Is the Rapture True?

Is the Rapture True?Clouds 1

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Podcast Version 

I was asked about a YouTube video concerning the doctrine of the rapture. The video was made by a pastor, and tells that the doctrine of the Rapture is a Satanic doctrine. He states that the Rapture Theory started in the 1830s by a woman named Margaret McDonald. Mrs. McDonald had a dream that she thought was an evil dream. She shared this dream with two preachers and then they turned it into the Rapture Theory. His argument is that there are no reference works regarding the rapture prior this event. He states that the manuscripts, which we study from, never mention the word rapture. This is a brief explanation that he gives, but you can see the arguments that he uses to say that there is no rapture. (Murray, 2019)
These things confuse believers on what the scripture says. I submit to you what the scripture has to say concerning this troublesome doctrine. I will show you some things in the scripture and you can then decide if the argument I make is worth listening to. All the scriptures referenced will be taken from the King James Bible, who’s source manuscripts easily out-date the 1800 time period.
In looking into this doctrine of the church, with the study of “the manuscripts”, we can see that at least one rapture event is prophesied in scripture. Some theologians even argue that there will be several, separate rapture events in the end times. These include the rapture of the church, the rapture of the two prophets who are martyred by the beast in Revelation 11, and the rapture or Jews who believe. However, for this topical discussion we are concerned with the rapture of the church. However; even in this focus, the rapture of the church is believed by different Christians to occur either before the tribulation period, halfway through the tribulation period, or after the tribulation period. Since this question is whether a rapture occurs at all, we will focus on this topic; Is the Rapture True?
This word “rapture” is an eschatological (study of end things) term used by Christians to refer to the gathering of believers who are lifted from this earth and joined with their glorified bodies and Jesus Christ. I will have to admit that the word “rapture” is not used in scripture. That is to say; in our current English language, the word rapture in not in scripture as that exact word. This does not mean that the rapture event is not discussed. Jesus does tell us, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
It is noticeably clear in this passage that Jesus wants to comfort his disciples, and those who believe in him. In fact, later in the same chapter he says that he is speaking to those who love him and obey his commandments. In the ending of the previous chapter and on into this verse Jesus is warning his disciples that he must return to his Father. He wants them to know that his death is not a mistake, and it is not the end. In fact, it is a new beginning. Just as in Genesis the Lord said, let there be light, Jesus sheds light on the events to come. He is going away and leaving them there. While he is away, he is preparing for when he returns to take them to where he has gone. Now this does not say rapture, but there is a clear message that Jesus is returning, and he will take those who love him back to the Father to be with him. This is one reference in scripture where this topic is mentioned by Jesus Christ himself and recorded by the Apostle John. The gospel of John is believed to have been written around 85-90 A.D. This is a little before the 1800s.
Now I know, you are thinking that is a nice passage, but it does not really say that we will be taken to the skies. It just says that Jesus is coming back, and he will take us with him. Now, before we move further. Even if there were no other verse that spoke of this subject in scripture, I would still be excited. You see this does say, that Jesus is returning! It does say, he is preparing a place for us! It does say that he will receive us to himself! In other passages concerning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ it says that he will come in clouds of glory. It also says that he will return in the same manner that he left. Well, when he left, he arose into the clouds. We even have an event from the Old Testament where God raptured a prophet. The passage is 2 Kings 2:1. In this passage the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind. See then that the rapture event is not a new thing for God.
We can go even further back to Genesis 5:24. Here there is another man, named Enoch, who loved God and was obedient. This verse tells us that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Wow! God took Enoch! It does not say that Enoch died. It says that “he was not”. He disappeared; God took him. See God’s method of rapture is not limited to sweeping us up into the clouds. He does not even need to descend to the earth to do it! He is God and he is amazing!
Let us now move to another Apostle. This is what the Apostle Paul has to say concerning this topic in his first letter to the church at Corinth dated approximately A.D. 55.
“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:49-57)
In this chapter Paul makes several contrasts and comparisons to what being a carnal man and a spiritual man in Christ means, and the changes that occur within us and to us. In this portion he tells us that corruptible things cannot enter into heaven; instead we need a heavenly body. We need one that is no longer corrupted by the things of this world. The things of this world are unclean, sinful, and full of death. God is life. He is a living God; of the living in Jesus Christ. Our current bodies of flesh and blood cannot join him. Paul tell us that God is somehow able to overcome this obstacle for us. Paul calls it a mystery. God is going to give us a new body. This new body will not die, it is not corrupted by sin. Paul says that this transformation will happen instantly, at the sound of the last trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise from the grave and be incorruptible. Then those of us who believe, that are still alive will be caught up also. We will all be changed, and death will have no hold on us. Jesus Christ has defeated death for us. This is amazing news!
So far we can see in just these few passages that:

• We don’t need to worry
• Jesus ascended into heaven and is returning
• Jesus has prepared a place for us
• Jesus is going to raise us up to be immortal and incorruptible

I still hear the nay Sayers out there; “I still don’t see where the word rapture can come from”. Well let us continue to seek out what the Apostle to the Gentiles says. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers concerning the rapture because some of them had been taught, by a false teacher, that the believers who had already died would miss the rapture. This false doctrine was causing many believers to lose heart, especially those who had a loved one who had already died. They wondered if they would see them again, or if they had believed in vain.
Paul wrote in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
First Paul writes that they do not need to be worried about the fate of the fellow loved ones who have believed in Christ and have already died. They did not miss the rapture. We have a hope that non-believers do not have. We that believe that Jesus died and rose again, including those in the grave right now, the Lord will bring them to his kingdom, when he comes for everyone else. He even, says that the Lord, himself, will come down and raise them from the dead. They will be raised up before he receives those who believe on him and are alive. Paul tells us that “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up”. This “caught up” is our primary concern in this text. This is where the rapture doctrine is pointed to directly. The word rapture comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning rapid. It is used as rapiemur, which means “we shall be caught up” (Ladd, 1978) This Latin word is used in translation of the Greek harpazo, meaning snatch away, or seize. I think that we can see that the word rapture and the doctrine are well rooted in scripture, and the source manuscripts. These manuscripts also easily out-date the dream of a woman from the 1800s and the supposed false doctrine of two unnamed preachers.
Here for further study:

• Luke 17:34-37 – I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two [women] shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together.
• Revelation 3:10 – Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
• Matthew 24:29-31 – Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Here I echo the same concern that Paul said, “I would not have you to be ignorant”. I implore you to search the scriptures for yourself, and to not take the word of any man over what God himself has spoken. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Don’t let yourself be taken by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Bibliography
Ladd, G. E. (1978). The Last Things, An Eschatology for Laymen. Grand Rapids : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. .
Murray, P. D. (2019, July 13). Satan’s Message – Im Going To Fly You Away. Retrieved May 11, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8go4ClW2bk

 

The Message, Not the Messenger

The Message Not the Messenger: Acts 26:16-18

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We often feel we are inadequate or lack enough training or knowledge to share the gospel.  Some of us think we don’t have the ability to be a great orator. We get tongue tied, or speak to softly, or stutter. Some of us are held back from the shame of our past. We wonder how could we ever confront someone on what is right or wrong with the things we have done in our past?  Maybe its that we are not the right color, or the right age, or that we are just a new Christian. Insecurities creep in from every direction.  Our insecurities help is to make millions of excuses why “someone else” should tell people about Jesus and not us.

We compare ourselves to Billy Graham, or some other big named evangelist and tell ourselves that I could never be that useful to God.  We may even compare ourselves to the Apostles and say man, I wish I could be like Luke and write amazing things about Jesus and the church.  We may tell ourselves, I could never be like Paul and plant churches everywhere I go.  To often we look at our own limitations and not what God can do; if we were to just be obedient.

Peter was just an average guy  when he was called by Jesus.  He was a fisherman who made a living by the sweat of his brow and the sores on his hands. Peter denied Christ when he needed him most.  Peter was a man of shame. He had to overcome this in love of Jesus Christ. Paul murdered Christians and suffered beatings, sicknesses, and ridicule.  Paul had to be encouraged in his ministry by other believers, and even had to have a personal physician.  Paul had to overcome all of this in the love of Jesus Christ.  Both men, and even Luke had their failings from the past to look beyond.  They had to keep looking forward to the day of redemption, and to be faithful to the commandment from Jesus that they had received.  The commandment to go and tell.  We however continue to look at our failures and let them assure us that we are unworthy to carry such a message.

The truth is, we are unworthy to carry such a message.  However; we are also uniquely qualified to carry the message of hope.  We to must overcome our past by the love of Jesus Christ. You see we did not earn the privilege to speak on his name.  We received a task that is a privilege to perform for him.  We know our dreadful past with all of the horrific things we have done against God and others.  But we are not the only ones who know.  Those who God sends us to, they know it also.  Our friends and family, wives, siblings, children, parents, they all know who we used to be.  More importantly, we know who we used to be. But we have something to share with them.

What we share with them is hope.  We share with them Jesus and a new life that is free from the past.  We show them by our lives that they do not have to be the same way they are.  There is a way to live without shame, addiction and rejection.  None of us started out the way we ended up.  We all wanted to be something better than what we became.  We show them how Jesus can make us free to live life in a better way than we ever dreamed.  We can have redemption, hope, joy, and love!  We can be loved!  We can love others too! The gospel of Jesus Christ is that and so much more.  But, we hide this important message from them because of our insecurities.  We forget that it is not us, but the Spirit of the Living God who resides in us that gives us the ability to bear witness of the things he has done for us, for them.

We don’t see that before Billy Graham was a world renowned evangelist and clergy to the Office of the President of the United States, he was just another guy.  He gave his life to Christ at the age of 16.  He was a farmer’s son.  His first ministry was to lead prayer meetings in a trailer park.  He applied to be an Army Chaplain and was denied do to a lack of formal experience.  He then became a Pastor of a small Baptist church.  He began to host a weekly radio program.  Billy Graham looked for opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eventually he became the first full time organizer of Youth for Christ.  This is what God used to open doors all across the world for many generations.  Billy Graham was of humble beginnings, without experience, and largely unlearned, and often felt inadequate to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ. But he was obedient.  It is God who made Billy Graham, Paul, Peter, Luke, and all the other historic men and women of God who they are today.

In Acts 26 we get a look at Paul, or Saul at this time.  It is strange, but; when we consider who would have been the first martyrs of the church we would assume that it would be one of the twelve apostles.  You know the guys who were right there, and saw it all go down.  I could see Peter volunteering himself to go first.  After all, he did tell Jesus that he would go with him unto death!  However; this is not the case.  Instead, the first martyr recorded was a young man.  This youth was named Stephen.  Stephen was one of the deacons of the church.  He tended to the widows, orphans, and other needs of the church and it’s members.  Like other early followers, he was not restricted to just administrative tasks, but was active in spreading the gospel himself.  This is something that we should all learn.  Even though he was a deacon, he understood that his work for the gospel of Jesus did not end there.  He didn’t say, “I’m a deacon, not a preacher”.  In fact, if you study the book of acts you will see that all of the first deacons were also preachers, and evangelists.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what seminary or special training that Stephen went though, or how powerful of a speaker he was.  It does not tell us that Stephen was anything exceptional.  With the exception of this, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” (Acts 6:8)  Stephen was full of faith!  That is it.  Because Stephen was full of faith, God did great wonders and miracles through Stephen.  So this humble young man who believed enough to share his faith soon got into trouble with the local religious groups.

Stephen was brought up on charges of blasphemy for proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  Stephen was stoned to death for his testimony of Jesus.  Now a man named Saul, was one of those present and took pleasure at the stoning of Stephen.  This Saul, would become known as Paul, the same one who would latter change the world with the doctrine of salvation by grace, hated believers in Jesus Christ.  Saul even went further and received authorization to persecute Christians throughout the Providences of Asia.  This meant he had permission to go from town to town and arrest, beat, and stone to death anyone who he witnessed or was witnessed to him, as a Christian.

Paul himself testifies of his own evil deeds that he did.  He tells King Agrippa that he threw many “followers of the way” (Christians) into prison and saw to it that they were executed. Paul himself would testify against them in courts. He said that he often punished them in the synagogues.  He would back them into a corner with his knowledge of scripture and his intellect and force them to commit blasphemy in front of the Pharisees so that they would be stoned to death. When the persecuted fled Jerusalem, then Paul proceeded to hunt them down throughout Asia.  Now, I ask you.  What have you done that is shameful?  What has disqualified you from sharing the gospel?  How many innocent lives have you taken?  How many followers of Jesus Christ have you condemned to death?

OK, so this Saul was on a hunting trip to catch more followers of the Way. Then while Paul is riding along and anticipating his trophies to be won, suddenly, he runs right smack dab into Jesus.  Jesus blinds Saul with his glory and then confronts him on his sin.  Saul, like you and I, repented.  Saul saw the error of his ways, his foolish pride and arrogance, his sins against God himself.  His errors in the past swept before his heart and his mind’s eye.  Saul was immediately sorrowful and his shame was displayed before him.  He suddenly understood how shameful he was.  He was not the righteous soldier of God he had imagined in his vanity.  Instead he was a murderer of the ones that truly loved God.  Saul had worked his whole life and studied hard to be pleasing to God, and yet he had not seen the light.  He was lost, more than any other man. He also knew that his actions, above of all other men’s, could not be forgiven.  The pride that had blinded him, was now gone.  Saul was broken.

Then something happened.  Jesus forgave Paul.  He forgave him of everything, with nothing left out to hold over his life.  Just like Jesus forgave you and I.  But that would not be the only thing that Jesus did for Saul.  Jesus sent Saul on mission. Acts 26:16-18 tells of about this, “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Paul was to rise to his feet, but to never think to highly of himself again.  Paul’s humility would be the strength that God would use to spread his gospel of grace by faith.  Jesus told Paul, “rise and stand upon thy feet.”  Jesus told him to stand up, I have a job for you.  Jesus confronted Paul of his sin.  Once Paul confessed and repented, Jesus stood him up and gave him purpose.  The Lord gave Paul a new life and a new purpose, in and for Jesus Christ.  Now that Paul had been delivered, he was not to return to his old life.  Paul would no long serve his own purposes.  Paul, now that he was redeemed was now a servant of the Lord who had redeemed him.

Paul’s new purpose was to go where the Lord directed and “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

How did Paul start out this mission?  He was humble.  He was blind.  He was dependent upon those around him.  He was led about by the hand. He had to wait on the Lord.  When Paul first started preaching, no one listened to him.  His past immediately came up, and people did not trust him.  They didn’t believe in his conversion.  Then when they did start listening they tried to kill him.  Does this sound familiar?  When you first believed in Christ, were you not treated in such a way?  Did friends and family disbelieve the sincerity of your conversion?  Did they say things like, “Awe you just on a Jesus kick!” Afterward, they would then grow tired of you talking about Jesus and even begin to be confrontational, or avoiding you.  See these same things you go through, even the great Apostle Paul went through.  All of these feelings of inadequacy.  Things that encourage you to just crawl in a hole and not mention the name of the one who redeemed you.  They are real things the enemy uses to silence us.

See we are all the same.  We are all just servants, none of us is better or more important than the other. We all need to be obedient and follow the calling of Christ.  This mission that Jesus gave Saul, it the same one he gave the other disciples.  It is the same one he gives us as new disciples.  This is part of our inheritance.  We have the great privilege to speak life to people in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ.  Let us then do like Saul, who became known as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Let us get up and put our old lives behind us.  Live the life and purpose that Jesus has now given to us.  Go on mission to tell others about what God has done for you.  How he has delivered YOU from death and shame into love and life in Jesus Christ.  Have we forgotten that the Lord told the Pharisees, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”   We are who the Lord chose to reveal himself to; those who are sick, and feeble, those who are in need.  He did not come to call the religious, but those who are lost and need redemption.  He did not call the perfect, but those who are broken and distraught.  Those who need him are the ones he came to deliver.

We who have believed have now been made anew.  Like a new garment that is clean and nicely pressed we have a new life.  The Spirit of God has come to indwell this new wineskin, not the old. Jesus had laid his hands upon us and healed us from our infirmities.  Jesus removed the shackles of death and the bondage of sin (addictions) that once crippled us.  He has raised us up to be glorified in him, to him, and for him.  We like Saul have been redeemed, bought, for his purposes.  It is by faith that we have been made whole.  Faith that God exists. Faith that Jesus if the Son of God.  Faith that Jesus dies and was buried for our sin.  Faith that we will be resurrected just as he resurrected.  Faith that he will return to establish his kingdom here on earth and destroy his enemies. Faith that we are delivered to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is our hope in this life.  We have this newness of life in Christ.  Death died with the old man we used to be.  Now we have a new life in Jesus Christ.  This new life is free from sin, shame, and death.  We have nothing to fear in this life and can then love as Christ has love us.  There is nothing that anyone can hold against this new creature in Christ that we have become.  Paul told Timothy, “let no man despise they youth”. Let no man despise you’re youth, in age or spiritual maturity, for many elders in the church have gone to sleep spiritually.

So again let us, open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among we which are sanctified by faith that is in us concerning Jesus Christ.

Luke 8:22-25 He’s Just Asleep in the Boat.

Luke 8:22-25 He’s Just Asleep in the Boat.

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Did you ever wonder what it means to meditate on the Word day and night?  It means that we should constantly be studying the scriptures and contemplating what God is trying to tell us.  We should discuss them with the Lord, with our own hearts, and with one another.  We should be in a manner of constant encouragement and refinement of our thoughts and attitudes concerning life, our families, communities, and God himself.  During this time of uncertainty we can take a look at an event in scripture that is recorded in Luke chapter 8 and see how we can chew up this passage, digest it, and make it part of our life.

luke 8

Jesus Calms a Storm

22  Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 23  But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 24  And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25  And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. (Luke 8:22-25)

The term certain day shows us that this was an actual event that took place.  The event has a particular time, place, and people involved.  For the writer and those involved, it is a matter of history and fact.  They lived this event.  The things that unfold in this short story are real and binding on the hearts of the witnesses, this is their account as relayed to Luke.  The events are further corroborated by Matthew in his gospel account in Matthew 8:23-27.  So here we have two witnesses of this account in writing.  This is very important.  You see in Deuteronomy 17:6 it tells us, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” (Deuteronomy 17:6) You see here that all it takes to sentence a man to death according to Hebrew law is for two witnesses to bring a credible witness against the accused.  If this is what is required to condemn a man to death then it is enough to validate this event.

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So we see that the disciples and Jesus were on passage on a boat and when Jesus went to sleep, a violent storm came.  The wind was howling, the boat was taking on water, these men felt that their lives were in danger from forces they could not control.  Take note, these were not inexperienced Saturday afternoon boaters.  Most of these men were fishermen.  These men were of strong hand and backs, they had been in a storm or two in their years of fishing.  If you have ever met a sailor, they often pride themselves on the storms they have endured on the seas.  However; this was not the same kind of storm that these men had endured before.  This storm frightened them to the point of fearing death.  It was pretty easy for them to see that the boat would likely be crushed in the waves, the wind and water was overtaking the boat.  They had no control over their circumstances.  All of their lives were passing before their eyes.  Wives lips that would never be kissed again, children that would never be played with again.  The sunrises they would miss.  Songs that they would never sing again.  As they looked over their possessions, their homes, their clothes, money, land, and more they began realize how little value those things actually had.  They could see that they had focused their whole lives on things that really didn’t matter.  Their children, their spouses, their families, and their God are the things that mattered.  Now they could see that each of them alone would have to face God and each give an account for their lives and sins.  “Oh my, did I confess all my sins during the atonement?”  “Did God actually forgive me?”  “If only I had a Rabbi here now!”…. “Wait… I do!”  Then they turn their eyes toward Jesus.

Jesus is sleeping.  In all of this storming wind, spraying of water, beating of the waves, screaming of the men, Jesus is steadfast asleep.  He is in a place of safety and comfort.  Peacefully like a baby he is there sleeping, probably laying in a puddle of water, soaked from head to toe, but asleep none the less.  Lenny LeBlanc released a song a few decades ago that I use to love listening to.  The name of the song was Asleep in the Boat.  It talks about a promise God made, and that he is always there, just as Jesus was here with his disciples.  Just like when we are in the storm, He is here for us.  I often wonder what Jesus was dreaming about.  I wonder if this scripture from Isaiah 49:15-16 is what he was thinking of, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me”. 

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Jesus could have been dreaming of his home that he left behind, or how much he missed being with the Father.  He could have been dreaming that the swaying of the boat in the waves was him being rocked in the arms of his loving Father.  We could spend all day just contemplating this little portion of the scripture.  Something to contemplate.  Jesus might not have been asleep at all.  He may have been there just listening and observing with his eyes closed.  Waiting for just one of them to say, you know if Jesus is not worried, then neither am I.  He could have been waiting for them to just ask for him to help.  He could have been waiting to see if they had learned anything in how to pray.  After all they did already ask him how to pray, and he gave a line-by-line example of how one should pray.  He had already taught them on many things concerning faith and waiting on the Lord. He could have been testing his disciples to see how they were developing.  I wonder sometimes if I could pass such a test.  Looking death right in the face, would I have enough faith to just lay down and sleep, trusting in the Lord for whatever his will was. There is allot to contemplate concerning God, and ourselves in this passage. One thing for sure, the disciples did not care that he was sleeping peacefully.  They woke him up.

The fear and anxiety the disciples were experiencing was relayed in their choice of words; “Master, we perish”.  They were saying that they just knew they were all dead men, including Jesus.  There plea to Jesus is not one of faith that he can deliver them.  It is a last ditch effort that maybe the preacher can pray for us and God might hear him and just maybe he will save us.  They had no idea that this is the real-to-life, Son of God that they have just awoken and revealed their total lack of faith to.  Now something to once again stop and meditate on.  How often do we do this? How often do we look at the circumstance and look at God and assume he was asleep.  Do we actually believe that he has our best interests in mind?  What if his will is different than ours?  Do we have faith to accept that will, knowing that even though we cannot understand it, that he is doing what is best for us and keeping us in his plan?  That my fellow believer is steadfast faith.  This is nothing that Jesus didn’t do for us.  He led by example.

In the Garden the night before his execution when Jesus prayed the scripture uses phrases like, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death”…”he went forward an little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: never the less not what I will, but what thou wilt”.  See Jesus did exactly what we are expected to do.  Pray for our need, but submit to the will of the Father.  Know that what he is asking us to do is needful and necessary.  If Jesus would not have suffered for us, then we would not know the Father.  If you do not have times of suffering, someone else who may have come to know Jesus by the example of your faith, might die in their sins.  We have to trust in his will, that is faith.  Standing in that hope and knowledge of the love of God towards you is exercising that faith.  So then the disciples awoke Jesus in some vague hope that he just might be close enough to God to do something.

Well it turns out that Jesus has some authority that the disciples were not aware of.  Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. When the disciples had finally exhausted themselves and all of their resources and were still hopeless in their situation, they called on Jesus.  Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and the waters and the wind and the waters ceased… and there was a calm.  This says “a” calm.  It was dead silence.  No one had ever seen the winds and raging seas obey a man.  The closes things to this was the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan River.  I imagine that Peter and the rest of them were thinking the same thing.  Holy MOSES Batman!  One thing is for sure, there fear of the things of nature turned into the fear of God.  Things that no man could control were controlled by the words spoken by Jesus.  “In the beginning was the Word”… “Then God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”… “I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop”… my there is a lot to meditate on in this little section of scripture.  You see they did not know that the very God who created the oceans, and established their boundaries was in the boat with them.  Even when he rebuked the waves, they still did not fully understand.  That is the way we are.  We believe that the Lord has saved us and that he still delivers us out of our troubles, yet we still doubt him and need constant reassurances from him.  We often fail to trust him, even though we know that he is right there in the boat with us.  We confess that he has all authority, then we act like we are hopeless and being tossed about the seas, instead of being rocked to sleep in his loving arms.

Jesus asked them, “Where is your faith?”  That translated into “Where is your faith?”  We Jesus in all fairness we don’t know of when you promised to deliver us from a storm!  Really?  Let us go to Psalms.  “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:29-31)  Oh, you mean that?  Just because it is so specific and says exactly what happened in this event, somehow that applies.  Yes, you see to meditate on the scriptures is to learn of the Lord, and ALL of his ways.  We are to write his words upon our hearts, on our foreheads, on our street corners, and on our door posts. We are to tell them to our children, sing of them in our gatherings, teach them in our schools, and most of all encourage one another in their meanings.  God loves us so much he wrote a whole 66 volume set of books for us to learn about him, his provisions, and his love for us.  Meditate on that.

1 Thessalonians 5 Encourage Ye One Another

1 Thessalonians 5 Encourage Ye One Another

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Paul tells the Christians in Thessalonica, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”  We can learn something from this simple advice given by the Apostle to the Gentiles.  The wherefore concerns what he has just spoke about. What has he just spoke about?

Well in the previous chapters he talked about how we should be living out our daily lives as believers in Christ Jesus.  In chapter one he commended the faithful witness of the Christians in Thessalonica. He called them examples of righteousness to Macedonia and Achaia.  He praised them for their fervent spreading of the gospel throughout the region.  He recognized the changes in their lives, turning from idols to believing on the Lord’s deliverance of them from the wrath to come.  In the second chapter; Paul reinforces the witness that thy have learned by example from him and his party and how they love the hearts of the Thessalonians and desire to be with them again.  Paul expresses his love for them and their love of him and Christ in him.  He encourages them and say that they share the same hope, “For what is out hope, our joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (v.19)

In the fourth chapter Paul tells them as you have learned from us how to walk in faith, continue in this so that you will increase the pleasure you give to God in your love and obedience.  He reminds them that walking in the spirit is walking in sanctification.  Those who are called of God are not called to uncleanness, but to holiness.  We who love God cannot continue in the sins that we used to walk in.  We should have a different attitude.  We should actually despise our old lifestyle, wanting nothing to do with it.  Instead we should seek to become more knowledgeable about the Lord, his Kingdom, and his will. Then he answers some questions about the rapture and the resurrection.  This is important to the advice his gives us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

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We do not have to fear the times that we live in.  All of these things are given to us as a sign.  A sign that the Lord’s return is imminent. Just as persecutions were on the rise in ancient Rome against followers of the Way so are the prevalent today.  Today we have another 100 year event.  It seems the past few years we have had a 100 year event, of some sort, every year.  This 100 year event for 2020 is the pandemic; COVID-19.  This event has attacked every part of society in every part of the globe and will undoubtedly change the way many things are done in the future.  The way we interact with one another will be different.  The way that foreign government interact and support one another.  Even the sovereignty of nations will be changed.  Individual freedoms will be forever effected.  Powers of local, state, and federal governments will be increased.  Universality of mankind will grow in acceptance, doing away with many boundaries we previously had.

This virus is already affecting all of those things and more.   We are losing family members.  Some are questioning God.  Some are flat out angry with God, and have chosen to reject him.  Others have renewed their faith.  Some who have stopped praying and seeking God decades ago are now seeking him out.  This same dynamic plays out in the family circle.  Many families are being drawn together.  Forgiving one another for offences long forgotten.  Parent spending time with their children.  Children once starved for attention from their parents are now being filled up with love.  However; with these things we see unfolding.  The changes in the governments, religious acceptance, the move toward universal-ism and far more set the stage for the events which must unfold.  With these things, and the very upfront reality of death.  Paul tells the Thessalonians, and us to comfort ourselves and one another.

We know the times and the seasons in which we live.  This have been told to us before.  Jesus himself told us of the signs that would show as his return grew closer.  He told us those things so that we could take comfort in them.  When we see these things happen, we know that he already told us and that it is part of his plan.  These things have to take place in order to save as many as possible and to spare them from the wrath to come.

For us, the follower of the Way, we have supreme knowledge and comfort.  We know, that everyone has an appointment with death.  As far as death is concerned, we know that we are just passing through this world.  We are not to cling to things of this world.  We know that the things of this world are temporal.  That means that everything of this physical world fades away, it is temporary.  Things rust, mold, decay, turn to dust, and even dust disappears eventually.  Scripture says that the life of a man is like a vapor.  It is here one moment and then gone.  For us who believe in Christ, we have a more complete knowledge in knowing these things.  We know that there is life after death.

We know that we do not fade away or become a part of the cosmos and loose who we were.  Instead, we have a new life.  We know or true life is spiritual, not the flesh.  We know that God has made a way in Jesus Christ for us to live this eternal life in his presence without fear, without death.  We know that our sorrow will be taken away, and that God himself will wipe away our tears. We can believe this because Jesus Christ not only died for our sins, but he conquered death and arose from the dead.  He is alive, and because he is alive, we who believe have been grafted into his life eternal.

This guidance, given by the Spirit through, Paul says that we should take comfort in what he has just said, and as we take comfort, we are to encourage one another.  What he just said is that Christ is eternal.  Christ is returning.  We know this because of the signs all around us. We then walk in the light of Christ. So we can take comfort in these things that are unfolding around us. This comforting is a two-fold process.

 

We take comfort in the Lord and then this gives us the ability to comfort others. What is our comfort?  We know that we dwell in him.  We are his children.  1 John 4 says that we who know God know that God loves us; for God is love.  He manifested this love in Jesus Christ; that we might live through him.  We are able to love one another because the love of God is in us. We also know that his Spirit is in us because without the Spirit, no man can confess Christ.  With this comfort in our hearts we know that God loves us and that he is faithful.  We can then encourage one another in these odd days of fear, sickness, and death.

We can comfort one another by doing what we are called to do.  Remember Paul complemented the Thessalonians in walking upright before man and the Lord. This example of godliness they lived encouraging him and the whole region about Thessaloniki.  People were being saved and believers were being encouraged by the life that they lived.  Lives of holiness and dedication to Jesus Christ.

We see that walking in the Spirit through living a sanctified life encourages others around us. We can give hope to others in the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We can teach one another of the faithfulness of God in his Word and in the testimony of our own lives in him.  We can also pray for one another.  Pray without whole hearts.  Pray aloud.  Pray boldly.   Pray in faith and in hope.  The Lord says that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much (it means a whole lot- have great influence).  Guess what, you who have believe on the name of Jesus, you have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus.

Psalm 34 – He Delivers from All Fear

Psalm 34 – He Delivers from All Fear

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This Psalm is such an amazing song of relief and hope.  It is credited as a psalm of David.  Many believe that it is written when David and his men were delivered from Achish the king of Gath in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.  In this situation that David found himself in; David was on the run from King Saul.  He ran to the Gath.  Why he would do this?  I am not sure.  Gath is where Goliath was from.  If you recall when David was still a boy, he killed Goliath from Gath when King Saul confronted the intruding Philistine armies.  In this story in 1st Samuel, David had went to the Philistines for a place to hide.  When David understood that they Philistines knew who he was he fear they would kill him and his men, so he acted like he was insane.  The king wanted nothing to do with him and kicked him out.

Thus David saw this as protection from the Lord, and from this we get this Psalm.  But really this Psalm comes from a culmination of a life that has been delivered over and over by the Lord God.  God had made David victorious over a lion, a bear, and over the giant Goliath when David was just a youth.  Then the Lord brought David into the palace of the king.  The Lord protected David through many battles and gave him great fame and glory.  When King Saul became jealous of David the Lord protected David from the entrapment of the king.  He protected him, and fed him while he evaded Saul.  Then here God protected David from his own foolishness and delivered him from his enemies.

David opens this Psalm like so many others.  He starts by declaring that he has chosen to praise the Lord, and that he will continue in such a manner.  David says that he will continue to boast on the Lord.  David is not being quiet.  He is proud of God who had delivered him from death.  David knows by the past events that God is truly with him.  He can have confidence that when he proclaims the name of the Lord, he will not be ashamed for doing it.  The Lord is his protector.  David calls for others who believe on the Lord to magnify the name of the Lord. This is a calling for others to expand upon the name of the Lord wherever they are, and in whatever situation they find themselves in.  David calls others who believe on the Lord to give a loud witness, and glorify God.

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Then David testifies on the faithfulness of God towards those that love him.  He says, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (v.4)  What a great thing it is to remember the things the Lord has done for us and to give thanks.  So much better is it for us to give open praise to the Lord for his deliverances.  David said that he “sought the Lord and he heard me”.  That would indicate that the Lord was already listening for David’s cry for help.  What an awesome God we love.  He loves us so much the when we are in trouble, he is standing by for us to call out to him.  He waits to hear us seeking him.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6).

What a great reassurance.  The Lord tells us in his scripture to seek him while he may be found.  He has a sense of urgency.  The Lord is expectant of you calling to him in your time of need.  Isn’t that awesome?  David then tells us that those who call on the name of the Lord; they were lightened and were not ashamed.  They were relieved and blessed by the presence of the Lord and were not let down. (v.5) The poor cry and the Lord hears them and saves them out of their troubles.  (v.6)  David even goes further and tell us that the angel of the Lord makes his camp around, and delivers those who fear the Lord; and he fulfills their needs. (v.7)

Who are those who fear the Lord?  Those who listen to instruction (v.11); those who keep their tongue from evil; those who seek peace, and to do good.  It is these whose the Lords ears are open to, to hear their cry.  (v.16) We are blessed who love the Lord and who seek to do what is right in his eyes.  “Evil shall slay the wicked and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate” (V.20)  The redemption of the soul of the righteous is a promise made by God and fulfilled in the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Since he is God, nothing can separate us from his love.  Not failure, death, or even an illness like the Corona Virus.  We too can sing out to the Lord without being ashamed.  We have no need of fear.  The Lord God who has delivered us in the past will deliver us again.  We are not alone.  He is waiting for you to cry to him.  He is waiting for you to seek him.  He is waiting to hear you declare your faith in him, that he is faithful, that he is love, that he loves you also.  Make your boast in the Lord and call on others to be so proud, not of themselves, but in the Lord who delivers them.  Give praise to the Most High!  Give praise to the God who heals!  Give praise to the God who encamps his angle about you, to keep watch over you, and to deliver you!  Give praise to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Way of Christ Ministries
Fishers of Men

Genesis 15:1 Fear Not

Genesis 15:1 Fear Not

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After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram:  I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

After these things is referring to the previous chapter where a great war had happened between many powerful kings.  In the process Abram’s cousin Lot was taken captive.  This spurred Abram to get involved.  He rallied an army and went an defeated the evil king and set the captives free.  When the King of Sodom and the other kings came to pay tribute to Abram, Abram gave glory to God, and took no rewards from the kings for himself, because it was God who delivered the enemy to Abram.

God now reaffirms Abram.  I know, why should Abram have to worry after such a great victory and the adulation of the surrounding kingdoms?  Well this undoubtedly would make the surrounding kings a bit cautious of Abram and to possibility that if Abram so decided he might take their kingdoms.  After all by this time God promised to Abram, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3) I don’t know about you, but if God told me those things, I would probably tell others about it.  That is some pretty exciting news.

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No matter is the other kings knew why Abram had journeyed so far away from home, it was easy to see that he was a great leader of men and soldiers.  He had a clear head for tactics, he was unafraid, and people from all over the region would now look to him for safety.  You can see how a king would want him for an ally or would see him as a possible enemy to their own heads.

So God reassures Abram.  “I am thy shield”.  God lets Abram know that he is his protector.  It is more than just that.  The shield for a warrior is the brunt of the battle.  It is close at hand.  The shield absorbs impact, protects from missiles and other unforeseen dangers.  Often a shield was worn on the back and allowed for protection from an attack from the rear, and allowed the warrior to concentrate on what was in front of him.

I think this is very important.  God is not telling Abram that there will not be trials, or unforeseen dangers ahead.  God is not telling Abram that he is going to do for Abram what Abram is called to do.  Instead God is telling him to “Fear not”, because he is there with him in the battle, and he will protect him in his fight.  Abram is expected to stand, fight, and have faith in the LORD.

God further encourages Abram when he says that he (the LORD) is Abram’s “exceeding great reward”. Abram can have faith in God to fulfill his promise.  Abram can have confidence in God to stand by him, and see him through all of his afflictions.  Even more important is the expectation of God towards Abram.  Abram is encouraged that he will see the faithfulness of God in his life, and will be greatly rewarded for walking in faith.  Walking in faith is something that Abram had done from the first time the LORD called him.  If we take a study of Abram’s life, we will see that every success Abram had in his life is when he walked in faith.  God was true to this promise to Abram.  It is funny, because when most of us study the life of Abram, and the Promises of Abraham, this promise is often overlooked.  This one little promise is the picture of faith in action and the expectant results.

Fear not, is what God told Abram.  Fear not, I am your protector when harm is upon you.  I am your protector when you see the danger, and when you do not see the danger.   I am a rewarded of those who love me.  Great is that reward for those who have faith in me to keep the promises I have made.  I tell you of one thing.  If you look at the New Testament and study the history of the saints, that some took ill.  Paul had to be nursed back to health, after getting so ill he almost perished.  Other saints in the New Testament and in missionary positions throughout history have fallen ill, and some have died after being exposed to diseases as they ministered for Christ.

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It distresses my heart to hear those who say, “I thought you had faith…”, as if faith is what is used to keep you well.  The faith we have is not to keep ourselves well.  If is not even to heal others.  Miracles and healing was not why Jesus came here and died, and rose again.  It is not the reason we are left here after we have believed on Christ.  Jesus came to save that which was lost and to disciple others to know God, and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is why we are here.  You want to be like Christ?  Then live for Christ, as Christ lived for his Father in Heaven.  Seek those who are lost, share the Gospel of Christ, and disciple others to do the same.  Fear not, the LORD is with you.  The LORD is your shield.  The LORD is your exceeding and great reward.  We are not immune to the tragedies of this world, but we are harbingers of the hope in the next.  Walk in the faith that the LORD has risen, and HE said that HE will raise us up!  We do not fear death, because our lives here are already forfeit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Jeremiah 33 Call Unto Me

Jeremiah 33 Call Unto Me
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In the 33rd chapter of Jeremiah the Lord gives reassurance to the prophet and reaffirms the Davidic covenant.  In this he says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (v.3)  and later the Lord states, “Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” (v.6).  This is such an awesome chapter of hope and reconciliation, and of the healing of the land and the people.  We can see the care that God has for his people.  He loves and cares, he is a shield and protector to his people.  He loves so much that he not only delivers, but he reals and restores.
This is the hope that we have.  That Jesus Christ came and died for us to pay the debt of death that we owe.  He was buried and took the keys to hell and death.  He then rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father.  Now he makes intercession for us as our advocate.  We who believe in him are no longer tied to this earth, or this body.  We have a great hope inside that gives us joy.  This hope is in the resurrection of life.  Even as Jesus was raised from the dead and received a glorified by, so shall we.
We are no longer trapped here in this existence. We, followers of Christ Jesus, have been given a new life.  This new life is one of the spirit.  We have been set free from the bonds of the flesh. We know that the few things we posses here in this world are worthless and will eventually rot, and decay. The things we look forward to are everlasting.  We now are pilgrims on our way to the promises of God, to be reconciled with him in Jesus Christ.  We will soon be glorified, although we do not yet fully understand what that entails, we will understand when we finally see him face to face.  This is the gift of God.  We have received unmerited favor from God as demonstrated in the grace he bestowed upon us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Death has no hold on us, no bind is there to keep us in the grave.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:6-11)
Look to Jesus, as the Lord says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee”.  Hope is right here waiting for you to call out!  Life is right here waiting for you to seek Him!  Love is right here waiting for you to open your heart!  Peace is right here waiting for you to rest within.  There is no fear in Love.  You do not need to fear the Lord.  He has demonstrated his love towards us.

The Need of God-fearing Men

The Need of God-Fearing Men

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In Pasadena Texas there used to be a huge Baptist Church on Vista Blvd.  This is the church that I made my public confession of faith in.  The attendance there was probably close to 200 on a Sunday morning, and at least half of that on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services.  Later I moved to the state of Washington and attended a Baptist church in Roy.  This little country church was packed every service, and even had a radio tower that they used to broadcast their services our over the radio station.  A few year later I moved back to Texas and wound up briefly attending several churches that also had high attendance and great outreaches and ties into the surrounding communities.  In between these churches, I attended several other churches, as I tended to move quite a bit.  I have also had the opportunity to preach at several different churches of various sizes.  In looking back over these churches I could see something that seems insignificant to most, but stands out to me.  There was a difference in the churches that were growing and involved in the community and those who were dying, or at least in peaceful slumber.  The churches that had a fervent men’s ministry were the ones that were growing.

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When we look at what makes a church not only survive, but to thrive in an area, we can look at a lot of different factors.  Many studies go into looking at the local demographics of the area.  What is the income level?  What is the major ethnic population?  What is the major health or poverty driven issue?  What is the current and projected economic climate? Are jobs on the increase or the decrease?  How many children per home?  How many single mother homes are in the populace?   All of these are good questions, and can help to develop outreach opportunities and meet the needs of the people surrounding the church.  However; this information does little to spur the motivation of the church to do anything. We often look at aging churches and try to find ways to get youth programs off the ground.  The idea is that without youth in the church, the church will silently die of old age.  This is true in more than one way.  But what I am speaking of is something more fundamental.  We need men in the church to have a heart for, and to be, active in sharing the Gospel of Christ.

I heard a story one time concerning Charles Spurgeon and his boiler room.  The story goes that some college students came to see Charles Spurgeon preach.  They had arrived early and as they waited, a man from the church offered to give them a tour.  The guide took them into one room, referred to as the “heating plant”.  In this room were an estimated 700 saints praying.  The guide, who turned out to be Charles Spurgeon himself, explained that the secret to his success is not him at all.  Mr. Spurgeon explained that the power of the Holy Spirit was at work in answering the prayers of these saints that desire another soul would be saved.  The secret to these successful churches was the presence of an active, praying Men’s Ministry.

I want to make something clear.  Men’s Ministry is not an event driven service.  It is great to have the Men’s Ministry around to do all of the heavy lifting at an events like VBS or at a Kid’s Festival or a Fall Festival, however; that is not the only way the men should be of value in the church ministry.  They should be intimately involved in every aspect of the ministry of the local church and their families.

Each of these churches I attended that were growing had an active men’s ministry that prayed before, during, and after every service.  They arrived hours ahead of time, and remained as long as needed.  They painted, moved furniture, worked the plumbing, cut the grass and did many other things.  In fact, in the church in Roy, Washington we all met one Saturday morning and worked all day spreading truckloads of rocks around to make a new parking lot and did other landscaping items.  We were there from before the sun came up, until the sun went down.  The ladies brought us food and water as we worked. In all of these churched, men were subject to the Spirit of God and had a desire to see one more soul saved.  Men are the leaders in the church.  When I was in the Army, I learned that Leaders lead by example, and from the front, not the rear.  A leader does not sit in an office and dictate to others what needs to be done.  A leader teaches, demonstrates, and then supervises what needs to be accomplished.  A leader takes personal responsibility in the accomplishment of the mission. This is what an effective Men’s Ministry does.

These men, of the Men’s Ministry, lead by active service.  John 13:12-15 says, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”   This shows us how important this principle of leadership in the church is to Christ.  He himself made a point to ensure the disciples understood that in order to be a leader in the kingdom they must lead in service of the kingdom.  We forget that Jesus actively disciple all of these men.  I know what you’re saying, “Of course he did, that’s why we call them ’the disciples’”.  However, when we get a young man in the church we do not grow them into elders.  Instead we just hope that they will eventually figure it out, stay long enough, or the Lord will instruct them himself.  We forget that we, as men have been given a ministry towards other men. Men need to be disciple in the church.  Men need to be held to a standard and accountability.  These effective Men’s Ministries that I witness did not wait for some young or new male church member to approach them.  These men actively recruited all men in attendance at the church.  To be honest, most did not even care if you were a member of the church, they just wanted to get you active in spiritual growth.

I showed up at one of these churches early one morning.  While waiting for the rest of my family to arrive, an elder from the church came up and asked me my name.  I told him, and he smiled and said, “Well, Mr. Harvey, you’re just in time for the prayer meeting.”  Then he conducted me to an upstairs room where 12 other men were already praying.  The Pastor ducked his head in right before the door closed and told them some names to add to the list and disappeared.  Just like that I was in the Men’s Ministry.  I joined the church that service.  That was all it took.

close up of human hand
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Men’s ministry assists the church, as the men in the church are disciple to mature faith and understanding of the scriptures, their roles in the family, local church, the Kingdom of God, and community. The Men’s Ministry is the place where this close discipleship can occur through fellowship, study, accountability, counsel.  Most of all the Men’s Ministry servers through men fervently praying for their families, the church, community, and one another in the unity of group prayer meetings.  There is nothing the devil can defeat a church with that has a group of righteous men praying in earnest for the spreading of the gospel.

Men, the apostle James tell us in his epistle that we should confess our sins to one another.  We should also pray for one another.  Then James tell us that the powerful passionate prayer of a righteous man is very advantageous to the plea being made. (James 5:16)  Wow!  Now imagine how powerful a whole group of such men praying together in agreement before the Almighty God would be, especially with the Spirit of God praying right along beside them, in perfect communion with the God, the Creator of the universe.  Prayer then is the foundation of the men’s ministry.  However, it also includes mentorship in Christ.  Group study of the Word, and proper fellowship.

Fellowship in scripture is not just having coffee before services, or having a lunch after Sunday morning services.  I includes, but is not limited to Men’s Breakfasts, prayer groups, and bible studies.  The word for fellowship in the Greek has a deeper meaning.  It means to share on one’s self.  This means that we should be living in fellowship.  We should be involved in one another’s lives.  We should be giving towards one another.  We should be living with one another on a daily basis.  Giving time, money, food, encouragement, advice, and emotional and spiritual support to one another.  This is what happened in the early church, they gave sacrificially to one another, even to other churches.  Another thing to consider is spiritual leadership.

The man is to be a spiritual leader in the church and in the home.  1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong”.  This means that we should be like men of wisdom who have understanding.  We should act like mature men, not like children.  We should be strong in doctrine, not carried away by every spirit.  We should search the scriptures to test what we have been told and what we interpret concerning scripture.  We should be proficient and able to identify truth from error.  We, men, should be able to instruct others on the meaning of the scriptures.  We should have the backbone to stand up for what is good and right before God.  In this age of effeminized men we need men who can show themselves as men.  Men who set the example of righteousness, no matter what the cost.  Men who lead.  If a woman goes to church, she will undoubtable drag her children with her.  The husband may not go.  She has no authority to make him.  The children, especially the boys will have a divided desire.

The boys will develop a resentment with one parent or the other, and the church.  This is because, boys want to be like their fathers.  The hidden message in their heart will be on of, “If dad doesn’t have to go, why should I?”  In all honesty, that is a very good question. If the father does not put any emphasis on church attendance then their children will fail to realize the importance of the church, Sunday school, or even Christ himself.  However; if the father goes to church then everyone goes to church.   He has that authority.  The wife who wishes to please her husband will go.  The children who see that both parents are in attendance will desire to go, because the importance of the church is recognized by both parents.  More so if the father is actively involved in the church.  Then the children see that a relationship with Christ is of most importance.   The child who understands the importance of a relationship with Christ will tell their friends, and invite them to church to meet Christ.  A family who worships Christ together, grows in love towards one another, the church, and in Christ Jesus.

The Church does not need to change its culture to make themselves more attractive to society.  To much of that nonsense has already happened.  We don’t need men that are effeminate, unsure of scripture, afraid to confront evil, or not daring enough to step on a few toes for Christ. What the church needs is a culture where men are righteous, caring, and active in their families, the church and community.  Men that are bold in their profession of faith.  Men that stand up for what is right.  Men who confront evil no matter what the personal cost. Men who would rather step on a toe or two in love, rather than see someone waist their life and die and go to hell.

When God made mankind, he first made a male and put him to have dominion over all of his creation. When Jesus selected his apostles, out of thousands of men, women, and children; he chose men.  When the disciples gathered together to replace Judas Iscariot, out of over a hundred men and women gathered together, the Holy Spirit chose a man. When the first deacons for the church were chosen, the Holy Spirit of God chose men.  The first recorded martyr was also a man.  The Holy Spirit moves through righteous men.  I am not saying that the Holy Spirit does not use women also, however; there seems to be no shortage of active women in the church today.  That being said, this is why scripture encourages men saying, “if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (1 Timothy 3:1) You see the Lord wants men to desire to be of service.  He says that it is a good thing to have a desire to be of service; teaching, preaching, caring for the flock.  Then he gives some criteria.

I know what you are most likely thinking.  This is the criteria that he gives for pastors and deacons, however; shouldn’t all Christian men strive for these?  He says that a man of God should be blameless.  There should be no cause for accusation in his life.  He should have a clean witness both in and out of the church.  He should be the husband of one wife.  This man should have no eyes for any other woman than his wife.  He should have no mistresses, or practice polygamy.  He should be vigilant.  This means he should be aware of his surroundings. Attentive to the needs of others.  Aware of the dangers of the enemy about him.  He should be sober.  He should be of a good nature and not into mischief.  He is temperate, not into brawling, or striking others.  He does not boast or throw his weight around trying to impress himself.  The list goes on, and then includes some very specific things for the bishop. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9)

These are the things that we should be shepherding and disciplining young men in the way. This is the culture that we should seek to have in the men of our churches.  Real men who stand up for God and that do not let anything stop them from seeking the will of the Lord.  Men like this who pray together have a great effect on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a church.  In Ezekiel 34 we can read that there are dire consequences for Israel because the shepherds of Israel failed their duties.  Israel became scattered having no leadership.  The people became the victims of wolves and beasts of prey.  They were weak and sickly.  This sounds like some churches you may know, does it not?

Something else to be aware of in Ezekiel 34:1-10, the Lord says, “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock”.  Now let us move to Revelation chapter 3.  “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:15-17) Remember the Lord is talking to the members of the church.  He says that they have become self-sufficient and think that they have everything and that they have lost their zeal.  They are not doing the things of the Lord.  Because of this they are worthless to him, and he will spew them out.  Ever wonder if a church closed because God wished them to close?  They had become slipshod and non-responsive to the Spirit and the Lord simply pulled their charter.

photo of old man with herd of sheep
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Men of God you must understand that you are important to the ministry of your local Church.  In fact, you are an invaluable asset to your church.  Your skills and craftsmanship are a great asset to the church, but your leadership and compassion for others has a far more reaching effect.  You have knowledge and understanding that some young man needs to tap into to see the working of Christ in his life.  We need men of God engaged in the fight for what is good, and right, and virtuous. (Philippians 4:8) These are the things that we should be doing.  We should learn to do well, seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, and protect the orphans and widows.  (Isaiah 1:17) This is the work that God has for men.

Survey of Galatians

Survey of Galatians 

The epistle of Galatia is believed to be written in either 49 or 55 8.D.and addresses issues in the church the dealt with issues of salvation by faith alone and Christian ethics. Paul addresses the question of how: can a man, who is sinful by nature, come to a God, who is holy by nature. His answer is this: there is only one way – to accept the salvation of God’s grace that is made available through Christ death and resurrection. Salvation cannot be obtained through obedience to the law of Moses. Man, by his very nature is too weak and too self-serving to be able to accomplish selfsalvation and self-centered occasion. Certain Jewish Christians referred to as Judaizers, or teaching that works are necessary, and that Paul’s gospel was not true gospel and that Paul was not a genuine apostle. Paul answer was to clarify his doctrine of justification by faith plus nothing, and of the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, not the law of Moses he reasserted his apostolic authority received from Christ Jesus who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Paul’s theology of salvation by faith effectively negates any other form of salvation that includes human effort through works, adherence to the law of Moses, or self-justification. 

Authorship 

Galatians is authored by Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul starts this letter of by proclaiming who he is, and by what authority he is writing in. (Galatians 1:1).  It is believed that the letter to the Galatians may have been one of the earliest writings of the New Testament.  

Historical Settings 

The term Galatia was used in both the geographical and political sense. The former referred to the North – Central Asia minor, North of the cities of Pisidian Antioch (Atcs 13:14), Iconium (Acts 13:51), Lystra (Acts 14:8), and Derbe (Acts 14:19-21); the latter referred to the Roman Providence (organized in 25B.C.) that included the southern district of those cities just mentioned. If the letter was written to Christians and North Galatia, the churches were founded on the second missionary journey and the epistle was written on the third missionary journey, either early from Ephesus (about a. D. 53) or later (about 55) from Macedonia. In favor of this is the fact that Luke seems to use Galatia only to describe North Galatia (acts 16:6; 18:23 and parent. 

If the letter was written to Christians in South Galatia, the charges were founded on the first missionary journey, and the letter was written at the end of the journey (probably from Antioch, about a. D. 49, making it the earliest of Paul’s epistles) and the Jerusalem counsel (acts 15) convene shortly afterward. In favor of this dating is the fact that Paul does not mention the decision of the Jerusalem counsel that more directly on his Galatians argument concerning the Judaizers, indicating that the Council had not yet taken place. 

Key Verse 

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  – Galatians 1:8 

Major Themes 

The major themes discussed in his epistle, justification by faith and its defense, explanation, and application of the items discussed include Paul’s three years in Arabia (1:17), his correcting of Peter (2:11), the law is a teacher (3:24), and the fruit of the spirit (5:22 – 23). 

Doctrine 

  • Justification By Faith Alone 
  • Blessings received by faith in Christ 
  • Must be untied to Jesus by faith 
  • Blessings cannot be “earned” 
  • To abandon faith is to lose 

Outline 

  1. Greetings and Introduction 1:1-10 
    1. Paul’s Confidence in the Gospel 1:1-5 
    2. Paul’s Confusion and Rebuke 1:6-10 
  2. Paul’s Defense of Justification by Faith  
    1. His Authority 1:11-2:21  
      1. Premise of Revelation 1:11-24 
      2. Premise of Jerusalem Church 2:1-10 
      3. Premise of Authority to Rebuke Peter 2:11-21 
  3. Paul’s Explanation of Justification by Faith 3:1-4:31 
    1. The Believer’s Own Experience 3:1-5 
    2. The Children of Abraham 3:6-9 
    3. The Legal Requirement Satisfied 3:10-4:11 
    4. Personal Testimony of their Teacher 4:12-20 
    5. An Allegorical Argument 4:21-31 
  4. How Then to Apply to Life 5:1-6:10 
    1. How does Justification by Faith relate to our Liberty in Christ? 5:1-12 
    2. How does Justification by Faith relate to Love? 5:13-15 
    3. How does Justification by Faith relate to the Flesh and the Spirit? 5:16-26 
    4. What the Sins of a Brother? 6:1-5 
    5. What about Giving? 6:6-10 
  5. Instructions and Exhortations 6:11-18

References 

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print. 

Commentary 1 Corinthians 8 Touching Things Offered to Idols

1 Corinthians 8 – Touching Things Offered Unto Idols

There came a question to Paul that was directed against sanctification and idolatry. The Jewish Christians had raised a good point of conversation that Paul is about to confront.  The root of this debate may very well be rooted in such scriptures as these:

“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

Exodus 20:1-6, KJV

“And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.”

Exodus 23:13, KJV

“I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

Deuteronomy 5:6-10, KJV

“Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.”

Deuteronomy 6:13-15, KJV

This means that likely the concerns had been brought up by those who had influenced by Judaizers or Messianic Jews who were familiar with the customs of the Hebrews from antiquity. They were struggling with a real issue of faith.  Sometimes when we come from a legalistic background we cling to some of the structures that were involved in our upbringing because they give us a certain amount of security.  The danger that these individuals were facing wasn’t one of eating mean and displeasing God and being therefor condemned.  What they did not realize is that they were running a chance at putting themselves back into the bondage of legalism in trying to fulfill the law.  Paul’s gospel of Grace goes allow deeper than most of us would be willing to publicly debate. I venture that most Christians have not idea how radical the gospel that Paul preached really is.  This is just one little glimpse into the liberty that Paul says we have in the Gospel.

Paul makes an argument that is directly related to the dispensation of Grace that is now upon the world.  Just as Paul will argue concerning that salvation is by grace through faith, walking in faith is different from walking in the Law.  Paul has to open the eyes of the believers to a fact that they may not have considered.  The fact is that there are actually, no other gods to worship.  Knowledge of the truth of God can sometimes take a little longer to set free some of those who have lived in bondage, than other believers.  We are all growing in this knowledge of God and the truth of salvation by grace.  None of us, even Paul had a full understanding of the ramifications of the effects that faith in Jesus gives us.  Grace has truly set us free.  Our understanding of this is made through the process of the sanctification of the Spirit towards us and the development of our knowledge and relationship to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The best way I know to describe this is through my personal grow.  I converted to Christ out of Roman Catholicism.  I was raised up from a baby to believe the atonement for my sin was made through.

  • Confession to a Priest
  • Penance
    • Making a restitution
    • Repeating Prayers from the Rosary
    • Performing some other work that showed repentance and obedience to the church and to God. (Community Service, etc…)

Now these were so engrained in me that after I converted, I still had the intense urge to go to a confessor.  Even though I knew that I was now a priest to God and could confess directly to him.  I also carried a rosary years after, not because I prayed the prayers, but because it still gave me a sense of security.  As I grew in the knowledge of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, I eventually understood that these things were unnecessary and were just crutches that held no real power to affect my relationship with God.  God loved me for who I was.  In accepting his love, I was made free of these trinkets and idolatry. But God never rejected me, he allowed me to grow and love him, because at my heart I was seeking him and the truth in him.  I know several converts from Catholicism that struggle with these same issues when they are first converted.   Grace allows them to grow in full discipleship and love. Spiritual maturity takes time, patience, and some enduring.  Most of all it takes love and fellowship.

1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

The apostle Paul now turns his attention to a specific question or questions in relation to foods that were offered to idols and if it was lawful for Christian to eat of these foods. We must understand that when foods were offered to pagan gods in Corinth there would often times be remains that were left. If this offering was a private offering than the offer would be allowed to take them home. These remains would then be used in other meals provided to guess that would attend. If the remains poor from public sacrifices then the remains will be sold to the market. These remains would then be purchased by the local citizens and again they would wind up in the evening meals. The question became can a Christian eat meat that was sacrifice to idols, no matter how they came to the table.

2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

This issue; issue of presumption of knowledge, has often caused problems in the Christian community and in the church. Some of us are just smart enough to be dangerous. (Job 32:13; Ecclesiastes 7:16; Jeremiah 8:9; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 3:18; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Proverbs 3:7:26:12: 28:11) In arrogance some of us set ourselves on a pedestal to tell others how what they do is misunderstood are incorrect.(Romans 12:16) We don’t do this an attitude of love rather we do this in a demonstration of our perceived intelligence. (Psalm 36:3; Jeremiah 8:8)

Paul says if you think you know something about God, you better rethink what you thought. The truth of salvation and a God himself is deeper than any of us could ever comprehend with our carnal mind. There is no greater evidence of ignorance more common than a conceit of knowledge. You see he that knows the most and understands it also understands his own ignorance and the imperfection of human knowledge. So he that imagines himself as a knowledgeable man is being vain and conceited and only tempts his own imagination. So Paul says it’s one thing to know the truth but another thing to understand the truth. We would say it’s one thing to have book knowledge and another to have common sense.

3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Here said Paul says that if a man loves God everyone can see it. It doesn’t matter whether he eats food of idols or not. The testimony of his life reads like an open book. A man of God lives a certain way, treats people a certain way, and has expectation of how he should be treated before God. Anyone who encounters a man that loves God, knows that the man loves God by his countenance. A man or woman of God does not need to put on pretense, or have the need to give false impression, because their heart is what reveals their love for Christ and their actions. These actions include not only a love for God but a love for others. (Luke 10:27) This love is manifest and their day-to-day life.  This love of God is not only evidenced to others, but God loves those who love him. (John 14:21-24; Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 John 4:19; Proverbs 8:17; John 10:14,27-30)

4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

Paul is trying to make a point that the educated Christian should understand. There are no idols, because there are no other gods. All other gods are from the imagination of men and their evil desires and possess no power or authority because they are not real. This means there is only one God. Since there’s only one God, the meat could not have been sanctified to another god because the other god does not exist.

5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

Paul recognizes that there are many cultures that worship many different gods. Some of the gods found in Corinth would be Artemis, Nike, Tyche, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Apollo, Zeus, Helios, Asklepios, Pan, and Dionysus.

6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Paul’s realized that others believed that these idols actually represented other gods. Paul makes a point to clarify, even though people worship these idols, there is actually only one God. This God we call our father. Our father created all things, and everything belongs to him, and his son our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who created all things and sustains, us we belong to him and the father through him.

7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

Now Paul makes a distinction. Paul says I understand that some of you come within upbringing that determines that there are other gods. Paul also understands that even though they have been converted to Christianity they still have tendencies and beliefs that are centered on their old gods. In coming to Christ these individuals have placed Jesus into a category with other gods; false gods. Paul understands this as a weak point and their faith that must be strengthened. So he says, if your conscience bothers you concerning the eating of meat offered to idols even though the are no other idols then you should not eat food offered idols, because your faith is incomplete. You don’t have an understanding yet that those other gods really do not exist. As one grows in faith we learn to put away the child’s things that we once knew.

8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

Since we are held by Christ and on the grace period meat cannot be what commands us to Christ. Since we love and live in the grace there is no law that condemns us before God. What we eat has nothing to do with our spiritual us. That is eating the meat of idols or refraining from eating the meat of idols has no effect on our standing with God through Jesus Christ. Spiritually it does not make us healthier or weaker in the spirit. Meat is for sustainment of the body.

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

We must understand that each of our faiths are at different points of maturity. We also come from different backgrounds which give us different weaknesses and our belief. We must be cautious to ensure that the liberties or freedoms that we take in Christ do not hinder someone else and their walk. Just because we are free to do as we would, it does not mean that we should do as we would. This in itself shows a weakness in our own belief. If we move in selfishness and not in love then we show the incompleteness of our faith in Christ.

10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

The reason why we must be careful with how we live our liberty is that if someone else a week or faith sees us to do something that they think is wrong, then they would be encouraged to do what they think is wrong. This does not help their faith instead it allows them to live in compromise of their convictions.  If they do not adhere to the convictions of the Holy Spirit in their lives, then they will never mature.  Being a Christian requires the ability to stand up against the world system, and to resist temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13; Matthew 4:1-11; Matthew 26:41; James 1:3; James 1:12-16; James 4:7; Hebrews 2:18; Ephesians 6:11)

11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

Knowledge without understanding can be a dangerous thing.  I once saw a young man hurt themselves rather seriously.  His car had over heated.  He knew that he needed to check his radiator.  He opened the hood, and removed the radiator cap.  When he did the pressure build up from the overheated liquid cause an eruption that spewed scolding hot water up into the air, and onto the young man.  He pulled away as fast as he could but it was too late.  He received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his hand, arm, and parts of his chest and face.  His knowledge of what needed to check the radiator was correct.  However, his understanding of the functioning of the radiator was insufficient, and it nearly killed him.  This is the same thing.

If someone does not know why the eating of something offered to idols is no longer a sin, then making them to eat the meat will only lead to their destruction.  It is then that sin can be taken too far.  For instance Paul makes a distinction between, sin and being judged by sin, when he says that we can sin no more.  However, we all know that there are other consequences to sin.  Paul makes a designation between sins of sexual immorality and other sins also.  He says that sins of sexual immorality are against your very nature. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)  James and Paul both say that us to willfully live in known sin is an abomination to God, and Christ.  They even beg you to consider that if you do these things that you really do not believe in Jesus and the painful sacrifice he performed on your behalf, nor do you believe that he lives and sees your behavior.  If you did believe and understand that, you would act differently, out of love and respect. (Hebrews 10:26)  Paul’s periphery is that knowledge of Christ must be in juxtaposition with the understanding of its implications on liberty and sanctification with regard to our spiritual maturity and conscience.

12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

And this we must remember our primary motivation of love and the second commitment to Christ gave. We are commanded to love one another as we love ourselves. So to cause a brother to fall or doubt his faith is an act of selfishness, especially if it is a boast of one’s own spirituality. This selfishness is a sin against our brother because we wound their conscience and we calls them to sin against Christ by violating their own conscience.

13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Paul sums up his argument at this point and gives us a guiding principle that regulates our conduct and morally in different matters; a principle of love. We should voluntarily regulate our liberty so that we don’t cause someone to commit offense and stumble. In Galatians chapter 5 verse 13 it reads “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty fornication to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Our liberties are given to us to be servants of one another, and to allow us the freedom to relate to one another and to the lost in a manner in which we can lead them to Christ, and encourage the fellow believer. These liberties are a benefit for the Kingdom of God and his Christ, not of our own.

Paul addressed this same principle in Romans 13:8-14.  In this passage Paul tells us to accept the brother (or sister) who is weak in their faith.  He adds to is that we should not accept them in to vain argumentation and pointing out the weakness of their faith with conjecture or cynicism.  Instead we should accept them in love.  It is in love that the commandments are fulfilled, not in the refraining of the eating of meats, or other traditions of man.  “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 8:10)