WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT JUSTIFICATION – ARE YOU JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE?

February 27, 2012

   “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”


Romans 5:16-18 KJV

Justification, in the Biblical sense, means being declared “Right” in God‘s sight. When I am justified before God it is just as if I’d never sinned.  Justification is the process of being made just.  Someone who is justified has been made Just.  Someone who is just is without blame.  A comprehensive study of scripture relating to justification reveals what it is and how mankind is justified in the sight of God. All the doctrines of the Bible are important, but none is more vital to the peace and rest of the child of God than the Bible truth of Justification. The believer does not ascend to the peak of Christian joy until he appreciates and appropriates this aspect of the grace of God. Forgiveness is wonderful; pardon is wonderful; cleansing is wonderful; but Justification is more wonderful. In Paul’s day, and later in the days of the Protestant Reformation, and in our own day, it would be difficult to find a truth more cardinal to our historic Christian faith than the doctrine of Justification. The question of man’s justification before God was raised early in man’s history. In the Book of Job we read, “I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? How then can man be justified with God?” Job 9:2, 25:4 KJV  In the New Testament the Apostle Paul, developed it more fully. He said, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38-39 KJV  Paul says that forgiveness and justification are made possible through Jesus Christ, but he makes it clear that the two are not identical. If a criminal is found guilty and convicted of crime, he may be forgiven by the offended party and even pardoned by the governor, but he remains guilty of his offense. His guilt was established and the court records carry it as such. He has been forgiven but not justified. The Apostle is saying that God does two things for the guilty but believing sinner that no man can possibly do for another; that is, He both forgives and justifies. Justification is more than forgiveness. We can forgive another for his wrong, but never can we justify him. Forgiveness assumes guilt; therefore, the guilty one cannot be justified. On the other hand, if we justify a man, then he needs no forgiveness, because justification assumes no guilt. But since all men are both guilty and condemned sinners before God, all need both forgiveness and justification before entering the Kingdom of God. Justification can be defined as that act of God whereby He declares absolutely righteous any and all who take shelter in the blood of Christ as their only hope for salvation. Justification is a legal term which changes the believing sinner’s standing before God, declaring him acquitted and accepted by God, with the guilt and penalty of his sins put away forever. Justification is the sentence of the Judge in favor of the condemned man, clearing him of all blame and freeing him of every charge. Justification does not make the sinner righteous, but when God sees him “in Christ,” He declares that he is righteous, thereby pronouncing the verdict of “not guilty.” In modern jurisprudence a sentence in any court must be in keeping with the facts presented. A judge has no right to condemn the innocent or to clear the guilty. Only God can clear the guilty. We must keep in mind the fact that there is a close connection between the act of justifying and the imputed righteousness of the one who has been justified. A just person is one who has been declared righteous by God. God is the Author of Justification. The Bible says, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Romans 8:33 KJV  What is the function of justification?  First, we know that sinners are justified by God. God Himself is the Justifier. Only God can justify a man; no man can justify another man. The source of justification must be in the one holy and righteous God. The Bible states, “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.” Deuteronomy 25:1 KJV  If a man is not guilty of a charge made against him, he should be justified. All men are sinners, and since all sin is against God, He only must be satisfied. The Bible says, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:26 KJV  Second, we are justified by grace. The Bible says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24 KJV  Look carefully at the text and notice that word “freely.” The Greek word (dorean) translated “freely” means “without a cause. There was no cause in the words and works of Jesus for which men should hate Him, yet He was hated “freely,” “without a cause.” Just as there was no cause that men should hate our Lord, so there was no cause that God should justify man; but He justifies him “freely,” without a cause. Jesus came with a heart full of love for mankind, but they hated Him. You cannot buy it with money, for it is “freely by His grace.”  Third, we are justified by blood. The provision for righteousness is solely through the blood of Christ. The Bible says, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:9 KJV  These next verses are of tremendous importance because they show the only ground of justification. It says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 KJV  God can make bad men good only through the death of His Son, for we are justified by His Blood. Fourth, we are justified by faith. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”   The Bible says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 3:28, 4:5 KJV  This is the God-ward aspect of justification, but like all the blessings of salvation, the sinner cannot receive it until he accepts it, and this he does when he acknowledges his guilt and puts personal faith in what God has done for him in Christ. Fifth, we are justified  by the spirit. The Bible says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 KJV  The believing sinner’s righteousness is the plan of God the Father, the provision of God the Son, and by the power of God the Holy Spirit. When a man says he has been justified by God, his fellowmen have a right to expect him to prove his faith by his good works. The Bible says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James 2:24 KJV  God’s standard of holiness is man’s that things which are approved of men may be counted as evil in the sight of God. Let us make certain that by faith we are justified before God. Self-effort, religious ritual, or agonizing prayer cannot take away sin. But when we trust in Christ for salvation, we are justified, declared righteous by God. Then, as we lose our burden of guilt and experience total justification, we will have real peace. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve. Mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. We deserve to go to hell, but by His mercy we shall never go there. We do not deserve to go to heaven, but by grace we’ll spend eternity there. Grace justifies. Mercy pardons. Grace admits us to heaven. Mercy saves us from hell. The death of Christ was enough to pardon us in mercy, but it took the resurrection to effect our justification. So don’t wait any longer to put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ. May we all be justified in the blood of the lamb of God. Open up your heart and let Jesus in, for He is the One that died on the cross, shed His blood and paid the penalty for your sins, so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger



THE CHRISTMAS STORY – A MESSY PLAN ABOUT THE MAN WHO MISSED CHRISTMAS

December 20, 2011

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, Micah 5:2 KJV

The Christmas Story about the man who missed Christmas starts here in the Bible. It doesn’t tell us the name of this man, but we can read his story in the Gospel According to Luke 2:7.  That verse tells us enough, and more than enough, about the innkeeper, the man who missed Christmas: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 KJV   Why was there no room for Mary and Joseph and their expected Baby, except in a stable? Bethlehem was a small town, and in those days most small towns perhaps had only one inn. The inn in Bethlehem was already filled. No other accommodation was available. He was too busy to notice a woman about to give birth to a Baby, to a Child who would grow up to become the most famous Man in all of history, and more than a Man, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.

While they were there it was time for the baby to be born, she gave birth to the first-born, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn. God had this messy plan, a plan to save the world, and to do that He was going to send His Son. Where does the God of the universe send His Son? Where does the king of kings and the Lord of lords come? To a barn, a stable, a manger. Of all places, certainly not a place fit for a King. Then again this was no ordinary King. When I say it was messy, I mean messy! It was a barn, a stable, so you got animals, animal stuff, manure, mud, a pitiful place for people. Much less a place for the King of Kings to be born. Why would God do that? Isaiah explains that here, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 53:6, 55:8 KJV   You see, Jesus came to this messy Place, a barn, a manger, it’s just a mess! So why did he come into this messy world? The Shepard was coming to take care of his sheep to prepare away for them to go home. That’s what a Shepard does. The Bible says, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11 KJV  He lives where the sheep are, He sleeps where they sleep, He eats where they eat. That got Jesus in trouble. Why did Jesus eat with sinners? Because that is what the Shepard does. And then an Angel appeared to the shepherds in the field and said, this will be a sign to you. You will find a babe wrapped in clothes laying in a manger. The Bible says, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 KJV  Do you ever wonder why this was a sign? Being a servant is messy. Jesus set this incredible example for us. He got down on His knees and washed feet. God of the universe, deserved the best of everything, got down on His knees, He laid in a feeding trough. Why of all such places? Why such a messy place? He was following a messy plan. He came to this world not as royalty, but as a baby born in a stable full of muck and animals, to humble Himself to become one of us. Paul says it best here, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8 KJV  

Christmas represents a hope, a unique joy, felt only at Christmastime, because Christ the Savior is born. Are you lost today? What better time for you to be found than at this Christmas season? Don’t be like the man who missed Christmas. Do you have room for Jesus Christ? Or are you so busy and so occupied with the trimmings of Christmas that you miss its triumph, as the innkeeper did long ago? Have you crowded Jesus out so that there is no room for Him in the inn of your heart? Let the Christ of Christmas come in to your heart today.

That first Christmas was dirty, grimy, filthy, but thank God it was because without it,  what a mess we would be in!

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger

 


This Thanksgiving, We as Christians Should Focus on the Reasons Why We Celebrate the Truth about Being Thankful

November 18, 2011

“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Colossians 1:3,12,14 KJV

The Thanksgiving Holiday:

Christians look forward to the time of the year when we celebrate this important holiday, Thanksgiving. This holiday has its beginnings and roots in Christian celebrations. The word holiday actually means “holy day”; hence this event should be remembered and celebrated in a holy way. We have strayed from that purpose over the years as we have embraced many unholy practices and worldly customs and added them to our “holy days.” Thanksgiving is one of our main national holidays here in the U.S.A. A good question to ask is “Are we as Christians celebrating it the way the Lord would have us celebrate, or have we compromised with the world?” Have we lost the emphasis on thanksgiving and prayer and shifted it to a gluttonous feast of food, drink and games like those in the world have done? God wants us to enjoy family, friends and feasting, but leaving God out of the day breaks His heart. More and more the media is referring to this holiday as “turkey day” instead of Thanksgiving Day. They also eliminate the object of who we are to offer our thanks. We are just to be “thankful” we are told. Who should our thanks be directed to? The object of our thanks for our many blessings, should be directed to the Lord God. It should not just be a general “thanks.”

The Origin of Thanksgiving Day:

The original thanksgiving celebration was held by the Pilgrim settlers in Massachusetts during their second winter in America in December, 1621. The first winter had killed 44 of the original 102 colonists. At one point their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn apiece, but then an unexpected trading vessel arrived, swapping them beaver pelts for corn, providing for their severe need. The next summer’s crop brought hope, and Governor William Bradford decreed that December 13, 1621, be set aside as a day of feasting and prayer to show the gratitude of the colonists that they were still alive. These Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom and opportunity in America, gave thanks to God for His provision for them in helping them find 20 acres of cleared land, for the fact that there were no hostile Indians in that area, for their newfound religious freedom, and for God’s provision of an interpreter to the Indians in Squanto. Along with the feasting and games involving the colonists and more than 80 friendly Indians (who added to the feast by bringing wild turkeys and venison), prayers, sermons, and songs of praise were important in the celebration. Three days were spent in feasting and prayer. From that time forward, Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a day to give thanks to God for His gracious and sufficient provision. President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November, in 1863, “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” In 1941, Congress ruled that after 1941, the fourth Thursday of November be observed as Thanksgiving Day and be a legal holiday.

What Does The Bible Say:

President George Washington made the following proclamation in 1789:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection, aid, and favors …

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day

of November next, to be devoted by the people of the United States to the

service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of

all the good that was, and is, or that will be; and that we may all then

unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind

care and protection of the people of this country, and for all the great and

various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”

This country has forgotten God. It is virtually illegal in this country to mention God unless one is using His name as a curse word. Yet the founding fathers of this nation recognized that it was because of God’s mercy and blessings that they existed. It is because of God’s great love for men today hat they have such abundance of clothes, shelter, and food. The Bible says, “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:” Psalms 50:14 KJV  All men and women need to be thankful this week for the families they have and for the privilege of living in a free country. People need to learn how to thank God even during times of hardships. Some turn to drugs – legal and illegal. Some commit suicide. Others gripe and complain and make everyone around them as miserable as they are. Yet people need to learn joy and thankfulness in spite of circumstances. If men could focus on the Lord and forget about themselves, they could learn to be joyful, not because of circumstances, but in spite of circumstances. The Bible says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 KJV  Paul was in prison when he wrote this. He had learned to be content under any circumstance. He kept his attention focused on serving God first and others second and he placed himself third. By doing this, he was content. The Bible also says, “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.” Leviticus 22:29 KJV  Here the OT scriptures speak of a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” which Israel would offer long ago. The Lord wanted this to be offered from a person’s “own free will.” He did not want anyone coerced or forced to do this. When a person is forced to say “thank-you,” then he might as well have said nothing. An expression of thanksgiving is accepted only when it is truly meant and not forced.

Reasons to Make Thanksgiving Thankful:

First, God has qualified us. Paul wrote, “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12). The word qualified means “to make meet” or “to make able.” The idea is that God has enabled us to have something. Put simply, God has given us the privilege of a relationship with Him by forgiving us of our sins and providing a means to turn from the darkness and toward the light. Think about that. Through no merit of our own, God presented us with the gift of life eternal with Him. The center of the Gospel is the cross of Christ. We simply come to the cross as humble sinners, in repentance and humility, and He accepts us. Through His blood He washes away our sins. As the hymnist reminds us, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” Christ has made us fit to be partakers. He has qualified us. Second, God has delivered us. Paul said, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). Third, God has conveyed us. Paul stated, “He … conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). Every person must make a choice sometime in his or her life to leave the kingdom of darkness and walk into the Kingdom of light through the ticket that has been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. When we do that, we can be thankful that God will take us from hate, fear and oppression and bring us into a relationship of trust, love and hope. Fourth, God has redeemed us. Paul wrote: “In whom we have redemption through His blood” (Colossians 1:14).Redemption means “to release a slave by paying a price, or to buy back.” It was a term borrowed from the ancient slave markets where someone could come in and pay a price for a slave. Once he’d paid the price, he could set the slave free. Fifth, God has forgiven us. Paul stated, “Through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). The word forgiveness means “to send away.” God took your sins and shipped them off.These three short verses in Colossians show us how thankful we should be for our salvation. We can be thankful that God has qualified us, delivered us, conveyed us, redeemed us and forgiven us. And because we are thankful to God for so great a salvation, we can pour out our lives in service to God and become a conduit of His goodness to a desperately hungry world.

Being Thankful:

Let everyone, this Thanksgiving Day, be thankful for the wonderful blessings he enjoys. Let everyone freely, without coercion, give thanks to the God who holds each one’s breath in His hand and freely gives all things to enjoy. The Bible says, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” 1 Timothy 6:17 KJV  We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting. May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material. God is good, and every good gift comes from Him. It says in the Bible, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV  For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good. May He find us to be His grateful children. Before you and your family enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, or begin watching a parade or football game, be sure to take time to truly thank God in prayer and thought for the national wealth, power and prestige He has given this nation. While there is still time, make certain that you and your family are not partaking in the nationwide, unthankful attitude. Be sure to give thanks to God in the same heartfelt, sincere manner that the pilgrims did on the first Thanksgiving in North America! The best kind of thanks giving is thanks living! – showing our thanks to God by the way we live. To grow rich in God’s sight, we say our thanks and we show our thanks. Not just in words of appreciation, but deeds. To properly thank God for His gifts we must use them according to His will – 365 days a year!

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger


WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HOW MANY WAYS ARE THERE TO GET INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

September 30, 2011

“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Luke 13:23-24, Matthew:7:14 KJV

The Idea:

The idea  that there are many ways to get to Heaven is partly based on the assumption that there are various ways to gain its entrance. Some of the more common ways being baptism, good deeds, honest living, giving to charity, church attendance, and, if nothing else, by making a sincere effort. To most, the way to Heaven is broad, with many paths leading there. However, one has to wonder: if Heaven is so relatively accessible, then why did Jesus Christ die on the cross?  Why did the only begotten Son of God come to earth, take on flesh, and allow Himself to get spat upon, punched, mocked, kicked, humiliated, whipped, and then literally nailed to a cross in the hot Judean sun to die a bloody death The Apostle Paul states it best when he says, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Galatians 2:2 KJV  You see, Jesus died for a very important reason.   He claimed, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 KJV   His sacrificial death provides the only way to Heaven. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9 KJV  That means Heaven!Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” John 10:1 KJV  Further more, when His disciples asked, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:” Luke 13:24-25 KJV  Now, obviously, many of you reading all this will still find it hard to believe that there could only be ONE WAY to get to Heaven.

Beginning with the Fall of Man:

Man was created in God’s image for the express purpose of follow shipping with his Creator.   But man rebelled; not willing to accept his subordinate role in the relationship. His rebellion plunged mankind into sin The Bible teaches that, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Romans 5:12  KJV  When man fell, his immediate reaction to his new-found sin nature was to “coverup” his sin before God. The Bible says, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:7 KJV  God, however, seeing their unsatisfactory efforts showed them what would actually be required to “cover up sin”. It says in the Bible, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 KJV  God was setting a precedence.   These “COATS OF SKINS” came off the backs of living animals. Removing them cost those animals their lives and in killing them, God established this fact, “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23 KJV   Death and shed blood is the only “coverage” for sin that God will approve; it’s the only payment He will accept. The Bible clearly teaches that, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20 KJV  Perhaps you’ve wondered why there has to be death in the world. Don’t blame God. Death was not part of His original plan. Death came as a result of man’s rebellious sin. It says in the Bible that, “and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. The sting of death is sin;” Romans 5:12, James 1:15, 1 Corinthians 15:56 KJV  God’s holiness DEMANDS payment for sin. However, God not desiring the absolute death of mankind is willing to accept a substitute on his behalf. That’s why He told His chosen people, the Jews, that He was willing to accept, “And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.” Leviticus 5:6 KJV  So throughout Jewish history, the Jews sacrificed lambs and bullocks as instructed by God.  He wanted to continuously remind them, as a people, that,“and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22 KJV   However, these sacrifices could only “roll back” sin, postponing God’s wrath and eternal judgment.  Mankind needed a permanent solution, one that would forever reconcile him back to his Creator. And one day HE ARRIVED! When John the Baptist saw Christ approaching him, he said something that should have made something click within the mind of every Jew present that day.   John announced, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 KJV  Jesus is God’s sacrificial lamb, the permanent solution to man’s sin problem. The Bible says of Christ, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” Hebrews 10:12 KJV  And also it says , “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.” Romans 5:8-9 KJV

How many Ways Into The Kingdom of Heaven:

IT’S SIMPLE!   The only payment for sin that God will accept is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. However, what most people are trusting in to pay for their sin and get them to Heaven DOES NOT INVOLVE DEATH! For example, during baptism no one dies.During confirmation or communion no one dies. During any good deed you and I perform NO ONE DIES; NO BLOOD IS EVER SHED! Do you see now why Christ is the only way to Heaven? It says it here in the Bible , “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Romans 6:23, Revelation 1:5-6 KJV  If we fully place our TRUST IN HIS DEATH, AND SHED BLOOD, our sins will be payed for and we’ll be allowed in Heaven. The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV  So we need to see first that, if we are ever to enter the kingdom either in its present or future manifestation, then we must change.  We must be converted.  There must be a transformation. Have you been converted?  Has God changed you?

You Must Become a Child of God Before You Enter the Kingdom:

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew !8:1-4 KJV  Unless you change from what you are into what this child is, you cannot even enter, so how can you claim to be the greatest?” Pride is a great stumbling block. Proud people cannot enter the Kingdom of God. They cannot give up their own preeminence for His. Jesus did not have to call a child over to make His point. He could have just said, “Humble yourself as a child.” But He did not. So there is a significance to calling the child over and having him stand in the midst of them. Only after this was done did Jesus say, “Become like this child, or you cannot enter the Kingdom.” So what is the significance? Jesus called the child, and the child responded to Jesus. There is no questioning from the child, such as, “What do You want?” or “Who are you?” Jesus had him stand in the midst of them, and again, the child complies. We do not hear him say, “Why?” or “What are you going to do now?” or “I don’t have time to stand here, I want to go play.” The greatest people in the Kingdom are the ones who do what I tell them to do, nothing doubting. It is only when we get older that we begin to question everything. To enter this Kingdom we must know there is only room for one Head, for one Preeminence, for one King, for one Lord. We are disciples, not masters. We may struggle and question His dealings with us, but if we progress in the Way then one day we will learn the best course is to bow our heads and say, “Yes, Lord.” We are waiting for Jesus to give us grand instructions and commandments: “Go around the world and proclaim the Gospel full-time” or “Rise up and fulfill the ministry of an apostle” or “I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” But if we cannot hear and obey in the small things, how can we expect Him to lead us into greater things? IT’S SIMPLE!   The only payment for sin that God will accept is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. However, what most people are trusting in to pay for their sin and get them to Heaven DOES NOT INVOLVE DEATH!   For example, during baptism no one dies. During confirmation or communion no one dies. During any good deed you and I perform NO ONE DIES; NO BLOOD IS EVER SHED! Do you see now why Christ is the only way to Heaven? It says in the Bible, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus Christ,  washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Romans 6:23, Revelation 1:5 KJV  If we fully place our TRUST IN HIS DEATH, AND SHED BLOOD, our sins will be payed for and we’ll be allowed in Heaven.   The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV  FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you from going to Heaven are your sins, because, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God,” Isaiah 59:2 KJV In fact, in God’s eyes YOU ARE A SINNER, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23 KJV  SECONDLY, you must realize that there is NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn Heaven, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV  Baptism, good deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are all examples of good works that cannot save you, because, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,” Titus 3:5 KJV  THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through Jesus Christ.  He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 14:6, Romans 5:8 KJV  THEREFORE: You must REPENT, change your mind,  admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner and can’t save yourself.   And call upon Christ, and Him alone, to save you. It says it here in the Bible, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10 KJV   The Scriptures tell us that the Lord Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” With Truth comes Grace, and we will now conclude with how God accomplishes this impossible work by Grace. The Lord is waiting for us to know and to confess, “I cannot”. For He can do what we cannot do; and He will do what we will not do! And once we allow Him, He brings us to where He wants us to be in a most remarkable manner.  The Bible says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,  and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, (Path)”  John 10:9,14:5-6 KJV  Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You that You are my Way, my Truth, and my Life! I praise You that I cannot save myself. You are my Narrow Gate, and You are my Narrow Path. As I am decreased, You are increased, and my life is exchanged for Your Life. I thank you, Lord, that through You we may enter the Kingdom. Amen.

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger


LABOR DAY – WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ? – KEEPING THE SABBATH

September 1, 2011

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” 

John 6:27, Exodus 20:10-11 KJV

Labor Day:

How do you define Labor Day?  For many, it marks the official end of summer.  Most children are back in school, each day show signs of getting shorter with earlier sunsets, and depending on your location, there might be cooler temperature in the air.  Yes, summer months are finally coming to a close and football fans are excited to cheer on their favorite team as the fall sports season begins. Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It forms a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. So, Labor Day is a holiday about work and recognition for the hard work people have put forth to strengthen our economy and our country as a whole. As men who want to be an example we need to remember some things about our work. The Bible says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 KJV  Also we must Be grateful. It says it here in the Bible, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Timothy 5:8 KJV  Most of all we need to remember that God values us not for what we do or how much we earn but for who we are… His beloved children redeemed through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. We should be dedicating ourselves to the Lord through our work. He is our real boss. So work hard as unto the Lord and know that his approval will guarantee success. We should also remember that it is by His labor on the cross that His rest is possible. So, the honor all goes to Him.

What Does The Bible say About Labor:

“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11  KJV  I think Labor Day is a strange holiday. While we call it “Labor Day,” we try to do as little labor as possible and most working people have the day off. It’s a bad weekend for the Church…because everyone wants to do other things this weekend. Labor Day is different things to different people. To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off. But, for policemen, nurses and doctors, it’s just another work day. To farmers, it’s just another day to feed the livestock… and work in the field. Our passages today in 1 and 2 Thessalonians…encourage us to work rather than sit around on welfare. Many people think work is an undesirable thing…and they do as little as possible for the greatest return. This leads to the idea of someone else doing the work for you — an employee. In America, “labor” and “management” are adversaries. Labor wants the most money for the least work. Management wants the most work for the least money. The American way is based on this adversarial relationship. Our American work system is not necessarily Christian. The Bible says, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” Ephesians 6:5-9 KJV  This passage is about masters and slaves. However, it can easily be applied to management and employees. God cares about how we conduct business! He cares about how we treat others. We will all face judgment, both management and employees. The Christian cannot separate his business and his spiritual life. He has no right to “out-heathen” the heathen. The Christian does not live for self alone. The Bible says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:10 KJV  An employee should be paid what he deserves. The Bible says, ” At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” Deuteronomy 24:15, Leviticus 19:13 KJV  These Old Testament passages applied to times…when a worker got paid every day.

The Importance of the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is more than a day of physical and mental relaxation. It is even more than the day on which we worship. The Sabbath has a definite redemptive significance—a distinct connection with the everlasting gospel. The New Testament often uses the word rest to describe the good news of salvation realized in the holy history of Jesus Christ. Ever since the Fall, this promised saving rest in Christ has been linked with the Sabbath. That is why the major feast days in the Old Testament were designated as Sabbath days of rest—they pointed ahead to the Messiah and His redemptive activity. The word sabbath means “rest,” and the first we discover about it in the Old Testament is that the Sabbath day belongs to God. He calls it “my holy day” here in the Bible, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:” Isaiah 59:13 KJV  You can also recognize the importance of the Sabbath on Labor Day weekend. It says it here in the Bible, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Genesis 2:2 KJV  It talks about how God ended his work and rested on the seventh day. If we want our work to be truly blessed by God, we should rest on the 7th day.  Our society today has trained us to believe that working happens from 9 to 5 every day, and then we have the rest of the day off!   Labor Day weekend is a great time to remind the people that work happens six days a week and not 40 hours a week, and you should still take time off on Sundays.  Labor Day is a great time to discuss the importance of observing the Sabbath in our lives.

Jesus’ Barbecue:

Jesus is inviting all of us over for a Labor Day soul food barbecue. The problem is that we take such poor care of our souls that we don’t even hear his invitation. There are hardly any of us here that go more than a day without eating. In fact, most of us eat every few hours. We live in a culture where our bodies are well-fed. In fact, our bodies are often overfed. And yet, in the midst of our culture’s all-you-can-eat buffet for the body, our souls are starving to death. We take great care to feed our temporary bodies, but our souls, which are eternal, are often lucky to get table scraps. How long has it been since you did something to nourish your soul? When was the last time you fasted, depriving your body of food so you could devote your spirit to prayer? When was the last time you read a book that stretched your thinking on some issue of theology? How long has it been since you worshipped God outside of our Church? When was the last time that you sat down as a family to read and discuss the Word of God? In a culture of unbelievable abundance and surplus, our souls are withering away from malnourishment. The problem is that a starving soul is harder to notice than a starving body. When you’re hungry, it’s easy to recognize. You feel it. It’s unmistakable. A hungry soul is less noticeable at first. The effects of a hungry soul are seen, such as, in a life lived with no peace. If all this talk about peace and rest is just ringing hollow with you, it could be because you’ve been starving your soul. The peace and rest Jesus offers is for our souls. It’s a peace that will outlast our lives and will outlast this world. The length of our lives is microscopic in comparison to eternity, and yet our lives in this world often dominate our time, attention, and energy. The Bible reminds us all that, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 KJV  This is a call for us to have an eternal perspective in this temporary world. The challenge is to raise our sights above the physical and focus on the spiritual. If you have made a commitment to Jesus, you’re real life isn’t even here anymore. You’re real life is temporarily hidden with Jesus in heaven. So that is where our sights need to be. It’s a call to constantly guard against allowing ourselves to get bogged down with our temporary problems and struggles here. A time is coming when we will experience our real life in the presence of God. When that time comes, our struggles and hurts and pains will be a distant memory. And when we understand this, it gives us a peace in our lives that really does “transcend human understanding.”

Summary:

Tomorrow, a lot of us will take a short respite from work or school. I hope you enjoy the day. But much more than that, I hope we’ll all pursue a higher form of Labor Day. I pray that we’ll make every day a Labor Day God’s Way. The rest and peace that Jesus offers us is a life-changing, life-giving experience. He offers us peace to get us through heartaches and struggles. He offers us the peace of knowing that, no matter what hurt we experience, there is a hope that is sure. God is faithful to his promises, and if you have committed your life and your eternity to Jesus Christ, He will take you home to live with him forever. Those who come to God encounter no “Keep Out” signs. Through prayer, God the Father allows us immediate and unlimited access to Him because His Son Jesus Christ has opened the way to all who receive Him. The Bible says, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:18 KJV  The parts of our lives that we have tried and failed to repair can be restored by the hand of God. Through faith in Christ, we can be made whole. It says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Matthew 11:28, John 6:37.7:37 KJV  Once you come to Christ for salvation, you can enjoy unrestricted fellowship. The door is always open.

By: Jeff Ellinger


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “TAKE UP THE CROSS AND FOLLOW ME” – HE MUST INCREASE, I MUST DECREASE

August 24, 2011

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

Matthew 19:21 KJV

Denying Self:

This means not allowing ourselves to be constraint by natural limitations. Every one of us is surrounded by natural limitations. Right now we are now in the worst recession in history.  Looks like things are really getting bad. How are we going to survive this crisis, let alone trying to live within our means? These are facts. We should not deny their existence. However, Jesus wants us to deny ourselves. This means, we should not allow ourselves to be limited by the situation. We have God on our side. He is more powerful than the worst economic crisis. As long as we choose to deny ourselves in not allowing the natural circumstances to have the final say in our lives, we can overcome them. Yes, we can live within our means even in the worst recession. He who is in us is greater than he who is in this world. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 KJV

Take up His Cross Daily and Follow Me:

Taking up the cross daily does not mean we must get crucified every day. Even Jesus got crucified only once. It means we should live everyday with the constant awareness on what Jesus had done at the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus died to pay for all our sins: past, present and future. The moment we believe in him, we are righteous by faith. We can go to God at any time we want and behave as though we have never committed a single sin in our lives. Why? As far as God is concern, all the penalties of our sins had been paid. We are always holy because of what Jesus has done at the Cross. Peter was the most vocal of the disciples and because he hadn’t yet grasped the power of the cross he openly rebuked Jesus for preaching what he labeled as wrong doctrine. The Bible says, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22 KJV   Peter, like many christians, did not understand that sometimes our walk with God will include struggles, rejection, and for some believers, death. He was yet to comprehend that the path that leads to the fulness of life in Christ Jesus must include “the cross” which represents the emptying of self and the crucifying of the flesh. The Bible says, “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:23 KJV  Anything that prevents you from obeying God’s plan for your life is a hindrance and a snare to your spiritual growth. “Get thee behind me, satan!” Jesus was saying that I will not be talked out of the cross. The cross is the will of God for my life. And I must obey. The cross is necessary. You can’t have salvation without the cross. You can’t have freedom from sin without the cross. Paul wrote inColossians“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20 KJV and he also wrote it here, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:14 KJV  The cross is at the center of everything that God has provided for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have heard many christians say things like, “Well, the suffering in my life is just my cross to bear.” Or, “I’ve just got to carry this cross on my shoulders no matter how difficult it is.” But what are they really saying? To many christians, sickness and disease, a bad marriage, a bad temper or poverty is the cross that Jesus has required them to carry. But is this a correct interpretation of scripture? Does God require us to be poor to serve Him? Does God require us to learn how to put up with chronic sickness and crippling disease as a means to the emptying of self? Remember, the purpose of the cross is to bring you to the resurrection; not to leave you suffering in agony and shame. Jesus is not continually hanging on the cross. Jesus does not need to be crucified all over again and again and again. He took up His cross once. That was enough to purchase our eternal salvation and deliverance. The purpose of the cross is to remove something ungodly out of your life and to bring you into the resurrection life. God isn’t asking you to merely deny the desires and the longings of your flesh and have nothing to gain in return. No! The purpose of taking up your cross is to bring you to a place of living an overcoming and victorious life in Christ Jesus and to partake of the resurrected life with all of it’s power and all of it’s privileges. The Bible says,“As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” Isaiah 52:14 KJV  This adds fresh light to the accepted meaning of Matthew 16:24. The cross is not intended to be borne forever; rather, it is taken up whenever the plan of God requires it of us. The “taking up of your cross” is the means whereby God procures our deliverance from earthly, fleshly things possessing our hearts and minds, and severs their stronghold over us. It liberates us from the controlling appetites and the unnecessary weights of our ungodly flesh and our soulish life, and frees us to completely follow God. Peter wrote, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 KJV  Jesus took up the cross so that we could now live a righteous and fruitful life; a life that is free from sin and free from the guilt and shame that sins brings. Jesus bore stripes on His body to purchase our healing so we could now live free from sickness and disease. To say that bearing a chronic sickness in your life is your cross to bear is to deny the power of Christ’s sacrifice and to deny the scriptures that teach, “…by whose stripes you were healed.”. To say that poverty, anger or strife is your cross to bear is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit’s operation in your life. Also if your heart is focused on earthly things, you will have difficulty following the leadings and the promptings of the Spirit. For the Bible says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19 KJV  You can’t serve the flesh and serve the Spirit at the same time. You can’t follow the appetites of your flesh and at the same time be obedient to the desires of the spirit. If you desire to follow God and to be a true disciple of the Lord you must learn to crucify the flesh with its unholy appetites and take up your cross by dying to the selfish desires of your flesh. The Bible says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-21,24 KJV  You’ve got to let go of “self” and learn to put God’s Word first in your life if you want to be a committed disciple of the Lord.

He Must Increase:

He must increase, He must become greater, He must grow greater and greater.  HIS INCREASE IS ASSURED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:7 KJV  “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27 KJV  “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalms 119:89 KJV  “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 KJV  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 KJV “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Colossians 1:18-19 KJV  “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22 KJV

I Must Decrease:

OUR DECREASE IS REQUIRED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 KJV  “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 KJV  “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29-20 KJV  

Conclusion:

It is interesting that one of the meanings that the dictionary gives to the word “cross” is a trial, a burden, an affliction or a frustration. This is religions view of the cross. But I believe that Jesus would give us an entirely different perspective of the cross. From God’s point of view, the cross was the means whereby Jesus purchased our salvation and our deliverance. The cross is therefore a blessing to be experienced and not a burden for us to bear. And the phrase “take up your cross” should be viewed as a means to our deliverance and not as a frustrating or a defeated experience. Everyday brings with it new challenges and new blessings. And when we learn to “take up our cross daily”  we will be delivered from the annoying frustrations of life and we will be able to take hold of the blessings that the Lord is daily bringing into our lives. As followers of Christ, are we lifting Him up instead of seeking honor for ourselves? Rather than being disappointed when our contribution is unnoticed, we should be glad because our highest privilege is to magnify the Lord. He’s the hero! Honoring Him is the mark of greatness. Our goal must be the same as that of John the Baptist, who said when he met Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

By: Jeff Ellinger


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “TAKE UP THE CROSS AND FOLLOW ME” – HE MUST INCREASE, I MUST DECREASE

August 24, 2011

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

Matthew 19:21 KJV

Denying Self:

This means not allowing ourselves to be constraint by natural limitations. Every one of us is surrounded by natural limitations. Right now we are now in the worst recession in history.  Looks like things are really getting bad. How are we going to survive this crisis, let alone trying to live within our means? These are facts. We should not deny their existence. However, Jesus wants us to deny ourselves. This means, we should not allow ourselves to be limited by the situation. We have God on our side. He is more powerful than the worst economic crisis. As long as we choose to deny ourselves in not allowing the natural circumstances to have the final say in our lives, we can overcome them. Yes, we can live within our means even in the worst recession. He who is in us is greater than he who is in this world. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 KJV

Take up His Cross Daily and Follow Me:

Taking up the cross daily does not mean we must get crucified every day. Even Jesus got crucified only once. It means we should live everyday with the constant awareness on what Jesus had done at the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus died to pay for all our sins: past, present and future. The moment we believe in him, we are righteous by faith. We can go to God at any time we want and behave as though we have never committed a single sin in our lives. Why? As far as God is concern, all the penalties of our sins had been paid. We are always holy because of what Jesus has done at the Cross. Peter was the most vocal of the disciples and because he hadn’t yet grasped the power of the cross he openly rebuked Jesus for preaching what he labeled as wrong doctrine. The Bible says, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22 KJV   Peter, like many christians, did not understand that sometimes our walk with God will include struggles, rejection, and for some believers, death. He was yet to comprehend that the path that leads to the fulness of life in Christ Jesus must include “the cross” which represents the emptying of self and the crucifying of the flesh. The Bible says, “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:23 KJV  Anything that prevents you from obeying God’s plan for your life is a hindrance and a snare to your spiritual growth. “Get thee behind me, satan!” Jesus was saying that I will not be talked out of the cross. The cross is the will of God for my life. And I must obey. The cross is necessary. You can’t have salvation without the cross. You can’t have freedom from sin without the cross. Paul wrote in Colossians, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20 KJV  and he also wrote it here, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:14 KJV  The cross is at the center of everything that God has provided for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have heard many christians say things like, “Well, the suffering in my life is just my cross to bear.” Or, “I’ve just got to carry this cross on my shoulders no matter how difficult it is.” But what are they really saying? To many christians, sickness and disease, a bad marriage, a bad temper or poverty is the cross that Jesus has required them to carry. But is this a correct interpretation of scripture? Does God require us to be poor to serve Him? Does God require us to learn how to put up with chronic sickness and crippling disease as a means to the emptying of self? Remember, the purpose of the cross is to bring you to the resurrection; not to leave you suffering in agony and shame. Jesus is not continually hanging on the cross. Jesus does not need to be crucified all over again and again and again. He took up His cross once. That was enough to purchase our eternal salvation and deliverance. The purpose of the cross is to remove something ungodly out of your life and to bring you into the resurrection life. God isn’t asking you to merely deny the desires and the longings of your flesh and have nothing to gain in return. No! The purpose of taking up your cross is to bring you to a place of living an overcoming and victorious life in Christ Jesus and to partake of the resurrected life with all of it’s power and all of it’s privileges. The Bible says, “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” Isaiah 52:14 KJV  This adds fresh light to the accepted meaning of Matthew 16:24. The cross is not intended to be borne forever; rather, it is taken up whenever the plan of God requires it of us. The “taking up of your cross” is the means whereby God procures our deliverance from earthly, fleshly things possessing our hearts and minds, and severs their stronghold over us. It liberates us from the controlling appetites and the unnecessary weights of our ungodly flesh and our soulish life, and frees us to completely follow God. Peter wrote, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 KJV  Jesus took up the cross so that we could now live a righteous and fruitful life; a life that is free from sin and free from the guilt and shame that sins brings. Jesus bore stripes on His body to purchase our healing so we could now live free from sickness and disease. To say that bearing a chronic sickness in your life is your cross to bear is to deny the power of Christ’s sacrifice and to deny the scriptures that teach, “…by whose stripes you were healed.”. To say that poverty, anger or strife is your cross to bear is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit’s operation in your life. Also if your heart is focused on earthly things, you will have difficulty following the leadings and the promptings of the Spirit. For the Bible says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19 KJV  You can’t serve the flesh and serve the Spirit at the same time. You can’t follow the appetites of your flesh and at the same time be obedient to the desires of the spirit. If you desire to follow God and to be a true disciple of the Lord you must learn to crucify the flesh with its unholy appetites and take up your cross by dying to the selfish desires of your flesh. The Bible says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-21,24 KJV  You’ve got to let go of “self” and learn to put God’s Word first in your life if you want to be a committed disciple of the Lord.

He Must Increase:

He must increase, He must become greater, He must grow greater and greater.  HIS INCREASE IS ASSURED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:7 KJV  “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27 KJV  “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalms 119:89 KJV  “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 KJV  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 KJV “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Colossians 1:18-19 KJV  “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22 KJV

I Must Decrease:

OUR DECREASE IS REQUIRED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 KJV  “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 KJV  “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29-20 KJV  

Conclusion:

It is interesting that one of the meanings that the dictionary gives to the word “cross” is a trial, a burden, an affliction or a frustration. This is religions view of the cross. But I believe that Jesus would give us an entirely different perspective of the cross. From God’s point of view, the cross was the means whereby Jesus purchased our salvation and our deliverance. The cross is therefore a blessing to be experienced and not a burden for us to bear. And the phrase “take up your cross” should be viewed as a means to our deliverance and not as a frustrating or a defeated experience. Everyday brings with it new challenges and new blessings. And when we learn to “take up our cross daily”  we will be delivered from the annoying frustrations of life and we will be able to take hold of the blessings that the Lord is daily bringing into our lives. As followers of Christ, are we lifting Him up instead of seeking honor for ourselves? Rather than being disappointed when our contribution is unnoticed, we should be glad because our highest privilege is to magnify the Lord. He’s the hero! Honoring Him is the mark of greatness. Our goal must be the same as that of John the Baptist, who said when he met Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

By: Jeff Ellinger


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “THE LAMBS BOOK OF LIFE” – CAN YOU LOSE YOUR SALVATION ?

August 10, 2011

“And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.”

Exodus 32:31-33 KJV

Sealed with the Holy Spirit:

At the moment of our salvation when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, three most amazing things will happen. The first thing that will occur is that we will get automatic forgiveness for all our sins – all past, present, and future sins that we will ever commit. The second thing that will occur is that we will get to go straight to heaven when we die and cross over because we have now become saved and born again. However, there is a third major thing that will occur that some Christians do not have a full understanding on. At the exact moment that we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and have become saved and born again, we also instantaneously receive the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit Himself! The Bible tells us that both God and Jesus live in heaven. However, when we become saved and born again, we literally get to receive the Holy Spirit Himself. He literally, and I mean literally, comes to live on the inside of us. Our bodies have now become the temple of the Holy Spirit because He is now living on the inside of us. And not only does the Holy Spirit come to live on the inside of us as a result of accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but the Bible also tells us that we have now become “sealed” with the Holy Spirit. The Bible says,“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 KJV  To think that God the Father would allow the third Person of His Godhead, the Holy Spirit, to come down and literally enter in on the inside of us where our bodies have now become the temple of His Spirit is something that is truly awesome.

The Book of Life:

The Book of Life is the book in which appears the name of every person who is born. In the beginning of creation, the Bible says God made the heavens and the earth in six days. And on the sixth day God made Adam and Eve. In the Bible it says, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;” Genesis 5:1 KJV  In the process of time, Adam and Eve had fallen from their sinless state into the natural realm of sin which they had chosen. When Adam sinned, he lost everything that was given to him in the garden, provision, protection, and God’s presence. But not only did Adam lose himself, he lost his posterity to the sinful nature that he created. When Adam was created, God wrote it in a book called the Book of Life. The Bible says, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Romans 5:12 KJV  When Adam sinned, we all sinned, even though we weren’t born yet. All of humanity came from Adam. So when Adam sinned he was blotted out of the Book of Life, but so were we. It says in the Bible, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” Exodus 32:33 KJV  God made man after his image and likeness, but when Adam sinned he lost that image and likeness.

The Lambs Book of Life:

The Lamb’s Book of Life is the book in which appears the name of every person who has been born again, spiritually speaking, who has been saved through the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every one was in the Book of Life in the beginning, but not every one was written in the Lambs Book of Life. The Lambs Book of Life is a book of those who were predestinated in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. The Bible says, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27 KJV  Being written back into the Book of Life through the new birth, and continuing therein unto the end of our lives or until Christ returns, also confirms that we are written in the Lambs Book of Life.

Blotting out of The Book of Life:

If a person dies as a believer his name is retained in the book of life, if he dies unsaved he is blotted out. The Bible says, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” Psalms 69:28 KJV  The righteous are those who obeyed by having faith in the gospel. All of humanity came from Adam. So when Adam sinned he was blotted out of the Book of Life, but so were we. The Bible also says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 KJV  Since one must be written in the Book of Life to go to heaven, and in the absence of testimony from the bible of a name being written in the Book of Life other than at Creation, and in view of the finality of written in once and blotted out once, and since God is not willing that any perish and since He has made provision for all men who stand condemned at conception to simply believe and have eternal life, and since all men during their physical lifetimes must thus have the opportunity to be saved, then all men must be written in the Book of Life, before conception probably at the creation of the world.

Lose Your Salvation:

Once saved, always saved? Can a Christian lose their salvation after they have truly accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior? There is major divided opinion in the Body of Christ now on this question. Many believe that you cannot lose your salvation, no matter how many bad things you may end up doing in this life. The Bible says that we are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation with the Lord and that nothing can break this seal, no matter how many bad and evil sins a person may commit after getting saved. I believe there are several verses in Scripture that really do answer this question. I believe the seal we have with the Holy Spirit is a very strong and powerful seal. These passages do not teach that one can lose his salvation through disbelief or apostasy. These verses refer to a hypothetical situation whereby the author stresses what would happen to a saved person if he could fall away.The author does not believe one can lose his salvation. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” Hebrews 6:4-8 KJV  These next verses will demonstrate the folly of some specific sins that might make a person fall away. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV  It is the work of God that transforms one from darkness to light, from death to life, from a child of the Devil to a son of God. It is a completed, regenerating work, “You are saved,” or “You have been saved and stand saved.”

 

Conclusion:

To summarize, every one has his name written in the “Book of life”. The wicked will have their names blotted out of this book. The righteous, the born-again believers, have their names written in the Book of Life and in the Lamb’s Book, and thy will never have their names blotted out of either one. The Lord Jesus Christ wants every believer to overcome the world by living a faithful Christian life until He returns or until death. He promises special rewards for the Christian who overcomes.Those rewards include a special fullness of life alluded to in the understatement, “He who overcomes … I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life.”  All believers have, and will forever have, life. Only overcoming believers have, and will forever have, life more abundantly. In the Bible it says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15 KJV  The Lord is coming back for a people that’s written. “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Daniel 12:1 KJV

By: Jeff Ellinger



WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “THE STORY OF BALAAM” WHICH PATH ARE YOU TAKING ? MAN OR DONKEY’S WAY

July 19, 2011

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”

2 Peter 2:15-16 KJV

Balaam was a Gentile prophet, whose prophesies are recorded in scripture.  He even predicted the Star of Bethlehem.  However, his love of the world became the source of his infamy.  Balaam loved money, prostitution, and worldly fame.  He was famous as a soothsayer, who would pronounce a curse for money. Balaam was the classic case of the worldly prophet.  He was so overcome by worldliness that his values reflected not the Righteousness of God but the corruption of the lusts of the flesh.  When the lusts of the flesh replace the love of God, the believer travels down the path of reversionism. He is the classic example of a person who knew the right way, but rejected it to pursue the Frantic Search for Happiness of worldly lusts. He was like Moses in that he would talk to God and ask for help. Important people would come to him for help. There was just ONE big difference between Moses and Balaam. Moses loved God and loved Him with all his heart. Moses told the people what God said because he obeyed God and wanted the people to listen and obey. Balaam helped people if he received money to do it. He did not know God personally in his heart. He only knew God in his head. When  prophets or Church Age pastors enter into reversionism, they are doubly destructive.  Not only do they hurt themselves, but they lead others astray.  Balaam was responsible for the death of 24,000 Jews.  He was the pawn of Baal.  He was the friend of anti-Semitism, the unfaithful servant, and corrupt prophet.  His reversionism was so perverse, that his own donkey was used to preach him a sermon in trying to restrain his reversionistic insanity.  His infamy was so great that throughout history the mere mention of the name Balaam was a cause for insult.  In the epistles to the Church, Peter uses him as an example of the reversionist, and the Lord Jesus Christ uses him as an example of the apostasy in the Church at Pergammon. It says in the Bible, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Revelation 2:14 KJV  Because the story of Balaam is as relevant today as any other time in history.  Just as prophets like Balaam existed in Moses’ day, pastors exist in the Church Age with a striking similarity.  Today the apostasy of Balaam is everywhere.  It fills the pulpits of apostate churches all over the world.  Unlike Balaam, however, the pastors of today do not have the luxury of a talking donkey to awaken them from their own apostasy.  Unless they have a near-death experience or some other shock to wake them up, most of them continue to operate as Balaam in the power of the Cosmic System.  They don’t know the meaning of grace.  They have no concept of experiential sanctification, and they are slaves to the devil’s world. One day the king of the land sent special messengers to Balaam to ask for help. His name was Balak. Balak is derived from the Hebrew , balaq, which means to lay waste, to destroy.  He was the son of Zippor. The Bible says, “He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.” Numbers 22:5-6 KJV  Balaam was a world-famous soothsayer in Pethor, a city south of Carchemish on the west bank of the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, now Iraq.  Balaam is Hebrew Bile`am, from balu (to swallow, destroy) and `am (the people) or “destroyer of the people (nation).”  Thus, Balaam’s name came true.  He was responsible for the deaths of 24,000 Jews, “And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.” Numbers 25:9 KJV  Balaam was the son of Beor, from Hebrew ba`ar which means “to burn.”  The Jews in Jeremiah’s day burned their children as sacrifices to Baal, “And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.” Jeremiah 7:31 KJV  He wanted Balaam to ask God to curse His own people. This sounds strange to us. Why would anyone think that they could get God to curse the people who He loved and helped? Balaam asked God what to do and God told him not to go with the men. When the king heard the answer, he sent other more distinguished princes to ask Balaam to help them. He also made sure that Balaam knew that he would be given much money if he came and cursed God’s people. Balaam asked God what to do. God told him to go, but only to speak what He said. Balaam proceeded to return with the princes of Moab the next day.  When it says that he “saddled his donkey,” this does not mean that he used a saddle of leather as is commonly used for a horse or mule.  The donkey’s back was covered with layers of thick cloth on which a flat straw pad was bound “and the whole was covered with a bright cloth or carpet. Thus, Balaam set out on a trip that was contrary to the will of God.  This is called reversionism, departure from the will of God.  There are only two strategic paths in life for the believer.  One leads to maturity and dying grace while the other leads intensified discipline and finally to the sin that terminates in death.  At this point Balaam is headed down into reversionism and things will get progressively worse. Even though Balaam seemed to be following God, God knew that he had other plans in his heart. God knew the greed for money and things that was in Balaam’s heart. An angel of the Lord stood in the road with a sword. Balaam could not see the angel, but the donkey could. When the donkey saw the angel, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam could not believe what his donkey was doing. He beat the donkey for going off the path. It says in the Bible, “And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.” Numbers 22:22-23 KJV  Balaam’s reversionistic discipline began with discipline for distraction, or departure from the will of God.  The phrase, “God was angry,” is an anthropopathism, which ascribes to God a human feeling to communicate with mankind.  God does not get angry, but He did not approve of Balaam’s strategic advance down into reversionism.  As the angel of the Lord stood in the path it was the Lord,  preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, who in the form of an angel in front of Balaam’s donkey.  Balaam in the spiritual blindness of reversionism could not see the angel, but his donkey saw, turned aside. This is one of the first evidences of reversionism, or distraction.  Rather than follow the straight path, the reversionist takes an exit and winds up in the wrong field or in the wrong neighborhood. Again the angel stood near a narrow path with walls on each side. When the donkey saw the angel again, she pressed close to the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot. Again Balaam beat the donkey. It says, “But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.” Numbers 22:24-25 KJV  Since Balaam was still spiritually asleep, the Lord intensified the discipline.  The next discipline that Balaam faced was the strait.  A strait is a narrow passage designed to illustrate the importance of staying on course and the danger of straying off course.  Unlike the previous discipline of distraction, the discipline of a strait can produce injury.  It is therefore more intensified discipline.  Straits in the ocean may be flanked by rocks.  In Balaam’s case the strait was between two stone walls.  When the angel of the Lord stood in the path, the donkey veered to the side and jammed Balaam’s foot against the wall, which brought him pain.  Balaam reacted with vindictiveness toward his donkey and struck her again.The believer is expected to navigate by faith as it says in the Bible, “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” 2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV  For a third time, the angel stood near a narrow place with no room to go around. This time the donkey sat down. Balaam was furious with the donkey and beat her again. The Bible says, “And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.” Numbers 22:26-27 KJV  As Balaam continued in his spiritual blindness, the Lord stood in a very narrow place, and the donkey sat down, or went down, fell down, stopped, stalled.  Again Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick. It says in the Bible, “And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.” Numbers 22:28-30 KJV  Here the donkey  was not walking, nor even standing.  Failure to stand represents Intensive Discipline.  Examples of Intensive Discipline include sickness, injury, and mechanical failure, a crash or accident. As if things couldn’t worse, they did.  Balaam was having a bad day.  Things were going wrong right and left.  Then the Lord opened the mouth of Balaam’s donkey and she asked him what she had done to deserve being beaten with a stick three times.  To add insult to injury, now his donkey was talking back to him, or, as many somewhat inaccurate translations, “But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” 2 Peter 2:16 KJV  Balaam’s donkey was allowed to speak to make a point for all of history to remember.Balaam answered that the donkey had made a fool out of him in front of the special princes. He was embarrassed. The donkey defended herself against a callous and insensitive manager who had no respect for God or God’s creation. Balaam in his anger, told the donkey he would have killed her if he had a sword.  This shows clearly that Balaam did not understand the system that he was using.  The system was a transportation system that depended upon the faithful support of his donkey. Then the Bible says, “Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.” Numbers 22:31-33 KJV  After discussing the problem with his donkey, Balaam was none the wiser.  He was still in his reversionistic stupor asleep on the job.  Those who live by emotion are irrational.  Even after being put down by a donkey, Balaam didn’t have a clue that he was headed into bad trouble.  He was on the road to curse Israel, and that will bring down the roof.  Yet, he carried on a conversation with his donkey as if it were nothing unusual. It wasn’t until the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, or revealed Himself to him in the form of an angel, that Balaam awoke.  The angel of the Lord was a preincarnate manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord was standing in Balaam’s path with a drawn sword in hand.  The sword was a symbol of capital punishment from the Supreme Court of Heaven.  Balaam in his reversionism was on the way to the sin that would end in his death, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” 1 John 5:16 KJV  The Lord was revealing to Balaam his danger. The Lord defended the donkey and pointed out Balaam’s guilt.  He explained to Balaam that the problem with the system was that Balaam was advancing in opposition to the Lord.  The reversionist is the “enemy of the cross,”For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:” Philippians 3:18 KJV  Balaam in reversionism was not executing the Plan of God.  He was fulfilling his own lusts.  The Lord caused the problem with Balaam’s donkey.  He even performed a miracle by enabling the donkey to talk.  Still Balaam still did not understand that he was advancing contrary to the will of God and headed for severe judgment.  Balaam was willing to entertain the thought of cursing God’s chosen people because he was in reversionism.  The reversionist is concerned about himself and his own lust, not the Plan of God.  Balaam in reversionism loved money, not God. Lust is the desire, or motivation to sin.  Lust is enticement to sin.  Lust is temptation.  The process is as follows, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:14-15 KJV  Balaam may have looked like a follower of God on the outside, but inside, he really was doing whatever got money and fame. Balaam might have fooled many people, but he did not fool God. Money is the coin of the realm in the devil’s world, but virtue-love is the prize possession of the spiritual life. When life is over, everyone departs this life without their worldly possessions.  Those who seek worldly riches are lusting after false values.  These things will not go to heaven. The lust attraction for money and worldly riches is based upon a false value. “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:7-10 KJV  There are only two roads in life.  One road leads to spiritual maturity and dying grace while the other road leads to reversionism and the sin that ends with death. There are no other choices according to the Bible. For those who reject Bible Doctrine and live in lust, the result will be a horrible death. “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:30 KJV  We may fool others and they may think that we believe in Jesus and know Him. Inside, God knows our hearts. He knows if we REALLY trust Him or just say we do in front of others. God sees us wherever we are and knows if we act one way in church and another way at home or at school. God cares for us and He will carry out His good plans for us, even if He has to use animals and rebellious people to do so. How has God spoken to you or cared for you through unusual circumstances? What reasons do you have to praise Him for His protection and leading? Do you know God in your heart or do you just know Him in your head. Have you been playing a game pretending to be a Christian, when you really are not? God wants us to trust in Him and believe in Him with all our hearts. We must believe in Him because we love Him and know that He loves us and sent His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us to get to Heaven. So why not today open up your heart to Jesus Christ, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood to pay the penalty for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT INDEPENDENCE DAY AND FREEDOM – THE 4th OF JULY

July 2, 2011

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
John 8:32-36 KJV

As U.S. citizens we celebrate our freedom on Independence Day, thanking our founding fathers for giving us our liberty. As Christians we also celebrate our freedom in Christ and the sacrifice he made to set us free from sin and death. According to the encyclopedia, Independence Day is the national day of the United States.  July 4th, 1776 separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second According to the encyclopedia, Independence Day is the national day of the United States.  July 4th, 1776 Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.  During the American Revolution, the legal Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.  Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4.  Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, picnics, concerts, baseball games, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. What does the Bible say about Freedom and Independence? There are no verses with “Freedom” or “Independence” in them. What about verses with the word “free”?  There are 58 verses in the KJV. Here are two verses to look at, “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16 KJV  and, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 KJV As American Christians we take so much for granted. We have freedom of speech. We have freedom to worship. We can attend the Church of our choice. Most of us have more than one Bible in our home. Some of us don’t even read the Bible we have. As Americans today, we believe we are truly free.  We are free to choose how we live, what we say and how we believe.  Some of us choose to live as husband and wife and others choose to live in same-sex relationships.  Others choose not to marry at all and live life alone.  Some practice freedom of speech, through radio and TV broadcasts, books and pulpits.  And others choose to keep their opinions to themselves.  Some choose to worship the moon and stars, idols and Satan.  And others choose to worship and follow God.  Today we all have the right to vote for our leaders and exercise our political freedoms. Our parents taught us to do as we please, live the way we want, within the law,  and be whoever we want to be.  The sky is the limit! Right?  But even though we have all of these earthly freedoms and have been declared independent, are we really free? In the book of Exodus, God chose Moses to lead the Israel people out of Egypt as slaves of Pharaoh.  They had been slaves for hundreds of years and wanted to be set free.  God heard them and decided to answer their prayers. In Exodus it says, “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Exodus 6:6-7 KJV  This scripture resembles the similarities that the people from the American Colonies must have felt when they were held in bondage by Great Britain.  They too were freed by God, when they were allowed to legally separate from them to practice their religious freedoms.  We can also refer to this scripture when African-Americans were freed as slaves.  They were also held in bondage for over two hundred years by a race of people who wanted to feel superior over them as well.  This scripture represents being physically enslaved and freed, but what about our spiritual freedom? When God created us, he gave us freedom of choice.  We can choose to believe in him or not.  To sin or not.  There is no gray area.  To live in sin is to be a slave to sin.  When we continue to make bad choices or do evil against others, we choose sin.  But when we live for God, we become free from sin and our spirit is renewed. It says in the Bible, “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:5-6 KJV  If we put our faith and full trust in him, without doubt, then he will provide a way out of them. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:14-15 KJV  Like millions of Americans this week, my mind is on the Fourth of July holiday and what it represents: our freedom as a nation. This freedom is a precious thing, bought with the sweat, toil and blood of countless Americans who initially fought to obtain it as well as those who have fought to secure it in the centuries since that fateful day in 1776. Gratitude without measure wells up in my heart when I consider the brave men and women of the American military who, this Fourth of July, will be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat the tyranny of terrorism. But even as I prize my freedom as an American, I am moved to consider a greater freedom, my freedom in Christ. It is the freedom that comes with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. “If you abide in my word,” our Lord declares, “you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” As you celebrate the Fourth of July, think of creative ways to make the “Declaration” of freedom in Christ to family and friends. There is no greater feeling of liberation than to experience this freedom from sin and death that you have provided for me through Jesus Christ. Today my heart and my soul are free to praise you. For this I am very thankful. On this Independence Day I am reminded of all those who have sacrificed for my freedom, following the example of your Son, Jesus Christ. Let me not take my freedom, both physical and spiritual, for granted. May I always remember that my freedom was purchased with a very high price. My freedom cost others their very lives. Lord, today, bless those who have served and continue to give their lives for my freedom. With favor and bounty meet their needs and watch over their families. Not many of us will create our own nation, but we all have a kingdom of the heart where we decide who will rule. The apostle Peter wrote, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” 1 Peter 3:15 KJV  “Sanctify” means to set apart Christ as Lord or Ruler of our life. There is something within each of us that longs to be in control of our lives. It may be only a small corner where we assert our spiritual independence and answer to no one but ourselves.But true freedom comes when we allow Christ to rule our hearts. History reveals that when a nation ignores God and rejects His Word, it reaps a bitter harvest.On this Independence Day, we in the United States are reminded again of the liberties we enjoy. For these we should be deeply grateful. But sometimes we take them for granted, displaying little concern for those who are not so abundantly blessed. We are becoming a nation of people who selfishly insist on our own rights, making unfair demands on others and not thinking of their welfare. Worst of all, in this clamor for personal freedom, we hear very little about the rights of God. We should recognize that He is the “Lord of the vineyard.” He expects us to produce the fruits of love and obedience instead of the wild grapes of ingratitude and wickedness. The Bible says, “And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” Isaiah 5:2 KJV  As we thank God for our rights, let’s not forget the rights of God. Today, recommit yourself to living as one of God’s people. That’s the way to enjoy true freedom. So open your heart to Jesus Christ today because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood and paid the penalty for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger


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