Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable

Currently, here in the US, there has been a great deal of buzz over social media and the News media regarding the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. This post is not about the politics, conspiracies, nor the alleged federal police brutality. I’m only interested in the Biblical perspective. I believe the Bundy family is Mormon, so this isn’t for them so much as it is for my fellow Christians who engage in politics, particularly the “conservatives”.

Our text for this post comes from 1 Peter 2:

1 Peter 2:11-25 (ESV)
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to Him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

This is tough teaching. Remember the time frame in which this letter was written. These men suffered persecution unto death. Peter most likely died under the persecution of Nero (ref: The Deaths of the 12 Apostles). With that understanding, notice Peter’s specific instruction to Honor the emperor. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Great Commission do not require the support of any nation of men. For we are the Temple of God the Holy Spirit, and in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:22-31).

My heart goes out to this rancher for the loss of his livelihood (his cattle) and the apparent end of an era of ancestral claims to the land. However, notice verse 20, “for what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure“… he hasn’t paid federal gracing fees for over 30 years. The time to fight an unjust law is when the unjust law is in effect, not simply when the due punishment for ignoring the unjust law is at your doorstep. If you wait until your punishment, then the virtue of fighting the unjust law has lost its credibility, for you are now only fighting to justify your own action (or inaction). My heart breaks at the waning of a once-great nation of freedom. There is only one Nation of God, and that is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which we who have been grafted in by the Blood of Jesus Christ are a part. It is tempting to elevate the US to status of a “Christian nation”, though it was never truly a Nation under God. It was a well-established nation, founded on good principles of freedom and limited government, and its Constitution was clearly a masterfully written document. Were it a Christian Nation, its laws would have been drafted to honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is not to say it was built an evil nation, or to argue that it wasn’t established to be a free nation. Many of the founding fathers were Deists and Humanists whose desire was to create a system where all religions were protected and no religion would be “established” by Law. That is not a bad thing as far as a government, but let us not confuse it with a Biblical thing. The Bible does not leave room for any other gospel, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, obey the Word of God. Wherever possible and where ever practicable, participate in local politics wisely, but do not confuse the politics of a lost world with the role of the Church. They are completely separate. The world HATES Jesus, and it will hate us because of Him. In closing, I’d like to share a reminder of what Jesus said to His disciples regarding persecution when He sent them out:

Matthew 10:16-23 (ESV)16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

I pray that you will continue to grow in the Word and walk in the Spirit of God. Pray for our leaders, pray for boldness, and pray for peace; however, know that persecution will come and that we serve an Just and Loving God who will carry us through to the end.

In Him,
Jorge

 

Biblical Submission | The Marriage Relationship

marriageIn an effort to counter the commercialism and false-teaching of Valentine’s day, let’s look to the Scriptures to find what God has to say about relationships. Now that we have established the baseline for Biblical relationship, let us look at Marriage Relationships. We will be looking at passages in the Bible that lay out, in no uncertain terms, what the roles of wives and husbands are within the Marriage Relationship. To keep this post from becoming too long, I would ask that if you haven’t looked at the foundation for the delegation of Authority to Adam please take a few minutes to do so. Please note that in that post, we not only establish the chain of command, or line of Authority, we also establish the equality of man and woman. Our previous post ended with a look at Ephesians 5. As a bit of review and introduction, let’s return to Ephesians chapter 5 to begin our discussion in context. If this is you first visit to FaithfulStewardship, please visit our Welcome page for links to this and other Bible study series.

Ephesians 5 (ESV)

Walk in Love

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives and Husbands

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Without a doubt, the toughest calling for a Godly woman is to submit to her husband. This is simultaneously a clear description of authority, responsibility, but also of love. Remember, love is the baseline for all relationships of Christians. What makes the Marriage relationship special for men, is the special love, dedication, honor and respect from the one woman, in all of creation, that he asked to marry him.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Husbands, your love for your wife should serve as a depiction of Christ’s love for the church. You are the example to your children of the love of a Father, and of the love of Jesus Christ who laid down His life for the Church.  This is a tall order, but it is not new to mankind. God gave authority to Adam before He even made Eve. Jesus bore in His flesh, the punishment for all the sin of mankind that entered as a result of the sin of Adam. The Apostle Paul lays this out wonderfully in 1 Cor 15. Now, while the authority was given to Adam, he screwed up. But, by the Grace of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, man (by Grace, through Faith) is made righteous in the sight of the Lord and has his example in Jesus Christ. Therefore, let each husband love his wife as Christ loves the Church, and let the wife submit to and respect her husband. Paul felt this was such an important lesson, he also gave it in his letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 3:18-25 (ESV) 18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Colossians 4:1 (ESV) 1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

I find this separation in modern translations a bit odd; however, remember that Paul is writing a letter, not chapters and verses. Again, here, we have the entire unit of the family, of the household (which includes bondservants), to the Kingdom of Heaven. The roles of husband and wife remain the same (not just from Eph, but from Genesis), the role of children and of fathers, bondservants, and masters all are maintained in perspective of first our foundational charge to of 1 Cor 13 love for our neighbors, and as a service of our Lord Jesus Christ. To bear this last point to mind, understand that Paul calls himself and Timothy “bondservants of Christ Jesus” in his introduction to the letter to the Philippians. Now, I’ve heard and read commentaries accusing Paul of mixing in cultural norms here. We dare not entertain such notions given the fact that All Scripture is God-Breathed. Thankfully, we have another Apostle who writes on these things, the Apostle Peter.

1 Peter 3:1-7 (ESV) 1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Wow. Notice here, that Peter takes it another step forward. Remember that Paul setup the family or household relationships as a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. Here, Peter takes it the next step by suggesting that the Godly submission of a wife to her husband might win the repentance of a husband who is disobeying the Word of God, without speaking a word herself. The next portion is often misconstrued as a prohibition of physical beauty… well that’s just silly, especially given the Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon (yay, homework reading!). What Peter is doing here is commanding a shift of importance away from the physical, temporal (and even temporary) beauty to that of the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is Precious in God’s sight. Peter also extend the exhortation of husbands (don’t get tangled up in misogyny/feminism and stumble over “weaker vessel”) to live with your wives in honor and understanding so that your prayers may not be hindered. Did you hear that, husbands? Your prayers to God the Father might be hindered by your failures as a husband. Let us be clear, your failures are in your charge, not hers. If she refuses to submit and show you honor, that is not your failure, that is hers. If you don’t love her as Christ loves the Church, honor her, and live with her in an understanding way, that’s your failure, and it may hinder your prayers. While this might be a new concept for you in the context of marriage, it isn’t a completely new concept, because teaching the Lord’s Prayer,  Jesus taught that if we don’t forgive others their sins, we won’t be forgiven ours. He also taught that we are to settle our differences with our brothers before giving our gifts to the Lord. So this shouldn’t be a totally foreign concept for us. Husbands, your failure to love your wife Biblically may hinder your prayers to God the Father. We must get this right, gentlemen. Just as Eve received her own punishment for her sins, God will deal with hold our wives accountable for their actions, we are responsible for our households. So we bear a double-load, one of fulfilling our role, and another as a result of being responsible, and accountable for our household. Where am I getting this? Let’s go back to Paul for just a moment, in his letter to Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (ESV) 1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

We will look at Biblical instruction for how the Church is to be established, later. I do want to say that if you’ve had a divorce in the past that is sin. But just as all other sin, there is forgiveness for sin, by the Grace of God, through Faith, and that not of yourselves it is the Gift of God. Having had sin in your life at one time does not forever prohibit you from being a deacon or Overseer (Elder) in the Church. There is forgiveness at the cross, otherwise none of us would ever be worthy of approaching the Throne of God, much less to be entrusted with the Word of God. We are no longer under the Law, for we are under the Gospel of Grace. There is, however, an element of time involved, and fruit of the spirit must be cultivated and evident in our lives if we are to be set as examples within the Church (verse 10 let them also be tested first….).

Marriage, is serious business. It is only for this life. It does not extend into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a picture of God’s love for His people, of Christ’s love for His Church, and a blessed path for avoiding sexual immorality.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 (ESV) 1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Husbands, this is not a verse whereby you exact your demands for sex. She has rights to your body as well, and this verse isn’t limited just to sex. While women are just as interested in sex as we are, the avenue or pathway of that desire usually looks vastly different from our own (usually, there are exceptions). Our wives desire relationship, and that requires our presence, attendance, affection, understanding, honor, and love before and after the sex. These are her conjugal rights and your obligation as a husband, too (if you are perplexed… start again at the top of the post, and re-read). Laying down your life for her as Christ laid down His life for the Church is a way of life, one that we can only hope to walk by the Grace of the God. Note, there is no such thing as a “sexual need”. It doesn’t exist. Sexual immorality exists, temptation exists, and I am so grateful that God provided us the gift of the Marriage Covenant. Does marriage take away temptation? No. If you ignore the marriage covenant, you’ve added more problems to your life and brought more people into your immorality than you would have by sinning alone. I mention this for 2 reasons, first there is no Biblical basis for gay marriage and second, there is no “free out” anywhere in the bible for divorce. There is only Law which exposes sin, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ where He paid the price for all unrighteousness, and if we remain in Him we are forgiven. In Proverbs 5 we find a warning against Adultery. 23 verses, the first 14 of which identifying the dangers of the temptation. In verse 15; however, we find hope…

Psalm 5:15-23 (ESV)
15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

So you see, Paul isn’t unfounded in his assertion “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” since if you avoid sex outright, you avoid the snare of sexual immorality. However, He recognizes that not all men and women are capable of living that way, so rather than burn up with passions, he encourages men and women to marry and stick to that covenant in a manner pleasing to God.

Therefore, this Valentine’s Day, and every day from this day forward… Let us love our spouses in accordance with God’s Word. Let us love our neighbors in accordance with God’s Word. And let us place our faith on Jesus Christ… for it is only by the Grace of God that we have any Hope, Faith, and Love. Husbands, love your wives… Wives submit to your husbands… and both of you, do everything in service to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

May the Lord bless and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

Biblical Submission | Relationships

marriageSo, it’s February, and Valentine’s Day is around the corner.  My wife and I don’t really make much of a big deal of this holiday… it’s more commercial than Biblical; however, given how many online blogs and sermons seem to be taking advantage of the holiday to teach self-help advice on Love and Marriages, I figured I’d weigh in.  I’d like to take a look at what the Bible has to say about the Marriage relationship as well as some things that are not found in the Bible. There are many places where we can start this discussion of Marriage, but I think the best place to begin, is in the baseline for relationships. This will be a 2 part series.

It does us no good to discuss Marriage Relationships without first establishing the baseline for relationships. So, for starters, let’s look at what Jesus had to say about how we are to treat each other. I’d like to begin our reading in Matthew 22. To catch us up a bit on the context here, this is after the Triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. We see Jesus cleanse the temple of merchants and money changers, and when the children praise Him as being the son of David, the scribes challenge Jesus for not rebuking the children (because what they were doing was giving Jesus the praise due to the Messiah). They question the authority of Jesus to be speaking in the temple, and He moves on to teaching in parables to very openly declare who He is and of the Kingdom of Heaven. The first parable we find in Matthew 22 actually uses a wedding feast to represent Kingdom of Heaven. I’m starting here because it sets up the later portion we will be examining closely.

Matthew 22 (ESV) 1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” 15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.

So, while the setting of the parable is a wedding feast, this is a picture of the Kingdom of heaven. Those invited who ignored the call represent the Jews in Israel who rejected the Messiah. So then the servants are sent out to the rest who were not originally invited, for the feast was already made ready. This tells of the Gospel going out to the Gentiles. Finally, those who come to the wedding feast, must come dressed for the wedding. Unless they are made righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, they cannot partake in the wedding feast (See Zechariah 3). Now, the next encounter is an absolutely beautiful lesson on submission to the governments of men, and to God regarding paying taxes. Awesome. But let’s move on to the next parable starting in verse 23.

Matthew 22:23-33 (ESV) 23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

I promise, we are starting at the foundation of relationships first, though we are getting hints at some of what the Bible teaches regarding marriage. Notice here, that marriage is clearly something for us while we are on this Earth… not for the Kingdom of Heaven. Moving on…

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Okay stop! This is where we want to begin building the foundation for understanding what the Bible teaches about relationships, and upon that foundation we will look further into what the Bible teaches about the Marriage Relationship. Unquestionably, the single, most important relationship setup in the Bible, is that we are to love the Lord Our God with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind. This is the single greatest commandment, but notice that Jesus was quick to include a second, that we shall love our neighbor as ourselves. Is there a third? No. Jesus stops the list at 2 commandments, and clearly states that upon these 2 commandments rests all the Law and the Prophets. That’s it. Loving our neighbor as ourselves covers every imaginable relationship among mankind… including but not limited to marriage. It has to, because there are no other commandments in the short list, and the first is completely exclusive to God. Okay, but… how do we define who is “my neighbor”? Do we look to the Greek? the Hebrew? the Talmud? Well… let’s first look to how Jesus responded when the same question was asked of Him. Let’s look in Luke 10. Since this is a question asked of Jesus directly, we’ll just jump straight to verse

Luke 10:25-37 (ESV)25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

So then, who is our neighbor? Mankind. The interesting thing about this answer, is that it was phrased in such a way where the Jewish lawyer is being told to emulate a Samaritan to show mercy on his neighbor, and to love similarly. That’s huge. So, that’s how Jesus defined being a neighbor. I want to also take a look at how the Bible defines love, since loving God and our neighbors is the crux of the Law and the Prophets. For this, lets look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This passage is almost always read in the context of marriage, at weddings, anniversaries, etc. But that is not the context of this passage, and I think limiting it to such occasions does the hearer an injustice. This is not some high-standard to aim for in our romantic/marriage relationships, this is a standard of living, of loving God and our neighbors as ourselves. This portion comes almost as an aside, or a reality-check, in a discourse on operating in the Gifts of the Spirit. The Church at Corinth had apparently gotten carried away to the point of losing sight of the very purpose of the Holy Spirit and His gifts to the Church. That is how we get to verses 1-3, where Paul is saying that you might be fully operating in tongues, prophetic power, knowledge and faith, and still miss the mark. Remember that Jesus didn’t base the Law and the Prophets on the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, He based them on 2 commandments of love. And that is reaffirmed by Paul in verse 13. This isn’t simply how we are to love our spouse, this is how we are to love.

In closing, we will look at the first part of Ephesians 5 which will bring this post to a close, and pave the way for the next post as move into some of the specific things the Bible has to say about the Marriage Relationship. It  is paramount, that we do not lose sight of the baseline for Christian behavior, and love for our neighbor. Because there is absolutely no room for abuse or mistreatment of any, not even strangers or so-called enemies. Nothing we discuss within the Marriage relationship justifies mistreatment, because mistreatment of our enemies isn’t even permitted.

Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV) 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

So then, there we have our foundation for Christian relationships. We are to love our neighbor (friends and foreigners alike) as ourselves at the 1 Cor 13 level. Within the body of Christ, we are to walk in love, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Baseline approach to relationships. Not just marriage, not even dating or courtship… baseline. And anything short of this is sin.  Thank God for His ever abounding Grace, for without the Gospel of Jesus Christ we are surely dead in our trespasses and sins. Apart from Him, we don’t have a chance at keeping the Law and the Prophets even if they are condensed to 2 commandments!

May the Lord bless and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

Discipleship: Calling, Apprenticeship, & Ministry IV

Apprentice

Repro. of painting by Emile Adan, copyrighted by Braun & Co., N.Y.

Okay, so where has this week gone? I didn’t want the week to go without taking a look at a key figure in the Bible, his calling, apprenticeship, and ministry.  Today I want to return to the Old Testament, because I’d like to start looking at David. However, in order to get there, I felt it necessary to start with Samuel the Prophet of God.

Samuel

We’ve seen how God called, trained and sent out Gideon in the time of the Judges of Israel. In moving toward the time of the kings of Israel I’m excited about getting to the Throne of David, on whose throne Jesus is promised to reign forever (Gospel!). But I don’t want to skip straight there, because a key figure throughout this time period is Samuel. Now Samuel was called by God before birth, and his calling from God comes as an answer to prayer. So today’s story will be the first we look at that might be misconstrued a bit by some as prescription for obtaining the call of God on your life. Let us start by reading the setup directly from the Bible.

1 Samuel 1 (ESV)
1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.

Praise the Lord, for He is worthy to be praised. We serve a God who hears the prayers of our hearts, sees our distress, and answers our prayers. Now, I would like to caution you, to be very cautious in your vows. Making a vow to God is no small thing, and should not be engaged flippantly. While I do intend to present this story as an example of the Greatness, Love, Mercy, and Kindness of the Living God we serve, I’m not saying we should copy all of her steps; rather, that we pay attention to God’s response. She takes a dangerous road here in vowing a vow to God, but she remains faithful to her vow, so it works out here. Why the cautionary statement? Lets look at the strong warning in Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 (ESV) 1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.

Aside from the vow, let’s look at what the Scriptures tell us about Hannah. She has endured a great amount of ridicule from the Peninnah, the other wife of Elkanah, their husband. Because she had no children, and was barren (the Lord closed up her womb). Her husband, is aware of her sadness and predicament, and it manifests itself in their worship (observing of the sacrifices/offerings). He tries to encourage her by saying, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Well, Elkanah cannot do anything more for her, and cannot provide children. So she takes her supplication to the Lord God. She prayed and wept bitterly. As she termed it, she poured out her soul to the Lord, that He would grant her a son. In asking the Lord for a son, she commits the gift of God (a son) back to God for the rest of his life. The comments she makes to Eli about not having had any wine or strong drink, and to the Lord God about no razor touching his head leads me to think she was committing him to a life-long Nazarite Vow similar to that of the calling of Samson (Judges 13). I don’t think Hannah is expecting to give birth to the next judge over Israel, she is dedicating a gift of thanksgiving to God in keeping with what is already in Scripture. She is asking that God would show mercy on her, and bless her with a son, and in return (thanksgiving) she will give back to the Lord what He has given her. What starts this blessing? What reaches the Lord’s heart? Her faith. She walks away from the Temple that day, assured that the Lord had heard her prayer, and that He will provide, “Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad“.

Hebrews 11:1-2 (ESV) 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.

If we are to emulate the people of old who received their commendation… we need to look to their faith, and the object of their faith, the Lord God of Israel. God gives her a son, and she is quick to complete her vow (please… don’t start making vows, especially vows you are not able to keep. Do not give the devil an opportunity to enslave you by the words of your own mouths). Make your requests known to God, and pray as Jesus taught us to pray (Matt 6; Luke 11)… and put your faith in Him. Will all of your prayers come true? No. God’s Sovereignty remains fully intact. We do not dictate to God anything. We make our requests known to Him through prayer, and we have the right by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But God’s Will supersedes ours. Not every woman who prayed for a son received one. The Old Testament has a purpose, and that purpose is in the Promise of the Messiah. Let us continue with Samuel.

1 Samuel 1:21-28 (ESV) 21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Good, she was faithful to her vow to God, and now Eli (who has 2 sons already serving as priests) has an apprentice. She has been dedicated to the House of the Lord, but is this his calling? Before we get to that, let us look at Hannah’s prayer of Thanksgiving and Prayer… because it’s awesome…

1 Samuel 2 (ESV) | Hannah’s Prayer

1 And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
2 “There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

Here we have an apprenticeship beginning with only a partial calling. Hannah’s vow to the Lord committed Samuel to the service of the Lord as a Nazarite. God would soon Call on Samuel. Notice here that Eli isn’t exactly the most qualified (by human standards) to be Samuel’s mentor as evidenced by the next verse, “12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.” Not good. Nevertheless, we see in v26, Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.

Now, 1 Samuel 3 starts off with an interesting statement, “1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” The Lord was about to change all of that, and He was about to make His Will known to Israel. Now, let’s look at what the Word of the Lord is to Samuel, when He finally Calls Samuel

1 Samuel 3:10-18 (ESV) 10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” 15 Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”

Woah… that’s rough. So here, we have the Word of the Lord coming to Samuel, at the end of his apprenticeship and his first task is to speak God’s judgement on the house of Eli. In obeying the Word of the Lord, the calling on Samuel’s life propels him into ministry as the Prophet of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:19-20 (ESV) 19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.

Amen. We haven’t seen the last of Samuel. As I said at the beginning, we will see God use Samuel in mighty ways. But as we move through the first kings of Israel, I hope you remember that Samuel was a gift given to a woman, who placed her faith in God, and out of her blessing (from God) she returned to Him what she had promised. And she praised God and gave thanks to God. There is nothing here for Hannah, nor for Samuel to boast in, except the Grace and Mercy of a God who hears our prayers and commends faith (Hebrews 11) in His Word and in His Promise.

I pray you have a wonderful weekend, and may the Lord bless and keep you always,
In Him,
Jorge

Delegation of Authority: The Holy Spirit

dove

…the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove…
(Luke Chapter 3)

When we last spoke about how Authority had been delegated to Adam, and that God did not take it back immediately when Adam sinned, I couldn’t leave it alone without pointing out that one of the many awesome truths of the purpose that Jesus came to fulfill was in taking the Authority that man forfeited. We looked at how Jesus had to be born a man, but not from man’s seed (to inherit sin), so the virgin birth was required so that Jesus (the Word Made Flesh) could come and lay down His life:

John 10:11-18 (ESV) 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Praise the Lord! Notice here, that Jesus clearly states His purpose, His Authority, and that He received it from God the Father. Now, remember that our charge is given to us in the Great Commission, but let’s look at it again in Matthew:

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Notice the “therefore”. A cute little saying I heard growing up in Sunday School regarding taking the time to understand the context of scriptures was, What’s the ‘therefore’ there for? Here, it is telling us that our charge to Go and make disciples of all nations… is based in the fact that All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus… who is then giving us the charge to Go…

Now, let’s talk about the Holy Spirit. In the book of John, we see Jesus making several attempts at preparing the disciples for what was about to take place (crucifixion, resurrection, & ascension). In hindsight, we can see that Jesus was speaking quite plainly. But He knew (and said as much) that they just wouldn’t understand what He was telling them. Let’s take a look at the promise of Jesus to send a Helper:

John 15:18-27 (ESV) 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:1-15(ESV) 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Holy Spirit is called our Helper, (the Greek word here is Paracletos, one called alongside to help; or Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor) and the Spirit of Truth. But Jesus doesn’t just identify Whom He will send, but for what purpose, to bear witness about Jesus. But here is something very cool (at least, I thought so)… this was already the role of the Holy Spirit. Only before, He took His marching orders from God the Father.

Luke 3:21-22 (ESV) 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Praise the Lord. What is different now, is that before Christ, God sent His Spirit to speak the Word of the Lord through Prophets, Priests, and Judges over Israel. The Spirit of God was only available to whom God had called for His purpose. Now Jesus is sending the Holy Spirit to all who hear and place their faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, being baptized in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

Remember, that God keeps His promises. In Acts 2, the promise of Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit takes place on the day of Pentecost. It is a momentous event. Peter’s first sermon is amazing, and I strongly recommend studying it closely. But for this blog, we are going to key in on how the crowd responds to the conclusion of the sermon, and Peter’s response to the question:

Acts 2:36-41 (ESV) 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Praise the Lord! This promise is for us, we who are far off, those of us whom the Lord Our God has called to Himself through His Word! I want to turn quickly to one more passage of scripture before we close this out. Now, remember that role for which Jesus said He was going to send the Holy Spirit. Bearing that in mind, let us look to 1 John 4:

1 John 4:1-6 (ESV) 4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

It is not a sign of doubt, unbelief, or insubordination to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. We are told to do so. Don’t let anyone silence you out of fear of being labeled a “critical person” or worse, for having a “spirit of criticism” simply because you aren’t yielding to the move of every spirit. For the role of the Holy Spirit is not to bring glory to Himself… but to Jesus Christ. Do we rely on our emotions? No. Remember that Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14), so knowing the Word of God is critical to identifying rightly the Spirit of Truth from the many spirits of error. I hope to dive into 1 Corinthians 12-14 sometime, but I will say that spiritual discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the body of believers (the Church), but knowledge of the Word of God is still necessary to properly operate in the Gifts of the Spirit.

I pray you have a wonderful weekend, and that you’ve found some blessing in these bible studies. May the Lord bless you and keep you in His Will,
In Him,
Jorge