Sermon Page

06/06/21

 

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“ Beginning of the End is Near”    (Max Lucado)

 

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 30/05/21

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 “Anxious for Nothing”       (Max Lucado)

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23/05/21

The Day of Pentecost

 

 Today is  “Whit Sunday” !    ..........       To the modern person “What Sunday” !

  Some years ago Whit Bank Holiday” was “abolished” in UK in favour of  “Spring Bank Holiday”

 This is an indication that the UK is not only financially Bankrupt it is also Spiritually Bankrupt. And it could be said “Morally Bankrupt.”

  However, this is also a picture of the state of the “Church” in Britain today.

  Compare this to days gone by ..... Compare it to the “Birth” of the Church described in Acts 2.

 Pentecost is One of the  Major Feasts of the Old Testament.

 Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Passover  

  1. The Sabbath Day (i.e., Shabbat, a weekly feast)
  2. Passover (Pesach) - Nisan 14-15
  3. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi) - Nisan 15-22
  4. First Fruits (Yom habikkurim) - Nisan 16-17
  5. Pentecost (Shavu'ot) - Sivan 6-7
  6. Trumpets (Yom Teru'ah) - Tishri 1
  7. Atonement (Yom Kippur) - Tishri 10
  8. Tabernacles (Sukkot) - Tishri 15-22

The Holy Spirit in The Old Testament

1. The Holy Spirit did not just materialise on the Day of Pentecost.  His ministry and work is evident throughout the Old Testament.The Spirit participated in creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Is. 32:15). 

 2. The Spirit gives life to humanity and the other creatures (Ps. 104:29, 30). It is interesting that when Genesis says God endows people with life by breathing into their nostrils the “breath of life” (Gen. 2:7), the word for “breath” is the same word translated elsewhere as “spirit.” 

 3. The Spirit strives with sinners (Gen. 6:3), which is perhaps related to His work in convicting people of sin (John 16:8–11). 

 4. The Spirit came upon certain judges, warriors, and prophets in a way that gave them extraordinary power: for example, Joshua (Num. 27:18), Othniel (Judg. 3:10), Gideon (6:34), Samson (13:25; 14:6), and Saul (1 Sam. 10:9, 10). However, the Spirit later departed from Saul because of his disobedience (16:14).

5. The Spirit played a prominent role in the long span of Old Testament prophecy. David declared that “the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). Likewise, Ezekiel reported that “the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me” (Ezek. 2:2).

 6. The Spirit inspired holiness in Old Testament believers (Ps. 143:10). And Scripture promised that someday God would put His Spirit in His people in a way that would cause them to live according to His statutes (Ezek. 36:27).

 7. The Spirit was crucial in helping God’s people anticipate the ministry of the Messiah. For example, Isaiah 11:1–5 is a trinitarian preview of the working of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son, who is the Branch of Jesse. Looking forward to the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to prophesy: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Is. 11:2), inspiring God’s Chosen One with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, righteousness, and faithfulness. Thus we come full cycle to the New Testament, where Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of this prophecy (Is. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:18, 19). 

 However, back to. The Day of PENTECOST:-

 The Day of Pentecost - sometimes referred to as the Birthday of The Church.

 The situation was that the disciples were gathered together in obedience to Christ’s command awaiting the fulfilment of His Promise:-

 Cf. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”          John 14:16-17,26 

  And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”  Luke 24:49 AKJV

 NB.    OBEDIENCE

  They were timid and fearful yet they did what Jesus told them to. The disciples were obedient.

  Obedience is what the Lord desires from us.  

  NB. “To obey is better tan sacrifice ....”. Cf. 1 Samuel 15:22

  And Samuel said, Hath the Lord  as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

  In Luke 11:9-13. Jesus Says:-   And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?     Luke 11:9-13 

 NB the sequence:-        Ask;   Seek;   Knock 

 The Situation 

 They were gathered in the upper room when ....... Suddenly something remarkable happened ! 

 There was the SOUND of a “Rushing, Mighty Wind and tongues of FIRE and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

 "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."      Acts 2:1-4 

  Those Present in Jerusalem on that Day.  Acts 2:5-13

  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Acts 2:5-13  

 Ie people from all parts of the Roman Empire. 

 The Outcome 

Peter preached preached the Gospel. -  he uplifted Jesus

The Ministry of The Holy Spirit 

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to Glorify Jesus.

 Acts 4:13    "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

 All of this took place with respect to Jewish believers.

 However, in Acts 10 Peter was sent to speak to a Gentile - Cornelius, a Roman Centurion.

 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.       Acts 10:44-48

 Notice the unusual order in this case.

 The “Normal” sequence of events is:-  Salvation;  Baptism in Water; then Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

 Here, Baptism in the Spirit preceded Baptism in Water !

 Man has introduced “many ways” eg; christening, confirmation etc.

 God’s Way is:- Born again, Baptised, Filled.

 NB. There is one Baptism but many “Fillings.”

 The Question to Believers          Have you been Baptised in the Holy Spirit?

 When Paul arrived at Ephesus on his missionary third journey    Acts 19:1-7 he dealt with this very question

 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye  the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.       Acts 19:1-7 

 Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit?

 Returning to Luke 11.   “Ask, seek, knock

 Personal Testimony

 After many years as a Christian, I came to that very place when I asked the Lord to baptise me in the Holy Spirit - and He did.  The result was that my Christian life was transformed.

Many others here will testify to that experience.

How about you?                      Ask and it SHALL be given unto you.  So ASK !

  

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16/05/21

Christ's Ascension into Heaven

 

 Forty days after Jesus’s resurrection, the biblical storyline takes a remarkable turn: 

 Jesus disappeared.  Luke records:-...... “He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). 

 Two angels then tell the disciples that Jesus was “taken into heaven” (Acts 1:11)

 So what do we make of this plot twist in the Bible’s story? 

 How should we understand our crucified and risen Lord’s ascension?  

 The ascension is a vital part of the redemption story. If we simply collapse the ascension into the resurrection, we miss stunning benefits tied directly to Jesus being taken into heaven.

 

 Five Ways the Ascension Benefits Us

 Here are five ways the ascension of Jesus benefits us.

  1. It establishes Jesus as the Reigning King over all Powers in all Ages. 

Ephesians 1:20–21 speaks of the power God exerted when He ...... “raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” 

Further, we have been “seated with him in the heavenly realms in Jesus Christ” (Eph. 2:6–7). 

This is remarkable! Not only do we, the readers, participate in Christ’s resurrection life; we also share in his exaltation and victory over the powers.

 It was the ascension that made this victory over evil powers possible:

 Jesus Christ did not ascend spiritually, leaving behind his body and world history; rather he ascended in the flesh, opening up space within history for the in-breaking of the powers of the age to come.

 For this reason, Paul urges us to stand against Satan’s schemes:-  

Eph 6:10-13“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

 (Eph. 6:11). It’s the Lord’s power that makes this possible (Eph. 6:10)—a power we can access as believers seated in the heavenly realms with our ascended King. We need this power since the problems we face appear to be human conflicts, but are ultimately struggles with the forces of darkness (Eph. 6:12).

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2. It gives us access to God’s Throne for Mercy and Grace.

 In Christ Jesus “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (Heb. 4:14). “Passed through the heavens” is the ascension language; Jesus passed through the heavens to be seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 1:3).

 What’s the result? We can now “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). 

 Whether we are battling cancer, bitterness, betrayal, pride, or discouragement, we can pray with confidence because of our ascended Lord who intercedes for us.

 

 3. It provides an Advocate on Earth whose Presence is Limitless.

 

The night before he was crucified, Jesus promised his disciples that he would “ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17). 

 

Later, in John 16:7 Jesus returns to this theme: “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

 

What advantage would this create for the disciples?    They followed and loved Jesus. 

Why would they want him to leave so the Spirit could come? It almost sounds like a parent saying to their children, “It’s better if I leave so my cousin can come take care of you.” 

How is Jesus’s leaving an advantage for his disciples?

 The answer is simple, yet profound. The incarnate Jesus was limited by space and time. He couldn’t be with each one of his followers at once. If he had stayed on earth, he couldn’t have been there simultaneously for Peter in Rome and John on the island of Patmos. 

 But the Holy Spirit can. His empowering presence is available to all believers everywhere at the same time.

 

 4. It gives us the spoils of Christ’s victory— Various Ministries and Spiritual Gifts. 

 In Ephesians 4:7–12,   Paul connects the grace we’ve received with the ascension. 

This grace refers to spiritual gifts Paul describes elsewhere (see 1 Cor. 12) and to the gifted ministers of the Word (Eph. 4:11).

 Paul makes the connection by quoting Psalm 68:18, a description of God’s triumphal ascension to his throne after leading his people out of Egypt and into Canaan. “Paul insists Psalm 68:18 refers to Christ. . . . Acting in the role of God himself in Psalm 68:17–18, Christ had triumphed over the cosmic forces arrayed against God’s people.”

 Then, from his lofty position at God’s right hand, Christ distributes gifts to God’s people to mature them. 

So we share in Christ’s heavenly triumph.

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5. It keeps us Longing for His Return.

 At His Ascension, the two angels declared: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). 

 The ascension creates within us a longing for Christ’s return. 

 It reminds us his reign is “already” but “not yet.” Though presently seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 1:3), Jesus will return earth to establish his kingdom in fullness and put his enemies under his feet (1 Cor. 15:24–27).

 It’s no wonder we are longing for the return of our King! 

When Jesus descends in the way he ascended, the bad times will be over for good, the darkness will lift, and everything sad will at last come untrue.

 So .....Reflect on It Today 

 Now we know why Jesus “disappeared.”

  His ascension wasn’t merely an exclamation point at the end of the resurrection; it provided his followers with power, grace, mercy, presence, gifts, and anticipation enabling us to advance his mission.

 Today, take time to reflect on how Jesus’s ascension changed everything. 

 Respond to the psalmist’s call to “forget not all his benefits” (Ps. 103:2). 

 Indeed, some of his most remarkable benefits flow to us as a result of Christ’s ascension to God’s right hand.

 

 The Promise        Acts 1: 

"And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

 And we look forward to His Return in fulfilment of that promise. The Blessed Hope - The Glorious Appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

 

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 09/05/21

A  Better Covenant

 A Covenant is a sealed contract, a binding agreement.

 

Hebrews 8:6-12

  6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: 

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah —   9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.  10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD:  I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.  12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."                                                 NKJV

 

The scriptures record eight covenant which God made with man.

 

Covenants in Scripture

The ……

1. Edenic Covenant           (Gen 1:26-28)

2. Adamic Covenant          ( Gen 3:14-19)

3. Noahic Covenant           ( Gen 9:1 -    )

4. Abrahamic Covenant      ( Gen 15:18)

5. Mosaic Covenant           ( Ex 20; Ex 21- Ex 24)

6. Palestinian Covenant      ( Deut 28:1 – 30:3)

7. Davidic Covenant           ( 2 Sam 7:8-17)

8. New Covenant               (Heb 8:8-13 Heb 12:24)

  

1. The Edenic Covenant  (Gen 1:26-28)              This conditioned the life of mankind in innocency.

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Gen 1:26

26 Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them,"Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 

NKJV

 2. The Adamic Covenant          ( Gen 3:14-19)        Conditions the life of “Fallen” man and gives Promise of a Redeemer.

 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust  All the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity  Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."              Gen 3:14-15 NKJV 

3.  Noahic Covenant           ( Gen 9:1 -    )       Established the Principle of Human Government.

 8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 "And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."       Gen 9:8-11 NKJV

 

4.  The Abrahamic Covenant       Gen 15:18           This founded the nation of Israel and confirmed the Adamic “Promise of Redemption”

 18On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying:  "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates —  19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."      Gen 15:17-21 NKJV

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5. The Mosaic Covenant     “The Old Covenant”    ( Exodus 20 – 31 )

 Enshrined in this is    ……..    “The Law”               The Ten Commandment Plus other laws.

 These laws are impossible to keep and the breaking of a single ONE brings condemnation

 

6. The Palestinian Covenant    ( Deut 28:28 – 30 )

 This secures the final restoration and conversion of Israel.               We are witnessing the fulfilment of this covenant before our eyes.

 NB.  This gives Israel all the territory from the  Mediterranean in the west to the Euphrates in the east.

And from    Damascus    in the North to the “River of Egypt in the south.

 

7. The Davidic Covenant        ( 2 Sam 7:8-17 )           This establishes the perpetuity of the Davidic Family

This was Fulfilled in Christ  ( Matt 1:1 ) and will be completed when Christ Returns in Glory

 

 8.  The New Covenant       ( Heb 8:   Heb 12  Gal 3 )

 This  …..

     Rests on the Sacrifice of Christ;       Secures salvation for all who believe;  Is absolutely unconditional;  Is Final and irreversible

  The “New Covenant”  is Better than The “Old Covenant”

 Because ….                It is established on “better”     -     unconditional.    -     Promises

 eg.      Old Covenant  …..  “If ye will ….  then I …

             New Covenant   …..   “ I will  …….  “

        Under the Old (Mosaic) Covenant     ……      Obedience sprang from fear     ( Heb 2:2 Heb 12:25-27)

 

Under the New Covenant.   …..    Obedience springs from a willing heart and mind    ( Heb 8:10 )

 

The New Covenant   ....    Secures the personal revelation of Christ to every believer   ( Heb 8:11 )

                                          Provides complete oblivion of sins        ( Heb 8:12; Heb 10:3,7 )

                                          Rests on an accomplished redemption ( Matt 26:27; 1 Cor 11:25; Heb 9:11,12 18-23) 

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 Contrasts between the Old and the New Covenants 

                           Mosaic                                       New

            Earthly, sinful priests     9:7             Divine sinless priest 8:1 cf 7:6

            Earthly Tabernacle        9:1             Heavenly Tabernacle 8:2 cf 8:5

             Faulty                           8:7,8            Faultless 8:6 

          Limited access to God    9:7,8          Free access to God 9:10 cf 10:19,22

           Physical washing           9:10           Cleansed conscience 9:14

          Obedience demanded    8:9             Obedience enabled 8:10

 

                      The New Covenant was, like the Old Covenant, inaugurated by blood – the Blood of Christ.

                     When Jesus died, He made the benefits of the New Covenant available to all who would receive Him.

 

The New Covenant Secures …..

 The …..   Perpetuity;   Future Conversion;   Blessing   of  Israel    (Jeremiah 31:31-40)

Jeremiah 31:31-34.  31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah —  32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.

33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." 

35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day,

The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar  (The LORD of hosts is His name): 

36 "If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD,Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever." 

37 Thus says the LORD:  "If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD. 

38 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that the city shall be built for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The surveyor's line shall again extend straight forward over the hill Gareb; then it shall turn toward Goath. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever."   NKJV

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02/05/21

Christ’s is a Superior Priesthood
( Hebrews 5 – 7)

Heb 4:14-16 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Heb 7:23-28 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

KJV

The Aaronic Priesthood
The High Priest

Priests – Priests – Priests - Priests

Qualification By Family - The Aaronic Family

Function To minister in holy things

There were many priests.    All priests had to be members of the Aaronic family – their only claim was that of son-ship


The High Priest

There was only one “High Priest” who was in office for life

Qualification - the Aaronic succession – direct line

Function - to mediate between the people and God

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Aaron was the first High Priest. He was succeeded by his son and so down through the generations.

The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that more than eighty men had held the office between Aaron and Caiaphas.

NB. a “Changing priesthood meant that there was a need for a “Great High Priest”.

 

That Great High Priest is :- Jesus Christ

“Called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchisedec” Heb 5:10

There was One and only One Great High Priest (Heb 4,5,7,8) Jesus Christ and He was NOT of the Aaronic order, He was not even of the tribe of Levi but of Judah!

However, He is “ a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Heb 7:17 KJV

He inherited the Priesthood from no-one and passed it on to no-one.

He remains ……..

He supersedes all others by reason of His endless life and therefore changeless ministry.

 

The Development of the Priesthood

Historical Development

1. Personal 2. Patriarchal 3. National 4. Ecclesiastical

Originally every individual was his own priest and offered his own sacrifices ….

eg. Adam; cain; Abel; Noah etc

Later, the head of the family acted on behalf of the family eg. Abraham.

Then, after the Exodus from Egypt, Aaron acted on behalf of the nation and subsequently the Tribe of Levi was separated for the Priesthood of the nation.

The Aaronic priesthood continued until the death of Christ in the days of Caiaphas the High Priest.

The earthy priesthood ended when Christ passed through the veil and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High.

2

The Inauguration of The Priesthood ( Exodus 28 & 29 )

The Earthly Priest was;-

1. Called (Ex 28:1) 2. Cleansed ( Ex 29:4) 3. Clothed (Ex 29:5)  4. Anointed (Ex 29:7)


1. The Earthly Priest was Called (Ex 28:1)
And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, KJV

We too are called to be priests:- 1 Peter 2:9

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: KJV

2. The Earthly Priest was Cleansed ( Ex 29:4)

And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. KJV

So too are we:- 1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed , but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. KJV

 

3. The Earthly Priest was Clothed (Ex 29:5)

5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: 6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. KJV


We are clothed in His Righteousness our garment of salvation.

3

4. The Earthly Priest was Anointed (Ex 29:7)

7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.

cf. our anointing

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. KJV


Christ's Priesthood is Different fromThat of Aaron

The Aaronic Priesthood came to an end.

Christ is both Priest and Sacrifice.

We are given a vivid illustration of the nature of Christ’s Priesthood way back in the book of Genesis, before the Aaronic priesthood was established,

The Psalmist speaks of this in Psalm 110

1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. KJV


Who was Melchizedek ?


Heb 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. KJV

4

There are a number of suggestions as to this mysterious figure who met Abraham after he returned from rescuing Lot.

Gen 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
KJV

Some suggest that He was some supernatural person; some believe that He is Jesus in a “Theophany”. Some have even suggested that it might have been Shem, Noah’s son who survived the flood.

NB The Genesis account is historical whereas the Hebrews record is doctrinal.

Melchizedek was ……. the King - Priest

His was a Royal and unchanging priesthood and it is a universal priesthood.         It is unique ……. It has neither beginning nor ending.

There was only one Melchizedek - there is only One Lord Jesus Christ !

Melchizedek appeared before Jew and Gentile existed as separate peoples.

The Aaronic priesthood was established for one nation – Israel.

 

When the Greater than Melchizedek came, He made Jew and Gentile One again in Himself.

Gal 3:26-28 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
KJV

Not only is He unique, He is Unchanging

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
KJV

5

Melchisedec was both King and Priest

So is the Lord Jesus Christ

 

The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness.  -  His title “King of Salem” means “King of Peace”.

 

Melchizedek is referred to as the “Priest of the Most High God”

Gen 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God . 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

KJV

Note that Melchisedec brought out the the emblems of the communion service when he blessed Abraham after his great victory.

Whenever we come around the Lord’s Table to celebrate communion we celebrate the Great Victory Jesus won at Calvary.

We will conclude where we began:-

Heb 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

 ______________________________________

 

25/04/21

The Superiority of Christ

 

In Christ We Have a Superior Leader

Throughout their history, the children of Israel failed  to  experience  all  that  God intended for them because of their unbelief.

Moses was probably the greatest leader  that  the  world  has ever known. He led the Israelites – 2.5 million of them - out of bondage in Egypt and was their leader for 40 years. 

During this time he gave  them God's Law and built the tabernacle.

 

Christ is Superior to Moses

Moses was a Godly man but Christ is superior to Moses, just as:-

      (a)     A son is superior to a servant

      (b)     The Creator is superior to his creation.

Moses was faithful in all that he did, but  Jesus  Christ  is much greater than even Moses.

 

Israel's Response to The Leadership of Moses

Heb 3:7-19  shows that the  Israelites  responded  to  Moses' leadership with:- 

     (i)    unbelief  

     (ii)  disobedience,  

The details of this is found in  Numbers chapters 13 and 14.

 

1.    The Consequence of Unbelief and Disobedience

As a consequence of  their  unbelief  and  disobedience,  the Israelites were condemned to wander in the  wilderness  until all that generation had died  -  ie  they  "failed  to  enter  into their rest".

Hebrews 4 tells us that there is a "rest" for the people  of  God which we can enter into and experience.

God in His GRACE offers us REST  ……..BUT we must respond in  FAITH  in order to take advantage of it.

1

We often lack faith, but Heb 4:12 tells of a  resource  which can cause our faith to increase …….. 

             ie. THE WORD OF GOD.

Heb 4:14-16 tells of an  additional  resource  when  we  need help. 

This is  our  Great  High  Priest  who  understands  our weaknesses and is able to meet all our needs.

Hebrews 4:9        "There remaineth a rest to the people of God." 

 

 Israel Entered into a Wilderness Experience

2.   The Wildernessess Experience

After the Exodus came the Wanderings in the  Wilderness.

 The Characteristics of the Wilderness Experience. 

The mood of the people was characterised by:-

     1. Restlessness        -     No peace

     2. Aimlessness         -     No destination

     3. Dis-satisfaction     -     Unsatisfied longings

 

In the desert they were faced with the:-

    1. Peril of sandstorms

    2. Scourge of disease

    3. Delusion of the mirage

 See  Psalm 106:13-15;  19-21;  24-26

The Cause of the Wilderness Experience

The Wilderness experience  was  brought  about  basically  by unbelief. 

(Heb 3:19) "So we see that they could not enter  in because of unbelief."                    

 

Conditions under which unbelief thrives.

2

There  are  three  basic  conditions  under  which   unbelief  thrived.

cf.  Psalm 106: 25;  19;  13

1. They  Murmured.

      cf. Ex 16  "No Bread"  Ex 17 "No Water"  Num 13 "No Faith"

2. They Departed from the Living God. 

cf. Exodus-32

3. They Failed to Learn the Lessons of the Past.  

cf. Exodus 15

 

Note the warning given in Hebrews 3:12 

"Take heed,  brethren, lest there be in any of you an  evil  heart  of  unbelief  in departing from the living God."

F B Meyer wrote:-        "Unbelief is not the child of the head  but of the  heart." 

 ie.  The  source  of  unbelief  is  not  the intellect but the emotions

(We probably think of it the other way round)

We need on a daily basis  to guard against;-

       1. An evil heart                         Heb 3:12

       2. A hard heart                         Heb 3:15

       3. A fickle heart

 

 3. The Rest of God 

 Note that it is:-

        1. HIS REST              .                  Heb 4:1

        2. MY  REST                                 Heb 4:3

        3. GOD'S REST                            Heb 4:4

3

See how this ties in with God's Sabbath Rest after Creation !

 

God's Rest is NOT  the REST of:-  

        INACTIVITY 

Nor is it the   REST of :-

        WEARINESS 

BUT it is the REST of a:-

        COMPLETED WORK.

 

How then can we experience and enjoy His Rest?

 We must:-

        1. Accept the Finished Work of Christ.

        2. Will the Will of God.

        3. Trust in the Father's Care.          ,

        4. Follow the Shepherd's Lead. 

 

Therefore, let us exhort  one  another  daily,  while  it  is called Today and so let us experience the "Rest  of  God"  in our lives here and now.

 

4

 

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04/04/21

Easter Morning

(Matt 28:1-20)

 Easter Day!   The most momentous Day in Human History.

 The impossible had happened  ............  Jesus Christ had risen from the dead!

 Impossible?     .........     Well ! …… People just don't  rise from the  dead   ...    do they?

 In spite of all that Jesus had said to them in the run up to the Crucifixion, the  disciples simply were not expecting it to happen 

 The Order of Events

 As we read the gospel accounts we become aware of the to-ing and fro-ing that took place that morning.

 1. He Appeared to the Women

 The women,  Mary (the mother of Jesus), Mary Magdeline and Salome (Mother of James & John),  set  out for the Tomb  before dawn in the half-light of day-break in order to annoint the Lord’s body 

 The women  found the stone rolled away and ran back to tell the disciples.  

1.   The women meet Jesus (28:9 a).

2.   The women hear Jesus (28:9 b).

3.   The women worship Jesus (28:9 c).

4.   The women obey Jesus (28:10): 

 That’s what we are here for this morning!

 Peter and John in their haste to check out the women's story.

 Imagine the excitement.......as the reality of the situation began to dawn upon them.  Peter and John RAN to see if what they had been told was true.

 But  ....  was not this just what Jesus had said would happen?

 Just consider this, ...... it was to the women that the Lord first appeared.

 How gracious of the Lord  ............. to appear first to those who had stood heartbroken by the cross as He  bore  our sin in His body on the tree.

 In the eyes of the community they did not count, they were only women ... but they counted to Jesus!  NB............

 1

 2   Jesus Appeared to Peter

 He appeared to Peter later on that morning.........how do we know?

 Because the disciples testified to the two who hot-footed it back to Jerusalem from Emmaus.   Luke 24:34: Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

 Why Peter?    because  it was Peter who had wept bitterly there in the courtyard of the High priest's palace after having denied his Lord. 

 It was  not  enough to have the angels  announce the Resurrection of Jesus  ............  it had to be a  personal appearance.

 

 3   The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) 

 Jesus appears to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus.

 

 A.  Their Reunion with Jesus (24:13-16): 

 These two believers are joined by the Lord Jesus.

 (a) Their conversation (23:13-14): They are talking about the Crucifixion.

 (b) Their ignorance (24:15-16): Neither disciple recognizes the stranger who joins them.

 

  B.  Jesus’  Question (24:17): 

 He asks why they are so sad.

 

 C. Their Reply to Jesus (24:18-24)

 (a)   They tell him their problem (24:18-21): 

 The Crucifixion has dashed their hopes that perhaps Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Messiah!

 (b)   They tell him their puzzle (24:22-24): 

 

Some women found his tomb empty and were told by two angels that he has risen!

 2

 D.  The Rebuke by Jesus (24:25-27)

 (a) Their ignorance of the Scriptures (24:25): He says they have forgotten the prophecies concerning his death and resurrection.

 (b)  His interpretation of the Scriptures (24:26-27): 

 He now reviews for them all the Old Testament passages which speak of him.

 E.  Their Recognition of Jesus (24:28-35)

 1. The meal (24:28-31 a)

 a. The invitation (24:28-29): The two disciples invite Jesus to join them for a meal.

 b.  The revelation (24:30-31 a): 

 After he prays, Jesus distributes the bread. At that moment they recognize him!

 2.  The miracle (24:31 b): 

 He suddenly disappears out of sight!

 3.  Their reflection (24:32): 

 They reflected, "Didn't our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?"

 4.  The mission (24:33-35): The two disciples now return to Jerusalem and report all this to the apostles!

 Yes,  the two on the road to  Emmaus had the  Bible Study to cap all Bible Studies.

  For,  “He, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, expounded unto them in all the  scriptures the things concerning Himself. “  Luke 24:27

 Have  you ever wondered how those two could have left the  others in  Jerusalem when they had received the report of the  women that morning?    

 How  could they?    They just did not believe what the women told them.

 Luke records Luke 24:11: And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

 One thing is sure   -   they altered their opinion when they too met with Jesus!

 3

And that is the case today, when people have a personal encounter with the Risen Lord, they changed their mind!  

 That is what repentance is all about.  Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change in direction.

 The Reason Why we are Here today

 That's why we are here this morning is it not?   

 We are here to meet with Jesus.

 He has promised that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His Name then there He is in the midst.

 They met with Jesus and to what effect    .......   "Did not our hearts burn within us as He talked with us by the way?"   

 How is  your heart this morning?   Is it not  burning  within  you at the  prospect of meeting with Jesus?

 

Meanwhile, Back in Jerusalem

 It was while  they were testifying to the  others that Jesus  appeared yet again..  Luke  24:36.

 The disciples still had  not come to terms with what had happened. 

Luke 24v 37 They were terrified - they thought they were seeing a Ghost!

 

Jesus' Resurrection Body 

 Touch Me, Handle Me and see. 

 Flesh and Bones.

 He ate broiled fish and a honecomb.

 Then He gave them another Bible Study.

 The Importance of Bible Study.......He opened their eyes that they might understand the Scriptures.

 Oh that we might avail ourselves of the opportunity to get an insight into the Word of God.

 If we are going to effective in carrying out the “Great Commission” we ned to get to grips with the “Word of God.”

 4

 

What people out there need is, the Word of God” for it is the Word of God that speaks into a person’s life and challenges them concerning their need of Salvation.

 He appeared personally to the Women, to Peter, to James, to Cleophas and companion and to over 500 of the disciple on one occasion. (1 Cor 15)

 

 The  Resurrection of Jesus  Christ is the  best attested fact in all history. 

 “He Arose Hallelujah! Christ Arose.”

 And because He lives  …. We shall live also !

 

___________________________________

 

 

28/03/21

 Christ’s Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

 [ Matt 21:1-11;    Mark  11:1-11;  Luke 19:29-48;  John 12:12-19 ]

 The first “Palm Sunday” was a very significant day in God’s calendar of human events.

 It was on that day that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jews long awaited Messiah, presented himself to His people.

 I don’t know whether you can picture the scene in your minds eye........... here comes Jesus of Nazareth,  a young man of around 33 years of age seated upon a young male donkey, riding along the road surrounded by His entourage of followers.  News of His coming had gone on ahead of Him and  along the roadside were gathered crowds of ordinary people eager to get a glimpse of this young rabbi about whom they had heard so much.

 No wonder !  Why only a short time earlier had he not raised Lazarus of Bethany from the dead?

 The last weeks of Jesus’ earthly life were spent in and around Judaea.  

 This was the time when we are told that Jesus set His face to go up to Jerusalem, in the full knowledge that He would be betrayed , fall into wicked hands and be crucified.  

 It was for this purpose that He had come into this world.

 During this period leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus stayed in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus  at  Bethany, a village about 2 miles from Jerusalem on the far side of the Mount of Olives, and on the road to Jericho. 

 Jesus had spent the previous day at the home of “Simon The Leper”  - perhaps one of those 10 lepers that Jesus had healed earlier in His ministry.

 On the day which we now call “Palm Sunday” Jesus set off towards Jerusalem taking the most southerly of the three possible routes to the Holy City. 

 As He approached Bethpage , a village near Bethany, on or near the Mount of Olives, on the east side of Jerusalem He sent two disciples into the  village to fetch the young colt on which he rode in triumph into the city.

 Jesus told the two disciples to take the young donkey and if anybody challenged them to say “the masters needs him.”

 There’s a lesson for us here!        Are you, am I, willing for the Lord to take and use whatever we have  or are there some things which we reserve for ourselves?

 1

  So the two diciples did what the Lord asked of them.            And  ………   so did the keepers of the donkey !

 Why did Jesus seek to obtain a donkey on which to travel to Jerusalem on that occasion?            The answer lies in Zech 9:9

 Zech 9:9  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” 

 This scene has often been portrayed as depicting the poverty and humility of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Whilst there is a measure of truth in this picture of Christ, that is not how the people who received Him so warmly would have thought of it. 

 To the Eastern mind, the symbol here would be that of peace, in constrast to that of war.           The horse was the symbol of war.  

 Conquering armies would enter a vanquished city, following their commanding General who would be astride a  mighty “charger” a war horse.

 In contrast to this mighty charger, the easterner recognizes the ass as the emblem of peace. 

  Here we see the Prince of Peace entering His Holy City Jerusalem.

 [NB. the story of General Allenby when he entered Jerusalem in 1917 at the head of the victorious British Army who had defeated the Turks in a remarkable way.   Gen Allenby dismounted from his "Charger" and proceeded to enter Jerusalem on foot, saying that, the privilege of entering the Holy City belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ at His Secong Coming! ]

 Contrary to the expectations and teaching of the Rabbis at that time, Messiah came not as the “Conquering Hero” but as the “Prince of Peace.” He came to make Peace with God possible for human beings.

The Multitudes

 The size of the crowd that accompanied Jesus and His disciples into Jerusalem is not immediately apparent but the various accounts recorded in the Gospels would indicate that a “multitude” preceded Him and a “multitude” followed after Him.

 I bet it was some crowd.    It would be an excited crowd – it was not long after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.

 2

 At some point on the journey, as they rounded a bend, Jerusalem came into view and Jesus stopped to exclaim ……..

Luke 13:34-35     34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!  35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.      KJV

 On to Jerusalem

 Jerusalem at that time  was bursting at the seams.

 The Jewish historian Josephus records that 256,500 lambs were sacrificed at that particular Passover and, on the basis of 10 people per lamb Josephus estimated that around 2.5 million people attended the festival !!!!!

 This in itself is most significant.               Why ?

 The position is this.  Since as Jesus approached Jerusalem, the crowds spontaneously burst into a chorus:-

  “Hosannah - Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.”  It signifies that temporarily though it might have been, the people acknowledged Him to be their Messiah.

 This was no “Hole in a corner” affair  - it  amounted to the  public recognition of Jesus as Messiah by the Jewish people.

 This truly was a “Triumphal Entry” into the Holy City.

 That’s what put the wind up the Jewish authorities.         No wonder they were alarmed.

 The Cleansing of the Temple

 Many events took place in Jerusalem during those few days leading up to Good Friday.

 One of these was the second cleansing of the Temple.

 What should have been a “House of Prayer” had become a den of iniquity.

 What should have been a place of consecration had become one of desecration.

 3

 Matt 21:12 “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13: And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

 A Personal Question

 On a personal level,  may I ask you a question?     How do you treat your temple?  

  Paul says:-        1Cor:3:16:  “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

 Here in Jerusalem a lucrative business had developed where people had to change their secular money into religious money to pay their temple dues. Or to buy a ready made sacrifice rather than to present a sacrifice which they had themseves brought to the House of God. [Easy religion has always been on offer by those who would seek to exploit the unwary.]

 So, throughout that final week leading up to the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ,  by day Jesus taught in the court of the Temple and spent the evenings at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

 During the teaching sessions at the Temple, Jesus told many parables including ……..

 The Parables of:-    “the two sons”  ;  “the wicked husbandman” ; “the rejected corner-stone”; “the wedding invitation”; “the tribute money” etc.

 The tragedy  for Israel was that less than a week later these same people were crying out “Crucify Him” and when Pilate asked the question “Shall I crucify your King?”   they replied “We have no king but Caesar.”

 How fickle is the human heart.   

 Little wonder that God said through Jeremiah:- “The heart of man is deceitful above  all things and desperately wicked , who can know it?””

 However when we look on this with the  hind-sight of history  we understand that it was:-   “for this purpose Christ was revealed  - to destroy all the works of the evil one.”

 Jesus came to lay down His life as a ransom for sin   -  your sin and mine.

 4

 During that last week  of Jesus’ earthly ministry, several significany prophetic events took place. 

  1. The King was anointed  - by the hand of Mary at the feast put on by Simon the Leper.
  2. The King was proclaimed by the people as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
  3. The King was crowned albeit with a crown of thorns and then nailed to the Cross.

 And we are here because He went all the Way to the Cross where He bore our sin in His body on the Tree.

 Now, all this was foretold  by the Old Testament Prophets.

 In Daniel chapter 9 the angel Gabriel told Daniel about these events which would take place.

 Daniel had been studying the book of Jeremiah and realised that the prophesied 70 years of the captivity had almost been fulfilled.

  With that in mind, Daniel had been waiting upon the Lord - interceding on behalf of his people.  

 It was then that the angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel and gave him this remarkable prophecy.

 Gabriel’s Prophecy          -         Dan 9:20-27

 20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;  

21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

 23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. 

 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

KJV

 This is what has become known as Daniels Prophecy of Seventy Weeks. (ie. weeks of Years)

 Some of this was fulfilled at the time of Christ’s crucifixion the rest will be fulfilled during the period   leading up to the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ when Anti-Christ will be revealed.

 The “Commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem” (v 25)  refers to what is known as the   “Edict of Artaxerxes Longimanus”   (Neh 2:1)  14th March BC 445 

*     Edict     to Messiah.    *   Present Age      * The Tribulation  *

*                 *                      *                             *                           *                   

*     7wks    *      62 wks     *    indeterminate   *            1 wk        *        

*     49yrs   *     434 yrs      *        ???? yrs       *             7yrs        * 

*             483 yrs                *        ???? yrs       *       3.5  +  3.5     * 

                                NB.      3.5yr = 42m = 1260d

                      NB.     1 prophetic year =  360 solar days

NB.     God’s Prophetic Clock only ticks when Israel are “In possession” of their own Land.

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 It was 49 years after the “Edict of Artaxeres Longimanus” that the rebuilding and dedication of Jerusalem and the Temple  took place under the leadership of Nehemiah. 

It was exactly 434 prophetic years later that Jesus of Nazareth, their long awaited Messiah rode into Jerusalem to the acclamation of the crowds of ordinary people lining the roadside. 

 The ordinary people might have received Jesus in this manner, but their religious leaders certainly did not.  

  In fact they did their best to bring about the downfall of this young man from Galilee.

 Within a week they had succeeded in turning the feelings of the “mob” from support to antagonism so much so that when Pilate presented Jesus to them and said “Who shall I release - Jesus or Barabas?” 

 They cried “give us Barabas.” And when Pilate said to them “Shall I crucify your King” they cried out “We have no King but Caesar.

 And so, in fulfilment of Dan 9:26 the sinless, spotless Son of God was nailed to a wooden cross and crucified for your sin and mine.  “Messiah shall be cut-off, but not for Himself....”

 Later, the people of the “prince that shall come” destroyed the city and the sanctuary.  

 This was fulfilled in AD 70  when the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple with all its records.

 For nigh on 2000 years, God’s prophetic clock has been stopped just like the stopwatch of a referee when injuries interupt play in a football match. He restarts his watch when play resumes......and so the match is played out for its allotted time.

 For the time that the Jews have been dispossessed of their land, God’s prophetic clock was stopped.  

 The question is......has the clock been re-started?

 This is a crucial question because, according to Gabriel’s prophecy in Dan 9 when the clock restarts there will only be a period of 7 years left during which time “the prince that shall come”  will make his appearance on the world scene. 

 The Bible refers to this person in several ways.

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 eg. Theman of Sin”The son of perdition (2 Thess 2:3)   The  “king of fierce countenance” (Dan 8:23);   The “Beast” (Rev 13)

He is the one who we refer to as the “Antichrist.”

 This person will be  a great world leader, the ruler of a revived “Roman Empire” [ie. over a group of nations which cover the territory of the old Roman Empire - possibly the “United States of Europe”  which is even now in the process of formation.  

 He will be the one who will make peace between the Jews and the Arabs and who will be accepted by the Jews as their long awaited Messiah.  

 He will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and bring about the restoration of the sacrificial ritual.

 However, after 3.5 years of “peaceful” rule he will turn upon the Jews with a ferocity never seen before and only the direct intervention of God in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His saints will rescue the Jews from anihilation.  

 Sometime at the start of the 3.5 years Christ will have returned to take His Bride - the Church - an event which we call the Rapture.

  Conclusion:-

As we look at the world situation,  we can see all these things beginning to take place heralding the return of Jesus Christ for His Church.

 Answer this question:-          Are you ready for Christ return for His Church?     

 The Rapture of "The Church "  could take place at any time.    

 If Jesus came for His saints today,   would you be ready?

 If you cannot honestly say yes to that question then make sure that, before you stop reading this message , you are ready to meet Him.

 How?   

1. By simply acknowledging the fact that you are a sinner

2. Repenting of your sin

3. Accepting Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour and Lord.

 Then, when the Trumpet of the Lord sounds you can be sure that you will be among those caught up to meet  Him in the air and so shall you ever be with the Lord.

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 07/03/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 6:1 -24)

Whatever opinion a person may have about Paul, this thing is certain, he was a pragmatic individual. 

Having dealt with the spiritual aspects of the believer's walk, he turns now to the nitty-gritty of daily living. In chapter five he dealt with the husband wife relationship and here in chapter six he continues with the domestic life of the believer.

1.   Children and Parents

First of all Paul has a word to Christian children. 

Children ought to be obedient to their parents, indeed, the first commandment to contain a promise is:-

 "Honour your father and your mother, that all may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth." 

This is an injunction which is ignored at one's peril. 

We are living in an age when children in general are disobedient to their parents and the sad thing about this is that so often the same is true of Christian young people. It is a fact that, so long as our parents are alive, we are still their children and God requires us to honour and respect them. 

However, Paul does add a qualifying note namely "in the Lord'. "That is to say that if parents try to make their children to behave in a manner displeasing to the Lord, then God is the higher authority.

Parents then have a right to expect the respect and obedience of their children but children also have a right to be treated with consideration and respect. 

Paul says:-

 "Fathers, don't over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment but bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline."

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2.  Servants and Masters

 Servants

Paul then turns to the relationship between servants and their masters. 

 In actual fact Paul is referring to the relationship between slaves and their masters since the word translated as “servant” is actually "bondman." 

 Paul says that service should be rendered as though it is being done for the Lord. Not superficially so as to be seen and rewarded but in sincerity as to the Lord and not to men. 

 Service is to be performed faithfully without having regard for recognition. This means working to the best of your ability whether or not you are being observed.

 Masters

 The same is true of "masters." People in authority over others have a responsibility for the welfare and well being of those in their charge. 

 Christian "masters"are to remember that they are responsible to the Lord for the way in which they discharge this responsibility. The apostle reminds his audience that God is no respector of persons.

 3.  Spiritual Warfare

 Finally, the apostle turns his attention to the subject of spiritual warfare.

 He urges the Ephesian believers to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 

Paul knew full well that our human strength is unable to match the opposition that the devil throws against us. 

Writing to the Corinthians he says:- 

 "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor 12:8-10)

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 Here in Ephesians he urges believers to put on God's complete armour so that we can successfully resist all the devil's methods of attack.

 The Opposition

One of the most important things to understand about conducting a war is to know your enemy.

 We are not fighting simply upon the natural front against purely physical opponents. 

We are up against spiritual forces, what the scriptures describe as the "powers of darkness." 

These are the unseen powers that control this dark world, spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. 

 Therefore it is absolutely essential that we are equipped with armour that is appropriate for such conflict. If we do this, then even though we may as it were have fought to a standstill, we will still be able to stand our ground.

 Spiritual Armour

 Paul urges us to "take (ie. put on) the whole armour of God." 

 What then is this spiritual armour that is so essential?

 1. Truth

First of all we have the girdle of truth. 

Without truth we are powerless. Jesus said "I am the Truth." 

Whenever a man set out to do a physical task we read that he "girded up his loins." 

Truth is essential for all spiritual activity. 

Truth is the opposite of error. Truth holds all the other pieces of armour in place.

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2. Righteousness

Secondly we have the Breastplate of Righteousness. 

The breastplate protects the vital organs, the heart, lungs etc. 

It is of the greatest importance that our hearts are protected by rightousness. 

If we were to rely upon our own righteousness then we would be vulnerable for we have no righteousness of our own.   

However, Jesus is our righteousness. 

We are clothed in His righteousness.

 3. The Gospel

Next we consider the feet. Having the appropriate footwear is essential in any physical activity. So it is in the spiritual realm. 

Paul says have your feet shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace. 

The gospel is the good news that we can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and can experience His peace in our daily lives irrespective of the turmoil going on around us. 

We are to go forth in peace in the service of the Prince of Peace.

 4. Faith

Then comes faith. 

Note what Paul says "Above all, taking the shield of faith." 

In military history there were different types of shield. 

Some were made of metal, others of wood, covered with leather. 

The fuction of the shield was to deflect the blow from a spear or sword and to deflect the arrows away from their target. 

Above all other, the shield is the item that took the greatest battering. 

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Paul says "above all, take the shield of faith." 

In the spiritual battle, it is faith which takes the brunt of the onslaught and it is faith which prevails. It is faith which quenches the fiery darts of the wicked.

 5. Salvation

The most exposed and therefore the most vulnerable part of the body is the head. 

The head requires careful protection for it houses the brain, the microprocessor of the body. 

Hence Paul's emphasis upon the "Helmet of Salvation." 

How precious is our salvation, it is the controller of our Christian life and witness. Salvation is of the Lord.

 6. The Word of God

The Sword of the Spirit. which is the Word of God.

No soldier, ancient times, went without his sword. 

The sword is both an offensive and a defencive weapon.

 Our spiritual sword is the Bible, the written word of God. 

In the military situation the sword had to be handled properly, so it is in the spiritual. 

It is not so much having a Bible, or indeed knowing our Bible, it is being able to use it skilfully just as a swordsman handles his sword. 

When Satan attacks, we use our sword to defend ourselves and then skilfully use it to attack the enemy of souls. 

This is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ did when He was tempted in the wilderness.

Using armour requires practise, patience and training. 

Persistent, persevering prayer is essential if we are to make full and best use of the armour that God supplies.

 Paul’s Final Prayer Request

Paul closes his letter with a request for prayer for all believers and for himself to be given opportunity and courage to speak out boldly concerning the mystery of the gospel. 

Although a prisoner, Paul regarded himself as Christ's "ambassador in bonds." 

It speaks well for the apostle that, in spite of his situation, he was concerned for the saints at Ephesus and desired to comfort them in their situation.

His final word to the Ephesians was send to them the "Grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity."

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 28/02/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 5:1-33)

The Believers' Walk 

As Believers we are to:-

1.   Walk in Love

                                              “Be imitators of God … as dear children”

 In verses 1 and 2, Paul reminds us that we are now the children of God and just as earthly children copy their parents behaviour, so we are to copy Him. 

Further more we are to live our lives in the same sort of love which Christ shows toward us and which is perfectly expressed in His sacrifice on the Cross.

 2.  Walk in The Light

 Our lives are to be Clean and Upright in all our Ways and We are to Walk as Befits Children of the Light 

 These warnings and commands given by the apostle are very relevant in the age in which we live.

 At one time we might have been excused for thinking that verses 3, 4, and 5 were applicable to the situation at Ephesus where immorality was rife. 

 We live  in an a-moral world, that is a world that is without morals, the attitude of society being "if you think it's O.K. then it is OK"  The old absolutes of “Right” and Wrong” have been overturned.

 God's standards have not changed. 

God still condemns sexual immorality in all its forms together with all forms of covetousness. and unrighteousness.

 In verses 5 and 6 Paul states that  neither the immoral, the filthy minded nor the covetous have any inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Paul states that covetousness,  is a form of idolatry   -  and is akin to  worshiping a false God. 

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There were then, just as there are now, those who put forward plausible arguments to justify the sort of  conduct  that Paul warns against here in Ephesians.  Paul warns against being deceived by such vain words.

 He likens  evil and good with darkness and light.

 Those outside of Christ are in darkness.

 Believers have no escuse, we are not in darkness but are children of the light. 

 That being the case, we ought then to live as children of the light.

 The light produces in our lives everything that is wholesome and good and true, therefore our lives should be living proof of the things which please God.

 Some professing believers seem to take a delight in describing the works of darkness but Paul says it is shameful to even speak of these things.

 Rather let us dwell upon the fruit of the Spirit in all goodness and righteousness and truth. 

 We do well to steer clear of the activities of darkness and allow our lives to shine forth and to reprove what Paul describes as the "unfruitful works of darkness."

 3.   Walk in Wisdom

 We are to be wise and demonstrate our understanding of what the will and purpose of God is.

 Since we know the Truth  our lives should show it

 We are to live, then, with a sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. 

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 Paul says in v. 16 that we are to make the best use of our time despite the difficulties of these days in which we live. 

Redeeming the time, for the days are evil.”

 4.   Be Filled With The Spirit

 People in the world often get their stimulus (Dutch Courage ! ) from the effects of an excess of wine. 

 Paul urges us instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit v. 18.

 In effect he is saying "Let the Holy Spirit stimulate you souls. 

 We are to Express our joy in singing  psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of the Lord!" 

 Song is a wonderfully expressive medium and, even in the natural, we are led to believe that singing releases a chemical into the body which lifts the human spirit. 

 Singing is  an antidote to depression. 

 Let us exercise the capacity of "making melody in our hearts to the Lord." It does not matter what the musical quality is like, it is the exercise of the hearts that is important.

 The psalmist was clear about this when he said:-

 Psalm 98:4; Make a joyful noise unto the lord, ail the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. 

 Psalm 100:1; Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

 Also ……..  A Believer’s Life Should be Characterised by:-

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An Attitude of Thankfulness

 Earlier in the chapter when dealing with the subject of correct behaviour,.

 Paul said words to the effect "Replace this behaviour, which is not convenient, by the giving of thanks."  Here in verse 20 he urges us to thank God at all times for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 We live in an age when everything is taken for granted. This attitude has even crept into the church.       What a difference it makes when we give thanks in everything.

 

The Importance and Significance of the Marriage Relationship

 The ideal husband - wife situation is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and his Church. 

 That is Why Satan seeks to destroy the Institution of Marriage !

 Paul speaks of this as being a "great mystery."

 Christ's love-work for the Church is three-fold:-             past,    present    and    future.

 

 (1)     Past       It was because of His love that He gave Himself to redeem the Church (v. 25).

 (2)     Present    It is in love that He is sanctifying the Church (v. 26).

 (3)     Future      It is for the reward of His sacrifice and His labour of love that He will present the Church to Himself in flawless perfection (v. 27).

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The Bible is full of illustrations with respect to this relationship between Christ and His Church.

 eg.  Joseph and his Gentile bride Asenath.

 Asenath,  is a type of the Church, called out from the Gentiles to be the bride of Christ during the time of His rejection by His brethren, Israel.     (Acts 15:14 Eph 5:31 Eph 5:32).

 While nowhere, in scripture, is it asserted that Joseph was a type of Christ, the analogies are too numerous to be accidental. 

 Here are some of the analogies that are evident:-

 Both Joseph and Jesus

(1)   Were special objects of a father's love             (Gen 37:3 Matt 3:17 John 3:35 John 5:20)

(2)   Were hated by their brethren         (Gen37:4John 15:25)

(3)   Were rejected by their brethren      (Gen 37:8 Matt 21:37-39John 15:24 Johnn 15:25)

(4)   Their brethren conspired against them to slay them     (Gen 37:18 Matt 26:3 Matt 26:4)

(5)   Joseph was, in intent and figure, slain by his brethren, as was Christ.     (Gen 37:24; Matt 27:35-37)

(6)   Each became a blessing among the Gentiles, and gained a Gentile bride.   (Gen 41:1-45 Acts 15:14  Eph 5:25-32)

(7)  Just as Joseph reconciled his brethren to himself, and afterward exalted them, so will it be with Christ and His Jewish brethren. 

                                                                                                                 (Gen 45:1-15; Deut 30:1-10; Hos 2:l4-18; Rom 11:1;  Rom11:15; Rom 11:25; Rom 11:26)

 Paul speaks of :-                Relationships Within The Church

  (a)   In Our Personal Relationships

 In the realm of personal relationships in the church, we are to honour Christ by submitting to each other.    

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This means that we are to be considerate to each other and look to the well being of others rather that being selfish in our behaviour.

  (b)   In The Marriage Relationship

Marriage is an “Object Lesion” of the relationship between Christ and His Church.

  It is God who, in the beginning, ordained family life. 

 God has ordained that the man is the head of the family and as such is responsible to God for his family. 

 The willing subjection of the Church to Christ should be reproduced in the submission of wives to their husbands. 

 God requires that wives acknowledge this and must submit to their husband's leadership in the same way as they submit to the Lord. 

 This is not a licence for a husband to dominate his wife, for Paul goes on to instruct husbands to give to their wives the same sort of sacrificial love that Christ gave to the Church. 

 Christ gave Himself for the Church to make her holy and perfect, free from any spots or blemishes. 

 A man should, says the apostle, give to his wife the love which he naturally has for himself. 

 This love is the natural extension of his self-love to enfold his wife. 

 Mutual love and respect between husband and wife is therefore the divine command. 

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 What a contrast with the pagan view.

 The Pagan View. 

 In Paul's time, pagans saw women as inferior beings, playthings for the dominant male. To be "head of the house" was to accept the common notion that authority was the male's rightful providence. Children and wives were only responsible to obey. 

 The wife was not equal to her husband as a person, or in any other way. 

His needs and concerns dominated the household, and the wife existed to fulfill those needs and to serve him.

 The Christian View. 

 The Christian view is quite different. Women are seen as persons of equal worth and value. In the structure of society, men are given the role of head of the house, a role affirmed by God in this passage. 

 But the husband’s headship is modeled on the way Christ loved the church, not on human systems of authority. 

 Eph 5:27 portrays Christ as giving Himself up for the church "to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." 

 In pursuit of this ministry, Christ nourishes and cares for the church. 

 In the same way, husbands are to nurture their wives, seeking always to help the wife grow as a person and as a Christian.

 What a contrast with the pagan view! 

 Suddenly things are reversed. The wife is transformed from an unimportant appendage, who exists only to meet her husband's needs, to a person of intrinsic worth and value, becoming the focus of her husband's concern. 

Instead of demanding that she live for him, he begins to live for her! 

 Rather than keeping her under, he seeks to lift her up. Christian headship lifts the wife up as the rightful object of a husband's loving concern.

 In this context, the husband serves by being a Christ-like head; the wife serves in responsive submission to one who lifts her up and holds her beside him.

 

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21/02/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians
(Eph 4:1-32)

"The Believer's Conduct and Calling"


Paul now turns to the subject of Christian conduct. Notice the impact of the words that he uses here in the first verse, “I ...beseech you.” Beseech is such an emotive word, it means to beg, implore, plead, entreat.

What is it, then, that Paul is so concerned about?

It is this - that we live our lives as befits our calling. Let us never forget that ours is a calling. We have not chosen to follow Christ, rather He has chosen us and called us.

Peter says that we have been called out of darkness, into His marvellous light. cf. 1Peter:2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”


The Believer’s Conduct and Calling

4: 1.” I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. –“


Calling and conduct: --


1. Our Conduct Should Correspond with our Calling

For two reasons …….

             1. From a sense of gratitude.

Because of

             2. The Source from which the Calling originated.


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2. Certain Virtues Ought to Characterise a Believer

These are essentially the “Fruit of The Spirit”

                                 [ Love, Joy, Peace; Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness;  Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control. ]

Firstly …..

Because of what these virtues are in themselves.

and secondly ……… because they promote "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."


THE NATURE OF THE BELIEVER'S CALLING

What is the Nature of our Calling ?


It is a ……

              1. Holy Calling (2 Tim 1:9).
              2. High Calling (Phil 3:14).
              3. Heavenly Calling (1 Tim 1:17).
              4. Profitable calling (1 Tim 4:8).


The Principles and Privileges of Our Calling


Furthermore, we need to …..

Understand the …….

          1. Principles of our calling (Eph 1:17).

          2. Privileges of the calling (Eph 3:16-19).

and we need to

          3. Cultivate the spirit of the calling (Eph 4:2,3).

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and we must

4. Perform the Duties of the calling (John 14:23).

in our …..

               1. Civil life (Eph 4:25).

               2. Religious life (Eph 4:24).

               3. Domestic life (Eph 6:1-9).


Paul says that we are to do this with humility, gently submitting ourselves to each other in love.

Doing all that is in our power to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


         The Seven Unities of The Spirit


These are:-

                                    1. One Body 2. One Spirit 3. One Hope 4. One Lord 5. One Faith 6. One Baptism 7. One God and Father


1. One body.
The Church is the body of Christ and we are members in particular. The body is not to be fragmented or scattered it is to be united. Paul has more to say on this subject later in the epistle.

2. One Spirit.
It is the unity of the Spirit which bonds the body together, for we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body and, just as our body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost so, too, is the body of Christ. 

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3. One Hope.

We are called in one hope of our calling. Remember that “hope” in Scripture is not some tentative desire, but is a sure, reality. Our “blessed hope” is the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


4. One Lord.

We have only one Lord, He is unique, there none like unto Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords - His Name is Jesus.


5. One Faith.

Paul spells out “the faith” in 1 Cor 15 where he declares the gospel which he preached - “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: ..............”


6. One Baptism.
In 1Cor:12:13: Paul writes “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Baptism in this sense means the initiation into the body of Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit via the “New Birth.”


7. One God and Father.

One God and Father who is:-


        1. above all     and     2. through all     and     3. in all

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul says:-

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But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” 1Cor 8:6.

 

Christ’s Ministry Gifts to His Body

In 1 Cor 12 8-28, Paul deals with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as enduing the members of the body of Christ with the enablements for service.

Here in Eph 4:7-16 Paul describes certain Spirit - endued men as themselves being the gifts bestowed by Christ upon His body the church. In 1 Corinthians the gifts are spiritual enablements for a specific service, in Ephesians the gifts are men who have such enablements.

These gifts to the church are:-      apostles,     prophets,     pastors,     evangelists     and     teachers.

In bestowing these gifts the Lord determines, through the Spirit, the places of their service. Some local churches need one gift eg. an evangelist, others need rather a pastor or teacher. Nothing in Christ’s service is left to mere human choice - ”And some He gave ........ ”

The purpose of the ministry gifts, Paul says, is for:-

       1. the perfecting of the saints
       2. the work of the ministry
       3. the edifying of the body of Christ.

While positionally we are now “perfect,” experientially we are being perfected ie. being conformed unto the image ( express likeness) of His Son.

The work of the ministry is service, that is the meaning of miistry. All of this is for the building up of the body Christ.

God desires that we should become mature in Him, no longer behaving like children, swayed about by every new doctrine that is put forward by those seek their own and not the things of God.

True maturity means growing up “into” Christ. God desires for us to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head.

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He points out that it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints which it is provided with, grows to full maturity in love by the correct functioning of the individual parts.

    The Believer - a “New Man” in Christ

Paul instructs them to live no longer according to the manner of the gentiles, given over to sin and degradation, practising every form of impurity which lust can suggest.

But rather to put on the “new man,” the new life which is according to God’s design for righteousness and holiness.

This “New man” is not just an improved version of the “old man” but the regenerate man having become a partaker of the divine nature. The “new man” is Christ, formed in the believer.

 

Paul commands us to:-

Have done with lying and speak the truth. If angry, be sure that it is not out of wounded pride or bad temper.
Never go to bed angry.

Don’t give the devil any sort of foothold in our life.

Don’t steal. Use only language that is edifying.

Never cause the Holy Spirit to grieve, for He is the personal pledge of our full redemption.

Put away any bitterness, resentment, self-assertiveness, slander and malice. Instead be kind to one another and show understanding, being as ready to forgive others as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us.

This is what our walk will be like if we allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives.

6

Because ……..

THE OBJECT OF THE CALLING            (1 Peter 5:10).


……. the object of our calling is …… to Glorify God.


10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.                
1 Peter 5:10-11 KJV

 

Our prayer should be:-

                                                                                        Have Thine own way Lord, 

                                                                                        Have Thine own way, 

                                                                                        Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.

                                                                                        Mould me and make me, after Thy will,

                                                                                       while I am waiting, yielded and still.

 

7

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14/02/2021

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 2:11- 3:21)

 BACKGROUND 

 Next to Rome, Ephesus was the most important city Paul visited on his missionary journeys. 

The main city of the Roman province of Asia, it was a populous port city, important as a centre for commerce, religion, and politics.

 It had two great architectural wonders, the temple of Diana and a 50,000-seat theatre (Acts 19:29). 

It also had a stadium or race course that often hosted fights between men and wild beasts (see 1 Cor 9:24-25; 15:32 -- words written from Ephesus).

 Paul visited Ephesus during his second journey, a visit cut short by his haste to return to Jerusalem (Acts 18:19-21). He visited again on his third journey and remained there for three years (Acts 19-20).

 He later sent Timothy to Ephesus as his representative. After Paul's death, the apostle John made Ephesus his headquarters until his death, by which time the Ephesian church had "fallen from [its] first love" (Rev 2:1-7).

 The RECIPIENTS 

 The words "in Ephesus" (1:1) are missing in some important Greek manuscripts. This, coupled with the fact that there are no personal greetings in the letter and no specific church problem is addressed, has given rise to the idea that Ephesians was originally a cyclical letter, intended for circulation among the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev 2-3). 

However, the majority of  Greek manuscripts do include "in Ephesus," and none of those manuscripts indicate any other destination. 

 Ephesians may have been intended as a cyclical letter, being first sent to Ephesus, the main city of Asia, where Paul had made his headquarters as he ministered throughout the region (Acts 19:10). 

 Having received a good report about these churches (1:15), and hearing that Tychicus (6:21) was ready to make a trip to Ephesus, Paul seized the opportunity to send a letter.

 The PURPOSE

  • To teach about the church as the body of Christ, composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers 
  • To exhort believers to conduct themselves properly toward one another because of their oneness in Christ  
  • To equip them for spiritual warfare 
  • Ephesians addresses no specific church problem.
  • It is one of the least personal of Paul's letters. There is almost no personal greeting, and only two personal names appear: Paul and Tychicus.
  • The phrase "in the heavenly realms" occurs five times here (1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12), and nowhere else in Scripture.
  • Paul used three great figures of speech to illustrate our union with Christ:* building (2:21-22)* body (1:22-23; 4:15)* bride (5:25-32)

COMPARISON WITH OTHER BIBLE BOOKS 

 Joshua:

  • Joshua deals with the conquest and possession of the Promised Land, the "earthly realms"; Ephesians deals with our taking possession of our promised "heavenly realms" (see exposition on 1:1-6).

Colossians:

  • The content of 78 of the 155 verses in Ephesians is repeated in Colossians with only slight differences; 78 out of the 95 verses in Colossians resemble Ephesians:* Both epistles stress the relationship between Christ the head and the church his body.* Ephesians emphasizes the body, while Colossians emphasizes the head.

Philippians; Timothy; Philemon:

  • Like these epistles, Ephesians was written while Paul was in prison in Rome, with 2 Timothy coming during his second imprisonment when death was at hand.

We now pick where we left off.            (Eph 2:11- 3:21)

 Paul reminds the Ephesians, who in the main were Gentile believers,  as to what their position, as gentiles, had been. 

 1.   The Gentile Position by Nature

 At that time they were without Christ and were aliens from the common - wealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise.

 In Gen 17 we are told that God made Covenant with Abraham – a covenant of Promise. In this covenant, God promised that Abraham would be “the father of many nations”  and gave him the title deeds of the land of Canaan.  

 Indeed, the extent of the land covered all the land from the Mediterranean Sea in the West to the River Euphrates in the East and from Hamath in the North ) NE of Damascas)  to the “River of Egypt” and Kadesh in the South. God promised all of this to Abraham and his descendents through the line of Isaac. God told Abraham that his descendents would be in bondage for 400 years before being brought forth to enter the “Land of The Promise.”  Subsequently, God brought  the children of Israel into an organized body, the Common-wealth of Israel with Laws and regulations and a visible system of worship with a local habitation of worship - the Temple. 

 The sign of the covenant was that of circumcision. 

 Gentiles had no part in this covenant, they were strangers from the covenants of Promise, aliens, having no hope and without God in the world  ( world  =  kosmos  =  mankind). 

 Paul points out here that this too was the positions of the Ephesians and this position is ours, as Gentiles, outside of Christ. 

 We were aliens, without hope, without God in the world. 

 2.   The Believers’ Position in Christ

 BUT now we like them, who once were far off have been made nigh by the blood of Christ and  Now we are accepted in the beloved. 

 Paul says here that He ( Jesus ) has broken down the middle wall of partition between us ie.  Jew and Gentile believers.

 This is a reference to the fact that in the Temple, Gentiles were only allowed into the outer court - the Court of the Gentiles only Jews could enter into the Temple proper. 

 Now, Jew and Gentile are united in one body in Christ  “for He is our peace who hath made both into one.” 

 As Paul writes in Gal:3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

 Paul uses the analogy of a “new man” (v. 15) this referring here not to the individual believer but to the Church, considered as the body of Christ.

Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God into one body by Christ’s death on the Cross where He destroyed the enmity between – on one hand God and Man  and on the other hand the enmity between Jew and Gentile. 

In the atonement made for sin upon the Cross Christ has made into one both Jew and Gentile. Access to the Father is through Christ and through Him alone “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tm:2:5).

 Therefore we are no longer strangers and aliens but fellow citizens with the saints; we are now members of the household of God.

 3.   The Church 

 A Temple for the habitation of God

 Just as the Church is the body of Christ,  it is also the Temple of God. In verses 20 - 22, Paul uses the analogy of a physical building.   He describes the apostles and prophets as being the foundations, with the Lord Jesus Christ as the Chief Corner Stone.  Individual believers are the stones which join together to comprise the building as a Holy Temple for the habitation of God. 

Looked at from this view point, the “Temple” is being built, and is almost complete. When the last stone is in place and the building is completed, then Christ will come for His Church. 

Another analogy is with the body, when the body is complete, then Christ will return to take us unto Himself.

 The Mystery of the Church

 That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Rom 9:24-33).  The “mystery”  was that God purposed to make a wholly new thing - the Church - composed of both Jew and Gentile, in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears. In scripture, a mystery is something which God has chosen not to reveal. The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold but not explained by the Lord Jesus Christ in (Matt 16:18), was committed to the Apostle Paul. Paul was given this revelation by the Lord during his time in Arabia after his conversion.

 It is in Paul’s writings alone -  the Pauline Epistles - that we find the doctrine, position, walk and destiny of the Church. The mystery, Paul says is simply this: that the Gentiles, who were previously excluded from God’s Covenants, are to be equal partners in God’s promise given by Christ through the Gospel.

 4.   The Dispensation of the Grace of God

 Here, in Eph 3:1-21, Paul states the purpose of his letter namely to teach them about the mystery of the Church and its purpose. 

Paul could never get over the feeling of his own unworthiness (cf. v 8) for he regarded himself as being less than the least of all saints. 

Yet God had chosen him to be the means of preaching the Good News of the unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles.

 We are living in what Paul terms the “Dispensation of the Grace of God.”  

The term “Dispensation” simply means a period of time during which God deals with mankind according to a certain set of criteria. 

 During the time between the Cross and Christ’s return for His Church (the Rapture) God is dealing with mankind according to His Grace.

[ That is not to say that people in the Old Testament were not the recipients of God’s Grace ]

 5.  God’s purpose for the Church

 The Church was no after-thought in the mind of God but was purposed by Him from the beginning and had been hidden in the Mind of God from the beginning of the world (v 9). 

The purpose, says Paul, is that all the angelic powers should now see the complex wisdom of God being worked out through the Church in accordance with the His eternal purpose which He centred in Christ Jesus.  It is in the Church, the Body of Christ comprising both Jew and Gentile that God’s purpose for this age is revealed.

It is because of our position in Christ Jesus that we can approach God with confidence - the faith of Him.

 6.   Paul’s prayer for the Saints

 It was because of his ministry that Paul was suffering a period of imprisonment. Paul was the prisoner of the authorities but He did not regard it as such - Paul describes himself as  the “Prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles.” (v.1) However, Paul urges them not to be discouraged on account of his sufferings but rather to feel honoured.

 Paul says that it is for this reason, when he thinks of the greatness of this great plan, that he falls upon his knees before God the Father after whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Paul’s prayer is this - that out of the glorious riches of God’s resources He will enable them, and us, to know the strength of the in-dwelling Spirit. 

 That is that Christ may actually live in our hearts by faith and that, being rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints the true extent of the love of Christ. Paul acknowledges that God’s love is so vast that it is beyond the capacity of our comprehension.

 7.   Paul’s Doxology of Praise

 Having got all this off his chest, Paul bursts forth into a glorious doxology of praise to the Lord.

 Paul just cannot contain himself and here, in the middle of this letter, erupts with  this outburst of praise to God.

Now unto Him, who by His power within us is able to do infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask or imagine - to him be glory in the church By Christ Jesus for ever and ever Amen!

 We often associate “Amen” with bringing a prayer to a conclusion. 

 Amen simply means “so be it.” 

  Paul has much more to impart to the saints at Ephesus  as we shall discover in the succeeding chapters.

 Oh that we, this morning,  may be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. 

 That we might be rooted and grounded in love and be able to appreciate and understand the love of Christ; and that we might be filled with all the fullness of God.

 May it be so:-   for His Name’s sake.  

 Amen!

_______________________________________

 

7/02/21

The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

(Eph 1:15 - 2:10)

 

 Paul's Prayer for The Saints

 Ever since Paul had learned of the existence of the church at Ephesus he had never stopped praying for them.  The burden of Paul's prayer for them was two fold - namely that God would grant them:-

 1.  Spiritual Wisdom   and   2. Spiritual Understanding

 1. Spiritual Wisdom

 That God, the Father would grant them wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Never forget this    -    the source of all our wisdom is The Father Himself  -  through knowing The Son. 

 The last book in the Bible commences with the words –   "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him...."

 and Revelation ends with the solemn warning –    "And if any man shall take away from the words of this book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life." 

 Oh that we might  know more of Him.

 2.  Spiritual Understanding

 When God grants us spiritual understanding a whole new area of knowledge is opened up to us:-

(a)    The hope of His calling   (b)    The Riches of His inheritance  (c)    The greatness of His  power.

 

 (a)  The Hope of His Calling

 "18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,"       Eph 1:18-20 

The nature of His Calling ........

 His calling is ……..         .   High   

                                        .   Heavenly

                                        .   Holy

 The High Calling of God

 Our calling is not a lowly one for,  in Phil 3:14, Paul tells us that  it is a high calling - he says it is …….  “ the high calling of God."

 14   “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”   Phil 3:14 KJV

 A Heavenly Calling

 In Hebrews 3:1 we are told that it is ……. "a heavenly calling.”

 "1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house."     Heb 3:1-2  KJV

 A Holy Calling

 In 2Tim 1:9 Paul states that it is a "holy calling" which is - "not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace."

 The Anomaly of God’s Choice !

 Writing to the  Corinthians, Paul states that “not many wise men, according to the flesh, not many noble not many mighty are called  but God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the things which are mighty."  1 Cor 1:26,27) 

[NB Paul says "not many"  not "not any?"]

 Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul urges believers – “to abide in the same calling” (1 Cor 7:20-24).

 In The Light of This …..

 Peter, in his second  epistle,  urges believers to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure." (2 Pet 1:10) 

 However, note that …

 In Roman 11:29 Paul teaches us that -  "the Gifts and calling of God are without repentance." 

 That is to say, God will not go back on His Word.

 May we be counted worthy of being “Chosen By Him”

In 2 Thess 1:11,12 Paul expresses his desire that we should – “be worthy of this calling  and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us and us in Him.”

 May our lives glorify Him !

(b) The Riches of His Inheritance

 Note how Paul phrases this - “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” 

 Just think about this phrase -  “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”  

 He is the Lord of glory!          The universe and its contents belong to Him! 

 

Him who, as Paul says in Phil 2:9, "has been given the Name which is above all other names"  - has an inheritance in the saints.

  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:10. 

 In his Epistle to the Colossians, Paul writes - “Giving thanks unto the Father,  which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Col 1:12.

 In Acts 26:18 we find Paul testifying to King Agrippa that the Lord Jesus Christ had called him to go to the Gentiles  -  “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”   Acts 26:18.

 This is what Peter says on this subject

 Peter, in his first epistle, tells us that God has “begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet 1:3,4,5.

 All this is possible because of The Atonement - “For this cause He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Heb 9:15.

 (c) The Greatness of His Power

 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:   Eph 1:19-21 KJV

 Paul delights in the use of superlatives - here he refers to “the exceeding riches of His power.”

 There is no doubting the mighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ, for this was demonstrated time and time again during His earthly ministry. 

 He healed the sick, opened blind eyes, un-stopped deaf ears, made the lame to walk and even raised the dead. He cast out demons and stilled the tempest with the phrase “peace, be still.” 

 However, the exceeding greatness of His power is demonstrated to us by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  

 Now, He is far above all else, be they principality and power, might and dominion. Christ is exalted to be head over all things to the church, which is His body.

 This is further demonstrated in the fact that He has brought us to new life in Him.

 Paul now proceeds to deal with the past, present, and future of us believers.

 In The Past Before we were saved, we were dead in:-

 (a)  trespasses   (b)  sins and   (c)  conducted our lives according to the manner of this world.

Our lives were dominated by the prince of the power of the air -  Satan.  

In this respect we were no different to anyone else because this is the same spirit which is at work in the world.  

We lived according to the dictates of the flesh and were – “by nature children of wrath, even as others.”

 In The Present

 God, who is rich in mercy has:-

      (a)     Quickened us together in Christ.  (ie made us alive) 

      (b)     Raised us up together and made us

      (c)     Sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

And all because of His great love wherewith He has loved us. 

In The  Future

That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace toward us through Christ Jesus."

 

The Method of Salvation

 Throughout this letter Paul emphasizes our dependence upon God’s grace. In verse 5 he interjects the phrase “by grace are ye saved” and in verses 8,9 and 10 Paul explains how Salvation is the gift of God by His grace and that the mechanism by which that grace becomes effective is through faith; this is God’s way. 

 

 In the words of the hymn-writer:-

 

         Nought have I gotten, but what I received,

         Grace hath bestowed it, since I have believed,

         Boasting excluded, pride I abase,

         I’m only a sinner, saved by Grace.

 

         Only a sinner, saved by Grace,

         This is my story, to God be the glory,

          I’m only a sinner, saved by Grace.

 

And .... "Now, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them."  

 

To Him be The Glory  Now and forever ....  Amen

 

---------------------------------------

31/01/21

Holocaust Remembrance  Day

 

Sunday 27th January has been designated by the EU and the UN  as  “International Holocaust Remembrance Day”

 The stated objective of this initiative is to encourage peoples and nations to take proactive action against anti-semitism which is becoming increasingly prevalent in Europe and the Middle East.

 The term – “Holocaust”  means “Immense Destruction” – especially by fire cf. the effect of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshema and Nagasaki at the end of WW 2.

Another aspect of the meaning of the word “holocaust” is “Burnt Offering.”

 In our age ie for the last 70 years or so the term has been almost exclusively used to describe the horrors involved in the mass murder of 6 million Jews during the barbaric rule of Hitlers Third Reich.

 The Call to Remembrance is Necessary Because:-

     The old lies of the past are being repeated in Europe and even the historical facts of the Holocaust are being denied, questioned and brought into doubt. 

     Israel and The Jewish People are Under Threat

     The Resurgence of anti-semitic feeling in Europe  -  people on the streets chanting “Death to the Jews”

     The blatant call by Hamas for the destruction of Israel – The palestinian government calling for the liquidation of Israel

     The open rejection of the holocaust by the President of Iran and his call for Israel to be wiped from the map.

 In addition there are academics like the Norwegian award winning author Justein Gaardner who  stated that “Israel has lost the right to exist”.

 

Why are the Jews as a People under Threat ?

         Because, according to the Bible……..          Israel  is God’s Servant

 The Servant of The Lord

 Now the Bible describes Messiah as “The Servant of The Lord” and in Isaiah 53 He is described as the Suffering Servant of the Lord.

 But Israel, the nation, is described also as: “The Servant of The Lord” who is also described as His suffering servant.  cf.  Isaiah 41:8,9;   Isaiah 42:19;  Isaiah 43:10;  Isaiah 44:1,2;  Isaiah 49:7.

 

 Israel’s Sufferings are:-

 Redemptive      Corrective      Instructive

 Redemptive

 Israel is God’s Vehicle of World Redemption.

 Jesus is a Jew  

 Rom 1:1-3     “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God  2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”                                                               NKJV

 Salvation is of the Jews 

 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.”        John 4:22 KJV

 Through the Jews we have the Word of God

   “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?   Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”   Rom 3:1-2 KJV

 

Corrective

 God chose the Jews to be a blessing unto all the nation on the earth and warns that:-

 People and Nations should be careful in their dealings with Israel and Jews

 Gen 12:2-3     2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you  And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.  3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."               NKJV

 Zech 2:8    “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye”     KJV

 

  Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome explained God’s purpose in respect of His people, Israel. [Rom 11:1-32]

 

800 years prior to Paul’s letter to the Romans, Isaiah had written this prophetic word. [Isa 62:1-4]

 

 Isa 62:1-4        1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. 2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. 3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. 4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.          KJV

 

God's Promise to Abraham

God made a promise to Abraham recorded in Genesis Chapter 12:-

God said:-         "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curses thee: and in thee shall all the families of the Earth be blessed."  Gen 12:3

 

This promise is ultimately fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ in that there is salvation in none other.

 

As Paul said to the Philippian gaoler.  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."    Acts 16:31

Jesus said:-  "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."

 

_____________________________________

 

 

Paul's Epistle to The Saints at Ephesus

The Apostolic Greeting

 Paul begins by stating the authority of his apostleship.  He is an apostle - by the will of God. Paul never got over the sense of wonder that God should choose him, who he himself describes, as "the least of all saints..." ( 1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8 ). 

 The letter  is addressed to - "the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus."   This extends the greeting to include the saints in every age and at every place - ie. to you and to me. 

 Paul extends grace and peace to the saints from both God, the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 And there we have it, right at the very beginning of the letter, our position   -   is in Christ Jesus

 This is an expression which is repeated throughout the letter. 

 Everything that we have, and are, and ever will be, is because of this established relationship in Him. 

The key word which recurs throughout this letter is the word " in."  The first chapter is particularly rich in the word, indeed verse one declares the basis of our security it is -  "in Christ Jesus."  It is because of our position  "in Him" that we can rest assured of our eternal security. Everything that we have and are  and ever will be is because of this established relationship in Him.

 The word  "In" 

 The letter is addressed to the "faithful in Christ Jesus."   

 We are blessed with all spiritual blessings , in heavenly places in Christ (v. 3). This term "heavenly places" means, literally, "in the heavenlies."  The "heavenlies" may be defined as the sphere of our spiritual experience in Christ. Believers are spiritual people, strangers and pilgrims  on the earth.

 Paul says here that we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world  (v. 4). 

The purpose of this ?  To be holy and blameless before Him in love  (v. 4). 

 To this end God has predestined us to be adopted into His family (v. 5).

 And we have been accepted in the beloved  (v. 6).

 The word  "According"  

 Another word which is repeated in the letter is …… "according."

 None of the blessings of the Lord come to us according to our deserving but according to His choosing (v.4).

So, we have been chosen, adopted and accepted and been granted the forgiveness of sins.  

 On what grounds? 

 On redemption ground according to the riches of His grace (v. 7). 

 All  this is according to the good pleasure of His will (v.5), according to His purpose (v.11) and according to the working of His mighty power (v.19).

 Predestinated unto the Adoption of Children

 Predestination

 Predestination is that effective exercise of the will of God by which things determined by Him are brought to pass.

  Predestination is one part of that trinity of divine processes namely:-

                                                                     Election,   Foreknowledge,   and   Predestination

 The divine order is:-  foreknowledge, election, predestination.  

 1 Peter 1:2 makes it clear that it is foreknowledge which determines election, and that predestination is the bringing to pass of the election

 Election, which means "chosen," is wholly of grace and proceeds from the divine will. 

 Election  and predestination are always related to the saints and their sanctification. And are not to be interpreted in the sense that some are predetermined for salvation while others are predetermined to be lost. 

 Election is the sovereign act of God whereby certain elect persons are chosen for distinctive service for Him

 cf Luke 6:13 Where Jesus chose, from among His disciples twelve,  whom he named, apostles.

 Acts 9:15  The Lord said of Saul "he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles..."

 1 Cor 1:27,28  God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.............." 

 

Election looks back to foreknowledge, and predestination looks forward to the destiny.

 
 Nowhere does scripture tell us what it is in the divine foreknowledge which determines the election and predestination.  What scripture does declare is that the foreknown are elected  and the elect are predestinated, and that this election is certain to every believer by the mere fact that he believes. It is because we have first trusted in Christ (v.12) that God has predetermined that we should be continuously transformed into the full likeness of His dear Son, that we should be to His praise.

 The Adoption of Children

 The word huiothesia, translated "adoption," meaning "placing as a son," is not so much a word of relationship as of position. Our relationship to God as  a child results from our being "born again (John 1:12,13), whereas adoption is the act of God whereby one, already a child, is placed in the position of an adult son through redemption from the law (Gal 4:5,6,7).  It is the operation of the Holy Spirit which brings about the realization of this fact in our present experience but the full manifestation of our sonship will occur in what the scriptures call the "redemption of the body"  (Rom  8:23  1 Thess 4:14-17) at the coming of Christ for His saints. Then we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

 The Mystery of His Will

 This is "that in the dispensation of the fullness of times" He might gather together in one, all things in Christ. 

 The Dispensation of the fullness of times is the final dispensation in God's dealings with mankind.

 God has dealt with man (1) Under Innocence in the Garden of Eden; (2) under Conscience before the Flood; (3) under Human Government between the Flood and Babel; (4) under the Headship of the Family with the Patriarchs; (5) under observance of God's Law before Christ; and (6) now under Grace until the return  of the  Lord Jesus Christ.  When Christ returns in Glory  with His saints to exercise (7) His rule of Righteousness which will last for a thousand years, man will have been tested under every conceivable set of conditions, only to have failed because those which are passed came to an end in judgment and those yet to come will also end in judgment. 

 The present age  will end with the Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21 and Rev 16:1-21) and even the Age of Righteousness will end in apostasy after Satan has been "loosed from the Bottomless Pit"  (Rev 20:7-15).

 It is then that the "Perfect Age" the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" will be ushered in and there will be a "New Heaven" and a "New Earth" "Wherein Dwelleth Righteousness (Rev 21 and  2 Pet 3:13.  It is this "Perfect Kingdom" that Christ surrenders to the Father (1 Cor 15:24-28).

 What these Ages of Ages will reveal of the Plan and Purpose of God, we do not  know for these are in the "Mystery of His Will." This great era is still over a thousand years in the  future and is not the end of things - eternity is yet young!

 The Seal of the Holy Spirit

 This is our inheritance in Christ! and the proof of this lies in the very fact that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting Him as Lord and Saviour.

 We are "Born of the Spirit" and have been sealed by Him (v. 13). 

 What we have here and now is "the earnest of the Spirit."

 In the symbolism of Scripture a seal signifies:-

 1.  A  Completed Transaction.              2.  Ownership                          3.  Security

 The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal.  He has completed  the transaction, we are now Divine property and our eternal future is secure.

 

What a privilege it is to belong to the Living God,  to be His purchased possession,   His property!

 May our daily lives testify to the position we have in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

 

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1.

The Purpose of The Church


Acts 2:42 could be considered a purpose statement for the church:-

  “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

  According to this verse, the purposes/activities of the church should be:-

           1.         teaching biblical doctrine,     

           2.         providing a place of fellowship for believers,

           3.         observing the Lord’s supper,

           4.         praying.


The church is to teach biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith.

 

Ephesians 4:14 tells us, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

  The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can:-

  •    be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10),
  •     instruct one another (Romans 15:14),
  •   be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32),
  •    encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11),

 and most importantly ……

  •     love one another (1 John 3:11).



The church is to be a place where believers can observe the “Breaking of Bread”, remembering Christ’s death and shed blood on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

  The concept of “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42) also carries the idea of having meals together.

This is another example of the church promoting fellowship.

 

The final purpose of the church according to Acts 2:42 is prayer.

The church is to be a place that promotes prayer, teaches prayer, and practices prayer.

  Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Another commission given to the church is proclaiming the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

The church is called to be faithful in sharing the gospel through word and deed.

The church is to be a “lighthouse” in the community, pointing people toward our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The church is to both promote the gospel and prepare its members to proclaim the gospel (1 Peter 3:15).


Some final purposes of the church are given in James 1:27:

 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

The church is to be about the business of ministering to those in need.

This includes not only sharing the gospel, but also providing for physical needs (food, clothing, shelter) as necessary and appropriate.

The church is also to equip believers in Christ with the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the world. This is done by biblical teaching and Christian fellowship.

So, what is the purpose of the church ?

Paul gave an excellent illustration to the believers in Corinth.

The church is God’s hands, mouth, and feet in this world—the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

We are to be doing the things that Jesus Christ would do if He were here physically on the earth.

The church is to be “Christian,” “Christ-like,” and “Christ-following.”

 

**********************************

 

2.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

  The world has had enough of religion. Religion is man trying to reach God. Man has been trying ever since the Fall to do that.

Christianity is not just another religion.  Christianity is Christ Himself........it is God reconciling the world to Himself through His One and Only Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus. Christ died for us. He fought our  battle.   He won the victory for us.   

 He was our substitute.He did for us  -  what we could not do for ourselves.

  1.   Man's Condition Before God

  The Bible tells us that Mankind is “lost in sin and shapen in iniquity.”     

It goes on to say that  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”      

And that “there is none righteous, no not one.”

“The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desparately wicked.”

“Our sin has separated us  from God.”

  2.  God's Love For Mankind

Calvary demonstrates the extent  of God's love for us.

“For God  so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ...........”

 "But God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

Christ died in my place.

3. Christ’s  Substitutary Death

  On the Cross, Christ became my substitute.

  He bore our sin in His body on the tree.

  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  “He was wounded for our transgressions.............”

4.  Christ's Resurrection is  My Guarantee

  Christianity is more than a religion  -   it is Christ Himself.

  Every other religion has been founded by someone who is now dead and gone.

Budda is dead …..   Confucius is dead …..  Mohammad is dead….

  BUT  Jesus Christ is Alive.......today !   

  In other religions the death of the founder doesn't matter, his teachings, way of life, ritual is passed on from one generation to another.

  BUT  WITH JESUS CHRIST IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that He  is still alive.

  IF JESUS CHRIST IS NOT ALIVE THEN CHRISTIANITY IS A  SHAM.

  Because Christianity is  ……….      “Christ in Me the hope of glory.”

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to this.

  Everything depends upon the resurrection.

  What did people say about the resurrection at the  time?

  The  Jews claimed that the disciples stole the body while the guards slept. 

  BUT - They had done their best to ensure that this could not happen.

All they needed to do was to produce the body and dispel the rumours.

  5.  The Reality of the  Resurrection

Today, there are those who claim that Jesus never actually died but simply swooned on the cross and recovered in the  cool of the  tomb.

However someone  who had suffered such a flogging as He, and  who had been subjected to the torture of the cross could have recovered enough to escape from the grave-clothes let alone convince His followers of a triumphant resurrection is beyond comprehension.

In fact, initially His disciples did not believe that He had come back to life.

The whole of the account of the events which took place on that Easter Morn testify to the fact that the disciples did not believe initially that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Until.....they saw for themselves.Then, they witnessed something, which, completely transformed them from being timid, frightened, creatures into fearless witnesses to the resurrection. 

What was it?  What had happened to them?   They had met with the Risen Lord.

Have you met with the Risen Lord?   

When you meet Jesus in all His Risen Power then your life will be  transformed.

6.  The Relevance of the Resurrection

  If there had been no resurrection then we would have no grounds for salvation.  Paul wrote ....  “If Christ be not risen then ye are yet in your sin.”   

If there is no resurrection then ....... there is no hope of eternal life.

  His resurrection is the guarantee of our own.

  7.  The Evidence For the Resurrection

Paul writing to Corinth......1 Cor 15 deals with this very theme. There, Paul states that :-

            1.   Christ appeared to Peter

            and then to:-

            2.    The rest of the  apostles.

He then :-

             3.     Appeared to more than 500 believers at  the same time of whom many were still alive at  the time  Paul wrote that letter.

Then Paul describes what, to him,  was the most amazing thing of all  -  a post ascension appearance of Christ to Paul himself  on road to Damascus.

In 1 Cor 15 Paul  deals at great length with the subject of the resurrection of Christ and its relevance and importance to us.

 

8.  Christ’s Resurrection is the Basis for our Salvation

  Our faith, our eternal security depends upon this fact.

  If it is not true, then we are of all men most to be pitied.

  If it is not true, Christianity is founded on a lie  -  founded by a bunch of liers.

 Is this view the one which is in keeping with His  character or is it alien to the One who was willing to die in my stead that a soul, though unworthy might live.

  Yes, the path to the cross He was willing to tread all the sins of my life to forgive.

  He went to the  cross and lay down His life for me.

And God  gave His seal of approval by raising Him from the dead.

                         Up from the grave He arose.

                        With a mighty triumph o'er His foes .

                        He arose a victor fom the dark domain,

                        And He lives  for ever with His saints to reign.

                        He arose, He arose......

                        Hallelujah!  Christ Arose  !

 
 
                                                           **********************************
 
3.                                            The Ministry & Work of the Holy Spirit

 

 

 
The Holy Spirit …………
 
 

1.  Testifies of Jesus

 

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
 
                                                                                                                    John 15:26 KJV
 
2.  Convicts of Sin

 

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 
 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

    
                                                                                                                 John 16:8-11  KJV
 
3.  Brings about the New Birth

 

 
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
     
                                                                                                                 John 3:5-6 KJV
 
4.  Baptizes Believers into the Body of Christ

 

 

 
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    
                                                                                                                  1 Cor 12:13 KJV
 
5.  In-dwells individual believers
 

 

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
 
                                                                                                                      1 Cor 6:19-20  KJV
 
6   Restrains Sin

 

 
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is
 and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
 
                                                                                                                    2 Thess 2:5-8  NKJV
 
 
7.  Equips and Empowers  Believers  for Service

 

 
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 

                                                                                                                    Acts 1:8  NKJV

 

 
8.  Guides

 

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself;
but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
   
                                                                                                                     John 16:13 KJV
 
9.  Gives Peace

 

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

     
                                                                                                                      Rom 8:6  KJV
 
10.  Imparts Life

 

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin;
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you,
he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
 
                                                                                                                   Rom 8:9-11  KJV
 
11.  Intercedes for us

 

 
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:
but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,
because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
 
                                                                                                                    Rom 8:26-27  KJV
 
12.   Bestowes the Gifts of The Spirit

 

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits;
to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

                                                                                                                      1 Cor 12:4-11KJV

 

 
13.  Produces the Fruit of The Spirit in the Believer

 

 
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
 
                                                                                                                     Gal 5:22-23  KJV
 
14.  He Glorifies Jesus
 
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
                                                                                                                      John 16:14
 
 
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 4.

The General Epistle of Jude

Introduction:-  

                            Over the last three  months or so we have been considering the epistle to Hebrews. 

During the course of that study, we have seen that “Faith is the the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Heb 11

Last week we considered “Faith in Practise” Heb 13.

 

The General epistle of Jude, also highlights the importance of faith – the theme of Jude’s general letter to believers in the early church is that of “Contending for the Faith”   literally “Contending earnestly for the faith”

 

 

Theme:-                Contending For The Faith

 

 

Jude 3      Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.                                                                                

 

Writer;-  Jude, the brother of James.

 

Which James?     Most likely James  “the Lord’s brother” cf  Matt 13

55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[a] Simon, and Judas?

This is particularly relevant today cf. the Lord Jesus said:-

 “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find (the) Faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

 

 Contending earnestly for the faith

 

In this brief letter Jude predicts the apostasy which would come and how it would come about and how it should be dealt with.

 

Paul also predicted the coming apostasy in 2 Thess 2

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
 

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He[d] who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

And Peter 2 Pet 3:3,4

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

 

Contending for the Faith amongst believers and non-believers.

 

This letter is has five divisions:-

 

1.     Greeting      (vv 1,2)

2.     Purpose   (vv 3,4)

3.     Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)

4.     Characteristics of Apostate teachers  (vv 8-19)

5.     Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

 

 

1.      Greeting    vv 1, 2

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified[a] by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

NB  During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we are told that his “brethren” did not believe on Him.

Now, Jude (Judas) describes himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ!

 

Note how he describes the believes to whom he writes this letter  -  Called  Sanctified  Preserved

 

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

 

2.     Purpose   (vv 3,4)

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
 

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[b] and our Lord Jesus Christ.

NB.

“which was once for all delivered to the saints”.

Cf. Hebrews ch. 1     God’s Supreme Revelation

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 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[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they

.

1.    Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)

In the NT Apostasy is turning away from the truth revealed in the scriptures.

Eg. Dis-owning the name of Christafter having believed.

Perverting  apostolic doctrine.

Deliberately rejection the truth as revealed in scripture.

Apostasy is different from error which may result through ignorance

Or heresy which may result from the deception of Satan.

 Ie.   Apostasy is the act of a professing Christian who knowingly and deliberately revealed truth concerning the deity of Christ and redemption through His atoning sacrifice.

In the day and age in which we live there has been a falling away among professing Christians. 

Many of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith are no longer accepted.

Wrong is deemed to be right and right to be wrong.

The beliefs of the world have been brought into the “church” and many have become disillusioned.

 

This is quite apart from the onslaught of militant atheism against the church of Jesus Christ.

Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Thess 2

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

 

We are often urged to come together as the “Faith Sector” of society and all “faiths” are given equal credulance.

 

 

However, we have to stand firm and earnestly contend for the Faith that was once delivered.

 

This Faith does not “Change with the Times” is is steadfast and unchanging.

 

NB. Hebrews 13:8  “Jesus Christ the Same, yesterday, and today and forever.”

 

Heresy, error and apostasy hve always existed.  They existed in the O.T.

 

Jude cites the examples of Cain, and of Korah as well as that of Balaam and of Sodom & Gomorrah.

 

 

1.     The Characteristics of Apostate Teachers

 

 

Even these can be traced back to O.T. times.

 

Cain(Gen 4:1)    The type of the religious person who, believes in God, and religion BUT after his own ideas, will. Cain rejected God’s Way of redemption  - by blood.

Similarly apostate teacher seek to explain away the atonement.

 

Balaam (Num 22 et al)  Balaam used human reasoning and sought to obtain material gain from his prophetic gift.

 

Korah (Num 16) Refused to accept God’s authority through the ministry of Moses and Aaron.

 

Even some of the angels succombed to this sin v 6

 

Jude says here that certain people, ungodly people,  had crept in unawares, turning the Grace of God into lasciviousness.

 
  

Jude 16:16-19 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

 

ie. Grumblers; Complainers; Loud-mouths; Flatters; Mockers; Sensual.

 

5.  Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

 

Notice the contrast in verse 17 - 20

 

20 But  you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Judes Magnificent Doxology   ( vv 24-25)

 

24 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,

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power,  both now and ever.

Amen.

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5.

The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians

(Philippians 1:1-30)

Background

The church at Philippi was the first church to be founded in Europe. It came into being after Paul and his companions crossed over from Troas after having been given the "Macedonian Call." Philippi, capital city of Macedonia, was named after Philip of Macedonia the father of Alexander the Great.

The actual date of the epistle is uncertain but is generally accepted to have been written from Rome around 64 A.D. during Paul's imprisonment there and, as such, it is classed as one of the "Prison Letters."

The Subject of The Letter

The subject of the letter is that of "Christian Experience."

Paul uses the occasion to express his love for the saints at Philippi and his delight in their progress, for there appears to be nothing in their church order which required to be put right as soundness of doctrine is assumed.

Philippi is a "normal" New Testament assembly of "saints in Christ Jesus, with bishops (elders) and deacons."

 

The Occasion for The Letter

The particular purpose of the letter was to thank the church at Philippi for the gift they had sent to him, and Paul's desire to commend Epaphroditus to them.

 

As to the apostle himself, his circumstances are in striking contrast with his Christian experience.

Although Paul was Nero's prisoner but in spirit he was free and rejoicing in Christ.

From this it is clear that Christian experience is not something which is going on around us but rather that which is happening within us.

The key verse of Philippians is Phil 1:21 "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

True Christian experience is the outworking of the life, nature and mind of Christ living in us, no matter what our personal circumstances might be.

The letter divides quite neatly into the four chapters in which Pauldescribes Christ as the believer’s:-

                                                 1. Life 2. Pattern, 3. Object 4. Strength

The Theme

 

The Theme throughout is that of Rejoicing

1. Rejoicing in Suffering.

 

2. Rejoicing in Service.

3. Rejoicing despite Imperfections.

4. Rejoicing over Anxiety.

 

1. Christ, The Believer's Life - Rejoicing in Suffering.

Paul's intention is to confirm the church in the faith, and to encourage them to live as becoming of the church of Christ. This is the only one of Paul's letters in which no censure of the local church is expressed or implied.

(a) Paul's Thankfulness for Fellowship (Phil 1:1-7)

In verses 1-7 Paul offers up thanksgiving and prayer for the work of grace evident in the Philippians.

 

The highest honour that we can have is to be servants of Christ. Paul addresses this letter to "all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.

The Church is made up of saints, those who are not saints on earth will never be saints in heaven.

Outside of Christ, the best saints are sinners, unable to stand before God.

A local church is an assembly of believers professing faith in Christ who live, for the most part, in one locality and who assemble themselves together in His Name for the breaking of bread, worship, praise, prayer, testimony, the ministry of the Word, discipline and the furtherance of the Gospel.

Every such local church has Christ in the midst, and is a temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Inner peace comes from possessing a sense of Divine favour and there is no peace without grace. Grace and peace come from God who is the fountain of all blessings.

Memories of Philippi filled Paul with joy even though he experienced ill-treatment from the authorities while he was there. cf. Acts 16.

Paul sought to encourage the believers with the thought that the One who had commenced a good work in them would continue and would keep them until they were perfected in Him. Of this we can be in no doubt, the work of grace in each one of us will be perfected in the Day of His appearance. As Paul thought of the saints at Philippi he identified with them in suffering as being partakers of his grace.

 

(b) Paul's Love and Concern (Phil 1:8-11)

In verses 8-11 Paul expresses affection and prays for them.

How he longed for the fellowship of the saints.

How he prayed for them that their love for each other might overflow and that they might grow in spiritual knowledge and insight.

It is those things which are most honouring to God which will benefit us the most.

Believers should not easily take offence but, on the other hand, should be careful not to cause offence to the Lord or to fellow believers.

Our lives should be filled with the fruits of righteousness, these are by Jesus Christ and are unto the praise and glory of God.  

We, as believers, should find our joy in serving the Lord.

 

(c) Paul's Desire to Encourage them in their Suffering (Phil 1:12-20)

In verses 12-20 he seeks to strengthen them against being cast down because of his sufferings.

Paul was a prisoner at Rome, something which itself had turned out to be for the furtherance of the gospel because everyone there, including the soldiers in the barracks, were aware of the reason why he was a prisoner ie. the fact that he was a Christian.

These things had made him known where he would never have otherwise been known. Also, because of his imprisonment, others had lost their fear of imprisonment and had become bolder in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There were of course those who sought to make trouble for Paul and some who preached Christ with ulterior motives. However, no matter what the motives, the gospel of Christ was being preached and for that Paul rejoiced greatly.

What an attitude!

Even in prison Paul could see that all things were working for his good.

As for Paul, his desire was that he would never do anything that would be dishonouring to the Lord whether by living or by dying.

(d) Paul's Attitude towards Life and Death (Phil 1:21-26)

He goes on in verses 21-26 to explain his attitude towards life and death.

Death is a great loss to the carnal, the non -christian, because he loses all his earthly comforts and hopes; but to the believer it is gain, because it is the end of weakness and misery.

Verse 21 is perhaps one of Paul's most famous sayings. In effect he says "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Which means that for him , living meant more opportunities to present Christ, and dying - well, that would be even better.

He says "If living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don't know which is better, to live or to die!" However, Paul acknowledged that it was better for the church that he remained alive even though he himself might prefer to go to be with the Lord. Paul's choice was between two good options, one of living for Christ and the other of being with Christ.

 

Those of us who have the most reason to desire to be "with Christ" should be willing to remain in this world as long as the Lord has work for us to do. Paul's earnest desire was that Christ should be glorified whether it were by his living or by his dying.

(e) Paul's Exhortation for Steadfastness (Phil 1:27-30)

Verses 27-30 are exhortations for zeal and steadfastness in proclaiming the gospel. Those who profess the Name of Christ, should live in a manner becoming those who believe in Christ.

Paul urges them to be fearless in their proclamation of the gospel no matter what their enemies might do to them.

This would be a clear sign that God was with them and that they were assured of eternal life.

Paul points out that as Christians they had been given the privilege not only of trusting Him but also of suffering for Him.

He concludes by reminding them that they were all in it together with him.

Christ then is the believer's life, there is no life outside of Him. Christ's joy was perfected through suffering cf. Heb 12:2 reads:- "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

If Christ suffered then we His followers can expect no less.

May we be counted worthy to suffer for His Name's sake.

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6.

The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians

(Phil 2:1- 30 )

Introduction

This short  letter was written by Paul to Philippi from Rome around A.D. 63/64.

 Paul was especially close to the church in this, the leading city in Macedonia for it was there that he established the 1st Christian assembly in Europe. It was in Philippi where he and Silas were beaten and thrown into gaol. This letter, was not written to combat doctrinal error or personal conduct but is simply an expression of friendship and of  joy shared in a common faith.

Three Prominent Themes

Three things seem particularly special about this short letter.

1.   Its key word is "joy."   - the words  "Joy" and "rejoice" occur again and again.

2.   Philippians contains one of the most powerful New Testament affirmations of the divinity of Christ and His Lordship. Jesus who was God from eternity emptied Himself to become a man and, after suffering death, was raised again to His original glory and given a Name above every name.

3.  Paul shared his own personal goal in life - his yearning for a present experience of the transformation which will be his at the resurrection. 

 

Christ – the Source of our Joy

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that it is our relationship with Jesus that is a vital source of our joy.

Jesus Himself spoke of two ways that we might find joy in Him.

 Jesus said:-

"If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:10-11). 

And, "Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24).

 This “Joy” is produced in us by the Holy Spirit, and is a fruit of His presence (see Luke 10:21; Gal 5:22; 1 Thess 1:6).

It is not linked with material possessions but flows out of our salvation (Acts 8:8; 16:34).

Even persecution could not dampen the joy that glowed in early Christians, because their joy was not dependent on external circumstances (see Acts 13:52; 2 Cor 7:4; James 1:2). 

Peter even said:-

 "in this [salvation] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Believers experience a heightened joy; a joy that is rooted in the bond that exists between us and the Lord, and the bond that exists with other believers whom we have come to love.

 (see Rom 16:19; Phil 1:4,25-26; 2:2,29; 4:1; Heb 13:17; 1 John 1:4).

The deeper our relationship with Jesus and with His people, the greater the joy that awaits us, and the less that joy is dependent on external circumstances.

Who is Jesus ?     [ Phil 2:1-13 ]

To understand why Jesus is the key to joy, we must grasp who Jesus is.

Paul made Christ's true identity perfectly clear in this great affirmation of faith recorded in Phil 2:1-13. 

Jesus is God      (Phil 2:6-11).

This statement  is the foundational truth in Christianity.

In this  the early church affirmed:-

·       The pre-existence of Jesus as God

·       His incarnation as a true human being

·       His death on the cross

·       His resurrection from  the dead  

·       His coming again in glory

We should note that the phrase stating Jesus was "found in appearance as a man" does not imply that Christ only seemed to be a human being.

The Greek word here is schema  (schema), which lays stress on what was visible to the beholder. The Son of God was seen by men to be a man, and He truly was what He appeared to be: one of us. 

What a passage for us to dwell upon as we remember our Lord, and focus our thoughts on who He is - and how much He has done for us.

This is the One ……….

“Who  being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  [ Phil 2: 6-11 ]

Note the:-

Similarity Between John 1:1-14 and Phil 2:6-11 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.   

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

                                                                                        [ John 1:1-14  NKJV ]

Jesus is the Source of our Salvation (Phil 2:12-13).

Paul concluded with an exhortation to the Philippians to continue obeying his instructions, as they had been doing.

In this way they were to carry out Paul’s directive to:- 

"work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."

This call to "work out your ['own,' as some versions have it] salvation" has troubled some.

They have seen it as a demand to perform / carry out doing good works, or perhaps their salvation would be lost.

However,  this is not what Paul is suggesting here.

The word commonly translated "salvation" does look at personal salvation, in the Christian sense of salvation from sin.

Salvation has several aspects:-

 There is:-

·       the initial forgiveness obtained through faith in Jesus 

·       present deliverance from the dominating power of sin in our lives 

·       ultimate salvation; deliverance from even the presence of sin when resurrection day arrives.

Here the word "therefore" ( v 12 ) links Paul's words with what had been said before.

Paul had been speaking to the Philippians about the unity which is to be found by adopting the attitude of Jesus - a unity which 4:2-3 tells us was at least strained in the local body.

What Paul was saying, then, is that the church is to work out (to express) in their lives together the deliverance which Jesus has won for them, and is to do this with a proper sense of awe, realizing that God Himself was at work within them, present to will and act according to His good purpose.

As the Christians at Philippi modelled on Christ, and adopted His attitude, they would find deliverance from the things that divided them and would in fact give visible expression, together, to the salvation that was theirs in Jesus Christ.

Yes, the Jesus we worship truly is God.

Christ – The Supreme Example 

And, as the God-Man, Jesus set us an example, showing us the attitude which is the key to the unity of His Body (church)  and is also the key to expressing in our fellowships the salvation which is ours in Him.

·       Jesus’ Life defines Holiness

·       Jesus’ Compassion explains love

·       Jesus’ Patience reveals God’s attitude towards us

What Christ Did For Us 

·       He Humbled Himself

·       Made Himself of no Reputation

·       Became Obedient even unto Death

What God has done for Christ

Because Christ humbly gave himself for our sins God has:-

Exalted Him

·       "raised him up to the heights of heaven" (2:9; see Isa 52:13; John 17:1; Acts 2:33; Heb 2:9).          

·       He has been given a name (a position and place of authority) above all other names (2:9; see Eph 1:20; Heb 1:4). 

·       Someday (2:10-11) he will be acknowledged as Lord by everyone: 

                                "in heaven"   (angels)

                                 "on earth"    (human saints and sinners)

             and

                                  "under the earth"     (demons)

What Isaiah Wrote about The  "Sin – Bearing Servant"

This is what Isaiah says about the “Sin-Bearing Servant”  in Isaiah 52:13-15

13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;

He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.

14 Just as many were astonished at you,

So His visage was marred more than any man,

And His form more than the sons of men;

15 So shall He sprinkle many nations.

Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;

For what had not been told them they shall see,

And what they had not heard they shall consider.    NKJV

The Apostolic Example   (Phil  2:17-30)

The chapter concludes with the testimonies of three men who sought to follow that example, namely Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus.

1. Paul

Although Paul expressed the desire to visit the church at Philippi again, he was content to submit himself to the will of God.  Paul was willing to live for them or to  die for them whatever the Lord willed. Paul never counted his life dear unto himself. Paul regarded the believers at Philippi as a cause for rejoicing. They were proof that his labour had not been in vain. Paul desired liberty, not that he might take pleasure, but that he might do good.

2. Timothy

It was Paul's expressed desire that, if he personally could not visit them, then Timothy should visit them on Paul's behalf. Paul had experienced many setbacks and disappointments as a result of being let down by men. As he says here, "all men seek their own and not the things which are Jesus Christ's."   All that is except Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy had served Paul as a son to a father. He had certainly made full proof of his ministry. It speaks much for Paul that he was willing to surrender the companionship of Timothy in order to minister to the needs of the church at Philippi. We are apt to prefer our own credit, ease and safety, before truth, holiness and duty; not so Timothy.

3. Epaphroditus 

Epaphroditus was himself from Philippi and had been sent by the church  to help Paul in his need. He had himself been sick, in fact he had almost died but the Lord had spared him. Notice how Paul describes God's goodness "lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." Epaphroditus had done for Paul what the church at Philippi would have done had they been nearer. Now Epaphroditus was willing to return to Philippi that he might comfort those who had sorrowed for him when he was sick. Paul urged the people there to love him all the more on that account.

What a saintly trio  these three make, father, son in the faith, and faithful servant.

What an example to us.

How we need to see the dedication shown by these three great men in the faith, evidenced in the lives of believers  today.

However, good and virtuous though they may be, the real example is that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as described in verses 5 to 11.

Phil 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. NKJV

O that we might be  like-minded  and  lowly-minded  in the service of Him who's Name is higher than any other name.

Is it any wonder that:-

9  God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

AMEN !

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