Category Archives: Salvation

The Word Of Another – Emmanuel

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“… And they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'” (John 4:42)

Possibly the single greatest Truth of Christianity is found within this one verse in John.

Nearing the end of the telling of Jesus’ encounter with “The woman at the well”, we have the people of Samaria – whom the woman had returned and “witnessed” to – people who by their own confession had “believed in Jesus” – coming to see this Jesus (whom they had already “believed in”) for themselves.

Not content to believe just because of the word of another – the people whom she had talked to (I imagine only some of them) were driven to “see for themselves.” And it was because of that determination to go from “belief based on the words of another”, to “believing based on their own experience”, that they went from a mere intellectual belief in this Jesus (which is unable to save), to a intimate experiential saving knowledge of Jesus!

Look at their “confession”:

“…we have heard for ourselves and KNOW…”

The Greek word used here for “know” is “ginosko” which means “intimate experiential knowing, such as the intimacy of a husband lying with his wife”.

This is saving belief: experiential intimacy with Christ Jesus! Don’t settle for anything less – KNOW for yourself this One whom you profess you believe in.

God became Emmanuel in Jesus, so that we might “know for ourselves” that this Jesus is Christ, the Savior of the world.

Please take time this holiday season to search yourself to see if indeed you KNOW Jesus for yourself, or if you are just believing in Him based on the word of another.

Merry CHRISTmas!

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Oil Crisis! (Part 2)

Oil Crisis

In followup to the foundation laid in “Oil Crisis” (Part 1), I now present to you – to be taught of the Lord alone – numerous passage of Scripture – with thought-provoking questions – for your consideration. (If you have not already done so, please read Part 1 now.)

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Jesus said something rather shocking in John 16:7, “It is good that I go away…”

“it is for your good that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper (The Holy Spirit) will not come to you but if I go, I will send Him (The Holy Spirit) to you.”

Are you still living a Christian existence based on the Life of Jesus, and not what His Life produced/provided?

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Then, John 14:16-17 reads:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

Is it possible that you are living this Christian life as if the Spirit of God is sill only “with you” in the form of Jesus at your side, rather that living knowing that the Spirit of God is now living on the inside?

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Ezekiel 36:26-27 reads:

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Could it be that you are resting comfortably in the glorious regeneration of God alone, and neglecting the purpose for which He has provided such great a salvation, that is, the very habitation of the Holy Spirit of God within the life of a mere human being, to lead you, guide you, teach you and remind you of the logos of Christ?

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Acts 2:38 says:

“Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall [future tense] receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

And, Luke 11:13

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Yes, Child of God – you have been given a “lamp” that is Christ Jesus Himself, and His most Holy, infallible written Scriptures – but have you sought “oil” for your “lamp”?  Have you asked the Father to light the fire and fan the flame of His Holy Spirit within you?

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2 Cor 3:6b reads:

“the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life

Are you living your Christian journey with your sole source of nourishment to be the Scriptures alone (logos) – void of the power of the Spirit (Rhema) that has been made available to you?

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Acts 19:1-6 tells us:

“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized was a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them…” (Footnote #1)

Is it possible, that like these Ephesian believers (disciples), that you are stalled in a place of repentance and forgiveness, weakened and defeated by the enemies of the world, the flesh and the devil – unaware that such a Helper as the Holy Spirit even exists?!

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Oh Child of the Most High – Virgin that you have been made to be by the Sovereign Choosing of God – I beg you… do not be found to be foolish – rather cry out to the Lord God to awaken you to His Most Holy Spirit!! The great OIL of God that has been given to cause YOUR LAMP – the very life of Christ within you – to burn white-hot and bright for all to see.  Cry out that this same Holy Spirit will take the precious logos of God, and whisper the utterance of His Rhema in to your heart.

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Footnotes:

(1) It seemed wise to me, and I was deliberate in my omission of the later portion of the 6th verse of Scripture, as to not allow a “good thing of God” to be a stumbling block to the readers who might be disillusioned by false impressions, misuses, abuses or teachings on such things as the gift of tongues and prophecy.

Oil Crisis! (Part 1)

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The headlines should read: “OIL CRISIS”…. but they don’t.

To the watchful eye, however, the crisis is real, current and critical.

I am not talking about the Middle East, the Ayatollah, or the Saudi’s. No. Rather, I speak of a land and people who have been granted a greater abundance of access and right to oil than any nation, geographical region, or worldly power has ever conceived.

The crisis was brought to the forefront by Christ in Luke 12:35 when He prefaced a parable about preparedness and watchfulness, with these words: “Be dressed in readiness, with your lamps lit.”

More notable, and somewhat cryptic, Christ years later tells the story of 10 virgins at the end of the Age.  Of them, He prophecies of the Kingdom of God, that of these “pure, holy and set-apart ones”, who represented all those who had identified themselves with our Lord, Himself – the Bridegroom – would be distinguished as Wise or Foolish.  In this example, our Lord makes it crystal clear that among those who identify themselves as belonging to “Him” (the Virgins: “pure, holy and set-apart”), that as much as half, would suffer fatal eternal consequences for their “lack of oil”…

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)

In light of the frightening prospect revealed herein – that some have lamps, but no oil – the question begs to be asked: What is the oil, and how can I be sure to have some?

But first, I think it is insightful and prudent to know what the lamp is, who it is that has a lamp, and why anyone would think that a lamp alone is good for anything.  Initially, upon reading these and other accounts of lamps and oil, I remained baffled at the thought that anyone would have one without the other, particularly if they had any intention of using the lamp. Unless, of course, they were unaware of their actual need for the lamp. Maybe the lamp has just become a relic on the shelf…

So, what is the lamp?  Psalm 119:105 says: “Your Word [logos] is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”

And 2 Peter 1:19:

“So we have the prophetic Word [logos] made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

In the original text, the Greek word for “Word” in both of these instances is “Logos”, which is speaking of the written Word (Bible, Scripture) or the Word incarnate, Christ Jesus.  However, there is a second word for “Word” in the original language that exists, and carries great importance: “Rhema”.  Rhema is literally “utterance” – a spoken word heard – such as personally hearing it from the mouth of the speaker.

Consider Matthew 4:4:

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word (Rhema) that precedes out of the mouth of God.”

This verse, in light of Jesus’ words in John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life”; and, 6:51 “I am the living bread”; we can derive that Jesus Christ, the Logos, says of Himself, that “man shall not live on the Logos alone, but by every Rhema that proceeds from the mouth of God” – what a great mystery this is!

So it is important to clarify that in the case of “lamp” we are speaking only of the Logos Word of God – that is the writings of Scripture, or Christ Himself.  So then, if that be the case, we can conclude that possessing Scripture and Christ alone, without this “oil” is somehow inadequate?!?  As voices now begin to cry “heresy”, let’s re-look at our passage, spoken by Christ Himself, using our properly defined word, Logos:

“For when the foolish took their [Scriptures and Christ], they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their [Scriptures and Christ].”

Suddenly, knowing what this “oil” is, and possessing it in adequate supply – though mysterious – is of critical importance!  Reality is, we don’t have to look far or wide to get insight to this symbolism/meaning.  Oil has always been understood to be directly associated with “anointing” – and anointing is always understood in the New Testament to be directly speaking of the Holy Spirit (for there is no other anointing.)

So, consider our scripture now:

“For when the foolish took their [Scriptures and Christ], they took no[t] [The Holy Spirit] with them, but the prudent took [The Holy Spirit] in flasks along with their [Scriptures and Christ].”

What on earth does this mean?  There are many I am sure who will internally struggle (even argue) with a suggestion that a Christian could ever be found “without the Holy Spirit” (“they took no oil”) – but these passages have to mean something.  We cannot ignore them – and more importantly, what cannot ignore what they are speaking to us.  The “warning” they are giving us.

Before we go there, however, let’s briefly take a moment to alleviate the controversy of those who would stop right here – claiming poor doctrine, or heresy.  Clearly the Holy Spirit has a critical role – if not the sole role – in regeneration.  His power alone – more than mere influence – gives us new life and brings wretched man to a place of repentance.  Yet, there is overwhelming testimony and evidence in scripture, that the Holy Spirit has yet another role beyond grace of regeneration, in the life of one who is called “Christian”.  It is the grace of sanctification.  Great men of God have debated and disagreed for 2000 years what this “second work” of the Holy Spirit looks like (and if such a “second work” even exists) – how it manifests or “plays out” in the lives of those who have been called and chosen of God – and yet no one denies the work (grace) of sanctification is uniquely different from the work (grace) of regeneration – though some do (surprisingly) debate the necessity of sanctification.  With that said, let us move forward to explore further the necessity of “oil in our lamps”.

At this point, following much prayer on the matter, I have concluded that “a mere man can not teach another man further, about mysteries as great as these”!  Oh, I could attempt to persuade you with many words, eloquent speech (as if I have such), and strong arguments – however, at the end of the day, only the Holy Spirit Himself can teach a man (or woman) the very living Word of the Sovereign Lord.  So now, with the previous foundation laid, I will give you numerous scriptures that I am convicted are relevant to this matter of “what it means to have oil for your lamps” and he necessity thereof – and ask that you pray now – before proceeding – asking the Lord to teach you Truth on this matter, as only He can do.

(Continued in Part 2)

Good Enough

I’ve known some really good people in my life. In fact, I have known some “non-believers” who were more pleasant to be around than some who profess Christ. Problem is, how good is good enough? The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus encountering a young man who inquired of Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

As Jesus talked with this young man (Luke 18:18-27), we find that this man was far more “good” than anyone I have known in my 53 yrs of life. He confessed that he had never committed adultery, murder, stolen or lied, and has always honored his father and mother! (Who among us can honestly say that we have been that good?!? Personally, sadly, I am 0-5 on that list.)  But Jesus said that was NOT good enough. In fact, we see in the opening of this passage that this fella also confessed Jesus was both God & Savior – I surmise this because 1) he asked of Jesus a question about eternal life… This strongly suggests to me that he knew Jesus was the Savior sent from God; 2) he knew He was God, for he called Him “Good”.

But, alas, confessing Jesus was both God & Savior, was not good enough either.

Lastly, Jesus essentially says to the man “You want eternal life? Then allow me to be Lord & King of your life, ruling and reigning over even your most prized possessions.” In this, the man walked away sad, for he was willing to admit Jesus was God; willing to admit Jesus was Savior; willing to live a “good” – even very good – life; but not able to surrender the throne of His life to The Christ. 

Isn’t that our problem really? We want a Savior (for heaven); we want a God (in heaven); we want to be pretty “good” so we can feel good about ourselves (a little heaven on earth); but it all comes to a grinding halt when we are faced with the reason the Savior came… To make a way that we might return to know His rule and reign in our hearts and lives; knowing intimacy with our Father; and knowing the indwelling of the Spirit – i.e.: “thy Kingdom come”

So, here is what every person (including the rich your ruler) wants: “a list of rules for inheriting eternal life!”

  1. Acknowledge Jesus is God
  2. Acknowledge Jesus is Savior
  3. Do not commit adultery (or even lust); do not murder (or even hate); do not lie or steal; honor your mother and father.
  4. Surrender wholey to the Lordship of Christ without reservation into all aspects of your life that He might, by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and His sovereign regeneration of your life, bring His Kingdom to rule and reign in you…. (grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone).

Sorry, I realize #4 kinda destroyed “my list” – but after all, isn’t that the point… 

Let him who has ears, hear.

  

Believe!

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John 6:53-69 reads:

53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would [j]betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Though the reading of the Gospel accounts, it is clear that there were 4 types of people that typically encountered Jesus:

1) Those that opposed Him

2) The massive crowds that came to see Him

3) The thousands that followed Him

4) Those that were His Disciples (Not just “The Twelve”)

In every town, there were massive crowds that came out to see Jesus.  But when he left, they went home – anxiously awaiting his next “tour date” in their hometown.  There were also those who followed Him, faithfully, from town-to-town, enduring much, to hear his next public teaching, and to see His next miraculous display.  Among those the followed Him, were those who made up the group commonly referred to as the disciples – this group would have included several women – likely His mother Mary, the other “Mary’s”; his half-brothers; and from time to time, Lazarus, Martha, and several others.  But then still, there was the inner circle of disciples, often referred to as “the twelve”.


Now, probably no one would suggest that “the crowds” were “saved” (however, I bet if they were asked on a modern-day survey what their “religious affiliation” was, they would say “Christian”.)  But in reality, they were more like modern day “fans” of a rock band – looking forward to the annual “show” in their area, talking about them, and making reference to them, as if they know them personally – but they don’t.

A step of commitment beyond, was that of “the followers“. Indeed this is a title we often give ourselves when we speak of our “Christian Experience”, but that too takes a turn for the lesser in this passage, as clearly not all who were in the “crowds” were “followers”, and not all who followed were counted among His disciples, though they clearly exhibited a sacrificial determination to get closer to Jesus – but what was their motives, really?  Many among us would call ourselves a follower, and rest well with that distinction, proclaiming ourselves to be a “saved Christian” – yet, hold on… Jesus makes yet another, seeming final distinction.

The Lord went on to call some of these followers, “disciples“.  There can be no argument, that not all who came to hear were followers; and not all who followed, were disciples – and certainly to be a disciple, is a far more committed role in the “Christian Experience” than that of just a follower, as we see from the passage above, and many others in Scripture.  Clearly those who were disciples – and maybe many of us –  rest confident in being called and numbered among this “elite” group of devotees.

Think of it… I am a “disciple of Jesus”!  Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it.  I am an apprentice of the Savior come from Heaven, being taught at the feet of the master Himself – being privy to parables explained and mysteries revealed.  But wait… there’s more!  Look carefully at the beginning of verse 64: “there are some of you who do not believe” – some of who?  The crowds?  The followers?  No, the disciples!! Look at the verses just prior to this, and the one immediately following (60, 61 & 66): “Therefore many of His disciples,” – “His disciples grumbled at this” & “many of His disciples withdrew.”  As frightening as it may seem, even being a disciple, does not appear to be adequate for salvation!

So if being among the crowd who hails Jesus as the best motivational speaker in the region – those who never miss hearing Him when he comes to town is not enough… if being so “inspired” by His teachings that you make great sacrifice to follow Him from town-to-town, is not enough… if committing to sit at His feet, and be listed among those crazy disciples is not enough… then the question begs to be asked “What in the world does this Jesus want from us anyway?!?”

Verse 64 provides the answer: “believe”.

It seems we have it backwards.  We call folks to first “believe” (thereafter pronouncing them “saved”), then tell them to follow Jesus all the days of their life.  And, if you really want to get carried away, you might consider becoming a disciple – but we treat true discipleship as if it is optional, and only for the “extremists” among us.  However, the Holy Spirit teaches us in this very passage, that many among the crowds will begin to follow Jesus, and some among the followers will become disciples, and few among the disciples will become *believers*.

Is this not what our Heavenly Father is seeking… *True Believers*?  Not casual fans – not even committed followers – nor just extreme disciples!  He is looking for those who will be satisfied with none of that – remaining hungry for more – and willing to cast aside all caution – BELIEVE the radical, life-changing, history-altering message of the King, come to earth, to save His own from themselves, that they might return to Him with desperate, reckless, selfless, passionate abandon – surrendering fully to all His seemingly foolish and outrageous words, and yielding the throne of their lives, to His rule and reign, in their hearts, for all their days.

And when these *True Believers* emerge from the ranks of those being discipled to Jesus, then – and only then – will the watching world look at them, and with pointed fingers, with a bit of mockery – and, as they did in Antioch (Acts 11:26) – call them “Christians” – for in this way, they have become just like that crazy Jesus guy!

Reader, it’s time for some soul searching… what role does Jesus Christ really play in your life?  Is He really nothing more that “favorite motivational speaker”?  Or have you committed to following Him – yet still at a distance – offended at some of His audacity, and ready to “walk” as soon as He gets too close?  Or, are you among those who would proudly wear your “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt, since, after all, you number yourself among the inner circle… but in your heart, do you believe all His outrageous and extreme claims – really?  He is calling you to believe!  Believe with all your heart!  Believe without reservation! Believe with reckless abandon that “Jesus alone has the words of Life, and that He is the Holy One of God”! Believe!