the passage in question, but I am addressing one passage at a time, so please be patient, we will get to them.

 

 

John 6:27-29  “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”  Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”  Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

1.  First thing, it is practically touted 100% of the time that Jesus no where here says that a person has to do anything to “work the work of God” except believe. While this is true, we must always take the whole Word of God into view. Since we KNOW that one must believe, and we KNOW that the Spirit elsewhere states that a man must obey also, if we wonder why Jesus makes no mention of obedience here, or repentance, or baptism, we can easily see why He does not here…

Matthew 13:10-15   “10  Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11  And He answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12  For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13  This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.’ 15 ‘For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

 

In comparing the phrase, “to the one who has, more will be given…but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away,” with the other synoptic gospels, we find that Jesus is saying that those who are paying attention, those who are intently listening because they want to know, they will hear and understand. But to those who are just there, to those who have closed their eyes to the reception of truth, their ears cannot hear the truth any longer. The word for dull is pachuno, meaning gross, dull, callous…in English vernacular, they are brainwashed by false doctrine. In short, Jesus does not give all of the information at one time (leading to the hermeneutical principle of Progressive Revelation and Topical Study) because they don’t really want to hear it, so He isn’t going to waste His breath. They are consumed in what they already believe and have no desire to change; therefore, what little truth they had in their believings will also be eroded way, “even what he has will be taken away.”

 

 

 

 

John 6:37  “All that the Father gives [1] Me will come [2] to Me, and whoever comes [3] to Me I will never cast [4] out.”

This verse states that God was giving to Christ certain ones at that moment. Jesus was making the statement that those whom God had given to Him, had come to Him, and that He had not cast away. The first thing I want to point out is that certain people interpret this verse to mean that those who come to Christ are (1) given to Him by God (which is true, there is no argument there); and that they will never fall away from Christ once they come to Him because He said, “I will never cast out (away).” However, the verse does not say nor insinuate that those who come to Christ will remain with Him, and as we shall see through further examination of the Greek grammar, the fact that they can fall away from Him is clearly observed:

1.  “gives” is in the Present Active Indicative, meaning that Christ’s words here are taking place at the moment that He spoke them. Therefore, a thought-for-thought (TFT) translation would read “is giving.”

2.  “come” is in the Future Active Indicative, meaning that those God is giving to Christ “will come in the future.”

3.  “come” is in the Present Middle Participle, meaning continuous repeated action which the subject (whoever) is doing in some way upon or concerning himself. Thus, a TFT translation would say “continues to come,” or “continues coming.”

4.  “cast” is in the 2nd Aorist Active Subjunctive; the 2nd Aorist meaning that the action took place in the past (have cast, did cast, etc.); the Subjunctive means that the action is carries with it some doubt or uncertainty because it is subject to some condition. Therefore, a TFT translation should read, “have not cast out because so far they have met the condition[s].”

Thus a TFT translation of the entire verse would read: “All that the Father is giving to Me will come to Me in the future, and whoever continues coming to Me I have not cast out, because so far they have met the condition[s].”

Again, Greek does not readily translate into English in word-to-word translations, and when we take the grammar into consideration and translate the Greek into a thought-for-thought translation, the fact that one remaining with Christ, even after God has given him to Him, is NOT guaranteed. One remains with Christ as long as he meets the conditions for remaining in Christ – which is continued faith and obedience to Him.

 

 

 

John 6:39-40  ” And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should [1] lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes [2] in Him should have3 eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

1.  “should” = (μὴ) pronounced “meh” = a dependent and conditional particle of negation, meaning that if one meets the condition, he “will,” if he does not meet the condition, then he “will not.”

2.  “believes” = (πιστεύων) “pisteuon” = is in the Present Active Participle, meaning that one must believe and continue to believe.

3.  “should have” = (ἔχῃ) pronounced “echo” = to have, to hold, to possess. This verb is found to be in the Present Active Subjunctive form, carrying the meaning of an uncertain possibility – a possibility that is not yet solidified as reality because it is subject to some further condition.

The grammar used here in the original language mirrors exactly that of the previous passages we have already examined in John 3:15-16 and 5:24. There is no new information here. God desires that those who He draws to Christ will continue with Him, but it is their choice to do so. God bringing them and giving them to Christ does not seal the deal, they are not His for the rest of eternity…else the Holy Spirit used a word here that He did not mean to, or God is demonstrated to be a deceiver.

We know that neither of these two are correct, therefore the false doctrine of men that teaches “once saved, always saved” is demonstrated as exactly that – a false doctrine concocted by men who did not understand the Scriptures.

Until next time, Blessings!

 

 

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The nature of eternal life, part 2

Rather than continue posting only one passage at a time with its separate examination, I will post a couple of passages here for discussion and information:

 

“Whoever believes [1] in the Son has eternal life. Whoever does not obey [2] the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)

1.  “believes” = pisteuo, in the Present Active Participle verb form, meaning one who “believes and continues in belief.”

2.  “does not obey” = apeitheo – which can mean disbelieve or disobedient. In the majority of its uses, it means disobedient. This verse is in the dative case, which makes apeitheo take on the meaning of disobedient, NOT disbelieve.

Some translations word this verse in the following manner:

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; and he who does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

This translation words the verse according to the genitive case, which is incorrect.  The grammar of this verse dictates that one must continue abiding in faith (believing) as the first condition towards attaining eternal life, and that a second condition is now in view; that of walking in obedience to Christ.

The grammar of the text trumps the man-made false doctrine that faith alone leads one to eternal life. When we know the grammar of the original language which our translations hail from, we can detect the slant of the translators’ bias – but we cannot always detect that slant if we do not know the grammar.

 

 

 

John 1:12-13  “12  But to all who did receive [1] Him [Christ], who believed [2] in His name, He gave the right [3] to become children of God, 13  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

1.  “received” = (lambano) – to receive, acknowledge, embrace, follow the teachings of.

2.  “believed” = (pisteuo) – in the Present Active Participle verb form, meaning one who “believes and continues in belief.”

3.  “right” = (exousia) – permission, authority, power, right.

 

Those who received Him in faith were given the authority, the power, the right, the permission, to become children of God…believing alone did NOT make them children of God, it only makes becoming a child of God a possibility. In effect, faith prequalifies us to become children of God…belief in Christ prequalifies for eternal life, it does NOT give one eternal life.

The culmination of the whole Word of God does not support such a man-made notion.

 

 

 

For our last verse today…

John 5:24  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes [1] Him who sent Me has [2] eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed [3] from death to life.”

1.  “believe” (pisteuo) – Present Active Participle = continuous / repeated action; represents the action as being accomplished by the subject of the verb; the subject of the verb is causing itself to accomplish this action; signified as being contemporary action with the leading verb. (*)

2.  “has” (echo) = means to possess, to hold, to have – Present Active Indicative = continuous / repeated action; represents the action as being accomplished by the subject of the verb; the subject of the verb is causing itself to accomplish this action; a statement of fact; action that is taking place as the speaker makes this statement. ($)

3.  “passed” (metabaino) – Perfect Active Indicative = describes an action (process) that took place in the past, the results of which continue to the present; represents the action as being accomplished by the subject of the verb; the subject of the verb is causing itself to accomplish this action; a statement of fact; depending upon the context, emphasizes either the completeness of the action, or the finished results of the action. (&)

 

Present tense = continuous / repeated action.

Perfect tense = describes an action (process) that took place in the past, the results of which continue to the present.

Active voice = represents the action as being accomplished by the subject of the verb; the subject of the verb is causing itself to accomplish this action.

Indicative mood = a statement of fact, or used for a question.

 

(*) Combination of Present tense and Participle = the action is still continuous / repeated, but is signified as being contemporary action with the leading verb.

($) Combination of Present tense in the Indicative mood = together these represent action that is taking place as the speaker makes this statement.

(&) Combination of Perfect tense and the Indicative mood = depending upon the context, emphasizes either the completeness of the action, or the finished results of the action.

 

When it comes to the fact that the subject (whoever) of the verb believes causes himself to have eternal life, some of a peculiar mind set take it upon themselves to state that this puts too much emphasis upon man and takes emphasis away from Christ and His work done on our behalf. Not only does this demonstrate that such a person does not hold to the Scriptures but rather holds to a man-made doctrine of demons designed to deceive people from the truth of God’s Word, but it also demonstrates that such folks don’t desire the truth of God’s Word.

The Greek grammar dictates what the English word-for-word translation cannot give. Despite what religious people think, the Scriptures dictate that man does have responsibility in the Divine Relationship which gives one eternal life. As the above passages demonstrate, the Greek shows that one must not only believe, but also obey God. This obedience does not give one eternal life, it only keeps one in covenant relationship with God wherein eternal life dwells.

 

 

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A study on Eternal Life, part 2

John 3:36  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains abiding upon him.”

1.  “believes” = pisteuo, in the Present Active Participle verb form, meaning one who “believes and continues in belief.”

2.  “does not obey” = apeitheo – which can mean disbelieve or disobedient. In the majority of its uses, it means disobedient. This verse is in the dative case, which makes apeitheo take on the meaning of disobedient, NOT disbelieve.

Some translations word this verse in the following manner:

 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; and he who does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

This translation words the verse according to the genitive case, which is incorrect, because the text was originally written in the dative case.

The grammar of this verse dictates that one must continue abiding in faith (believing) as the first condition towards attaining eternal life, and that a second condition is now in view; that of walking in obedience to Christ.

The grammar of the text trumps the man-made false doctrine that faith alone leads one to eternal life. When we know the grammar of the original language which our translations hail from, we can detect the slant of the translators’ bias – but we cannot always detect that slant if we do not know the grammar.

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