Christian Character Part 2

What’s Up, Dude?

The question today is the foundation for today’s sermon: What’s up, Dude? You see, God wants us to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28; Galations 6:4) and figure out where we are in the present of our lives. That means we will be looking back, somewhat, at where we have been, and we will be looking forward to where we have placed our goals, our resolutions of new beginnings. But, mostly, it is an examination of where we ARE, not where we HAVE BEEN, nor where we might think we WILL BE! God wants us to let go of the old in our personal histories, and Let God be glorified in our present! He wants us to make Him a present – freely and willingly given – of our present life, today, and each next day, a present present presented to God!

This is Part II in our new series on Christian Character. Last week, we focused on New Beginnings, at the beginning of the New Year, and we did some foundational work in the heart issues, reviewing the hearts of Saul and David, as we brought into focus that it is out of the fullness of our hearts that we welcome, or uninvited, or merely put up with the Holy Spirit in our lives. And so as we consider what our hearts have to do with it, we learn that our hearts have everything to do with Christian Character. After all, God loved David so much because David, even as a young man, was a man after God’s own heart. May it be so with us, each one of us.

Today, we are going to study certain qualities of Christian Character. This so, even though you may think it is all summed up in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (Fear God and obey His commandments—and be ready for judgmental inspection). This is a bit of “There’s the formula, but this time we are going to help you work out the details.” Once you invite the Holy Spirit into your life you are like the recalcitrant young colt taught submission, obedience and manners by spending a week in a pasture being tied to an old Jack donkey: at the end of the week, the young colt is no longer “recalcitrant” and is now quite willing to go wherever the old donkey wants him to go. I wish we could learn as fast as such a young horse! So, today, we review seven of the qualities of Christian Character, what we call The Seven “C’s” of Christian Character:

  1. Christ in Me (Salvation): Galations 3:26-29; Philippians 3:10-11; I Timothy 4:9-10 (The real question in life as you examine yourself is where do you put your HOPE?)
  2. Commitment (Faith): Hebrews 11:1 (concept of where is our HOPE?); Psalm 71:14-16 (per Mary Eklund’s Word from HS+ today.)
  3. Calling: Romans 8:28-30; 1 Timothy 2:1-6
  4. Courage: Galations 2:20; Galations 4:8-9 (Mortify Flesh; Say No to Temptations Fleshly Un-Accoutability—You can’t live a “No strings attached life” as a Christian!)
  5. Conditioning (Hebrews 5:13-14) (Constant Use – stay in the present in living the life of Christ and making decisions for Him and as He would make them)
  6. Cleansing: II Corinthians 7:1; I John 1:9 (Work at it through repentance and the other “C’s”)
  7. Conduct: Hebrews 5:7-9. (Prayers, Reverent Submission, Obedience and Suffering); Philippians 2:12-16a (Hold the Standard of God and Christ in a crooked and perverse generation—Work it out!); I Timothy 4:7-8 (train yourself to be Godly); James 1:27 (Practice True Religion – helping the widows and orphans); Matthew 22:36-38 and I Corinthians 13:13 (God’s greatest commandments are that we love, and love never fails).

Summary: Romans 5:1-6 (Have you examined yourself today as to the Seven C’s of Christian Character? What’s up, Dude, in your life: inside and outside of you. It is your life, after all . . . . or is it your life? It will be tough, but tough is Good and good for you to do so! Overcome childhood (and adult) woundings, scarrings, offenses, strongholds, blind spots, generational curses, fleshly weaknesses – that is working out your salvation with fear and trembling. Work it out! Live free from sin and death because of Christ, and abide in His Joy and Peace. Oh, and by the way, help the widows and orphans, for that is the true test of whether love reigns in your heart and life! Your true religion is not just what is going on inside of you, but what is coming out of you! So, “What’s up, Dude?, what’s really up with you?” To God be the glory, in Him, and in you, now and forever!

Christian Character Part 1

New Beginnings

When you think about it, New Year’s Day is just another day – yet by an artifice of the mind we decide that it is the advent of a New Year, as the ball descends in Time Square, as the fireworks explode in our neighborhoods, and elsewhere. It is a traditional time for celebration. Bendigo Shafter, a character in a great Louis Lamour novel of the westward migration in America, once wondered how we would do without marking time, living in a constant “present,” and not “aging”.

Today, I ask you why you put so much on the newness of a new year – and you do it every year? Mr. Lamour had a point: people spend an awful lot of time remembering the past and working on the future, and often not near enough time living in the “present”. We cannot worship God in the past or the future, we give him glory in the present! So, we need to change our focus from so much past and future, and start being aware of our present and focusing on its living for the glory of God!

This “newness” thing we associate with a new year does get us away from the past and focused on a new future, in which we sin less, get in better shape, manage our finances and relationships better, etc.. Planning for change is, or can be, a component of repentance, when we set our foreheads like flint (Ezekiel 3:8-9), to listen to sin no more. In that context “newness” is good, and it is good because it plans for a new “newness” that would have us more and more giving God the glory in the new days and hours to come, in our lives.

Now, let’s examine this thing of “newness” or “new” for a moment: “New” = different, it implies change – and we have heard a lot of political hype about change, and it has been spun in a positive way, politically, because it is explained that change will bring us hope, hope for a better future. Some politicians have made history on the hype of “hope” and “change”. But what have they accomplished in the Kingdom of God?

God likes these concepts of hope and change, and He intends that these concepts accomplish much in His Kingdom: He hopes that we do change, and that we change for the better, all as He defines it. When, through repentance, we do change like God wants us to change, something very important happens – hope turns into a new, personal history, as we build Christian Character. That is the kind of change God hopes we make in our lives. The living of our lives is the making of history. God knows our lives will be better, and better eternally, if, through repentance, we make personal history, for ourselves and those we serve, by turning God’s hope into our hope, and their hope, in the form of Christian Character.

You see, no matter how you are living your life, no matter what happens to your New Year’s Resolutions – and no matter whether you made any New Year’s Resolutions are not – you are making your own history, your personal story. And there will be a time when the Book of Life will be opened – it will already have been written – (Rev. 20:12) and the history of your life will be clear, but it will be published after your death, your first death, and you can no longer edit the Book of Life. The words in that Book, accurately recording the things you said, did, thought, felt, and those you didn’t, are down in black and white and you’re stuck with them. And so is God.

But you have two bases to change today, in this New Year 2010, this new decade (you only get a few decades in your life here) the way the rest of your personal history, your Book of Life, is written, not just this year but henceforth and forever: The first basis of change for you is the atonement of the Blood of Christ, shed for you and for many, who believe He is Who He says He is. The second basis for change is the construction in your life of Christian Character on the foundation of your Redemption in the Blood of Christ.

Now, you say, I understand at least the theory of the first one, the Divine Exchange at the foot of the Cross, of His suffering for my sins. Indeed, you say, I have received Jesus as my personal Savior, I believe in His Name (John 3:16, and all of that), so what is the big deal? Isn’t that it? No, that is not all there is to it, but you can’t go any further without it. It is first base, and you have to tag it to go on to the other bases.

Now, this second base is often more difficult for us. Salvation is by grace (Ephesians 2:8), unmerited favor, and that by the gift of God. We can all receive a gift, so we can receive the tagging of first base, if you will, but on this second basis of change and hope, it is not such a gift, it is a bit of work and therefore of discipline, self-discipline (Galations 5:22-23) – how do I build the Christian Character on that foundation of redemption?

This really is the central issue for the true Christian. In that same sense, the central issue for the unsaved, is salvation and redemption. Salvation and redemption, and its heart of repentance, open the door to forgiveness, and the construction of Christian Character in your life means that you have to open that door to forgiveness less and less often and that pleases God!

Building Christian Character is life in the “present”; it is building skill in the word of righteousness! It is where, from moment to moment, we choose good over evil in our lives, manifesting our maturity, or maturing, as we live and write our Book of Life. Hebrews 5:12-14 is foundational guidance in the philosophy of Christian Character: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

This passage from Hebrews speaks to us of teaching, which is what God is doing with us today, as He teaches us the word of righteousness, and this passage teaches us that we are all to be teachers, and that the way we do that, the way we become mature enough to teach others the word of righteousness is by our our own “constant use” of the “word of righteousness”, applying it to every feeling, thought, and decision in our lives. Now, you notice that I did not say every action in our lives, every deed. That is because the actions and deeds of our bodies – even of our tongues and words – are directed or permitted by the decisions we make based on our thoughts and feelings. The construction of Christian Character requires the application and constant use of the word of righteousness to our thoughts and feelings. If we do that, then we are disciplining ourselves to require, in each one of us, that God’s word of righteousness control our feelings and thoughts and therefore our words and deeds.

In order to appropriate fully the word of righteousness into our lives, we have to do something, and that something is called “choice”: to do this we have to make a choice, actually a lifetime series of choices, for God and His word of righteousness to come into our hearts, like we asked Jesus to come into our hearts and save us by the redemptive power of His Blood.

As we appropriate the word of righteousness fully into our lives, we undergo an amazing metamorphosis, A DIVINE HEART TRANSPLANT: our hearts of stone are softened and changed into hearts of flesh, (Ezekiel 36:26-27), which with the Holy Spirit brings us into obedience of God. God even described David as a man after my own heart (I Samuel 13:14), And Job said, (Job 23:16, NKJV), “For God made my heart weak (‘soft’ in King James Version, and the Almighty terrifies me . . . .”). And we know (I Samuel 10:9) that at the anointing by Samuel, God gave King Saul a new heart, but something happened to it as he lived out his days as king: Saul do not hold onto what the Lord had commanded him (I Samuel 13:14). And we know of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, right after the Ascension of Jesus, about David and His relationship with Jesus (Acts 2:22-39), that they were cut (NKJV) or pricked (KJV) to the heart.

So, even from the Old Testament, it is very clear (Jesus is very clear, Matthew 12:34, that out of the fullness of the heart doth the mouth speak. In other words it is what our hearts love that controls our words and actions, because, like with all issues of love, our hearts wrestle with our commitment to the beloved. As the Bride of Christ, we in the church often think we resolved this issue of commitment at the point of public confession of faith in Jesus Christ, or when we asked Him into our hearts, or when we were baptized. But, that was only the starting point, that was the beginning of the real war, the war of commitment in each of our hearts. Jesus knew, and knows, and we should know, Matthew 15:19, that out of the heart – due to original sin – proceed evil thoughts, and if we nurture those evil thoughts, we will speak and do evil. On the other hand, Jesus wanted to, and wants to, bless the pure in heart (Matthew 5:8, from the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes).

In the Parable of the Sower, in Matthew 13, Jesus makes it clear that when the Word of God is spoken it is sown as a seed not in our minds, and not in our feelings, but in our hearts, and it can be stolen away from our hearts by misunderstanding (verse 19), or because he has no root in himself to overcome tribulation or persecution (verse 20), or because the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it is unfruitful in his life (verse 22). But, majestically, Jesus makes it clear (verse 23), that the Word of God, the word of righteousness, bears fruit and multiplies greatly, when it is heard and understood, without being choked out and stolen away by tribulation or persecution or the cares of this world or by the deceitfulness of riches, then it will bear fruit all around us, in our marriages, in our children, in our extended family, in our church, in the unsaved world!

Conclusion

Given that we mark time with the new year, the new decade, we know that we are living out our days on this earth. Regardless of whether we have made resolutions to change, because we hope to live our lives better to the greater glory of God, or even not so, the future is today, it is upon us like a wind chill!

As Paul noted in the letter to the Romans, will your hard and impenitent (‘unrepentant’ ) heart treasure up for you wrath at the day of wrath, revelation and judgment by the righteous God (Romans 2:5), that being the day when the Book of Life is read (Rev. 20:12-15)? Will you be allow the Word of God, and of His Righteousness, to be choked out, and stolen away, by misunderstanding? If so, you need to be a student and have a teacher and get thee understanding!. Will you allow the Word of God, and of His Righteousness, to be choked out and stolen away by not maturing a root to withstand tribulation or persecution? If so, then you need to pray to God to so fill your heart that you have the eagerness, the passion, to use, constantly, the word of righteousness, and so to discern good and evil, in your life. Will you allow the Word of God, and of His Righteousness, to be choked out and stolen away by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches? If so, then you need to confront the weakness of your flesh and the deceitfulness of Satan, and you need to mortify your flesh and its weaknesses, and you need to act in faith to command Satan to leave you!

It’s up to you. If you are not saved, today could be the day for your New Beginnings in Christ, for life eternal in love and power, by His Grace. If you are saved, the question remains for you as to what you will do with the word implanted by the Sower in your heart: will you be repentant unto true life changes, in the Hope that is in Christ Jesus, which does not disappoint, like King David, or will you give yourself over without apology to the weakness of the flesh, and the temptations and deceits of Satan, like King Saul?

Every day, David and Saul made choices. Neither was perfect. David’s heart was after God; Saul – even with his new heart – chose not to fill it up with obedience and repentance and the constant use of the word of righteousness, to be mature and a teacher, by word and example, of others.

Every day, you make choices. Will you follow the paths of righteousness for His Name Sake (Psalm 23:3), or like Saul, Romans 10:3, will you seek to justify yourself by your own righteousness?

Ask your self this question – II Corinthians 6:14 KJV, “What fellowship has righteousness to do with unrighteousness”? Then, you decide, for after all, it is a new year, a time of New Beginnings, and it is your life . . . . or is it your life?

Why was Jesus Born?

A reading of Luke 1:24—38, 2:1-20: “Now, after those days, (Zacharias’) wife Elizabeth conceived, and she hid herself five months, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’ Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the House of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then, Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know (or have not known) a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One, who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now, indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.'”

And from Luke 2: “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manager.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’ So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

So, why was Jesus Christ born? Being good Christians, we first would answer that question by explaining our human inability to attain righteousness by overcoming our original sin or our conduct of sin, and by noting the deity and humanity of Christ, and His sacrifice and atonement for our sins, enabling us to be born again to life eternal, once and for all:

  • Romans 5:10-21: (“For if we when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned – (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act, the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”
  • Luke 4:17-19: “And (when in the synagogue in Nazareth, after the temptation in the desert) He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.'”
  • John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly. [Jesus died that we might live, which He could only do by destroying the works of the devil (sin and its wages, death), which is why he was manifested: I John 3:8]

And the Holy Spirit today would also have us see and learn that Jesus lived among us as a man not only for our forgiveness by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8), and for eternal life (see above Scriptures), but that He also lived among us as a man, to show and equip us to live on earth as productive citizens of God’s eternal kingdom, as effective soldiers in His army, as skilled ambassadors, as royal priests, as kings, as prophets, as a worthy and pure bride. Thus we see today from the Holy Spirit, five things to enable us to live life and live it more abundantly (five reasons beyond salvation for which Jesus was born):

  1. That from the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus walked with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17: “And when He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”)
  2. That we would see the value of so well knowing God’s Word that we could know always how to use God’s Word to confront and deny the enemy and his temptations [II Tim. 3: 16-17 (“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (BJ: even mankind was “naturally” good, he would need no instruction in righteousness), that the man of God might be made complete (BJ: being saved does not make you complete – that is what maturity does, i.e., obtaining and applying instruction in righteousness), thoroughly equipped for every good work. (BJ: that is what we do between being born again and experiencing the first death.”); Luke 4:1-13 (In the temptations, each time Jesus replied with Scripture as the foundation for his confrontation of the temptation and his rejection of it: vv. 4, 8 and 12: [v. 4 – “It is written (Deut 8:3), Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”); v. 8 – “Get behind me Satan! For it is written (Deut 6:13, 10:20), You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”) v. 12 – “It has been said (Deut 6:16), ‘you shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”
  3. That we would understand God’s sovereignty and the resulting command of obedience [Garden of Gethsemane – Luke 22:39-44 (“Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”); ref. Mark 14:34 (Jesus: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.”]
  4. That we would understand that we, too, were created by God for His divine purposes, Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13 and ff.; Isaiah 43:1-7, and for good works that He has prepared beforehand for us to walk in.
  5. That we too might learn how to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice as a reasonable service to God (Romans 12:2 (“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”; I Cor. 9:27 (“But I discipline by body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”)

History now enables us to see today not just the time of Jesus birth, and but to see Him in the little manger, and not just to see His youth in the carpenter’s shop and in the temple, and visualizing playing with Him (can’t you imagine what a good friend Jesus would have been as a boy – not a bully, not jealous, not deceitful, not manipulative, not arrogant). But we also see Him as a young man of miracles from wine to resurrection, and as a brave young man confronting malicious authorities and accepting God’s destiny on the cross for Him, placing His faith, as we are called to do, in the goodness of God’s plan for him – resurrection, and the use of that plan (Romans 8:28) to make all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

So, we can only, fully, answer that question, why was Jesus born, by understanding His death, and the life He lived between His birth and death, and in that we can know His role in the creation, in forgiveness, in resurrection, in judgment, in righteousness, in the New Jerusalem, in life truly eternal. Jesus, the prototype in birth, life and death!

And in so doing, we understand that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16) and the birth of Christ leaves us with a question, a big question: do you so love God that you will allow yourself to be equipped for His ministry, that you will be, each of you, a productive citizen of God’s eternal kingdom, an effective soldier in His army, a skilled ambassador, a royal priest, a king in His calling, a prophet, a worthy and pure bride?

Christmastime is the celebration and remembrance of the birth of Christ, the sharing of gifts in symbolic sharing of God’s love by loving our neighbors and our family and friends. The birth of Christ gives us answers to all the questions of life, but raises questions of whether we are man enough, woman enough, and child enough, to accept those answers, and to set aside our self – love, in order to love God as much as He loves us. Like Mary so often did, ponder these things in your hearts, and be sure you let God know, every day, how much you love Him in your words, thoughts, and conduct, all flowing from your heart. You don’t have to show God the money (remember the old movie, “Show Me the Money”– He really doesn’t care about that, but He wants you to show Him your love, and you can’t fake that or borrow it, it just “is” and, to answer a question once raised by a famous American politician, God knows what “is” is!!

Pastor Gene joins me in wishing and praying for each one of you a joyous season of reminder, of remembrance, of rejoicing in the reality that Jesus Christ “is” Who He says He is – the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Mediator of reconciliation between God and Man. And in these things we all share and can truly celebrate this season. Merry Christmas!

Season of Preparation Part 4

Foundations of Prayer

We are in a War of Holiness that covers the Universe, our whole world, our nation, our community and our very lives. This is a war of Evil against Good. It is that simple. In this War of Holiness, we are in a Season of Preparation for that which is to come, for the future. And we are called to a Solemn Assembly in that Preparation. We will have an extended service next Sunday, Dec. 13, here at BFF+, with a covered dish feast afterwards, in the Name of the Lord.

The Members of BFF+ are encouraged to seek God (Deut 9:29) for instruction in a form of fasting suitable to God and each individual for the time, or times, between now and the Assembly next Sunday. And then each Member is called to enter into such fasting, to be broken in our feast next Sunday.

In addition to fasting, God wants us to be preparing this week for the Solemn Assembly in other ways, primarily in Prayer. This is because God wants our attention, He wants to communicate with us, and for us to communicate to Him, to prepare us individually for the Solemn Assembly, and to prepare us, as individuals, to contribute to the greater unity in the body, by sharing words from the Holy Spirit during the Solemn Assembly. The foundation of this whole process is Prayer, and that is why we call today’s message, “Foundations of Prayer.”

The concept of Prayer is an interesting one. Somewhat like Professor Smith in his Bible Dictionary, I think of Prayer in these five ways:

  1. First of all, because nowhere in Holy Scripture is there any word of explanation of the reason for prayer, but the fact of prayer is dealt with just as a fact, like day or night.
  2. Second, Prayer is the free expression of the wants and concerns of the soul of a man to God, the Father, expressing thanksgiving and praise, and asking benefits and interceding for benefits for others.
  3. Third, Faith is touched and strengthened by Prayer.
  4. Fourth, Prayer is an expression and an application of Faith.
  5. Fifth, Prayer is an indication of the spiritual condition of the soul, with Prayer being to the soul what breath is to the body.

I see that Prayer is an opportunity to sit at the breakfast or dinner table with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What a meal! It is an opportunity to talk and to listen and to learn. At table, we forge relationships, because we are focused on the company of the table. And we learn of the past, and the present. We share not just the food of the table but the hearts of our table companions. We learn of the lessons of the past, the snakes in the woodpile, and how to avoid them and when necessary, how to deal with them. We learn the big things that the others at the table will share with us about their lives, and often times, but no less interestingly, of the little things. This always gives us insight into the future.

When Kerry and I were first dating, she lived in Florida and I lived up here. On several occasions, I went to see her, and took her to lunch at a restaurant and we stayed until they closed the restaurant late at night, talking and learning about each other right through lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, and dessert – all at the same restaurant, the same table, the same company at table – just Kerry and me – as we learned about each other and began to develop a vision for God’s plans in the future for us. And we grew in trust and love and commitment.

Prayer is much like that. Prayer is just communication. That is both ways: talking and listening. Now there is a difference: God is not going to learn from us, but we are going to learn from Him. Part of what we learn in Prayer, and in Holy Scripture, is that God created us to be in relationship with Him and He will not reject those who seek earnestly to be in relationship with Him. Matthew 7:7: “. . . seek, and you will find . . . .”; Amos 5:4: “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek Me and live.”; Deuteronomy 4:24-29: ” . . . (Prophecy of the Dispersion) . . . . But from there (places of idolatry) you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

And God understands us, and understands our past already. He does not need an ice-breaker with us or to ask us about our past and present. He already knows all that. He only wants us to talk about that in order that we acknowledge the sins of our past and present in openness, transparency and honesty. He is not interested in our excuses and whining – only in our honesty, and in that honesty, in our taking responsibility for our past and present. He knows about our sin nature; He knows about generational curses and sins; He knows about strongholds; He knows about deceptions, and blind spots and deaf hears and hard hearts; He knows about temptations. He knows all those things, and He knows how all those things have written the history of our lives, through the decisions and choices we have made.

In Jesus we have a sympathizer because He, too, was tempted by Satan, and knows the places where the human flesh and the human emotions and the human will are weak, or blind or deaf and subject to deception and sin. That is why it is written in Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need.”

We needed a door-keeper, an ice-breaker, to get us to God, the Father, and that ice-breaker is Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, the mediator between God and man, the one who came to destroy the works of the devil. And He continues to intercede constantly for us saints at the right hand of God the Father.

And, when, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we have met Jesus as our Saviour, and He has broken the ice, and opened the door to God, out of Grace and Mercy, and as we have declared our faith in Him and His Name, and have repented from evil and set ourselves to a life of sanctification, and purification and holiness, then, the Holy Spirit moves in us afresh, to help us grow up in maturity in Jesus Christ.

First the Holy Spirit moved to convict us in regards to “sin, and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-8); and second, he moved, and moves, to guide us even further “into all truth” (John 16:13).

Now, let’s put these pieces together: all sin is idolatry, and when we come to God, earnestly seeking Him, we are coming out of sin, which is idolatry, and asking His forgiveness anew, and asking for His provision and we are interceding for others. (See Romans 14:23b, “for everything that is not of faith is sin.” All sin places something else in priority ahead of God, and that is the very definition of idolatry.

Hence, Jesus explained to us how to “. . . come boldly to the throne of grace . . . .” (Hebrews 4:15), which is, in fact, prayer (and it is coming to table with God), in Matthew 6:9-13, “In this manner, therefore, pray:

  1. ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
  2. Give us this day our daily bread.
  3. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
  4. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
  5. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'”

As we put together these passages of Holy Scripture, we see that the Lord’s Prayer, and it’s structure for prayer, is in the plural as to mankind (Give “us”; forgive “us”, deliver “us”, etc.). Thus, there is a cry of intercession there that applies not just to us but to others.

And this brings us back squarely to II Chronicles 7:14, and the purpose of our Solemn Assembly. In I Chronicles 16:10-12, we seek the connection that seeking God’s face is itself prayer, that that is what prayer really is, trying to get close, or draw near to, God (See James 4:8.): (I Chronicles 16:10-12, “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!”

Let’s talk about Face, as in Seeking His Face: Professor Smith, in his Bible Dictionary, describes Face as “The most peculiarly indicative part of the human figure. The face is the presence; to stand before the face is to stand in the presence. The face is also the favor — as the prince’s face or favor. To turn away from the face is to deny a favor.”

To meet the condition of II Chronicles 7:14 to “seek (His) face,” we need to understand that we are to come into God’s presence, in the Spirit, into His throne room. There, we are to do what? We are to do what one does in the presence of God, as explained in Lamentations 2:19, “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street. See, O Lord, and consider! To whom have You done this? Should the women eat their offspring, the children they have cuddled? Should the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?”

That is what the Solemn Assembly is all about: We want God to heal our land so it will not (see Leviticus 20:22), “vomit (us) out,” because of the sins of the nation, corporately. So, for Solemn Assembly, we have to seek His face, get into His presence “boldly” and “pour out our hearts like water before His face.”

The Lord’s prayer is the model for all Christian prayers. Thus, in that model, we should pour out our hearts like water before His face.

You know, as Scripture tells us in several place, out of the fullness of a man’s heart doth he speak. And we know, 1 Samuel 16:7 and others, that God looks at the hearts of man. So, when we pour out our hearts like water, it is all going to come out, all the fullness of our hearts. In calling us to Solemn Assembly, God asks us in preparation for the Solemn Assembly.

  • I Corinthians 6:20, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
  • II Corinthians 7:1, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
  • Galations 6:4, “Let each one examine his own work . . . .”
  • Given the demonic forces, fast (Matthew 17:21)
  • Ephesians 6:18, “. . . praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. . . .”

God will be looking at our hearts during the times before, during, and after our Solemn Assembly. Get your hearts ready, to come and sit at table in communion with God, ready to pour out your hearts before Him, and to hear from Him as to what we need to do in –

  • humbling ourselves
  • praying
  • seeking His face
  • interceding preparing for the seasons and days to come for us individually, for this nation, for His people, and for the earth.

Season of Preparation Part 3

The Call to Solemn Assembly

We are in a War of Holiness, a time when, as in every war, we are challenged by issues of Fear and Love. In this War of Holiness, we are in a Season of Preparation. This is our third message on the Season of Preparation. We have received an initial call to understand that we are in a Season of Preparation. Then, we studied Solemn Assemblies, and what they are and what they are not. And today we are going to consider our call to participating in a Solemn Assembly here on Dec 13.

This Solemn Assembly call is because of the problems we face, individually, in the natural and spiritual realms, as the world spins out around us.

Of course, the world has changed around us throughout our lives, but during the past two years, this has been especially so, and at a rapid pace. Now during this year, 2009, that pace has accelerated. More and more, people realize that they are not in charge of their lives – despite their perception of having American “freedoms” and “rights.” The economic crash, the power of the dollar – or the loss, or absence or weakening of it – and governmental changes made and discussed, and the power of governmental coercion, have bent the knees of many people, of many families, despite their free will. So many people have thought their freedoms and rights would enable them not to have to bend their knees to the economy and government, but yet they are finding their knees bent for them. So many have thought they would not be humbled by foreclosures and by governmental intrusions into their families and lives, yet circumstances have tumbled the households, and bent the knees and backs, of millions of people this year.

But as Scripture confirms to us, Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:10, “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.”

And here is the question: are we going to be subjugated by our circumstances or are we going to choose to bend our knees to Jesus?

This is a personal question, of course, but it is a community and a national and a global question, as we face increasing financial pressures and increasing issues of governmental intrusions and limitations of religious freedoms. It is the existence of these pressures and intrusions, the power of this question of yieldedness to Jesus, that brings us the call to Solemn Assembly.

In the Dedication of Solomon’s Temple, the Solemn Assembly was part of the Dedication, as a time of consecration, or setting apart, and as a time of remembrances and thanksgiving. It was a time of re-looking at God’s provision and protection and provision, in the past, and preparing selves, and God’s people, and a nation, for the future, the times to come.

As we prepare our hearts and minds for Solemn Assembly, we need to be mindful of past and present and future. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is squarely in our times and in our lives, both in the natural realm and in the super-natural realm.

We need help from the Trinity to get through what is coming at us. Like an athletic, or military, or business team, we need to be focused, beginning with each one of us as individuals. We need to know God’s plans for us, individually, in terms of missions and goals, and we need to know God’s plans to knit his believers together as a team. We truly need a deeper and wider and refreshed insight into the will of God.

So, in our Solemn Assembly, we will set aside times for remembrances, and for evaluations of the present. And we will seek the Lord prophetically for knowledge of the future. We will set aside times for refreshing, and renewal, and re-dedication. We will consecrate ourselves, setting us apart from the natural world in which we move, and live and have our physical being, as we prepare ourselves for the future, both in the natural world and in the spiritual realm.

We will plan for an extended service on that day, Dec. 13, and then we will share a covered dish feast here to celebrate our Lord and His righteousness. And then we will go forth much better prepared for what is to come. Many of God’s ministers are preaching rather directly in this season on End Times Eschatology, but the Holy Spirit has not called us today to that message. The Holy Spirit has called us to be reminded

  • that no matter what is forthcoming, we need to continue to be yielded to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, and for some of us, to become even more so yielded to Jesus Christ;
  • that we need to become more courageous in our faith, taking natural and spiritual realm risks as God directs;
  • that we need to stir up, even more so, (II Timothy 1:6-7) the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of hands (see Acts 8:16-17), which is the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit;
  • that we need a hunger, as in Acts 4:29-31, to speak the word of the Lord with all boldness,
  • that by stretching our His hand to heal, that signs and wonders may be done through the Name of Jesus Christ;
  • that in our times, our generation, we would be privileged to be on the cutting edge of what God is doing in the War of Holiness, in the struggle we have of Fear and Love;
  • that, therefore, Ephesians 6:13-17, we would never be without the helmet of Salvation, nor the belt of Truth, nor the preparation of the gospel of Peace, nor the breastplate of Righteousness, nor the Sword of the Spirit, nor the Shield of Faith;
  • that in living we would know, Philippians 1:21, that to live is Christ, and to die is gain!

Last evening, an older football coach, and Brother in Christ, shared with me a story of boldness in the faith and I want to pass it along to you: (Luke’s Story). God has His purposes, and His ways. He is sovereign. We are not sovereign. We are called to know and accept His will and to walk with the Lord, with the Holy Spirit, and to do so in complete obedience. The moral of Luke’s story is this: when one is afraid of His faith, He has not faith! Love conquers all, especially fear.

Winston Churchill famously said, in a Call to Arms in Great Britain during WWII, that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” as the Nazi Bombing of GB continued. If we fear only fear then a Solemn Assembly will do us no good. We need to grasp deeply ahold of the reality that we should fear only Him (Philippians 2:8) who calls us to be obedient unto death, yet promises us that He has abolished death (II Tim. 1:10), and brought life and immortality to light through His gospel.

Conclusion: God is calling us into preparation in the War of Holiness. He wants us to attain perfect love which casts out fear (I John 4:18), that we might move in His power to fulfill the good works which He ordained for us to do. The Solemn Assembly will prepare us for that, in His Grace.

Season of Preparation Part 2

Preparing for a Solemn Assembly

Last week, following Joe’s Series and our Series, we were led by the Lord to a Season of Preparation for what lies ahead.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16

We find such edification in the Old Testament, and as the Holy Spirit has led us there in these days, in the Old Testament teachings about Solemn Assemblies. Several things are obvious from a study of Solemn Assemblies in the Old Testament:

1. God ordained Solemn Assemblies

God ordained Solemn Assemblies as part of the Feast of the Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36) and as part of the Feast of the Passover (Deuteronomy 16:8). What is mostly said here is that they were holy convocations, and there were to be sacrifices by fire to the Lord, and that no customary work was be done on the day of Solemn Assembly.

2. The Great Deceiver copied the Solemn Assembly

(See II Kings 9, II Kings 10): The Great Deceiver copied the Solemn Assembly in the Worship of Baal and Jehu was sent by the Lord, and anointed by Elisha the prophet, as king of Israel, and specifically instructed King Jehu to strike down the house of Ahab, to avenge the blood of the servant-prophets, and other servants, of the Lord. Among the things that King Jehu did was to kill by surprise, and behead, seventy of the sons of King Ahab, and all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, and left him none remaining. Then he went to Samaria and implemented a deceptive plan himself: (ch. 10: 17-27): in which he gathered the prophets and priests of Baal together and called a solemn assembly for Baal, as King Jehu had a great sacrifice to make to Baal; and so the call went out, and the worshippers of Baal assembled at the Temple of Baal, and Jehu offered sacrifices to Baal; and at that high point of the ceremony, King Jehu’s soldiers came into the temple of Baal and killed all of the worshippers. Then they destroyed the sacred pillars of the temple of Baal and the temple of Baal itself; and then they made that site a garbage dump! There is a dark lining to that silver cloud though: Jehu then obeyed the Lord’s command, but (10:31), Jehu “took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart, for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin”, and (10:29), King Jehu continued to worship the golden calves at Bethel and Dan – idolatry! What happened? (10:32): “In those days, the Lord began to cut off parts of Israel, and Hazael” (of Syria?) “conquered them in all the territory of Israel.” God took affirmative action. That’s all – pretty serious, when the leadership of the nation is in sin, and leads the people into sin, the land of the nation and the government of the nation pass into enemy hands. Compare this to the days in which we live and remember the call of II Chronicles 7:14 to worship the Lord and obey him.

3. Solemn Assembly at the Dedication of the Temple

From II Chronicles 7:9: There was a Solemn Assembly at the Dedication of the Temple built by King Solomon. God is pretty serious about them.

Now, let’s get an overview of these Sacred Assemblies: To “do no customary work” means that we set aside time and are not distracted from seeking God and attending to him, in praise and worship and repentance and celebration. It’s kind of like a special date or appointment, or conference, with God. We would set aside time to focus on God and our relationship to and with Him. In the Old Testament, God makes it clear what we are to accomplish in a Sacred Assembly, and He also makes it clear how a Sacred Assembly can be corrupted and polluted. This gets us to the focal point for today – three things, which require some serious Scripture readings:

1. What does God want to accomplish in us by a Solemn Assembly?

Answer: He wants a commitment in our hearts that is real and sustained in the conduct of our lives. See Nehemiah chapters 8, 9 and 10. Remember that Nehemiah was appointed by God to organize and lead the rebuilding of Jerusalem, while most of the Jews were in captivity, then under King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah received this charge on his heart and in Nehemiah chapter 2, he obtained permission from King Artaxerxes to lead an expedition back to Judah, to Jerusalem and to organize the remnant of the Jews there, and to assemble resources and to rebuild the City of Jerusalem. Nearby warring nations wanted to stop and destroy the work. Is there a value in a strong defense when you are about God’s work? You bet!

And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing , that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.

Neh. 4:15-16

And when they got the walls up for the City of Jerusalem, they read the Books of God’s Law and they celebrated with praise, worship and feasting, and indeed, (8:18) with a Sacred Assembly. Chapter 9 explains what they did in the Sacred Assembly: they remembered, and recounted, the Great Things the Lord had done for His people, from creation, to Abraham, from the Exodus from Pharaoh and Egyptian slavery, from the Red Sea, and the leadings in the desert, and Mt. Sinai and God’s commandments through Moses, to food and water in the desert, and the Promised Land, and His grace and mercy when the people aced proudly (:16), hardened their hearts, and did not obey, and made a golden calf to worship, and did not have faith and so wanted to go back to Egypt, and they rebelled, wherein He did not forsake them, and they oscillated between rebellion and repentance, and God delivered them into the hands of their enemies and then patiently rescued them. And at this time, the greater number of the Jews were in the Babylonian captivity, and in this context, in this recitation in the Book of Nehemiah of this Sacred Assembly, we find 9:38: “And because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it; our leaders, our Levites and our priests seal it”. And then that sure covenant appears in 10:28-29, where it is reported that “everyone who had knowledge and understanding […] entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law […] and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord […]”

That is what He wanted in the Old Testament: a commitment under penalty of curse, to obey all of His commandments, walking in His Law.

2. God does not like pretend commitment.

He does not like Form over Substance. Thus, in Amos and in Isaiah, He admonishes His people against going through the motions of Sacred Assembly, and other forms of worship, when they remain idolaters:

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream. Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? (And) you also carried Sikkuth your king, and Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves. Therefore, I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus, says the Lord, whose Name is the God of hosts.

Amos 5:21-27

This speaks for itself: idolatry destroys any value in a sacred assembly.

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah: ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?’, says the Lord. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moon, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

Isaiah 1:10-15

Granted, Isaiah was speaking to Sodom and Gomorrah and not to Jerusalem. However, as you count the national sins described in Leviticus 20, as applied to America, what is the difference in substance of America and those two cities of iniquity?

3. The Resolution

Here is the resolution: Because of the Blood of Jesus, the supernatural gift, by Grace, of faith and forgiveness, and repentance, we are temples of the living God (II Corinthians 6:16). We are to present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), rather than cows are lambs or goats or birds as dead sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God! We have learned (Matthew 15:19) that out of the heart proceeds evil, without Jesus, but with Jesus, (Matthew 22:37) we can love the Lord our God with all of our heart, and (Mark 11:23) without doubt, that we can do good works in love out of a pure heart (I Timothy 1:5)! Now, that is substance over form, and that is what God is looking for in us, because when our hearts are right, II Timothy 2:22, we can call upon the Lord from a pure heart, and Hebrews 10:22, in full assurance of faith.

Conclusion: As you prepare for a Solemn Assembly in early December this year, review the scriptures we have discussed today, and repent and be washed in the Word and the Blood of Christ, receiving anew the forgiveness of God, in all sincerity of Heart. Then we will be prepared and our Lord will hear our prayers as we ask His help in turning the tide against Him within and without this nation of America.

We don’t want parts of our land cut off, nor do we want to suffer under foreign controls.

Because of the Blood of Jesus, we do not need to enter an oath with a curse, as a sure covenant, because we have the privilege of an oath with a promise that will not disappoint. But we still need to enter, to re-enter, on a personal level, that covenant relationship with Jesus. With our hearts right, we will elevate substance over form, and God, who is patient and faithful, will forgive us, as He forgave King David, and He will bless us and heal our land.

AMEN!

The War of Holiness Part 5

God, Man, and Society Part 3

Today, we continue in our study of the structure of the relationships of God, Man and Society. Our present focus is on Romans 13:1-7 and in our last message (July 5), we came to some understandings about power and authority, in a general sense, from the Greek words of the New Testament. We have come to see that, for Christians, it is necessary that we understand, with wisdom, the character, functions and claims of civil government, that we understand the God-intended relationships of God, man and society. And we saw the statement by Paul, in verses 1 and 2, of the duty of obedience to civil rule.

Now, our focus for today is to understand the grounds on which rest the duty of civil obedience. In Romans 13, Paul gives us two grounds.

1. Governments Derive Their Power from God

Government of civil society is a divine institution, originating in, and sanctioned by the will of God — v.1 – “There is no power but of God.” Recall Acts 17:28, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” All things and powers are from God, even of wild animals and even of Satan. Colossians 1:17, “In Him” (KJV: “By Him”) “all things consist.” Thus, it is certainly clear that through God kings and rulers and leaders are permitted to occupy their thrones and seats of power in civil government: there is a divine providence in the affairs of men by which, for example, Pharaoh was raised up, by which God gave the kingdom to Jeroboam, by which Cyrus was raised up. Jesus summed it up to Pilate in John 19:11, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”

If Paul teaches civil obedience merely to powers that be, without address to the issue of holy authority, then Paul’s own teaching would be understood that any evil conqueror, even the devil himself, could plead the divine sanction of obedience and enforce a pre-eminent, but unholy, authority. Such an interpretation is a monstrous conclusion which is self-condemned because it removes the holiness of authority from the raw power of the machinery of government and the machinations of Machiavellian rulers and politicians.

What Paul is teaching here is the duty of obedience to the institution of government, and explains that there is no authority properly exercised by government over men except by that which God has established. Paul proceeded in his teaching in Romans 13, to define with specificity, distinction and brevity, the sort of “power” to which obedience is salutary and required.

2. Authorities are Appointed by God.

“The authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (KJV: “The powers that be are ordained of God.”) 

The general error in interpretation of this clause is to take for granted that this phrase, “the powers that be,” “the authorities that exist,” subjects mankind to all and any existing governments. The same arguments made as to the first ground above apply equally here. Also, for example, note Hosea 8:4, in which there is reference to the establishment of an independent government by the ten tribes under Jeroboam: “They set up kings, but not by Me; they made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.” Daniel referred to what some understand as the Roman Empire (because Rome is near the sea and is built on seven hills or mountains) as a “beast,” not as “she who must be obeyed,” Daniel 7:19: “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast which is different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet.” In Revelation 13:1, the Apostle John, likewise, described the beast, “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.” Any pestilence so described is to be avoided and shunned, and quickly, and so it cannot be argued that any such government is ordained by God. Like with Jeroboam, God neither made nor acknowledged such a government.

God by His will has called into existence national organization as a government and, in so doing, has set up the proper ends of such governments, by giving them supreme laws which they are called to observe and obey, and set its limits. This is not different as a ministry than the ministry of reconciliation, which God ordained in Christ, willing it into existence, prescribing its duties, its functions, its goals and its limitations.

No other interpretation can be given to Paul’s words which are consistent with due reverence for God, the Holy One of Israel, the Just, upon whose shoulders in Jesus rests the Government! Power not derived from God, not from him, not acknowledged by Him is always illegitimate.

Paul’s teaching demonstrates that it is not beneath the dignity of the Christian to be subject to civil government. Rather than offending Christ, such subjection honors Christ, for it is yieldedness to a divine institution, and cannot be safely withheld.

However, there is a distinction between the institution of government, as noted at the beginning, and the king, ruler, leader or judge in whose hands at the moment lie the reins of power. We shall look into this next time!

Let us pray that, by God’s anointing, we would have our knowledge increased, our understanding blessed with a Godly glow, and our wisdom tutored to God’s glory, that we might come to the fullness of maturity in understanding our part in the relationships of God, Man and Society as we live and breath and act and speak in a continual War of Holiness.

The War of Holiness Part 4

God, Man, and Society Part 2

Overview from last week: God put man to live in social situations, requiring social organization, and God has an interest in man, and his relationship to God, and man’s individual relationships to each other, and man and society’s relationships to each other.

God has a particular interest in nations [Genesis 12:2: “I will make you” (Abraham) “a great nation” . . . . (the Nation of Israel); Psalm 2: “Why do the nations rage . . . .”; Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . . “].

The Tea Parties of yesterday and recently are in the spirit of the hearts and actions of the colonists that lead to The American Revolution. The Tea Parties are an initial means of peaceful assembly and humble petition for the redress of wrongs by our government. The American Revolution was initiated by our Declaration of Independence from England, demonstrates Man’s belief that God is interested in the relationships of men and society with each other. Take note of these excerpts from the Declaration of Independence (READ). If we were to remain eternally subject to England as our governing authority, until and unless God changed things, then there was no proper American Revolution, because revolution is the opposite of subjection.

As Rev. Willson put the question, which lays on the table before us, in his 1853 work on Romans 13, “Can it be, for a moment, believed, that God has made man a social being – placed him in society, and thus necessitated, by the very laws of the human constitution, the establishment of civil rule, and that he has, after all, set no bounds to the authority; no hedge about the claims of civil rulers? That, after all, He has left this whole matter to be lawfully managed, not by law, even His law, not by rule, but merely according to human caprice, or; what is worse, human ambition, self-seeking, pride, and violence?” We need to grasp that it is not how we answer this question that is so important, but how God answers this question that is so important – and in the light of how God answers this question we may be informed as to our proper answer.

After all, we know, at least in our flesh, that we do not want to be the milk-toasted collaborators, facilitators and followers of Hitlerian fascism and nationalism, nor, at the other extreme, do we want the anarchy of being or coping with Modern Man in the World of the Joker, as we discussed last week.

We will find God’s answer in Scripture, and it will center on Romans 13, but will expand, as any understanding and application of Scripture must, to incorporate the being, the nature and the character of God, who created us in His image, but gave us — for His Glory – the right and power of choice in obedience. So our analysis of this question in Scripture will depend on contextual analysis of Romans 13, and related Scriptures, but also on God’s Godliness.

Let’s get into it a bit, here on the screen is Romans 13: 1-7; let’s read it and I will leave it up on the screen, in verse parts, for discussion and meditation.

Now, let’s see what questions this passage requires us to think about:

  1. The duty of man in general of obedience to civil authority: verse 1
  2. General considerations enforcing this obedience: verses 1 and 2
  3. The design of the appointment of rulers, or of the institution of government: verse 3
  4. The application of these principles to the case of both good and bad citizens: verse 4
  5. The principal of obedience to civil rule: verse 5
  6. A more specific statement of the duties owing to civil government, as previously described: verses 6 and 7.

Let’s look at the first part of verse 1: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.” (Note, King James refers to the “Higher Powers.”)

  1. The Greek work here used for “powers” or “authorities” is EXOUSIA, which in Greek denotes any species of authorized power: paternal, ecclesiastical, magisterial. In verse 1 it clearly is in reference to the magisterial, or civil government powers. There is a distinction of importance in the Greek. This word, EXOUSIA, is also used in Matthew 21:23, where Jesus was interrogated by the chief priests and the elders, as to the authority by which He preached and acted, using the word EXOUSIA again. In Acts 3 and Acts 4, we are told of Peter and John healing the lame man at the Temple, then speaking to the people, and were accosted by the priests, the captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees. In verses 8-13, of Chapter 4, Peter explained that the healing was done by a greater power and authority than themselves: “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by whom this man (the healed, formerly lame man) stands here before you whole . . . . when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” This passage serve to elucidate, to explain, a distinction between a power or ability emanating from our own will, or from the will of a higher power or authority. You see, there is another Greek word, DUNAMIS, which refers to an institution endued with the ability and the authority to execute its own will. Clearly, EXOUSIA, as used in Matthew 21:23 and in Romans 13:1, refers to something different, to an institution endued with the right to enact and administer law by some authority other than its own, mere will.
  2. The Greek word HUPERECHO, rendered in English as “higher,” properly signifies prominence or eminence, excellent or excelling. We see this same Greek root work in other NT verses (Philippians 2:3, “Let each esteem others better” (HUPERECHO) “than themselves.”; Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth” (HUPERECHO) “all understanding”; Philippians 3:8, “For the excellency” (STA TO HUPERECHO) “of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”
  3. Putting the words together, “Higher Powers” means powers possessing a due measure of the qualifications required for the rightful exercise of the power of civil rule. There is an inherent majesty, an inherent moral excellence and character expressed in lawful governmental power, which puts its subjects in a healthy state of awe. Note that Paul is referring to the institution of government, not to particular magistrates by whom the authority of the institution of government is exercised – he does not get to “rulers” until verse 3 – he is referring in verse 1, if you will, to government in the abstract, the institution of civil rule as ordained by God for the benefit of man and society.
  4. Subjection to the institution of civil government is what God ordained, and that by all men. This is intended to be a happy, free and voluntary subjection, as evidenced by Paul’s use of the word, HUPOTASSO), denoting an orderly and due submission, both genuine and hearty. Paul defines the subjection more fully, that we might understand it better in verses 5 and 7: “Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake . . . . render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” This is as distinguished from the forced obedience to the strongman’s demand of money, property or rape, because there is no possibility of escape or of successful resistance. But here, Paul is only dealing with the duty of subjection to the institution of civil government.
  5. The context of God and Godliness in which this duty of genuine and hearty subjection, by every soul, to the institution of civil government applies is, as in all things, necessarily limited by the paramount claims of the law of God. Only an atheist – a Modern Man living in the World of The Joker – can argue that the law of the land can legitimately set aside, weaken or nullify the authority of the law of God. Remember, there is a God above all, as we are reminded in Philippians 2: 20-11, “. . . at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” If obedience and subjection are thus limited to bowing before the mere Name of Jesus and confessing that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, for the BEST government, surely it cannot be argued, except by the atheist or the Modern Man of the World of the Joker, that subjection to a government exercising unholy powers should go beyond such bowing and confession. You see, this is the important thing; subjection – yieldedness – to the civil government institution can only be given by the Christian subject-citizen when it can be done without SIN. If cannot be done without SIN, then every Christian subject-citizen must follow the example of Daniel and Christ, and many other believers, and suffer rather than sin. We are the church; Christ is our head (Ephesians 5: 23-24), and to Him alone do we belong and to Him alone are we subject. We have one master – Christ, and are bid to disobey any command that calls us into sin, even if we invoke suffering as our wages. The church and its members – us – owe no allegiance to any Head other than Christ. For any institution of civil government to claim supremacy over the church, the Bride of Christ, is a presumptuous and unwarranted usurpation of God and His Godliness. Are you beginning to see that you cannot understand and apply Scripture in a vacuum in which God and His Godliness are absent, in which obedience to the institution of civil government calls us from purity into sin?

Conclusions for the Day

  1. Christians, like our Founding Fathers, should come to an understanding, and take a strong interest in the subject of civil government. It is not too far away nor too spoiled and unholy for the attention of Christians. Such study is necessary for understanding our duty of obedience and subjection to the higher powers. Independence Day celebrations should cause each family to pull out a copy of the Declaration of Independence and read it and talk about it at table, and to consider how to bring back the proper Christian understanding of God, man and society;
  2. Ministers should explain the doctrine of the Word of God on this subject. But alas, as in Hitler’s Germany, the German Church abandoned the pulpit on this issue and stood meekly by, encouraging the two-world view and approved, if not embraced, the slaughter of the Jews and the reckless and evil invasions of Europe and Russia, and the axis of evil of Germany-Italy-Japan, in their quest to own and divide the spoils of the earth and its nations, God’s earth and nations. Nations have ambassadors; we are ambassadors of Christ, and after our own circles of family and friends, we are first ambassadors to our own nations, and as ambassadors we have some reminder messages to deliver to the people and leadership of our nation. In so doing, we should keep closely in obedience to Scripture and the fullness of the Godhead, to bring forth glory to Christ in all things.

The War of Holiness Part 3

God, Man, and Society Part 1

Introduction

In the Great Commandment of Matthew 22, we are taught to understand the importance of man’s relationship to God, and man’s relationship to man, and that man’s relationship to man is important to God, is prescribed by God and that we are called to relate to our fellow man, individually as neighbors, and corporately as society, according to certain specific principles laid down by God in His Word.

Many in history have understood this, and many in history have gotten confused, misguided and mistaken. Such errors have led many into obscure cults, self-imposed segregation from society, and at times an overwhelming (?) self-absorption.

I know of no one, today, who remains unconcerned about our world, nation, economy, personal security. Such concerns, regardless of beliefs, are together the universal common denominator of mankind, in our society and elsewhere. However, what people everywhere are struggling with is the question of what to do about such concerns. Among many of the leaders of our great nation are men and women who are Christian believers, we have large churches led by Christian believers, we have Christian people, or at least who profess such beliefs, in policy-making positions here and in numerous — not all – nations around the globe. Yet, it is undeniable that the voices of these Christian policy makers are dim in the address of such concerns from a policy perspective. As these voices dim, since power abhors a vacuum, we face the reality that so-called progressive thought is mounting a direct assault on Christianity. And we wonder why progressive thought threatens Christianity. It is because progressive thought embraces a virtually-unlimited governmental power and a no-holds-barred morality. Making the State larger, more intrusive in the lives of people, and making it more powerful as against the lives and rights and privileges of its citizens, requires a severe re-reading of the Word of God, indeed the redefinition of God Himself. But we know that our God, our Jesus, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will not be remade, He will not be redefined. He will not be put in the box of those in power who think they are truly in control. They are not truly in control. Christianity itself puts limits on government and establishes moral boundaries. Consequently, we have the grim reality that, through the work of malicious, or misguided, or double-minded policy-makers, the light of Christ is dimming in the world, and in the policies of the governments of the world and our own nation. This is more than sad; it is sin in the world, the nation, the church and individual lives. It is the foundation today for a heart cry from II Chronicles 7:14, not just for our nation’s land, but for the land of the world!

One of the painful and deeply misguided teachings in the church for centuries has been what is called the “two-kingdom” analysis of God, man and society. It was first taught by St. Augustine (circa 400 AD), who taught that the church was the spiritual City of God, to be distinguished from the material City of Man. This teaching carried through the church for centuries, and even found favor with Martin Luther (circa 1525 AD). With attribution to Gary DeMar, in the Foreword to the republication in 2009 of The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government, an exposition of Romans 13: 1-7, “Two-kingdon social theory teaches that ‘heavenly things’ are directed exclusively by God’s redemptive grace through Spiritual Revelation while ‘earthly things’ are formulated by God’s common grace through Natural Revelation. In this ideal but naïve world, believers and unbelievers, because they are created in the image of God, can work together to construct society using common-ground features found in Natural Revelation and guided by reason. As long as most people believed in God, such a world was theoretically possible since Natural Revelation was interpreted, either consciously or unconsciously, by Special Revelation, the Bible.”

This at least theoretical compatibility of the two kingdoms perished in 1859, the nasty by-product of Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species, as evolution killed Special Revelation, the privilege of common grace, Natural Revelation, and the belief that there is a common humanity created in the image of God. Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually-fulfilled nihilist, living beyond “good and evil” (the title of Nietzsche’s first book, published in 1886).

As Francis Shaeffer has described it, nature – that which is known through reason – began to “eat up grace,” which is known through Spiritual, or Special, Revelation. Following Darwin’s lead, many leading theologians and Christian publishers by the end of WWII began to dismiss the possibility of Special or Spiritual Revelation in a material and evolving cosmos. Darwin unleashed modern day aetheistic science and created Modern Man in its image. Schaeffer has described Modern Man, not made in the image of God and not privileged by Special, or Spiritual Revelation: “If the unsaved man was consistent he would be an atheist in religion, an irrationalist in philosophy (including a complete uncertainty concerning ‘natural laws’), and completely a-moral in the widest sense.” The modern atheist and principal antagonist to the principle of Intelligent Design of the Universe, Richard Dawkins, asserts that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” In reality, Darwin, Richard Dawkins and other like-minded souls have rendered irrelevant the two-kingdom approach to God, man and society. This means we have experienced in my lifetime a real shift in worldview thinking.

Let us consider, again with attribution to Pastor DeMar as noted above, two examples, the Joker from Batman and Adolf Hitler:

  1. The Joker from Batman (The film, The Dark Knight, 2008): Bruce Wayne (Christopher Bale) tells Alfred (Michael Cain) that criminals are “not complicated,” we just need to find out what The Joker wants. You see, in a world where there is general agreement of an acknowledged universal moral order, the actions of criminals always made sense. Even criminals knew they were wrong. The Joker is different, now. He operates from a different point of view, even an anti-point of view. Alfred tells Bruce that “some men just want to watch the world burn.” When Batman tried to beat the Joker into telling his plans, the Joker cackled with glee at the pain and taunted Batman: “you have nothing to frighten me with.” You see, the Joker lives in a world that (thank you Nietzsche and Darwin) is beyond good and evil. He does not, cannot, fear God; rather he denies the existence of God. Why should the Joker fear that which he does not believe exists? There cannot be a two-kingdom approach to God, man and society for Modern Man who lives – in America and elsewhere – in the Joker’s world.
  2. Adolph Hitler: Hitler used the two-kingdom approach to Christian analysis of God, man and society to his great political advantage. As explained by Richard Demarest in 1982, in his study of General Revelation, “A Majority within the state church (known as the ‘German Christians’) unwittingly or otherwise embraced the new national religion, founded not on the Word of God but on the divine will allegedly embedded in the natural order. Emerging from this fatal exchange came a semi-Christian natural religion (some would say a new paganism) in which the church became a servile instrument of Nazi policy . . . .!” In other words, Hitler knew he could get away with a lot of his oppressive policies because a majority of German Christians did not believe that it was permissible, in God’s view, to bring the Bible to bear in realms they considered to be outside the reach of its limited jurisdiction. Politics was considered to be official neutral territory – a sort of religiously demilitarized zone. They held to these principles of Augustine and Luther, and the “theologians” and accepted a complete misreading of Romans 13: 1-7; and related Scripture, to conclude that those who happened to be in political power were God’s ministers, regardless of the good or evil of their policies, and that such political ministers, and such governmental policies, were off-limits, beyond the limited jurisdiction of God and the church, to call any of them into accountability.

As explained by Richard V. Pierard, “German Lutherans made a strong bifurcation between the realm of public and private concerns . . . . Religion was the domain of the inner personal life, while the institutional and external, the public, so to speak, belonged to the worldly power. Redemption was exclusively the province of the church, while the law, determinative for external conduct of human affairs, was solely the province of the state. Religion was a private matter that concerned itself with the personal and moral development of the individual. The external order – nature, scientific knowledge, statecraft – operated on the basis of its own internal logic and discernable laws.” (1978).

In the Hitlerian experience, while Christians might oppose Nazi policies on a personal level, they were conditioned by the public education system, the government, and even the German Church itself, to believe that not only were they impotent, but that they were specifically instructed by the Bible to avoid any effort to alter or oppose the policies of the government.

From the Hitlerian experience, the progressives in America have been emboldened. We hear the steady cry now of separation of church and state, and are told that this so-called constitutional provision requires the silence and paralysis of the church in its voice, vote and feet on all social and political – so-called “external” issues, and that – in a great perversion of the Bible and the Constitution, only those progressive pastors and churches who are supportive of the politically powerful and their anti-Chritian point of view, may speak freely from the pulpit!

Where the Christian culture has gone wrong – and allowed the world and the nation to go wrong with it – is it getting stuck in salvation and in not choosing to believe that Jesus is – and should be – Lord of all life. Schaeffer figured it out; Paul McQuire ( a syndicated talk show host from California) who has thus quoted Schaeffer figured it out; Gary DeMar figured it out, and it is time for everyone to figure it out. In our church we have been preaching growth, maturity, obedience, self-discipline because we figured it out. In all of life it is the Lord’s way, by His grace and power and authority, or no way.

Yes, in the relationship of God, man and society, we have Matthew 22:21 (Jesus says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”) and we have Romans 13 (in part, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. . . . “) In America, if we have a Caesar it is our Constitution, and that is based on the inalienable rights with which we have been endowed by our Creator God. And our Constitution recognizes its limits and assures the right of the voting people to

  1. express their grievances and to assemble for such purposes;
  2. vote out corrupt and oath-breaking officials;
  3. change existing laws – bad policy – through the legislative process.

As we will see in days and messages to come, there is no proper two-kingdom approach to the relationship of God, man and society; there is only a one-kingdom approach and God will ultimately make it so in the New Jerusalem, but we should be mindful, meantime, of our responsibility to treat every word and act as an act of war in the War of Holiness, and to try to make II Chronicles 7:14 the heart cry of every citizen of the world!

End Note 1: II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

The War of Holiness Part 2

On June 7, we received Part I of this message, The War of Holiness. We were reminded that God has called us, (2 Tim 1: 8-10) with a holy calling, to holiness in Christ Jesus, and it is our responses to this call which divides, and has always divided, the world. This division of the world, on a public and a private scale is warring, war-like, and a real war – The War of Holiness!

In brief review, Hebrews 7:26 provides God’s definition of holiness, a description of Jesus as High Priest, of whom it was there said, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners . . . .” The definition of holiness: “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” The War of Holiness is over our choices. In accepting God’s holy calling, we are challenged by the worldly and satanic forces of personality, persuasion, manipulation, money and physical force, and we are challenged throughout our lives:

  1. to make an initial choice to accept the Holy Calling of God;
  2. to know and understand this Holy Calling of God;
  3. to make, continually and continuing, holy choices in the decisions of our lives, knowing that every breath, every word, every deed, every plan, is an act of war, one way or the other, in the way of holiness.

And 2 Tim 1:8-10 calls us, in this Holy Calling, not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, and to share in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, for his purpose and by the grace given us in Christ Jesus.

On this occasion to celebrate fathers, Father’s Day, I am reminded of this War of Holiness, this holy calling by God, because God has called us men to be priests, prophets and kings over our families and households; he has called us to be the leaders of our families and households, and this War of Holiness challenges men at every turn and place. God’s holy calling is for men

  1. to nurture the faith to accept the calling, that initial choice;
  2. to execute the self-discipline to study, read, meditate, pray and communicate with God, so as to know and understand this Holy Calling;
  3. to muster the will and the courage, in faith, to make, continually, and continuing, holy choices in the decisions of our lives, and as affecting the lives of our families and our households.

Let’s talk about manly leadership in these three areas.

First, God’s Holy Calling goes back a ways: It is described in Leviticus 20:26 (“And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”), speaking of the Hebrew descendants of Abraham. And the rest of mankind is given the opportunity, by faith, to be grafted into that bloodstock by the ministry of reconciliation in the Blood of Jesus (see Romans 11:13-20). And to Jew and Gentile alike, this Holy Calling (Romans 12:1) is to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, as our reasonable service to Him. In accepting this Holy Calling, we hear the cry of Jesus as He started His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:17), “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand;” we remember the invitation of Jesus (John 3:16-18 and Revelation 20:6), that because of God’s love, those who believe in Jesus shall have everlasting life; and that we shall reign and rule with Christ.

Second, in knowing and understanding this Holy Calling of God, we have to really grasp the magnitude of the Blood of Jesus: Colossians 1: 21-23 (“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – and if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard . . . .”). Men struggle with their weaknesses and their strengths, their passions and their lazinesses: the manifestations are in failures to love and honor God by obedience to His commands, and by failure of our families by failing to make or to sustain commitment, addictions, selfishness, criminality, violence and abuse, unforgiveness, refusing to be accountable or to accept responsibility, and even by simple failures like coarse language, humor. That struggle, that battle, alienates us from God and from our families and makes us God’s enemies in our minds, as we try to justify such failures and foolishness. That struggle is the War of Holiness! In this struggle, we need accountability, with our families, with other men, with our church members, and with the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 3: 12-14, the importance of that accountability is clarified, so that we hold on to our salvation (just like it mentioned in Colossians 1:21-23: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end . . . (and not rebel).” In the great consistency of the Holy Scripture, this message is sealed in Revelation 22:11, “. . . he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

Third, in living our lives, men, we learn from God how to live them and we just have to choose to do it right: to love God with all that we are (and thereby to obey Him) and to love our families more than ourselves (and there by to serve them). God has shown us this way to live, to win the War of Holiness, in two special scriptures, one in Ephesians and one in Colossians. In Ephesians, 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife, loves himself.” And in Colosssians 3:12-17, “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and believed, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (sounds like the Sermon on the Mount and the fruit of the Spirit!!); “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another . . . but above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called, in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do, in word or deed” (all Acts of War in the War of Holiness), “do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Today, I am speaking to fathers, especially, and to young men who, God willing, shall become fathers, and to mothers, and wives, and young women who seek to become mothers. To the women not married, know what you are looking for, what God has planned for you in a husband and father. To the men not married, know what God has planned for you in being a husband and father.

I speak to all of you on this Father’s Day 2009: God has called you to the bond of perfection – love – which produces obedience to God’s will, and service to those around us, especially our families, our wives and children! You understand the Holy Calling now, and you need to continue to study it and talk to the Holy Spirit, and read the Word, and pray, and talk to your family and your accountability partners, and accept correction from any of these worthy sources (that is what accountability is for – repentance). In your repentance, as a way of life, choose to fit your life, continually and courageously, into the definition of holiness, in the model of Jesus Christ, as one who is “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” If you’re going to be a Christian, you’ve got to act like Christ – Amen?!