Thursday, December 27, 2012

‎"The Church which is His body."

My present purpose is to consider briefly the work of the Holy Spirit in the formation of the Church of God — the body of Christ. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). The Baptism of the Spirit is but feebly understood by the many. Some imagine it to be a kind of "second blessing" entered into by a favored few at some time subsequent to salvation; others suppose it to be a repeated thing to be called down by saints individually and collectively by earnest prayer.

Scripture speaks otherwise. The baptism of the Spirit (Christ being the baptizer, John 1:33) is with a view to the body of Christ. By reason of it the saints of God, however numerous, are united to the living Head in heaven and to each other. Such a thing was unknown until Christ was glorified. There were godly men before, of course; individual faith has been since the days of Abel, if not of Adam. But there was no union, nor could there be until redemption was accomplished and Christ ascended to the right hand of God. Then was brought out a purpose, which was formed before the world was, but kept hidden in the heart of God until the suited moment arrived. That purpose was to have a company of persons in heavenly glory with the Second Man, to share with Him all the results of His glorious work, in closest association with Him as members of His body. The members are being gathered while the counsels of God concerning the earth are in abeyance. When the Messiah was presented to Israel, He was refused. This has delayed the Kingdom, with all its connected blessing for the whole earth. All will be made good by-and-bye, and all that the prophets have spoken will be accomplished: but for the present Christ sits at the right hand of God, and the Holy Spirit is here, gathering out His members and joint-heirs. When the number is complete, the Lord will descend into the air, and receive them to Himself. It is a wonderful thing to have part in such a counsel. It was an immense privilege of old to be a Jew, and to be in possession of the word of God and the divine sanctuary. But the new wine is surpassingly better for faith. In the new company all fleshly distinctions between Jew and Gentile disappear, the middle wall of partition having been broken down, all have access by One Spirit unto the Father, and all the blessings of the risen Head are ours who are one with Him (Eph. 2). Thus to know our place truly, we must learn Christ's place to grasp our heavenly portion. Christ's portion must be comprehended; for in this all the members share, through the infinite grace of God. All spiritual blessings in the heavenlies are ours in Him; and all the Father's love rests on us in Him.

This lifts the soul right out of the world, and gives it a heavenly character. If our portion is altogether heavenly, and if we are really one with the exalted Man there, it makes us want to know what is there and to become familiar with it all. Impossible that a saint could really grasp by faith his union with Christ in glory and love a hostile and evil world. Intellectual understanding is worthless and vain.

The apprehension of such a place of blessing and privilege carries with it its corresponding responsibilities for our walk on earth. These the apostle presses in 1 Cor. 12. The difference between Eph. and 1 Cor. as regards the truth of the one body is, that the one gives us the heavenly side, and the other the earthly. The members have all received something from the Head for the general edification and blessing, and there is to be no discontent with the place and functions divinely assigned to each (1 Cor. 12:14-18), on the other hand there is to be no contempt on the part of the more eminently gifted for those who are but slightly endowed. All are necessary and none are to be despised (vv 19-21). The feeble and the uncomely members, far from being useless in the body, are to have our special affection and care. There is to be a community of interest among Christ's members (vv 22-26).

We see these divine principles understood and acted upon in faith by the early saints. The picture presented by the Spirit of God, in the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles is charming in its loveliness and simplicity. From all this, the Church of God has grievously departed. The honoured vessel who was used as the administrator of the truth of Christ and the Church — the apostle Paul — beheld with sorrow the vast majority declining ere he was called to his rest. How rapid the decline after his departure! How soon was the truth completely lost! It is only of late that God has recovered this for His own. Much truth concerning the individual blessing of believers was won back in the sixteenth century, but little or nothing was then entered into as to the Church of God. But the Spirit of God has brought the truth to the front once again before the Lord comes. He would have the saints enter into their true relationship to Christ, that there may be a becoming walk, individually and collectively, and a right attitude towards Him.

It may be argued that it is practically impossible to act upon such principles after all that has come into the professing Church. With the vast mass of Confessors of Christ spending their energies in building up humanly formed bodies, what is to be done? Let us not forget that the Church of God is made up of individuals and each individual saint has his own responsibility to the Lord. To attempt to get the public body right is futile, each must tread the Lord's path for himself. The Holy Spirit is still on earth, and the body of Christ is still here, as we read, "there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4:4). If but few seek to carry this out in faith, they may count on the presence of the Lord with them and the power of the Spirit of God. What more can heart desire? (Matt. 18:20).

by
W.W. Fereday.
Taken from Truth for the Last Days, 
Vol. 1, 1900, Page 119

Good News for the New Year

"Fear not ... for a Savior is born to you...Christ the Lord!" Luke 2:11 

"Fear not!" This is one of the great themes of the Christmas story (Lk 1:13, 30, 74, Matt. 1:20). The good news is full of great joy and cast out fear! Fear has a way of tying our stomachs up in knots, paralyzing our thinking, inducing panic. Fear, and its cousin worry, can capture our hearts when we find ourselves in situations beyond our control. The Lord Jesus talks about tiny, defenseless sparrows in the context of fear and worry: " Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink... Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they" (Matt. 6:25-26)? In Matthew 10:29-31 the He says," Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Fear can grip us, trying to choke all faith out of our hearts. 

As we face a New Year, think for a moment of that first Christmas, a young engaged couple expecting a baby. Think of all the uncertainties and unknowns they were facing. Surrounded by animals and scandal. She is in labor, her child will be born in a stable, of all places. They might have wondered, " Why is it like this? But she was holding onto the words spoken by the angel, "Do not be afraid, Mary...." (Lk 1:30). Outside of town, shepherds are watching over their sheep and all of a sudden the sky lights up and an angel proclaims," Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:10-11). The shepherds' fear is turned to joy as they hear news that a Savior is born. 

A Savior comes to rescue, preserve, and protect his people from the troubles that surround them. That's what Jesus came to do for us. We do not need to be afraid of the past, present or future, because God has sent a Savior to us, Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the One who will "never leave us or forsake us" (Heb. 13:5). He will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory (Phil. 4:19) and add to us all the things we need as we seek him and his Kingdom (Matt. 6:33). The world is gripped by fear, financial uncertainties, political unrest around the world and so much more. But the answer for the future, for 2013, is the real message and meaning of Christmas: "Fear not ... for a Savior is born to you...Christ the Lord!"God has sent a Savior for you. To save you from your sins and to help you in this life, to lift your burden and ease your fears. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Three Legs of Christmas (Part Three)


"Unto to you is born...a Savior who is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:11

THE THIRD LEG – THE RESURRECTION – HE LIVES 

“Unto you is born a Savior, WHICH IS CHRIST THE LORD”. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the essential sequel to His atoning death. It would be good to read 1 Corinthians 15, which is a great chapter on the resurrection of Christ. His resurrection validated a number of things, including the following: 

The resurrection validated that the Savior’s death on the cross was a voluntary sacrifice, that He laid down His life and He took it back again. (John 10:17,18) “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again”. “No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father”. 

The resurrection validated that the Savior completed the work of salvation. It says in (Romans 4:25) He was “delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification”. 

The resurrection validated that God was perfectly satisfied with the work of His beloved Son. God put His “seal of approval” upon His perfect sacrifice for our sins. It was the working of His (God’s) “mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places”. Read (Ephesians 1:19-23). 

The resurrection validated that Jesus Christ is indeed the person that He said He was, the eternal Son of the eternal God. Jesus is “Christ the Lord”. 

“Unto you is born a Savior, WHICH IS CHRIST THE LORD”. Peter stood up and preached in the first days of this dispensation of grace, (Acts 2:36) “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”. Jesus is not only the Savior, but He is “the Christ”. He is the anointed of God. He is the Messiah of Israel. Jesus is not only the Savior, and the Christ, but He is the Lord. That is, He is God manifest in flesh. In order for you to be saved you must acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and believe in His resurrection. It says in (Romans 10:9,10) “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, (Jesus as Lord), and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. “For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. It says also in, (Romans 10:13) “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved”. Have YOU ever called upon Him to save you? 

This Christmas season you will likely be busy with family and friends. You will, no doubt, be giving and receiving gifts.Why not take some time and be mindful of God’s great gift to you. It says in (James 1:17) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father”. He gave you that “good” gift, that “perfect” gift, He gave you His well beloved Son. Will you receive Him? (Romans 6:23) says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. What a wonderful gracious God we have to offer to us, so unworthy and undeserving, the gift of eternal life. Because it is a gift we can not work for it or merit it by anything we are or do. Will you receive this gift? If you do, you will be able to say like the apostle Paul, (2 Corinthians 9:15) “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift”. 

The Three Legs of Christmas (Part Two)


"Unto to you is born...a Savior who is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:11

THE SECOND LEG– THE CRUCIFIXION – HE DIED 

“Unto you is born A SAVIOR”. Because of the commercialism of Christmas and the busy activities associated with the holidays, very few people take time to consider the Savior. Little thought is given as to who He His and what He accomplished when He suffered bled and died on that cross at Calvary. The Lord Jesus Christ is called a Savior. The Bible frequently talks about “salvation” and man’s need to be“saved”. These words mean deliverance or rescue from a danger which threatens. All humanity is in peril, and therefore needs to be delivered or saved from that danger. The danger is God’s judgment that will surely be visited upon sin and the sinner that dies with his sins not forgiven. The Bible declares this judgment to be confinement to the “lake of fire” (see above) and eternal banishment from God. Are your sins forgiven by God? Jesus Christ is the Savior. He is the one, and the only one, who can save the sinner from his sins. It says in (Acts 4:12) “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other Name (Jesus Christ) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”. There is no salvation without Him. He is the exclusive Savior. What are you depending upon to get to heaven? Are you depending on your religion or your religious activities? Are you depending on your church, your priest or your pastor?Are you depending on infant baptism, doing the best you can, keeping the “golden rule”, tithing, etc, etc? None of these things will bring you salvation. You need a Savior, and God has provided His Son. “Unto you is born a Savior”. It says in (1 Timothy 1:15) “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. This is the reason that he came, “to save sinners”. How could He do this? Not by His perfect life, not by the wonderful words He said, not by the mighty deeds He did. The divine declaration of a holy and righteous God is (Hebrews 9:22) “Without shedding of blood is no remission”. It was necessary that the Lord Jesus Christ be “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). He came to provide salvation for sinners, and this could only be done by the sacrifice of Himself on our behalf. We read in (1 Peter 3:18) “Christ…suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”. When He hung upon that center cross, He was bearing our heavy load of sin and He suffered, bled and died in our guilty room and stead. He went under the wrath and judgment of a holy, righteous and just God. The hymn writer wrote the words; 

“All my sins were laid on Jesus, Jesus bore them on the tree; 
God, who knew them, laid them on Him, And, believing, I am free!” 

This is the very heart of the Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” This is God’s good news for each of us. 





The Three Legs of Christmas (Part One)

"Unto to you is born...a Savior who is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:11

It has been said that Christianity rests on three great pillars. I would like to look at them as three legs on a three legged stool. All three legs are found here in the angel's words to the shepherds in Luke 2:11. Let's look at each leg.

THE FIRST LEG– THE INCARNATION – HE CAME 

“Unto you IS BORN”. The birth of Jesus Christ is indeed, “the reason for the season”. His birth was a natural birth, like anyone else born into the world. It says in (Galatians 4:4) “When the fullness of the time was come, (the time of His birth was divinely determined) God sent forth His Son made of a woman, made under the law”. And, (Luke 2:7) says, “She (Mary) brought forth her firstborn Son”. The conception of His birth, however, was supernatural. He was born of a virgin, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, seven centuries earlier. (Isaiah 7:14) “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign, behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel" (meaning “God with us” or “”with us God”). The virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is confirmed in the New Testament, for we read in (Matthew 1:18) “Before they (Mary & Joseph) came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost”. Also, it says in (Matthew 1:20) “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost”. When we speak of the Lord’s incarnation, we refer to the fact that He became man. He became man without ceasing to be God. (Isaiah 9:6) reminds us of a very important aspect of the birth of Christ. It says “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given”. Not only was a child born, like the birth of any other child, but, unlike any other birth, unto us a son is given. (John 3:16) “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. Was there ever a time when you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Was there a definite time when you put your faith and trust in Him? It says in (1 Timothy 3:16) “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh”. God gave His Son. Why did God give us such a wonderful gift? Notice again what our verse says. 

“UNTO YOU is born”. This is the reason that He came.(1 Timothy 1:15) “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. God says in His Word that we need a Savior because we are all sinners, both by nature and by practice. We are sinners by nature because we are all born into this world with a sinful nature within us. That means we are sinners by birth. It says in (Romans 5:12) “By one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. Because of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, the whole human race is infected with sin and the consequence of sin which is death. Being born into this world, we are in the flesh and God says (Romans 8:8) “They that are in the flesh cannot please God”. If you are not saved, you have never thought, said or done one thing that has pleased God. It says in Isaiah 64:6) “We are all as an unclean thing and all our righteous nesses are as filthy rags”. Not only are we sinners by nature but we are sinners by practice as well. Note what the Bible says in the following verses: 

· (Romans 3:9) “Jews and Gentiles alike, they are all under sin”. 

· (Romans 3:10) “There is none righteous, no not one”. 

· (Romans 3:23) “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. 

· (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not” 

These verses are sufficient to show mans sinful condition in the eyes of a Holy God. It is true that all may not have sinned alike, or to the same degree, yet all alike have sinned in some degree. We have stated that the consequence of sin is death, but death is not the end. It says in (Hebrews 9:27) “It is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment”. God will judge the sinner who dies in their sin. (Revelation 20:11-15) describes the “great white throne” judgment. The solemn scene ends with the words “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. (Revelation 21:8) describes “The lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death”. Is your name written in the book of life? This is the reason that we need a Savior and God’s salvation. This brings us to our second leg. 





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What does the Bible say about Loyalty?

I was recently reading about the story of Jonathan and David. Their friendship was really remarkable. But what really stood out to me was the loyalty of Jonathan to David. Then I thought of the loyalty of Ruth to Naomi and that started a whole line of thinking on this subject of loyalty. In the world we live in today we really don't see a lot of loyalty, loyalty in marriages, in friendships in business, or even in the church. I looked up the word loyalty in the dictionary, it means "unswerving in allegiance as 1) faithful allegiance to one’s sovereign or government, 2) faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due, 3) faithful to a cause, ideal or custom." Synonyms are: faithful, allegiance, devotion, dedication, constant, unwavering, steady, unfailing.

Notice that the definition implies that what you are loyal to should be deserving of your loyalty. Think of the people, organizations, teams, causes, etc. to which you are (or have been) loyal. Which ones are deserving of your loyalty? Which ones are not?

What does the Bible have to say about loyalty and being loyal? 

Proverbs 21:21 in the NASV says, "He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor. " In the NIV loyalty is translated as "love." There's another translation of this same passage that describes it as "faithful love." 

Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Here we can learn that loyalty is unwavering in good times and bad. In Matthew Matthew 26:33-35 Peter said that even if all were made to stumble he would stay loyal, but in Matthew 26:69-75 we see that Peter denied the Lord and scattered just like the rest. So here we learn that loyalty is what you do, not what you say. Psalm 78:8 teaches us that loyalty is in your heart. It is willing and not reluctant. "And may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set it heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God." 

We learn from Exodus 17:8-13 loyalty can be demanding when Moses was loyal to Joshua who was fighting the battle down in the valley. Moses kept his arms stretched out praying for him. And when Moses was tired Aaron and Hur were loyal to him holding his arms up, while Joshua was loyal to God and to his people fighting the battle! 2 Chronicles 11:13-16 shows us that lloyalty may involve sacrifice when the priests and Levites left all they had to follow Rehoboam. 

We are reminded in Psalm 84:10-11 that loyalty to the Lord will be rewarded, "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." 

In the Old Testament we read of disloyalty being punished. Because Edom deserted Israel in its time of need, "I will bring you plummeting down," said the Lord (Obadiah 1:4-14). 

When a person is loyal in their business they are promoted to greater positions of usefulness. They have proven themselves in one area and are given another area of responsibility. Jesus said, "You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things..." (Mtt. 25:23). The message to Smyrna was "...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Re.2:10 

Does your life bear the mark of loyalty? If you are a Christian, it should! We should be loyal to our family, our church, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Where does your loyalty lie?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Letter to the Church at Laodicea

Message by Ernie Brown 

Scriptures considered: Revelation 3:14-22, Colossians 4:16-18.

The letters to the seven churches of Asia, or Turkey as it is nowadays, have very serious lessons for all Christians. We must pay heed to them for ourselves, rather than applying them to others.

Spiritual decline

The Christian church was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day from when Christ was raised from among the dead. Since that auspicious start, we Christians, as a whole, have become increasingly worldly and much less Christ-like or Christ-centred. The letters to the seven churches give a prophetic outline of the history of the church, highlighting the origins and results of this spiritual decline. They trace things through from the day of Pentecost right up to the second coming of the Lord. This last letter, to Laodicea, describes things as they are in the present day, at the very end of the Christian church period, immediately before the coming of the Lord. 

"The Amen"

We read in 2 Corinthians 1:20, "All the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Him." As the Amen, everything that God has committed Himself to do is both affirmed and confirmed in Christ. He is the One on Whom rests all the stability and assurance of what God will ever do.

"The Faithful and True Witness"

In Laodicean days, when the witness borne to God is worse than at any other time in the history of the Christian church, Christ is presented as the Faithful and True Witness. Nowadays, the two marks of faithfulness and truth are largely missing from that which outwardly professes to be Christian. In such conditions, He Who is the living embodiment of faithfulness and truth can alone be relied on to maintain what is due to God. 

"The Beginning"

As the Beginning, He is the true source and origin of everything that is of God and for God.

"I know thy works"

The Laodiceans were not lazy. They were quite willing to work, and their works were not pagan works. They even had a veneer of being true and good. Yet, there is nothing that could earn a specific commendation from the Lord. He said two things that give reasons for this.

"Thou art neither cold nor hot" (v. 15)

"I will spue thee out of My mouth" (v. 16)

At Colossae, 9 miles west, the water was cold, refreshing, pure, derived from melting snow on the nearby hills. At Hierapolis, 6 miles north, there was an abundant supply of hot spring water at 35°C (95°F), full of beneficial minerals, especially calcium, and considered to be therapeutic. Local people still bathe their eyes in the water. Laodicea was built in the third century BC at a natural crossroads in a low undulating plain. It was a good site in strategic terms, but with no natural source of drinking water. Supplies were brought in from the south via a stone aqueduct, which terminated in a water tower. From this, the water was distributed to the streets via pipes. The water was neither cold and refreshing, as at Colossae, nor was it hot and therapeutic, as at Hierapolis. It was tepid and laden with unpalatable minerals. Visitors not used to its flavour would spit it out in revulsion. The church at Laodicea was in danger of being rejected in the same way by Christ.

"I am rich"

The Lord says, "Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods." Laodicea had access to tremendous assets and resources. The city was a rich banking centre, controlling the finances of a large, commercially vibrant region. It wasn’t vulnerable to the fluctuation in market trends by being over dependent on any one commodity or trade. Among its diverse trading activities, it had a thriving woollen trade. Warm cloaks, made from local wool, of exceptionally high quality, from a special breed of long-haired black sheep, were ideal for both shepherds out in the country and also fashion conscious business people in the commercial centre. There was also a healthy export trade.

"You say you have need of nothing"

This would certainly register with the Laodiceans. In the year AD 60, the city was declared by the imperial authorities in Rome to be a disaster area, after a severe earthquake devastated the city. The Roman authorities offered grants and subsidies to help with the reconstruction. The Laodiceans declined the offer, stating that they were quite capable of funding the project themselves, without outside help. They were extremely proud of their self-sufficiency. The same spirit evidently marked the local church. The Christians at neighbouring Colossae were happy to be told, "Ye are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10). The affluent Laodiceans seemed to consider themselves to be complete in themselves, rather than in Christ.

"Wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"

The Lord’s assessment of them was completely opposite to what they thought of themselves. Wealthy, well clothed, haughty, self satisfied Laodiceans would feel grossly insulted to be described as wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." The Lord was, of course, speaking about spiritual and moral values, not financial and economic ones.

It is significant that the Lord attributes blindness to the Laodiceans. God always delivers blessing in pristine beauty and condition. Committed to man, things soon deteriorate and fall away. Eventually at the end of every phase of God’s revelation to man, blindness is seen to set in. The last judge, Samson, ended his days in blindness (Judges 16:21). The last priest, Eli, was blind (1 Samuel 4:15). The last King of Judah, Zedekiah, had his sight taken away (2 Kings 25:7). How salutary that the last condition of the Christian witness immediately before the coming of the Lord is described as including the distressing, helpless condition of blindness. The lesson is clear. None is so blind as he who doesn’t want to see.

"To him that overcomes"

Notwithstanding the appalling general condition, the Lord does not give them up. He calls for overcomers, even in Laodicea. If the Lord appeals for an overcomer, there must be the prospect of there being at least one. But how can it be done?

"Buy…"

Everything that is valuable costs you something. And from Whom could they buy what they needed? "Buy of Me," the Lord says. He is the holy One Who is able and willing to help. No one else can do so.

"Gold, tried in the fire"

What were they to ask for? "Gold, tried in the fire." In the Bible, gold is used as a picture of things that are considered valuable by God. The most precious resource and asset at God’s disposal is the Person and work of His beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. "Gold, tried in the fire," suggests that which is of Christ, proved in personal soul experience in the presence of God.

"White raiment"

The Laodiceans were used to preening themselves in their rich black cloaks. The Lord directs them to acquire, from Him, white garments to cover their naked shame. The allusion is clear. Clothing is what people first see of us. White is always a picture of purity and righteousness. Chapter 19 verse 8 tells us that the church, the Lamb’s wife (not by then on earth, but in heaven with Christ) will be clothed in "fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." The righteous deeds of the Christian believers will be on display, as clearly as though they were worn as a suit of clothes. The Laodiceans were directed away from flashy clothing to doing what is right in the sight of God.

"Anoint thine eyes with eyesalve" 

Laodicea had a famous medical school, specialising in the treatment of eyes. Their surgeons were skilled in eye operations, including the removal of cataracts. Additionally, much revenue was gained locally from the sale of eye ointments and eye salves. Local factories made good use of the nearby mineral salt deposits, which research had determined to be beneficial over a wide range of eye conditions. They would know full well what the Lord was talking about when He said, "Anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Only something Christ can give them can enable them to see clearly.

"As many as I love, I chasten"

What we do doesn’t alter what He is. Although the state is judged, the persons are still loved. All discipline has a positive aim. It is administered with a view to correction and restoration to full joy and fellowship. 

As He says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." He so loves us and cares for us that He must at times discipline us. This does not make it any easier at the receiving end (cf. Hebrews 12:11). 

"Repent"

The Lord makes the matter perfectly plain. "Repent." Unless our hearts are right before God, we will never take the right action. Repentance must precede the answer to the Lord’s knocking. There must be a real change of mind before God. We must agree with God about the poor spiritual condition in which we are. Each individual is responsible to the Lord to do so on a personal basis. In verse 20, a tremendous opportunity opens up. The Lord makes His appeal to any individual who is willing to listen: "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." There is always room for recovery, and there is some response from individuals. The Lord, in His patience, is knocking, but from the outside. We will not hear the Lord’s voice until we have repented.

"I stand" 

Not a casual stance, but one which is adopted continually until the object is achieved. That is, the personal response of the individual overcomer. An "overcomer," is any individual who refuses to be swept along by the tide of unfaithfulness rampant just before the Lord’s coming, and is determined to seek help and grace from God so as to remain true to his Lord and Master, at whatever personal cost.

"I am knocking"

Why refer to a door, or gate? As part of the reconstruction of the city after the earthquake mentioned earlier, a local wealthy benefactor paid for the erection of an impressive new "gate" for the city. Nocturnal visitors to the city found the gate locked, so as to safeguard the city’s wealth and treasures. They had to knock and be subjected to close scrutiny before gaining admittance. They were treating the Lord in the same way, keeping Him outside. Individuals responding to His knocking would themselves gain access to and receive all the spiritual treasure they would ever need or could enjoy. The Lord is calling attention to the fact that He is there, knocking, but from the outside. The Laodiceans had shut themselves in to themselves, without Him. They were so busy with their own activities that they could not even hear the knocking that was going on on the outside. They were not only going on without Him, they were not conscious that He was outside.

There is always room for recovery, and there is some response from individuals. But, we must hear His voice. If consciences are awakened, repentance would be brought about. 

"If any man"

The mass will never turn. The response must be individual. 

"Open the door" 

The overcomer must open the door for himself. The knock is imperative. The voice is appealing. If there is no response to this appeal, there can be no more. "I will come in to him." How gracious the Lord is. He expresses His willingness to come into our hearts, our lives, but He doesn’t force Himself upon us.

"I will sup with him and he with Me"

What joy, what communion, is available to us if we allow Him to have His true place, the chief place, in our plans, our ambitions, our motives.

He comes to our side, that we might enter into His side ("I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with Me"; cf also John 13:8). 

"With Me on My throne"

Rewards are granted to those who make room for Him in this way: "To Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." Here again we have a reference to a well-known local practice. Public thrones, there and then, were not designed for single occupancy. They were more like benches, with sufficient room for those summoned by special invitation of the occupant of the throne. Such dignitaries, selected on account of high office or spectacular achievement, were summoned to sit on the throne alongside the visiting sovereign or president of the function to view the proceedings of the day at the arena, theatre or stadium. 

As always, the Lord Himself is both the source and the standard for everything He offers us. When He lived on the earth, He was always faithful to His Father in heaven, whatever the opposition, whatever the personal cost to Himself. Having gone back to heaven, He is now seated in honor alongside His Father, awaiting His day of glory, when He shall sit on His own throne, and receive universal honor and acclaim. He now says to those who have committed themselves to be faithful on earth to Him while He is in heaven, "When I appear in power and great glory, you will be alongside Me sharing that glory." (See also 1 Samuel 2:30).

Closing remarks

If the Laodiceans had read The Epistle to the Colossians, and taken heed to it, they would not have needed this letter. For us, it is safe to look for a Philadelphian in the saints, and keep guard against Laodicean tendencies in ourselves. The obvious remedy and preventive to Laodicean conditions is Colossian ministry (affections set on things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, Colossians 3:1-4). 

Christ is coming again. He has left Christians on earth until then with the privilege and responsibility of being true and faithful to Him while we wait for Him to come. We must be good stewards of whatever has been entrusted to us in the meantime. May we seek grace to do so.

The Glory of God and Jesus

Article by J.T. Mawson 

"But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55).

"The glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God," and a man upon earth full of the Holy Spirit, unafraid of that glory and in living union with the Man exalted there-this was the revelation of an entirely new order of things, a heavenly order of things, which can only be known on earth by the Holy Spirit who has come from that glory. Let us diligently seek to understand this-and it is only by the teaching of the Holy Spirit that we can understand it-then we shall understand Paul’s gospel and "the mystery" of it (see Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:25-27).

The truth of the assembly, the body of Christ upon earth, really commences with this that Stephen saw. His eyes were turned away from the world; he probably never was held by the gross things in it, but he had had his part in the religious side of it; but now we see him separated from it, the temple, the priests, the learned leaders of the Jewish system, all have faded from his view; even an earthly kingdom with the divine Messiah at its head is surpassed and entirely eclipsed by that which now enthralls him-the glory of God, and a Man at the right hand of God. This wonderful revelation is the more arresting in that the Man who could stand at God’s right hand, in the presence of that glory before which the highest angels fall prostrate with covered faces, was the One whom the world had judged to be only worthy of a malefactor’s cross, but it is not that which we wish to emphasize here. 

It is the fact of the glory of God and Man being in absolute consonance. We know that that Man was "Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever" (Romans 9:5), but that is not the point of this passage. The Lord is spoken of by His personal human name. It was JESUS whom Stephen saw, the One who was born in the manger at Bethlehem, who died upon the cross of Calvary, who was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and who had ascended bodily to that glory. He was and is for ever absolutely agreeable to that glory, nay, altogether necessary to it, and that this might be known the heavens were opened, and Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, saw by the power of the Spirit that to which he had to bear witness ere he died, and that which was to be the beginning and body of all Paul’s ministry. The glory of God has found a Man; apart from this the purpose of the glory in regard to men could never have been fulfilled, and itself must have remained hidden from the universe for ever. That Man is Jesus, who loved us and died for our sins, and consequently we cannot be indifferent to this great fact. Our hearts are glad because of what this means for our Saviour; we have often considered Him as the despised and rejected of men, "the shame of the cross and Jesus" we often think of together, but now it is "the glory of God and Jesus"; we cannot but be glad and rejoice as we consider this.

This is only one side of the new order of things which here comes to light, and yet we must dwell further upon it, for everything takes character from it. We must not confine our thoughts of the glory of God to the place of exaltation into which Jesus has gone, that is described as "the right hand of God"; there is much more in the expression than the thought of locality. It is the shining out of what God is in His very nature. The expression has its own special significance. Moses desired to see the glory of God, but the time had not then come for it, though God gave to His servant a partial revelation of it, proclaiming His name as merciful and gracious.

These two qualities are an integral part of that glory, as the prominent place that they occupy in the Epistle to the Ephesians proves; but the glory of God-the full display of His nature and ways-could not be revealed until He had a Man in whom it could shine forth and who could maintain it in all its radiance, undimmed and untarnished by any failure for ever. That God has secured this now is proved beyond doubt by the fact that He has thrown open the heavens and shown to us "the glory of God and Jesus."

The other side of this new order is more surprising and, perhaps, more difficult to grasp, but just as real and true. It is that the Holy Spirit has come down from the exalted Man, our Lord, bringing with Him the full knowledge of the glory of God, for He is the Spirit of that glory, and that He now indwells believers on the earth and unites them in a vital union with Christ who is exalted at the right hand of God. Stephen is a pattern of this, for he was not only a witness to what his divinely-anointed eyes beheld, but he became descriptive of Christ in the midst of the most adverse circumstances. It was not in the fact that his face shone like an angel’s that he was descriptive of Christ, for the glory of an angel is not the glory of God, and his face shone in this manner before he looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus; but it was in that most wonderful grace that made him pray with his last breath, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Thus was the life of Jesus made manifest in his mortal flesh. But this could not have been had he not been a member of the body of Christ, and he could not have been that had not the Holy Spirit come from Christ to make him so. What else but Christ, morally, could the Holy Spirit bring from heaven? Nothing. What other business has He but the displacement of self and the forming of Christ in the lives of those whom He indwells? None. And Stephen is the pattern of it. In him we see a man upon earth brought into perfect accord with the glory of God, and this not only in the fact that the glory of God and Jesus filled his eyes objectively, but that the life of Jesus was formed in Him subjectively, and manifested itself practically in the very world out of which Jesus had been cast.

Stephen may have been an amiable man or the reverse, it matters not; what he may have been naturally had no place here; he was full of the Holy Spirit, and Stephen was displaced and Christ shone out. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Beholding the glory of the Lord he was transfigured into the same image.

But the Holy Spirit who filled Stephen did not dwell exclusively in him. He dwelt in Stephen because he was a member of the body of Christ on earth, and every believer in the exalted Lord Jesus is equally a member of the body of Christ; and, consequently, the Holy Ghost dwells in each and all. And the body is to be descriptive of Christ. This is the great theme of the Epistle to the Colossians, and to this end we who "were sometime alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works, now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight" (Colossians 1:21-22), i.e., in the presence of that glory we are as Christ is, for we are part of Him, and He is in us as His members, and consequently we are to be as He is in the place where He is not. Nothing in which men can boast or contribute can help the body of Christ. The best that man can produce belongs to the world that is passing away, for the glory of man is as the flower of the field. But the assembly, which is His body, has its origin in and takes its character from the glory of God; the Man who is entirely agreeable to that glory is its Head and life; and the Holy Spirit who has come from that glory is its unwearied power.

And we are looking for the glorious day when the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church will be finished, and when it, as the holy city, shall descend out of heaven from God, having the glory of God (Revelation 21:10-11).

That which she will be then, when her light shines forth like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal, is being formed in her now by the Holy Ghost. She is being fashioned according to the glory of God and the Man who is at the right hand of God, and while failure proclaims itself wherever the eye turns in that which professes the name of Christ on earth, there is no failure in this work of the Spirit; and there shall yet be displayed to the universe the triumph of God in His counsels of blessing, and He shall have glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What did the Mayans Really Know?

Did the Mayans really know something about the end of the world? NO! The Bible says, "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36

However, one day each one of will come to the end of this life's journey (whether by natural causes, accident or some other way). Today, maybe for the first time, maybe for the 100th time, maybe for the 1,000th time, you are hearing the warning from God that the moment you die you will stand before God and be judged by Him. If you die having rejected Christ, your soul will spend all eternity apart from the God who created you. You will be lost for all eternity. God's desire is that ALL come to repentance, that none be lost. By putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ you can have the assurance that at the moment you die you will be forever with the Lord, spending all eternity with Him. That is the choice each person that lives has to make, that is the choice that YOU have to make.

Let me ask you a simple question. If you died this very moment, do you have the complete assurance without any doubt that when you stand before God He will welcome you into His presence for all eternity because you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ? If you do not have that assurance, Pray, ask God to open your heart to the truth of the words there, and make the choice today to ask Jesus Christ into your heart and life by faith. Don't ignore this warning!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Wonder of Christmas

I can remember as a young boy waking early on Christmas morning running out to the family room with great wonder at what was there under the tree! For some, this time of year still brings about a sense of wonder and awe. But many of us, in the midst of all the hustle and hype of the holidays have lost the wonder that ought to come when we are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. Recently I was reading through the passages in Scripture that we often call "the Christmas story." I was amazed that during the very first Christmas there was a sense of wonder and awe. Then I was was challenged, "Shouldn't I still have the same sense of wonder and awe when I consider all that God did in sending His Son into this world, not to condemn us but that through Him we might be save?" Let's consider some of those who were in wonder and awe on that first Christmas. As we consider these thoughts let's take in the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Pause and wonder" (Is. 29:9).

In Luke 1:18 we read of Zechariah (John the baptists father) who wondered how he and his wife could give birth to the forerunner of the Messiah. Image how this man who was well advanced in years would have felt! At first wonder in the sense of doubt, "how can this be?" But as you read more of Zechariah's experience we see that this wonder of doubt becomes a wonder of worship! Latter on in chapter one we hear his song of praise and it filled no longer with the wonder of doubt, but it display a heart that is filled with the wonder and awe of worship! He speaks :
  • of a redeeming God (1:68)
  • of the the strength of that God (1:69)
  • of the Sovereignty of such a God (1:70)
  • of the Salvation and deliverance by His God (1:71)
  • of the Mercy of God (1:72)
  • of the fact that this is a covenant keeping God (1:72)
  • and that his God is Holy and Righteous (1:75)

In Luke 1:34 we read that Mary wondered how it would be possible for a virgin to give birth to a baby. Mary's wonder here isn't so a question of doubt as much as it was an expression of faith, even though so small. She believed the promise, but she did not understand the performance. How could a virgin have a child? Gabriel explains that this would be a miracle, the work of the Holy Spirit of God. He goes on to tell her that the baby would be a "holy" (1:35). Then when see that true wonder brings about a heart that is surrendered to the will of God (1:38) and in her song we see that wonder causes her to praise Him for the promises as if they were already fulfilled. So we see her faith. Then we see a heart full of wonder is full of joy (1:47). She was in awe of the greatness and holiness of her God as a result of her wonder (1:49). Her whole experience displays a heart that is overflowing with love for her God.

In Matthew 1:18:25 we see Joseph wondering why he and Mary had been chosen by God to be the parents of the Messiah. Later we see Mary pondering everything in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51). Both Joseph and Mary marvel at what devout Simeon says to them in Luke 2:25-35.

Think of the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem keeping watch over their flocks when the dark night was light up by the presence of angel proclaiming the Savior's birth. I notice several things here that is worth pointing out. First, what kind of shepherds were they? We are told that they were watching shepherds (2:8). They had been faithful with what they had been given. Shepherds were not held in such high esteem in that day, yet heavens secrets concerning the arrival of the Savior was given to them. Why? Perhaps Psalm 25:14 has the answer, "The secrets of the LORD are with those that fear Him" or "are in awe of Him." Next thing I notice about these shepherds is that they are wondering shepherds (2:9-10). The type of wonder here was one of fear but notice what the angels said, "Fear not!" This is one of the great themes of the Christmas story (Luke 1:13, 30, 74, Matthew 1:20). The good tidings or the good news is full of great joy and cast out fear! These shepherds were also willing shepherds (2:15-16), they responded in faith! They didn't say "let's go see if these things happened." They said, "let's go see these things that have happened." They were also witnessing shepherds (2:17-18). They didn't keep it to themselves, they told every one they saw and people marveled at what they shared! The last thing we see about these shepherds is that they became worshipping shepherds (2:19-20).

What Hinders Our Wonder
In each of these scripture we see that there was a cause an affect that brought about wonder. Wonder is not a fuzzy feeling. If we look for that were missing the point. Wonder comes from being occupied with the real reason for the season! Have you ever notice so many manger scenes have the figures facing out so we can see them. I heard of a little girl who moved the figures in a manger scene all facing in, when asked why she said, "They need to be looking at Jesus, not at us!" She got it! This is the main reason we loose our wonder! We're too busy being occupied with other things.

Another factor that affects our wonder is that we get way too busy this time of year! We need to "pause and wonder" (Is. 29:9). We need to "be still" to appreciate and know Who is God (Ps. 40:10). It has often been said that if we don't come apart a rest, we'll just come apart! I think there is a lot of true to that, especially this time of year.

May we enjoy this time of year with friends and family, but let's not forget to pause and wonder. Let our wonder lead to worship Him who not only came as a baby and was laid in a manger. But remember why He came to bring glory to God through His life and His death. Pause and wonder why that one who laid in a manger, grew up and as a man hung on the cross paying the price and the penalty for my sins and yours. He was buried and rose again, ascend back to Heaven and is coming back for us! Pause and wonder at the plan of salvation. When you pause and wonder it will lead you to praise and worship!












Sunday, December 2, 2012

CHRISTMAS

Christ Jesus was born in a stable, in a feeding trough. This reminds us of 2 Corinthians 8:9 "For we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Hope, He came into a world without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12) to provide us with hope- HIMSELF (1 Timothy 1:1).

Righteousness- He was completely righteous, sinless. He knew know sin (2 Corinthian 5:21), He did no sin (1 Peter 2:22), In Him was no sin (1 John 3:5) and He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Inn- This reminds us that there was no room for Him in the Inn (Luke 2:7). At the cross the world said away with Him, even today the world has no time for the Lord Jesus. Do you?

Savior Luke 2:11 reminds us, "Unto you is born... a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." There is salvation in no other name (Acts 4:12) Christ Jesus came into this world to Save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). 

Trust in Him-Each of us have to "confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

Messiah- He is God's annointed, the Christ. Peter declared that "God has made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). This reminds us that God has given Him the authority as Lord of Lord's and that our live's ought to be surrendered and submitted to Him.

Accepting all; who come to Him! All need Him and He accepts all

Shepherds and wise men sought Him and so should you! They brought Him gifts, what are you bringing Him today? Have you given Him your heart! Wise men still seek Him today

Saturday, November 17, 2012

BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE FIVE OFFERINGS OF LEVITICUS-- 1-7

In these five offerings we have a most wonderful presentation in typical language of types and shadows of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true "Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). All these offerings taken together give us a full view of Christ and His great sacrificial work on the cross of Calvary.

They are like so many mirrors arranged around the Lord and the cross so that each one reflects a special view of His Person and work.

1. The Burnt Offering
Here we have the highest aspect of the work of Christ where He is seen offering Himself up entirely to God, to do His will even unto death. The whole offering, except the skin of the animal, was burnt upon the altar and all went up to God as a sweet savour. It pictures Christ who gave Himself as "a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour" (Eph. 5:2). Christ is not seen here as bearing our sins, but as accomplishing the Father's will, glorifying Him and vindicating the holiness and majesty of His throne. This theme is especially prominent in John's Gospel and in Psalm 40.

2. The Meal Offering
This offering typifies Christ as the perfect and sinless man and presents to us His wonderful Person and His spotless life which was ever an offering of a sweet savour unto God. There was no shedding of blood in this offering, so it speaks of the perfections of Christ's Person and life rather than of His death. The fine flour pictures His sinless humanity with its evenness of moral qualities, the oil the grace and power of the Holy Spirit which characterized His life and the .frankincense is emblematic of the sweetness and fragrance of' His Person and life.

3. The Peace Offering
This was also an offering of a sweet savour to God. The blood, the fat and the kidneys of the offering were put upon the altar as "the food of the offering made by fire unto the Lord" (Lev. 3:11). This was God's part. Then the breast was given to Aaron and his sons and the right shoulder to the offering priest. This was man's part. Thus God and man both fed on the same offering which speaks of communion and fellowship and typifies the communion which the believer, in Christ enjoys with God on the ground of the work of Christ at the cross and His blood shed there for our sins. We are at peace with God through the work of the cross and can feed upon Christ in fellowship with the Father. Luke's Gospel and Psalm 85 especially present this theme.

4. The Sin Offering
We come now to the non-sweet savour offerings. The special feature of this offering is in the whole bullock being burnt upon the ground outside the camp' of Israel, after the blood and fat was put upon the altar for God. This offering was for sin and pictures to us Christ who was made sin for, us (2 Cor. 5:21) and endured the judgment and wrath of God against sin in our stead as our substitute. The holiness of God and the awfulness of sin is brought out in the bullock being entirely burnt up outside the camp. It pictures Christ forsaken of God as our sin-bearer as given in Psalm 22 and Mark's Gospel.

5. The Trespass Offering
Here sin is looked at as a trespass against the government of God. Amends had to be made for the wrong done and the fifth part added to it. Atonement was made by the blood of the offering and the trespasser was forgiven. This offering presents Christ who has died for our sins and trespasses on the cross and restored that which He took not away (Ps. 69:4). He has not only answered to God for our sins and paid our debt by His shed blood, but has added the fifth part, as it were, bringing more glory to God and blessings to man than was had before sin was committed. This is the first view the sinner gets of the Cross of Christ. Psalm 69 and Matthew's Gospel present this aspect of the offering of Christ.

R. K. CAMPBELL











Friday, November 16, 2012

The Meal Offering (Leviticus 2)

Introduction
The Meal offering stands apart from the other four offerings in that it is a bloodless offering. There is no life given up so in that way it speaks, not so much of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, but of the perfection of His Manhood. There came a time (Numbers 15)  when God told Moses, that no burnt offering was ever to be offered without a meal offering, this is very instructive since Numbers speak of the wilderness experience of the people of God. What we can learn from this is that the Son of God could never have been the true burnt offering if He had not been in every step of His pathway perfect in His subject, dependent, obedient Manhood. He never could have been the great sacrifice that has brought eternal delight and glory to the heart of God. He had to be what He was in order to do what He did!

The Composition of the Meal Offering: 
There were four ingredients that had to compose every meal offering, they were fine flour, oil, frankincense (all v.1) and salt (v.13). 

Wheat (Leviticus 2:1) The fine flour is the finest of wheat flour. Notice it is fine flour, know lumps or sharp corners. In barley there are sharp corners. There is another difference between barley and wheat. In John's gospel, the five loaves were of barley (6:9), but in John 12:24 it says "Except a grain of wheat.....", both of these are only found in John's gospel, the barley typifies the resurrection of Christ in many figures and types in the Old Testament, while the wheat speaks of Him more as the Second Man, out of heaven, and the One who having come out of heaven has gone back to heaven, and accompanied with Him many grains. Again, the barley has to do with the recovery of Israel, but the wheat has to do with the establishment of the Assembly. The barley harvest comes seven weeks before the wheat, the resurrection of Christ as preceding His ascension. Right from the outset of the meal offering therefore, Christ is presented as the Second Man, out of heaven (1 Cor.15:47). The finest of wheat and flour typifies that new order of Manhood in all its sinless perfection. 

Oil (Leviticus 2:1) The oil is often speaks of the Holy Spirit of God in power. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is typified by several things. First, living water, referring to refreshment; sometimes He is typified by fire in judicially maintaining the rights of God; sometimes He is portrayed by light (as seen in the lamp stand in the tabernacle), and there are others. However, oil typifies the Spirit in divine power operating in this world for God. When He came upon people it was to give them spiritual power to carry out the will of God. This was perfectly performed in the Lord as we read in Acts 10:38. 

Frankincense (Leviticus 2:1) The frankincense, which always went wholly to God, carries this thought, that everything that Christ did in this world, He did it first of all for the pleasure of God. 

Salt (Leviticus 2:13) Salt speaks of the preservative element of righteousness. For example Col.4:6, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt". Christ said "You are the salt of the earth" (Matt.5:13), that is, the antidote to corruption. We are always expected to be speaking right things and doing right things as an antidote to the corruption around us. Salt speaks of the preservative element of what is right in the sight of God. Here it is expressed as "the salt of the covenant of thy God". All that is right God-ward and man-ward is expressed here. Christ could say "Your law is within My heart" (Psalm.40:8), in all that He said and did, whether God-ward or man-ward, the salt of the covenant of His God was never lacking. He perfectly gave to God that which was right in His sight. So in every meal offering the salt of the covenant of God had to be included as setting forth the Lord Jesus Christ in responsible Manhood, right in His love to God and to man. 

Summary of the Four ingredients
In these four ingredients we have His perfect Manhood presented. It was heavenly in character (fine flour), the energy of the Spirit of God moved Him in all that He did here, He was justified in the Spirit (the oil), all that He did was first of all for the delight of the heart of God (the frankincense), and He never failed to render to God or to man that which was right in all His pathway here in this world (the salt).

The Offering (Leviticus 2:2-3)
The offering was to be brought first to Aaron's sons, the priests. The priest was to take his handful of the flour and of the oil and all the frankincense, and burn it for a memorial upon the altar to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. This was God's food! This memorial was in recognition of the claims of God, and reminds us today that Christ met those claims in every way when He was here. The rest of the offering was to be Aaron's and His sons (v.3). The offering must first be offered to God, and the memorial with all the frankincense ascend to God, before ever there could be anything here as food for the priests who offered that offering. Not until His work for God was completed, could there be any thought of any one of us finding food for our soul in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is also true morally and spiritually in our lives. We must first of all enjoy what Christ was to the delight of the heart of God before we can really appreciate what He is to our hearts as food to sustain us in wilderness conditions. This is elaborated on a bit more in the Law of the meal offering in Leviticus 6:14-18.

The Three Different Preparations of the Meal Offering:
Baked in an Oven (Leviticus 2:4) First, a meal offering could be baked in an oven. The word for 'cakes' means cakes that had been pierced or pricked and gives the thought of abuse, while wafers that had been rolled also gives the thought of great pressure, and the fact that they were in the oven and enclosed indicates that they were not open to the eyes of men. They were hidden and I think would represent those sufferings which were unknown by man, but known to God alone. The oven typifies the unseen testings of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what did it cover in the life of Christ? It speaks of the thirty years of His Manhood in this world of which we know so very little. We do not know what was happening as He grew up from a babe through youth to manhood. The testings during this time were altogether under the eye of God, and were answered to for His pleasure. The oven covers the thirty years of His private life here in this world for the pleasure of God. We have only one vision of this time after His birth and His return from Egypt recorded for us. When He was twelve years of age He was found in the temple (Luke 2:41-50), and could say "Do you not know that I must be about My Father's business?". As early as that date, He was moving in this world in the accomplishment of the will of His Father.

The mingling of oil that we read of speaks of His holy conception. It was that which underlay all that has been said. 1 Cor.15:47 again comes to mind, He was the Second Man, out of heaven. Mary is told at the Lord's conception "The Holy Spirit shall come upon you..... that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

We also see the 'anointing with oil' (Lev.2:4), at the baptism of the Lord, when the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father's voice was heard saying "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased". The word for pouring here means 'to pour as molten metal into a given shape'. It may have reference to the Spirit coming down like a dove upon the Lord Jesus Christ in all His perfection. In the pouring of the oil upon the unleavened wafers (the descent of the Spirit) we see the One who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was anointed by the Holy Spirit, and the mark of God's delight of those thirty years of secret history is given "My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." The oven suggests the private testings, although it cannot be limited to just these, we can't help but think of the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, where we know that His sufferings were such that His sweat became blood. Who was aware of this but Himself and God?

Baked in a Pan (Leviticus 2:5-6) The second possible meal offering was "baked in a pan..... mingled with oil. You shalt part it in pieces and pour oil thereon" (v.5-6). Again, the meal offering was to be mingled with oil. This offering would speak of the short section of Christ's public life of three years or a little more, the time of His public testimony. The offering is baked in a pan and that would be a vessel that is open. Here the sufferings of our Lord that were endured could be seen by all and would no doubt come within the embrace of Hebrews 12:3, the One who "endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself". It begins with the mingling of oil with the offering, the One who came in this way is the One who moved publicly in this world for God, but it was now to be parted in pieces (this is unique to this particular offering). Christ's first thirty years could not be parted, but this one, which covers His public ministry as recorded in the gospels can be looked at in many ways. We are not told how many pieces, we can part and part again, examining in minute details His public testimony. The Spirit of God has parted His public life into at least four portions for us - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. 

Baked in an Frying Pan (Lev. 2:7) In the third offering, the meal offering was baked in a frying pan (or 'cauldron' or Kettle) and was to consist of fine flour with oil. We neither have the mingling nor the anointing here, but together. The Lord is viewed in all His distinctive Manhood, distinct from, but not apart from, the Spirit of God. This third possible meal offering gives us perhaps just the last few hours of our Lord's history in this world, probably from the moment of His apprehension until His last word - "Finished". This period occupied somewhere around fifteen hours. In the conflict, in relation to sin, of our Lord while in the garden, we see the fine flour with oil. He had the feelings and sensitivities of a man, the cross with all its dreadful horror passed upon His soul, and we see Him there in all His agony. As He prayed to God we see a man who knew what sin was, and what bearing sin was going to mean. Experimentally, He touched it upon the cross, but in anticipation it pressed His righteous soul in the garden causing Him to speak of that agony. This third preparation of the meal offering was the apprehension of the last great testing when His public ministry was now accomplished. The one last great thing which lay before Him in the accomplishment of the will of God was His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross.

Summary of the Three Possible Meal Offerings
So whether we apprehend the Lord growing up before God (little though we know about it), the much more we can speak of it concerning His public testimony in this world, and again the little we can apprehend about the garden of Gethsemane and ultimately, His work upon the cross, there is the perfection of His Manhood in all that He was in His obedience to the will of God, all coming out, and that has given eternal glory to God and marked Him out as the one man in all His unique perfection who ever glorified God.

Presentation (Leviticus 2:8-10)
The meal offering was now presented "unto the Lord". The offerer presented the meal offering to the priest, who was then to bring it "unto the altar". Jehovah, the priest and the altar are all linked together. The altar was the place of offering, the priest was the sanctified one to offer it, and God was the One to whom it was offered. His claims were satisfied in one sanctified to draw near and that was ascending which give joy to God for the delight of His heart of love.

No Honey (Leviticus 2:11)
No meal offering was to be made with honey or leaven. Honey, in Scripture, appears to have two interpretations. For instance we read that the land of Canaan was a land of "milk and honey". Then, in speaking of the Lord prophetically, Isaiah tells us that "butter and honey shall he eat" (Isa. 7:15 ). But in Proverbs 25 we have what appears to be a warning. Verse 16 reads: "Have you found honey? Eat as much as is sufficient for you lest you will be filled, and vomit it"; and again in verse 27 it says: "It is not good to eat much honey". But in connection with the meal offering it would appear that it is the natural sweetness of honey that is being pointed to in type. Natural sweetness, while not offensive, has to be used with discretion. Honey, when exposed to heat will soon sour. The Lord’s ways and words were always gracious, but in John 2:4 we read of Him saying to His mother: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" This might sound harsh to us today, I am sure that the Lord did not speak to His mother disrespectfully, but on the other hand there was no trait of natural sweetness. There was no honey. But in John 19, when the Lord is upon the cross and His mother and the disciple John are looking on, His words were: "Woman, behold thy son", and to John: "Behold thy mother" (John 19:26-27). It is said of the Lord toward the rich young ruler, "The Lord loved Him" (Mark 10:21), this love was the love of God, coming out from this wonderful Person, though in Manhood. When it said, "He had compassion on her" (Luke 7:13), it was the compassion of God shown toward the widow, and then He touched the coffin and restored her son back. The milk of human kindness was not there, there was divine kindness there. The kindness of God was all in its purity, it was right from God, shining out and ministered by Him in His pathway.

No Leaven (Leviticus 2:11)
In scripture, leaven always speaks of evil. It is mentioned six times in the New Testament - four times in the gospels and twice in the epistles. Matt.13:33 speaks of the leaven which the woman hid in three measures of meal, this is idolatry, corrupting that meal. The Lord Jesus Christ warned the disciples to "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees....." (Matt.16:6), which was hypocrisy; ".....and of the Sadducee's" (Matt.16:6), which was infidelity; and warned them also to "Beware of the leaven of Herod" (Mark 8:5), which was worldliness, the political element. We are also warned that "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Cor.5:6), this is evil practice; and again that "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Gal.5:9), this is evil doctrine. All six references to leaven in the New Testament speaks of it in a bad sense, as typifying evil. There was to be no leaven in the meal offering. There was no idolatry in Christ's life (Matt.4:10), God only was the object of His service in this world. There was no leaven of the Pharisees (hypocrisy) in Christ's life (John 8:25), Christ was just who He said He was. The leaven of the Sadducee's was not to be found in Him either, He was no infidel - "The Scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35) was His word. He was not worldly, as the Herodians were, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33), there was no Herodian leaven in Him, nor the leaven of evil practice as at Corinth - "Which of you convinces Me of sin?" (John 8:46). His practice was perfect in the sight of God. And finally, Gal.5:9, there was no evil doctrine, "The doctrine is not mine, but [the Father's] who sent Me" (John 7:16). So wherever we look, in whatever sense it is used, not one trace of this leaven was ever seen in the Son of God, in His absolute, holy, sinless perfection in this world.

First Fruits (Leviticus 2:12-16)
Two mentions to first fruits are worth considering in connection with the meal offering. First, "As for the oblation of the first fruits" (v.12), that is, it was the new meal offering as mentioned in Lev. 23:9-14. This was not to be offered upon the altar, it was offered unto the Lord, but not burnt upon the altar for a sweet savour because the oblation of the first fruits speaks of the Christian company. But in verse 14, we get "And if thou offer a meal offering of thy first fruits", not the official one, but their own first fruits. This pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, "green ears of corn [grain] dried by the fire, even corn [grain] beaten out of full ears". There is here an indication of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus out from among the dead. 1 Cor.15 tells us about this (v.20). God has decreed, that that man is going to abide forever. If in His perfect obedience He goes right on to the cross, He has been raised again by the glory of the Father, and continues in Manhood in the glory at God's right hand. He has come out from among the dead, raised again and has become that great standard for everyone who belongs to Him. 

But the character of this first fruit we read of is "green ears of corn". This speaks of life in its full vigour. It is not dry corn for the moment, but green ears of corn. This speaks of all the vigour of manhood and life in this world, but "dried by the fire" would mean that that life came to an end in this world under the judgment of God. It was dried by the fire, but it was corn that was beaten out of full ears. Manhood in all its maturity, yet come under the judgment of God, cut off in the vigour of Manhood. It is quoted in the psalms "I said, Oh my God, take me not away in the midst of my days" (Ps.102:24), and as a Man in the full vigour of life and of Manhood, He gave His life in full subjection to the will of God, and it is that Man who has come forth out from among the dead. Green ears then speaks of the Lord in his life. His life did not ebb away as ours does with old age, that could never have happened to the sinless Son of God. It was cut off in all maturity - green ears, dried with a fire, corn beaten out of full ears.

Oil and Frankincense were placed upon it, Christ lives to the glory of God, still serving God for His pleasure in Manhood at God's right hand. The memorial was burnt by the priest, part of the beaten grain, part of the oil, and all of the frankincense. It was an offering made by fire unto the Lord. If the major portion of this chapter gives us a preview of the perfect Manhood and pathway of our Lord Jesus Christ as He moved through this world, it does not close without giving us a preview of His resurrection out from among the dead, that He lives a Man before the face of God, still serving God, anointed with the oil of gladness, above His companions (Heb.1:9), and in the frankincense and His service for God still the meal offering.

The law of the meal offering
In Leviticus 6:14-18 we have what is known as the law of the meal offering, which brings out our portion in this offering. The expression "Aaron and his sons" represent Christ and His assembly, and this is where we come in. The priests were to eat the meal offering in the holy place, in the presence of God, and to emphasizes it's holiness it was to be eaten with unleavened bread. Jehovah Himself says: "I have given it to them", and moreover it was most holy. The worshippers had themselves provided the offering, but God says: "I have given it to them". Aaron was of the tribe of Levi, a tribe that was set apart by God specifically for service at the altar. Aaron was the high priest and to him and his sons was given the privilege of leading the worship of the people. Today Christ is our High Priest, but all believers are Levites, all are of the priestly family. There is no special selection of a company who are solely authorised to lead the worship of the saints. The high priest alone was permitted to pass within the veil into the presence of God, and that only once a year. But the veil has been rent and now every blood cleansed child of God is invited to draw near to worship. The way is open for us all, but not all believers are aware of their privileges. The apostle Peter tells us in the 1 Peter 2 that we are both holy priests and royal priests, holy priests to offer up spiritual sacrifices and royal priests to show forth the praises of Him who has called us. 

A new meal offering
Our last consideration of this offering is found in Leviticus 23:15-22, where the children of Israel were commanded to "offer up a new meal offering unto the Lord". What makes this meal offering so significant is that it was to be baked with leaven, which appears to be in total contradiction to what we have been considering already. It will be noticed that this new meal offering is brought in here in connection with the feast of Pentecost, and we only have to turn to Acts 2 to learn of the great event which took place at that time. There we are told that the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and baptized the then company of believers into one Body, and thus the Church was born. Although they were believers they still had that old nature, they were still sinners although saved by grace. And we too are among that number if we are disciples of our Lord Jesus.

Therefore leaven formed part of this meal offering to demonstrate what was prophetically figured. The meal offering offered at the time of Pentecost prefigured features of a then coming day. But baked leaven is rendered inoperative, and so it should be descriptive of those who are members of Christ's body. How marvellous is that minute accuracy, as this demonstrate that the Bible which you and I treasure so much is no ordinary book but the very word of God. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

What Kind of Faith Do You Have?

I have recently been challenge as to this matter of Faith. As we read through the word of God we learn that faith is not just for a select few, like preachers, missionaries and other full time workers! Faith is something that every Christian is called to live by. We live in a sight driven world, we must see it to believe it. But the Christian lives by a different set of principles. We are to live by faith, not by sight. In Hebrews 11 we read of a description of faith (11:1-3) and then of a demonstration of faith (11:4-40). When we look at the first few verses of Hebrews 11 we see not so much a definition of faith, as much as a description of what faith does and how it works. What we learn is that true Biblical faith is confidence and obedience to God's Word in spite of the circumstance and consequences. But the verse that stands out to me is verse 6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."

What I found very instructive about this was what pleases God! It is not my activity or my service, but my faith. When I read through the gospels I find the same thing. What grieved the Lord Jesus the most was when people did not believe that He would do what He said. Simply put, their lack of faith grieved Him deeply! But what pleased Him was when people took Him at His word and fully trusted Him! Faith believes that God says what He means and means what He says!

In looking at this in the gospels I have learned that the Lord responds to our faith, He does not respond to our needs. He always meets our needs (Phil 4:19), but He responds to our faith! Let's look at this a bit in a few places place to see this principle.

Mark 10:46-52 is the last miracle mentioned in Mark's gospel. It reveals the tenderness of the perfect Servant, but it also demonstrated what persistent faith accomplishes! As the Lord was on His way through Jericho, along the road was a blind man named Bartimaeus. It wasn't uncommon to see blind beggars along this road. But what was uncommon was this man's faith. As he sat by the road Bartimaeus cried out for mercy, others told him to be quiet. But persistent faith will not be hushed by unbelief or by the circumstances! His cries were heard and the Lord stood still (Mk. 10:49). The Lord called him near and asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?" When Bartimaeus responds from his heart, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight" the Lord Jesus declares "Go your way. Your faith has made you well." Notice two things here, first this term "Rabboni" which is usually translated "my Lord and my master," but I have also seen it render "my great One." I like that. To call someone my master is to show great respect for who they are and what they can accomplish. The second thing that stands out to me is that this man's persistent faith caused the Lord to stand still and then open the door for him to draw near to the Lord!

Notice the Lord's reply, "Your faith has made you well." Not your need has made you well, but your faith. The Lord responded to his faith!

Mark 5:25-34 is a well know miracle, but it is easy to miss the lesson of faith there. This women had been sick for 12 years. She had spent all she had on doctors and didn't get better. We are told she actually got worse. Then she heard about the Lord Jesus and thought, "if only I could touch Him, even just touch his garments." She had faith that if she could just get close enough to touch Him she could be healed. She didn't let the crowd stand in her way! Her faith would not be hindered by obstacles, her faith made her well, not her need!

Luke 5:17-20 we see four friends that had faith enough to bring their friend who was paralyzed to the Lord Jesus. The way seemed blocked by the crowd, but true faith doesn't get discouraged. They end up doing what it takes to get this man to the Lord. They lower his bed from the ceiling. Faith takes the top right off of the impossible!

Matthew 15:22-38 we read of a gentile women coming to the Lord. At first the Lord is quiet, wanting to draw out her faith, we might even say growing her faith. Then because her faith doesn't give up, the Lord declares you are a women of great faith!

In each of these cases faith was the key to the Lord responding. He is always responds to determined faith. James challenges us to ask in faith with no doubting when we come to the Lord (Jm. 1:6-7). My definition of faith is Forsaking All I Trust Him. This acrostic helps define what faith is! Faith is not leaning to my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledging Him (Prov. 3:5-6). Faith is not allowing anything to keep me from believing that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all I ask or think (Eph. 3:20)!

Some of us have some huge mountains in our lives that might hinder our faith. But look at what Mark 11:22-24 has to say about that. There we are told to have faith in God and we can move mountains. The thought isn't so much to be able to move an actual mountain as much as things that feel like mountains in our lives. I suppose if it would somehow glorify God and be required, He might have us move a real mountain and He would be able to move it! But I think the real lesson is that many of us have mountains of one kind or another and if we trust Him He is able to move them!

Look at Matthew 17:14-21. Here we are told that to move certain mountains we may need to prayer and fast! Which speak of being dependent and denying self! The Lord will sometimes exercise or test our hearts before He answers! I am told that a mustard seed is extremely small, it has the diameter of only 2 millimeters. Most of us wait around for God to work through the big things, but faith starts out by taking God at His word! His word is the incorruptible seed, it is the seed that lives and abide forever (1 Peter 2:23-24). Romans 10:17 reminds us that faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God! We are also told in Romans 10:10 "for with the heart one believes" The heart is the seat of our belief, so this is where the seed must be planted. That is what we get in the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. The seed is the word and the ground represents different types of hearts. But the lesson for us is what type of heart are we going to have? We may be facing a mountain right now, but do we have living faith that is able to take on that mountain and conquer it?

I am reminded of Caleb in Joshua 14. At the young age of 85 he was still walking by faith! When he was a young man he and Joshua walked by faith, they were the minority. Everyone else saw giants in the mountainous land, but they saw God was able (Num. 13:17, 29-33)! Now 45 years later Caleb is still walking by faith. He is still ready to move mountains (Joshua 14:12). How was Joshua able to maintain walking by faith all those years. Notice the phrase that appears at least three times in Joshua 14, he "wholly followed the Lord." His heart was totally sold out to the Lord. He lived by the thought Forsaking All I Trust Him! He was completely willing to trust the Lord with everything! Are we?