This is a compilation of messages and short booklets examining many of the subjects that Christians ought to know. We all know them in part, but it is good to review and refresh our mastery and understanding of God’s Word for our lives.
These were each written and distributed to my friends and family over the course of the last few years. It seemed good to me to incorporate them into one book for easier retrieval and review.
My prayer is that this will encourage you in the Lord and challenge you to grow in Him.
All my love in Christ to you all… forever.
Bob Moloney Jr.
2) TAKING THE GIFT. The difference between
believing and having faith.
3) COMPLETE SALVATION Examining salvation for
body - soul - and spirit.
4) THE EARNEST PAYMENT The awesome gift of the indwelling Spirit.
5) GEARING UP Taking charge of our
6) THIS IS A TEST Putting on the whole
armor of God.
7) SWDS II The educational
requirements for “armor wearers”.
8) WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE?
Both for Christians
9) WONDERFUL NEWS Hope
from a surprising source.
10) A LIFE CHANGING PICTURE A
graphic understanding of personal sin.
11) THE REAL REST Are
we just waiting for heaven?
12) FOCUS BEYOND A
better way to grow and witness.
A Change of Focus
My inclination and history is to inform you all about current events and their relationship to Biblical prophecy. I (possibly incorrectly) assumed that by showing the details of our position in history and the fast advancement of the enemy’s plans, that Christians would hear the call to arms and begin the training regimen necessary for success in this awesome age. It appears that many of my readers are either unaware of, or apathetic toward what steps are required by any Christian determined to be a “successful” warrior for God in these days.
By “successful” I mean becoming a Christian who is part of the answer rather than being a drag on the whole system. Some Christians wait around to be fed (and squall if they don’t get what they want) while others start digging into scripture not only to feed themselves, but also to be pillars of strength for others. Let’s be clear on this … there will always be those who need to be carried and fed … but are you one of them? Seriously? Don’t take that as an insult because it is intended as a compliment. Heb 6:9-10 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case — things that accompany salvation. NIV
I wouldn’t be challenging you if I didn’t think more highly of you and your potential.
My aim in these new writings is to focus on the spiritual aspects of the war on humanity and Christians in particular. I will attempt to show what is happening to illustrate the severity and speed at which this is all coming to fulfillment. But the goal will be to show you how it affects you inside : in your relationship to God and to others. How your thinking and focus is being manipulated to prevent you from being anything more than a nuisance to Satan. I don’t want to be a nuisance … I want to be a dangerous foe! How about you?
In exactly the same manner, I want to be a well-spring of water for my brethren… A calm in the face of vicious uncertainty… a steady influence for good … and a source for enlightenment and wisdom while the world writhes in agony and deception. Don’t you? That can only be accomplished by being continually filled with the Holy Spirit and by dedicated discipleship. (Less of me and more of Thee!)
I hope that by challenging you and warning you again, that some of you will get the sense of urgency and awe that some of us share. DO NOT FEAR! But don’t stand in the closet waiting for it all to blow over either! Shortly, approximately 2.4 BILLION people will die in World War III. Shortly, the American dollar will be worthless and our standard of living will plummet to “Third World” status. The starving and the ungodly will make the survival of you and your family extremely difficult. Hear me! If you haven’t learned to walk by faith, not by sight – before then … it will be too late. Your eyes and ears will be screaming information to your brain at such a volume that it will be extremely difficult at best to hear that “still small voice”. Practice NOW, set your heart to learn NOW, while God in His mercy sounds the warning yet again.
While it is possible and even probable that you may disagree with some of the conclusions I have drawn from the overwhelming evidence, there is one thing you cannot deny. The Tribulation and the soon coming of Jesus are closer than ever and arriving not only in your lifetime, but within the next few short years. Be ready!
The following articles, while not dealing specifically with prophetic events are intended to prepare us for being the disciples we need to be for the coming days. In everything, God’s intent for His children is that they grow and mature into the image of Christ. This is far more important than any other aspect of Christianity. The urgency that God has impressed on me to share what I see in both prophecy and the news is for the purpose of getting us off the couch and into the battle.
That battle is not in the political arena, nor the survivalist mentality, but rather the spiritual warfare to defeat Satan in our own lives so as to be able to win the lost. The overwhelming evidence is that the enemy is becoming far more open in his attacks on mankind. There is no question that many of the horrific things we read in the newspaper are prompted and provoked by demon possession.
Do not be lulled into a false sense of security expecting only blatant evil to be the enemy’s work. Satan is not stupid. He may be criminally insane, but don’t underestimate him. At least two entertainment stars, to my knowledge, have said that they owe their success to being demon possessed. (They just put it in kinder, gentler terms… “my spirit guide transforms me when I’m on stage” etc.) You may even enjoy their talent without knowing the source of their ‘success”. The two I’m specifically referring to here are Beonce and Lady Gaga.
Michael Jackson spoke about how he was moved to create his dancing and music, and to a Christian’s ears he spoke clearly of getting “help” from a spirit.
Why do I bring this up (especially in an era where Christians are “too sophisticated” to believe in demonic possession)? Because we are not only to submit our lives to God … but to resist the devil! If you don’t recognize him by his work - you are less likely to defend yourself and others from the lure of his methods. This doesn’t take a baby Christian, but rather …
Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use (of the Word) have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. NIV
When your enemy is unafraid to show himself openly, the defenses are weak or broken down and need rebuilding. Possibly, my attempt to show clearly the signs of the times has not been achieving its purpose to get Christians on their knees and into the Word. But by God’s grace I will continue to share the things that I am being shown.
My goal and hearts prayer for you is to be ready at all times, growing in the Spirit, and taking your place in the will of God to be “more than conquerors”. The lost world awaits.
So let’s start at the beginning. The first two articles are on the subject of salvation. Since most of my readers are already certain of their salvation, why put these first? The simple reason is that as Christians we are told to be witnesses of Jesus. To some people, that means being able to recite the “Roman Road” plan of salvation or some other good but prearranged method of explaining the truth. These two are to show you that creativity in expressing yourself in the way that your own mind works is far better than just following a script.
Taking the Gift
Christmas-time, and I’m celebrating the ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus. But at the same time I’m sad about the millions of people who think they are Christians and are not.
13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Untold numbers of church-goers that know all about Jesus, that sing about Him, that talk about Him, and that consider themselves Christians, are being deceived.
Let me paint you a picture. A man in your church is a billionaire but the rest of the congregation is quite poor. One day the billionaire stands up and says, “I will adopt anyone who asks me, so that they can share in my inheritance.” You can imagine the scene. Quite a few people rush over to him and ask him to adopt them. He has the papers right there and a couple signatures later, each of them are adopted.
But standing in the same church are those who are watching this but who don’t go to him and ask to be signed up. They believe that he is actually doing what he said. They believe that he is a great guy. They know him and what he is like. They can even tell others about him so that they know of the fabulous gift. They believe that they will share in his wealth because of his great kindness, because they were there when he offered it. They can’t imagine that they won’t share in his wealth because he offered it to them… and they believed him!
Those “believing” people never get a penny – because they didn’t personally go up to him and ask to get signed up.
21 Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Believing without DOING the will of the Father is useless.
Jesus explained it this way….
53 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."
Do you see how Jesus was separating those who just followed him from those who took personal action (eat-drink) and how it was offensive to some?
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
The point of Jesus teaching was simple. Just following me around and believing that I’m the Messiah and watching what I do; even identifying yourself with my disciples – is not good enough. You must ask me to enter you, become part of you, to be “born again”. “Eat my flesh, drink my blood” is not somebody else doing it for you or feeding you. You must take action and receive Him into your deepest being.
67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
No matter what He said, whether they understood it completely or not, the true disciples had personally decided that there was nowhere else to go, nobody else to lead them, and nobody else that they would commit themselves to. They had each personally accepted Him as their Messiah, and couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.
In Matt. 7:21-23 (printed above) These people at the judgment seat had done “great works” for Jesus. They had undoubtedly preached about Jesus, believed they were Christians, and were confident that because of their religion they would be accepted by God. But not so fast …
God said He never “knew” them. What that means is shocking to an unbeliever. Knowing “about” God is not knowing Him, and God knowing about you, is not the same as Him knowing you (from inside).
There is a personal action required to obtain eternal life and Jesus describes it in Revelation
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
We must open the door, and He will come in.
Without His entering into you, by your invitation, you are not saved, and have not received the gift of eternal life.
If you are not completely sure that you have done this; even if you believe you are a Christian … invite Him in now, ask Him to be your savior and God. Ask Him for forgiveness and to come into you and dwell there by His spirit forever. God never minds if you have asked Him before, and you are doing it again. He just wants to make sure that you are sure that He has actually done what He said.
That title will surely put you to sleep! Maybe I should call this, “The Ultimate Rescue” or “God’s Way to Git ‘er Done”. God isn’t in the habit of doing things by half, so when He provided salvation, He truly did “Git ‘er Done”! The troublesome truth is – most folks only know about a part of that – and sometimes they goof up the part they know!
We’ve got arguments right now in Christendom (maybe oughta call us Christendumb!) just because we don’t get the whole picture.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that our bodies haven’t been saved yet. No amount of twisting the truth can overcome our propensity for mischief, sickness, failure, and downright idiocy in the use of this suitcase we call a body.
Ask any Christian with 5 minutes of training and he knows we’re gonna get a new one someday. It’ll be like the one Jesus walked around in after His resurrection. He walked through walls, showed up and disappeared at will, ate, drank and flew in the air. Sounds like something to look forward to doesn’t it? That same guy will tell you that your body isn’t supposed to be in charge. We’re the rider and it’s the hoss!
Reminds me of newer cars. They drive all right… it’s just they drive me nuts! Those fine folks down in Detroit figured out that there’s a whole lotta people who are either to dumb or just plain lazy when it comes to driving. So they got bells to tell you when you’re doing something wrong. Maybe you forgot your seatbelt, or you didn’t close the door. Worse yet, they lock you in automatically after you drive about ten feet. If I wanted to lock the doors, I’da done it myself! They turn on your lights as soon as the car starts (sure wrecks keepin’ the car warm at the drive-in). Some of them lower your high-beams when you approach other traffic. (What if I wanted to burn that guys retinas out for the way he was driving?) I am constitutionally dead set against a car thinking for me!
Why? Because I’m responsible for its operation and it doesn’t do me any good to be given a reason to not pay attention. Just picture being pulled over by a cop for speeding and saying to him … “but the warning system didn’t tell me you were lurking there … it’s the car’s fault!” The more we let someone or something else be responsible for us… the worse we live.
Same story with our bodies. When we let it tell us we need three more helpings of Turkey and gravy, or that we can’t stay awake long enough to read our bibles and pray … is when we’re abdicating the throne and letting the servant rule the roost! The lyrics to the same old song that the irresponsible sing are … “but I just can’t help it”. Phooey! Balderdash! And all that stuff!
We were given a body to do good stuff by US telling that particular tool just what to do … no excuses! And until that sorry mess gets changed in a twinkling of an eye, it’s got no business bossing us around!
That in a nutshell is where we stand with our bodies. They’re gonna get saved in the future, but right now the body is an untrustworthy brute and needs to be slapped upside the head if it gets out of line!
Now for the tough part: From here on down it’s uphill all the way!
We’ve got two more parts to figure out and the bible says it’s tough, but Gods Word can “Git ‘er Done”!
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Some of us treat the Word of God as if it was a foreign language, like they speak in New York City or Lost Angeles. It’s just down home truth. If I have a knife that I’m proud of, I don’t brag that it can cut hot butter. I get to talking about cutting rubber and nylon belting, or carving ironwood. It’s gotta be something ridiculously tough if I want to impress you, right?
So here is God saying how great the word is and He says it can tell the difference between “soul and spirit”. Must be a doozie to do if He’s braggin’ about it! So it comes as no surprise that everyday folks get hung up here. Let’s be honest, if words mean anything, He just told us that to figure it out, we gotta let the Word do the sorting!
Probably a good place to start is at the beginning where we got put together. So let’s look at Genesis.
Gen 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Little words can mean a lot. There is a vast difference between “I love my wife.” And “I love my fat wife.” (Try it, you’ll see!) Here in this passage God did something different with Adam than He had done with the animals. The animals were already running around acting like wild animals when God blew in Adam’s nose and turned him into a “living soul”.
The animals had souls (personalities) differing from each other. Rabbits didn’t climb trees and chase tigers. Kangaroos didn’t swim and bite sharks. They all acted within the character that God had given them. But man gets something special and becomes a living soul.
So what was this breath of life that God inflated man with? Thankfully God is amazingly consistent. (You get that way from being alive forever and perfect.) So He’s gotta have talked about this breath, or wind, in some other places. (Yep! He did! And I found ‘em.)
Acts 2:1-3 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Here we have a picture of what happens when the Holy Spirit arrives. Blew in like a tornado!
2 Thess 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
Here his “breath” knocks the stuffing out of the antichrist.
In both cases, the wind or breath is speaking about the Holy Spirit.
John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Getting’ the picture? When God blew into man, He put in the spirit of man so he’d have one just like God does. After all He wanted to make man in His own image!
Alright; Quiz time. What’s the difference between air and wind? Even my buddy Jimmy-Bob who spent four years in 4th grade knows that. One is just sitting around and the other one is moving! Well, that’s just what the Spirit of God does. He’s always moving.
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Here God is just getting ready to make everything, and the Spirit is blowin’ around waiting for a command. God says something, and the Holy Spirit gets it done! Why is that so important? Because when God put the spirit in man, it was moving inside him. Ever notice that when you block off the wind you get a dead calm? (‘at’s a hint Charlie!)
Because you’re so familiar with this next part, I’m gonna shorten it up a bit. God told Adam that “in the day” that he ate that fruit. (…and no sweetie, it never says “apple”!) that he’d surely die. Well he ate, and he died! What he did was block off the wind of the Spirit. Now his own spirit is just hot air. It ain’t doing nothin’ because the thing that pushed it around is shut off! We got whatcha call a real dead calm.
Do you see any place in the bible that Adam had to reintroduce himself to Eve? Shucks! She knew him. He’s the same guy. Looks the same, has the same personality; probably doesn’t clean up after himself … just like normal!
So his “soul” is still intact. Now instead of the wind of the spirit doing all the bossing of the body, it’s left up to what’s left … the soul. Now (as they say in fancy literature) we are on the horns of a dilemma! The soul doesn’t have any business being the top dog. Between him and the body, they set off on a really wrong trail. Actin’ like they can get along without God pointin’ the way.
Now instead of being a “living” soul, he’s a dead’n! Shows why Jesus said you hadda be born again. Gotta jump start that dead spirit by tearing down the wall of sin and getting a good breath of fresh air. Blow the stink off’n it!
But now we got a promise that the spirit ain’t never gonna leave again. Remember, there was no such promise in Genesis.
1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed (the Holy Spirit) remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
OK, if the part that’s born of God can’t sin … how are you gonna kick the Holy Spirit out. It is only sin that removed Him in the first place!
Here God goes and puts the Holy Spirit back into man and makes it so He can’t lose Him again. (Just like idiot mittens on a child!)
Luke 3:16-17 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
(Just wanted to be sure you knew who was doing the baptizing … it’s Jesus.) To baptize means to immerse, cover, flood, and impregnate completely. When you get saved, you get the full Monte!
Hold the phone! What about being filled with the Spirit later? OK, let me draw you a picture.
You just got the biggest wind blowin’ fan in existence stuck into your spirit. Here he is in this little room, blowin’ like the dickens. But the door is shut. He can blow the doily off the dresser, but the rest of the house stays stuffy!
So when you open the door to the hallway (remember it is YOU that opens the door) that breeze comes rushing out and cools off the hallway. Because you listen to your momma, (“Shut that door behind you! You born inna barn?”) All the doors to your entire house are closed. Now you walk down the hall and there is the door to your anger. If y’all just push it open a crack … here comes the wind, rushing in and blowin’ out the fire of your anger! But every time you slam a door shut behind you, the wind can’t get in.
The scripture says it plainly Eph 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. Do you know that we haven’t even got the verb tense that God uses here? It is “be continually being” filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s an everyday job!
So what God wants is for us to roam around the house opening doors. It’s a very large and complex house, so there are a lot of doors. It takes your whole life just on this one job.
Another quiz: What’s the name of this house? Yep! Your “soul”!
To put it in shirtsleeve English; Everything you think and know and even how you think, everything you feel (good or bad) and everything you choose goes into making you the guy we all recognize. That’s Who You Are! Well, the name for that is the “soul”.
We got ourselves another one of them “dilemmas” again. It’s an identity crisis. We’ve been wandering around with the soul (the poor lost little creature) directing the show. Now we’ve got the Spirit who’s supposed to be in charge, and we still think that the soul should do it.
Here we are with a “rushing mighty wind” locked into a bedroom, while our soul wanders around trying to do a good job of directing traffic. Instead of believing that we are a “new creature” in Christ, we still identify with the poorly trained rascal that caused all the trouble! Here we go again singin’ “I just can’t help myself” (same balderdash as with the body – ‘nuff said!).
Look, the only part of this conglomerate that can’t sin is the part “born of God” which is our spirit that is the home for the Holy Spirit. But the body and the soul can sin like mad! That’s why the bible says:
Ezek 18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The word “die” here is translated in other versions as “suffer destruction”. (notice it don’t say “spirit”?)
Ain’t it the truth! Do bad stuff and you pay for it. Play in traffic – curse somebody - eat twenty meals a day – think about bad stuff all the time… Your soul will pay for it, and it usually drags the body into the same mess! Listen up! The Spirit (remember that guy in the back room?) can’t sin so if we let Him loose and follow His lead, we stay outa trouble!
The problem is we want things logical. And the spirit ain’t logical to our way of thinking!
John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Remember this verse? The Spirit doesn’t always go where we (the soul) wants. It just don’t seem right. But it is. Prov 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. So if we think that we are the “soul” instead of identifying ourselves with the “spirit”, we got the wrong “head of state”. Better vote him outta there before he makes a mess that can’t be fixed! One of those unfixable messes (like jumping out of the Empire State Building) won’t send us to hell, but it does have rather permanent consequences! (and it’s usually messy!)
Gal 5:16-18 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Want some sure-fire good news? Our soul will someday be just right!
1 John 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
So on that happy day when we get to put our eyeballs on the Perfect One – we’re gonna be just like Him! And the last part says…”if you believe that - then shape up!” Start lettin’ the spirit out of the broom closet, start smacking your body down to let it know who’s boss, and start training your soul to be obedient to the spirit. Run around the house, tearin’ doors off’n the hinges. Get some good wind blowin’. Can’t seem to get a breeze in some spot in the house? … rip a wall down! Remodel!
Gods way to “git ‘er done” is to save to the uttermost, the dead spirit of man. (Done!) Then to be continually being filled with that spirit to accomplish the lifetime job of becoming like Jesus in our soul. (Workin’ on it!) And finally to change this used up body for a brand spankin’ new one just like His! (On the way!) That’s about as complete as it gets! Note: If you ain’t set with the first one, you ain’t never getting’ the other two… so now it’s your turn to “get ‘er done”!
Spirit: Saved from the penalty of sin. Soul: Being saved from the power of sin. Body: Will be saved from the presence of sin.
Robert Moloney 2010
The Earnest Payment
Eph 1:12-14 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. KJV
Even though I am a life-time lover of the King James Version of scripture, I recognize the need for many people to have a more familiar language to make the meaning clearer, so here it is in the New International Version…
Eph 1:12-14 … in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession — to the praise of his glory. NIV
Paul is reminding us that both those who first trusted in Jesus (the disciples) and those who later believed because of their testimony, each received the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. This indwelling Spirit is the “earnest money” or “down payment” on the full promises He has made to us concerning our inheritance in Him.
This is the “baptism” in the Holy Spirit performed by Jesus when you accept Him as your Savior. It is distinct from the “filling” of the Spirit which we are commanded to receive on a continuing basis all of our lives. Baptism is once and for all, whereas filling is an ongoing project. One is the guarantee that we are saved and one is for the daily transformation of our souls into the image of Christ. We get all of the Spirit in baptism but He gets more of us as we are being filled.
In my life, I recognize that there is a lack of depth perception regarding the Holy Spirit in me. And as is my habit, while preaching to myself, I sometimes share it with you. So here it is…
Just who is this Holy Spirit? We are usually very glib about that, saying rightfully that He is one part of the triune God, and is our helper and teacher. But let’s examine Him a little more thoroughly.
Our God is One God. He taught Israel to repeat that phrase. But in a mystery of eternal proportions, He exists in three parts, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Bear with me, I know you know that.)
Jesus was hated by the Jews because He made Himself equal with God.
John 5:18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. NIV
Since that is true, then it follows that the Holy Spirit is also equal with God. Jesus declared as much when He said that He would dwell in us, and then He sent the Holy Spirit to do the job. He also stated that if you had seen Him (Jesus) you have seen the Father. So the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same guy! They do have differing functions in the overall activities of Almighty God, but I want you to get this picture… Almighty God lives right inside of you!
So if the Holy Spirit is Almighty God as much as Jesus is, why do we treat Him as if He were a “thing” rather than with the respect of Him being a person who also just happens to be Almighty God? Why do we concentrate on the “gifts” and the “fruits” of the Spirit rather than He Himself? It is because we don’t think about Him and His undeniable importance. He’s the “do-er” of the Trinity.
When God created, it says the Spirit hovered over the waters and God spoke … and the Holy Spirit made it come to pass. Everything the Father spoke … the Spirit DID. Now He’s inside us. If we feed Him all the things the Father said in scripture … how much of it can He do?... yep! ALL OF IT! But remember, He listens to GOD not just some wishes of ours!
If we line ourselves up with the plan of God, and establish in ourselves the Word of God by studying and absorbing, and obeying… all that becomes the material upon which the Spirit acts! (Hint: It’s better than your wishes!)
God is love. He says so. So who is the Spirit? He is love. He doesn’t just “feel” love … He IS love. So when you talk to the Spirit (yep! You can talk to Him) what is His reaction? He greets you with love! He wraps His arms around you and is incredibly in love with you. Everything He tells you (yep! He can talk back) is specifically planned and designed in love for you. He’s not a task-master trying to force you into doing stuff that maybe you don’t want to do… He’s directing you into things that both comes from and produces love.
God is omniscient. So the Holy Spirit inside you knows everything God knows, right? Pretty nice resource you have there isn’t it? You not only can’t stump Him with any question, you can rely on Him to use all that information through you to meet every need (yours as well as others). If we don’t train our minds by scripture, we don’t understand His communication with us. He uses scripture as His “language” and if you know three and one-half verses … He’s really limited in what He can say to you. So it is our duty to stock up on more and more language (scripture) to give Him ways to talk to us beyond the baby talk we started with!
That’s why we need to be “continually being filled” with the Spirit so He has access to more and more of our lives to perform the will of God in and through us. Remember, He’s the “do-er”!
He is our friend, our teacher, our strengthener, and so much more!
Let me draw you a picture. Take the Atlantic Ocean and put it into a flexible container. At one end put in a universal adapter that fits any size outlet valve. You now have a picture of the Holy Spirit in you.
WE each determine the size of the outlet valve within us.
Have you ever stayed in a tent while camping in the rain? (It always rains when you camp J ) If you rub your finger on the inside of the tent … it will begin to leak at that point. Water seeps through and drips where you touch it. This is where we start with the Holy Spirit. We kinda scratch the surface and we get a few drips of His power. This is undoubtedly thrilling for a child in the Lord. To actually see the Spirit work in our lives is marvelous.
Now as we grow, we fit a squirt gun to the adapter on the Atlantic sized container. We can get more water, but it usually comes in spurts when we pull the trigger. For most of the time, the gun sits silently by while we try to lead our lives. Then something demands the power of the Spirit, and by prayer and obedience … we pull the trigger and get a squirt of His power to meet the need. Unfortunately, though this is certainly better than the “scratch and drip” behavior it is where most Christians stop. The Spirit comes into play on occasions and we celebrate those times as great moments in our Christian walk. We see the healing, or answered prayer or some other evidence of His involvement and are rightfully thrilled.
The next step is what I call the “swizzle stick”. By study and prayer and by faith, we insert a swizzle stick type straw into the adapter and now we have a continuous stream of the Spirit flowing through our lives. Even though it is small, it is continually flowing. People who are at this level are always honored as being the most spiritual among us. Their lives have a beneficial effect wherever they go because the Lord always seems to be working through them.
What if we inserted a soda straw into the adapter? Water would flow far faster than through the swizzle stick. Imagine a three quarter inch hose! Wow! OK. What about a 4 inch fire hose? You could shoot water clear up to the top of some “high-rise” problems, couldn’t you?
What about a ten foot culvert stuck into the adapter? Think of the water flow then!
Even at that stage of flow, the amount of water removed from the Atlantic Ocean sized container for a lifetime is still statistically insignificant. In my lifetime I have never seen more than a “soda straw” Christian and they were astounding! We have the ability and the right to choose the size of the outlet of the Holy Spirit within us … but in each of us Christians … at this very moment, is the Atlantic sized power of the Spirit for us to tap!
It is my belief that our relationships with ALL Christians should be at minimum a free-for-all squirt gun fight! Picture it. You don’t need to agree in every way with the other people in a squirt gun fight… you just shoot-em! You splash the water of the Spirit on everybody that gets in range. I can’t imagine pulling the trigger just once and standing there like a dummy! Fire away! Try to soak everybody. Don’t worry about running out of water with this gun!
Oooops! What if you shoot somebody that doesn’t have a squirt gun? Well, what happens in real life when you shot somebody with a squirt gun? It didn’t take long and that guy was racing to get his own to shoot you back! What a great way to lead people to the Lord! Get ‘em into a Holy Spirit squirt gun fight! Stop trying to judge if this person or that one is worthy or receptive … Squirt ‘em! They’ll let you know if they’re gonna join the fun. If they don’t want to get wet with you … they’ll avoid you. That’s their choice. You might be surprised about how many will try to get a bigger squirt gun than yours to really soak you down … ‘cuz “you started it!” It absolutely works that way with the Spirit!
What are you actually squirting? The love of the Spirit, the comfort, the wisdom, the kindness, the hope, the joy, the acceptance of the Spirit of God. Don’t ever squirt fear, judgment, criticism, and all the other things that keep us apart … that ain’t the Spirit, son, that’s the flesh!
In us … right inside us … is the full power, knowledge, and passionate love of Almighty God, in the being who has always been the “DO-er” of the Trinity.
If that doesn’t start your engine, check to see if you have one. I’ve got a surprise for you. What I really wanted to get to is this.
Have you ever bought a house? When you have negotiated a price, and it has been accepted … you put down “earnest” money to seal the deal. This money guarantees that you are utterly serious about buying this house. If you change your mind … it costs you that earnest money because you never get it back!
So God negotiated a price for you. It cost Him His Son! You have now accepted that price. To prove that He is serious and will not go back on His word … He gives us the “earnest” of our inheritance in Him by giving us the Holy Spirit. He can NEVER take Him back. The earnest money is yours … Forever!
Heb 13:5 God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." NIV
That earnest money is not the full price for the house. It is usually a small portion sometimes ten percent or possibly more … but it isn’t by any means the full amount.
Is this sinking in? The astounding presence of the Holy Spirit and His power within you is utterly awesome and is ours forever … and it’s just a portion (the “earnest”) of what God has planned to give us when we receive the full inheritance. Does this motivate you to dance? It sure has got me going!
Here’s a plan of action. First: Make sure you absolutely have been baptized in the Spirit, by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. (Most of you who read my letters are past that point, Praise God!)
Second: Start stacking away all the supplies the Holy Spirit needs by reading, meditating on, and obeying the scriptures. Give Him the widest amount of communicating ability by increasing the vocabulary He uses to talk to you.
Third: Consciously give the Spirit more of your life to rule and express Himself through.
Eph 5:18-20 …instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV
(the verb tense in this verse is not available in English. It is literally “be ye continually being” filled.)
In so doing, you will be fitting a larger outlet to the universal adapter on the Atlantic Ocean sized water source inside you!
Fourth: Chose now. Decide to get into a “squirt gun fight” with everyone you meet … especially with those of the family of God.
Rely on the promise of God that shows just how big the outlet can … and will be -
John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) KJV
I truly want to get past the squirt gun stage of my life and at least into the swizzle stick phase. But I’ll never be satisfied until the words above are my experience rather than my earnest expectation and hope.
The more I look at the full characteristics of God, the more I’m inexpressibly impressed with the Spirit within me. He is “all of that and a bag of chips”! From now on I’m dedicating my life to pay attention to the Holy Spirit personally rather than looking at the gifts of the Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit. They’ll take care of themselves if I become immersed in the person of the Spirit.
It is my prayer that this little letter in which I’m personally looking and learning to grow might be a “squirt” in your life too. If it is … “Ha! I got you first! … load up ‘cuz the fight is on!”
Love ya! Bob 7/2014
When we look around at the condition of the world and its continuing slide into chaos, we can become intimidated or depressed. Then we read in scripture the outline of the things God has told us are coming soon, and we feel powerless and unprepared. I’ve got news for you! ... Great news!
Let’s start with a little old lady and her son. They lost her husband, the boys’ dad, and he was their only source of income. Now they were about to starve to death because the only food they had left was a little flour and a squirt of oil. The land was in a drought so she couldn’t even gather the scraps from the fields for food. There were no options left. They were hopeless.
1 Kings 17:10-14
When he (Elijah) came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" 11 As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."
12 "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread — only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it — and die." 13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.
Think of this in the terms of reality as it definitely was for her, rather than like a story you are reading. You have reached the end of your rope. You have enough to mix a little oil with some flour into dough, and you are gathering sticks to build a little fire to fry that dough into a small bread like a pancake. After that you will have nothing to eat and no hope of ever getting any. Now a strange man, a preacher you have never met, says to you, “Go ahead, but make some bread for me first.” Yeah! Right!
I can hear it now. “You self-absorbed hypocrite! I’m starving and you want me to feed YOU! You’re supposed to help us. But Noooo! You want me to feed you!”
We have been trained to think that way, but God thinks differently. When He had lost everything (His special creation-man, and the entire creation that He had given to man) due to Adam’s treason … His response was God so loved the world that he gave.
Elijah tells her this:
1 Kings 17:14-15 For this is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.'"
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her.
We’ve heard wild promises before … do we believe them? Whether she did or not… she did what he said! Think about that. It doesn’t say anything about great faith… it just says she did as she was told! (There’s a lesson there Bunky!)
That little flour and oil lasted over 3 years and fed the three of them.
Right in the middle of this miracle, a disaster happens. The lady’s son dies!
Isn’t this the point where we would toss up our hands and say “Great! Now this? You help me in some little thing (the food seems little now because of the tendency to expect it after a while) but now you let this big thing happen to me!”
Instead she goes to Elijah, and he asks God for a miracle … and gets it! The boy is raised from the dead.
So what is my point here? When we have little or nothing, the only place to go is to God … and His supply NEVER runs out. In the coming days, your bank account won’t be able to save you – your government not only won’t be able to save you, but will be actively attempting to hurt you. Your job will be forfeit because you won’t take the mark of the beast. And FINALLY, HOPEFULLY, we will begin to trust God for everything we should have been trusting Him for all along!
To access these blessings, you have to do as you are told. To know what to do, we must read the scripture and pray without ceasing.
Because of our shift of focus in the days ahead (start practicing now!) we will see miracles becoming normal in our daily lives! He supplied food … and life! And God hasn’t changed a lick since then!
2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Walking down the street, you see some crippled beggar, rattling a tin cup trying to get a little cash. You avert your eyes and hurry past as if you didn’t see him. You don’t have much money and what you do have is slated to pay your own bills. Sound familiar?
What the disciples did was to stop and get his attention.
Acts 3:6 6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Hey! I could do that. Then what would I do? Well, I suppose, walk off and hope God does something for the poor guy. (Maybe I’d peek back to check out if he gets up.)
Acts 3:7-9 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
The disciples had a different approach. One of them reached down and grabbed him by the hand and pulled the poor cripple to his feet.
If, at this point, he doesn’t get healed, they’re gonna be in trouble! Imagine jerking a guy that cannot walk to his feet, and then watch him yell in pain and collapse into a pile! At this busy intersection, there would be more than a few folks ready to beat the snot out of you for your massive inconsideration of this poor helpless beggar!
The disciples, however, entirely expected him to be healed and couldn’t imagine any other outcome other than “instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.”
Why did they think that? Because they had never seen Jesus fail. How could they know He never failed? They watched Him closely. Was Jesus around them right now, for them to watch? (Careful now…) Yes He was … internally!
The reality is that Jesus dwells in us 24/7/365. So if our attention is on Him we will act like it. The hand that the disciple reached out with was the hand of Jesus! Think about that carefully and if it helps – look at your hand. Is Jesus in there?
As long as we can still call Social Services, or write a check, or start a bike-a-thon to raise money for this unfortunate soul, we have our attention somewhere else than it should be. In the near future, our options will be cut (secularly) which will open up the unlimited option (spiritually).
So in the near (and difficult) future, we will have the opportunity to get our priorities straight and God will again perform miracles through His kids.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Do you think that this was just for the Twelve Disciples? Or was this for any disciple who would “preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”
I am of the persuasion that the disciples were just like us. Jesus was empowering them to show us a pattern of His behavior, His desires, and His calling on our lives as well.
This is definitely not the only place in scripture that Christians cast out demons and healed the sick. However, let’s define these Christians slightly more accurately. They were disciples, not “Sunday – go – to – meeting” Christians. They were disciplined (self-controlled, in training, irrevocably committed) Christians.
6 So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
We have painted a picture of the messy future, in our studies of prophecy, and in that absolutely certain future, disciples are required. But as such, the power that infused the lives of the first disciples becomes ours as well if we become disciplined to His word. We actually have that power living in us currently by the force of the indwelling Holy Spirit … we just aren’t accessing it.
Our world is infested with demons and their handiwork is visible everywhere. We must stop just coasting along saying such foolishness as: “Well, what can I do?” (With the unspoken sub-text of “nothing”) Take a careful look at that response. Is it laziness? … lack of faith? … or measuring our abilities compared to the problem? The Twelve had no more ability than we do to chase out demons or heal the sick! They were empowered by God. And as I said before … “He ain’t changed a lick”.
So the future is bright for those whose goal is to draw near to God and walk in the power of His Spirit. (But it really isn’t so bright for the “coasters”!)
You may not like this one …
54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Let me set the background … Some people who disagreed with Stephen’s preaching, hired liars to defame him so that he could be brought to court and charged with trying to overthrow the authorities. In his answer to them, the wisdom and clarity of his preaching cut them to their heart. So in fury, they drag him out to kill him.
As he is being pummeled with stones (usually a pound or two apiece), with his bones cracking, and having the absolute certainty that he was innocent of the charges laid against him – instead of cursing them he says: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
Some of us will die at the hands of unbelievers. Some will be tortured and yet live. Some may not suffer much at all. But through it all the Spirit of God can empower us to reject bitterness and revenge, and rather pray in love for those who are persecuting us. It sounds impossible, but it is the way God responds inside those who truly love Him.
Beginning now expect and cultivate that forgiving spirit. You will need it!
Rom 12:19-20 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"d says the Lord. NIV
It isn’t smart … or safe … to step in and do what God has reserved for Himself to do. Not only that but you’ll never be able to do it as well and thoroughly as He will.
These verses are given to us for deep and abiding study and meditation to prepare us for the coming days. Take as much time as you can on each one and let them shape your life.
Phil 4:13-14 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
(How many things? What things? “Christ” means the anointed one and His anointing – what does that mean for me? …. )
2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Take a while with this one … it is transformational!
John 14:12-14 I (Jesus) tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
What are we expecting to be able to do? What is HE expecting us to be able to do? What does He promise that He will do?
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Since He has ALL the power, and He lives in you … how much power can you use … if you … “Go ye therefore…” and preach the gospel. (Not sit home hoping somebody else is doing it!) Your missionary field is wherever you go … work, play, … anywhere you go!
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
God has prepared and supplied EVERYTHING for us to be -
Rom 8:37 …in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
So what are you doing? Are you gearing up … or trying to find a place to hide? Love you all, with all my heart. Bob 5/2014
This is a Test
This is a test… Only a test…. Of the Spiritual Warfare Defense System. In the case of an actual emergency your life may depend on your effective use of this system. The Commander in Chief has mandated its use in all Christians and proficiency is required in all adults. This test is to gauge your readiness and proficiency and to meet the requirements under multiple statutes to obey the Lord.
OFFICIAL COPY OF THE MANDATE
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. NIV
Article 1: Belt of Truth
Article 2: Breastplate of Righteousness
Article 3: Shoes of the Gospel of peace
Article 4: Shield of Faith
Article 5: Helmet of Salvation
Article 6: Sword of the Spirit
When fully dressed, pray in the Spirit on all occasions.
For the purposes of this test you will be requested to commit yourself to 7 consecutive days of practice. At the beginning of each day, before involving yourself in any other activity, you will consciously put on each piece of armor. To be sure that each piece is put on correctly the details are supplied below.
Your Basic Training is led by your personal First Sergeant - the Holy Spirit. Refer to His directions to maximize your compliance with all phases of the Commanding Officer’s requirements.
1) Put on the Belt of Truth. This means that you commit yourself to absolute truth in every word and deed this day. The only source of absolute truth is the scripture.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. KJV
2) Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness. You have no righteousness of your own. This breastplate to protect your heart and lungs is composed entirely of the righteousness of Jesus the Christ. You have been given it at great cost, wear it proudly. Discounting your ownership of this righteousness is tantamount to saying that Jesus didn’t really do what He said. Refusal to wear this article destroys the faith of your heart and subjects you to accepting failure.
Rom 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, NIV
3) Put on the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. This article makes you prepared to take the Gospel of Peace wherever your feet lead you. The peace involved here is not “quietness” or the cessation of war with our enemy, but the peace that exists between God and man due to the payment of Jesus’ blood for ALL sin. God is not withholding His salvation due to anyone’s sins. The only requirement is to choose Him, by faith in the finished work of Jesus, effectively agreeing to being adopted by God. This is the message you are to carry everywhere.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. KJV
4) Pick up the Shield of Faith. Regardless of what slings and arrows come your way this day, the Shield of Faith will deflect them all from doing harm. Without faith you cannot please God! Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. If your shield seems flimsy, strengthen it through scripture… do it now! In battle it is too late.
Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. KJV
5) Put on the Helmet of Salvation. If you want to keep your head straight you must be certain that you are saved. You cannot just guess or hope. You have to KNOW! If there is any doubt that you are completely, permanently, legally, saved by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit due to your faith in the finished work on Calvary by Jesus … get that straight before anything else. (Call me if you need help here!) This armor only works for Gods adopted children.
Heb 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. NIV
6) Grab hold of the Sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God). This part of the armor is offensive in nature rather than defensive. The Holy Spirit talks to us by reminding us of scripture. If you aren’t reading it and storing it in your mind and heart, it becomes difficult at best for the Holy Spirit to communicate with you. When you need to apply power to any situation, the Holy Spirit wields that power through you based upon the Word.
Ps 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. NIV
2 Tim 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. KJV
7) Now that you are suited up and ready for the day “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thess 5:17 KJV This does not mean you stay on your knees all day, it means to keep a running dialogue with God at all times, involving Him in every part of your day. Listen for His voice at all times. Be conscious of His presence by remembering that He is living right inside you by the Holy Spirit and is seeing what you see, hearing what you hear, and listening to your words and thoughts at all times.
This completes the basic training test of the SWDS - Spiritual Warfare Defense System.
Those of you who would like to achieve higher rankings can proceed to the advanced training course provided by the Holy Spirit. The curriculum is detailed in Heb 6:1-3
Therefore let us leave (proceed from or build on) the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. NIV
After laying down these foundations by a thorough mastery of them in your understanding, the Holy Spirit will begin instruction in the Advanced Courses.
For advancement in the ranks of the Army of the Lord, your daily proficiency and attention to detail in getting properly dressed every morning is a key attribute considered by the Commanding Officer. Faithfulness and obedience are the qualities necessary for both promotion of rank and also increasing the pay grade in blessings from God.
2 Tim 2:3-5 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer. NIV
Love from your compatriot in arms;
SWDS : Spiritual Warfare Defense System Part 2 from above
Continuing Basic Training for soldiers of Christ includes the educational requirements for all armored personnel. To effectively serve as front-line troops, the armor must be intact and worn properly. However, the confidence to achieve mastery of advanced warfare concepts is based on a sure foundation in spiritual education. This training exercise is designed to reestablish proficiency in the core principles of Christ.
The curriculum is found in … Heb 6:1-3
6 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. NIV
The six basic concepts:
1) Repentance from dead works.
2) Faith toward God.
3) Instructions concerning baptisms.
4) Laying on of hands.
5) Resurrection of the dead.
6) Eternal judgment.
Details of the foundational concepts: Each must be understood to the degree that the soldier’s trust in them is absolutely automatic. These cannot be allowed to cause hesitation in the field of battle due to unfamiliarity or questions related to misunderstandings. All future advancement is based on proficiency in these six precepts.
1) Repentance from works that lead to death. It must be noted here that these six foundations are directed at Christians only. Those who do not have a personal relationship with God through Christ do not have to do anything except come to God and accept the payment of His Son, Jesus, for their sins and welcome Him to come into their hearts by faith. But now as a child of God we must learn repentance. The definition of repentance is to turn around and go the other way. When we become a child of God, we do not immediately become proficient in all areas of Christ-like behavior. We are immediately forgiven and set free from the penalty of sinful behavior. Now it is time to learn how to reject and repent (turn around) from our own sinful habits.
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, NIV
There is a component of repentance in accepting the Lord as our Savior, but the power to fully turn around is given by the indwelling Holy Spirit. So as a new Christian begins his new life, it is revealed to him through scripture and the witness of the Spirit just what things need to change.
Those things that please God are different from those that have pleased us. The obvious sins we are able to reject virtually immediately, but the sins of lying, bragging, gossiping, impure thoughts, pride, selfishness, and a host of others are woven into our character and are harder to eliminate. God in His mercy does not hit us with everything at once. Those things that you find God speaking to you about when you read scripture are the ones He wants you to deal with right now. The only way to deal with them is to confess them to God, ask for forgiveness and then (repent) turn away from them. Repenting takes your effort bolstered by God in you.
It is important to note that the Holy Spirit is our “Helper”.
2 Tim 1:14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. NIV
A “helper” does not do the work himself; he assists us to do it. Many who ask ‘help” from God actually don’t want “help” they want Him to do it for them. But God wants us to participate in our own development with His assistance. (Helping your child learn to ride a bike means that he pedals and tries to balance while you assist him until he gets it!) You are the kid! Repentance starts with you!
So the first foundational principle is to repent from things that lead to death, by God’s help.
2) Faith toward God. It is easy to confuse this with the faith that got us saved. But since we are saved, this faith is a functional reality involving our daily lives. God expects us to do things at His command. Do we have the faith in His love for us that those things He asks are safe, good for us, do-able, filled with His love, within our abilities in Him at this very moment of our lives… and so on? In fact do we trust Him with decisions in our lives or would we rather control things ourselves (just to be safe! J ) There is no sillier lie than that if we keep ourselves in charge of our lives we’ll somehow do better than if He is in control.
Another area of faith is that when we read God’s Word, do we really believe it? In the late 1940’s or early 50’s a high wire was stretched across Niagara Falls, and to the delight of crowds on both the Canadian, and American sides a man walked back and forth over it. After showing his expertise several times, he asked the crowds (on each side) “How many of you believe that I can cross safely with someone on my back?” In each group there were quite a number of people who said that they believed he could. Then he asked, “Who will let me carry them across?” You know what happened! The arms so proudly raised a moment earlier pulled down so quick they probably got muscle strains! Finally one man said that he would volunteer to be carried across. The wire-walker took him on his back and crossed safely in both directions to thunderous applause.
Let’s be clear about this of all the “believers” the one man carried across was the only one who had faith! Faith accomplishes things that belief only talks about!
When we read in scripture that God will supply all our needs … or that He will heal us … or that we are more than conquerors though Him (especially when we are facing a really tough problem)… do we just “believe” or do we have “faith” and step out and act accordingly? Throughout scripture are the promises and challenges of God for our lives. Do we accept them in faith?
If we have a child that has wandered and rebelled from the faith and is running their lives in a manner that isn’t right … do we trust God,
Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. KJV
… or do we have to get our hands all over it trying to do God’s job for Him? Do we despair; or do we rest in the Lord, and only say and do those things of love that He demands? Do we have and practice faith?
So the second foundational principle it to have faith in God.
3) Instructions concerning baptisms. Notice that this is plural “baptisms”. One is a public illustration and confirmation of the other.
Matt 3:11-12 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. NIV
Since the day of Pentecost and the Spirit being sent the order of the two baptisms are reversed. The first baptism is one that Jesus performs at the time of our salvation. He baptizes us in the Spirit. Once you have accepted Jesus as your savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside you and you are “baptized”. Then to show the world and to confirm the inward truth by outward actions, we are baptized in water.
John the Baptist makes it clear that there are two baptisms. One is dunking in water to show repentance. Remember, repentance is turning 180 degrees and going the other way. The other was not available to John yet because the Spirit hadn’t come to dwell in us. Now after being baptized in the Spirit (being saved) we show the world our “repentance” by an act of obedience that shows that we are “dead’ to the person we were (in sin) and “alive” to the new person we are in Jesus! That is why the baptism was dunking in water rather than sprinkling because it showed death (being buried - submerged) in water, and then being raised to life as a new man.
God has established this method as illustrated in these verses:
Rom 10:9-11 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. NIV
You see, if you believe in your heart … AND say out loud (confess) to others that Jesus is your Lord - you are saved. The inward part (baptized in the Spirit) is followed by outward confession (baptized in water) to complete the process. In order to show faith (rather than just belief as detailed earlier) you must DO something. That something is being baptized in water.
Being baptized in water cannot save you by itself, it is the sign you give to show what happened inside you. Without the inside faith and acceptance of Jesus, the outside show is just a bath.
So the third foundational principle is being instructed in baptisms.
4) Laying on of hands. In today’s world we seem to have neglected this part of our training more than any of the other six. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and as such are empowered to impart blessings by placing their hands on individuals. Paul reminds Timothy of the impartation of a gift from God that he received when the elders laid their hands on him.
1 Tim 4:14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. NIV
In many instances of healing in scripture, the healing power was imparted by the laying on of hands. In scripture the blessing given by “laying on of hands” is often shortened to the word “touch”.
Mark 10:13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, NIV
Mark 5:22-24 Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." NIV
The believers are empowered and encouraged to do the same.
Mark 16:17-18 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." NIV
( A quick note: Christians are not told to pick up snakes or drink deadly poison. But if one picks up a snake to keep it from harming someone, as an example, or is given poison by an enemy … they remain safe under God’s protective power.)
Because “laying on of hands” imparts blessing and power, it was extremely important that the one who was imparting gave special care to be sure that whoever he was touching was worthy. Prayer beforehand was the standard safeguard. It would not be proper to put blessing and power upon someone who worked for the enemy!
1 Tim 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. NIV
In summary, it is well within the spiritual ability for any Christian to impart blessing (Such as when a friend or family member is about to travel a long distance) or healing, or spiritual power (like when sending someone off to the mission field, etc.) and indeed we are expected to do so. But as with other gifts from God it cannot be done casually or without being certain of God’s will.
So the fourth foundational principle is the laying on of hands.
5) Resurrection of the dead. Everyone will be resurrected. Not all at the same time or for the same reason. Christians who die before the return of Jesus have a corrupt body lying in a tomb where they were buried. They are at this time spiritual beings in the presence of God. In the spiritual world … their spirit has substance. They are not wisps and ghosts, but are solid in that realm. A physical body is only needed in the physical realm. So God promises that we will be resurrected with a new body like the one Jesus has since His resurrection. That way we can interact in both the physical and spiritual realms.
1 Cor 15:52-54 For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." NIV
Rom 8:23-24 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. NIV
1 Cor 15:35-36 But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1 Cor 15:42-44 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. NIV
But there is another resurrection of which we must also be aware. Those who die without Christ will also be resurrected but not to glory. They will be resurrected to face the Almighty as Judge!
John 5:28-29 "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out — those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. NIV
1 Peter 4:5-6 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. NIV
At the final judgment after the 1000 year reign of Jesus on earth (The Millennium) a White Throne is set up and Father God will be seated on it. This is what happens:
Rev 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. NIV
Everyone in all of creation will stand before God to be judged. Those who have been redeemed by God through Jesus have their names written in the Book of Life and will not be thrown into the lake of fire but will dwell with God for eternity.
So the fifth foundational principle is the resurrection of the dead. (All dead!)
6) Eternal Judgment. We have just covered some of that. God’s judgment rests upon one thing only. Does this individual have Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, living within him? Is his name written down in the book of life? If it is, he will be ETERNALLY blessed in the presence of God. If not, ETERNAL damnation is his lot. Both judgments are everlasting and cannot be changed. The cutoff is the physical death of the individual, after which no changes can be made.
So the sixth and final foundational principle is that judgment by God is eternal.
These foundational truths are the minimum educational standard necessary for Advanced Training in God’s Officer Training School, run by the Holy Spirit.
When proficiency in putting on and wearing the armor daily and the backbone of the six foundational truths are unconditionally established in a Christian … the requirements for becoming mature sons of God in Officers Training are met. From now on, the challenges are greater and the blessings are astounding. Even the earth is longing for us to take our place as officers in the army of the Lord.
Rom 8:18-19 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. NIV
It is a little clearer when expanded in the Amplified Bible…
Rom 8:18-19 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God's sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]. AMP
This concludes the test of the SWDS. Both the armor and the minimum education should be reviewed and solidly established in order to prepare for the coming days. Each soldier is responsible for his own mastery of this defense system and his participation in it. On the field of battle, there is not going to be time to go back and rebuild what has been covered in basic training. Our success in the dark days ahead can be assured by using this time to greatest advantage.
2 Tim 2:15-16 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. NIV
In love; Bob 9/2014
What Happens When We Die?
Whenever there is a mystery attached to some circumstance in life, it is my belief that it is covered and explained in the Word of God, in sufficient detail to suit our needs. That does not mean that it serves our wants, or is explained to the last detail. It is rather given to us in just the right amount to match our maturity level.
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. NIV
As a parent, how do you answer the question “Where do babies come from?”. It depends entirely on the age and relative maturity of the child. Right? So too with God, answering our questions through His Word. The Bible is alive and is interpreted to us by the Spirit of God. So He helps us grasp what He is saying in words within our vocabulary. (Our biblical vocabulary.)
The average adult has between 600 and 1000 words in his vocabulary. Shakespeare had about 2500 in his! So he was able to express himself more accurately because he knew the right words to use. The Holy Spirit only uses the Word of God to speak to us. (Even if it is in songs and hymns, the message has to be one expressed within the bible.) The more of the bible that you have read and studied the more resources the Holy Spirit has to draw upon within your memory. So the more you know of God’s word… the larger your (spiritual) vocabulary. Those larger resources within you allow the Holy Spirit to draw upon more complete information for more thorough answers.
1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. KJV
On the subject of death there is much to be learned. In God, there is no death, and none was planned for Adam. However, God in His wisdom foreknew that death would enter the world, through sin, and He made specific plans for how it would operate for mankind.
Heb 2:14-16 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. NIV
So God has a plan concerning death. What is it?
Adam and God walked together in the Garden of Eden and talked of everything a Father and son would talk about. We have no idea how long they fellowshipped this way. We habitually speed things up in scripture rather than consider how long it might have been. In the absence of any specific details, we are left to speculate and assume. Our guesses or assumptions in no way indicate how long a particular circumstance or series of events actually took.
We know that God brought every animal before Adam to see what Adam would name them. In fact, scripture declares that he named each of them with appropriate names. There is no scientist on earth that can appropriately name every animal in his own special area of expertise! Let alone, all animals in all species. How long did this take? It certainly wasn’t done in one afternoon!
So for all this indeterminate length of time, God is training and sharing and revealing things to Adam. I’ll bet that even I could learn a thing or two in those circumstances J … How about you?
Now we usually make another unwarranted assumption. When Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden, we assume that the new situation automatically means that God and Adam didn’t take any more time with each other. Since it becomes clear that God talked to them about what sacrifices He preferred, which led to the difficulties between Cain and Able, the interaction between them remained vibrant. It was just under new circumstances.
God undoubtedly talked to Adam about death, seeing as how it was now a new and thoroughly unwanted reality for Adam. Altogether Adam lived 930 years! Consider for a moment how much you would know … from experience alone if you were born in 1090 AD and still alive to talk about it!
Methuselah lived for 969 years, the oldest man on record. He was born and lived a good part of his early life (several hundred years) while Adam was still alive. For much of the early years of Noah, Methuselah was alive. So Noah, who survived the flood, got his information about life and death, and the Lord, from someone who had gotten it directly from Adam. The information handed down wasn’t turned into some fallacious gossip as if it had been through hundreds of generations.
It was the opposite of the game where you whisper something to someone in a circle; they whisper it to the next person; and so on. By the time it gets all the way around a circle of people, the message bears no resemblance to the original statement. In this case, the guy that heard it from Adam told it to the guy that was going to survive the flood. Why is this important?
The new family of man descending from Noah gets its information about God from a reliable source. This reliable source (Noah) continues to talk with God and is kept accurately informed by Him as well.
Abram (became Abraham) was the father of all the Israelites and he was 58 years old before Noah died. Between the Lord speaking with Abraham, and the oral history and information that he received from Noah - his understanding was only four steps from Adam! If your mom tells your brother to call you in for dinner, even if he tells your sister, and she tells your other brother and he tells you … the message doesn’t get garbled. It is too close to the source.
Abraham walked with God, and preserved the continuing personal history and training from Him. He also taught it to the children of Israel. Moses then wrote it all down in great detail from two sources; both Abraham, and God. God spoke to Moses as a man speaks with his friend, the bible says. So what Moses taught was again, reliable, and only about 5 steps from the original man Adam!
It is encouraging to know that the words handed down in scripture by Moses who wrote the first 5 books of the bible, were not watered down by centuries of retelling until they were like mythology. So what he taught concerning death was utterly trustworthy.
We will now examine just what all of Israel was taught concerning death, through the mandatory reading of all of Moses’ writing.
I also appreciate the fact that God also personally spoke to each of these patriarchs and confirmed the truth to them.
Rather than go through all of the laws and references to death, it will become clear what Israelites were taught by what King David says in Psalms.
Ps 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
They believed that there were two parts to what we’ve translated as “hell”. They called it “Sheol” (the place of the dead) and it did not have the negative context that we apply to the word “hell”.
Gen 15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. KJV
The place where the dead went was predicated on their respective relationship to God. Those without God went to the “lowest hell” while those who died with faith in God went to join their “fathers”.
This duality continues throughout the Old Testament.
At the very end of the Old Testament, Jesus explained it more thoroughly. Jesus lived and acted in complete accordance with the “Old Covenant”. It wasn’t until His death and resurrection that the “New Covenant” was established. So what He taught concerning death establishes the Old Testament while beginning to introduce the new one.
Much of Jesus’ preaching was through parables. But each one was introduced as a parable.
Matt 13:24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a …” etc. NIV
In some cases we don’t notice the lack of this identifying marker, and we assume that what is being said is just a parable. In the example below there is no marker identifying it as a parable, and it does not contain the words that this is “like” something.
Luke 16:19-21 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. KJV
Here Jesus is speaking of two “certain” men. These are specific individuals. This is not a parable but a story from Jesus’ own knowledge from The Father. The individuals spoken of here are identifiable, but only Lazarus’ name is given. Why? Because he was known by God in a different way than He knew the rich man. God “knew” Lazarus, but He “knew about” the rich man.
Matt 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. KJV
Jesus is drawing a picture of someone who has a relationship with God (Lazarus) and a rich man who did not. Now what happens is a clear statement of the teaching starting with Adam, confirmed by God, on the subject of death.
Luke 16:22-23 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. KJV
Quite interesting that angels carried Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom. Abraham, being the father of the Israelites, becomes the identifying name of the place where believers are carried when going to their “Fathers”. In essence this name “Abraham’s bosom” is the “embrace” or “hug” of Abraham. It’s pretty nice to die, be carried by angels and then be greeted by a hug!
The rich man, however, lifts up his eyes from “hell” and torment. He can see Lazarus being comforted. A unique sidelight on the situation shows that the rich man is still the same guy he was during his earthly life.
Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. KJV
He is still trying to get Lazarus to do his bidding, and expects Lazarus to serve him! In reality, his attitude is one rich man speaking to another (Abraham) and requesting that the other man’s servant from the lower class, be sent to serve him with some water. Who you are in life is not changed by death! In a believer’s case, all the bad stuff is removed, but the wicked have no such cleansing!
The question about will we recognize people after we die is answered here. Not only did the rich man recognize Lazarus, but he even recognized someone he had never met (or saw a picture of J ) - Abraham!
Luke 16:26 …between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. KJV
These two sections of Sheol are utterly divided and separate places.
Did you notice that there was not a space of time between dying and each man entering his appointed place? They died, and immediately the story proceeds with them in place.
Why were these two places operational since Adam? And are they still operational today? The answer takes a little more explanation and groundwork.
How did Old Testament people get saved? The simple answer is “the same as you and I”. But this needs clarification.
God began in Genesis teaching Adam that a Messiah would come to deliver man from sin.
So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspringa and hers; he will crushb your head, and you will strike his heel." NIV
This is the first “Messianic” prophecy regarding Jesus who would crush Satan’s head (power) while Satan would injure Jesus … but not succeed.
Throughout the Old Testament, the teaching of the Messiah was woven into the laws and the spiritual education of the Patriarchs, and the children of Israel. Those who followed God, believed that the Messiah would come… and that God’s Word was true. That faith was counted unto them as righteousness. Though Jesus hadn’t come in the flesh yet, their faith was in Him. Without having seen Him, they believed.
We are in the same position as they. Have any of us personally seen Jesus in the flesh? Of course not! But our faith in Him is what saves us. They were looking forward with faith, while we look back in history with faith!
No matter how strongly they believed … the price for their redemption hadn’t yet been paid. Therefore they couldn’t rise into the presence of Father God. So during the waiting period, they were comforted in “Abraham’s bosom” awaiting the fulfillment of God’s word!
The confirmation of this is in a little quoted passage that needs to be considered.
1 Peter 3:18-19 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; KJV
Which spirits … what prison?
How can you preach to “spirits” if you are among those living in bodies on earth? When Jesus died, He went to those in Abraham’s bosom … and told them how it had all turned out. They first came to know of the life, and death of the Messiah that they believed in when Jesus explained it to them after His crucifixion. Can you imagine the celebration when those spirits in Sheol were finally shown the actual Messiah they waited for?
Eph 4:8-9 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?) KJV
That phrase, “led captivity captive” speaks of Jesus after preaching deliverance to those who were captives in Abrahams bosom … He took them with Him into heaven. When He ascended, they ascended. The waiting was over. What they had placed their faith in had now come to pass and their sins were blotted out.
Abraham’s bosom no longer exists. It has lost all usefulness because the price for sin is now fully paid. Saints (believers) who die, no longer have to wait for the price to be paid. So what happens to them now?
Before we can answer that question we must lay some more foundational work.
When we examine the account of the rich man and Lazarus two things become clear. They are both still existing and they are both recognizable.
The life force that is within you was placed there by God to make man in His own image. That life force is called our “spirit” and no other creation was ever said to have been given it. Our spirit is eternal. When man sinned, his spirit was cut off from the source. That separation is called death. So when scripture says that the spirit “died” that means that it has been cut off from the source of life … God. When we are “born-again” it is our spirit that is reconnected to God and is now really living!
But if our spirit could sin and die (be separated from God) … it could happen again! Then what would we do? I’m speaking foolishly here … but what could save us again? We’ve already used up the first sacrifice. Is Jesus going to have to die continually to keep buying us back? Ridiculous isn’t it?
Rom 6:10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. NIV
To solve that problem of our spirits possibly sinning again, God went further in saving us.
1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. KJV
Let’s take that slowly. What was “born-again” ?… your spirit. What cannot sin? … your new spirit! WHY? Because God went one step further. He put the Holy Spirit (His seed) into us permanently joined with our spirit. Now since the Holy Spirit cannot sin … neither can we! This applies ONLY to the spirit. (Not the soul or the body)
Let’s look again at the rich man and Lazarus. Their bodies were in the grave back on earth. But their spirits were sent to the appropriate parts of Sheol. They were recognizable to each other, and had the same character that they had before death. This part of them (the recognizable part) is the soul. This contains everything that goes into making you - YOU!
In the spiritual realm, everything is solid … to a spirit. When a spiritual being like an angel sits down on a chair in heaven, it is as solid to him as a wooden chair would be to your earthly body on earth. To be part of the spiritual world, you have to be a spirit. But to interact in the physical world … you need a physical body! Spirits are on earth (both demons and angels) but you cannot see them unless God grants a special ability for a specific occasion or purpose. Those spirits are not invisible in heaven. They are visible there because they are designed for that realm.
When Jesus wanted to enter our physical world, he had to have a physical body. That body was then able to touch, see, smell, talk, and be seen, etc. in the physical world. The spirit of Jesus had been around for eternity. It could touch, see, smell, etc. in the spiritual world. Spiritual is solid to spirits, physical is solid to physical beings.
The thing that identifies us each as unique creations is our soul. For us, the soul and spirit are linked eternally. That’s why the bible says that it is so difficult for men to be able to tell them apart.
Heb 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. NIV
Now Lazarus and the rich man (still soul and spirit) show something remarkable. They can feel and interact with things in the spiritual world. The rich man is experiencing pain and torment in flames. Lazarus is feeling comfort and love and acceptance. Both of their bodies are spoiling away in the grave back on earth. Without their bodies, they can no longer interact in the physical world and cannot be seen or touched or anything else on the earthly plane!
The sinner is never going to get his body back. He won’t ever need it again. When God judges every person that has ever lived at the “White Throne Judgment” they won’t need a body, because they will be solid in the spiritual realm. Their spirit and soul will be cast alive (in the spiritual realm) into hell and torment forever. They will be able to feel, think, see, and experience everything they are going through as well as a physical body could feel things on earth!
For the Christian, we are promised a new body that is like Jesus’ body after His resurrection.
Why do we need that?
Simply because God says that we will rule and reign with Him on earth during the Millennium. We can’t interact in the physical world without a physical body. Does that mean we get the old body back? Nope! When we are resurrected, our old body that has turned to dust in the grave will be transformed into a new body that is perfect. Then the three parts (spirit / soul / and body) will be reunited into one being again. That way we can access and interact in both the physical and spiritual realms just like Jesus!
Look at Jesus. He ate, walked, talked and was seen by hundreds of people after His resurrection from the dead. But He appeared inside a room without having to come through the door. He was able to transport Himself from one place to another without traveling. He undoubtedly could still walk on water, and He certainly could move through the air. (He rose into the heavens through the clouds!) He couldn’t possibly get sick or injured!
THAT’S HOW OUR BODIES ARE GOING TO BE
When a person on earth dies, if he is unsaved … he is immediately transported into hell where he will suffer torment and flames until the final judgment. Then he will be returned to hell for all eternity.
Those who die, knowing the Lord as their personal savior, are carried by the angels directly into heaven.
2 Cor 5:8-9 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. NIV
Our spirit and soul are now in the presence of the Lord because there is no more place like Abrahams bosom for us to wait in. The price is paid … we go home!
Our bodies are empty shells, degenerating in the grave. Their purpose is done. They are not needed now. We are solid in the spiritual realm, and everything is good.
When the time comes for Jesus to return to the earth at the Battle of Armageddon, we will receive new bodies so that we can interact in the physical realm again. Those resurrected bodies will probably look like the ones we used to have … but they will be perfect. All the imperfections of sin and disease will be gone. We will look like the perfect person God saw when He looked at us through the eyes of love. No limps, no hearing aids, no weakness, no limits … just perfect!
The traditions associated with funerals are to comfort those remaining. They have no effect on the one who died. The ones who died are either suffering or rejoicing, and are too busy at that to care what happens to their remains. The Christian can’t possibly care about his old body, because he’s never going to be stuck in it again. We get the new model as it rolls off Gods Assembly line.
2 Peter 3:10-13
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.* 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. NKJV
1 John 3:1-3 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,a we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. NIV
1 Cor 15:50-55
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."g
55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" NIV
Bob Moloney 6/2014
I just read something in scripture that is very encouraging and I thought I’d share it with you.
Ezek 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. KJV
No, I’m not being either sarcastic or vindictive. I’m thinking of how that affects me.
Let me explain…
Without an understanding of the term “soul”, we can get confused. The soul is the part of you that makes you the “once in creation” person that you are. It includes your education, your emotions, your individual personality, and all your choices that have shaped you into who you are today. The body is the tool God has given you to live in. The spirit is the part that links you to God, and is distinctly separate from your soul.
When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior (and you get “born again”) it is your spirit that comes alive. But you have been “you” all along. That is your soul.
Without any heavy thinking, it becomes clear that our souls have been brought up, trained and shaped by sin. While we were without God, we developed into the person that everybody around us knows.
At salvation, though we have been forgiven, and our entire debt is paid … we are still the guy we always were, faults and all.
Our job is to …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Phil 2:12 KJV
That makes no sense if he’s talking about our spirit, because that is holy and cannot sin.
1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. KJV
That part that is born of God (the spirit) cannot sin because God’s “seed” (The Holy Spirit”) remains in it. But there is no such guarantee concerning the soul.
Rom 7:21-25 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. NIV
Here Paul describes the frustration that comes from a Christian who recognizes sin in his own life. We all sin on a regular basis.
I have had some people dispute that, but their definition of sin is not the same as mine. In the course of any day, do we ever feel jealous? Do we ever say something that would never pass the lips of Jesus? Do we ever fail to do what God tells us?
As an example do we witness about salvation to those people whom God has put in our life? Or is our personal discomfort more important than the eternal life of that person for whom Jesus died? Think about this… Any person you meet was precious enough to God for Him to send Jesus to pay for his sins and rescue him. Without the Lord, that person will be in unfathomable suffering FOR ETERNITY. Measure that against our personal fear of talking to them. No contest, right? That avoidance is sin.
So in every day, the “soul” needs to be trained to follow the “spirit”. Our soul (in scripture variously called the “old man” or the “flesh” or the ‘sinful nature”) needs forgiveness every day, and needs to be forced to do what is right.
1 Cor 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. NIV
That was Paul’s response to the sinfulness of his own soul. He fought it and invoked the power of the spirit to lead him.
So why is the verse I started with such a consolation? “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”
The day is coming when I shall see the Lord. My spirit IS perfect because it cannot sin. My body will be exchanged for a perfect one. But that schizophrenic soul of mine who does some good, but some bad, is in for a judgment. Halleluiah! That old man, that flesh, that soul that has held me down and been an anchor when I want to sail … is gonna get his! He’s going to die! I will be left with only the good part of who I am!
We battle daily to control ourselves and are frustrated by our failures. God forgives us when we come to Him in prayer… but wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t do wrong in the first place?
That’s the promise that has me celebrating this morning.
Ezek 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. KJV Bob Moloney
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________This may be a little too graphic for the tender-hearted reader. It contains the description of what attitude Paul had of his own sin and may be a help to us to get our own “little mistakes” into perspective.
It is now time to get our heads straight about sin … our own sin.
A Life Changing Picture
It may be prudent for those who are easily squeamish to avoid reading this message. Our churches have been sanitized, politically correct, and loathe to upset anyone for so long that many in the faith have no concept of how brutally honest the scriptures are.
We find many pastors who reject preaching about the “blood” of Jesus in order not to offend. And it has been my experience that seldom, if ever, is the exquisite torture of the crucifixion revealed in all its horror. The word “crucify” and the concept are so far from us in the so-called modern world that we lose sight of the ungodly bestiality of the act and the lengths to which Jesus went in His love for us. It might be profitable for our praise and worship if we comprehended more fully what actually happened on the cross.
This short message is not about the crucifixion but rather about a picture that Paul the Apostle used to drive home a point affecting the lives of everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian.
I find that in my reading of scripture, my thoughts go to concepts and facts rather than seeing the scenes as they are played out. This in spite of the fact that I wrote a booklet on the imagination and how critical it is to “see” the Word of God. This time, God in His wisdom has impressed on me for the last couple weeks that this brutal picture we are about to discuss is a strong weapon in my personal warfare with the flesh. It may be that it will give you as well the same revulsion for sin that Paul had.
Here is the passage where Paul admits his personal struggle with the “old nature” or the “flesh”. Have you ever noticed that we stop at chapter endings as if that was the end of the thought? The answer to his struggles is given in the first two verses of the 8th chapter. Check it out.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Paul had the same struggles we have of living in the “newness of life” and “walking after the spirit and not the flesh” and he cries out in frustration for help. Similarly, we cry out for help often in our walk with God. The truth is that the more serious or life threatening the situation is, the more earnestly we seek God. In minor things (or those that seem minor to us) we tend to try to fix it ourselves.
13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
Do you notice the word despise? We are encouraged to “hate” and “despise” sin in all its forms. Many scriptures point us to a holy revulsion of all that is not godly. But often we lack the stomach wrenching, horrified disgust with sin that is appropriate and instead we embrace it as a “foible” or a “mistake”. Without a clear abhorrence of sin, we tend to fight it feebly and tolerate its presence in our lives which is in clear opposition to God’s personal reaction to it. Try to explain to God, who is utterly perfect, that a tiny hole in your crystal goblet isn’t important, and that the wine of the Spirit won’t leak out.
We are told to ruthlessly cut off sinfulness from ourselves.
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Again, what a brutal picture of hatred of sin. Do we measure up? I haven’t!
Now to the picture that Paul painted in Romans 7. It is possible and even probable that most of us missed it. The fact that Paul was a Roman meant that he was familiar with their legal system. The character of Rome was not in the least subtle or forgiving. Unfortunately, one of their forms of “justice” is mostly unknown by the current body of Christ and it is what Paul refers to here.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
During the Roman domination of the known world, a simple and effective punishment was given to certain murderers. After determining the identity of the murderer, they simply permanently fastened the dead body of his victim to his back and set him free. Now everyone knew he was a murderer. They also avoided him because the body stank. Now he is not only an outcast, he must daily drag his sin with him until the murder victim’s body, killed the murderer through rot and infection. What poetic justice! The victim gets his revenge even after he is dead!
If you can stand it, picture the scene. The smells, and the flies, and the bloating horror on his back, weighing him down and announcing to all his shame. Paul likens the sinful flesh in his own life to the “body of death” that murderer carried. Is it any wonder that he said “What a wretched man I am!”
So for the last couple weeks, every time my old self raises its ugly head, I picture that rotting body trying to reattach itself to my back.
Awful, isn’t it?
There is no “minor” sin. It is all embodied in my old self - that flesh that we are supposed to put off, and to put on the new life in Jesus.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The old life is being “corrupted” (it is rotting) and must be violently cut off.
Fortunately, the Bible doesn’t stop at the end of Romans 7
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
… since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
So if you struggle with “habitual” sins. Or if you find your love for Jesus growing lukewarm. I highly recommend that you take a closer look at the cross in all its grisly truth, and begin to see the flesh for the rotting horrific mess it truly is.
Each day, the filthy hand of the corpse tries to regain a hold on us all. If we allow the subtle, stealthy little stuff to hang on - the stench clings to all that we do. Allow … rather … actively invite, the Holy Spirit to slash everything that binds us to that body of death so we can leave it in our wake as we speed toward that day when we will be delivered into Gods presence.
Phil 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Sept. 2010 Bob Moloney
The Real Rest
You all are probably aware that the English language is an unruly beast that can be misused, misunderstood, and manipulated. Sometimes the manipulation is intentional in order to push an agenda. But it is my belief that as a whole, the most dangerous problem is the sloppiness of our use and understanding of scriptural terms. I guess that my extra attention to the precise meaning of words is due to the fact that I earn my living using this language as a tool.
When we don’t critically analyze what the WRITER meant when using a word, we can be led astray over a great number of biblical truths. Our language changes on a continuing basis, and then our interpretation of scripture revolves around an entirely different meaning of the words than the writer intended. For instance: The word “let” now means to allow. In the biblical use it means the opposite.
2 Thess 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (emphasis mine) KJV
Now read it in the New International Version.
2 Thess 2:7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. NIV
So the meaning goes from “holds it back” or “prevents” to our meaning of “to allow” which is the opposite! It reminds me of Michael Jackson singing “who’s bad” (meaning good) and sportscasters using the word “filthy” to mean exceedingly good. [Those are not accidental by the way. Ed]
It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t have repercussions throughout Christianity when those who, by their education, should know better … teach those who don’t have the skills or training to recognize the mistake.
I give the benefit of the doubt in most cases. I do not believe it is intentional. But it certainly has been exploited by Satan in far too many circumstances. Several that I have attempted to bring to your attention are: 1) the difference between the soul and the spirit. 2) The three verb tenses used in verses about salvation that reflect specifically on each part of our being (body, soul, and spirit). 3) The vast difference between being “filled” with the Holy Spirit, and being “Baptized in” the Holy Spirit. 4) The difference between the seven years miscalled the Tribulation, and the actual 3 1/2 years of Tribulation… to name a few.
(If you have any questions about those discussions – please ask!)
This week I ran into another item of what I call sloppy interpretation. It seemingly is a small issue, but carried to its full extent could damage a young Christian’s faith. I will copy the article that jump started this subject below.
It is important to decide beforehand NOT to judge or disparage the author of the article. He is undoubtedly a marvelous Christian. In this particular case, his interpretation (probably widely held throughout parts of the body of Christ) has no intention of evil … but with a much closer examination of the Word on this subject, I just believe it to be incorrect.
The article from the Berean Bible Commentary is reprinted below.
- (1) Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let u fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. (2) For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
Notice that the “promise remains” of entering His rest. This is the subject under discussion. At the time of the writing of Hebrews, the rest had not been attained. Nor has it been attained since. The rest is still in the future. It remains even for Christians today. Paul warns, “lest any of you seem to have come short of it,” indicating that though one has received forgiveness, God’s Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit, there is still a possibility of falling away. The chance may not be great, but nonetheless, some may fall short of it.
“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (verse two)During the time of the Exodus, the people of Israel heard a message of good news from Moses. It consisted of redemption from slavery, the Passover, baptism in the Red Sea, and a journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The good news, then, included the occurrences of and the knowledge about all the steps along the way, all of the benchmarks. The purpose for which all of those events occurred was the most important part. What good was it to have the death angel pass over their house, for them to receive the forgiveness of sin and redemption from slavery, if they never made it to the Promised Land? That is Paul’s warning. The steps, though vital in themselves, are not as important as the goal. This warning applies especially today. What Jesus Christ did in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection, is awesome, a wonderful and great gift. It is good news that these things have occurred, but they are not the good news. The good news is the goal, and that has not yet occurred. What Jesus did is exceedingly important to the fulfillment of God’s purpose, but it is still possible for us to reject the Son of God even after we have accepted His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, as Hebrews 6, 10, and 12 also show very clearly. So in this analogy, life in, possession of and governance in the Promised Land was the culmination, the good news, the fulfillment – at least physically – of the promises to Abraham.
The message that Jesus brought, the gospel, is about the Kingdom of God, the culmination, the goal, the fulfillment. Certainly it includes the knowledge of and information about those benchmarks along the way, but the Kingdom of God is the goal toward which every Christian is aiming. - John W. Ritenbaugh
The first point I’d like to make is answered in the third verse of this passage.
Heb 4:3 Now we who have believed enter that rest,
So the people who heard the word but did not mix it with faith – were not saved, and could not then “lose” that salvation! Those that did accept it by faith actually entered into that rest. We’ll discuss what that “rest” actually is in a little while.
This second verse of Hebrews 4 is referring to a group who did not personally accept the gift by faith. They were a group that heard the message of rescue, and probably believed it to a point but it didn’t demand a personal internal commitment. They accepted the benefits of being a part of the Israelites who were delivered from Egypt but they made no personal commitment to the God who had delivered them by the hand of Moses. As soon as there were difficulties, they rebelled against Moses, and God, because they were just in it for the benefits, not for a life-change.
This is unfortunately true of many of those who attend church, know all the answers, bask in the sunlight of being called Christians, but who have never made it personal. Paul here is attempting to promote self-examination when he says;
Heb 4:1 … let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
Self examination is not just encouraged here. It is necessary before communion.
1 Cor 11:28-32
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
Self-examination is also recommended here:
2 Cor 13:5-7
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.
In every case, this topic of paying closer attention so “that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” is intended to assure Christians that they have indeed been saved, and that they are continually allowing God to “clean their house” so that they can partake of all of the promises. It builds bedrock faith when … “you will discover that we have not failed the test.”
There are thousands, and possibly millions of people who attend church, pray, and call themselves Christians, that are no better than any pagan who believes his “church” or “religion” can save him. Without the life-changing personal commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior, they are just Christian “groupies”.
As long as that individual is complacent about his place in Christianity, he is the hardest soul to win to the Lord. I have been exceedingly blessed of God to have participated in the leading to actual redemption of a very few of them. In most cases, I didn’t know that they weren’t saved until they said that they needed to accept Jesus personally. Somehow, by the hand of the Holy Spirit, the preaching and discussing of the Word of God, reached in and made it real to them. The truth of “Jesus in ME” convicts their heart and a new child is born.
Paul wanted each person in the church to be sure that he personally didn’t fall short because of not making it personal and irrevocable.
Read this important scripture (especially the part I’ve made bold print at the end.)
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirite and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
These were people who for all intents and purposes were considered “disciples of Christ” but it wasn’t internally transforming … it was just cool to be part of it all. When it got more intense … they couldn’t handle it.
Remember that any person who has heard the truth and it is mixed with faith in them become adopted by God and He never “un-adopts” them. So, Paul in this passage is trying to reach those individuals that are (most likely – invisibly) just hangers-on, or Christian “groupies” but not really “born-again”.
Now for the crux of the matter; The incorrect interpretation of a single word that starts this whole wandering off the beaten path.
What is this “rest” that is being discussed here? We have already entered into a “rest” (Heb.4:3) but there “remains a rest” for us to enter into.
The first rest that we enter into is the absolute commitment to the fact that Jesus did it all concerning the payment for our sins. We rest from all the silly attempts to justify ourselves, or to earn our salvation. We rest in His finished work, and receive the eternal benefits by faith … not work.
The belief that Heaven is the rest that is spoken of in Hebrews is the problem. It is not. Though we have been trained to see Heaven as a rest from our earthly labors, it is far more. That picture of us strumming harps on clouds is about as far away from the truth as is possible.
“We shall be like Him. For we shall see Him as He is.” OK, let’s look at Him.
Since the seventh day of “rest” in the creation … how much time has He taken off? Any prayers ignored? Any items slipping through the cracks while He’s sleeping?
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Dear friend, you will be busier in Heaven than you are here.
27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
God instituted that day of rest by example – not because He needed it – but WE WOULD!
So if we are going to be like Him, how much time are you gonna have off? Right! But it will be a rest, and we will rest like Jesus did.
The entire book of James speaks of showing our faith “by our works”. How does that coexist with rest?
It is thoroughly explained in Jesus (like everything else J)!
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.
In this passage, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the Jews were horribly upset because you weren’t supposed to “work” on the Sabbath. Since Jesus never sinned, how can He justify “working” on the Sabbath?
If anyone had truly “entered into his rest” it was Jesus. Here’s how it operates.
Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 2
So for Jesus to enter into that rest was to stop doing, or more correctly, refuse to do any work HIMSELF! He looked toward God the Father and let God do ANY work He wanted, through Jesus.
Jesus wasn’t working … the Father was! Jesus could rest His own desires and choices entirely into the hands of the Father. He completely rested from His own works!
Have we achieved that degree of rest? Obviously not! When we truly believe, according to Heb.4:3, we enter into that rest. We are resting on Jesus completed work on the cross for our salvation, not by our works at all! But there remains a rest for us to enter. As long as we are in this body, we do not FULLY rest and only let God work in and through us.
We still do stuff that God doesn’t motivate and empower us to do! However we have this promise:
… for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
So every time we desire to do God’s will – it is He Himself working in us. And when we actually DO His bidding – it is God Himself doing it through us! At those moments, we are in the “rest” that Jesus walked in continually. We don’t have to worry about the results (does God ever fail?) and we don’t have to second guess either the motives or the methods because WE didn’t think them up!
Now the verse before Phil 2:13 makes sense …
…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
What he is saying is put a major, heart-felt, attention on entering into that rest because it changes lives (ours AND more importantly the “lost!) This “salvation” is of the “soul” and is a daily thing. The salvation of the “spirit” is already done – so our spirit has entered into its rest. The nasty truth is we must discipline our soul to follow the spirit in order for God’s will to be done in and through us.
That’s the rest we need to fully enter. None of me and all of him.
At our rapture, when we are changed, we will finally FULLY enter into that rest. So whether we are in Heaven, or on earth (such as during the Millennium) – busy as bees accomplishing our purpose chosen by God, we won’t be working … He will be working through us! No mistakes, no failure, no individual pride to cause us to fall, just perfection! I LIKE that part!
1 John 3:2-3
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,a we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (reread Phil 2:12 above)
So like Paul, strive to enter into
that rest. First as we examine ourselves to be sure that the preaching of the
Gospel was not only heard, but “mixed with faith” to make us, in reality, the Children of God. (not
And then secondly, that as we walk with the Lord, we rest more of our life (thoughts, words, and deeds) into His capable hands – so we can rest in Him from our labors, as Jesus did.
Finally, I’d like to make an observation about the final lines in the Berean Commentary.
“The message that Jesus brought, the gospel, is about the Kingdom of God, the culmination, the goal, the fulfillment. Certainly it includes the knowledge of and information about those benchmarks along the way, but the Kingdom of God is the goal toward which every Christian is aiming.”
Two points here: Heaven (which he means when he says “Kingdom of God”) is definitely NOT the goal of our salvation. The goal that we are to be aiming at is the transformation of each of us into the image of Christ. A “place” is not our goal, a new creation exactly in the image of God, to share eternity with Him as individuals in His class! Being fully like Him! That is the point, the goal, the aspiration and promise to all believers. So then regardless of WHERE we are, it is all about WHO we are.
To use the term “Kingdom of God” to mean heaven is short-sighted. The Kingdom of Heaven is the utter “Kingship” of God. When He is King over every particle of our being, and He lives unimpeded through us, we will truly be in “heaven”. (Anywhere in or out of the universe!) So if we correctly use the term “Kingdom of God” it really is the goal.
A short reminder: #1 We will spend at least 1000 years ON EARTH after Armageddon. And – The Lord says that He will make a new Heaven and a new Earth after the final judgment. Why would He make a new Earth if we aren’t going to spend some time on it? If Heaven only is your goal, you would be disappointed. But having “heaven” in your being, by experiencing the Kingship of God, leaves no place that God can think up where we won’t be in heaven.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
That is the “Rest” we have yet to obtain, and it is promised to us by the Almighty.
Bob Moloney 4/2014
When I drive I hear these great sermons in my head…closely reasoned, dynamically presented, and with wonderful content, all presented with more than adequate Biblical references (not by chapter and verse but by the clearly remembered subject matter). Then I sit down some time later to recreate them and am barely able to address the salient points or even remember the majority of the outline except in general terms. My conclusion is that either these sermons are for and to me alone, or I am supposed to at least take them down as an outline when I receive them. Unfortunately, I am usually in a hurry and neglect to interrupt my travel to record them.
This current material is a clear example of this long running problem. To say that this letter is a mystery to me would be a fair assessment. My hope is that the Holy Spirit will reveal the next point as I attempt to express the point currently in my heart, and therefore be able to take the same journey along the sermon’s path as I did before.
The subject that sparked this mental and spiritual outburst is simply that we, as Christians, are woefully inept at doing what God showed us to do through His dear Son, Jesus.
To illustrate the concept before establishing the details; The hand is a magnificent creation of God. With our opposable thumbs, and the dexterity and strength incorporated into the design, we are able as a species to do unbelievable things that are not just beyond the concepts of animals, but impossible to achieve for them due to their lack of comparable equipment. Even the monkey and ape families, so touted by evolutionists as our forbears, have distinct limitations due to the structure of their hands.
Recognizing the hand as a wonderful endowment from God is not in itself wrong…but if we concentrated all of our attention on exploring its wonders, and revering it as the central subject of our meditations, we would be totally missing the point…it is what we can DO with our hands that gives them value. Our focus should be beyond the hand itself and into the Godly purposes intended for it and enabled by it.
Another example; The gifts of the spirit are powerful, exciting, intensely interesting, and worthy of our study. But they have no purpose if they are just badges of honor or maturity in a Christian, or evidences of spiritual life, as many seem to think. Those things may have a minor point in any intellectual discussion of them. To attempt, however innocently, to revere the gifts, and spend our lives searching for, and being thankful to God for them is an unimaginable waste of time…they were designed as tools for labor. A workshop full of the finest tools is as useless as a pile of dust if they aren’t used to build, repair, or accomplish something. Sitting there in all their resplendent glory, they are worthless. Again, our focus should be BEYOND showing them off, to the accomplishment of their purposes, and regarding them as a means (however glorious) to an end.
Now I’m going to potentially anger some of you by applying that principle to a long held “Christian concept” and in doing so I may possibly shake some of our apathy and lazy comfort in our Christianity.
Question: How often did Jesus (according to God’s own record in scripture) preach about being “born again”? …………….Precisely ONCE!
In all that He said, and in all that others reported to us that He taught…that is only mentioned once! Though it is foundational, irrefutably important, unconditionally necessary and irreplaceable by any other act or doctrine…He didn’t spend His valuable time pounding away at it! Why not?
Peter used those same words “born again”… precisely ONCE! Now don’t get me wrong…that message is woven into and throughout scripture…but it was never the central preaching of our Lord and Savior! Again, …Why not?
Because…nobody wants to get saved!
If there were thousands of people whose desire was to get “born again” we wouldn’t be able to serve all their needs without a massive world-wide church building spree! Do you doubt that nobody wants to get saved? Read this…
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (Who is the “doer” here? Men or God?)
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Who is lost and who is seeking whom?)
12 "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? NIV (same question as above)
"There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." NIV (One final time…how many are seeking after God?)
So if people aren’t seeking to be born again…what ARE they seeking for? Jesus answers that by telling us over and over what He preached everywhere He went. (He always refused to waste time and words! …and He only said what He heard from the Father!)
Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (He was saying…”You want soma dis?”)
The purpose BEYOND our salvation is the point. We are saved FOR something. That something is the power, position, and responsibilities of man as the under-King, Ambassador, King’s Representative in charge of ruling this world as God intended Adam to do! This planet is in effect a colony of heaven. God’s intent was for man to rule it by the power of God to reflect (precisely) the home kingdom of Heaven.
The desperate desire of every human heart is to RULE! We hate being the “victims of circumstance”. The behavior of every human, in all the sinful ways imaginable, from the dawn of time, is to have power…because we were made in God’s image and we were BUILT to rule! Certainly under Him…but we are to exert power over creation to bring the character and purposes of God’s Kingdom to fruition on earth. Just like Jesus did!
Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
His will be done…Where? … In earth. By whom? (who is being taught to pray this?)…US - by the spirit of God who dwells in us.
To concentrate on the subject of salvation without the purpose for it leaves us with a very shaky appeal. “Get saved to avoid hell”. “Get saved to go to Heaven”. Those are side issues.
Get saved to fulfill your calling as an Ambassador of God’s kingdom in which you have power, peace, life, joy, and the function you were built for. This will satisfy the very foundational cravings of all men. Your job is tailored to you specifically and you are empowered to do it beyond all you can think. No satisfaction dependent on anything else is even remotely enjoyable compared to taking our place as workers, emissaries, and citizens of God’s Kingdom on earth! Doing, saying, and living the powerful life of Jesus IS the point!
Be certain that we will go to heaven…but not to dwell there forever…our place is here on earth. Why would Jesus set up His kingdom…on earth for 1000 years? To show us how it’s done!
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Why does the “New Jerusalem” come down out of Heaven to earth? God is moving in with us through Jesus…not us becoming “angels” and floating around in Heaven. We have total access to heaven beyond a doubt, but our future is described as God making a “New Heaven” and a “New Earth” and we shall reign (with Him) forever and ever …. Where? (Where is His capital city the “New Jerusalem”?) On earth!
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
We are certainly not going to rule in Heaven! God does that quite well thank you…and doesn’t need your help. God gave all creation to Adam to rule as a colony of Heaven… Adam lost it due to disobedience. Jesus (the last Adam…I COR 15:45) got it back and now He gives it back to us…to do what Adam was supposed to do! Rule it! Run it (by God’s power and authority) like He runs Heaven.
So what does this kingdom run like…what can we expect as its employees, citizens, and governmentally employed ambassadors???? Look at Jesus. The way He lived; the power He exercised over all nature, the understanding and wisdom in His dealings with all men as well as every other created thing; the unfettered communication between Him and the Father, …in short, we are to be JUST LIKE JESUS.
Can you think of anyone that wouldn’t want that kind of authority, control, and success? Can you imagine not being capable of getting sick? Not ever being stumped as to what to do? Being enabled to heal the sick, raise the dead, speak to the sea and wind and have them obey you…and on and on.
OK! Put the brakes on…to get there…we have to be…(Yep!) “Born-Again”. But because we traditionally stop there instead of going beyond to our God given purpose, we live lives far below our station in Christ, and become largely unprofitable to the kingdom…cuz we’re “just poooor sinners, saved by grace”. Get over it, and get on with it!
Read carefully Heb 6:1-3 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms,(most people only know about one – but the word is plural!) the laying on of hands, (an elementary teaching – widely untaught!) the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. NIV
Those verses lay out the basic foundation of our position in Christ … and sadly there are many Christians who have not mastered those basics because all we hear in most churches is salvation only, or in watered down churches – how to be a good person! God’s plan is for us to use those foundations in Hebrews 6 as the basement and build a great house on it!
Pastors are NOT any more responsible to preach salvation than every other child of God. Their job (as well as Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers) is to equip the saints for service. They are given to the BODY so that the BODY will do the work of the ministry. The ministry of each member of the body of Christ (every Christian!) is leading the lost to the Lord, showing them the blessings in Him, healing the sick, and raising the dead!
Eph 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. NIV
The one exception in the five fold ministries that God supplied to the Church is Evangelists. They are mostly concerned with salvation of the lost and spreading the good news. Apostles (as the foundation builders of new churches) also have a strong calling to preach salvation as well as to lay the groundwork for Christian maturation. But the rest are to take those who are already sheep and instead of telling them every week…how to become sheep…teach them how to be obedient and profitable sheep.
If you have already been adopted…
Eph 1:4-5 In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,
… you don’t need to spend all your time being taught how to be adopted … you need to know how to function in your new family. What’s expected of you and what is now YOURS by inheritance? What can you now DO?
Don’t for a minute blame your Pastor for this super concentration on salvation rather than teaching the developmental things you need. First, because the average Christian won’t do his job, the Pastor is bound to try to do it for you. Secondly, if all that the Christian who is called into the ministry hears and sees in the church while he’s growing up is salvation preached non-stop … how can we expect him to aim at anything else?
Dad and I in discussing this always came back to – there are people who are not saved in the congregation, and we don’t want them to miss out! Of course there are … and if they see the true future and present power of Christians operating on earth as citizens of God’s Kingdom … believe me, they’ll find out how to “get soma dat!”
It is critical in these end days to free our Pastors and Teachers from the job we are supposed to be doing so that they can do the job they are supposed to be doing! Is it any wonder that we have so many brothers and sisters in the Lord who are still drinking milk instead of chewing on the meat? They can recite salvation in 27 different positions but… They don’t know what they’ve been saved for! They think the message is just salvation, the reward of heaven, and nifty little gifts from God during their lives…instead of this calling to be Kings and Priests in the Kingdom of Heaven…on earth! Conquerors! Warriors! Ambassadors with the full military might and unlimited resources of the King at our disposal to take DOMINION over the outlaw government of Satan, and to exercise the power of God’s love over ALL His creation. In short … to be fulfilled! Halleluiah!
“Oh, but Bob, you don’t know how bad I am at that stuff.” Oh yes I do! Join the club! God isn’t depending on your skill. He is depending on His skill and power… and your willingness to get moving!
You cannot practice what you haven’t learned, and you cannot learn what you have not heard, and you cannot hear what isn’t preached, and many won’t let more than the milk of the Word to be preached!
So God has a solution…Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Last I checked…you still have your Bible…if you are not hearing this in your church…you should be “hearing” it from the Bible in your daily devotions.
If we preach BEYOND salvation to God’s purpose and supply for each of His citizens, then we will see two things.
#1 People rushing to get saved as the entrance to what they know deep down they’ve always wanted and were built for, and
#2 The end of lazy, unfulfilled Christians, sitting in pews, sucking up any blessing they can, whining about their lot in life, and doing precious little as working rulers of this colony. There is no excuse for letting someone else do it … when we truly see that “For me to live IS CHRIST”
“Christ”, by the way, means “The anointed and His anointing” so we should always be as “Filled with the Spirit” as Jesus is. That verse actually reads…”For me to live IS THE ANNOINTING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.” Finally come to acknowledge that there is no satisfaction in our hearts until we are doing all that we were called for, in power and service, and dominion … BEYOND our salvation!
The rest of what began in my heart will have to wait … but God has honored His promise and let me remember as I was writing this. Praise His Holy name!
May God’s blessing and purpose be fulfilled in your life as you step into DOMINION with Him, living in the Kingdom of God right here and now.
All my love,Bob