Flesh and Blood

May 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Hebrews | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

Hebrews 2:14

It was important for Jesus to become flesh and blood, so He could die and break the power of death and the power of the devil. Angels aren’t flesh and blood; they’re spirit beings.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

I Corinthians 15:50

For this reason, if we are to inherit eternal life, we must be “born again,” and, in this second birth, we must be “born of the Spirit.”

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Galatians 1:16

The Apostle Paul always tried to remember not to be proud even though He was elected by God to do great things. He did not want to glory in his flesh.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 16:17

Jesus told Peter that he was blessed because his confession of faith was based on listening to God, not just on what he had seen with his flesh-and-blood eyes.

For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Leviticus 17:11

The Bible tells us that that thousands of years ago God told people that the life is in the blood. George Washington died after being “bled” as a means of healing, even though there was a Bible right there on his bedside table that would have refuted this so-called “science.”

Grace vs. Works

May 5, 2014 at 9:29 am | Posted in Galatians | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Galatians is a book which addresses the issue of grace versus works.

Grace = Liberty
Works = Bondage

Grace = Cooperation
Works = Competition

Grace = God gets the glory
Works = Man gets the glory

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Galatians 1:1-5

This is an exceptionally terse greeting for Paul, in the form of a short doxology, but it is very important – especially Verse 5: “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” That is not a “throwaway line,” because God’s glory is key to the true Gospel.

Of all the major world religions, Christianity stands alone as the only one that acknowledges the truth that sinners can not merit God’s favor through good works. True Christians are going to Heaven, but not on their own own merit. They are going to Heaven on the merits of another: Jesus Christ the Righteous.

The enemies of the Gospel in Galatia were the Judaizers. They opposed the Gospel and Paul by: perverting, reverting, and deserting. They were trying to pervert the true Gospel by mixing in works-based requirements along with grace and faith. They were trying to revert back to what they believed was the Old Covenant system. They were deserting Christ Himself in favor of false teachers. Judaism and Christianity can’t be mixed. Grace and works can’t be mixed. Liberty and legalism can’t be mixed.

The Apostle Paul distinguished himself from the false teachers as he sought to please Christ, not men.

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Galatians 1:13-14

Paul’s conversion teaches us these truths:

1. God saves egregious sinners.
2. Salvation happens instantly.
3. Salvation results in a real change.
4. There will be an outward change, but it is always the result of an inward change.
5. Salvation is for a purpose:
a. The purpose of glorifying God
b. The purpose of helping others

And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…

Jeremiah 45:5

What motivates you to serve God? Your own good? Or God’s glory?

The Trap of Leaving Our Limits

February 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

People are not saved from the penalty of sin by obeying laws or keeping rules. However, Christians (those who have already been saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ) should love God’s laws and should seek to avoid the traps that come with living as though God has not given us laws to obey. In this series of lessons, we will identify several traps of “lawless living” by looking at the account of Samson in the Book of Judges.

Samson’s death occurred when he pulled down a Philistine temple with himself and thousands of Philistines inside. Samson, who was empowered by the Holy Spirit, had the strength to make the most stable structures unstable, but, in a twist of irony, he himself was one of the most unstable men in the whole Bible. According to Scripture, the source of instability in a man is double-mindedness.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8

Those who have the singleness of mind that comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit need not be so double-minded. A single-minded Christian will respect God-ordained boundaries, whereas a double-minded person crosses boundaries at his peril.

Samson was born in Zorah, a city in Dan, near the Philistine border.

And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.

Judges 13:2

He was one of those babies in the Bible where his birth had been foretold to his mother or his parents, like Isaac (Abraham and Sarah); Samuel (Hannah); and Jesus (Mary and Joseph). Some servants of God are chosen in a special way before their birth.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:4

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Galatians 1:15

In Samson’s case the angel appeared to Manoah’s wife, and then to both of them together. Although Manoah’s wife was thought to be barren, the angel told her that the child was to be a Nazarite from birth. John the Baptist is another example of someone who was chosen by God to be a life-long Nazarite. A Nazarite vow was normally a voluntary vow for a stated period of time, but for Samson, it meant that he was supposed to refrain from drinking wine or strong drink all his days.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body.

Numbers 6:2-6

He wasn’t allowed to touch dead bodies or get a haircut, either. It is helpful to make a distinction between Jesus, who was a Nazarene (from the town of Nazareth), but not a Nazarite (which means consecrated or separated under those particular Old Testament requirements). These restrictions were Samson’s boundaries. Physically, he crossed the boundary into Philistia, not to serve God, but to satisfy his own appetites. Spiritually, he crossed the boundary of his own Nazarite vow for the same reasons. He went into a vineyard. He had a wedding feast involving wine. He touched the dead carcass of a lion he had killed.

Do we respect our boundaries as Christians? Or are we double-minded and unstable like Samson? Often we excuse ourselves by thinking that we don’t want to really do any harm – that we just want to have a little fun. We think we can just step over our boundaries a little.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.

Judges 14:1

Samson went down to Timnath, not to make war against the Philistines, which was his calling, but to look for a woman. We might say he was “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Let us remember that God has ordained boundaries for our own safety. If we cross over into sin, we lose our ability to determine the consequences.

That Man Was Certifiable!

February 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Galatians, Micah | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One good place to study the difference between real leaders and fake leaders is in the Book of Micah. Politicians think about the next election; statesmen think about the next generation. In Micah’s day, the real priests were shepherds who protected their flock; the fake priests were wolves who devoured the flock. The fake prophets gave good news to people who bribed them and bad news to people who shunned them; the real prophets just gave the people the truth, and could not be bought.

A good way to illustrate this point is to think about those big gaudy Mardi Gras beads.

https://i0.wp.com/cf.ltkcdn.net/party/images/slide/105627-600x402-MardiGrasBeads.jpg

Some of them are brightly colored and obviously not real jewelry, but some of the strands actually look, at first glance, like expensive pearls. There are a number of reasons, though, why these fake necklaces are not likely to really fool anyone:

1. They are tossed out casually, as if they are worthless.
2. In your hands, they feel like the cheap plastic they really are, not like weighty precious gems.
3. Here in South Louisiana we have experience with Mardi Gras beads, so we know that their real worth is extremely negligible once the parade is over and people start to sober up.

Finally, you can note that, unlike real jewelry from a real, reputable jewelry store, Mardi Gras beads do not come with a “certificate of authenticity.” In the Book of Galatians the Holy Spirit used a similar indicator in proving that the Gospel which the Apostle Paul preached was authentic, and that the false gospel of the Judaizers was not.

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

Galatians 1:11

The Greek word translated as “certify” is “gnorizo,” and it comes from the same root word from which we get the English word “recognize.” The Holy Spirit is saying that, if you are familiar with the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself – the true Gospel – then you must recognize that Paul is preaching the exact same Gospel.

The message of Paul was given to Him directly by Jesus. It was “certified” by Paul’s mission, his ministry, his methods, and the contents of the message itself. If you listen to much modern theology you are likely to come across a statement like this one eventually: “Oh, I’m a Christian. I follow Jesus, but I don’t believe everything that Paul wrote.” Such a statement is pure foolishness. The famous British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, responded to such a statement with this quote:

It is not unusual to hear dubious persons profess to differ from the apostle, and they even dare to say, ‘There, I do not agree with Paul.’ I remember the first time that I heard this expression I looked at the individual with astonishment. I was amazed that such a pigmy as he should say this of the great apostle. Altogether apart from Paul’s inspiration, it seemed like a cheese-mite differing from a cherub, or a handful of chaff discussing the verdict of the fire. The individual was so utterly beneath observation that I could not but marvel that his conceit should have been so outspokenly shameless. Notwithstanding this objection, even when supported by learned critics, we still agree with the inspired servant of God. It is our firm conviction that, to differ from Paul’s epistles is to differ from the Holy Ghost, and to differ from the Lord Jesus Christ, whose mind Paul has fully expressed.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Warning Sign #1: Demanding What You Deserve

April 22, 2010 at 11:44 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There he is, preaching away. You’ve known and listened to him preach for years. No one is perfect, and everyone says things by accident from time to time that just didn’t come out the way they intended them to or that could be taken the wrong way out of context. However, as you sit there, and this is blurted out, sirens, flashing lights, and all sorts of warning signals should be exploding in your brain if you know anything at all about the God of Scripture:

You can go around broke and naked if you want to, but I deserve more – I’m a child of God!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Warning. The above quote bears all the ear marks of a preacher who has been listening to too much of what is called the “prosperity gospel,” which is really another gospel, and which is really not the Gospel of God at all (Galatians 1:6-7).

True Christians are children of God – both by regeneration and adoption. But that by no means can be rightfully taken to mean that we “deserve” good gifts or worldly possessions or special “favor” from God. God blesses His children because of His grace, mercy, and love, none of which are deserved.

Pastor John Wilkerson S.W.I.M. Quote

March 10, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Quotes | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

(In honor of the birth of his newest daughter, Lacey Elizabeth – born this morning!)

If you are a child of God, this world has nothing to offer you, my friend. You were not made to swim in those waters…

Pastor John Wilkerson

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Galatians 1:3-4

Changing Names and Calling Names

July 17, 2009 at 9:56 am | Posted in Acts | 19 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Acts Chapter 9 Saul of Tarsus meets Jesus Christ. When this happened Saul was charging down the road to Damascus like an angry bull. Why was he angry? His conscience was being pricked. He was under conviction. He had seen the witness of Stephen. Saul was very intelligent. He was very well-educated. He was very zealous for the Jewish faith, and very angry about anything that threatened it. He was very focused on his job, as a hunter of heretics. He was very self-righteous.

Saul had “wasted” many churches.

But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

Acts 9:21

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

Galatians 1:13

But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

Galatians 1:23

The Jewish council trusted him to go as far as Damascus. The Gospel had spread to Damascus – possibly because converts had fled there to escape persecution in Jerusalem. Saul had no doubt in his mind that Jesus of Nazareth was dead. In his heart? We don’t know.

Saul is commonly portrayed in Bible story books and church art as riding a horse just prior to his Damascus road experience. The fact is, the Bible does not tell us that Saul was riding a horse to Damascus, but if he was, the Lord knocked him off his “high horse,” so to speak.

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts 9:3-4

This light was so bright that it was bright at midday (Acts 26:13). All the men with him heard the sound of speaking, but only Saul understood the words. Now he knew that Jesus of Nazareth was alive. He had to re-think everything he believed in – everything for which he stood. In an instant, Saul became a new creation.

And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Acts 9:8-9

He went from being an angry bull to being a docile lamb. For three days he fasted and prayed – and probably tried to sort out what this meant.

The Lord sent Ananias to him. (This is a different Ananias than the one who was killed for lying to the Holy Ghost.) All the Christians knew who Saul was, and feared him. He received his sight back, and he received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:15 sort of summarizes Saul’s/Paul’s life and ministry: “But the Lord said unto him [Ananais], Go thy way: for he [Saul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:”

Now the hunter became the hunted. And the hunter of men became the master soul-hunter.

Saul was at first rejected by the Jewish Christians because of his reputation and because of their experience with him. Also, by the time he was presented to them as a Christian, it had been three years since his conversion. He had probably been in Arabia during this time, being taught of God, witnessing, and suffering persecution.

Barnabas was the one who convinced the Jewish Christians that Paul really was an Apostle. Paul began to witness to the same Jews who had killed Stephen – so they plotted to kill Paul.

In Acts Chapter 10 we meet Cornelius, a Roman centurion and a “God-fearer.” Cornelius wanted to please God, so God sent him an angel. The angel told him to go and see Simon Peter.

We might ask ourselves why the angel didn’t just give him the Gospel message himself. The angels can carry God’s messages, but they have not experienced God’s grace in the same way that Christians have. The Gospel is not the same good news for them that it is for us. They have not been redeemed, and it is God’s plan that men share and preach the Gospel, not angels.

Peter was living in the home of a tanner, a person who worked with dead animal skins. This was remarkable for a Jew like Peter.

It is humorous to see that Peter was hungry, and he had a vision about food.

And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Acts 10:10-15

Peter preached the Gospel to Cornelius, and he believed, and immediately the Holy Ghost fell on all them who believed. This was a special event. Now the Holy Ghost had been given to the Jews (Pentecost), the Samaritans (when Peter went after Philip preached), and the Gentiles. Peter the Apostle went to all three ethnic groups, and was the instrument through which God gave the Holy Ghost. Peter is the one to whom Jesus had given the “keys to the Kingdom.”

Note that these Gentiles received the Holy Ghost before they were baptized in water.

The other Apostles and Christians were a little upset with Peter when he got back, but he told them the whole story.

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Acts 11:18

And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

Acts 11:20-21

Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome itself and Alexandria. The movers and shakers of Rome came for business and pleasure. This was the only city where the streets were lit at night (which would turn out to be kind of ominous for the Christians.) Antioch had a main street paved with marble. In such a cosmopolitan locale, you might expect the preaching of the Gospel to fall flat. Yet the witness of the Holy Spirit, through Godly believers preaching the Word, was very effective.

The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas (whose name meant “the son of encouragement”) to encourage these gentile believers.

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 11:26

“Christian” has become such a common word today that it has lost some of its valuable impact. The people in Antioch used it the way we might call someone a “Little Christ.” It was a combination of the Hebrew Word for “Christ” with the Greek suffix “ian,” meaning “belonging to the party of.” It was an insult back then, but it was not a “vulgar” (common) term like it is today. When non-believers called them “Christians,” they knew that they had repented of their sins, believed the Gospel, and believed in the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, and as the One True and Living God. Today, “Christian” is a vulgar term: It just means somebody who goes to church, at best – or somebody who is not a pagan, agnostic, or professing atheist, at worst.

Barnabus got Paul to help, knowing that he had been called to preach to the Gentiles. With a famine affecting Jerusalem, the gentile Christians in Antioch sent a special love offering back to the church in Jerusalem, from which had come the message that saved their souls. We need to remember to always try to provide for the physical needs of those who reached out to us when we were lost, and those who helped us grow in the faith.


Entries and comments feeds.