3/30/18

"Know the Lord" by Trevor Bowen


http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/know_the_Lord.html

"Know the Lord"

This command may sound strange to many who are Christians, especially those who have walked faithfully after the Lord's Way for so many years; however, this command was not unusual for those Jews, who were born into God's chosen nation of the Israelites. Today God's chosen people receive a heritage not through birthright, but through choice and adoption (Psalm 110:3; Ephesians 1:3-5 ). Even during the days of the Old Covenant, the Lord prophesied of a coming day that would bring many changes. One of which was the absent need to command the fellow members of the kingdom to know the Lord (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Why was the command not required? The members of this kingdom would already know the Lord, because it was going to be a spiritual kingdom (Luke 17:20-21).
Unfortunately, this is not true of the world. Those who do not know the Lord are those who are spiritual Gentiles, outside the body of God's chosen spiritual people (II Thessalonians 1:8). Even more unfortunately, this condition can sometimes be found among those who either claim, or who have at one time claimed to have known the Lord (Titus 1:16; Galatians 4:8-11).
This condition should never be true among the Lord's people, since it was the intent of the New Covenant that God's people know Him in a true, deep, and profound sense. They were not just to know His name, but they were to know and understand His character, His wisdom, His nature, and His love, as expressed through Jesus, the Living Word (John 1:1-14; 14:4-9; II Peter 1:2-4).
Since many do not know the Lord, and others have walked with Jesus so long, but still do not yet know the Lord (John 14:8-9), the following list of attributes of God's revealed character has been provided, as way of instruction and reminder:
Although many more characteristics of God could be noted, these may help us remember the nature of the God we serve. Also, they may help us teach others who claim to know God, but follow a god who cannot be the same God. If your god is capricious, uncaring, uninterested, arbitrary, unfair, prideful, pessimistic, hasty, prejudiced, limited, weak, powerless, or takes delight in the destruction of the wicked, then he is not the God of the Bible.
It is essential that we know and understand God. How can we teach others, if we do not understand Him ourselves? Now, that is not to say that we will understand everything about God, but that which is revealed has been given for our understanding (Deuteronomy 29:29; Ephesians 3:4-5). This is the mystery revealed, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:26-28). Is Christ in you?
 
Please feel free to send the author of this article any questions, concerns, or feedback that you may have.
Trevor Bowen

"THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS" Paul's Prayer For The Colossians (1:9-14) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS"

                Paul's Prayer For The Colossians (1:9-14)

INTRODUCTION

1. In the epistles of Paul, we customarily find him telling his readers
   what he prayed for on their behalf

2. So it is in his epistle to the Colossians...
   a. Though he had not met many of them personally, he had heard of
      their faith and love  - 1:3-8
   b. Which prompted him to pray unceasingly for them

3. For what did he pray?  The answer is found in Col 1:9-14, and by
   closely studying this passage...
   a. We can learn not only what Paul desired for the Colossians
   b. But also what God would desire for ALL Christians, including us
      today!

[As we examine this prayer of Paul, let's do so with this in mind:  
THIS IS WHAT GOD DESIRES OF US AS WELL!

First, God desires that we be...]

I.FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL IN ALL WISDOM AND SPIRITUAL
   UNDERSTANDING (9)

   A. NOTICE SOME KEY WORDS...
      1. "FILLED"
         a. Not just a small measure
         b. But satiated, with a full measure
         -- It is not God's desire that we try to "just get by with as
            little as necessary"
      2. "THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL"
         a. This is what God desires us to be filled with
         b. The Greek word for "knowledge" in this passage is EPIGNOSIS
            1) Knowledge which is the result of practical and personal
               experience
            2) I.e., not just academic or intellectual knowledge
         c. Thus, our knowledge of God's will is to be something we have
            come by through practice and application in our lives
      3. "IN ALL WISDOM AND SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING"
         a. To possess a knowledge of God's will in ALL WISDOM requires
            prayer - Jm 1:5
         b. To possess a knowledge of God's will with SPIRITUAL
            UNDERSTANDING requires reading the word - Ep 3:3-5
         -- Therefore, prayer and Bible study are essential elements for
            the Christian!

   B. WHY IS BEING FILLED WITH SUCH KNOWLEDGE SO IMPORTANT?
      1. Because God's people have always been destroyed by a lack of
         knowledge - cf. Hos 4:6
      2. It is essential to our renewal in becoming like Christ - Col 3:8-10

[Is this prayer being answered in OUR lives?  Are we doing anything to
assure that it is?

Next, notice from Paul's prayer that it is evidently God's desire that
we...]

II. HAVE A WALK WORTHY OF THE LORD, FULLY PLEASING HIM (10-14)

   A. THIS IS THE OBJECTIVE OF BEING FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S
      WILL
      1. To conduct ourselves in a manner WORTHY of the Lord - Ep 4:1
         a. The Lord we serve, and the calling we have received, is
            certainly a "worthy" one!
         b. Our conduct should be one to honor Christ, not shame Him!
      2. To conduct ourselves in a manner FULLY PLEASING HIM
         a. There is conduct which displeases Christ - Lk 6:46
         b. But conduct coming from one who is first FILLED with the
            knowledge of God's will is more like to FULLY please Him!
            (note the play on words)

   B. CONDUCT WORTHY OF THE LORD, FULLY PLEASING HIM, IS ONE IN WHICH
      WE ARE:
      1. "BEING FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK" (10)
         a. Not just "one", but "every" good work - cf. Tit 2:14; 3:1
         b. For this we have been "created in Christ Jesus" - Ep 2:10
         c. Why?  So that God may be glorified - Mt 5:16
         d. What sort of good works - cf. Mt 25:37-40; Jm 1:27
         -- Are we being fruitful?
      2. "INCREASING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (10)
         a. We need to grow in the knowledge of God HIMSELF, not just
            His will - cf. Jer 9:23-24
         b. How can one truly know God?
            1) Through CREATION - Ps 19:1; Ro 1:18-20
            2) Through inspired REVELATION (e.g., the Psalms and the
               Prophets)
            3) But especially through JESUS - Jn 14:7-9; Col 2:9
         -- Are we daily increasing in this knowledge of God?
      3. "STRENGTHENED WITH ALL MIGHT, ACCORDING TO HIS GLORIOUS
         POWER" (11)
         a. It is God's desire that we be strong in our living for Him - 2Ti 1:7-8
         b. There is "glorious power" available to the Christian, of
            which Paul often wrote:
            1) He experienced it in his own life - Php 4:13
            2) He wanted others to know about it - Ep 1:15-20
            3) He identified it with the working of the Spirit in the
               inner man - Ep 3:16
            4) He describes its greatness in Ep 3:20
         c. What is the purpose of such power?  Notice our text...
            1) "for all PATIENCE and LONGSUFFERING with JOY" (is this
               not the "fruit" the Spirit is supposed to produce? - cf. Ga 5:22-23)
            2) I.e., so that even as we experience trials in this life,
               we may do so with joyful perseverance!
         -- Are we experiencing this strength which God gives to those
            who do His will?
      4. "GIVING THANKS TO THE FATHER" (12-14)
         a. Christians should always have the "attitude of gratitude"
            - 1Th 5:18
         b. In our text, Paul mentions several REASONS TO BE THANKFUL...
            1) God has "qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance
               of the saints in the light" - cf. 1Pe 1:3-5
            2) God has "delivered us from the power of darkness" 
                 - cf. Ep 2:1-5
            3) God has "translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His
               love"
               a) In Whom we have "redemption through His blood"
               b) In Whom we have "the forgiveness of sins" - cf. Re 1:5-6
         -- Are we ever giving thanks to the Father for these wonderful
            blessings?

CONCLUSION

1. Such was the prayer of Paul for the Colossians; what can we learn
   from it?
   a. What God desires of us as well!
   b. What kind of conduct that is necessary to be fully pleasing to the
      Lord!

2. May this prayer of Paul be one...
   a. That we ask for OURSELVES
   b. That we ask for OUR BRETHREN
   c. Indeed, that we desire for ALL!

3. Have you been "QUALIFIED" to be a partaker of the inheritance of the
   saints?
   a. Has God "DELIVERED" you from the power of darkness?
   b. Has He "TRANSLATED" you into the kingdom of His Son?
   -- Through an obedient faith (He 5:9) and baptism into Christ 
        (Jn 3:5; Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38) on your part, God is willing to do so to
      you today!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Are There Modern-Day Apostles? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1226

Are There Modern-Day Apostles?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The incredible diversity of viewpoint that exists in religion today is startling and disconcerting. We are witnessing a breakdown of respect for authority in American culture, as well as a tremendous increase in personal opinion and feelings as the standard of authority. Consequently, we now have a veritable smorgasbord of doctrinal variety in religion. Such is the nature of pluralism. One is likely to see anything and everything perpetrated in the name of religion and/or Christianity. The only solution to such a situation is to reaffirm the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible is the only written document on this planet that is the standard of authority in life and in religion (see Miller, 1996, pp. 430-446,462-471).

THE DEFINITION OF AN APOSTLE

Such being the case, we must go to the Bible to determine God’s will with regard to modern-day apostles. When we do so, we first learn that the word “apostle” comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “one sent from or forth, a messenger, delegate” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 99; Thayer, 1901, p. 68). The term is used in the New Testament in two distinct senses. It can refer to an individual who is sent by other humans to accomplish a particular mission or task. The term is so used to refer, for example, to Barnabas (Acts 14:14). He was an “apostle” in the sense that he accompanied Paul on an evangelistic trip. Jesus is said to be our “Apostle” in the sense that He was sent to atone for our sins (Hebrews 3:1).
The term “apostle” also is used in a second sense—what we might call an official sense. That is, “apostle” can refer to individuals who were officially and divinely selected to serve as Jesus’ original representatives—“ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus handpicked the original twelve apostles (Matthew 10:1-5; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-2). Of these original twelve, Judas betrayed the Lord as predicted by the Old Testament (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18-19; 18:1-5). Instead of repenting, he cinched his apostasy by committing suicide (Matthew 27:3-5; John 17:12). Consequently, a successor to Judas was selected by divine decree (Acts 1:16-26).
Only one other apostle in the official sense is alluded to in the New Testament—Paul. His appointment to apostleship was unique and unparalleled in that he was chosen for a specific first century task (Acts 9:15; 22:14-15; 26:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:11-12,15-16). Christ selected him to introduce the message of Christianity to the Gentile world (Romans 11:13; 15:16; Galatians 2:8; Ephesians 3:8). Paul was careful to document the fact that his apostleship was by divine appointment (e.g., Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1,16).

THE QUALIFICATIONS OF AN APOSTLE

When one assembles all the relevant New Testament data, at least three qualifications emerge as prerequisite to one becoming an apostle in the official sense (Hayden, 1894, p. 33, expands these credentials to seven in number). First, an apostle had to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22; 22:14; 1 Corinthians 9:1). Second, an apostle had to be specifically selected by the Lord or the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:5; Mark 3:13-14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:26; 9:15; 22:14-15,21; 26:16). Third, an apostle was invested with miraculous power to the extent that he could perform miracles. The power to perform miracles included the capability to confer the ability to work miracles to other individuals through the laying on of his hands (Mark 3:15; 16:17-20; Luke 9:1-2; John 14:12,26; 15:24-27; 16:13; Acts 2:43; 4:29-31,33; 5:12,15-16; 6:6; 8:14-18; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11; Hebrews 2:3-4). Jesus referred to His bestowal of miraculous capability upon the apostles when He promised they would be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

THE WORK OF AN APOSTLE

The apostolic office was unquestionably a temporary office for the early church (though apostolic appointment was for life). Its essential purpose was twofold. First, apostles were commissioned by Jesus to launch the Christian religion (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48). This purpose was achieved by means of the initial presentation of the Gospel to the whole world (Colossians 1:23), and the establishment of the church of Christ (Acts 2). Second, apostles were largely responsible for making the New Testament available—first in oral form and, more specifically, in written form (1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:14; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 3:15-16).
These two central tasks are set forth clearly in the New Testament. In Matthew 16, Jesus declared that He would build His church after His resurrection from hades (vs. 18). He then explained that it would be the apostles who would instigate initial entrance into Christ’s church (hence the significance of “keys”—vs. 19). This commencement of the Christian religion and the church of Christ would be achieved by means of the apostles “binding” and “loosing” the doctrinal tenets and principles of Christianity that Heaven had previously bound or loosed [the Greek uses the perfect passive and should be translated “will have been bound/loosed in Heaven” as in the NASB (cf. Matthew 18:18-20; John 20:22-23)]. Peter and the apostles articulated the terms of entrance into the kingdom of Christ for the first time on the Pentecost that followed Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:14ff.).
In Ephesians 4, after summarizing Christianity in terms of seven core concepts (vss. 1-6), Paul described the initial sequence of events that recounted the advent of Christianity (vss. 7-16). Paul noted that: (1) after His crucifixion, Jesus descended into the Hadean realm; (2) He then was resurrected; (3) He ascended back to Heaven; (4) upon His ascension, He dispensed gifts; (5) the apostolic office was included in the reception of these miraculous capabilities; (6) the purpose of these gifts was to equip and edify the church; (7) the preparation provided to the infant church by these gifts was temporary (“till” is an adverb of time connoting when the miraculous gifts were to terminate), in that the same preparation soon would be available through the completed revelation, i.e., “the faith.” [By “completed revelation” we do not mean completed canon. We mean that all of God’s communication to humanity would have been revealed. See the New Testament discussion contrasting “mystery” with “made known” (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:1-11). In the meantime, the process of producing copies of the various New Testament documents and circulating them far and wide would have been occurring rapidly and extensively from the very moment of their production by the inspired writers (cf. Colossians 4:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, where Luke 10:7 is already known and classified as “Scripture,” and 2 Peter 3:15-16, where Paul’s epistles are already circulated and recognized as “Scriptures”). Further, the reference to “the faith” in Ephesians 4:13 cannot refer to a time when all people or all Christians will achieve unity in faith. Such a circumstance will never occur. Paul was referring to the time when all people would have access to all of God’s communication to man, thus giving them the potential for attaining spiritual maturity (“a perfect man” vs. “children“). See Miller, 2003].
Once all of the information necessary to the promotion of the Christian religion was revealed to the early church (through oral means made possible by the distribution of the gifts), the church would have the means available to grow and mature in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). While prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers [the words “pastors and teachers” share the same article in the Greek, and so should likely be construed to mean “pastor-teachers,” i.e., a single function in which pastors (those selected by the local congregation to serve as elders or shepherds) were endowed with the miraculous ability to teach inspired information not yet made available in written form] were part of this early development of Christianity (Ephesians 4:11), the office of an apostle was the primary means by which Christ accomplished the inauguration of His religion.
The apostles had the sole responsibility of executing the will of the Son of God in founding, organizing, and fully equipping the church of Christ on Earth, that she might fulfill her heaven-borne mission, until Jesus comes again (Hayden, p. 22). That is why Paul could say two chapters earlier that the household of God (i.e., the church) was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20; cf. 3:5; Revelation 21:14). That is why he informed the Corinthian Christians:
God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
The apostles are said to be “first” in the significance and criticality of their divinely appointed role. The apostles specifically described their unique role in the early church as entailing giving themselves to “the word of God” and “the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2,4).

THE DURATION OF AN APOSTLE

Once the church of Christ was established and Christianity was given its initial presentation (cf. Colossians 1:23), the apostolic office faded from the scene along with the age of miracles. As an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection, Paul referred to himself in relation to the other apostles as “last of all” (1 Corinthians 15:8). Neither apostles nor miraculous gifts was needed any longer. They had served their temporary purpose (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:29-31; 13:12; 14:3; Romans 15:18-19; Hebrews 2:3-4; cf. Exodus 4:30). Miraculous gifts functioned as scaffolding while the church was under initial construction, and were removed once the structure had been completed (1 Corinthians 3:10; 13:11; Ephesians 4:13-14). The book we call the Bible is the totality of God’s written revelation to the human race. Consequently, people now have access to everything they need (2 Peter 1:3) to enter into a right relationship with God via Christianity and the church of Christ. The apostles “had no official successors. From the nature of their duties, there could be no succession” (Hayden, pp. 20-21). Apostles, quite simply, are no longer needed!

NO APOSTLES TODAY

Unfortunately, several groups that claim affiliation with the Christian religion allege to have apostles among them, including Catholicism, Mormonism, and some pentecostal groups. This claim is unbiblical. No person living today can meet the qualifications given in Scripture for being an apostle. No one living today has been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection. Christ has selected no one living today for the apostolic role. No one living today possesses the miraculous capabilities of an apostle. We should not be surprised that people would falsely claim to be apostles. Jesus warned that false prophets would come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they would be ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). Paul described some of his opponents in these words:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Further warning was issued to the Galatian churches: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Anyone claiming to be an apostle today who teaches anything in addition to the New Testament is clearly not an apostle of Christ!
Peter added his voice on the same subject: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). No wonder John admonished: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1; cf. Matthew 24:11,24). In the Revelation, the church at Ephesus was commended because they “tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Revelation 2:2).
Catholicism maintains that Peter was the supreme bishop, even over the other apostles, and that every pope since Peter is an apostolic successor to Peter. The pope is selected after literally hours and days of deliberation by cardinals in the Vatican. The only apostle in the Bible that was not handpicked by Christ in person was Matthias. Yet he was not selected by mere men deliberating and debating his potential. He was selected by the casting of lots—which was simply another way for Jesus to do the selecting (Acts 1:26; cf. Proverbs 16:33).
It is incredible to think that any human beings living today would presume to appoint apostles. In pinpointing the credentials of an apostle, Luke (Acts 1) made it abundantly evident that to qualify as an apostle a person would have to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of His resurrection. That is why Paul was careful to state: “Am I not an apostle? …Have I not seen the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1, emp. added). In recounting his conversion, he quoted Ananias as having said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15, emp. added). What alleged modern-day apostle could make such a claim?
The New Testament also makes clear the fact that an essential characteristic of an apostle was that he had been selected by Deity. When Jesus was on Earth, He handpicked the first twelve apostles. After His departure from Earth, the disciples cast lots to select a successor to Judas. Their method allowed no input from mere humans—except in the recognition that two men possessed all the qualifications necessary to be an apostle. Casting lots allowed God to do the selecting. Divine control in the selection process by casting lots was common in Old Testament history (see Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; Joshua 14:2; 18:6,10; 19:51; cf. Acts 13:19; 1 Samuel 14:42; Nehemiah 10:34; Psalm 16:5). Solomon claimed: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). Indeed, Peter’s prayer on the occasion shows that the decision already had been made by the Lord before the actual casting of lots: “…show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1:24, emp. added). The summary statement regarding Matthias—“he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26; cf. Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33)—gives way to a return to the expression “the twelve” (Acts 6:2; cf. Acts 2:14). The text states: “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship” (Acts 1:24-25). Paul also was handpicked by Jesus—to be a “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15). No human being on Earth today can claim he has been personally singled out and chosen by Jesus to be an apostle.
A third proof that no apostles exist on Earth today is the fact that New Testament apostles were empowered by God—not only to perform miracles—but also to convey miraculous power to other people who then could work miracles themselves. This characteristic is demonstrated in detailed fashion in Acts: “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Acts 8:18). The issue of modern-day apostles may be settled very quickly! To authenticate their claim to be apostles, they must be able both to perform miracles as well as confer miraculous power to others. The apostles of Jesus in the New Testament demonstrated their apostolic status without hesitation. Anyone today who claims to be an apostle should be willing to do the same. No such ability exists today.

ORIGINAL APOSTLES WERE SUFFICIENT

A fascinating passage in the New Testament sheds further light upon this notion of modern-day apostles. That passage is Matthew 19:28. There Jesus informed Peter and the other apostles: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” A related passage is Luke 22:29-30 which says, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
These verses are Christ’s figurative declarations describing the role of the twelve apostles in the establishment of the church and the dissemination of the gospel proclamation (cf. Bales, 1957, pp. 187-223). The “regeneration” refers to the Christian era, which began at Pentecost, during which time spiritual regeneration became possible through the blood of Christ (Titus 3:5). It is an equivalent expression with the “time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10). The throne of Christ’s glory refers to His present location at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36; Ephesians 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:13; 8:1; 10:12-13). The “judging” done by the apostles refers to the rule that the apostles exerted while they were on Earth, setting in place the features of New Testament Christianity (Matthew 16:19; John 20:22-23). The “twelve thrones” refers to their complete authority from Christ to implement Christ’s will until the end of time—which they presently do today through their authoritative writings—found only in the New Testament. The “twelve tribes” is a figurative way to refer to the church—the spiritual Israel (Galatians 6:16; James 1:1; cf. Romans 2:28-30; Galatians 3:29).
Neither Christ nor the original apostles needs successors or representatives on Earth today. They continue to rule and reign over the kingdom through the work that they achieved in the first century, and that is preserved for all in the New Testament. Christ is now on His throne ruling and reigning. The apostles also are on the thrones assigned to them by Christ. To suggest that the apostles have modern-day successors is to discount and discredit the current rule of the apostles. Neither Christ nor the apostles has abdicated their authority or their current rule to any humans on Earth.
Additionally, the fact that Jesus declared that all twelve apostles would occupy thrones in the kingdom proves that Peter had no greater authority than the other apostles. The apostles were equal in their reception and wielding of the authority delegated to them by Christ. Yet the Catholic Church claims that the immediate successors to Peter were Linus (from A.D. 67 to 79), Cletus (from A.D. 79 to 91) and Clement (from A.D. 91 to 100). They agree that the apostle John would have still been alive throughout this period (see G.C. Brewer’s discussion as quoted in Bales, pp. 208-210). The doctrine of the primacy of Peter means that the first three of the alleged successors of Peter would have exercised authority over the still-living apostle John—who had been handpicked by Christ Himself! The very John whom Jesus placed on one of the twelve thrones would have been under the authority, knowledge, and power of three popes who had not been selected to be among the original Twelve! (see also Hayden, pp. 22-33). Hayden aptly summarized the New Testament position regarding modern-day apostles:
The thirteen apostles chosen, ordained and endowed by the newly crowned Messiah faithfully and fully executed their commission. When they entered into everlasting rest, the church was established, with all needful ministries to edify, extend and perpetuate it throughout all coming centuries. Then the extraordinary, which was necessary to found a new institution, was succeeded by the ordinary, which is sufficient to teach, regulate and govern the subjects of Christ’s kingdom according to the laws that went forth from Jerusalem. The revelation of God was completed. The word of faith is henceforth nigh every believer, even in his mouth and in his heart. The apostolic office ceased, and evangelists and pastors became the permanent teachers and superintendents of the church (pp. 33-34).

REFERENCES

Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Bales, James (1957), The Kingdom: Prophesied and Established (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation).
Hayden, W.L. (1894), Church Polity (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club).
Miller, Dave (1996), Piloting the Strait (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—Extended Version,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).

Are You Not Much More Valuable than an Animal? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1001

Are You Not Much More Valuable than an Animal?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Holding up signs that included “All Animal Lives Matter” and “RIP Harambe,” animal rights protestors expressed their dismay at the killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.1 Momentarily distracted by three other children, a mother failed to notice her three-year-old son fall into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.2 The child was dragged violently around the enclosure in a foot or so of water by Harambe, the 450 pound gorilla that occupied the pen. Due to the gorilla’s agitated state, and the delay inherent in the use of a tranquilizer gun, authorities felt it necessary to kill the gorilla, sparking nationwide outrage.3
One on-line petition which seeks “Justice for Harambe,” calling for an investigation of the parents, has already received more than 500,000 signatures.4 Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer and animal rights activist Karen Dawn insist: “As animal advocates, we don’t automatically deem the life of a boy as exponentially more important than that of a fellow primate.”5 PETA was quick to scold the zoo even for having gorillas and other animals in captivity,6 where they are “exploited” and “gunned down.”7 PETA Primatologist, Julia Gallucci, chided: “This tragedy is exactly why PETA urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at.”8
For those whose minds have been shaped by the perspective of divine truth—as most American minds, for most of American history, once were—the confusion regarding the value of human beings in contrast with the animal kingdom are shocking, disturbing, and depressing. How can a civilization slump so far into outright animism, paganism, and atheism? Such should not be surprising since, once the Christian worldview is jettisoned from any society, the ideologies that will quickly fill the vacuum will inevitably be humanistic, heathen, irreligious, depraved, and idolatrous. Indeed, the half-century long descent into the abyss of moral and spiritual confusion that has characterized America is strongly reminiscent of the societal circumstances that prevailed in the Roman Empire during the first century:
[A]lthough they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:22-25).
The passage proceeds to delineate the moral filth that ensues for such a people—a portrait of America’s own moral decline, including the acceptance and practice of homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality, covetousness, and haters of God, to name a few (vss. 26-32).
The substantial infiltration of academia by evolution and atheism has resulted in precisely the social conditions that now prevail in America with regard to the nonsensical and inflated sense of importance assigned to animals and the physical environment. Any individual, who would have even a split second of hesitation to kill a gorilla (or any other animal) to save a human child, has unwittingly become a victim to the massive inundation of humanist propaganda that fails to assign the proper value to animals.
For those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He literally left the heavenly realm and came to Earth to atone for sin, and that He now reigns in heaven itself, and will one day bring the entire physical Universe to a fiery conclusion (2 Peter 3:1-11), the value of Harambe the gorilla is a settled matter. Jesus spoke directly and definitively—several times—to the issue.
In Matthew 6, Jesus reassured His disciples that God’s care for them meant that they need not worry unnecessarily about acquiring food and clothes. His reasoning included this admonition: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (vs. 26, emp. added; cf. Luke 12:25—“Of how much more value are you than the birds?”).
On another occasion, Jesus challenged the disciples not to fear the hatred, intimidation, and opposition of those who would seek to deter their efforts to teach and preach His message. Why? He explained: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, emp. added; cf. Luke 12:7). Observe that animals have some value in this world. God created them for specific purposes. However, there is literally no comparison when it comes to evaluating their status and their worth in relation to humans. Animals are expendable. But Jesus adamantly insisted that humans are much more valuable than even many animals.
On yet another occasion, Jesus answered those who sought to condemn Him for healing—on the Sabbath—a man whose hand was shriveled and deformed. The Lord’s logical prowess was piercing and penetrating: “He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?’” This question was a reflection of Deuteronomy 22:1-4. It was part of the Law of Moses designed to promote care and concern for one’s fellow man. In an agrarian society, the preservation of farm animals was a serious matter. A family’s survival was dependent on its animals for food and clothes. So Jesus reasoned, if it is proper to intervene to save the life of a farm animal so that human beings might be provided for, “of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?” (Matthew 12:11-12). Do sheep have some value? Certainly—they are vital to providing the basic necessities of humans. But they are mere animals—they do not have souls like humans, nor were they made in God’s image like humans (Genesis 1:26).9 Jesus’ point was poignant. He was, in essence, stressing an important contrast between animals and humans. He was essentially saying, “If you see the value of preserving the life of a dumb, soulless animal for the good of humans, why in the world would you question My action which will improve the life and well-being of a human?” Indeed, Jesus demonstrated that even His religious enemies were clear thinking enough to know that animals are not even to be compared to the value of human beings.
Whatever might be said about parental responsibility to discipline their children and train them to be obedient when parents warn children of the potential dangers that exist at zoos, and whatever might be said about the value of animals—from zebras and gorillas to tarantulas and boa constrictors—nevertheless, according to Deity, human beings are of much more value. As a nation, our depraved moral sensibilities are on display when our citizens show more concern for a 17-year-old gorilla than for the 56 million innocent human babies that have been slaughtered by abortion since 1973.10

REFERENCES

1 Natalie Angier (2016), “Do Gorillas Even Belong in Zoos? Harambe’s Death Spurs Debate,” The New York Times, June 6, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/07/science/gorilla-shot-harambe-zoo.html.
2 Police have decided she will not face criminal charges. See Madison Park and Holly Yan (2016), “Gorilla Killing: 3-Year-Old Boy’s Mother Won’t Be Charged,” CNN, June 6, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/06/us/harambe-gorilla-death-investigation/.
3 “Outrage After Gorilla Killed at Cincinnati Zoo to Save Child” (2016), CBS News, June 1, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/outrage-after-gorilla-harambe-killed-at-cincinnati-zoo-to-save-child/; Barbara Goldberg (2016), “Killing of Gorilla to Save Boy at Ohio Zoo Sparks Outrage,” MSN News, May 30, http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/killing-of-gorilla-to-save-boy-at-ohio-zoo-sparks-outrage/ar-BBtCunM?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U270DHP; Kimberly Ricci (2016), “People Are Furious Over The Death Of Harambe The Gorilla And Want Justice,” Uproxx, May 30, http://uproxx.com/webculture/cincinnati-outrage-harambe-gorilla-death/.
4 Sheila Hurt (2016), “Justice for Harambe,” https://www.change.org/p/cincinnati-zoo-justice-for-harambe.
5 By Peter Singer and Karen Dawn (2016), “Op-Ed: Harambe the Gorilla Dies, Meat-Eaters Grieve,” Los Angeles Times, June 5, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-singer-dawn-harambe-death-zoo-20160605-snap-story.html.
6 Jennifer O’Connor (2016), “Gorilla Pays With His Life for Others’ Negligence,” PETA, May 29, http://www.peta.org/blog/gorilla-pays-with-life-for-others-negligence/.
7 Angela Henderson (2016), "From Marius to Harambe: Zoos Teach That Wild Animals Are Expendable,” PETA, June 1, http://www.peta.org/blog/marius-to-harambe-zoos-teach-wild-animals-expendable/.
8 “PETA Responds to Gorilla Shooting at Cincinnati Zoo” (2016), WDRB, May 29, http://www.wdrb.com/story/32092202/peta-responds-to-gorilla-shooting-at-cincinnati-zoo.
9 Bert Thompson (1999), “Do Animals Have Souls?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=582.
10 Matt Walsh (2016), “While You Were Crying Over a Dead Ape, 125,000 Babies Were Just Murdered,” The Blaze, http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/while-you-were-crying-over-a-dead-ape-125-thousand-babies-were-just-murdered/.

Encouragement From the Lord – Acts 18 by Ben Fronczek


http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=232

Encouragement From the Lord – Acts 18

Encouragement From the Lord – Paul in Corinth
 (Acts 18:1-11)
What does ‘Throwing in a towel’ symbolize?  – Giving up, quitting. Getting so discouraged we just can’t go on any further.
I suppose all of us some time or another feel like throwing in the proverbial towel. We get depressed, or want to give up and quit. Some of us can’t wait for Jesus to return and take us home. Sometime I just wish that I’d go to sleep some night and  wake up in Heaven.
Did you ever feel like that? Like: “There’s no use. Life is too hard. The harder I try, worse things get.   I just feel like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.”  Daily stresses, and problems at work, at home, sometimes can seem like such a grind, and so repetitive, like a Chinese water torture!
I know this is true for 2 reasons:
I talk to many of you who’ve been there. And I’ve been there myself…. More than once!
Sometimes God’s people need a spiritual pick me up, a 2nd wind…
Even heroes of old; Examples:
• Moses – The Greatest leader, handpicked by God!  He spoke to God face to face, yet in Numbers 11:15 he said to God, “put me to death” The Israelites and their complaining  were driving him over the edge.
• Elijah – Greatest prophet of OT. He willingly challenged the idolatry of his day/called fire down from heaven/won a faceoff with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. Yet in I Kings 19:4 after it was all over he runs with fear from Jezebel, and after sitting down under a broom tree he asked God if he could just die, he said, “I’ve had enough Lord, … take my life!”
• Job – We talk about his patience and faith, and he was truly a great man…he had a great beginning and a great ending, but in-between, when he lost everything, he wished he had not been born, He cursed the very day he was born. (Job 3)
• Jonah – He wanted God to kill him to take his life. He was spiritually depressed and was not even happy for the 120,000 souls that just got saved in Nineveh!  (Jonah 4)
And then we come to Paul in Acts 18. Here we find him on his 2nd missionary journey, coming from Athens to Corinth. I can’t help but believe he was experiencing a low time in his life. We know that because in I Cor. 2:3 Paul writes of that time: “I came to you in weakness and in fear, and with much trembling”  In other words: “I was wreck.”
-Fatigue probably consumed him after his 53 mile walk.
-He was alone. He had left his friends Timothy and Silas back in Berea.
-He was probably out of money and needed to work, he was glad he found fellow a tent maker (v. 3)
-He probably had a sense of failure. He didn’t really have much success in Athens. Some even accused him of being a “babbler.”
-He was probably a bit frustrated and over whelmed, leaving a city of idolatry and was heading for one of the most sinful cities in the world, Corinth.   It hosted the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of sex, and it was said that a thousand priestesses prostituted their bodies in the name of religion!
By this point on this trip he had been beaten and jailed at Philippi, persecuted at Thessalonica and Berea, ridiculed in Athens, and now he was in Corinth and had to deal with all the smut.  So he starts preaching Jesus in the local synagogue. And what happens,   the Jews get him so upset  he literally shakes out his cloths  in protest to them and said, “You blood be on your own heads.”  By now he was probably at a low point in his ministry even though his friends Timothy and Silas finally caught up with him.  He was now angry at the Jews and I’m sure a bit disappointed.
But then the Lord came to Paul and showed him that this was not the time to throw in the towel!
Let me read to you this story –  Read Acts 18:1-11 “After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.”
In this section the Lord reminds Paul and us of a few things that should encourage him and us:
1. The Lord is presence  In vss. 9-10 the Lord tells Paul,  “Don’t’ be afraid, for I am with you…….”
• As a matter of fact, He is present in times of loneliness
In Heb. 13:5-7, The Lord reminded His people by saying, “I will never leave you, never will I forsake you.”  And so His people will say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can a man do to me?”
At His birth that is what His name “Emmanuel”   meant, –  “God with us”
And before Jesus ascended, after giving the Great commission, one of the last things that Jesus told His disciples was, “Lo, I am with you always”
People may let you down, abandon you even hurt you. Your best friend may stab you in the back, but our Lord said, “I will never leave you.”  We may not see Him with these eyes or hear Him with these ears but He is a friend that sticks closer to us than anyone else.   We are never truly alone.
• He is also with us in the valley when we are lower than we’ve ever been.
When defeat comes /discouragement/sickness/ financial reversal/heartaches/family problems…remember that the God of the mountain is still God in the valley! 
Story: A little boy went home after school very sad & told mom about Billy, his best friend, who had been absent for 3 days, he had found out today why when he returned to class…his daddy died, and when he told us, he cried and just laid my head flat on his desk. Mom asked “what did you do?” He said, I didn’t know what to do, so I just laid my head on my desk and cried, too! (that’s the kind of Savior we have!)
In John. 11:35-36 do you remember what Jesus did when he saw Lazarus’ family crying at his grave even though He knew He was going to raise him from the dead; even though He knew things were going to get better? Jesus cried right along with them.
Our Lord is there in the valley with you when you’re down in the deepest pit!  Don’t forget that!
• He’s Even with us In death     In Ps. 23 David said, “yea, tho’ I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…for thou art with me!”
So the Lord encourages Paul by letting him know, ‘It’s too soon to quit!’ We have the promise of His presence!
2. The 2nd thing the Lord lets Paul know besides the fact that he is not alone is,  God going to protect him.   v. 10 says “Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, do not be silent for I am with you and no one is going to attack and harm you” .…not that he wouldn’t be hurt,  he just wouldn’t be harmed there in Corinth!
Later, some would kill the apostle Paul, but not until he was able to say, “I have finished my course.”   They killed the Lord Jesus, but not before He said, “It is finished!”
God has a purpose for your life. (Probably more than you realize) And if you choose to, you can live it out, fearlessly…Though there may be persecution, trials and hardships…until your work here is done, until God’s purpose for you is complete, He is not going to let any real harm come to you.  Nothing is going to happen to you without the Lord’s permission.
So He tells Paul, ‘don’t quit yet. It’s too soon to throw in the towel there in Corinth!
Someone once said, “Ahead of us He’s our guide, behind us He’s our guard, under us are His everlasting arms, and above us, if we’ll look up, He’s ever-present with us in a cloud of glory!”
3. The 3rd thing we see is God’s insight and potential  
The 3rd thing the Lord tells Paul in vs. 10 is, “I have many people in this city”  How could God say that? So far there were no more than a handful of Christians in Corinth!
The Lord didn’t just see the perverts of this city. He also saw those whose heart were ready to turn to Him. Years later when the church was much bigger,  Paul writes to the Corinthians saying this in I Cor. 6: 9 “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “ NLT
Over and over Paul was comforted by God’s love and compassion. I believe the conscious reality of God’s love and compassion encouraged him and gave him the 2nd wind he needed. Read 2 Cor. 1:3-5  “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” NLT
Over and over God tries to get us see that He loves us but for some reason many of us just don’t give ourselves fully to Him and His love. We are distracted by other things in this world which we think will give us what we think we need to make us feel happy.
Illustration: Let me tell a little story in closing. I hope in hearing it you will see how much God loves you and me. And I hope that it will give you comfort, and strength and a second wind when you are down.
“In a particular neighborhood some children grew up together, played together as is quite common in most neighborhoods across the world. In this particular neighborhood a little girl by the name of Sally and a little boy by the name of Billy were neighbors and were good friends throughout the early years of their life. Being the same age they both entered school at the same time and even had some of the same classes together. Sally was quite pretty, slim with blue eyes and wavy strawberry blond hair She had a sweet yet outgoing personality, she liked sports and eventually joined the cheerleading and track teams at school. Billy was a little different. He was quite and fairly common looking. He wasn’t very tall and at times he got a little pudgy around the middle. He wasn’t so much into school team sports, rather he gravitated more towards nature. He like fishing, hiking, boating and camping.
Though they were friends and neighbors for as long as they could remember, as they entered puberty, junior high and then later high school, Billy started feeling a little different towards Sally. What started as child-like friendship eventually grew into feelings of love and concern for his little friend next door who had now developed into a beautiful young woman.  They still talked and teased one another, but it wasn’t until their freshman year in HS that Billy mustered up the courage to tell Sally how he really felt about her. He told her that he loved her, it was something that she already knew, and he told her that he wanted to be more than just the neighbor friend next door. Now Sally like Billy, they had been friends all their life, and she told him that in a way she did love him, but not the way he wanted, rather, it was more like love one would have for a brother.
Billy was humble. He did not get angry or try to make her feel guilty, though inside he did feel sad because he knew that he love her like no other. Every now and then, maybe twice a year when they were alone and had a chance to talk he repeatedly let her know that he still loved her in a way that did not put her on a guilt trip. He would even watch out for her, protect her and her reputation at school behind the scene. He would leave little gifts for her now and then, and even  some affectionate notes teasing her in a friendly way.
But Sally had busied herself  with new friends, activities, sports cheerleading, track, parties, football players, clothes and boys with nice cars. But despite all the changes Billy kept a close watch on her and loved her from a distance.
One day unexpectedly, during a track meet, Sally collapsed on the field and lost consciousness. She was rushed to the local hospital and what the doctors found shook her mom and dad to the core. Sally had a major heart defect which was non repairable. Sally’s heart was so bad that they told her mom and dad that if they did not find another heart soon, she would not recover. He told them they had put in an emergency request to the donated organ banks around the country for another heart.
Billy was devastated. This sweet young lady that he loved all his life was at the brink of death and almost lost to him. The next day the doctor came to Sally and her parents with good news, the organ transplant bank called about a heart and delivered it to the hospital. That same day she was rushed to the O-R and they put the new heart in Sally with much success. And all the parents could do was weep every time they saw her because they thought they were going to lose their little girl.
I wasn’t until a couple of weeks later when she was well on the road to recovery that Sally found out why her parents continued to weep so much when they saw her. That is until she found out whose heart was beating inside her giving her life. That’s when she began to weep. It was Billy’s
Billy was  distraught when he learned that his beloved was going to die if she didn’t get a heart. After hearing that there were none available for her anywhere, he went home, he went into the bathroom, he wrote a letter, called 911, and then proceeded to cut his wrist very deep and then put his hand it in the tub. Not long after an ambulance and the rescue crews arrived at his house and there was a lot of confusion. They found him not to long after he passed away with a note pinned to his shirt, with a smile on his face.
The note read,
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13   
Mom, dad, please don’t be mad because I did this. Please make sure they give Sally my heart.  I gave it to her a long time ago.                                        
With no regrets, Billy
P.S. Sally, do not be up set with me for doing this. Just remember that I love you and that as long as you live, I will be with you always and give you a renewed strength with evey beat of this heart.
As I thought about this story, I could not help but think about our Lord and what He has done for us. Our entire life, from the time we were conceived, He has loved us. He has let us know this of over and over and over again in many different ways sending us messages, gifts and blessings wanting us to draw closer to Him.
Like Sally we are distracted  by so many other people and things of this world.  Some of these people and things have hurt us. But also like Sally we have an incurable disease that is going to destroy us, and that disease is called sin.  And what did our Lord do? Like Billy, He made the ultimate sacrifice, He freely gave His life on that cross to save us. A true expression of love.
But unlike Billy, Jesus rose again to become Lord over all. And then He planted His very Spirit in us as we rise out of the watery grave of baptism so that we can be born anew and so that He will be ever present in us to help us, give us strength and comfort us.
As he reminded Paul in Corinth, He said, ‘I will be with you always, when you are lonely, when you are depress, when you feel like no one else understands or cares, I am with you and I love you and no one can separate me from you. So hold on. Be of good cheer, Hold your head up, take courage. We are yoked together, when you are burdened, let Me carry the load.
I don’t know about you but when I wake up and realize how much I am loved, and that God has a special purpose for my life, and that He is going to help me and protect me, that helps me get out of my frump and leave my own pity party behind. It lets me know that God doesn’t want we to throw in the towel because he still want me to use that towel for something.

Partial Obedience, Is No Obedience At All

https://biblicalproof.wordpress.com/2011/03/

Partial Obedience, Is No Obedience At All


Faith without works is dead, but then, so is baptism without works. Faith alone won’t get us into the water, and water alone won’t get us into heaven. God didn’t intend one to drown in baptism, but to walk in the newness of life. He intended for us to come up out of the water, to do the works of God. If we are going to take the time to go down into the water, let us arise to do the work of the Lord. Partial obedience, is no obedience at all.
Jam 2:14-26; Heb 6:1,2; Rom 6:3,4; Eph 4:11-25; Rev 3:15,16

NOT LYING DOWN by Jim McGuiggan


https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/01/


NOT LYING DOWN


“Why are you hanging around all the moral riff-raff and the outer fringe people?” That’s what they said in Matthew 9:11-13.
“They’re awfully sick and I’m a doctor!” That’s what Jesus said in Matthew 9:11-13.
That’s holiness! That’s God’s holiness!
That’s God’s holiness flawlessly exhibited in a human life—the life of Jesus of Nazareth who was/is God being a man.
God’s holiness isn’t a stiff-armed moral uprightness.
Whatever “holiness” is unlike His holiness isn’t holiness!
And Christ prayed for me and people like me in John 17:17 and Paul took His prayer seriously in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 when he said that God Himself would make us holy all the way through and because He is faithful who called us and He will do it!
So I’m going to do it! Weak or not, sick or not, stumbling or not, sinful or not, I’m going to finish this adventure; it’s my destiny and calling. I’m not talking about the pursuit of moral uprightness where I check my record against a list of moral imperatives! I’m talking about the pursuit of God’s likeness in Jesus Christ; I’m talking about walking worthy of the God who has called me. I’m not talking about merely “keeping God’s commandments,” I’m talking about coming to know and love Jesus Christ who said if I trust Him to help me that I will be empowered, I will be kept by the power of God through faith (1 Peter 1:5) and that I’ll come to know what it is to be ecstatically happy to do what He calls for. I’m not going to finish this phase of living lying down!
I’m here expressing the hearts of a great host as well as my own. We’re not elite  but we are elect!
So I’m not walking away. I’m staying! And I’m not alone in this (how could I be alone?). I’m one of multiplied millions down the years in whose steps I follow and even now I’m in the company of a massive throng of women and men of the same faith and the same heart as mine (2 Timothy 2.22). We’re here for the entire adventure against the powers of darkness that work to destroy us and our hurting & sick human family.
And we’re going to stop comparing ourselves favorably with other fellow-servants in this war. We’re going to help one another buckle on the armor of God (the kind of armor Isaiah said God put on to deliver the oppressed—Isaiah 59:17); the kind the Messiah wore in his work of redemption, judgment and peace-bringing (Isaiah 11:5).
If you see or hear that one of us has fallen and floundered be sure that you keep looking and listening for the story that he or she got back up. By God we’re not staying down. And if it’s me and I disappoint you I won’t have disappointed you as much as I’ve disappointed me. And if your eyelid flickers with that disappointment it won’t be as genuine as God’s is but His Son will come to me and He will help me to my feet again and when He’s done talking to me He’ll help me buckle on the armor He has provided. He won’t do it with a smoldering sulk or an icy coolness. No, it will be with a royal and brotherly concern and passion that is an aspect of His wondrous way that means He won’t allow His servant to give up the fight. “Stand up straight,” He’ll say, “and let me tighten up those gospel shoes.”
This is the holiness of God! It is ethical! It does have that “forbidding” sense attached to it but that’s not the whole story about holiness—it never was! His holiness is the presence of joy, the presence of warmth, brother and sisterhood; it’s the presence of anything that God has given to humans to honorably rejoice in because God would have it so! It’s God-given human well-being enjoyed and exercised in happy well-doing and it’s not confined to the overt “religious” activities.
Holiness has beauty and loveliness as well as strength; it has social expression as well as inner transformation and it shows itself in human loves and human lovers, human acts of kindness, human courage that opposes injustice and in humans who “come to stay.”
So, I’m not going to finish this phase of living lying down!
I won’t do it!
At the end when Death or the Lord comes calling one way or another I’m going to be on my feet rather than lying down. “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!”
We’re not going to do it, are we?! We’re not going to finish this lying down!