A Dire Warning to the Churches in America

A WARNING TO THE CHURCH IN AMERICA
By  Dr. Scott Lively, President, Defend the Family International www.defendthefamily.com
You may have heard of me.  I am the pastor being sued in U.S. Federal Court for “Crimes Against Humanity” for preaching against homosexuality in Uganda.  But I am really a “Canary in the Coal Mine,” with a warning for every Bible-believing Christian in our land, especially pastors and ministry leaders.
The American church is about to come under spiritual and cultural warfare the likes of which we have never seen and which most are not prepared for.  The attacks will come from every corner of the secular world to challenge, condemn and punish us for our beliefs about homosexuality.  These attacks will split denominations, congregations and even Christian families to a degree and with an intensity that will shock even those who have experienced the first ripples of “gay” conflict in the church over the past few decades.
Large numbers of self-identified Christians will begin embracing so-called “Gay Theology,” and some will actually join the attacks against the remnant who stand firm on the truth.  The pressure to give in to escape the psychological and sometimes physical persecution of the Christian “homophobes” will be so great that I believe a majority of church-goers will succumb, and a great many pastors will choose to “change with the times,” so as not  to lose “their” church.
This collapse of the Christian infrastructure of America is, in my opinion, already in progress and  irreversible because it is part of God‘s judgment.  The “end-times” revival which many, including myself, expect and eagerly await will not stop this collapse, but will in fact hasten it by strengthening the remnant in their obedience to Christ while hardening the world (and fallen Christians) against us.  The crisis will be so pervasive that no-one will be spared the choice of embracing or rejecting Biblical truth on this topic.  The whole purpose of this trial is to test the strength of believers to endure greater troubles ahead.
We shouldn’t be surprised that God is using this issue as our test.  A careful examination of His Word shows that open homosexuality in the Bible is symbolic of extreme rebellion against God leading to judgment.  Thus, unique in all of scripture, Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by fire and brimstone as the examplar of God’s wrath (2 Peter 2:6, Jude 1:7, Genesis 19:1-12), male on male sodomy is listed as the most heinous sin on the short list of sins which caused the land to “vomit out” the Canaanites from the territory promised to Abraham (Leviticus 18:1-30, esp. 22),  and both male and female homosexuality are together identified as the examplar of the depraved or “reprobate” mind that defines the age of apostasy leading to Christ‘s return (Romans 1:18-32, 2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Noah’s Flood was preceded by the “marrying and giving in marriage” (Matt 24:37-40) of people whose thoughts were “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), evidence which the ancient Hebrew scholars interpreted as “gay marriage,” the final insult to God which unleashed the deluge.  And in the final book of the Bible, just prior to the return of Christ to “judge and make war” against His enemies (Rev 19:11ff), Jerusalem under the Antichrist is “mystically called Sodom and Egypt,” signifying its essential association (I believe) with homosexuality and Islam respectively (Revelation 11:3-8).
Even 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the “ex-gay” passage that proves that healed and recovered homosexuals were a part of the church from its earliest days, warns that unrepentant homosexuals “will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”  There is no room, even when we emphasize compassion for homosexual sufferers, to condone homosexual relationships or worse, to claim that homosexuality is blessed by God as a normal, intended variant of human sexuality.
My life’s work has been to stand against the (increasingly successful) assault of the homosexual movement on Biblical values in our society and around the world.  My nearly 25 years of full time, front lines ministry on this battlefield has given me special insights and understanding of this issue.  My refusal to be silenced by a long series of increasingly more dishonest and aggressive attacks on my work and reputation has familiarized me both with persecution and with the tactical “playbook” of the “gay” movement.  I am thus issuing my warning to the church not so much as a prophesy (though it is confirmed in my spirit), but as the natural conclusion of deductive reasoning by a front-lines analyst with a unique vantage-point.  In support of that conclusion, I offer the following observations.
First, on June 28, 1969 the goal of the American homosexual movement shifted from tolerance (the right to be left alone) to control (the complete restructuring of society in its own image, with “gays“ or their surrogates in all seats of power).  Its tactics shifted from civil dialogue to implacable militancy.  That was the date of the Stonewall Riot in New York City, today celebrated annually as “Gay Pride Day.” Logically, this movement cannot achieve its goal without replacing the Biblical social ethic of marriage-based heterosexual monogamy and the natural family with its own philosophy of unlimited “sexual freedom” (which is in reality moral anarchy).  In short, the true and necessary goal of the “gay” movement is the defeat of Christianity.
Second, in the space of just forty years homosexual militants have defeated every secular institution in their path in the United States.  The first to fall was the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, when “gay” activists, using Brownshirt tactics of disruption and intimidation, forced the APA to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV.  The most recent and final secular institution to fall was the Boy Scouts of America in 2013 when the BSA leadership voted to allow openly self-declared homosexual boys into the organization.  The next-to-last entity to fall was the U. S. military.  In both cases, the first news following the capitulation was of uniformed members of each organization marching triumphantly in “Gay Pride” parades.
Third, the “gays” have always intended to attack the church in the final stage of their conquest of our culture.  As early as 1987 they openly admitted this plan in an article called The Overhauling of Straight America, which later became the basis for the book After the Ball, which has ever since been their primary strategic blueprint.
They wrote:
When conservative churches condemn gays…we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency. Second, we can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology. Against the mighty pull of institutional Religion one must set the mightier draw of Science & Public Opinion (the shield and sword of that accursed “secular humanism”). Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before, on such topics as divorce and abortion. …. At a later stage…it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified.  (Guide Magazine, November 1987)
Frankly, even at this late stage of the game, much of the church seems to be still asleep or in denial about the state of our culture.  Even many conservative Christian leaders who are awake to the seriousness of the crisis are only dimly aware that the culture war at its foundation is and has always been a winner-take-all contest between Christians and homosexual activists.  Now that the last secular barriers to the “gay” agenda have been crushed, all of their weapons and all of their warriors will be focused on the last remaining obstacle to their power, the Christian church.

What comes next is a full-on homosexual blitzkrieg against “homophobia” and “hatred” in the church
, and a concurrent culture-wide advocacy of “gay theology.”  Gone, of course, will be all concern for the “separation of church and state” as the secular powers work hand-in-hand with the “gays” to shame and “correct” the Bible-believing church, using Scripture that has been deviously twisted to fit their goals.  The only defense will be Biblical literacy backed unshakable faith.  To be blunt, we will be all be vilified and only the strong of faith will endure.
To be sure, one’s view of homosexuality is not necessarily a salvation issue, but one’s ability to cling to Christ through persecution may well be.  Will a person too spiritually weak or cowardly to defend Biblical truth on such a clear and fundamental teaching be strong enough to resist the Mark of the Beast?  During a time of testing such as we are entering, the Prophet Jeremiah put it this way: “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?”
It might not be noticeable now, but their campaign has been launched and will steadily increase in breadth, depth and persuasiveness.  Remnant, be prepared, and share this warning.
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Who made you to differ from another?

Who makes you differ from another?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

What made the difference . . .
between Cain and Abel,
between Esau and Jacob,
between Judas and Peter?

What makes the difference . . .
between believers, and unbelievers;
between the righteous, and the wicked;
between the elect, and the reprobate;
between the godly, and the ungodly;
between one who has saving knowledge of God, and a heathen infidel?

It is not “what,” but “who.” “WHO makes you differ from another?” It is the God of all grace who makes one man to differ from another!

Contrary to popular opinion, men do not make the difference in salvation–God does.
He loves some, but hates others.
He chooses some, but passes by others.
He blesses some, and curses others.
He saves some, but destroys others.

This is God’s sovereign right as God. “Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” Romans 9:21.

God always does with men as He pleases. Who are men to reply against God? “Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it: Why have you made me thus?” Romans 9:20.

Will not the all wise God do what is best, just, and good? How dare fickle ignorant men call the most high God into question! “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter: What are you making?” Isaiah 45:9.

“Why do you strive against Him? For He gives not account of His matters.” Job 33:13.
It is we who must answer to Him–not He to us.
He is on the throne–and we are but His footstool.
He is the Potter–and we are the clay.
He is the Creator–and we are His creatures.
He is God–and we are not.

The God of all grace made the difference between His people and the reprobate from eternity. Before the foundation of the world, God the Father justly elected some of humanity to salvation–and passed by all the rest.

The Lord Jesus made the difference between His church and the world, at Calvary where He laid down His life, poured out His blood, and effectually redeemed all whom the Father elected to salvation.

The sovereign Spirit makes the difference between the souls of His people and the souls of the ungodly in regeneration, effectually calling chosen redeemed sinners to life and faith in Christ.

The triune God does this, not because His people are better, more deserving, or more worthy of salvation–but because He will, because He is pleased to do so.

In all things God makes the difference, not us. There is no difference between God’s saints and the wicked by nature, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. The only difference is the difference that God makes by His distinguishing grace. We, as God’s elect, have . . .
nothing to boast of,
nothing to be proud of, and
no reason to look down on others as being inferior to us.
We were born just like everyone else–dead in trespasses and sins. By nature we lived in rebellion against God, just like everyone else. We walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, living to fulfill the lusts of our flesh, and were by nature children of wrath even as others. We have nothing to brag about–but much to be thankful for!

In sovereign grace . . .
He loved us,
He chose us,
He blessed us,
He set His affection on us,
and He saved us.

In distinguishing mercy our Savior . . .
was born for us,
lived for us,
suffered for us,
bled for us, and
reigns for us.

In discriminating love He . . .
sought us out,
chased us down,
subdued our hearts,
gave us spiritual life, and
blessed us with the gift of everlasting salvation!

Thank God for His sovereign, discriminating grace!

Excerpts from GRACE GEMS
Frank Hall
April 17, 2014

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Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING FLOW
Coninuing Studies in Ephesians- part four
Let me begin by asking you what you believe your greatest blessing from God might be?
Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome. Probably from the same jail cell from which he wrote his epistle to Colossae. Epaphras, who planted the Colossian church was acquainted with Paul (or in prison with him) and informed him of a heresy infiltrating the Colossae and Laodicean churches (Read, Col.2:8,18).
To combat the heresy troubling the Colossians, Paul argued that Christ alone is to be worshipped as the Divine Creator and Head of the Universe thus the Divine Creator of the Universe and Head of the Church. Then, he adds that since Jesus is the Head of the Universe and the Church, then Christians as members of Christ’s Body, the Church, have an intimate and very personal relationship with Him.
These two letters, Colossians and Ephesians resemble closely one to the other that of the 105 verses in Colossians, 75 are found in Ephesians. It is possible that they were written at the same time.
When the Scriptures refer to the Body of Christ, we understand that they are not referring to a universal collective and unseen bunches of churches, without unity, limit, exception, or purpose, but to specific churches in specific locations, with specific doctrines that are apostolic in nature and New Testament in reputation. Every letter Paul wrote was to churches local and visible, not a Church (capital C) universal or invisible.
We see this in his letters specific churches in various places, for example when he begins all his epistles with, to…
“all that be in Rome,’ to “the churches in Galatia,” “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth and with all the saints in all Achaia,” “to the saints in Ephesus,” “all the saints in Christ Jesus which art at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons,” “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which art at Colossae,” “unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and the structured assemblies of 1Timothy and Titus? Not one mention of a Universal and Invisible church in the lot!

The Ephesian letter is no exception. Let’s examine it again, beginning at Verse three. The title of this message, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow, is a reminder that all blessings from God are conducive to true and lasting happiness, they are spiritual in nature, and are all in heavenly places.
Paul puts things in proper perspective. He starts with God then proceeds to the “covenant of eternal purpose”, ‘then he comes down to our level dealing with the actual blessings. Martyn Lloyd Jones
Finally these spiritual blessings are in Christ so Paul points us to Christ before giving even a hint of what the blessings might be. Why does he do that? Because we have no spiritual blessings apart from Jesus Christ.
For the next few minutes let’s look at the words Paul uses in verse three of chapter one: Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
I. BLESS-ED
First, Paul, uses a word that means ‘to speak well of’—BLESS-ED! Our word Eulogize means the same thing, to speak well of. Most of us are all familiar with eulogies. We eulogize, or speak well of the departed at funerals. We speak well of a departed persons character and honor his reputation.
Rarely in these times do we dare to be honest, preferring to be hypocritical. He may have been a cheat, adulterer, common thief, even ungodly in all his ways, but now that he is dead, somehow we find words that speak well of him and his reputation —Eulogize.
Paul, eulogizes the living God. He speaks well of Him, making reference to His glorious character and impeccable reputation. Paul tells us what prompted this high praise –saying: BLESSED be the God, noting that in my Bible the word is in all caps, it may not be so in yours but it is of no real importance to the thought Paul is expressing. BLESSED be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.
When God blesses spiritually or materially we feel encouraged and experience a sense of His approval, believing that he blesses us with a desire that we be encouraged. As children of God we certainly do not want his disapproval.
II. BLESSED
Secondly, Paul again says that God hath ‘blessed us.’ Note hath Blessed, meaning something He has already done. It has is the same pronunciation but with a different meaning.
Paul’s moves from the One who is Good, namely God, worthy to be spoken highly of; The One ‘to be praised,’ to the ones who profit/benefit by God’s blessing, to those to whom God has done good.
God has called (kletos),—His (eklektos)- meaning those whom He has chosen. Called – Chosen! To the called and chosen He has blessed with all spiritual blessings.
Some frown, squint, roll their eyes, sniff and snort at the idea that God calls some and chooses some—calls but does not choose.
Matthew 22:14 Jesus uses both kletos -called and eklektos –chosen, and reminds us that while many are called, few are chosen. Does this mean that God blesses only the called and chosen? No.
The rain (blessings) does fall on the just and the unjust (the blessed), but these blessings (all good that God does for everyone) refers to blessings earthly and physically enjoyed, received daily by all God’s creatures. But, does not refer to blessings spiritual which are bestowed only on the Called and the Chosen and received daily understood and recognized as current blessings possessed, but are in heaven, in Christ, confirmed and made knowable by God’s word but not empirically observed or empirically experienced that is to mean not fully observed and fully experienced. That will one day change when we are gathered as Christ’s church in heaven then as one Universal Visible Body, then all spiritual blessings will be empirically fully observed and empirically fully experienced.
Someone has cleverly coined a phrase which I’m not convinced totally reliable but says: All of the blessings of God, spiritual or material Christians do in fact have NOW, BUT NOT YET!
III. BLESSINGS
The third word Paul uses in verse three is ‘blessings,’ meaning in this case all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Blessings which God has generously bestowed to those previously mentioned and to New Testament churches in other localities.
Would that all His people here below praise Him! Do not all the heavenly host above praise Him? Surely, they are! Should not all of us praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? All God’s people says: Amen!
Paul loved this church. Some believe it is the only church that Paul actually planted, We know from Acts that Paul worked his craft of tent making there.
He enters in to a state of bliss; His heart aflame, wanting to set a fire in the hearts of the Ephesians and writes this letter compelled by a force higher than himself saying:
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
There are any number of teachers today who will tell you that God’s “blessing” is always physical or even always monetary. However, “if the blessings of God are only material or monetary, God has nothing to offer us any more than what a good financial investment might result in a satisfactory return.” This is no means is to deprecate earthly blessing. The New Testament places all the emphasis on the spiritual…
(2 Corinthians 4:18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
(Matthew 6:11) Give us this day our daily bread. And…
(1 Timothy 4:1-5) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
However, we at this time are more earthly minded than spiritual and more easily recognize and appreciate the blessings God showers upon us in this life every day, thinking more of these that on those we cannot yet see, touch or sense physically or intellectually but learn to experience by faith.
Unfortunately, though we Christians have these spiritual blessings we mainly give them little thought or giving no thought to them at all.
Peter, for example 1 Peter 1:3-5 speaks of blessings reserved in heaven and ready to be revealed in the last time. While Ephesians 1:3 gives the distinct impression that we already have these blessings. Perhaps this is because in 1 Peter the language indicates that the apostle is speaking to Jewish minds, though Christian, reminding them of their ancestral wanderings in the wilderness for 40 years, while in Ephesians Paul is writing to Gentile believes with no remembrance or knowledge of any such wanderings.
Paul, in verse three and beyond hurries to help us see the higher value in higher blessings.
God’s blessings, as we shall see as we progress in our study of this treasured letter, are far more lasting than material blessings. These represent the Return on the investment God has afford toward us —His own Son, begotten, not created, eternal…
`One God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all thins visible and invisible,’ and `One Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God; begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father,’ and `the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.’
Paul’s desire is for the church to know that God’s blessings are eternal in the heavens and that they are in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are of greater worth. They include blessings of hope, peace, wellbeing, and an abundant life. Spiritual Blessings are far better than natural blessings as they are supernatural; Better than earthly they are heavenly; Better than temporal they are eternal; Better than incidental they are essential.
When Paul says the blessings are “spiritual” he means they are spiritual in administraton in that they are bestowed upon the church by the Holy Spirit. Note…
The Father imparts the blessing;
The Spirit communicates the blessing;
The Son embodies the blessing.
The Tri-unity of the God head is apparently displayed here in full unity of purpose.
When God gives such blessings, it is with the view of blessing His people and making them happy. God delights in granting the desire of His heart. His blessings are always for our profit and because He glories in the giving. They are designed to give us a sense of security, a sense of joy, and a sense of hope (expectation) knowing that God loves us, cares for us and meets the deeper needs of our souls.
To hear further that he hath blessed us means something that God has already done! He ‘Hath’ blessed! we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, as opposed to the temporal blessings that are fleeting, that approach with a promise like a welcome breeze then leave as quickly as it came.
Unlike temporal blessings that are in the main earthly. These Blessings are in the heavenlies, that is the Heavenly Sphere. These are reserved in heaven, they remain in heaven, they are ours now and will be fully retained for us in heaven. (See verse 14)
These are eternal blessings are bestowed according to or in conformity to the will and purpose of God. And bestowed in eternity before the foundation of the worlds, with a view to the will and purpose of God which is that we be a moral people of good reputation having been foreordained by the Love of God, having been foreordained, determined beforehand to be the children of God!
IV. ADOPTED (BORN INTO)
The word ‘adoption’ is mentioned just 5 times in the New Testament and it is a figurative word meaning, the Placing as sons which we become when having been “born again from above.” Which does not mean in “place of the Son,” or in the “Son’s place,” but placed as sons. It means, Placed as sons, in the Son, in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And, as Paul writes we are sons of God placed in Christ because it pleased God to do so to the praise of the glory of His grace! Glory being the out-flashing of His grace. The result of our being placed as sons by his grace and for his glory is that we have been accepted in the beloved! In Christ we are placed and therein accepted in Him!
As accepted in Christ we by his grace and for his glory, have redemption through the blood of Christ, Redemption which is explained as the forgiveness of sins, again conforming to the riches of his grace.
Paul continues in verses 8-11 (read) which he refers back to the argument that Christ is the Divine Creator and the Head of His church and sums up by saying this is all in Christ, both redemption and forgiveness in heaven and which are on earth; even in HIM!
These are heavenly blessings in Christ. And not merely through Christ. Someone may ask, “OK, our spiritual blessings are in Christ but how are we to enjoy them?” Some cry O’ so mournfully: If I could only see God! Just a glimpse! I could enjoy Him and all His spiritual blessings. All spiritual blessings are in Him, and we being in Christ enjoy them in him. We enjoy Christ! 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And, again
Hebrews 1:3 (Jesus) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
V. ACCEPTED
Having been adopted in Christ we are Accepted in the Beloved One. This has been done before redemption became necessary.
Robert Hawker offers: The text is clear: what is said of choosing, and predestinating, and accepting, is said to be before the foundation of the world, and, consequently, before sin was known upon earth, or redemption from sin needful.”
The capstone supporting these unspeakable blessings of God the Father comes as the result of his own free and sovereign grace; before the foundation of the World; and, consequently, before the Church had its being, and before sin benighted Adam.
VI. TEN THINGS:
One, we know what kind of blessings is meant, “Spiritual.”
Two, we also know their Giver and administrator, God the Father through The “Holy Spirit.”
Three, we know that they were given in love.
Fourth, We know where they are in heaven.
Fifth, we know where they are to be found, “in Christ.”
Sixth, we know when they were given, in Eternity.
Seventh. we know to whom they were given, to the Elect churches. Eighth, we know there purpose, to the praise of his glory.
Ninth, we know why they were given, for our acceptance in the beloved. And Tenth, we know the number of the Spiritual Blessings we own, all of them!
You would find it profitable, as I have, to read through Ephesians counting every blessing you find and know that they are all part of the SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS held in Christ for you all.
But now we experience the results of them all. We have the blessing of first, being chosen and predestinated and in the heavenly places where our citizenship truly is and where we are holy and without blame and where our inheritance awaits (I believe our inheritance to be Jesus Christ).
Surely there is blessing in knowing we have been welcomed into the family of God by being born into it, I prefer that to “adopted.”
Is there not blessing in knowing that He hath abounded in us all wisdom and prudence. Is not ‘in Christ’ to mean in all His wisdom and prudence which is the wisdom of God which is Christ and the prudence or knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and having such bestowed should we not be growing, progressing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord?
Has he not blessed us by revealing his will, pleasure, and purpose in Himself.
That in the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; in him.
While we are “counting our blessings” we have in earth, we want to recall that have obtained an inheritance, again that has been predestinated…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. And, that we should be to the praise of his glory.
We will not forget that we have been given the Spirit of Promise, the security earnest guarantee of all that we have in Christ. When realized redemption, that glorious day when we shall be introduced as Christ’s purchased possession and stand before him unto the praise of his glory. Paul writes that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies— Revelation 22:1-2 we read…
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river , was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
VII. APPLICATION
For us? Two things—One, as a church we are predestinated to be a holy church without blame. As of this moment we have not much notoriety, good or bad, in this area. We are not well known. The people of this area have been given little cause to evaluate our true character. A character of love and caring and concern for one another is obvious to me and surely to you as well. But outside of this building, not much is known of us. We will work on this.
Secondly, When our true character is expressed by our good works folks will see our love and concern for them. Putting feet to our prayers, seeking the physical and spiritual welfare of the people around us, our love will be obvious, it will not take long for people to know that we are a church that cares and will begin to take notice…that is how a reputation is formed!
This will not come without effort. Christian character is expressed in effort and effort becomes a reputation. A church at rest tends to stay at rest while a church that is active tends to say active.
I say that our church must become, in every meaning of the word, a New Testament Church. If we are to be a true church then we have work to do, character to express, reputation to build. What we have to gain is worth whatever losses we may endure gaining it.
I love the saying of Nate Saint, the missionary killed several years ago by the Auca Indians in Bolivia. Brother Saint said: “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose”.
VIII. CHARGE TO THE CHURCH
As your pastor I’m asking each of you to stand with me in prayer and work. With a view to building a godly and loving character and a reputation for our church that honors our Lord. In time, I will be suggesting specific things each of us can do individually, and things that we can do collectively as people of a true New Testament church to reach this community,’ to see people come to know Christ as their Savior and serve as their Lord – TO LOVE GOD AND ENJOY HIM NOW AND FOREVER!
We are few in number, but consider this, it took just 13 disciples to turn the world upside down. Few in number, oppressed, persecuted but fully committed to the Resurrected Savior. Many of us are not as physically active as we used to be, however, we still can actively pray putting our faith, if not always our feet to the work.
I am asking you WHO ARE CHRISTIANS to live every day for Christ, to put on the whole armor of God, and stand for the greatest cause the world has ever known –Folks, Our Lord has commanded and conscripted us to come along side of ONE ANOTHER to evangelize this community, this city, this world for Christ! Matthew 28:19-20 says: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
We can do all things through Christ which strengthen us. God has begun a good work in us, surely He will finish it. For our part we must gain back our first love – a love for Him; a love for each other; a love for the souls of men. Will you stand ? I ask again will you stand for Christ? If you will, I ask you to call me THIS WEEK and say, Yes, brother Bob, I will stand for Christ, I will do all that he enables me to do and will always pray for God to be glorified in me. Amen.
INVITATION: Whenever people gather in church there are a few who have not yet come to Christ. These know only the temporal, earthly, blessings of God and nothing of his spiritual blessings in heaven. You may be one of them. Your soul still in darkness, dead in trespasses and sin, you know of Christ but you have no personal relationship with him.
God knows who you are and has in times past spoken to your spirit saying, come unto me and I will give you rest. You have heard but not responded. Your salvation is as near as the one sitting next to you this morning, praying for your soul. The way to all spiritual blessings is in and through Jesus Christ.
Blessed is he whose transgression is covered.
Blessed is the one unto whom the Lord
Imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit
There is no guile (deceit, deception). Psalm 32

COME TO CHRIST AND RECEIVE ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN CHRIST. AMEN.

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What’s In A Word?

WHAT’S IN A WORD?
Purpose: My purpose this morning is two-fold: One, show how that the translators of our King James Bible have done their level best to “dress up the original cloth in clothing we recognize,” and do so without losing the original meaning, so that nothing is not lost in translation. We should be grateful for their efforts in bringing to us a trusted copy of such an ancient text.
And Two, remind you of who you are and what you have become and what you have gained in Christ.
The Text:
Ephesians 1:1-3 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Notice that there is a colon at the end of the word “Christ.” This means that there is more to come, and there is a lot more to come in this awesome letter. Today however, after our discussion on translations we will place our attention on just four words found in these three verses: Grace, Peace, Blessed and Blessings.
Introduction:
I must by necessity touch somewhat at length, on the doctrines of Inspiration and Preservation.
Words, as someone has said, are not simply, “lovely little things”, but are about the circumstances in which they were first uttered arising in, their history, their culture.
The Oxford Dictionary, one of the most respected English Dictionaries has updated its self only three times since 1879 and since then 60,000 new words have been added to the English language, not counting thousands of words that did not pass inspection and not added to the Dictionary. Sixty thousand new words added to a dictionary already over twenty volumes, containing over a half-million words…words that are being updated and in the process of changing every day.
With such changes it is comforting to know that my KJV version of the Holy Inspired Word of God, has withstood the test of time, without change or addition for over 400 years!
I use commentaries but prefer word studies because words as they were originally spoken reveal much more than the interpretations of whole sets of verses, paragraphs, and chapters in a commentary format. In fact one word in a verse may have hidden within itself richer meaning that helps understand the whole context in which the word is framed.
Words flesh out meanings that the speaker originally intended, whereas commentaries are interpretations of language mainly by well meaning, good men, well educated, but “uninspired.” Often the commentator uses idioms – words that were particular and specific to the his generation—along with metaphors also familiar to his dispensation, which may or may not match up to the idioms and metaphors of the generation in which the original author lived. This may result in too much or too little influence impacting the reader who must depend solely on the accuracy of a commentary and may indeed diminish the original meaning altogether. This is especially risky when it is the inspired Word of God they are playing with! It cannot be assumed or even implied that the commentator was in any way “inspired,” but it is fair to assume he can be guided!!
A commentary is not inspired. It is the product of theological minds, some trained in linguistics and some not so well trained. Too many books that claim to be “biblical commentaries” are biblical in name only. Many are simply dressed up devotional stuff without any real meat on which to chew. Sometimes, an understanding of the meaning embodied in one word can define an entire context, and an entire passage of Scripture.
A word study must be driven by a knowledge of languages or at the least having at hand a dictionary containing the words of the original language that has been translated into one’s own.
This is especially important. A translation may not reveal the essence of what the speaker wanted to convey to his reader—a language specific dictionary will! A Bible that is a word for word translation is also trustworthy while one that is thought for thought will have serious flaws.
What’s is a ‘word?’
A word is a part of speech that stands alone and cannot be divided. What it says is what it means. It can say what it means but be wrong in what it is saying. That’s like saying ‘a man can be sincere, but be sincerely wrong.’ Translations can say what a word or text means but all the while what it is saying is or is not necessarily true to the ancient language, thus not meaningful.
What God has said, past tense, is trustworthy because each and every word is God Breathed. However, if the book I hold in my hand contains only what men think God has said, then it is not a version of the original inspired manuscripts. This book I hold in my hand, if not the inspired, breathed word of God, it is immediately rendered worthless, heretical, dangerous to my soul, and should not be read, meditated, studied, preached or taught.
I am willing to put my very soul on the line using this KJ Bible. Why? Because the KJV is a word for word translation of the Hebrew and Greek whereas all other English language translations are at best paraphrases of the KJV, including The Revised Version, The Revised Standard Version, The NASB (very popular among the young Turks), The corrupted New International Version, even the New King James is suspect. These are in the main, thought for thought translations, or what the translator thinks the author was thinking when he wrote it! How can anyone say he knows what another person thinks? That’s guess work. Word for word is what God said. No guessing required.
Are you as willing to do the same?
The original manuscripts were inspired, yet as of today the originals have not been found. The Vellum or hides of Deer and Antelope have probably turned to dust, but the copyists must at some time had possession of the originals otherwise from what did they copy? If there were no originals then what was available to translate? If they were not translated from originals even the copies are corrupt thus all Bibles are corrupt. And the Bibles we own are humanistic, man-determined moral initiatives designed to make us feel that they are reasonable and thus better thus making the world a better world.
Folks, I would not want to live in a world trusting only in the humanistic moral initiatives springing the dry wells of minds suffering spiritual draught.
How can I say this when I know that this Bible is a translation and not an original manuscript? Because the Word of God is not only Divinely inspired; It is Divinely preserved. If inspired but not preserved
how can it said that “God’s word will endure forever” or having any redemptive effect on sinful human hearts as in the following passages?
Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away : but my words shall not pass away.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God .
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God , which liveth and abideth for ever.
Why is this so hard for some to believe? Is this too hard for God? Is anything too hard for God?
Why would he give or trust his word to men to record His utterances knowing and preserved knowing that all He has really said would be one day forever lost? If lost, then we have nothing trustworthy—we have no infallible or inerrant Word from God, and without such we will all perish! If His word has not survived intact then our translations cannot be of any real worth, and what is said as written in Psalms 138:2 cannot be true …reading I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified (that is infinitely honored) thy word above all thy name. What can be magnified if it no longer exists? If God has not preserved His inspired word then even His name is lost its trustworthiness.
Our English translation of the copied originals were written in the ancient tongue—Hebrew and Greek mainly. Still, while the original manuscripts have not been found, and may never be found, the language spoken at the time of the original manuscripts lives on in our Authorized Version of the King James Bible—both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
I will say this in defense of what I have already said: The King James version, was ‘not meant to be a newer version of the original, but rather to make a good version (The Bishop Bible) better.’ It is “better” because it has survived vicious attacks and remains the most read Bible by Christians for well over 400 years!
This is not to imply that people can be saved only by the use of the KJV version. In the first place people are not saved by translations but by the application of inspired truth in a preserved translation and applied by the Holy Spirit to the hearts and minds of men.
I am not saying that other translations do not carry certain elements of Scriptural truth, or that people cannot be saved through their usage, because many do contain elements of inspired truth and people are, I’m sure brought to Christ through them. But taken in the whole I will say that the KJV of the Bible is THE inspired Word of God for English speaking people, and until the originals are discovered proving the KJV wrong, I live and die by the KJV.
Southern Baptists used to say, and I’m sure many still do, especially the Old Timers that the KJV of the Bible is the one trusted for faith and practice. My, how things change over time.
In Matthew 4:5 (KJV) Jesus said this of the Word of God: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Word comes from the Greek and means every utterance-we are to live by every utterance of God! There are three ways we live by the utterances of God: 1. By reading it. 2. By hearing it. 3. By applying it. This is to assume that the Word of God is inspired AND preserved, else what good is it?
Once reading or hearing an utterance of God we are to “keep” it. That is to say, we are to observe it and save it– Notice David in Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
And we are to “do” what it says. We are to abide by it, agree with it, appropriate it, take possession of it, and when and if necessary avenge it, that is to say, we are to defend it from those who would handle the utterances of God deceitfully. And it must be added we are to proclaim it to others!
EXPLAINING THE TEXT
Ephesians 1:1-3 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

I. Grace be to you—
God’s grace is not limited in quality, quantity, or time. Romans 5:20-21 Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
John Bunyan speaks of God’s Grace in his preface to his sermon Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners and describes the sermon as “a brief and faithful relation of the exceeding mercy of God in Christ to his poor servant”. Bunyan, in regards to himself says: Grace Abounding unto the chief of sinners. wherein is particularly showed the manner of my conversion, my sight And trouble for sin, my dreadful temptations, also how I despaired of God’s mercy, and how the lord at length through Christ did deliver me from all the guilt and terror that lay upon me.
Men in their wisdom have decided that the best definition of Grace is “undeserved favor” and while true, it appears to be unfinished and a bit wanting. That is like looking at a newly constructed home and saying “that is a house.” We are not told who designed and built the house, what materials were used, how big or small is its size and more importantly, what was its cost?
To leave Grace as simply ‘undeserved favor’, while not wrong nor is it particularly offensive, it remains in my view, far from sufficiently defining the great doctrine of Grace.
Grace in the New Testament reveals its greatest meaning when it is viewed in the sphere in which God’s Grace is best observed. And in what God purposed to do and was willing to give to the whosoever’s who would believe, which is specifically, that which Jesus accomplished on the cross.
When we understand the high cost of what was paid to bring to us to salvation, we see a much clearer picture of the magnitude of God’s Grace. The Personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ by submitting to humiliation, pain and suffering, for the remission of our sin we see the fullness of God’s Glory in Divine love and Grace, and realize how totally undeserving we were of any consideration from God.
In Christ Jesus’ death at Calvary, we quickly realize that He, the Beloved, died because of and for our sin, and that we through Him have received what we did not deserve, namely, eternal life and forgiveness of our sins–and did not receive what we did deserve namely. Eternal death and separation from our Creator God, forever!
Jesus, being obedient to suffer and die, placed himself in our place on the altar of sacrifice and accomplished what He came to do…to do the will of His Father. He stood in the gap for us!
Our salvation which is through faith in Jesus Christ came as the result of the super-abounding Grace and infinite love of God… without any expectation of a return on his awful investment. (Read: 2:8-10)
God’s Grace is so against the idea of merit by ‘good works’ that Paul concludes in Romans 4:4-5 saying: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
This does not mean that in God’s Grace there is no room for our ‘good’ works. On the contrary, as children of God our lives must reflect to others a proper vision of Christ formed in us? Is this not our chief end to glorify God in our lives?
(Read Titus 2:11-14) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
The mortification of our carnal appetites; the “keeping” of our bodies under subjection; the “putting away the filth of the flesh; the “putting off the “old man” and putting on the “new” is not simply dressing the old man in a new suit of clothes. He blesses stable-minded men and women who live moderately without showy, unnecessary, or any kind of unbecoming pretense or expression of carnality.
II. Our Second Word: And Peace—. (Read 2:13-16)
Peace implies a “joining” together. When we join a church we expect peace (Psalms 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!) When a man and a woman are joined together in Holy matrimony peace should accompany them through life.
Apart from Jesus Christ there is no peace between God and man. There is only dis-joining; a lack of harmony and a loss of any sense of well-being. Christ established a peace so deep in meaning we find difficult to fully comprehend. We need to know only that Christ through His atoning work has reconciled what was dis-joined and brought the twain—God and man–together again resulting in a Eden like harmony and well-being.
We read in Colossians 1:20-22 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight…
The death, resurrection of The Anointed One, satisfied the just demands of the Law, making it possible for God to bestow upon a believing sinner peace without violating His lawful demand for Justice!
The Law can make no more demands on those whom Christ has redeemed from its “curse,” having in himself fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law.
We, being “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6) can now approach the throne of His grace, look upon the face of His God and our God, His Father and our Father (whereas before that would mean certain death) without an ounce of fear or shame. Why, because “through (Christ) Him we have access by the Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18).
This idea of access is understood with saying, “God the Son provides the way into the Father’s presence through the blood of His cross, God the Spirit conducts the saint (holy one) in and presents him, and God the Father is the One into whose presence the believer is brought.”
(Read: 2:18-22) We have Peace with God!

Our third word this morning is…
III. Blessed
Three times in chapter 1:3-4, the words Blessed or Blessings are used to describe the giver, the giving and the receiving of spiritual blessings.
We read: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
Three words spelled and sounding the same but each with a different meaning.
In verse three the first usage of Blessed is a word that applies to God’s character and is used only in the New Testament—Blessed be the God and Father… this word “Blessed,” we know well, hearing it often when eulogizing someone who has departed this world. We eulogize his life, speaking well of him. To say “blessed be God” is to eulogize God saying God is wonderful and to be adored for what he has done for us.
In the second usage: God…who has blessed us…has a different but meaning. In the first example where we eulogize God by speaking well of Him and praising Him for blessing us. In this second consideration of the word blessing it is not God speaking well of us but refers to what good things God does for us! He blesses us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.
We get an idea of this in Matthew five-3-11 –the Beatitudes, Nine times Jesus uses a Greek word in our English, “blessed.” His meaning is, happy in the sense of being spiritually prosperous. “blessed-happily prosperous” while being poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“blessed-happily prosperous” are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“blessed-happily prosperous” are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
And so on…
Thirdly, We read that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places…This speaks of things God has done for us and who has given us that which benefits us, which is he has blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, or in the heavenlies…where He abides.
Let’s understand that these “blessings” are not of a temporal sort, but eternal; they are not simply given but are being perpetually given; they are not bodily blessings, but spiritual blessings; they are not of the flesh of men but of the Holy Spirit of God.
Next time, God permitting, we will consider these Spiritual blessings at some length.
A Personal Word: As people consecrated, devoted to God, belonging to God, secure in God’s Son, Blessed by God’s Spirit, assured of our inheritance, we are as in (Read:1 Peter 2:9-10) a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy people, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
IV. Application:
What’s In A Word? When it applies to the Word of God we believe that All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

When we read as Paul writes, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ we are eulogizing Him by “speaking well of Him, when God blesses us He is doing good to us and the blessings we receive are spiritual in nature.
David writes: Psalms 103:2-5 Bless the LORD, O my soul , and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Have you the confidence that you have been accepted in the beloved? Perhaps God the Spirit has opened the eyes of your understanding this morning enabling you to see that Jesus Christ in Lord and that you need a Savior. If so come to Him today by faith and He will receive you. You must be born again. Confess to him that you are a sinner and that you truly want to have your life changed for the better and that by faith and acknowledgement of His Lordship you will endeavor to live your life for his glory.
I leave you with these thoughts:
1. You can trust your KJ Bible. It is admittedly not the easiest translation to read but you can count on it to be authoritative and infinitely authentic.
2. Adore God for He alone is good and does goodly things for you.
Amen
AMEN.

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Shalom, Shalom

“Peace to the faithful in Christ Jesus!”
Shalom, Shalom!
Isaiah 26:3–Ephesians 1:1-6
As we discovered last Lord’s Day, Grace is that which is given freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver. And, that The Grace of God is the fountain from which peaceful waters flow.
We said that God’s Grace In Election and Predestination Encourages Evangelism And Destroys The Error Of Hyper-Calvinism.
God has foreordained and predestined us to salvation according to his own purposes and that we are to be the channels through which the gospel should be preach to all nations under the Sun for His Glory.
We saw that God is not predisposed that any man should perish but that all men are obligated to come to repentance — Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
We opened the word and found that the: Grace of God Enforces Divine Creation And Explodes The Theory Of Evolution And The Concept Of Free Will In Man’s Salvation.
Evolutionists say that all things were made from existing matter including the false theory of the gradual evolution of man who one day appeared as a one-celled “naked rhizopod protozoans with scurfy skin, a never anastomosing pseudopodia (without mouth or stomach) and without permanent organelles (skeleton).” Otherwise known as a “ball of slime having no soul or brain, no eyes or ears, arms of legs, having been belched up from some primeval mud mote and onto dry ground to begin millions of years of journey reaching the magnificent (an over exaggeration) figure and form to what we are today.
We, through faith, understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3).
Through the word we saw that God’s Grace Ensures Eternal Preservation Of The Believer And Destroys The Prospect Of Ultimate Loss.
The word ‘Preservation’ of believers is better received than “Eternal Security” although we are in Christ eternally secure, but because it speaks of something God not us has done – We gain greater understanding of this work of God in Jude 24-25
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.
We put forth the idea that God knows nothing of time! With God everything is “now.” God “foreknew” you in Eternity. You were always “foreknown.” Always “foreordained.” Always ordained to eternal life! Acts 13:48 as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
There was never a time in which you were not in His mind! Your name is eternally in the mind of God. You are in His heart in all eternity. For your God and my God is eternal in the heavens: For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth (resides permanently) eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15)
So, as we said last week that: Grace is the fountain from which peaceful waters flow. To drink from it has revived millions and restored their souls, awakening them from the sleep of death due to their sin unto life eternal.
We see Grace as that fountain from which we may drink; So then, Peace is seen as the great Crystal River flowing from the Throne of God!
To the faithful in Christ there is always peace, infinite peace, surpassing understanding, but certainly we are not so naïve as to think that this peace is of the kind the this world offers!
Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, when praying to the Father in behalf of all whom the Father has given him from the Apostles to all who love him today, plead: John 17:13-16 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
He adds to this a warning , but with encouragement that: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Meaning that in this world there is no lasting peace to be expected (John 16:33). He had previously affirmed in John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Adding: Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Christ Jesus is the peace of God, which passeth all understanding ,(who) shall keep your hearts and minds through. Philippians 4:7
The peace that is offered to all who believe is not the peace of this world but of God. The peace of God comes from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; lasting peace; peace like a river ever flowing from the throne of God. His peace is not cheap peace to be taken for granted for it is a peace that is Divine, thus sacred; it is a peace bought with a price to be highly valued by the recipient of it. This is to be understood that this kind of peace is only given to the faithful in Christ Jesus! “Be thou faithful unto death, says He, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Re 2:10.
Peace is the presence of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, reflecting Himself in the hearts of the redeemed, The abiding Holy Spirit providing the assurance of reconciliation through the blood of the cross, sealing the believing until the day of redemption. This is true spiritual wholeness and prosperity…it is the great blessing which Christ by His atoning sacrifice bestowed upon the church (John 14:27)… Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
“Now this grace and this peace have their origin in God the Father (James 4:6), and “ have been merited for the believer by him who is the great Master-Owner-Conqueror (Lord), Savior (Jesus), and Office-bearer (Christ) and who, because of his threefold anointing—namely, as Prophet, Priest, and King”—“is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God through him (Hebrews 7:25).”
The world offers only limited, temporary and unsteady peace while our Lord offers limitless, stable, eternal peace.
I think of Nehemiah and his faithful Jews who rebuilt the walls surrounding the City of God. All around them the enemies of God harassed them as they worked, threatening even to “lay hands upon them” with the intention of doing bodily harm. Still, with sword in one hand and trowel in the other they labored for 51 days. The walls repaired, the gates with new lumber and brass hung, allowing entrance to all who believe. With the people of God inside all are safe from the ungodly outside.
This is as it should be for the faithful in Christ Jesus today. Inside the walls of His peace, the sword of the Spirit in hand, the trowel of work lain aside, the work completed, the gates open and guarded, peace within, His peace to all who enter, welcome! And to all who enter, rest.
Peace to The Faithful! Where Christians are concerned it means to be “full of faith, full of trust and worthy of trust.”— Someone has explained this as meaning to those that are sincere and constant to Christ, and so not only saints by profession, but true to their profession.
I do not find it necessary to define peace with God linguistically, in order to have peace with God. While there may be many ways to describe what the peace of God is, I prefer to think of peace as simply being that which gives the believer a sense of tranquility and harmony with God. If one has peace with God he has that sense of Tranquility and harmony with God
The procurement of our peace comes at a high cost paid for it. Namely, the love of God who gave His Only Begotten Son so that whosoever would believe, namely, should not perish but have everlasting life.
I propose to present to you four things that peace accomplishes for God and the Faithful In Christ Jesus.
I. THE PEACE OF GOD SATISFIES — Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross…
What Sinai threatens, Calvary reassures; Whom Sinai discourages, Calvary encourages; Those who fall hopeless at the foot of Sinai, but those who knell in faith at the foot of the cross, Calvary bids come.
The Law is good if used lawfully says the Apostle. We are not of those who have set the law of God aside to be no more considered.
The “unlawful” use of the Law of God is the mistaken notion that in the Law of Sinai, the Law of sin and death says that righteousness can be achieved if only one could keep it–For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:2-4
We are not under that law. But we are not lawless. We are still under the Law of Christ which is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that has made me free from the law of sin and death.
While not clearly defined, we take the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ to mean what He said in Mark 12:29-we read: The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel ; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
On this “second” commandment He added for clarity, Bear ye one another’s burdens , and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
In short, Jesus bore the burden of our sins in His own body on the tree, and in doing so, He, by His death, satisfied the just demands of Sinai’s law with its threatening’s, “making it possible for a righteous and holy God to bestow mercy upon the sinner that believes, and do so without violating His Divine justice” affording to us then, THE PEACE THAT SATISFIES both God and man.
II. THE PEACE OF GOD RECTIFIES — 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
The “word of reconciliation” is First, the Eternal Word or LOGOS which is Jesus Christ and Second, it is the entire inspired, inerrant, infallible, Word of God from which, through His Son, God calls His people to Himself. Peace comes when war ends!
We were at war with God and hostile toward Him. That is, before we were made to see our sin and repent of it, believing the Gospel and regenerated, saved, born again. Thus, reconciled, and set at Peace with God, gaining peace in our soul; through the blood of Christ the righteous Casualty, our Conscripted Captain took the point and stood in the gap and was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 – The treaty of peace between God and sinful man, who by his own first strike on the righteousness of God, was signed with an awl, nailed to the door of heaven, signed by Jesus Christ.
III. THE PEACE OF GOD JUSTIFIES– Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
In His blood, our sin is effectively covered so that in the eyes of God, we having received the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ charged to our account and Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:14-15
Noting that this righteousness is not our own, but Christ’s, for insofar as salvation is concerned, we, in ourselves have no such righteousness.
By his knowledge is to mean ‘our knowledge of Christ’ which by enlightenment then by faith. This knowledge is acquired in three ways: (1). Understanding which is acquired by (2). Our submissive compliance and (3). by our trust.
We grow in Grace and gain knowledge of Christ through the preaching of His gospel and in the understanding of its meaning, which leads us to trust in Him and Him alone for our salvation. Once sinners who by faith come to Christ, the Righteous Servant of God, the “Just One” justifies many.
In Justification a sinner, by the righteousness of Christ, is relieved of the bag of guilt and sin that he carried upon his back and by God’s free grace and mercy, Christ took away our iniquities, becoming as it were, our “scape-goat” carried our sin and guilt far away, never to be considered again.
IV. THE PEACE OF GOD SANCTIFIES
So, in the final analysis the peace of God, Rectifies, Satisfies, Justifies and Sanctifies the believer in Christ. We have learned that no one is sanctified by keeping the Law for no one but Christ has ever fulfilled it. Sanctification is not only being made holy, but give us the desire to be holy before God. In shore, the knowledge of peace with God relieves our troubled minds and provides us tranquility, harmony, and well-being with God.
‘We have,’ says Wuest, ‘this peace to the extent that we are yielded to the Spirit and by knowledge ‘conscious’ of His indwelling presence and His work in us.
Galatians 5:19 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Being no longer under Law, which is unattainable in our flesh, providing a fear and dread of God in which we stood at the very foot of Sinai’s threatening thunders daring not to even touch that mountain lest die a certain death.
We are not under law but under Grace! And being led by the spirit of sin and death, we are now being led by the Holy Spirit of Grace and partake of the fruit of that Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25
Vital and quickening peace was achieved solely through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ who came into this world to save sinners.
He who knew no sin, had no sin, the One in whom the devil could not convict of sin, was made to be the bearer of all our sin and its accompanying guilt: 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Will you turn away as you have for so long or will you hear him say to you…Look, and live. He will receive any who call upon Him in faith, seeking His forgiveness, He is faithful, He is Just, He is the Justifier, He will release you of your burden of sin. Today! This may be the accepted time, but I cannot say that it is. He asks you to trust Christ to save you today, you may not. How can he save you if you don’t trust him? I to you that God commands you today to repent, you may not and if you don’t you will leave here as lost as when you came in. And if you continue to refuse to obey his command you will one day find that you would have been better off to have been destroyed as was Sodom and Gomorrah. If they had heard his command that you have heard today, they would have rushed to the throne of Grace in sackcloth and ashes. Woe unto you!
Church member, Christian friend, have you the peace of the kind we have spoken? If you are a faithful, trusted , and obedient child of God you already experience His peace. If you have wandered from Him and know you have slid back into worldliness and hear Him say, turn ye, turn ye, yet you know not how to return. Then brother, sister, do not leave this building until you get your heart right with God. 1 John 1:8-9 offers the way back –First, do not deny you have sinned, acknowledge it: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Second: If we confess our sins, Third: Take God at His word and know that he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Numbers 6:24-26 — AMEN!

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Grace To You

GRACE TO YOU
Ephesians 1:2 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Grace is divinely noble and often melodic especially so in this first chapter. The expression of God’s love to His twice born people is at times undefinable except in language only the poet can speak.
One poet writes, “Grace! ’tis a charming sound, harmonious to the ear; Heav’n with the echo shall resound, And all the earth shall hear. Saved by grace alone! This is all my plea: that Jesus died for me.”
God’s Grace… is the fountain from which peaceful waters flow. To drink from it has revived millions and restored their souls, awakening them from the sleep of death due to their sin unto life eternal.
By God’s Grace I am: As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalms 42:1-2).
Kenneth Wuest author and Greek scholar said of God’s Grace: It is hardly too much to say that the mind of God has in no word uttered itself that was in his heart more distinctly that this (Grace). Grace is the essence of anything given which causes great joy to those to whom it is given.
Richard Trench says that Grace is that which is given freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver.
An example of this is found in words that are gracious in themselves, and grace can only come from words of gracious hearts. No one was ever more gracious than Jesus, and the fortunate people who actually heard him speak would surely attest to this. For He spoke words of such grace!
Luke 4:18-19,22 we hear Him say: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.
OTHER EXAMPLES:—to the woman at the well–John 4:9-10 How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
Luke 24:30-32—Men of Emmaus- And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Mark 12:42-44 —there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites , which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Luke 8:46-48—Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him and how she was healed immediately. 48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort : thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
One day we shall not only see Him as He is, but we shall also hear Him as He speaks. We can only imagine the graciousness of His words and note that: Never man spake like this man. (John 7:46)
When you do or say something in a kind and generous way for a friend, something God insisted on your heart that you should do, that which you did would be an act of grace, that is, if you expected nothing in return.
If he should say to you, “O, you didn’t have to do that.” Your reply might be, “O, but if I’m to be like my Lord Jesus, then at every opportunity I must manifest His Grace in this or some other manner. Please, Give Him the glory.”
(Galatians 6:10) As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Surely, we as Christians have learned that we are to be kind to one another, preferring another above ourselves, especially fellow Christians. Though some may say, “well, in my estimation he/she doesn’t look or act like a Christian.” Careful, you don’t judge others lest by the same measure you be judged…by God.
Now it is one thing to do good to those we care about or should care about. But how many times have we knowingly done good to anyone, especially to some we count not as friends?
Not only are we to do good to them but Jesus takes us deeper into Grace and says But love ye your enemies and do good and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Luke 6:35
This idea of doing good, even to our enemies is expanded in Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
H.S. Miller wrote a commentary on Ephesians and described Grace saying: Grace is the free and loving favor of the Father in all spiritual blessings; peace is the resulting harmony and tranquility of spirit and mind; grace is the source, peace (is) the consummation.
Divine Grace is rarely in the minds of natural men insofar as good deeds are concerned because even in the doing selfishness is often the motive because the natural mind usually expects something in return. The truly spiritual man will always be discreet when giving – Matthew 6:3-4 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Once Grace is given and received the Holy Spirit opens up our understanding that: ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance is…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to you ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.
I offer you just three thughts this morning which may help us grasp the force of God’s Amazing Grace as it has impacted our eternal souls.
First: God’s Grace In Election and Predestination Encourages Evangelism And Destroys The Error Of Hyper-Calvinism.
Second: God’s Grace Enforces Divine Creation And Explodes The Theory Of Evolution And The Concept Of Free Will In Man’s Salvation.
Third: God’s Grace Ensures Eternal Preservation Of The Believer And Destroys His Fear Of Ultimate Loss.
First: God’s Grace In Election and Predestination Encourages Evangelism And Destroys The Error Of Hyper-Calvinism.

The error of the Hyper-Calvinist lays in the claim that since God in His foreknowledge has already chosen a people in eternity, evangelism is not required.
In the Old Testament we know that God’s Chosen People was tiny Israel. But why His choosing of Israel instead of other stronger more influential nations? This does not imply that God had no other people in other nations where lived remnants of persons of God’s interest.
God has people in every nation. And Israel was called in part to introduce the One True God to people in other nations, other tribes, and other tongues whom God had determined to make His own. Israel was chosen “according to God’s purpose.” They were God’s channel of blessing!
Remember Jonah’s prejudice against the Ninevites? Even in that pagan city, God had “much people” and many were brought to Christ by the gospel as preached by a reluctant Hyper-Calvinist evangelist (an oxymoron).
It was by Grace that God chose tiny Israel, the smallest among the nations, despised by most, insignificant, But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
The Hyper-Calvinist quotes 2 Peter 3:9 that in part says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. This is absolutely true! But the verse does imply that all men everywhere will repent because salvation requires faith and not all men have faith therefore the assumption is clear: some will go into perdition and be eternally separated from God while some will repent and live.
The phrase “not willing” means that God is not “inclined” that any should perish. Men perish because they choose not to repent. The word “should” means “obligated.” This is why we proclaim the gospel to every man!! All men everywhere are obligated to come to repentance if they are to receive eternal life, yet not all will because they feel no reason to obligate themselves to do so.
We know that “the just shall live by faith,” it is also true that after the hardness and impenitent heart of unbelievers they treasurest up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Romans 2:5).
We were not chosen because God preferred us over others or that we in any way came “out from among” others. We were chosen and predestinated according to the purpose of God which is in the final analysis, for the glory of God. We see this clearly in Ephesians 1:4-10,11,12 (Read).
Our selection was by appointment of God according to His purpose with the view that we are to be channels by which God makes Himself known to all people in all nations—notice 1:13 Paul refers to “we” meaning the Jews, then to “ye” meaning the rest of us (Gentiles).
We are to be ambassadors for Christ to the nations. We are to do His will through our witness of the Word of God, by which He will save some!
God’s elect are not chosen in a sphere of time. All who God chooses to salvation is chosen in the eternal, divine mind of God. Salvation of souls is accomplished by the eternal Grace of God issuing out of His Eternal Will and Purpose.
Rather than hate the idea of election because it seems to violate the will of man, men should see the beauty in God’s initiative for men to hear the Gospel so that if having rejected it “they are without excuse.”
In Election and predestination then as we just read, we may see three steps that our Triune-God takes in the salvation of a single sinner:
1. God the Father, by Grace alone makes him His chosen vessel, lifting him from darkness into his marvelous light.
2. The Holy Spirit alone convinces him of sin and brings him to the point where in faith alone he turns to the Lord Jesus.
3. The Son of God alone cleanses the believing sinner in His Precious Blood.
The Father selects; The Spirit enables the act of faith; The Son by His own blood washes the believer’s soul purifying it forever. And all is done to the Glory of God alone.
II. God’s Grace Enforces Divine Creation And Explodes The Theory Of Evolution And The Concept Of Free Will In Man’s Salvation
Evolution claims that the things that are seen in the heaven and the earth were made out of existing matter. We however, through faith, understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3).
Early atheistic, and pagan Grecian Philosophers coined a word to describe the world and the heavens, the word was “chaos!” We understand chaos to mean “without uniformity (Form-void),” and “random.” It pictures the earth in darkness, without light, a pit, a nether land, a confused mess.
Bible writers, on the other hand, use the word kosmos not chaos to describe the “world.” Kosmos means definition, order, and uniformity. In Job we read where God says: Job 38:4-7 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? I cannot imagine the stars singing or the sons of God shouting for joy if it all was chaos!
The evolutionists see only chaos-disorder. The believer sees kosmos–order. The evolutionist sees chaos generating itself into mountains, valleys, rivers and seas, vegetation and animals, and one day quite by accident an animal that over time will develop from a one-celled, piece of slime slithering on a muddy shore and from there…well you know the fable.
As Bible believers and students of the Word we recognize the term chaos and liken it to a state of chaos; or confused bewilderment, and we being in spiritual darkness without spiritual form and void of Christ, were in chaos, until the Holy Spirit “brooded over us” and we were born again.
(Isa_60:2,4) For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
Hawker always thoughtful, writes concerning the Earth prior to the movement of the Holy Spirit on the face of the waters in Genesis 1:2: saying: “Mark! what a resemblance there is between the empty void of nature, before the lights of heaven were introduced into the creation, and that of the human soul before the light of grace hath passed upon it. No expression can more strikingly point out the state of an unawakened, unregenerated soul, than that of darkness covering it.”
III. God’s Grace Ensures Eternal Preservation Of The Believer And Destroys The Prospect Of Ultimate Loss.

Finally, we come to something important to all of us and intended to give we who believe perfect peace of mind. We call it Eternal Security.
The previous two points we found that by God’s Grace Evangelism does indeed destroy the concept of Hyper-Calvinism. And while having no perfect understanding of Divine Creation from a purely Scientific point of view, we hold to the Word of God and the belief in Divine Creation as how all things came about.
Now we try to tie the three points of this sermon together and arrive at a point of discussion that even some solid Christians have at least some trepidation, that is the permanence of their salvation. The concept is as we say at times, “once saved, always saved.”
It is easy for us who have come to understand that we are saved by grace and not by works thus we are kept by the same grace.
It is much more difficult for those who believe that salvation depends in part on God’s consideration of their merit. They often site the fact that they have not murdered anyone or committed adultery, or lied. And in this they believe that they have in some way “cooperated with God” in their salvation, meaning that they helped God decide to save them because after all, they are not as bad as other fellows. In their minds, it follows in that they can lose their salvation if they do something really bad.
I’m going to use words other than election and predestination. But not to avoid them for fear of offending anyone, but because some folk simply cannot grasp the idea of God “choosing” someone over another – it just does not seem fair to them. And depending on human reasoning alone, it isn’t!
So, I will use “foreordination” and “foreknowledge” and “foreknow(n)” in their place as often as possible to maintain sense.
In 1 Peter 1:2 we read: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
The simplest definition of foreknowledge is “to know before hand,” or to “foresee.”
To choose or elect is to some to mean “eeny meeny miny moe you may come, you must go.”
God self-exists. No one created God. He has no beginning or ending, He is Eternal; Infinite; Everlasting. These are words that our minds have invented, and is the best mortal minds can come up with.
The facts are that God never chooses anyone or anything. God does not need to “choose,” God “knows” beforehand. God does not “decide” upon any course of action! He “purposes.” He “wills” things to be. He “purposes” all that He “wills” and wills all that He purposes—to paraphrase St. Augustine.
Often the words WE invent only make comprehension more difficult. That’s just the way it is. But from God’s viewpoint things that happen have always been.
Time allows me but a moment to say what I want to say on this matter, but I want you to know that you are saved in time (as we know it) but God has no calendar. Time does not exist with God. He has set the seasons so we could see our lives being spent in the sphere of time. “Time” is something that has a beginning and an ending. Eternity knows no beginning or ending, it simple is! we call what has occurred as “past;” In the sphere of today, we call this the “present.” And we speak boldly about the “future,” which is presently non-existent. God knows no such thing as “past” “present” or “future.” With God all is “now.”
The fact that we are born relates to time and proves that we have a beginning. That we die, proves that we have and ending.
To our minds, the fact that we have been born again, if indeed we have, relates to sometime in the period of “time past,” but to God we are born from heaven in the sphere of eternity. We do not look at things as God sees things.
For example, in His mind as in Eph. 1:11 we have obtained an inheritance. In 1:13,14 we have been sealed. 2:6 we are raised up together. and made to sit together in heavenly places. We are there although we have not yet experience that fact.
God knows nothing of time! To God everything is “now.”
God “foreknew” you in Eternity. You were always “foreknown.” Always “foreordained.” There was never a time in which you were not in His mind!
Your name is eternally known in the mind of God. You are in His heart in all eternity. He eternally knows of your comings and goings. Nothing you have done or will do, or have said or say or will say, has escaped his knowledge. Psalms 139:3-6 Thou compassest my path and my lying down , and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
If you are saved, your salvation has always been a fact with God because you have always been in His Infinite Eternal mind. All have been foreordained, God foreknows you and what you will be. You may be foreordained and not yet born again, but if you have been foreordained to eternal life, you will be.
You cannot lose what you always are! What a salvation, What a Savior. All that was, is, or ever will be is in the eternal foreknowledge of God which extends through what we call time which did not exist before the “Beginning.”
As long as God is…you are saved. You are saved, you are preserved. Believe Peter the Apostle: 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In God’s foreknowledge we are secure and foreordained that we should be “holy and without blame before Him.”
But this holiness and blamelessness is not the obligation I spoke of earlier in regards man’s obligation to repent and believe the Gospel.
Our eternal salvation was nnever dependent on our becoming holy and without blame in order to be saved.
We were neither holy nor blameless before we were saved. In this case holiness and blamelessness has everything to do with sanctification, that is, what we are becoming in the life time we have been allotted.
Being holy and without blame has to do with what we are in our Christian experience, what we are becoming in the process of our conversion!
When we understand that we are foreordained to be “holy and without blame before Him” this refers not to our Justification but to our Sanctification –our conversion, that is what we are in character following our regeneration.
We will see the difference between what we eternally are in the mind of God and what we are becoming (sanctified) as we live our lives as Christians. We will see this in chapters four through six.
Grace is God’s gift to us and is ours eternally according to his eternal purpose. We are saved, preserved, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). God having predestinated…unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Allow me to speak to that person that may be in attendance today. This comes with a warning. You can never cause yourself to be born again, though the new birth is your only means of salvation. If you have received this morning any part of what has been said and the scales are fallen from your eyes, then there is hope for you. You are feeling some of the same Almighty power which raised Jesus from the dead. It can raise you from spiritual death today. You may be aware of this power working within your soul –if so, it is the Holy Spirit that is “working in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.” God is working in you bringing you to repentance and life eternal. What are you believing in your heart? What are your wanting to confess with your mouth? If in your heart Christ is speaking, then call upon Him and He will save you. Refuse not His call; Resist not the Holy Spirit; Believe and know His peace. Refuse and know His wrath.
Come to Him and He will save you bring you into His eternal rest.
To my Christian friends, I say to you: Grace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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The Ultimate Purpose of Our Sovereign God

THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF OUR SOVEREIGN GOD. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS
The Author of the Letter to the Ephesians
If someone asks you to recommend a book by an author that one could trust on the subject of the church, the Body of Christ, why not suggest the “Epistle to the Ephesians?” You can certainly trust the author. And, if the author’s life does not equal his words, then his words will fall on deaf ears!
Of the 27 books of the New Testament the Apostle Paul, has contributed 50 percent, or fourteen letters to churches and their pastors, if you attribute the Hebrew letter to him. Some say that Paul under the authority of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15), started as few as seven churches and as many as 14. The number of churches that he was either directly or indirectly responsible for starting during his five missionary journeys would probably be many more than 14.
Timothy was probably her first pastor. Paul, on one of his missionary journeys left Timothy in Ephesus, saying: As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightiest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do (end quote).
Hawker, refers to such a church as one made up of regenerated people to which Jesus has gathered…out of the wilderness, and separated as a sacred enclosure by his distinguishing grace. It is in such a church that Jesus walks, observing his people as they grow as trees of his own planting.
Jesus is today gathering to himself people foreordained to populate His churches, growing as they feed on the Bread of Life and by their faithful service propagating the faith once delivered , causing the gospel to spread throughout the world and busily producing reproducers who will preserve and insure the perpetuity of the gospel.
He walks in the midst of such churches, protecting, preserving, loving, and strengthening them. He observes their resolve, evaluates their work, employs workers and intends for his churches to grow up into a beautiful garden until God, and as one has so poetically said, transplants them into the paradise of God.
Such a gathering is God’s great plan conceived long before He created the heavens and the earth. God is a God of purpose. His purpose is being done in earth as it is being done in heaven. Nothing can quash, quell, or quit what God purposes. He has an Ultimate Purpose through which all of His purposes will consummate. That consummation is found in this letter before us which we shall soon discover.
THE SALUTATION:
Ephesians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was not self-called. He was an apostle by the will of God! He spent his life proving the authenticity of his calling and election. From the time of his conversion (read: 3:1-6) until his death, probably during the time of Nero who had imprisoned Paul making him a scapegoat blamed for the burning of Rome that was set in truth by Nero himself. He had to blame someone and Christians were easy victims. Paul was incarcerated there in Rome and probably died ingloriously at the executioner’s ax subsequently removing his head from his body.
Paul, though, during his life as an ambassador for Christ made his calling and election sure!
It is sad that such a great man of God should die by such inglorious means, deserted by most of his friends who feared for their own lives,
2 Timothy 4:10 Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.
2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me.
2 Timothy 4:12-13 Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus—In verse 13 we find this dear man of God asking only for The cloke to warm his body — that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments… interpreters idly busy themselves in inquiring after what they can never find out, as to what these books were, or what was written in these parchments. Paul spent his last hours on earth in a cold, damp dungeon, probably emaciated from lack of nourishing foods, never complaining and wanting only someone to come “before winter” bringing his a cloak, but “especially” his parchments (. Content to die, if that be the Lord’s will, but always hopeful of another journey) Paul may have used the Euphemism winter as a less offensive word than death so as to not cause deeper distress to his young protégé Timothy. This would be certainly in character of the Apostle, and should one day he confront me saying, why did you waste time in eulogizing me? “know nothing of me” He might say, “preach only Christ and Him Crucified.” Shortly, however, the apostle would be transported the heaven and received, no doubt, by the Lord Jesus Himself!
The apostle was never shy in presenting his credentials to anyone. As an Ambassador of Christ he spoke for Christ. He was in the government of a higher nation. Paul would have refused to be made a king of men believing that it would be a step down from his high calling as a slave of Jesus Christ! He never apologized for being outspoken for Christ. To Paul, where the gospel was concerned, all men stood in equal need of salvation. In fact he through his other letters and what we read in Luke’s account of the growth of Christianity in the Book of Acts, we see Paul’s defending his apostleship to both kings and commoners, Jews and Gentiles alike.
He never displayed favoritism, bowing to no other that His Lord– He saw all men as sinners in need of a Savior, and Paul himself being the chief of sinners. He declared that all have sinned and that all fall short of the glory of God. The gospel was for all to hear…and to respond.
Paul was bold in his proclamation of the gospel. Boldness, however, does not automatically equate to arrogance, of which he has often been wrongly accused. And, while unbending in his convictions he was ever ready ‘instant in season an out of season’ to preach Christ, and Christ alone. In whatever state he found himself he was always content, always ready to defend the faith no matter what, he was not an arrogant man, though he owed no man anything, and cared nothing about what others might think of him.
It was never Paul’s desire to be a Pope or a Potentate. To all who would set themselves up as a divine representative of Christ as ‘Vicar’ or ‘substitute’ of Christ, Paul declared that Christ in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate , the King of kings, and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).
His life, desire and focus, from the time of his conversion until his death was with a single eye: CHRIST!
He loved the Jews and called them “brethren.” He loved Gentiles and called them “brethren.” He was the friend of all men. He wanted all men to be saved, to come to the knowledge of the truth even knowing that all would not. And by his own admission he stated in Romans 11:14
If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
And without equivocation he said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22,
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
He even once offered to spend eternity in hell if his eternal separation from God would serve to all Israel’s salvation.
Paul knew what he was and what he had become as a result of his personal encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus when the Lord spoke openly to him and commissioned him to the gospel ministry, thus having heard from the Lord directly, he was given the authority and right to be called an Apostle, and to assume his apostleship as missionary to the Gentiles.
This is Paul, the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians!
THE LETTER EXAMINED
While some say that the Epistle was circular and “general” in nature, that is written to all the churches in Asia and each letter was individually addressed to the particular church to whom it was sent and read. This seems to me to be a burdensome and improbable task because in those days there was yet no printing presses for multiple production and no method of mass distribution of literature was yet known. And, I wonder, how could the letter apply to all the churches without the recipient to be named at the time of the writing of it? For our purposes however, it really matters not whether it was circular or general or particular. The Letter, however, is for us in this hour.
The letter itself is not “apologetic” that is to say, Paul is not in this instance defending the faith. It is not “polemic” that is to say, not argumentative. He projects no specific argument. It is “Doctrinal” only in its Regenerational references where he speaks to what sort the Ephesian church members were prior to their salvation and to what sort they have become by God’s grace at the writing of the letter (See 2:4-5). It is Instructional…(See 4:1-3). It speaks of the gifts of messengers God has given in the church (See 4:8:16). And in verse(14)It is expresses Caution to church members. Paul speaks of something believers are to put off, the “old man, and something believers are to put on, the “new man” and something believers are to put away namely, the sins of the flesh in (See 22-32). In chapter (See 5:1-12) Paul speaks to who true believers ought to follow, how they are to walk, and things they ought to avoid. In (See 5:14-15) Paul speaks of an awakening of those Christians who are sleep-walking, and that all ought to wake up and be wise in their walk, and their calling and what they must be careful to redeem and why. (See Vss. 19-21) he speaks of joy and singing and melody and submission to one another. Not leaving a stone unturned Paul addresses the kind of godly relationship that must be evident in Christian homes (See vss. 22-33). In (See 6:1-10) He singles out not only husbands and wives but advises children and what constitutes godly behavior.
He addresses the father’s saying “watch your temper,” deal with children kindly while strongly teaching them what is right and what is wrong.
He continues to deal with life in the work place instructing servants, masters, and all the brethren to deal fairly with one another and “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”
He describes the enemies and what the weapons of the warfare are and the defensive uniform of the Christian warrior in (See 6:23-24).
The letter was read to the congregation by the pastor no doubt, and one can only imagine the glow of the messenger- shepherd to relate such warm words of love to his people from the pen and heart of so great an apostle.
This church was loving, generous, missionary, obedient to civil law, honored the government, paid their taxes and desired to share the good news of Jesus Christ. However, it was never pleasant for a gathering of believers in those days as they lived in such a hostile environment. It was not easy to be a Christian. The Garden in which they lived, worked, raised their families was unfriendly and many lost their employment, wives, husbands, property, and were often castigated and treated as having died all because of their faith. In all of this mistreatment Paul says of them in Ephesians 1:15 I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
They were considered as the off-scouring of the citizenry. Huddled together in an atmosphere of such hatred from the Jews and Gentiles living in Ephesus. Good news was always desire but not always in coming and never plentiful and when brought to their door, openly and well received.
Paul was a man of God and God’s man. By example he imitated in life and word, his Savior. His reputation as a lover of men, a heartfelt preacher, and earnest and courageous defender of the faith was well known. Even today, Paul is revered as every preacher’s instructor and example even though difficult to emulate. Still, in humility but in self-assurance as to who he was, he invited all in 1 Corinthians 11:1
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Then to hear Paul say in verse 2 for their further joy, Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ must have certainly been timely and received with great joy and gratitude, not to mention, encouragement.
Then to hear further that they were blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, as opposed to the temporal blessings that come and go like the morning mists soon disappear being driven away by a the scorching and unfriendly heat of the day, must have added immensely to their joy.
To hear that to them is given every spiritual blessing, nothing left out, no not one, and given to all equally, none favored above the other regardless of the degree of Christian growth –the first last, the last first, had to excite and thrill their hearts.
The senior the junior, the male, the female, the Jewish convert or the Gentile believer, there is no difference, God has blessed each with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.
THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF GOD REVEALED…
Ephesians 1:9-12
God has made known to us the “mystery of his will.” A mystery once secret but now fully revealed…according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
What news! What promises inherent in these words: To know that it is God’s good pleasure that He has purposed in himself that in his Sovereign and time, only he knows the hour, and in his elective foreknowledge and eternal purpose he has fore-ordained his people to eternal life and in his pre-determination he has, from the foundation of the world, adopted them all as sons and made them all who are in heaven and in earth, in Christ made “accepted in the beloved.” Then to add that their inheritance is already obtained and laid up in heaven, preserved, never fading, and reserved in Jesus Christ…what should this mean to you and I? What peace to realize that though all is undeserved, unmerited, and unconditional, ALL IS OURS AS WELL! ALL is secure in the SOVEREIGN PURPOSE of God!
In itself, to have made known to man the Ultimate Purpose of God, the all-inclusive eternal plan of redemption, is to all believers the means of encouragement and joy.
THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF OUR
SOVEREIGN GOD IS THE ALL INCLUSIVE
GATHERING, ONE DAY AS ONE
THE BODY OF CHRIST ON EARTH
AND THE FIRST BORN IN HEAVEN.
To continue, notice verses 12-13 the all-inclusive privilege of the Body of Christ: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
Paul identifies who the people are that make up the Body and refers first to himself, a son of Israel then to the other sons of Israel who will believe saying, That we (Jewish converts) should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ – Jewish believers! Then Paul gloriously acknowledges that the Body of Christ is being made up of another people forming both forming One glorious Body, One “new” thing, he says: in whom (Jesus Christ) ye also trusted…(denoting Gentile believers). Both members in particular working in unity and love and all for the glory of God and Christ—
Listen to Paul as he writes in: 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some (not all) in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles?( No) are all prophets? (No) are all teachers? (No) are all workers of miracles? (No) 30 Have all the gifts of healing? (No) do all speak with tongues? (No) do all interpret? (No) 31 But (All of you are to )covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way— 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Are you truly part of this glorious body and included in the Mystery of His will now revealed? If so, Grace to you, and peace from God OUR Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings (which include: peace, righteousness, Sanctification, Justification, Guidance, Separation from the world.) in heavenly places (heaven above the heavens) in Christ.
Spurgeon writes of His regeneration: When my will was broken and my heart softened to receive Christ, I had no idea of what the ‘will’ was or what part it played in my decision making. I was not concerned with the idea of “will” I only knew once I heard that I was a sinner and that there was a man named Jesus who died on a cross for my sins, that I wanted him. I know now that it was the Holy Spirit who was responsible for my “will” to be put in its place and for the “will” of God to replace it. For me, to know that God loved me before he made the worlds and that by Him I could be holy and without blame before Him in His love, and to know that it was my appointed destiny to become one of His adopted sons by Jesus Christ and according to the good pleasure of HIS will; I rejoice in my spirit that He has made me to be “accepted in the beloved.”
But what of you? What is your testimony? Were you in any part responsible for your salvation? Did God look at you and find any reason why you should be saved? Did you ‘will’ yourself saved? Were you saved partially due to your will to be saved and partially to the will of God to save you?
Hate these words if you will, despise to your dying day the idea of ‘predestination,’ curl up your lip at the idea of being ‘chosen before the foundation of the world,’ but know that these are not my words, but God’s words and easily discovered in the Bible should you care to read them.
If you are not part of the Body of Christ then you are outside the camp, strangers to the commonwealth of true Israel. You are not included in the Bride, you are still in your sin, you are still dead in your willfulness, you are being ruled by your own fallen will. It is your own fallen will that is keeping you out of the Body.
You may be a recipient of God’s eternal blessings, but if so then you have been made able to believe, you have yielded before The Son of God, you have repented of your sins and believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise unto the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (See, 1:13-14).
What have you to lose if you do not come to him? Everything!
(See: 1 Peter 1:6-9) Beloved, blessed are you Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen , ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.-
Amen

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C.H. Spurgeon’s Conversion

Once, God preached to me by a similitude in the depth of winter.  The earth had been black, and there was scarcely a green thing or a flower to be seen.  As I looked across the fields, there was nothing but barrenness,–bare hedges and leafless trees, and black, black earth, wherever I gazed.  On a sudden, God spake, and unlocked the treasures of the snow, and white flakes descended until there was no blackness to be seen, and all was one sheer of dazzling whiteness.  It was at the time that I was seeking the Saviour, and not long before I found Him; and I remember well that sermon which I saw before me in the snow:  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:  though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

. . .I sometimch-spurgeon1es think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship.  When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel.  In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people.  I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me.  I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache.  The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose.  At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach.  Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man. . . was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say.  The text was,–

“LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter.  There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text.  The preacher began thus:–”My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed.  It says, ‘Look.’  Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains.  It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’  Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look.  You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look.  A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look.   Anyone can look; even a child can look.  But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’  Ay!”  said he, in broad Essex, “many of ye
are lookin’ there.  You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves.  Some look to God the Father.  No, look to Him by-and-by.  Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’  Some of ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.'  You have no business with that just now.  Look to Christ.  The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ “

When he had gone out to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether.  Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.  Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said,”Young man, you look very miserable.”  Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before.  However, it was a good blow, struck right home.  He continued, “and you always will be miserable–miserable in life, and miserable in death,–if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.”  Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “young man, look to Jesus Christ.  Look!  Look!  Look!  You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.”  I saw at once the way of salvation.*  I know not what else he said,–I did not take much notice of it,–I was so possessed with that one thought.  Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me.  I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me!  Oh!  I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.  There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.  Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ and you shall be saved.”  Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say,–

“E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.”

Taken from Conversion:  The Great Change & Experiences After Conversion
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, TX  77501
[*Emphasis mine.]

Note:  My great-great grandfather was John Waterman of Essex, England.  I love the life and writings of  C.H. Spurgeon.

 

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Went Fishing, Caught Four Deer

The best day of fishing ever!  Some fishing stories are a little hard to believe but this guy has pictures to prove his story…I’ve heard of salmon jumping onto boats, but not like this.
 
 
Tom Satre told the Sitka Gazette that he was out with a charter group on his 62-foot fishing vessel when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam directly toward his boat.
 
 
“Once the deer reached the boat, the four began to circle the boat, looking directly at us.
We could tell right away that the young bucks were distressed.  I opened up  my back gate
and we helped the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals onto the boat.  In all my
years fishing, I’ve never seen anything quite like it! Once on board, they collapsed with exhaustion, shivering.”
“This is a picture I took of the rescued bucks on the back of my boat, the Alaska Quest.
We headed for Taku Harbour.  Once we reached the dock, the first buck that we had
pulled from the water hopped onto the dock, looked back as if to say ‘thank you’ and then
disappeared into the forest.  After a bit of prodding and assistance, two more followed,
but the smallest deer needed a little more help.
 
This is me carrying the little guy.

My daughter, Anna, and son, Tim, helped the last buck to its feet.  We didn’t know how
long they had been in the icy waters or if there had been others who did not survive.  My
daughter later told me that the experience was something that she would never forget,
and I suspect the deer felt the same way as well!”  I told you!  Awesome!   Our Lord works in mysterious ways. . .
 
 
“Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.” – Mark Twain
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A Few Grown Men

Why men have stopped singing in church

 

 

Worship BandIt happened again yesterday. I was attending one of those hip, contemporary churches — and almost no one sang. Worshippers stood obediently as the band rocked out, the smoke machine belched and lights flashed. Lyrics were projected on the screen, but almost no one sang them. A few women were trying, but I saw only one male (other than the worship leader) making the attempt.

A few months ago I blogged, “Have Christians Stopped Singing?” I did some research, and learned that congregational singing has ebbed and flowed over the centuries. It reached a high tide when I was a young man – but that tide may be going out again. And that could be bad news for men.

First, a very quick history of congregational singing.

Before the Reformation, laypersons were not allowed to sing in church. They were expected to stand mute as sacred music was performed by professionals (priests and cantors), played on complex instruments (pipe organs), and sung in an obscure language (Latin).

Reformers gave worship back to the people in the form of congregational singing. They composed simple tunes that were easy to sing, and mated them with theologically rich lyrics. Since most people were illiterate in the 16th century, singing became an effective form of catechism. Congregants learned about God as they sang about God.

A technological advance – the printing press – led to an explosion of congregational singing. The first hymnal was printed in 1532, and soon a few dozen hymns became standards across Christendom. Hymnals slowly grew over the next four centuries. By the mid 20th century every Protestant church had a hymnal of about 1000 songs, 250 of which were regularly sung. In the church of my youth, everyone picked up a hymnal and sang every verse of every song.

About 20 years ago a new technological advance – the computer controlled projection screen – entered America’s sanctuaries. Suddenly churches could project song lyrics for all to see. Hymnals became obsolete. No longer were Christians limited to 1,000 songs handed down by our elders.

At first, churches simply projected the songs everyone knew – hymns and a few simple praise songs that had come out of the Jesus Movement. People sang robustly.

But that began to change about ten years ago. Worship leaders realized they could project anything on that screen. So they brought in new songs each week. They drew from the radio, the Internet, and Worship conferences. Some began composing their own songs, performing them during worship, and selling them on CD after church.

In short order we went from 250 songs everyone knows to 250,000+ songs nobody knows.

Years ago, worship leaders used to prepare their flocks when introducing a new song. “We’re going to do a new song for you now,” they would say. “We’ll go through it twice, and then we invite you to join in.”

That kind of coaching is rare today. Songs get switched out so frequently that it’s impossible to learn them. People can’t sing songs they’ve never heard. And with no musical notes to follow, how is a person supposed to pick up the tune?

And so the church has returned to the 14th century. Worshippers stand mute as professional-caliber musicians play complex instruments, sung in an obscure language. Martin Luther is turning over in his grave.

What does this mean for men? On the positive side, men no longer feel pressure to sing in church. Men who are poor readers or poor singers no longer have to fumble through hymnals, sing archaic lyrics or read a musical staff.

But the negatives are huge. Men are doers, and singing was one of the things we used to do together in church. It was a chance to participate. Now, with congregational singing going away, and communion no longer a weekly ordinance, there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering. Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.

There’s nothing wrong with professionalism and quality in church music. The problem isn’t the rock band, or the lights, or the smoke machine. The key is familiarity. People enjoy singing songs they know.

How do I know? When that super-hip band performed a hymn, the crowd responded with gusto. People sang. Even the men.

www.patheos.com

 

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