Live Life With Course Adjustments

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Stormy SeaThose who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.

“For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery.

“They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses.

“He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed.

“Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven.” (Psa 107:23-30)

 

Journal,

Over my desk is a picture that my oldest son gave me as a gift. It is a picture of the disciples on the stormy sea of Galilee.

After Jesus calms the sea, the disciples asked a question among themselves,

“What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Mat 8:27)

Good question. More people need to ask that same question, today.

The question has been settled for me long years ago. I have met Jesus personally. I know what kind of Man He is. Over my many years, Jesus has been ever-present to guide me through the stormy seas of life. There have been quite a few. 

But I can certainly understand why the disciples became alarmed on the stormy sea of Galilee.

 

I met her in dry dock in Seattle, Washington

The USS Calvert, was the oldest troop transport in the Pacific fleet and one of the most decorated. She was undergoing some needed repairs. This was in 1962. I had spent a year and a half in the Philippines, and now I was to serve as one of Calvert’s radiomen.

What an initiation! On our voyage down the coast to San Diego we met a fierce gale off of Oregon.Calvert1 I watched her bow disappeared beneath the waves and then rise up again. The old ship would shudder. It was electrifying.

But for the USS. Calvert it was business as usual. The old ship had seen greater storms than this one. She just kept right on course.

I will never forget my year and a half as a radioman on board the USS Calvert. We carried troops throughout the far east, always ready to make assault landings.

Anyway, many years later, the Lord gave me a dream about a ship. In the dream the Lord directed me to take the ship out from the coastal area and launch into the deep waters.

When I awoke, I understood my instructions. We were to move Christian Challenge away from the shallow emotional driven teachings that were making rounds in certain movements at that time, and launch out into the deep of God’s faithfulness.

 

Troublesome Teachings

It had been troubling me for some time how so many of the modern-day, teachings appealed strongly to man’s natural inclinations, yet seemed to have little regard for a true Christ-honoring walk with the Lord. It was rare to hear any teachings on repentance or on the second coming of Jesus Christ.

I will never forgot how a minister visiting our services, felt a need to caution me about preaching on the second coming of Jesus, that I was really out-of-step with today’s message. It didn’t take long to make clear my position on what he had to say.

My point – Where are the teachings on godly living, on having a sanctified heart, on having a heavenward focus and not an earthly focus?

No indeed, I am not against prosperity, but Biblical prosperity does not have its emphasis on dollars. It has to do with having a proper heart-relationship with the kingdom of God.

Jesus said it this way -

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mat 6:30-34)

Some people don’t catch the essence of what Jesus is saying. To seek ‘His kingdom’, means to seek God’s direct rule over your life, and not to seek to rule your own life. To seek ‘His righteousness’ means to seek His way of living.

David said it well enough – ‘He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’

Over time I began to really appreciate what the apostle Paul meant, when he said,

” … we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” (Eph 4:14-15)

Oh yes, we had to deal with some ridicule in the background, but it was my responsibility to live in obedience to the Lord.   

 

Making Course Adjustments isn’t easy 

Would you believe that making a change in course is a major part of every believer’s walk with the Lord. Even the apostles had to learn to separate misguided teachings from the truth of the new covenant. And believe me, it is very easy to get caught in unhealthy, misguided teachings. 

Being under bad teachings does not mean a person isn’t saved. But when the light comes it is time for a course adjustment.

Is it easy to make a course adjustment? Not really. Sometimes these course adjustments will cause a separation from those that we hold dear.

It is interesting how so many years earlier, the Lord gave me the very same instructions that He gave to Jeremiah.

” … Before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman.

“They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them. Then I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; and though they fight against you, they will not prevail over you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you,’ declares the LORD. ‘So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.’” (Jer 15:19-21 NASB)

 

Are the Winds Blowing for You

Yes, the winds are still blowing strong. This is why I caution believers not to be taken in by movements that declare, ‘Come be with us. Lo Christ is here.‘ 

Don’t think it strange. The winds of false teachings and false movements have blown across the church from its infancy. They seem to be growing stronger all the while. Do you feel like you are being battered about by strange winds?

Perhaps your ship needs to make a course adjustment. Maybe its your turn and your time to find the calm peaceful waters that belong to the covenant of God’s dear Son. The Lord wants to bring you into the safe harbor of His love.

Guess I need to find a stopping place. I would dearly love to hear from any of my readers who feel the Lord has spoken to them through this journal entry.

(You can write me personally – Buddy@ChristianChallenge.Org. – I am also on Facebook. You can message me there. https://www.facebook.com/BuddyMartin.)

Please take time to listen to ‘New Destiny Quartet’, as they sing, ‘Master of the Wind.’ The Lord would like to speak to your heart. 

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Your friend and brother in Christ,

Buddy

Our Victory and Our Rest

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“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2Pe 1:19)

 

Journal,

Its been about three weeks since my last journal entry. Sorry about that. I’ve been out of the country on a ministry trip to Mexico. So, I’ll begin this entry with a synopsis on a Youth Conference held in Las Choapas, Veracruz, Mexico.

 

The Beautiful People of Mexico

The Mexican Youth Conference was well attended and well blessed. Our team spoke to the youth on various subjects. (Large turnout. No parents allowed.)

Nathan began the Youth Conference in speaking to the youth in Spanish, on the subject of ‘Walking in the Spirit.’ The young people responded like sponges. You could see expectancy on their faces. Lori had a special meeting with the women. 

As the conference progressed, one of our team members spoke from a Satanist background. Another was molested as a youth. Another was deeply involved in pornography and was introduced into it by a youth leader. And another spoke on purity of life. 

What made everything even more telling is that none of the team members knew how and what the other members would be sharing. The entire event was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. (There were times I was simply overwhelmed and could only weep.)

Sunday morning was for general attendance. The building overflowed with several hundred. The royal anointing of God rested upon every part of the service. 

Once again I caught myself weeping. When their worship group began, it was like a river that began flowing from the platform. The Lord of glory was meeting with us. 

I was honored to address the congregation. My ministry was on, ‘The Children of the Cross.’ God gave me insights to share about the kingdom of God, how each church is an embassy for the government of God, and how the Lord sent Pastor Pedro as an Ambassador of the kingdom to raise up their church as an embassy in Las Chaopas. 

I don’t know how many came forward for first time salvation or re-dedication. I estimate at least 60-70. Pastor Pedro later said that they had never had a service like that. Actually, I don’t recall having been in a service of that order. It was all the Lord’s doing. I believe it will be awe-inspiring as to what comes out of all this. (Like the ripple effect when a stone is thrown in the water.)

Other highlights will be shared this Sunday by our ministry team. However, there is one very important point I need to make. We could have done nothing without Nathan. Nathan did an outstanding job in having to translate for so many speakers, and yet he never complained about his own physical difficulties.

Thank you son. I am so proud of you. And I’ve also very proud of our team. What a bunch of troopers.

So now we come to the issue of …

 

Man’s Restless Heart

Humans are born with a restless heart. Wars are continually fought over this restlessness. Religions are created out of this restlessness. There seems to be no fix. Drugs-alcohol can’t fix it. Popularity, power, wealth, want to be someone special can’t fix it.

But why, why do we have such restless hearts? Augustine said it best, ‘Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.’

This brings us to man’s place with God and …

 

Partaking of the Divine

Ever since the fall of Adam, there has been a vacancy in the hearts of all humankind. David and Solomon spoke to this longing of our heart.  Listen:

[Solomon] “[God] has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecc 3:11)

We are eternal creatures made in the image and likeness of God. Adam’s fullness of life could only be met in God Himself. Hence Solomon tells us that ‘eternity’ itself dwells in the deepest part of our human makeup, and can only be awakened by God.

David was a prophet. In Psalm 139, David calls attention to the mystery of God’s relation to His human creation

“You [God] scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psa 139:3-6)

In another place David says,

“What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” (Psa8:4,5)

And so we come to the purpose of the cross. The purpose of the cross was and is about…

 

Our Victory and Our Rest in Christ

The term Christian carries various meanings such as, Christ like, belonging to Christ, followers of Christ, and even ‘the anointed ones.’ [Jesus Christ is the Anointed One.]

This is why Jesus describes the believer as having a divine outflow of life from within.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’

 “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Joh 7:38-39)

In the new covenant, the Holy Spirit enters a believer’s heart with the fullness of our restoration to the heavenly Father. Both the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul said that we now partake of the divine life. It all took place at the cross.

This is why you find so many terms of victory in the New Testament writings, such as, ‘more than conquerors’, ‘seated with Christ in heavenly places’, ‘entered His rest’, ‘heirs and joint heirs with Christ’, ‘triumph in Christ’, ‘all things are yours’, ‘glory of the children of God’, ‘the law of liberty’, ‘no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus’, ‘passed out of death into life’, and myriads of other related statements.

Oh yes, we’ve managed to make a mess out of things by creating religions in place of relationships. I think there is no greater need than for a child of God to come to the knowledge of what being restored in Christ truly means.

Through Christ we are brought to our rightful place in God’s created order. This reflects on what Peter was talking about when he wrote,

“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2Pe 1:19)

And remember well that the best is yet to come.

While you think about these things, take time to listen to this wondrous older chorus, ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.’

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In Christ,

Buddy

 

 

God’s Unfailing Love

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For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Deu 4:31)

 

 

 

Journal,

It really disturbs me when I hear preachers talk to struggling believers as if they were sinners going to hell, and then treat sinners as if they were dogs. Who is the one who would abuse the very ones that God loves so deeply? Jesus did not tell Peter to beat His sheep. He told Peter to love them, to care for them, to feed them.

The Father did not send His Son into the world to lose sinners. He sent Him to save sinners. And saving sinners is not a one time deal. Jesus came into our lives to save us from all our sins, from all our mistakes, from all our failures, and from all our stumbles in life.

Listen to what the angel spoke to Joseph, about the Coming birth of Jesus:

“…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.‘” (Mat 1:20-21)

 

The Transforming Power of God

God has given us a message that must be clearly preached. Preachers are not sent to condemn the world. The world is already under condemnation. The message that God sent us to preach is the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. This is the message that God sends to broken humanity?

Listen:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (Joh 3:16-17)

Did you notice the two statements that begin with, For God…”

Look closely to what these statements address: God’s love for the world, and, the mission of God’s Son.

In my forty-seven years in the ministry I have often seen how the message of God’s love for all of humanity works to transform the most sinful of lives.

People need to know that Jesus loves them, and that He loves them without condition. He loves them enough to come and live with them, and to help them work out all the details of their lives.

This does not mean that anyone can be saved aside from receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What it means it that Jesus is the eternal Savior. Jesus is the Father’s love sent into our world. Jesus came to love us into the kingdom of God.

To believe in and receive Jesus Christ as truly God’s Son, that He died, was resurrected, that He ascended, and is Lord, is what brings a person into God’s family on earth. Each member of the family is given a new heart to love God. Not a heart that is incapable of sinning, but a heart that hurts deeply when sin enters the picture.

What many do not realize is that sin of itself is contrary to the very God-given nature of the child of God. Yes, a believer can and does sin at times, but sin for a believer deeply grieves their heart. Thus we often come to the Lord for our cleansing and forgiveness.

I must again speak of …

 

A Shock Story Needs a Retelling

I never tire of sharing this story. I hope my readers to never tire of hearing it. The reason I often share it is because of the shock that I received from an old Indian.

So, here it goes again -

I’ve been in and out of Latin American countries on mission trips many times. On this occasion we were among the Mayan Indians in the mountains of Belize. Walking along a mountain trail with some of our group, I noticed an old Indian had stopped by the side of the trail to let us pass. That’s when it happened.

The Lord nudged my heart. I stopped next to the old Indian, and said, “Sabes tu que Christo te ama?” Instantly his hands went to his face and he began to weep. I could hardly believe my eyes. Indians tend to be very stoic people. Why was he weeping? The only thing I said to him was, “Do you know that Jesus Christ loves you?”

You see, these Indians were steeped in idolatry. Fear controlled their lives. They had mountain gods, and witches, and dark spirits at work in their lives. The only other religion they were exposed to was Catholicism. But this religion said little about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I assured him as best I could about how much God truly loved Him. The old Indian’s eyes were still wet with tears when we parted. But now I understood why the Holy Spirit impressed me to make that statement.

The love of Jesus is the message of the cross. The old Indian did not need to hear a message of condemnation. He lived in a state of condemnation. He needed to know that God truly loved him.

When as I preached that evening in the open mountain building, I became very aware of the oppressing spirits. The darkness felt strong. Yet the message had to go forth, and it did. More people were added to God’s holy kingdom.

Was Satan mad? You bet. Could he do anything about it? Not a thing in the world.

What’s the issue? It is simple. Jesus did not come into the world to lose people. He came to save the lost ones. Jesus is a great Savior. He is a Savior that finishes what He begins. This is why the Bible says that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.

Shall I go on? Let me share when…

 

A Young Man Saves Others

I stood behind the casket of a young man. It was at one of the larger churches in Honduras. The story was very sad. The Honduran army had conscripted him. They often do this by picking up young men off of the streets. Anyway, this young man was a Christian. While serving in the Army a number of soldiers beat him severely. In the hospital he was given a blood transfusion, but the blood had HIV. This became the cause of his death.

No, I don’t have any answers as to the whys of life. But again I preached the simple message of God’s love. And once again the people crowded across the front. They wanted to know and to meet the Savior that loved them. All these people were under a religious system that had little to say about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Yes, Jesus accepted every one of them.

This young man went to be with Jesus. Many more were saved at his funeral than had been saved during his short life. His testimony for Jesus became the gathering point for hundreds to be at his funeral.

Is this not the story of many Christians? Did not the first Christian martyr, Stephen, die with the testimony of Jesus on his lips?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus attracted so many of the outcasts of life? Study the gospels and you will see the Father’s heart as it was revealed in Jesus. Jesus loved people. It was His love that attracted the people to Him. He loved them. He healed them. He shared with them how to live.

I think you are getting the picture. What is it we need to understand? If the gospel of Jesus Christ is not about the love of God, it is no gospel at all. The gospel is good news. It is happy tidings. Why would God send His Son into the world to die for our sins, if it was not because He loved us so much. There is no other gospel.

It is the gospel of God’s love that melts the human heart.

 

Yes, Judgement Has Its Place

Yes, judgment has its place in the message of the cross. Sin must be dealt with. For those who reject Jesus Christ, the message must become clear on the issue of judgment.

The Bible does speak often of judgment. Listen to a further reading in John 3:

“He who believes in Him [Jesus] is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” (Joh 3:18-19)

And as for sin, yes, we are free to choose sin if we wish. However, we are not free to choose the consequences. And to reject Jesus Christ is to live under a sentence of judgment.

There are more incidences where God instructed me to speak of His love. Here is another story where the Lord said…

 

Tell Them that I Love Them

We were in a barrio (village) south of Reynosa. I had a Mexican-American gospel singing group with me. We walked through the barrio inviting the people to a service that evening. A wealthy Christian woman had made her courtyard available for our use.

The courtyard filled up. This time I am startled but for a different reason. I had never seen physical conditions of that nature. One person literally had tumors hanging from her body.

I asked the Lord what He wanted me to say. He said that I was to tell them three things.

First, tell them that I love them.

Then tell them that I want to heal their lives.

And tell them that they must learn to walk in His ways and not in the ways of darkness.

That barrio saw our first church raised up in Mexico. It was all a result of telling the people who Jesus Christ truly loved, that He wanted to share their lives. Yes, once again we saw peoples giving their hearts and lives to Jesus.

There is so much more I would like to share, but I think the point has been well established.

What is the point? The point is that we must never give up on people. God doesn’t.

While you think about that, take time for this song by Chris Tomlin, ‘Unfailing Love.’

 

 

In Christ always,

Buddy

The Issue of ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’

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Journal,

The following guest study is from Pastor Charles Smoot of ‘Simple Church Ministries’ of Lancaster, PA.

While Charles and I may view some things a bit differently, I have found his study on the security of the believer to be well written. I thought it would be good to offer it here for the benefit of my readers.

Note: Charles’ web site is: http://charlessmoot.org/

 

Assurances for the True Believer by Charles Smoot

There are many promises in the Word of God giving assurance to the true believer in Christ that he cannot lose his salvation.  To be saved is to have eternal life.

Eternal life is not based on human merit, but is a gift to all who come to Christ in faith and place their trust in him and his finished work of the cross.  To have eternal life is to experience everlasting joy and peace in the presence of God forever.  Jesus promised:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

However, not all who profess salvation are genuinely saved (Matt. 7:21).  There are also warnings in the Word of God to make your calling and election sure (1 Pet. 1:10).  Indeed, there are tares that grow among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30).  There will be some who will fall away from “the faith” and reveal their true nature as counterfeit believers (2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4).  Only the process of time will reveal who is truly saved and who is not (I Pet. 1:5).

The Apostle John writes:

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 Jn. 2:19)

Even Jesus had followers who walked with him for a while, but afterward walked away from him in unbelief (Jn. 6:64-66).  Judas Iscariot was chosen by Jesus, but afterward became a “son of perdition.”

Nevertheless, a genuine believer can and should have full assurance that he is indeed saved, and that heaven will be his eternal home.  Yet, how is it that some Christians live from day to day with insecurity about their salvation?

 

Salvation is a Finished Work

What is sad to me is:  Many believers do not yet understand that salvation is a “finished” work.  They do not understand the New Covenant of Grace and the basis from which they are saved.  In addition to not understanding salvation through Grace, many believers do not understand how the believer is subsequently sanctified through Grace.

Eternally Secure

Often, because of incorrect teaching and ignorance of God’s Word, a believer may embrace some form of legalism (righteousness through human merit) which will distort his understanding in the area of the assurance of salvation.  In view of the fact, that legalism encourages a spirit of self-righteousness; the believer, regretfully will look at his performance to validate or invalidate his salvation, rather than to the truth of the Word of God.

Based on their performance (works) or even on the way they feel on any given day (emotions) some believers are just unsure about whether they are going to heaven.  Thus, a person’s lifestyle may contradict their profession of being a Christian, and introduce doubt, as to whether they were truly saved in the first place.

Remember, it is Satan’s business to cause the believer to doubt his salvation and his relationship to God.

How can the believer know and be assured that he is saved and that his salvation is secure?  He must understand two things:

1) The Word of God makes the believer sure.

2) The blood of Jesus makes the believer secure.

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5:11-13).

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12).

Often, because of failure to obtain the “perfection” encouraged through legalism, some believers may become discouraged to the point of disillusionment.  They may even eventually backslide and stop serving God altogether.   This is tragic.

 

Putting Things into Perspective

Let’s put some things into perspective.

1)  As a work of grace, the believer’s salvation is a past, present, and future work that has already been “finished” in Christ.

a) We are saved – (justification) past

b) We are being saved – (sanctification) present

c) We shall be saved – (glorification) future

Paul writes in the book of Romans:

Father, we are all here! (John 6:39 - Heb2:13)

It is in the present tense that we as Christians live.  This is the “sanctification” phase of our relationship with the Father; a process which is both an instantaneous and progressive work of God’s sanctifying grace. However:

2) As a work of grace, the believer’s sanctification has been already been completed and perfected in Christ.

Thus, the writer to the Hebrews says:

“For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).

This scripture teaches us that our sanctification and perfection is based solely on the blood atonement of Jesus Christ and His finished work of the cross.   It has nothing to do with our works, performance, or the way we feel.  Notice, He has perfected us “forever!”

 

Once a Son, Always a Son

In order to understand how sanctification works in the life of the believer we must have an understanding of the difference between the two aspects of relationship and fellowship and how sin and disobedience affects each.

a) Relationship: has to do with our standing or position in Christ.  The aspect of relationship is not subject to change.  Regardless of the fruitfulness, level of maturity, or degree of victory in the believer’s life, we are sons and daughters, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.

b) Fellowship:  has to do with the quality or level of intimacy of our relationship with Christ.  It can range from intimacy and complete submission, to estrangement and rebellion.  The aspect of fellowship is subject to change and directly affects the fruitfulness, level of maturity, and the degree of victory in the believer’s life.

How does sin affect the believer in the aspects of relationship and fellowship?

The answer is really quite simple.  Sin (disobedience) separates the believer from intimate fellowship with the Father, but sin cannot separate us from His love, favor, and our standing as sons and daughters.  As a son, regardless of the quality of our fellowship or lack thereof, our relationship to God the Father remains the same.  “Once a son, always a son.”

A good biblical example of these two aspects is given in the story of the prodigal son (Lk. 15:11-31).  Understanding the restorative grace displayed in this parable will help the believer understand that:

Though we may often fail, we are by birthright a child of God; a son or daughter completely loved and accepted of the Father.  Though we are children of God, we all have the freedom to leave the Father’s house, to stumble, to fail, to repent, and to find grace, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.

The bible teaches us that broken fellowship can be restored through repentance and faith.  We must understand, however, sin and disobedience will affect the quality of our relationship to the father.  Sin will impair intimacy, cause estrangement of our relationship, and it will provoke the correction, discipline, and chastisement of the Father who waits with loving arms for the prodigal.  A chastisement that may even end in a premature death (Acts 5:1-11).

John the beloved writes:

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 Jn. 3:9).

Personally, I have no problem with the implications of “once saved, always saved.”  In my opinion,

The eternal security of the believer is the greatest testimony to the efficacy of the cross of Christ. Therefore, an assault on the eternal security of the believer is, in effect, an assault on the efficacy of the finished work of Christ.  Moreover, any doctrinal position with regard to the security of the believer which takes into account human merit (in any sense and to any degree) presents an anthropocentric (man-centered) view of the atonement and diminishes the efficacy of the cross.

Just my thoughts,

Charles S

www.CharlesSmoot.org

Thank you Charles. Now if my readers will just take the time to study the various Scripture references that you have provided, what a great help they would be to them. Buddy

One other item for this blog entry….

 

Congratulations Graduates

Congratulation to the graduates of the Christian Challenge International 48th School for Christian Workers. May the Lord bless you in all that you do for His name’s sake, and may you become even more fruitful in the harvest work of God’s kingdom.

 

The Book I Never Wrote

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“The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” (Ecc 12:10-13)

 

Journal,

Isn’t it amazing how you can carry a memory through life. Some memories from my younger days, even days of my childhood are just as fresh today as ever. Of course I can’t always remember where I placed my glasses:)

Anyway, I was serving as a radioman aboard the USS Calvert in the Pacific Fleet. It was 1962. I’m on duty in the radio shack. Everything is quiet. Nothing to read except a dictionary. Course I’ve always been an avid reader so having a dictionary on hand was fine with me. That was when this strange notion struck me that I ought to write a book.

Write a book? Wow! Write a book? There I was 22 years of age, and thinking of writing a book. And to think how much I hated English in high school. Then to take into account that I had no literary experience or training.

Besides that, who would be interested in reading a book by an unknown author who did not know the difference between an adjective and an adverb, much less a dangling participle.  (Still don’t know that the last thing is.)

But I couldn’t shake it. I even had a name for the book. I would simply call it, Casandra. Where that came from, I really don’t know. The aspiration to write a fictional book about a fictional character without the slightest idea of what the book was to be about, happened some fifty years ago. And like a ship without a sail, it was dead in the water.

Oh well, that memory has long remained in the background of my thought life through all the years. Now, here I am 71 years old and I still haven’t written a book. But why do people keep asking me to write a book? Life can sure be eerie at times.

Well, it doesn’t matter.

Or does it? Maybe its time had not come. And maybe my writing was not simply to be fictional.

Better yet, how about this, maybe my life is a book being written every day. And maybe I’m not the writer. Maybe the Holy Spirit is writing a book in my heart.

And maybe every believer’s life is a book being written, that is, in time as we know it, but in God’s time each of our books are finished products. Could it be that the Lord knows the beginning from the end?

Is this what Paul was talking about when he said,

” … being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2Co 3:3)

 

 

Could it be that God plants kingdom seeds in Our Hearts

Could it be that each of our giftings are part of God’s divine plan and that each gift has a unique fitting into the Lord’s working of redemption?

Could it be that nigh fifty years ago the Lord actually planted a seed in my heart that would flourish into writings for His kingdom.

Over the years I’ve written a great many studies on the Bible. In fact I have several hundred studies that can be accessed through the web. I’ve also designed training courses for disciples. Even with my online journal, I’ve written enough to make up several books. Could these writings be considered ‘kingdom seeds’ to be scattered in many hearts and in many places. I surely hope so.

But perhaps there is a greater writing that fits my part of God’s program even more so. As a preacher of the gospel for over forty-five years, the Holy Spirit has used my preaching to write the story of the cross in the hearts of countless people.

My preaching has taken me from traditional churches, to house churches,  to tent revivals, to theater, to radio and television, to brush harbors, to home and foreign mission work, to store front ministries, to nursing homes, to banana plantations, to street preaching, and in many other places. On my book shelves I have volumes of sermons that I’ve preached. Some reach back to 1965.

Please don’t think that I wish to brag on my accomplishments. I have far too many failures for that. Even as founder of Christian Challenge International, my role is merely as a steward. Never to this day have I felt worthy of anything that has related to my calling. If anything at all, I feel very unworthy.

So, it really isn’t simply about writing books that I’m concerned with. I’m thinking about those ‘God seeds’ that rests in the spiritual make up of all God’s children. We all have God seeds in us that will flourish into various ministries over time. But we also have gospel God seed that we are given to scattered. It all takes place in God’s timing and with His help.  

I have come to believe that every child of God has ‘God-seed kingdom investments’ planted in them. Yes, I have even come to believe that some of what we think may be ‘pipe dreams’ are actually things placed in us by the Spirit. And while we may sometimes misunderstand their intent, the Lord will make them to become realities in their time.

My pipe dream was ‘Casandra.’ But it was only a seed planted that would eventually flourish in my sharing the gospel story.

 

The point is that our giftings in life come with our calling in life.

Paul said in Romans 11:29, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” For something to be irrevocable means that it is not subject to recall. It also means that whatever the purpose of the gift and the calling, they will have a fulfillment in the proper season.

Anything planted by the Lord has the nature of the divine will in it. It will produce fruit in its season.  David spoke of this when he said,

[The righteous person] will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” - Psalm 1:3 nasb

What makes all this even more interesting is that our spiritual genetic code of life was implanted in us before we were born. David also speaks of this:

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” (Psa 139:13-14)

 

So, what about the book that was never written

Sometimes I think it would be good to put some of my writings in book form. At other times I remember what the sage said about the writing of books and how tiring it can be. Solomon wrote:

“The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” (Ecc 12:10-12)

There is one book that I never tire of reading. It is the only book that has lasted through the ages and remains the most beloved of all books. Of course you know the book I am speaking of. Its God’s holy book, the Bible.

How about you? Have you wondered about your gifting and calling? Don’t lose your dream. Don’t let the bumps in life try to cheat you out of that which the Lord has planted in your garden.

Think about it. Don’t be discouraged. You are uniquely fashioned by the Lord for unique things in His kingdom.

Here is your song for today. Listen carefully. The Lord wants to speak to your heart.

The Imperials – ‘I’ve Got Confidence’ 

 

 

Much love coming your way,

Buddy

I Must Be About My Father’s Business

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“Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’

 

“But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’

 

“So the disciples were saying to one another, ‘No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?’

 

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’

 

“’Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.’” (Joh 4:31-35)

 

 

Journal,

As I was meditating on my morning devotion, this thought began stirring in my heart, ‘I must be about my Father’s business.’ My mind was drawn to what Jesus said to His first disciples concerning the harvest field. He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” 

The work that Jesus was to accomplish was the work of the cross. Listen carefully to the prayer of our Great High Priest -

“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. ‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

“‘I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.’” (Joh 17:1-4)

The work of the cross would be God’s finished work of salvation in Jesus Christ. From the moment of Christ’s ascension into heaven the eternal gospel was to be sent into all the world. The message could encapsulate in this one statement,

“And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Cf. Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13)

In the meantime we have this instruction from the Lord -

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luk 10:2)

 

Much Work to Do

In 1976, the Lord gave me a work to accomplish. It began in an old store-front building. On the right side of the entrance a simple sign read, ‘School for Christian Workers.’

This March 9, 2012, will be 36 years since the CCI School for Christian Workers has come into being. Since that time we have trained hundreds of workers for the harvest fields of the Lord.

The motto of  Christian Challenge International is, ‘How Beautiful Upon the Mountians’. The motto for the School for Christian Workers is, ‘Preparing Servants for the Nations.’

Has the work that God gave me to do been accomplished? Not yet. There is much work to be done. And if the Lord tarries, it will continue after my departure. (This applies to the whole body of Christ.)

Where are we now? It is now time for out 48th School for Christian Workers.

Is the Lord stirring your heart for service in His kingdom? Perhaps our 48th School is where you need to be.

The CCI School for Christian Workers is quite unique. Our entire emphasis is on true Biblical discipleship. For your consideration here is our class schedule for the school.

 

Class Schedule for the CCI 48th School for Christian Workers

The School begins January 22nd and 23rd, 2012, and runs 13 weeks. Tuition is $35 per course. Disciples Heart I is $25 for CCI members only.

The Disciple’s Heart Training Program – Sundays  5:00 PM [Required training for anyone serving with CCI] 

The Disciples Heart II Training Program – Sundays 5:00 PM

Shepherd’s Heart Mentoring Program – Every Other Wednesday 6:30 PM

Old Testament Bible Survey – Mondays 6:30 PM

Conversational Spanish – Mondays 6:30 PM

Financial Peace University ($100) – Mondays 7:00 PM

God’s Creation – Mondays 6:30 PM

Registration is required. For additional information call the Christian Challenge office at (318) 640-4300.

For your listening here is the theme song of Christian Challenge – How Beautiful Upon the Mountains.

http://www.christianchallenge.org/audio/music/14_How%20Beautiful%20Upon%20The%20Mountains.mp3

In Christ Always,

Buddy

 

In the Midst of the Congregation I Will Sing

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“…in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise; and again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ … 

 

 

” … And again, ‘Behold, I and the children who God has given Me.’” (Heb 2:11-13 nasb)

 

Readers,

Notice the bold portion of the above Scriptures where we hear Jesus say, “Behold, I and the children who God has given Me.”

This statement draws on a redemption promise that God gave through the prophet Isaiah.

“And I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” (Isa 8:17-18)

Then we have this in Isaiah:

“Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now turn pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will sanctify My name; indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.” (Isa 29:22-23)

 

Fulfilled in Christ

Jesus said,

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. …

“ … This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds [looks to] the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (Joh 6:37-40)

Again pay close attention to the words in bold print – “Of all that He [the Father] has given Me I lose nothing.”

Christians who lack knowledge in how salvation works will always battle insecurity. The problem isn’t merely with the believer. In some pulpits Jesus Christ is being presented in a way that is not worthy of the gospel message.

The message they hear is often filled with fear and condemnation. It centers on a salvation through works, that is, a salvation that is based on a believer becoming good enough.

This kind of thinking is a misreading of the gospel story. The work of salvation is not our work. We are all sinners saved by grace. Salvation is God’s work from beginning to finish. He alone is the author and the finisher of our faith.

Here is an example where a Scripture is sometimes mismanaged:.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Php 2:12)

Sounds pretty plain. How then is it mismanaged? The problem is that this statement is only half of what is being said. Listen to the rest of the statement:

“ … for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Php 2:13)

Notice carefully that the working out has to do with God Himself. The believer is to place his faith in God who is at work in his life. The believer is to trust that the Lord is working His will in the believer’s life.

That isn’t the only Scripture that sets forth God at work in the believer. Listen with your heart:

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,

“… working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)

Once again note the words in bold. God is the one who equips us to do His will. God is the one who is working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.  

 

 

The Author and Finisher

The apostle said he was convinced the good work that God began in us, He would perfect until the day of Jesus Christ. God is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the perfecter of His work. The Lord God began the work and the Lord God finishes the work

The Lord does not want His children to live in fear of any nature. And when the Lord speaks into our lives it is His purpose is to destroy our fears. Even when He needs to correct us, it is a correction towards life.

Here is an example from my walk with Jesus -

 

It was 1974

I had just resigned from my former church affiliation. The following morning at my office a dark cloud settled over me. What will we do? Where do we go? Where will we find fellowship? Did I miss God?

The last words my former pastor had spoken to me when I handed him my resignation was ringing in my ears, “Brother Martin, these people will never anything else to do with you.”

I fell on my knees next to a chair, and reached for my Bible. Lord, I need to hear from You. 

My Bible actually fell open to Philippians 1:6, and my gaze riveted on these words,

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

The Son of God had spoken to my heart. Instantly the cloud vanished. No more fear! No more uncertainty. I knew everything would be alright. Our future was well cared for.

In my excitement I reached for the phone to call Betty. Little did I realize that she was facing the very same struggle at that very same moment. Before I could get the words out of my mouth, Betty said, “Honey, listen to what the Lord just shared with me.”

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10) — We were both using the KJV at the time —

The Lord had spoken to both of us at the same time. Betty knew just as I knew that our future was well cared for.

 

 

God’s Unconditional Promises

Of course I’m not telling any true believer something that you don’t know. Jesus has come to my aid myriads of times on my pilgrim journey. He does the same for all who belong to Him. What did the Lord say about His presence in our lives?

“ … for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, or will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Heb 13:5-6)

That, dear friend, is an unconditional promise.

This is where we need to understand Biblical promises.

Conditional promises are based upon some action on our part. Unconditional promises are based upon something God has promised with no aid from us. These are the, “I will” promises of God.

An example of a conditional promise is Luke 6:38, where the Lord says,

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Notice that it is by ‘our standard’ of measure that gauges the ‘pressed down’ blessings.

Unconditional promises are different. Unconditional promises are generally summed up as redemption promises. These kinds of promises are, ‘from God, through God, and to God’ promises. They cannot be broken by believers simply because we have no role to play in them. They are based entirely on the sovereignty of God.

 

The Bedrock of the Faith Walk

These ‘never-ever’ promises serve as the bedrock of our walk with the Lord. One of the very last things Jesus said to the disciples was,

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt28:20)

Another one is the John 10:27,28, promise where Jesus said,

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

Some believers see the strength of their walk in how strong their grip is on God. This is not what Jesus is saying. The safety for a child of God does not depend on his or her grip. It rests entirely in the hands of the Lord. Jesus said,

“No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

A few more ‘never-ever’ promises

“…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

“…everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26)

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39)

 

Our Inheritance in Christ

The point being that these promises are based upon something God says He will do. These unconditional promises relate to God’s redemption plan in Christ, a plan that was set forth before time.

Paul gave insight into this area, when he said,

“We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to [God's] purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” (Eph1:11)

Notice that Paul said it is God’s will that is at work. The apostle John certainly agrees. He said that our birth from heaven was not a thing of our will. He says,

“[We] were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)

When we were born again, it is because God opened our ears to hear, and placed in our heart to respond. We see this being worked out in a lady named Lydia. It says,

“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:14)

 

The stumbling, bumbling apostle

Have you ever been a stumbling believer? Sure you have. Think about a man called Peter. Peter actually denied the Lord three times. Was that the end of the story? Certainly not. Jesus sought him out, restored him in faith, and gave him the privilege of preaching the gospel at the very place where Peter had become fearful for his life.

Have you caught the point in all this?

— Regardless of how well we think we understand the mystery of our salvation, the fact remains that God’s unconditional promises do not rest upon how well we are able to do or how much we understand. They are not performance promises. Each of these promises rest upon God Himself. When He says that He will never desert us or forsake us, that promise cannot be broken.

Yes, we all become stumblers at times.  So we ask, “Why me, Lord?” About the best any of us can do is write songs about all this.

 

 

In the Midst of the Congregation

And so, we agree with the Psalmist who said,

“…in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise; and again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ … 

We write:

“I don’t know why Jesus loved me. I don’t know why He cared. I don’t know why He gave His life for me. Oh, but I’m glad. So glad He did.”

And,

“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

And,

‘All hail the power of Jesus name! Let angels prostrate fall…”

And,

“I am weak but Thou art strong, Jesus keep me from all wrong…”

And,

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, … Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.”

Oh yes, we Christians write songs without end. And we will continue to write them.

But the message from heaven never changes. While we love the Lord with a love that cannot be measured, John wants us to understand something very special when he writes,

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1Jn4:10)

Think about these things.

In the meantime listen to this song that was written and sung by Kris Kristofferson – ‘Why Me Lord.’

Your Servant in Christ,

Buddy

 

The Revelation that Brings Salvation

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“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (Mat 16:16-17)

 

Journal,

When Jesus asked the apostles who people said that He was, they spoke of the Old Testament prophets. When He ask them who they thought He was, Simon Peter responded, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What is happening here is a prophetic portrayal on how salvation would be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Actually Peter did not arrive at this revelation on his own. Jesus said the Father had given Peter the revelation, and that upon this revelation He would build His church.

Thus Jesus said, “Upon this Rock [the revelation of His divine Sonship] I will build My church.” 

Actually there really is a play on words here. Peter’s original name is Simon. After Peter receives the revelation from the Father, the Lord calls him, ‘Little Stone.’ (The term for ‘Peter’ [Pétros] in Greek always means a stone and never a rock.)  But when the Lord said, ‘Upon this Rock I will build My church,’ he was not talking about Peter. The word He used for ‘Rock’ relates to a mass of rock or a cliff. It is never used for a stone.

The church would be built upon a revelation given from heaven that Jesus Christ is the true Son of God.

 

The Struggle Over the Son

Someone wrote me about their confusion of their being a Father and a Son in the godhead. Perhaps it is a mystery to be understood with the heart. However, the idea of God having a Son was not lost with the Hebrew people. It can be found in their ancient writings.

The Hebrew people were taught that in God was a mystery sometimes called, ‘the Son,’ and often time called ‘the Word’. They believed that God’s Son ‘the Word’ had made appearances in the earth throughout the generations of man.

You find these early beliefs not only in the Bible but also in the writings of Philo, in the Targums, and in a number of other extra-Biblical writings.

The Targums were the Hebrew Scriptures loosely translated into Aramaic. Aramaic was the common language of the Jews both before and after Christ. Hebrew was the temple language. It is from the Aramaic Targums that we hear what the people were being taught. Here are examples:

Genesis 1:1: “From the beginning with wisdom the Memra of the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth.”

The Neofiti Targum actually has it this way; “From the beginning with wisdom the son of the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth.”

The term ‘Memra’ is the Aramaic word that translates into Greek as ‘Logos.’ It means ‘Word.’

 

More from the Targums 

Keep in view that while the Greeks used the term ‘Logos‘, the Hebrews used the term ‘Memra‘. They meant the same thing. Memra was the Jewish way of relating to the unseen God, in saying that the Most High God did all His personal communication and revelation through the one called ‘the Memra.’

Here are a few more samples from the Targums. Every time you see the term Memra, simply think Logos, or the Word, or think, ‘Jesus’ Himself.

Gen1:27 – “And the Memra of the Lord [Word of God] created the man in his own likeness; in a likeness from before the Lord he created him; male and his partner he created them.”

Gen2:8 – “And the Lord God had planted a garden in Eden from the beginning and he placed there the first Adam.” (Recall how Paul spoke of the first and the last Adam.)

Gen3:8 – “And they heard the sound of the Memra of the Lord God walking within the garden in the breeze of the day…”

Gen12:7 – “And the Memra of the Lord was revealed to Abram and said to him: ‘To your sons I will give this land.’ …”

Gen15:6 – “And Abram believed in the name of the Memra of the Lord and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

 

 A Clear Testimony from Philo 

Now let’s consider the writings of Philo. Philo took what the Hebrews believed and translated it into the primary lingua of the time, which was Greek. Philo was contemporary with the origins of Christianity. Anyone who reads Philo will hear the same language being used by John and Paul.

As Philo was presenting the Judaism of His day into Greek, notice very carefully some of the terms he used with regard to the Words of God. (Some are Targum terms.)

The Logos, the King, Shepherd, High Priest, Covenant, Rider on the Divine Chariot, Archangel, Firstborn Son, the Beginning, the Name, He who sees, the Form, the Glory, the Shekinah, and the Messenger of Great Counsel.

There are other terms, but this gives an idea of just how very Hebraic the New Testament really is. We find some of these terms used by the apostolic writers.

But there was a statement by Philo that has caused much consternation among rabbinic Judaism. Philo wrote,

“For nothing mortal can be made in the likeness of the Most High God and Father of the Universe but only in that of the second God, who is His Logos.”

Philo was not using the expression ‘second God’ with a view to many gods, but rather in the sense of God who can and has been seen, with God who cannot be seen.

There was the belief in a noted distinction between what was called Yahweh Most High, and the lesser Yahweh, or, the Memra. This distinction had to do with God coming forth from God, which brings us back to all the many terms used to describe God who has and can be seen.

Hear it from Jesus:

“You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (Joh 14:28)

 

 

Testimony of Early Church Writers

You find much of these early Jewish concepts not only in the New Testament writings, but also in other writings of the early church believers. Here are sampling from the Ante-Nicene writings:

[Epistle to Diognetus a.d. 130] “…God Himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven, and placed among men, Him who is the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word…”

And,“As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him…”

[Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 30-107 a.d.] “…there is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word…”

[Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians] “…there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man…”

[Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp] “Look for Christ, the Son of God; who was before time, yet appeared in time …”

I realize this may seem weighty but it helps us relate to much of what is written in the New Testament.

To believe and accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God is the crucial element of salvation. To believe in Him is to receive Him as your Lord and Savior.

 

The Hidden Mystery

Yes, the ancients knew there was a mystery in God that was hard to grasp. Paul often spoke of this mystery. It also gives us pause to listen to Jesus when He said,

“Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5)

And again,

“What if you should see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before.” (John 6:62)

The early Jewish believers took what was commonly taught in Judaism of the day, and brought Jesus into the picture. This allows us to see how much of the ancient theology of the Jews was on course with the truth of Jesus Christ.

There is no question that the early Jewish Christians saw Jesus as the answer to what had been long believed among them. This was the ancient faith realized. And this was the mystery Paul said that contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

And so the Christian faith in its simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus Christ is the true religion of heaven. Does this not cause us to appreciate John 3:16, which says,

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The bottom line is not how you wish to depict your beliefs of the godhead. Christians know there can only be one true God. We have been monotheistic from the beginning. The issue at hand is whether you have confessed and received Jesus Christ as the Son of God, your Lord and Savior.

 

Do You Have the Revelation

Peter made the confession when he said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

How important is this revelation? Does God really have a Son? You must decide this for yourself. The religion of Islam has already decided. On the temple mount you will find these words written inside the golden dome; ‘God has no son.’ [Did you know that Islam can be identified with the antichrist religion?]

This is what the apostles wrote:

2Pe_1:17  “For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—

 

1Jn_1:3  “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

 

1Jn_2:22  “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

 

1Jn_2:24  “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”

 

1Jn_4:14  “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

 

2Jn_1:3  “Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

 

2Jn_1:9  “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”

While you think on these things, please take time for this song…

 

 

What do you believe?

Buddy

Can You Find Your Way Home

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“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2Co 4:6-7 nasb)

The Light of the World by John P.C..

 

Journal,

Sometimes I find it very worthwhile to reaffirm an earlier journal entry. This entry draws largely on an entry that I provided in March, 2011. It was titled, ‘Finding Your Way Home.’ (Year and a half ago.)

The apostle Paul said that all believers in Jesus Christ have a  ‘surpassing [divine] power’ in their hearts, and that we must learn to live by that power and not by our own soul’s self powers. Each apostle tell us the same thing,

John says,

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1Jn 4:4)

 

The apostle Peter adds,
 
“[We] who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1Pe 1:5)

 

Living in the Glow of Jesus

But before I go further I want to give a better perspective on why Paul called attention to the opening of Genesis, where God said, “Let there be Light.” Paul is saying that it is this Light that is now shining in the heart of every true believer. (2Co4:6)

Paul is doing is drawing on an ancient belief among God’s people. They believed that when God said,“Let there be Light,” this was the original Light that that creation was to live by. The ancients called this Light, ‘the Light of Life’. Jesus Christ by AshraFekry.

The Hebrew people had other names for the original Light. They said that ‘Light‘ is one of the names of Messiah, in that God Himself is called ‘the Light of the world.’

Even the term ‘sun‘ was sometimes used metaphorically to speak of God and His Messiah.

You hear a bit of this from the Prophet Malachi:

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Mal 4:2)

 

God’s ancient people fondly held to Isaiah, where the Almighty speaks of His Messiah:

 

“I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.” (Isa 42:6-7)

Now let’s take this on and talk about…

 

The Light that shines in the darkness

Jesus Christ by AshraFekry.

When Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world,” His words did not fall on unknowing ears. Many of the Jewish leaders knew exactly what Jesus was drawing from, and they did not like it.

While His words fell on those unbelieving ears that loved the darkness, they also fell on believing ears.

Those in Israel who believed in Jesus were being prepared to enter into God’s new creation. Jesus called His kingdom, ‘a kingdom not of this world.’

This new world would be the heavenly Israel of God, that is, God’s holy people, the church of the new covenant. (This is what the analogy of the Vine and the branches is about. The Vine represents God’s true heavenly Israel.)

It would be a world of pure grace. It would be a world of unqualified love. This new world life would have its beginning stages in this present life but would culminate in the life to come. This life would be a journey of life. We are on our way home.

 

The Powers of the Age to Come

This is why the apostolic writers said that true believers today are actually partakers of the powers of life that belong to the age to come. Paul said that we have this treasure in earthen vessels.

Listen to the apostle John:

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. …

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Cf. John 1:5-14 NASB)

What does this have to do with ‘finding our way home? Good question. This brings us to…

 

The Redeemed Believer

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

When a person is born again a number of things happens. As the Light of Jesus enters into the believer’s heart, the Christian is given a new nature. But a problem remains. The believer becomes a spiritual being. Yet his or her personal life (soul) has to be redeveloped with spiritual values. And this is where the believer must learn to focus his attention on Jesus.

Here what often happens. When a new believer first enters the realm of salvation, there is a burst of spiritual life. There is joy! There is peace! There is wonderment! Grace flows like a river. Then somewhere along the way this feeling of joy may start to wane. Temptations begin to cloud the mind. The struggle of life becomes more difficult. A stumble. Another stumble, and then?

What is happening? Paul said that believers must learn to draw on that ‘surpassing power’ that is part of our inheritance in Christ. (Our spiritual DNA.) This is a learning experience. The believer who fails to keep his focus on Christ, is going to have many mistakes, misdeeds, and extra bits of misery in life.

 

The Greater is He, Principle

And this is why it is so important to understand this principle of Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.’ 

The principle of ‘greater is He’, doesn’t just disappear because we had a failure or even a hundred failures in our life. It is a truth that needs to become an active principle in each believer’s walk with the Lord.

The Old Testament writer said:

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Pro 4:18)

The Light Shines on the Path of Life

This is also where we need to understand what the term ‘truth‘ means in the new covenant experience. In the Scriptures, the term ‘truth’ does not refer simply to a doctrine. The Greek term  is used in the new covenant for experiencing the realities of Christ. Paul said the letter kills where the Spirit gives life. No believer can live in victory by trying to live by the letter. Yet it is so easy for a Christian’s life to get bogged down in ‘letterism’.

Letterism says we need all the laws we can get to get saved and to stay saved! This is bad thinking. Paul said that every person born of God’s Spirit remains eternally under the life supervision of the Holy Spirit. This means that every failure we make will be attended to by the Spirit of God.

It is the Spirit of God who births us, seals us, tutors us, educates us, places us where we need to be, refreshes us, turns our trials, temptations, and failures into victories, helps us escape bad teachings, keeps the glory of Jesus before us and in us, and many such things. Our final presentation in heaven is a thing of the Spirit.

This is what truth is all about. Jesus explained this in His response to Thomas:

 

“Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” (Joh 14:5-6)

 

 

The Redeemed person is a son or a daughter

Our relationship with the heavenly Father is not that of a servant. We are sons and daughters of the living God. Angels know and recognize the Holy Spirit’s seal upon every one of God’s children. The seal says, ‘Sealed for the day of redemption.’ (Eph4:30)

The Holy Spirit is to present us safely before the throne of God. This work of the Holy Spirit is so powerful, that He can and does take every situation of our life, and turn it into part of our reshaping in Christ. This is why the apostle said,

 

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)


 

Paul also says,

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image (inward spiritual likeness) from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2Co3:18

 

The question is not, ‘How do we find our way home?’

Yes, the title of this blog could be challenging. That was simply to get your attention. No believer has to find his way home. You are on your way home. You are already guaranteed an entrance into heaven. Believe it or not, your name was recorded in the Lamb’s book before the foundation of the world.

So when God said, ‘Let there be Light,’ that statement reached across prophetic history and at the right moment, that Light entered into your heart. And inside you were given a shining heart.

Now, can you let your soul relax in the knowledge that Jesus is going to see you through? Can you let go of bitterness? Can you lay your past failures and mistakes where they belong? In the sea of forgetfulness.

Can you be quiet in His rest?

Can you take to heart what David said in this ascending Psalm? Listen:

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel [Christian], hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.” (Psa 131:1-3)

 

Please take time for this song – It may be your answer for today and for forever…

In Christ always,
Buddy

The Point of No Return

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“For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” (Heb 7:25-27)

 

Journal,

The point of no return can be applied to various situations, and especially in the work of redemption it has a place. I decided to draw on this term from my experience as a radioman in the Navy.

I was stationed in the Philippine Islands during the early years of the Vietnam War. (1960-62) As a radioman on a Navy Marlin-Martin P5M (Seaplane), it was our job to check on Chinese and Vietnamese shipping in the South China Sea. We flew low while taking pictures of the shipping. Was never shot at to my knowledge.

When we reached a certain point between our home base in Sangley Point and a forward safety area, I would send a secret morse code message stating, “We have reached the point of no return.” That code meant that if we were in trouble, we could not look back at our home port for help.

There was no turning back. In the event of a problem, we had to go forward to the closest safety port.

 

Points of No Return

There are noted ‘points of no return’ in the Scriptures. One such point of no return involves a last judgement.

Forget reincarnation or transmigration of the soul or any other such nonsense. There are no second chances after death.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Heb 9:27-28) 

Take note that the judgment is for those who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. True believers do not have to be judged. Their judgment took place at the cross.

 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Joh 3:18)

The apostle adds to this ‘no damning judgement’ for a believer when he says,

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom 8:1-2)

The Biblical term for condemnation is the word ‘katakrima’ (kat-ak’ree-mah). It speaks of a judicial damnatory sentence. The reason there can never be a damming sentence against the believer is because his life has been placed in Christ. To condemn a believer, Christ would have to be condemned.

The tenses in the Greek speak in this way: ‘There is not now nor can there ever be a damnatory sentence against anyone who is in Christ Jesus.’

All of this wraps around God’s plan of redemption from the beginning. It involves the mystery of the cross in how the Father would place each believer in His Son. It is in this way that no believer could ever be separated from God’s redemption love.

Paul said it this way:

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39)

It all has to do with the cross.

 

The Cross is God’s Covenant of No Return

The defining point of redemption history is found in the message of the cross. The new covenant is a covenant of creation. It is not the covenant of Moses made better. The new covenant addresses a new humanity. This new humanity is made up of ‘in Christ’ believers.

The Lord said to this Jewish leader,

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (Joh 3:6-7)

The Greek term for ‘born again’ is, gennao anothen.’ ‘Anothen’ means, ‘from above.’ ‘Anothen is a Greek modifier. It includes the idea of from the beginning.’

Thus the lost man must have a heavenly rebirth that gives him a new beginning. But it is a birth that has its origin from the beginning. This is where the idea of ‘heavenly‘ comes in. The birth from above is divine in origin. It is from above.

The apostle alludes to this, when he says,

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” (Eph 1:4,5)

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah in setting forth a new humanity made up of sons and daughters -

“Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: ‘Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, and you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.’” (Isa 45:11)

Paul is drawing on this in describing God’s new creation in Christ.

“The first man [Adam] is from the earth, earthy; the second man [Christ] is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1Co 15:47-49)

 

The Centerpiece of the New Covenant

A key issue of the new covenant is that God’s new creation people are not only hidden in Christ, but they are also given the spiritual nature of Christ. Peter makes reference to our new nature -

“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Peter 1:4)

One day we will fully enjoy the total of our spiritual inheritance, but for now we are the heavenly children of God in earthly bodies.

It is important to understand this. The apostles never discounted the fact of our being in earthly bodies. Believers are still subject to issues in this present life. We struggle with temptations and with our own fleshly weaknesses at times. Yet within every believer is the source of life that helps us to overcome those things that we are confronted with.

Jesus describes this divine source of life in terms of an overflowing heart. In speaking with the woman at the well, He said,

“… but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (Joh 4:14)

One of the most powerful lessons that a believer can ever learn is the lesson of learning to draw from the deep of their own inward spiritual fountain.

The prophet of old tells us how this works. Listen carefully with your heart. This is something every believer should make part of their victory language. -

“’Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.’ Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” (Isa 12:2-3)

 

And it all has to do with…

The Children of the Covenant 

John said,

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

 

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1Jn 3:1-2)

We belong to a kingdom that is not of this world. It is a kingdom of sons and daughters. It is a kingdom of freedom. It is a kingdom where each child is treated as part of the royal family. And even when the Father brings discipline into our lives, it is always the discipline of a loving Father designed to help the child learn how to live in righteousness.

Jesus said,

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

So, once again we hear that Jesus did not come to give us a new religion. Nor did He come to give us a visible structure by which we can find ourselves. We must learn to find ourselves with the Jerusalem from above. The kingdom we serve is invisible to the eye. No one can say, “Lo, Christ is here.” Or, “Lo, Christ is there.”

Does this mean that we should not flock ourselves together as believer. Not at all. Actually it is just the opposite. The Lord places each child in the body as it pleases Him. There will always be a proper flock for each believer to associate himself with.

Let’s look at one more issue. It has to do with …

 

Unique Traits of God’s ‘No Return’ People

There is identifiable traits of God’s new Adam race in Christ. Every person who is born from above has direct access to God Himself. It is this fact alone that does away a need for an intermediary ministry in the new covenant.

No single believer has more access to the divine counsels of God than does another believer. Lots of folk don’t like to hear this, but it is Biblical.

One noted weakness that can be found with many believers today is in their attempt to live the new covenant, on an old covenant level. This is why they continue to look for a prophet who can give them a word from the Lord. Any attempt to live on that level is an open door for disaster.

Listen very carefully to how Jesus describes His new covenant people;

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one Shepherd.” (John 10:16)

Note the Lord’s emphasis on His ‘Voice.’

In the former covenant, the prophets served as the voice of God. In God’s new humanity, each person born from above, has the Voice of the Shepherd speaking into his or her life.

This is not to say that new covenant believers have no need of mature counsel. Quite the contrary. Mature guidance is especially crucial for the immature believer. But the guidance given must be only from what God has given us to say in the Scriptures.

Then we have another unique trait found in God’s new humanity. Inside each and every believer is found the ‘authorship‘ of heaven. This means that the believer carries a seal over his or her heart. And in this seal is the very presence of heaven. That is what the Spirit of Jesus is all about.

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:13-14)

It is this presence of heaven in our hearts that creates our homesickness. Every true believer knows intuitively that they are only pilgrims and strangers in this life. We know that our true home is glorious beyond words. We also know that we will have a new heavenly body and that there is nothing in this world to compare to the life that awaits us.

Listen to these Scriptures. See where they fit in your life –

 

“But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.” (Gal 4:26)

 

 

“For he [Abraham] was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb 11:10)

 

 

“But as it is, they [Old Testament believers] desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:16)

 

 

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Php 3:20-21)

 

 

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven…” (2Co 5:1-2)

 

Here is a song for your meditation. If you have not surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus, now is the time. Let this song be your prayer.

 


In Christ always,

Buddy