AN EXAMINATION OF THE LORD’S PRAYER — PART 2

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Prayer, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by willnotbesilent

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. – Matthew 6:9-13

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Welcome to the second installment of this study of the Lord’s Prayer. So far this examination has been quite exciting, and I hope you find the same interest in this topic as I have. Last post, we looked at the salutation of the prayer (“Our Father who is in Heaven”) and how we are children to an almighty God. Now we move on to the body of the prayer.

“Hallowed be Thy name”

The model prayer given to us by Jesus Christ is characterized by seven requests, of which this is the first.

That the prayer should contain seven requests is important to note. God loves numbers and gives various numbers a certain significance. In the case of seven, it is the number of divine perfection or completeness. We can learn from the occurrence of seven requests that this prayer which Jesus prayed as an example for his disciples was perfect and complete. A brief summary of the seven requests might appear as follows:

  1. May Your name be hallowed
  2. May Your kingdom come
  3. May Your will be done
  4. Provide us with our day-to-day needs
  5. Forgive our sins
  6. Do not lead us into temptation
  7. Deliver us from evil

Notice that the first three requests pertain to God Himself, and the last four pertain to us. Again, we see that we place God ahead of ourselves, seeking glorification of His name, promotion of His Kingdom, and the execution of His will before our own needs. We must place God before ourselves.

We could also make special mention of the fact that there are three requests pertaining to God, each request specific to each aspect of the Godhead. For the Father, that He his name be sacred and holy; for the Son, that His Kingdom might stand; and for the Holy Spirit, which is the will of God. These three requests address God in His completeness.

In this post we will discuss the first of the seven requests: “Hallowed be Your name”.

As previously mentioned, this request is the first, and Jesus placed this request first for a reason. He here illustrates that the foremost desire in our minds must be that God’s name be held in reverence. All we say and do should be for the glory of God, that His light might shine through us (Matthew 5:14-16, Philippians 2:15). More than any other desire we might have, we must place God’s glory above all things (I Corinthians 10:31).

When we speak of God’s name, we do not merely refer to the term we use for Him (Yaweh, Jehovah, God, etc). God’s name IS God – likewise, God IS His name. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Moses asked who he should say sent him to the Israelites. God replied, “I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) This small phrase means everything. Essentially, I AM could be interpreted to mean, “He who was, is, and ever will be; the omnipresent, omnipotent power that exists through Himself and through which all things exist.” He is Himself, and His name is He. To honor God’s name is to honor God – to honor God is to honor His name. This honor does not come through the emptiness of Pharisaical false worship, but through the genuine obedience and heartfelt praise of His people and His own awesome works.

Next post, we will examine the second request of the prayer: “Your kingdom come”.

An Examination Of “The Lord’s Prayer” — Part 1

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Prayer, Religion, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2011 by willnotbesilent

Prayer is an integral aspect to the Christian walk. It is how we communicate our thanks, requests, and praise to Him. It is a personal thing, in which God and the individual praying have communion through Jesus Christ. Throughout the Bible, and particularly the New Testament, we read a great deal about prayers and praying. Jesus prayed, as did the apostles and the great men throughout Biblical history. We are encouraged to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Because it is so important, we should be sure to understand it. Jesus’ disciples understood this when they asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded to His disciples’ request with one of the most famous passages in Scripture.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. — Matthew 6:9-13

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. — Luke 11:2-4

The Lord’s Prayer has long been held up as a model for concise, beautiful prayer. Indeed, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, the example he gave them was the absolute opposite of what a Pharisee might have done. It is the embodiment of humility, worship, penitence, and perspective. Jesus even warns the disciples against the loud prayers of the Pharisees, who prayed on street corners and in public places so passersby would be impressed by their piety — but Jesus enjoins silent, even secret prayer. (Matthew 6:6) Prayer is an intimate thing between God and the petitioner, something between the two of them alone. Anyone who may happen to hear the prayer has no role in this interaction.

Even today, people, particularly Catholics, recite the Lord’s Prayer word for word. But that this is not how Jesus intended it is evident by the fact that Matthew and Luke have varying versions of this prayer, as well as Matthew 6:7, in which Jesus prefaced His example with a warning against “vain repetitions”, as the nations employ. Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and many other religions rely heavily on chants and repetitions. The worshipers of Baal (I Kings 18:26) and the worshipers of Diana (Acts 19:34) also used repetition, and as Scripture illustrates, their repetition did no good.

Our relationship with God is like that of a father and his children. As a father myself, I am well aware of how annoying it can be when my children repeat something meaningless over and over and over. It gets old quickly! Soon I want them to simply be quiet and stop talking, rather than give them what they want. There is no reason not to place God in that same predicament when we fall into prayer patterns and vain repetition. God seeks earnestness. He wants us to come before him with our petitions, speaking from the heart with faith. “Ask, and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7) If we pray the same prayer, word for word, in a mindless chant, rather than having heart and meaning behind it, God only considers it empty words.

Another thing that Jesus illustrates through His model prayer is that it is not long-winded and flowery, as were the prayers of the Pharisees and, sadly, are many prayers we hear today in churches of all denominations. It is to the point, and in being so concise, multiplies the power and beauty of its words a thousandfold.

  • Our Father which art in Heaven.

As I mentioned earlier, our relationship with God is as that of a father and his children. Romans 8:15 says that we have received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry, “Abba, Father.”  (“Abba” is simply a transliteration of the Chaldee word for “father”). In Galatians 4:5, Paul reminds us that we were redeemed that we might receive the adoption of sons. When Jesus teaches us to cry out to God as “Father”, He emphasizes that we share with Him a special relationship with God, a relationship of glory as well as subservience. At the time of Jesus’ walk on earth, the usual address of Jewish prayer was, “Oh Lord God of our fathers”. Jesus is turning that on its head by showing that, not only is God the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but He is also OUR FATHER — not someone to regard in terror, but someone to whom we are free to run in times of trouble, who loves us and desires our good.

Jesus repeatedly made examples in which he compared God to a father (Luke 11:9-13, Luke 15:11-32), and repeatedly referred to God directly as the Father (Luke 6:36, John 6:37).

Now, we know that God did not beget Christ or Christians in the sense that our physical fathers begot us. Christ is an aspect of God — His Word — rather than an actual offspring or child, and has been with God since the beginning. Indeed, we are told that nothing exists that was not created THROUGH Jesus (John 1:3). Thus we know that God and Jesus, being one, have coexisted since past eternity. Christians, in similar manner, are not God’s children in the sense that you and I are the children of our own parents. Rather, our position as “begotten” or “sons” is something bestowed upon us by God Himself (Galatians 4:4-5).

God begets us when we obey Him. We are not His literal, biological children, but rather children of God through faith (Galatians 3:26). We are adopted as God’s children when we repent and obey. Notice that not until Jesus had “fulfilled all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) by being baptized by John the Baptizer did God announce, “This is my only begotten Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).  Likewise, when we believe, repent, and are baptized into Christ, we become sons with Him (Romans 8:17).

“In Heaven” is a qualifier that sets God apart as a specific Father: The one who is in Heaven, the only one truly qualified to bear the title (Matthew 23:9). It signifies His majesty, placing Him high above all (Ephesians 4:6). Our prayer ascends to a place where we are not, to a Being far above us in every regard.

It denotes respect, as well as humility, acknowledging God’s far higher status and our own lowly, unworthy position. We come before God as sinners, penitent and humble — not proclaiming our own self-worth like the Pharisee in Jesus’ story (Luke 18:11). God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and magnificent beyond comprehension, while we are not even worthy of notice (Psalm 144:3).

We serve a mighty God. We must recognize Him as such.

 

In the next post on this topic, we will continue to examine “The Lord’s Prayer” and how it serves as a model for us to follow when we address our Lord. Remarks on this topic are welcome.

The Antichrist: Who And When?

Posted in Antichrist, Bible, Christianity, End Times, Rapture, Religion, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by willnotbesilent

Since the early days of Christianity, scholars and layfolk have been on the alert for the Antichrist. The Antichrist is, according to most theological prognosticators, an individual who takes over the world in the End Times, the exact antithesis of God. Some have suggested that it will be Satan himself indwelling a human being and wielding incredible, almost godlike powers. Some believe that he is represented by the beast in Revelation.

Just as in the case of the Rapture and other related topics, so much confusion, myth, and assumption has evolved around the subject of the Antichrist that the far simpler truth has been obscured. This is another case in which we must fall back to the Scripture and find out what God has to say on the matter, tossing aside the conjectures of men.

First, the most basic thing to do is examine the Scripture that specifically mention the Antichrist. Notice as you look at these references that the only place where the Antichrist is mentioned is in the Epistles of John. One of the first things to realize about the epistles of John is that they are not prophetic. They are purely instructional, written to edify and encourage believers in the tenets of the Way.  Keep this in mind as you read.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. — I John 2:18

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. — I John 2:22

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. — I John 4:3

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. — 2 John 1:7

These are the only passages in Scripture in which the antichrist is mentioned. There is absolutely no reference to the Antichrist in the prophetic book of Revelation, or any other book of prophecy. These are the only direct references to the antichrist. Therefore we should take these verses as a starting point.

First, let’s look at the word “antichrist” itself. It is a transliteration of the Greek “antichristos”, which is a compound word consisting of “anti” and “christos”.

Christos” is the word from which we derive the term “Christ”, and means “anointed one”. “Christos”, of course, in Scriptural terms, is a reference to Jesus.

Anti” means “opposite to, opposing, instead of, or against”. It implies being on the opposite end of the pole or spectrum from the person or thing to which “anti” refers.

Thus it is that “antichrist” means “opposing or opposite to the Anointed One” — or, “against Christ”.

WHEN WILL THE ANTICHRIST ARRIVE?

Refer to my previous post regarding the Last Days. The Last Days began with the ascent of Christ to Heaven and the advent of Christianity (Acts 2:17). John only confirms this when he says,

Little children, IT IS THE LAST TIME: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, EVEN NOW there are many antichrists; whereby we know that IT IS THE LAST TIME. — I John 2:18

John wrote his First Epistle sometime around 100 or 110 AD. The Last Days had begun. He adds, “EVEN NOW there are many antichrists.” He goes on to say that the appearance of these antichrists was a sign that the Last Days had come.

We know from this that (1) The Last Days have begun, (2) The appearance of the antichrist is a sign of the arrival of the Last Days, and (3) there are MANY antichrists!

Whoa. Even now this is starting to sound a LOT different from Tim LaHaye’s ideas of what or who or when the antichrist is or will be. Let’s keep going.

In I John 4:3 he says,

. . . this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

The early followers of Jesus had heard that the spirit of the antichrist would come — and John is saying, in the first century AD, that IT HAD ALREADY ARRIVED! They sit around, wondering when it would show up. IT WAS ALREADY HERE!

In 2 John 1:7 he says,

For many deceivers ARE ENTERED INTO THE WORLD, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

The antichrist has been around for 2000 years. And yet people even now point to some future day when the antichrist will show up. It’s like trying to warn people that a flood is coming, even while water swirls through the neighborhood and everyone clings to their rooftops.

WHO IS THE ANTICHRIST?

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. — I John 2:22

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. — I John 4:3

John is very clear as to who the antichrist is: The liar who denies that Jesus in the Christ and that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Where have you heard this lie propagated? You’ve heard professors, authors, celebrities, television, radio, comedians, public speakers, and even average folks deny that Jesus came in the flesh and that he is the Son of God. This isn’t a specific individual — it’s a specific TYPE of individual.

HOW MANY ANTICHRISTS ARE THERE?

“. . . there are many antichrists. . .” — I John 2:18
“. . . every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. . .” — I John 4:3
“. . . many deceivers are entered into the world. . .” — 2 John 1:7

Tim LaHaye and others of his ilk would have you watch for a single individual who takes over the world singlehandedly, is possessed by Satan, and has incredible miraculous abilities. But John was already warning in his day that MANY — PLURAL! — antichrists had come into the world. Is there only one person on the planet who does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? Of course not! There are at least millions of people who do not confess Jesus, if not billions!

SO WHO EXACTLY IS THE ANTICHRIST?

First of all, there is no “the” antichrist. There is no “arch antichrist”.

Anyone who is against Christ, who denies his authority and sonship, is antichrist. Do you remember the literal meaning of “antichrist”? It literally means “against the anointed one”.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and AGAINST HIS ANOINTED, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. — Psalm 2:1-3

In short, anyone who is opposed to God and His Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is an antichrist. There are many antichrists, and they have been around for a long, long time.

So if anyone tells you they’re waiting for Nicolae Carpathia to take control of the UN, just keep these passages in mind. It may save you from the confusion of the dispensationalist, premillennialist fallacy!

The Last Days: When Are They?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, End Times, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2011 by willnotbesilent

In this era of political upheaval all over the world, of constant wars, of famine, disease, earthquakes, storms, and more widespread abandonment of God’s principles, many people are proclaiming our era as “the Last Days”. There is a great deal of debate over this. The return of Jesus Christ has been predicted for countless dates for a thousand years or more. In the case of each prediction, people thought their society had reached a moral and spiritual zenith, and that surely Jesus would come to take His kingdom back. Indeed, even during the days of the apostles, people were waiting for Christ’s return, as illustrated in Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

The question is, WHEN ARE THE LAST DAYS?

Some hold that the “Last Days” will begin once the “Rapture” has taken place, but as pointed out in my previous posts, the “Rapture” is a fallacy and a fraud. Some look for signs of the Antichrist, some mysterious individual possessed by the devil himself (We’ll go into the topic of the Antichrist in a following post). The most recent “prediction” for Christ’s return is May 21, 2011.

These folks who try to give an exact date are wasting their time. Jesus Himself said,

 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. — Mat 24:36
 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. — Mat 24:42
 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. — Mat 24:44

This is important to remember: ONLY GOD HIMSELF KNOWS WHEN JESUS WILL RETURN! Men cannot predict it through any means, whether theological, mathematical, or otherwise. God is the one and only being who knows when the Second Coming will take place. If anyone tells you Jesus is returning on a specific date, ignore them. They are mistaken, and arrogant to think they can discover what God has specifically kept secret.

But can we at least know when the Last Days are?

YES! In fact, we don’t need to speculate or wonder, because the Bible is very, very specific about exactly when the Last Days begin.

In Acts 2, when the apostles are baptized by the Holy Spirit (verses 1-4), they begin preaching to the crowds that have filled Jerusalem for the Day of Pentacost. When the people hear these uneducated Galileans preaching in various languages, they are skeptical, suggesting the apostles are drunk (verse 13). At this point, Peter speaks for all the apostles:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, “Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ” — Acts 2:14-21

STOP! In quoting Joel, Peter says that all THIS which the people are seeing, only days after Jesus has ascended to sit at God’s right hand, is a sign of the Last Days!

The Last Days began roughly 2000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit was poured out and the Kingdom of Christ was established through the apostles. A sign of the Last Days is the opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ.

So why are we wondering if we are in the Last Days when the they have been in full swing for millennia? Because false prophets have been preaching lies, telling us to expect a Rapture and support a political state of Israel, to watch for a mystical Antichrist and wait for a spaceship-esque New Jerusalem to descend from the sky. In actuality, THE LAST DAYS ARE NOW, which is why we are told to be vigilant and faithful. This is why we can expect Jesus to return when we least expect it.

So with this in mind, let’s focus on spreading the truth of the Gospel and preparing ourselves as a bride prepares herself for the groom. We don’t know when He’ll knock. But when He does, let’s make sure we’re ready, rather than simply wondering when He will return.

PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD!

Writing On The Earth

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Law, Religion, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by willnotbesilent

For a little change of pace, let’s back away from blasting tradition and just take a look at something fascinating in Scripture.

We’re all familiar with the story of the adulteress who was brought before Jesus in John 8:2-11:

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery; and having set her in the midst, they say unto him, Teacher, this woman hath been taken in adultery, in the very act. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. And they, when they heard it, went out one by one, beginning from the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. And Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more.

Now here’s the Sixty-Four Million Dollar Question: What did Jesus write on the ground that affected the surrounding Pharisees so badly that they couldn’t stick around?

The account of John doesn’t tell us, of course, but amazingly enough, the answer is in Scripture!

O Jehovah, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be put to shame. They that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters. — Jeremiah 17:13 [emphasis mine]

What does it mean to be written in the earth? Well, what does it mean to be written in heaven?

Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. — Luke 10:20

We all know that to have one’s name written in heaven is to be a partaker in salvation. Therefore, one can logically conclude that to have your name written in the earth bears the exact opposite connotation — condemnation.

JESUS WAS WRITING THE NAMES OF THE ADULTERESS’ ACCUSERS!

All the Pharisees, being intimately familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, knew exactly what Jesus was doing as He stooped and one by one wrote their names in the dirt. His words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” only emphasized his message: The Pharisees had forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters — they themselves had committed adultery against God. And here they were, seeking to kill someone guilty of a crime they themselves had committed! Once again, Jesus was pointing out their blatant hypocrisy and reminding them of the condemnation they all faced.

Imagine how disturbing it would be if you were one of the adulteress’ accusers, familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, and you watched Jesus methodically write your name in the dirt, along with the names of all your cohorts. No wonder they left as their names appeared on the ground.

And then the story ends with the ultimate display of mercy. Jesus, the only one present who had no sin, who had every right to cast the first stone, finally rose to His feet.

“Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee?”

The woman, perhaps stunned that she wasn’t being stoned at this very moment, could only murmur, “No man, Lord.”

To which Jesus replied in all the love of a Father to a penitent child, “Neither to I condemn thee. Go thy way. From henceforward sin no more.”

Understanding what Jesus was writing in the earth lends a whole new perspective to the story that only magnifies the amazing omniscience, wisdom, and mercy of God. This is what Christianity is all about.

Now here’s the question we should all ask ourselves: If we had been present for the event of John 8:2-11, would Jesus have been writing OUR names in the ground?

The Sacrifice of Fools

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Truth on December 10, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Ecclesiastes 5:1 — Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. (KJV)

The subject of this entire blog is to clarify, through Scripture, the difference between the tradition of men and the truth of God. The problem of tradition infiltrating the worship of God and replacing the truth that is the heart and soul of that worship. As evidenced by the verse above, this problem was in existence even in Solomon’s day. Let’s take a closer look at it to see how it applies to Christianity today. We’ll examine Ecclesiastes 5:1 phrase by phrase.

“Keep Thy Foot”

The NASB says “Guard your foot”. The ESV says “Guard your steps”. In other words, Solomon is saying to watch your step; act with reverence and solemnity.

When God manifested himself to Moses, he told him to remove his sandal, because the place where he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5). When the pre-New Covenant manifestation of Jesus appeared before Joshua, he was told the same thing (Joshua 5:15). The custom of removing one’s shoe and giving it to one’s neighbor was a sign of giving up one’s right to something, or conceding (Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Ruth 4:1-8). In conceding to God, we concede to Him as Almighty, our King, the Lord of Lords, our object of reverence and worship.

Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, urges the reader to enter the place of worship with a mind toward reverence, conceding all to God. In his day, it was the temple in Jerusalem, which Solomon himself built. Today, it is anywhere we choose to meet in the name of God. God says,

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. — Matthew 18:20

When we stand in the presence of an earthly king, we show some form of respect. Depending on the culture, we might remove our hats, bow, kneel, or give any number of  signs of deferment. Would it not be only right to meet in the name of God, whether in a church, home, or anywhere else, with an attitude of humility and deference to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, especially if He is in the midst of us?  Paul commended the Corinthians for their attitude toward God:

And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. — 2 Corinthians 7:15

In too many churches today, the entire concept of worship has been perverted. Some play loud rock music, attendees scream and throw fits in the aisles, and the entire event becomes nothing more than a concert where the name of Jesus is thrown about like the name of a rock star. Others go to have their itching ears scratched (2 Timothy 4:3) and eat at the potluck, as though it were some sort of social club.

The first purpose of meeting in God’s name is to worship Him, to give Him the deference, awe, and the humility due an almighty Creator and King, to learn the truth of His Word and strive to become more like Him.

Keeping our foot means behaving appropriately and respectfully, remembering our purpose in gathering with others for worship.

“Be More Ready To Hear”

The NASB and ESV say “draw near to listen”. The second purpose for meeting with the body is to be edified, to feed on the Word, so we can grow. We are to assemble in meeting to hear God speak through His Word, to learn from God. The objective is to be nourished through the Word (John 6:33, 35, 48; John 6:51; Mark 9:7). The book of Hebrews refers to God’s Word as food (Hebrews 5:12-14). It is not a social club, or a party, or a time of entertainment.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – Romans 10:17

If faith comes by hearing, then is it not important to be silent and listen to God’s Word being preached? We are exhorted by Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, to “draw near to listen”. Again, our reason for meeting is not for the purpose of entertainment or socializing, but to learn and to worship.

“The Sacrifice Of Fools”

Examples of foolish sacrifices include the sacrifice of Cain (Genesis 4:5). Why was Cain’s sacrifice not acceptable? Based on Ecclesiastes, the sacrifice of fools is one offered without the reverence (guarding one’s foot) and a desire to listen to God (being ready to hear). The attitude toward God means more than any sacrifice (Psalm 51:17; Proverbs 21:3; Hosea 6:6). Jesus said all the prophets and the law hang on loving God and fellow men (Matthew 22:37-40). Another example of the sacrifice of fools is that of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3). Also that of King Saul (I Samuel 13:8-14).

In the early days of America’s founding, men such as Roger Williams dreamed of setting up a country where everyone had the freedom to “worship God in their own way”. Unfortunately, God does not want people worshiping Him in their own way. He spent a great deal of time in Scripture detailing exactly how he is to be worshiped. He spent books telling the Hebrew how to worship Him. When Christ and the apostles preached, they expounded on the fulfillment of the old way of worship and taught how to worship God after the Law was fulfilled.

When we worship God in our own way, we offer the sacrifice of fools. Cain, Saul, Nadab and Abihu, and the Pharisees all offered the sacrifice of fools. They turned a deaf ear on God’s ordinances of worship and implemented their own. Not only were the sacrifices vain (useless and empty), but they were also defying God, telling Him that their way of worship was better than His way. These men offered sacrifice to God without a love for Him and His commandments. They sacrificed in pride and presumption, rather than with fear and trembling.

When we cling to tradition in our worship, we insist on following man’s own rites. The burning of incense, the lighting of candles, the choirs, organs, bands, shouting, clapping, dancing, etc are all the sacrifice of fools. Ignoring baptism and “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior” is the sacrifice of fools. Studying Spurgeon, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Dwight Moody, Billy Graham, and other men rather than God’s own Bible is the sacrifice of fools.

When we simply go through the motions of religion, we offer the sacrifice of fools. If we go to church, attend the potlucks, and talk about Jesus all the time, but do not worship and obey Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), then we offer the sacrifice of fools, and we do evil. Religion is sin. Faith is obedience. God says that unless we obey Him, there is no point in calling Him Lord (Luke 6:26).

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. – Luke 13:23-28

Jude and Eternal Security

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Jude is a very short epistle, in some Bibles only occupying the space of a single page. But it is a powerful epistle, and filled with poetic analogies. In this epistle, Jude (or Judas), brother of James, writes to the church warning them about false teachers.

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. — Jude 3

By reading this verse, we know Jude was writing to people who were saved and were active in the body of Christ. This is important to remember as we continue to read. In a previous post, I pointed out the fallacy of “Once Saved Always Saved” — also known as “Perseverance of the Saints” or “Frozen Chosen”. In this post, I am about prove that, if Christians cannot lose their salvation through willful sin or being led astray by false doctrine, then the book of Jude would never have been written.

Jude continues to mention “certain persons” who had “crept in unnoticed” — he doesn’t mention names, but does make it clear that they are present and perverting the Word under the Body’s very nose. He then goes on to say something interesting:

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as those indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. — Jude 5-7

The reference to the people saved out of Egypt is, of course, the children of Israel. We know that, once in the wilderness, the Hebrews rebelled more than once, finally culminating in refusal to enter the Land of Canaan. Out of all the adults who had left Egypt on this exodus, only Joshua and Caleb believed God would keep His promise and give them the land, despite the intimidating giants and their cities (Numbers 14:1-10). God condemned them to another forty years of wandering in the wilderness until all of them aged twenty years or older at the time of their rebellion had died (Numbers 14:27-35). Not long afterward, during the wandering, Korah started a mutiny against Moses and Aaron, only to be destroyed, he and his followers, when God opened the earth, which swallowed and destroyed them (Numbers 16).In fact, Jude later refers to Korah’s destruction in Jude 11.

The Bible refers to Christians as God’s new chosen people (I Peter 2:9). In an earlier post, I pointed out how Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea was a type, or foreshadowing, of Christian baptism and salvation. If those of Israel who rebelled against God never got to enter the Promised Land, and Jude used these rebels as a warning to those of the church, then we can conclude that Christians who turn away from God’s true doctrine and follow after falsehood are in effect rebelling against God and will not see the eternal reward of salvation. If that is not the case, then Jude was using an inaccurate comparison.

Jude then goes on to use the instance of the fallen angels, whom God at this moment has locked up until the day of judgment, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In each case, he is referring to those who turned away from God and brought punishment down on themselves. He is using these examples as warnings to the Christians to whom he addresses this epistle. Again, if Christians cannot lose their salvation and bring condemnation upon themselves, these examples would be inaccurate. But this is the Word of God. God never uses inaccurate comparisons.

Jude spends a large portion of the epistle describing the false teachers and their fate. “They have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” (Jude 11) Remember that not only did Korah perish, but also those who followed him. The same can be said of those who were followers of Christ, but are led astray by false teachers. Both the leaders and those they lead will meet with the same fate.

Jude ends his epistle with this admonishment:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. — Jude 20-21

The core statement of this sentence is, “Keep yourselves in the love of God”. It is up to us to remain in God’s love. In fact, Christ himself said,

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love — John 15:10

This was said shortly after He warned,

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. — John 15:6

The word “abide” is translated from the Greek meno, which means “remain, tarry, not to depart”. It is a command to Christians to remain in Christ’s love, or else we will meet with the same fate as Korah or the fallen angels or Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus said in John 15:6 that the branches that wither and dry up are cast away and burned. It is because of His love, His desire that we be saved, that He commands us through Jude to keep ourselves in the love of God by building our faith and praying to God.

Christ gave us the gift of salvation. It is up to us to keep it or throw it away.

This is the whole point of the epistle of Jude: To not listen to false teachers and perverters of the Word and be led astray to destruction by their falsehoods.

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