The Shadow of the Cross

Just about everyone in our country will celebrate Christmas this year, but not all for the same reason.  For some it is the peak time of the year for their business.  For some it is time for a few days off; a break from work.  For some it is the time to get what you want.  Many will celebrate with lights, decorations, and seasonal music. Many will celebrate with good eating and family.  For some it is all about baby Jesus, the shepherds and wise men. The manger scene will be the focal point for many religious people.

Each of these scenes carry with them various motives for celebrating Christmas.  For some it is recreating the many fond memories of Christmas with family.  It is sentimentality.  For some it is as basic as getting stuff.  It is all about me!  For some it is all about the music of Christmas, not necessarily Christian music.  It is emotion.  For some it is the setting, a white Christmas.  It is an ideal.  For many it is about feeling good.  It is giving and helping others.

Christmas can consist of all these things, but in reality, it is a time of revelation and of sobriety.  It is a time to remember that God, our Creator, clothed Himself with humanity in order that He might redeem us from our sin by His substitutionary* death, burial and resurrection.  It took a perfect life to fulfill the demands of the law and to satisfy the justice of God.  He provided this Himself in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man.

Humanity somehow misses this revelation.  We cannot get past the manger scene which rests in the shadow of the cross.

*Substitute – One that takes the place of another.

Speaking in Tongues – Part IV – When Do Tongues Cease?

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.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.                         I Corinthians 13:8-12

Charity never faileth:

Charity or biblical love, the fruit of the Spirit, is everlasting.  It will never be abolished.  Biblical love will never be rendered inactive.  The fruit of the Spirit will last throughout eternity.  

but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;

Propheteia is the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God….prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling.  It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means….it is the forth telling of the will of God.  In contrast to love lasting forever, Paul states that prophecies shall fail (be rendered inactive).*  

whether there be tongues, they shall cease;

Glossolalia or tongues is the supernatural gift of speaking in another language without its having been learned. Acts 2:4-13  Pauo or cease means to stop, to make an end and is used chiefly in the middle voice in the NT, signifying to come to an end,…….a willing cessation (in contrast to the passive voice which denotes a forced cessation).*

whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Ginosko (knowledge) signifies to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand*….……this is the process of learning.  Vanish from katargeo means to abolish, to be done away.*  It is the same word for fail in reference to prophecy which means to be rendered inactive.*

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect (complete/entire) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Prophecies and knowledge we have in part.  That which is in part shall be rendered inactive.  This will happen when that which is perfect is comeWhat is “that which is perfect” referring to?

Some say it is Christ, but the word perfect (teleiov) is neuter, so it can’t be Him.  Some say it refers to the completion of the canon of Scripture, but we still prophesy (forth telling the will of God) and knowledge (learning) is still necessary for the believer’s spiritual growth.  That which is perfect or complete, therefore, must be referring to eternity with Christ. 

The forth telling of the will of God will no longer be necessary in eternity because all those in God’s presence will be redeemed and in His will.  Learning will no longer be necessary, because we will know even as we are known,   The last two verses in this passage lend themselves to this;  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 

But what about tongues?  Paul says tongues shall cease in and of themselves, but when will this happen?  It will happen when the sign gifts are no longer necessary.

Remember that tongues were for a sign.  The sign gifts were the gifts of healing, miracles and tongues.  Whenever these gifts were exercised, unbelieving Jews were present.  The sign gifts were to confirm to the Jew that what he was seeing and hearing was of God.  The sign gift of speaking in tongues warned of coming judgment for the rejection of God’s rule per Paul’s instruction in      I Corinthians 14:21&22 which quotes Isaiah 28:11&12.

The Jewish religious leaders and followers completed their rejection of the Messiah and His kingdom by turning Him over to the Roman authorities for the death penalty.  The sign gifts would continue to warn of God’s judgment until judgment fell.  When Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD there was no longer a need for the sign gifts to Israel.

God’s revelation of Himself to mankind through a nation of peculiar people (Israel) has been suspended throughout the period of the church age.  When the believing church is complete, the last soul is saved, and the church is raptured (caught up) out of this world, God will once again deal with Israel as a nation.  He will deliver Israel from their enemies and restore to the nation His kingdom as they call on Messiah Jesus for deliverance in the last days.

Pray for the peace of Israel.

Note:  This is the fourth section in a series of studies on Speaking in Tongues in this blog.  I would invite you to review the previous three studies, if you haven’t already, because they build upon each other.

To be continued, as the apostle Paul lay down the rules for speaking in tongues in I Corinthians 14.

*Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of  Old and New Testament Words by Unger & White.  Copyright 1984, 1996  Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

Bible Answers About Baptism

IS BAPTISM FOR ME?

And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.    Acts 8:37

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  Acts 2:41

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.  And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.  Acts 16:30-33

CONCLUSION: Baptism is for believers only.


WHY SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?   

1.  Commanded by Christ

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Matthew 28:19

2.  Christ our example.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.  Matthew 3:13

3.  Believer shows obedience

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  Acts 2:41

CONCLUSION: We are baptized to obey the command of Jesus Christ.


HOW SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?

Baptism by immersion pictures our position with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.  Romans 6:3-5 

1.  Baptism is with water.  

John answered them, saying, I baptize with water:  John 1:26

2.  Baptism is by immersion (under the water). 

 Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan.  Mark 1:9

And straightway coming up out of the water… Mark 1:10

…….they went down both into the water…..Acts 8:38

CONCLUSION: Only baptism by immersion pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.


WHEN SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?

Following salvation.

….when they believed……..they were baptized……Acts 8:12

……and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  Acts 8:36-37

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.  Acts 2:41

See also Acts 16:25-33

CONCLUSION: Baptism follows salvation, immediately, if possible.


WHAT IF I REFUSE TO BE BAPTIZED?

Disobedience: Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.  James 4:17

Loss of testimony: If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  John 8:31

Loss of fellowship: Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  John 15:14

Abb Thomas Ministries – Copyright 1972

Used with permission.


Note:  Please be aware that this article deals strictly with water baptism.  The Bible teaches that all true believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit at the time that they trust in Him as their only hope of salvation.  When studying the Scriptures and encountering baptism, always think Spirit baptism first unless the context of Scripture indicates otherwise.  Those who believe in baptismal regeneration do not make a distinction between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and water baptism.  The Bible does.


Buried in the likeness of His death, raised in the likeness of His resurrection!

The Ten Commandments

And God spake all these words, saying,

1.  I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

3.  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

4.  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

5.  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

6.  Thou shalt not kill.

7.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8.  Thou shalt not steal.

9.  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

10.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

 Exodus 20

 

Empty Religion

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain (empty).       James 1:26

The issue here is not changing one’s speech.  A person can change his/her speech for the better and still die and go to hell.

The issue is the heart.  Jesus said that we speak out of the abundance of the heart.  He said that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of the mouth.

Jeremiah declared: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9

The tongue reveals the condition of the heart.  It is the heart that needs to be changed.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26

A changed heart makes a new creature.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.                                                II Corinthians 5:17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

…….Consider it to be so…… 

Deliverance

………….righteousness delivereth from death. Proverbs 10:2b

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  Romans 10:1-13

The deliverance of salvation is threefold:

To be saved is to be delivered from the penalty of sin. 

To be saved is to be delivered from the power of sin. 

One day (when we enter heaven), to be saved will be to be delivered from the very presence of sin.

Our deliverance depends upon our receiving His Righteousness.

 

 

What Would Jesus Do?

 Politicians have been using “Jesus” to advocate their position on certain issues by asking the question: What would Jesus do!?  

This question has been effective because of an acceptance by contemporary Christianity of cultural definitions applied to Jesus’ teaching.  Imposing cultural understanding upon the teachings of Christ reflects a lack of biblical knowledge and understanding.   Cultural understanding reflects the wisdom of the world which is diametrically opposed to biblical teaching. 

What I mean by cultural understanding is how the culture defines biblical words.  The word for love in our culture certainly does not resemble the agape love of Scripture.  

When someone says I am a Christian, we should ask him/her; what do you mean by that?  There are all kinds of ideas floating around in the culture concerning the how and what of becoming a Christian.  The culture says all faiths are acceptable.  The Jesus of Scripture says; I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by me.  That statement by the Lord is pretty exclusive.  The Jesus many believe in is not the historical Jesus whose teachings are contained in the Bible.  

An example of how politicians manipulate issues is gun control.  Liberal thinkers will challenge Christians by asking; What would Jesus do?!  That’s a you-got-me-now! question to many  who have bought into the cultural conception of Jesus.  Of course He is the Prince of peace and He has commanded us to love one another, so He must be against guns?!  What can we say to that?  How about; what does He (Jesus) have to say on the matter?

Then said he (Jesus) unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Luke 22:36

When the Lord sent out the disciples the first time, He told them not to take any money, food or extra clothing.  When He sent them out in Luke 22 He told them to take money, and to sell their garment and purchase a sword.  The word for sword in this passage is the same word that was used for the weapon used by the Temple guards and the Roman soldiers.

What we can say is that Jesus would tell us to go out and buy the same weapon(s) that the police and the military use and defend ourselves. 

Another example is the issue of immigration.  Liberal thinkers show pictures of illegals with children and ask; What would Jesus do?! 

Israel in the Old Testament was a theocracy.  That means they were ruled by God and Jesus is God.  Do you know the requirement for becoming an Israelite in the Old Testament?  An individual from outside the nation had to change religion to become an Israelite. That is certainly not a politically correct thing to require.

Maybe asking, what would Jesus do, is not so good an idea, if you really don’t know what He would do?

So what’s the point?  The point is, if you know your Bible you will be less prone to being manipulated or intimidated by the world, the culture, political correctness and/or false teachers.

…..let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….

Passing the Test of Love for God

If given the choice between a sign or wonder coming to pass or obeying the Scripture, which way would you go?   

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 13:1-3

Brighten Your Corner

Are you a Christian?  Are you lonely? Do you feel forgotten?  Where do you find yourself?  Are you depressed?  Are you in a corner somewhere without a purpose?  Are you limited in what you can do physically?  Are you discouraged because you feel you cannot do things because of your limitations, whether it be physical, financial or otherwise? 

I believe God has a very important and specific ministry for you and it starts in the corner where you are.

The largest part of any task is preparation.  As a matter of fact, we can be so meticulous about preparing for a task, we often quit before we even get started because the preparation is too much.  The time it takes becomes our enemy.   We get bogged down in details and give up.  The result is unfinished business and discouragement which destroys motivation. It also opens one up to Satan’s accusations and feelings of  guilt.

Prayer is preparation.*   When we look at the needs around us that require prayer, we see a mountain that looks insurmountable.  When we look at people’s needs, we begin to realize that we could pray all day long.   As a result we don’t start or we start but become discouraged because we have demands on our time.

If you found yourself responding to the opening paragraph, if you were able to say that’s me; this is where you come in.  You can pray.  A couple of checks must be made before you start.  Are you plugged in?  Is the power on? 

There is a story about a train wreck at a washed out bridge.  The night watchman was questioned.  Did you warn the train?  Were you waving your lantern?  Yes, I was waving the lantern to warn the train he responded, but no one asked him if his lantern was lit.  

To pray effectively, one must be plugged in.  One must be trusting Jesus Christ as his/her only hope of salvation. 

Is the power on?  One must not have any unconfessed sin in his/her heart.  If there is unconfessed sin, the Lord will not hear us.  To pray effectively your lantern must be lit.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.  Psalm 66:18-20

The Lord has instructed us to pray in secret.  Public prayer* can affect our motives.  It can also draw the religious who have no relationship with God through Christ.  If God answers the public prayer* of the righteous, the religious who participated can take the credit and the glory.  Private prayer gives the glory to God when He answers.  Public prayer* can give Christian recognition to those who should not have it.  Prayer and/or prayer meetings at one’s local church should not be considered public prayer.**

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  Matthew 6:5&6

Praying in secret also assures us that God has answered our own prayer.  What a joy to know that He hears and answers “my” prayers!

If you found yourself responding positively to the opening paragraph, then the ministry for you is that of prayer.  Who should one pray for?  Anyone who has a need.  Everyone needs to be saved and God is not willing that any should perish. 

Make a list of those you know or those whose paths have crossed your path in the past.  Pray for your fellow Christians wherever they may be, pray for your family, for those in authority, for your town or neighborhood (God knows who lives in the house with green siding), for former fellow employees, for your former employers, for former classmates, for all the branches of your family tree, for your neighbors, for your enemies and for the peace of Israel.  If these needs are too much to pray for in a day, pray for different groups of individuals each day of the week.  

Pray that God would prepare them for salvation.  Pray for God’s will in their lives.

Oh, how our nation needs prayer.  The solution to our moral bankruptcy is not political.  The solution is for individuals to come to Christ one at a time.  If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new

If one person in every community in our nation would take on the burden of praying in secret, asking God to move in individual lives in his/her community and the surrounding areas, perhaps God will pour out His Spirit and change the moral fiber of our nation one soul at a time.  And when that last soul comes to Christ, the Lord will come for His own.  Even so Lord Jesus….come quickly!

…..Brighten the corner where you are…….with prayer!….

*Before the farmer sows seed, he prepares the soil.  The seed we have is the word of God.  It is all good seed.  Good ground produces fruit.  Good ground is ground prepared by God the Holy Spirit.  We participate in that ground preparation through prayer.

** In some circumstances a case may be made for public prayer.  These thoughts are my personal convictions.

Note: All Christians are to pray…..without ceasing.