Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Day of Atonement

In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews gives us some insight into the Festivals of the Lord and the part Jesus played in them, in particular chapters 8, 9 & 10. In this day and time it is good that we learn the purpose of these festivals. It can make these last days and the things God is doing within us (as the temple of God) more understandable.

Let us understand, the only way we have been able to stand in the presence of a Holy God is while we are hid in Christ and clothed with his righteousness. But, this imputed righteousness does not allow us to stand alone in his presence as Sons of God. But the day is coming when the sons of God will be manifested.

(Romans 8:19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

There is a good study of the seven feast of the Lord in audio form. It is several hours long, but click here for a 14 minute sample of the Day of Atonement (part 7) which I believe we entered into a few years ago.

To listen to the whole 7 Feast of Israel series, Click here

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Mystery That Was Hid in God - Part 1 & 2

For the most part we have not fully comprehended the mystery that was hid in God, "even the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints". (Colossians 1:26)

Paul started to give hints of this mystery in Galatians 4:19 "My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you".

But not until Ephesians did Paul start to share and teach the great mystery God had revealed to him. Up until that time he could only teach the “first principles of the oracles of God.” (Hebrews 5:11-12) "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing. (12) For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food."

Only after Acts 28:28, when he left the Jews and the synagogues was he free to open up the mystery to the Gentiles. This mystery, God’s purpose in of all creation, all the examples that went on before, the temple, the nation of Israel, all their Kings, all the prophets, everything was for this end purpose, the Mystery. It was hidden in God for all times until it was first revealed to Paul. It had not been revealed to Abraham, Moses or King David. No prophet, leader or King of Israel knew this mystery. It was hidden for ages and generations in God. Consider the following scriptures:

(Ephesians 1:9) "making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him."

(Ephesians 3:3-5) "how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, (4) whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; (5) which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;"

(Ephesians 3:9-11) "and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; (10) to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, (11) according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:"

(Ephesians 3:17,) "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (19) and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God."

(Colossians 1:25-27) "whereof I was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given me to you-ward, to fulfill the word of God, (26) even the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints, (27) to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"

(Colossians 3:3) "For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

The latter epistles of Paul and then also of Peter and John shows the growing knowledge of this mystery and the power of it that was not revealed in the Gospels or in the book of Acts. Even the Angels and powers in heavenly places did not know about the mystery, it was hidden in God. (Ephesians 3:10) to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God.

Colossians 1:27 sums up this vast and wonderful mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. This Christ, this anointing, was perfect and fulfilled the whole law in Jesus. Now we do not have to “do” the works of the law, when Christ is manifested in us, we will also become the "fulfillment" of the law. God is building a body of Christ, the very nature of Christ in his people. If the very nature of God is in us, it will cause us to naturally do his will. Our life will show the fruit of his nature in what we do, as we grow in the knowledge of him.

(Ephesians 1:17-19) "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; (18) having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might."

Without Christ being manifested in me, I might try to love my enemy as Jesus said to do. I will do that in all the ways I know how, I will try not to think bad thoughts about my enemy, not talk about them and even try to be nice to them. And do good to them as Jesus said to do. I will ask Jesus to give me strength to love my enemy. It might even work for a while; until they possibly do something that I feel is harmful to me. Then I have to “fight my flesh” and put it down again and try to continue to love them. But you see, God's purpose is not in strengthening me, for my righteousness is as filthy rages. He said when I am weak, he is strong. But, if I ask Christ to be manifested in me in this matter, I will ask God to put his love in my heart for my enemy. You see, when this happens, I will not have to try and do the “works” of loving my enemy, it will be God’s love for my enemy flowing out of me. All the fruit of that love will be shown naturally to my enemy.

As God reveals himself to us, as we grow in the knowledge of him, he will give us his attributes, his nature if we ask him. If we believe! In our own strength, we can only try to do to the works of the law, but we will never fulfill the law. Only Christ can fulfill the law and he wants to fulfill the law in us.

There is so much more to the mystery, the hope of Glory, that I haven’t even begun to dig into its depths. But as the Lord leads us by His Spirit of Truth and as He reveals more to us in the scriptures, the eyes of our understanding will be enlightened.

The following are the epistles of Paul that pertain especially to the mystery:

1&2 Timothy

Also 1 & 2 Peter, and 1,2 & 3 John are in the light of the mystery. As Peter said: (2 Peter 3:15-16) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; (16) as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

I pray:

Ephesians:1:18-19: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (19) and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God."  (Colossians 1:26-27) "even the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints,(27) to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"


The Mystery that was hid in God Part 2

The First Principles of Christ

(Hebrews 5:11-6:3) Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing.(12) For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.(13) For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe.(14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are full-grown, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

(6:1) Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,(2) of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.(3) And this will we do, if God permit.

Paul explains that Christians that are only partaking of the milk of the word have not grown up into perfection. This is mind boggling when you consider what the milk of the word is.

Paul wrote that the milk of the word is: repentance from dead works, faith towards God, teaching of baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Paul said to move on from these elementary things and grow up into perfection.

He wrote the book of Hebrews to the Jewish believers, those that knew and understood the law and their customs. They were learning that the rituals and festivals that were done in the law by the flesh, were pictures of what was to be fulfilled in the Spirit and showing signs of things that were to come. (Leviticus 23:4) These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

First came the natural or flesh, then came the spiritual.  Speaking of the new birth Jesus says in John 3:5-6 “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.”  Jesus was explaining about our new birth, first came the natural, we were born of the woman by water but then we would need to be born anew by the Spirit of God in order to enter into the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus was showing the disciples what the Passover feast was really all about. That he was the Passover Lamb, the bread represented his flesh and the wine represented his blood. I don’t believe he was initiating a new ritual for his followers to observe. In fact we never see Jesus indicate that observing any of the Lord’s festivals would be required any longer, but he did say, “I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the Truth.” (John 16:12-13a)

Now Spirit of Truth had come and Paul was explaining the spiritual meaning of the Passover. Notice how he also connects this with "baptisms".

(1 Corinthians 10:2-4,11) and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (3) and did all eat the same spiritual food;(4) and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.

(11) Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.

(1 Corinthians 10:15-18) I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. (16) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (17) seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we are all partake of the one bread. (18) Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

This was an example of those things done in the natural, or “flesh”, are fulfilled in the spirit.

The 15th Chapter of Acts shows us a picture of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. It was 20 years after the descent of the Holy Spirit in chapter 2. Some still wanted to teach the Law of Moses. There was a great dispute among them as to what would be required of the Gentile believers who had never kept the law. But after Peter had spoken: (Acts 15:8-10) “God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;(9) And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (10) Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

They agreed not put the burden of the Law on the Gentile believers.

You can see the growing knowledge of Jesus Christ and the mystery (which had been hidden) in the later Epistles of Paul, Peter and John. So much so that by the time Paul wrote the book of Philippians 12 years later, he considered all his own righteousness that was done in the flesh according to the law was of no value. In fact even “count them but dung”.

He Wrote:

(Philippians 3:3-10) For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.(4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:(5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;(6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.(8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,(9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

Hebrews 6:1 Paul said not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God. These are the dead works of self righteousness which is of the law and not of faith in God. He said to move on from there.

Hebrews 6:2 Paul said to move on from the teaching of (1) baptisms, (2) laying on of hands, (3) resurrection of the dead and (4) eternal judgment.

Let’s use the example of baptisms.

The water baptism of John: {(Mark 1:4) John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  (Acts 13:24-25) When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. (25) And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not [he]. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of [his] feet I am not worthy to loose.

The baptism of Jesus, his death and resurrection {(Mark 10:38) But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink? or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? (Luke 12:50) But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!}

The baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11) I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire: (Mark 1:8) I baptized you in water; But he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit.

Paul did not baptize many people before he wrote 1Corinthians and it appears he didn’t baptize anyone since. (1 Corinthians 1:17) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.

Jesus did not baptize anyone: (John 4:1-2) When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (2) (although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples). It was the Lord’s disciples that baptized.

Let us grasp the depths of Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Paul said: (Ephesians 4:5) “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” It is all about the Lord. NO flesh will have the glory, it all belongs to him.

We see the progression away from anything done in the flesh by man. We see man disappearing and Christ appearing. This is the beginning of perfection. John the Baptist said, “I must decrease so he can increase”.

This is the resurrection that Paul wanted to obtain to:

(Philippians 3:10-15) that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death;(11) if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead.(12) Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.(13) Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,(14) I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.(15) Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you:

Until we are full grown and to a measure of the fullness of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-13) He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:(13) till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

It is no longer about mere forms and rituals done in the flesh; it is about a new spiritual life we have in Jesus Christ, worshiping Him in Spirit and in Truth.  “I (flesh) must decrease so He (Spirit) can increase”.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Heroes of The Faith

I heard a story of a girl that died this past week. Her parents have taken a lot of heat from the world for not getting her medical treatment that they believe could have saved her life. One comment stands out to me: “Religious beliefs do not supersede a parent's responsibility to seek life-saving treatment for a child” that was found in this article: This statement should stand out loudly to any that call themselves followers of Christ as not Biblical.

The parents of this 11 year old girl that died have my full respect and sympathy. They put their child whom they loved into the Lord's hands and trusted in him to take care of her. Just because it didn't turn out the way our human thinking dictates, doesn't mean they did any thing wrong or didn't have "enough faith" to see her healed. How dare any of us to judge that. I can understand the world thinking that way as they don't believe in a sovereign God as the true followers of Christ should believe. (Romans 14:4) Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

We see many examples of this type of faith in scripture. Job said "though he slay me, yet will I trust him". The three Hebrew Children said to the king just before going into the fiery furnace, "Our God is well able to save us, but even if he doesn't we will not bow our knees to you, o king". Or what about Abraham willing to sacrifice Isaac on the altar.

There was the time that Jesus was able to pass through an angry crowd unharmed as they would have pushed him off a cliff to his death. But later in the garden he surrendered his will and prayed God’s will be done taking him to death on the cross. In the article Members in Particular we talked about different answers at different times. Some times it might be “by his strips you are healed” but another time it is “His grace is sufficient” In these last days, God is calling his people to lay down their own will and pray God’s will be done, no matter where it takes us! Completely trusting in the Lord and that all he does is right

These parents paid the ultimate price for trusting in the Lord and he will reward them for it. To believe God knows best even when it hurts so badly is the only real faith God desires from his remnant. How do we know what God saved her from? Only he knows what he saved this child from facing in the days ahead.

Do we know that "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."
(Psalms 116:15)

Paul said in Philippians 1:21, "to die is gain" and in verse 23 "having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:"

My prayers are with this family, may God be with them in their hour of need!

For those who that respect scripture, here is a starting point with some scriptures that we should consider as well. We will see that "ours ways are not God's ways"

(Revelation 12:11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

(Luke 14:26) If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

(Acts 20:24) But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

(Acts 21:13) Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Let someone explain this verse to me:

(Hebrews 11:35) Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

(Romans 8:35-39) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Philippians 1:20) According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
(Philippians 1:21) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

(2 Timothy 2:4) No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

(2 Timothy 4:6) For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
(2 Timothy 4:7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
(2 Timothy 4:8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

(2 Peter 1:14) Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.