Tag Archives: Paul
Parson to Person
An arresting concept emanating from the scriptures is that of being separated while united. No, this is not double-speak, so think with me about it.
Jesus had much to say about the doctrine of separation while in His earthly ministry. He came to separate families. He forthrightly declared He had not come to bring peace, but a sword, and that His teachings received would make the members of one’s household to be his enemies in spiritual things. The family would still be united, but at the same time separated.
The apostle Paul spoke in detail about personal, inner separation while being united. His writing in Romans Chapter Seven underscores what most every Christian of any degree of maturity experiences. Not doing what should be done, and doing what should not be done is universal among people of God on earth. The higher calling of God in Christ prompts us ever onward in the right direction, but the warfare with the flesh ever yields challenges to those accomplishments. By these things, one is separated while remaining united in the Christian pilgrimage. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus knows exactly what I am talking about from his own personal experience.
Another aspect of the subject is what is obviously manifested in the Lord’s churches. Some have managed to get their name on the church roll, but have never been saved. Still others who are legitimate members of the church find it often cramps their style, and they rejoice when they find another excuse to not participate either in worship or other important kingdom activities. It must be admitted that they are members of the church even if one has cause to doubt that Jesus would say so. Hence, the church is separated while still being technically united. It will be judgment before the Lord that finalizes and eliminates such fragmented status.
Still, in another sense being separated while united is often a cause of great joy. As one experiences war between the spirit and the flesh, and through prayer and understanding, the spirit wins over the flesh, it brings great happiness. This is the kind of separation while being together that pleases the Lord. It also adds to the growth in grace that builds Christian warriors.
The enemy of every disciple of Jesus lies within, and it cannot be uprooted. It can be overcome to a great extent as one dedicates himself to learning and following the Lord in harmony with His Word, and that brings rich reward in the end. Until then, victory in life through separation while being united goes on in the sure knowledge and hope of final unification of the total man without the separation sin has brought to us.
2 Thessalonians 3:16-18
Paul used someone other than himself to pen most of his letters. We do not know exactly why Paul did this, but we learn in today’s passage that he did at least pen one verse in his own handwriting. Paul even made an explicit point to let the readers know that this final admonition was written in his own hand. There is a lot of speculation as to why Paul would do this. Was it because he wanted to show his special care in writing this particular letter? Was it simply his sign of authenticity?
This could very well be the case. There may have even been a case of forgery that led to the idea that the day of Christ had already come. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:2.)
What is really important here was Paul’s salutation. He wrote (may) “the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means” and “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” Paul wished grace and peace to his readers. As believers, we have received both God’s grace and peace. Paul now prayed that these two wonderful gifts would continue with us. Paul wished for the believers in Thessalonica and believers everywhere to be filled with God’s wonderful grace and peace.
JUST A THOUGHT
Do you find rest and comfort in God’s grace and peace in your life?
Author: W. A. Dillard
Our dearly beloved apostle, John wrote: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” I John 2:18. Now, hold on just a minute! What is he saying? What does he mean? Think with me!
Since “ …man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:4, it is imperative that every word of God be thoroughly understood to have correct theology and proper discipleship. Therefore, we observe that “antichrist” is a compound word. “Anti” is a prefix meaning “against; opposite in the negative.” “Anti” in this case does not necessitate harshness, but simply a mild twisting of the truth into error, and propagating it as truth. Moreover, “Christ” is a Greek term transliterated into English. It means “anointed.” So, the apostle John is telling us that there are many who are anti (the) anointed in the world already in his time. Of course, that number has been multiplied exponentially over the last two thousand years.
Now we follow with a proper application of the compound term that is totally in harmony with all the rest of the Word of God. Greeks would use the term “Christ” while Hebrews would use the term “Messiah.” Hence, the meaning of these terms go deep into Hebrew history. The anointing of a new king or high priest was accomplished with a public ceremony wherein oil was poured over the head of the designated person. In scripture, oil is consistently symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Upon the anointing with oil, the Holy Spirit empowered the one anointed with sufficient wisdom and power to properly fulfill the office for which he was being installed.
In the New Testament, only two entities were anointed with the Holy Spirit, imparting to them the power to fulfill their designated roles. Those two are the Head of the body, and the body of the Head. Specifically, these are Jesus, the Head of His body, the church, at His baptism, and His body, the church, on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2. The Head of the body, and the body of the Head stand for the same principles. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life while the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and it is the propagator of the faith once delivered to the saints in and through the Head.
Finally, if every word of God is important, and is true (which it is), and if the anointed body of Jesus is heaven’s agency on earth standing for and propagating that word and its truth, then it follows that every institution and person on earth seeking to pervert, deny, and twist that word and that truth out of its context to make it seem to say something it does not is indeed antichrist. Truly, many antichrists are here, and they will play a significant role in propelling THE COMING MAN OF SIN into international prominence. Therefore while it is today, call on the name of the Lord in repentance from sin, then walk in faith in the anointed Head and body instead of one of the many antichrists.
“For I am in a stait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better,” Philippians 1:23.
Paul was torn between two desires. Philippians 1:21 tells us what these two desires were. Paul struggled between the desire to live for Christ and to depart to eternity.
In my life I also struggle with the idea of death versus life, but not in the same manner Paul did. My fleshly struggle is the desire to live, to keep on enjoying the earthly things. I often fear death. It is not because I want to stay here for God’s glory, I desire to stay here for my glory! Then, I look into God’s Word and search my heart.
When I understand that this life is not about me, it helps me to put life and death into its proper perspective. I can then see that I am called to live for the glory of God!
I pray that I, like Paul, will be driven to bring God maximum glory with my life on earth. I also anticipate the day that I will finally experience the great things He has laid up for me in eternity!
JUST A THOUGHT
Are you looking forward to the better departure?
“For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. . . . . But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel,” Philippians 2:20-22.
Paul wrote to the Philippian brethren who loved him and cared greatly for his welfare. He was in prison at this time and intended to comfort the worrying church. He wanted to send them his best and most trusted disciple, Timothy, who had adopted Paul as his spiritual father. He and Timothy had bonded, carrying the gospel to the world. Timothy had learned from Paul how to preach the gospel in Spirit and truth. He had discipled himself to Paul to learn the ministry from the inside looking out. Paul was proud of his son in the faith, and he believed that, if he sent Timothy, it would be just as though Paul himself had come. But, since Paul was in prison, he needed Timothy to stay and minister to his needs. Paul bragged on Timothy, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil. 2:21).
It is wisdom for inexperienced workers to disciple themselves to wise adults who have been in the trenches long enough to know the standards of excellence, and who will not let them waiver toward work that is less than their best. Moses was confident to pass the baton of leadership to Joshua because Joshua had stepped in Moses’ every footprint, learning to be brave and true, leading the Lord’s sheep through the wilderness of despair into the paradise of Canaan.
Timothy was Paul’s disciple, and he cared not who knew it.
“And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few,” Acts 17:4.
Paul frequented the synagogues wherever his missionary journeys took him. He would preach the truths about Jesus. The audience would either reject the message, riot or believe. He would gather the believers and teach them, and when he left the town, there was usually a New Testament church established. Often he would visit the believers again, ordaining preachers and teachers, that they might exhibit the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit to conduct God’s business through His churches. The supernatural gifts were necessary in the early churches because instructions to the churches were not yet written. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). As long as Jesus’ physical body was present among the disciples, there was only one church, and He is the Head of the church.
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless [orphans]: I will come to you” (John 14:17, 18). On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered the church. Therefore, they could spread the gospel all over the world, establish churches and Christ could be the Head of every one of them. Thus, we see His plan for creating New Testament churches, each one autonomous, governing itself in the work of evangelism, baptism and teaching the truths of God.
Jesus’ plan was to establish New Testament churches.
The Hebrew nātāh (H5186) appears 215 times in the OT and literally means “to extend, stretch out,” that is, extending something outward and toward, as one would extend his arm (Exo_7:5) or point a staff (Exo_7:19) or a spear (Jos_8:18). It is used also for stretching out, that is, pitching, a tent (Gen_12:8; Exo_33:7) and as the idiom for stretching out one’s hand against something in a hostile manner (Job_15:25).
This word is often used, however, in a figurative way, such as inclining or leaning toward something. As the psalmist Asaph writes, for example, we are to “incline [our] ears to the words of [God’s] mouth” (Psa_78:1). Of special note is Psa_119:36 : “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” The godly believer is not inclined or reaching toward covetousness (“which is idolatry,” Col_3:5), not “[inclined] . . . to any evil thing, to practise wicked works” (Psa_141:4). Rather he or she is inclined toward God’s testimonies, that is, the solemn testimonies of His will, the serious expressions of His standards for human behavior.
This pictures the same truth that Paul declares in Php_3:13-14 : “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” In spite of being trained by our Lord Himself (implied in Gal_1:16-18) and thirty years of Christian growth and ministry, Paul says (in effect), “I haven’t arrived yet. I haven’t reached the prize. I don’t even fully comprehend the prize. I therefore continue to reach forth, to press toward, to pursue, to go after the prize of the knowledge of Christ.” “That I may know him,” was his driving motive (Gal_3:10).
Therefore, an essential part of a consistent Christian life is that we are always “reaching forth.” Sadly, many Christians, and even Christian leaders, get to a point in their lives where they become complacent and satisfied. They might say, “Well, I think I’m okay. I know the basic truths of Christianity, I know what I believe, and I love the Lord. That’s all I need.” Such an attitude shows we have already failed! If we are not always reaching, we begin to stagnate and even slide back.
Dear Christian Friend, are you always reaching?
Scriptures for Study: Read the following verses, noting what each encourages us to do: 1Ki_8:58; Psa_119:51; Psa_141:4; and Pro_2:2.
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Romans 3:28.
Paul preached to correct an error in the believers Rome, that is, that keeping the Law justified them in God’s eyes. The problem with trying to mix the Law (works) and faith for salvation is that it does not mix. We could compare it to mixing oil and water. Oil, like faith, always rises to the top and does not mix with water (works).
The Law, as Paul explains, educates about sin. It teaches the students, but it can do nothing to cleanse a person from sin. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:24, 25).
Jesus is an equal opportunity Savior. He made it possible for everyone who believes in His death, burial and resurrection to be saved. They may be in their last hours of life when they believe in Jesus Christ and are saved. They may be physically challenged and believe in Jesus Christ and become saved. Salvation does not require works, only faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God. That makes salvation accessible and equal for all people regardless of their ability to perform any deeds or good works.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:24).
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 5:8.
Paul’s thesis in this passage is that we have two homes, one of the earth where we must live by faith. Since we cannot see our spiritual home with God, we long for that reunion when our yearning heart will be satisfied and at peace.
Often when children grow up and leave home, they find dreams do not come true so easily. After regrouping, they try their wings again until they, like Noah’s dove, can find a place of their own to lay their weary heads. Jesus told His would-be disciples, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). He knew this world was not His home. On the cross, He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit. In the Greek, the words “bowed his head” (John 19:30) are the same words as “lay his head.” On the cross, He finally found the place to lay His head. He had gone home.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived by faith as strangers and pilgrims in a strange land, believing God had prepared them a city, and they would one day dwell there and be satisfied and at peace. Going home gives the child of God inspiration to get out of bed each morning and fight the battles assigned to him that day.
Going through the throws of basic training and cutting the apron strings, I called home as often as I could. Finally, I got a furlough. I happily arrived home to find my three brothers had divided all my clothes and one was sleeping in my bed. It hit me hard. This is not your home anymore.
This world is not our home. We are pilgrims and strangers passing through, convincing as many as we can to go with us.