Inspiration and Miracles have CEASED

the MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 4

Inspiration and Miracles have CEASED.

There are three components to this subject that the mainstream denominational world still believes.

That God is still revealing His will to all through the direct operation of the Holy Spirit.

That man still has the ability to perform the miraculous through the direct operation of the Holy Spirit.

That the Holy Spirit resides personally inside of the believer.

None of these are true. The serious bible student knows that God is still active, but His work of revelation, confirmation of His word through miracles, and the direct operation of the Holy Spirit have CEASED.s

Miracles were there to

CONFIRM the word.

Heb 2:3-4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen.

The letters, or

EPISTLES are written for belief.

John 20:29-31 Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;

Eph 3:3-4; when you read you may understand. 2Tim 3:14-17; Rom 10:17

Jesus has all authority and He delegated

AUTHORITY to the Apostles and the written word.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself;

1Cor 4:6; not to go beyond the things which are written;

1Cor 14:37 let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.

The written

SCRIPTURES are COMPLETE.

2Tim 3:16-17 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. 2Peter 3:16

1Cor 13:8-10 whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

Partial vs Perfect (Complete) The word is complete.

The text cannot be referring to Jesus, for it says ‘THAT’ not “HE WHO” will come. This would make the text say that we only have Christ in part, but scripture states we have His fullness. We have the fullness of Christ:

Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.;

John 1:16 of His fullness we all received;

Col 2:10 ye are made full.

Wouldn’t it also mean that when Christ comes, we won’t know anything? Morons in Heaven?

The word (written miracles) can accomplish belief, John 20:30-31

Miracles were for

EDIFICATION & Verification until the completion of the New Testament scriptures.

1Cor 14:5 that the church may receive edifying. 3,4,5,12,17,26

Eph 4:12-13 unto the building up of the body of Christ:

John 20:28-31; Mark 16:20

Heb 2:3-4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.

This also includes the fact that

DEMON Possession is impossible today.

Jude 1:6 he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Lu 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven. Rev 20:10; 19:20

If inspiration of the Word is complete, and we are living in the last days, what new revelation could God give? What does John 20:30-31 mean?

God is… NO Respecter of Persons

MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 3

God is…

NOT a Respecter of Persons.

NOT a Sinner.

NOT a Failure.

A Popular trend among antagonists of God and His Word is to accuse Him of sin, weakness & prejudice.

The Bible Student needs to be ready to give a defense, for their own faith, and to effectively preach the gospel.

These errors abound in denominational error, not just among unbelievers. The Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement is prejudicial. Saying, “God could have failed,” is saying God is weak.

Claiming Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene is charging God with sin.

These are grave errors.

Instead of using my own reasoning, here’s what the Bible Says…

GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSON.

Ac 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

De 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

Pr 24:23b It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

Pr 28:21a To have respect of persons is not good:

Rom 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

Eph 6:9 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.

Col 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

1Pet 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

GOD DOES NOT SIN.

Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

1John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

De 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

1Pet 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

2Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

1John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

GOD IS NOT WEAK.

Job 40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

1Cor 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Isa 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

Ps 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Rev 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? 17

Job 42:2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Dan 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

GOD WILL NOT FAIL.

Some denominations teach that Jesus failed in establishing His kingdom when He came to earth. The Jews of the day thwarted His plans, so He had to punt and move to plan B, the church. This is utter nonsense!

Isa 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Mt 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Why this is so important?

Mt 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

1Cor 6:14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. What all this means is that God has provided the way of salvation to the whole world. [Mat 28:18-20] He has not withheld it from any. Jesus is the sinless and innocent Lamb of God. God is able. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Mat 10:28]

All MUST Obey the Gospel

MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 1

All MUST obey the Gospel.

The first and foremost truth that will answer many objections is the fact that everyone MUST obey the gospel to be saved.

This is easily shown by looking at the New Testament Scriptures.

2Thess 1:8 …rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus:

Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

see also; Rom 1:5; 10:16; 16:26; [emph mine seb]

Denominational people will come to you saying

  • “Baptism is not essential to salvation.”
  • “No works of man can save you.”
  • “Ask Jesus into your heart and you’ll be saved.”
  • “What about the thief on the cross?”
  • “By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”

They will especially appeal to emotionalism

  • “Do you mean to tell me my mother, that godly woman, who was a (insert denomination here) all her life is lost?”
  • “What if you’re on the way to be baptized and you die?”

They may even quote a few scriptures out of context

  • Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
  • Rom 10:9 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.
  • Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I believe all these passages, and I hope you do as well. However, I believe them in their context as well as in context with everything else Jesus said about salvation including baptism.

WHAT SAVES US?

Let’s answer one of the main objections to baptism. It is stated this way; “No work of man or from God can save you. If you get baptized, you’re working for & trying to earn your salvation.”

Colossians 2:11-14.

When you’re accused of salvation by ‘WORKS’ reply, “Yes, but it’s not me doing the work. Let’s look at Col 2:11-14.”

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

“…the working of God,” [ASV]

First, It’s God who is WORKING when we are baptized. It is God’s work, [Isa 29:14; Hab 1:5; Acts 13:41]

“…raised with him through faith…”

Obedience to God’s command is never considered earning anything. He’s working through OUR faith, our trust in His working. Our obedience is part of faith. James wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” [Jas 2:17]

wherein also ye are risen with Him…”

When we are baptized, we are being buried as dead sinners, then God’s working allows us to be RAISED with Christ being made alive, being forgiven of all our trespasses. [v13; Rom 6:3-4]

“…he make alive together with him;” [v13]

This scripture lets us KNOW what we’re doing in baptism, understanding that it is God working through our faith. It is not a blind faith, nor just a feeling. We may KNOW that we have eternal life. [2Tim 1:12; 1Jo 5:13]

“…having forgiven us all our trespasses;” [v13]

Lastly, because it’s God WORKING through OUR faith and that we are being RAISED with Christ, KNOWING we’ve obeyed the commands of God, we can be certain that we’ve worked out our SALVATION with fear and trembling. [Php 2:12; Acts 2:40] “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

MIRACLES in Acts?

A problem with many denominations today is the belief that God still uses Holy Spirit gifts [9 HS Gifts, 1Cor 12:7-11] through men today. The belief includes thinking that God is still speaking directly to individuals. They say things like, “God spoke to me,” “I’ve been called by God.”

While God is all powerful and can do whatever He wants, He is not still revealing His will and is not using men to do miracles today. Remember this verse:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” [John 20:30-31]

The miracles & the revelations to the Apostles recorded in Scripture are sufficient for us to believe, repent & obey [Eph 3:3-4]. The miracles in Acts will bolster this assertion.

The MiracleLocationVersePurpose & Result
Baptism of the Holy Spirit #1Jerusalem2:1-21to confirm the teaching at beginning of the church. John 20:30-31; Heb 2:3-4; Mark 16:17-20
Peter heals a lame manJerusalem3:1-11Teaching. 11-26; Belief John 20:30-31; Heb 2:3-4; Mark 16:17-20
Ananias & Sapphira struck deadJerusalem5:1-10Teaching at the beginning of the New Covenant. Cr. Lev 10:1-3
Apostles perform many wondersJerusalem5:12-1620 “go stand & teach”
PhilipSamaria8:4-13 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching
Paul convertedRoad to Damascus9:1-9To call an Apostle out of due season. 1Cor 15:8
Peter heals Eneas of a palsyLydda9:33, 34Belief. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Peter raises Tabitha, or Dorcas, to lifeJoppa9:36-41Belief. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Gentiles receive Holy Spirit Baptism #2 (& last)Caesarea10; Acts 11 & 15Confirming God’s acceptance; Acts 2
Peter delivered out of prison by an angelJerusalem12:7-17Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
God smites Herod, so that he diesJerusalem12:21-23Teaching at the beginning of the new Covenant. Cr. Lev 10:1-3. 24 word of God grew.
Elymas, the sorcerer, smitten with blindnessPaphos13:6-1112 astonished at the teaching. Belief Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul heals a cripple Lystra 14:8-1017 witness. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul casts out a spirit of divinationPhilippi16:16-18Confirming Preaching. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul and Silas’s prison doors opened by an earthquakePhilippi16:25-34Lead to converting the Jailor
Paul communicates the Holy SpiritEphesus19:1-6Confirming the word before it was written. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul heals multitudesEphesus19:11,12Belief John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul restores Eutychus to lifeTroas20:9-12Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul shakes off a viperMalta28:3-6Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul heals the father of Publius and othersMalta28:7-9Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4

An honest review of the above list will show the student why the miracles were needed.

  • To Confirm the preachers and the teaching were from God.
    • John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
  • For Belief, not for them alone, but for us in our times.
    • “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” [John 20:31]
    • Spiritual gifts were to edify in the absence of the written Word [1 Cor. 14:12-13,26; cf. 13:9]. The written Word is now completely sufficient to edify us [Acts 20:32; 2 Tim 3:16-17].
  • To produce Godly Reverence at the beginning of a covenant to demonstrate God’s displeasure. Not repeated for same error.
    • see Leviticus 10:1-3; Acts 5:1-10; Acts 12:21-23;

Spiritual gifts have fulfilled all three reasons for which they were given.

WHAT MORE SHOULD WE SEEK? When you review both the Old and New Testaments, considering the time frame of the writing, you’ll discover that the Miraculous is quite rare. Additionally, you’ll see that God is very patient and longsuffering [2Pet 3:15]. You don’t see God constantly striking people down. “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” [1Cor 10:6]

God has completed His revelations to us, and He confirmed them through the various signs, miracles and wonders. As you read the last chapters of Acts, you’ll see fewer and fewer miracles. Even Paul, Timothy, Trophimus & Epaphroditus did not perform miracles on each other to cure their pains. [cr. 2Tim 4:20; 1Tim 5:23; 2Cor 12:7; Phil 2:25-27].

The Miracles in Acts show us how and why miracles were done. They were done primarily to confirm the Word that was spoken through the Apostles. These signs were referred to, NOT REPEATED, in Acts 15:7-12 to show the others God’s approval of their activities. Now that the Scriptures are complete and the church has been built, what further need do we need of Miracles?

“…thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

[2Tim 3:15; cf 16-17]

Understanding what God Wants

Scriptural Authority in Acts.

One of the biggest questions of life is, What Does God Want? Along those lines comes the question, how do we find out?

Acts fifteen contains an event that will show us how God communicates, whereby we can know today what it is that God wants.

As we begin this study, we must recognize a few facts.

  • The New Testament was not yet written.
  • Miraculous gifts were to confirm what God wants. Heb 2:4; cf. Deut 18:21-22; 13:1-5.
  • Once the Written Word was completed, the signs and miracles were no longer needed. John 20:30-31; 1Cor 13:10; Eph 3:3-4; 2Tim 3:15-17.

These facts being established, we can learn how to determine what God wants by examining this passage.

God communicates in the same manner as we do with one another. We communicate our desires by TELLING, SHOWING, & IMPLYING. We also trust that our SILENCE on a matter is prohibitive. We can easily see these four concepts being utilized in Acts fifteen. The question the disciples wanted answered was, Are Gentiles candidates for the Gospel of Christ?

And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” [Acts 15:1]

Some claim that this was a council to vote on the question. This is wrong. The Apostles already knew the answer, as will be shown by their looking at God’s method of communication (Telling, Showing, Implying & Silence).

FIRST, Peter rose up and reminded them about the first Gentile converts (Acts 10 & 11). How the Holy Spirit fell upon them as He had them “at the beginning.” [Acts 11:15]. Peter Necessarily Infers (inescapably concluded) that God had implied, both through a vision and the falling of the Holy Spirit upon them, that God is accepting Gentiles. He closes by saying, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples…” [Acts 15:10] “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” [15:11]

NEXT, Paul and Barnabas “declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” [15:12] This is God communicating through SHOWING. Another way this is stated is Approved Apostolic Example. This testimony agrees with Peter, and with what was said about miracles. (see opening statements). “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” [Heb 2:4]

THEN, James answered. His appeal is to the revealed written word from God. He quotes from Amos nine, verses eleven and twelve. His appeal is to the DIRECT STATEMENTS of God. From this command of God, he concludes that God had already planned and authorized for Gentiles to be included in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

James connects the testimony of Peter with these verses in Amos. Who are we to fight against God? He begins by saying, “as it is written.” [15:15] We know from both Old and New Testaments not to go beyond that which is written. [1Cor 4:6; Deut 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18; Prov 30:6]

LASTLY, a letter is written and from it we find this statement about the prohibitive nature of SILENCE. “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:” [Acts 15:24. emph mine seb]

From this we learn that if there is no command, there is no permission. It is to speak presumptuously, something God has already condemned. [De 18:22; 13:2; 18:20; Jer 28:9] Silence is prohibitive is logically understood and demonstrated in at least two other places. Read & Study 2Samuel 7:1-7; Hebrews 7]

In conclusion, we see that the Apostles already knew what the Lord had commanded. They were guided into all truth [John 14:17,26; 15:26; 16:13]. They then declared to those in error the truth of the matter by appealing to God’s Direct Statements, Approved Examples, Inescapable conclusions along with the prohibitive nature of Silence.

We can do the same today utilizing “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:15-17]

Here are some questions to ask ourselves and of any who still believe that miracles are happening, revelation is still being received.

  • We know that Gentiles that obey the Gospel are accepted by God. What further evidence beyond the scriptures do we need to prove this?
  • We know that Baptism is commanded by God, what further miracle do we need to show this?
  • We know what moral behaviors are accepted and which behaviors God abhors, what further miracle do we need to show this?
  • We know that there will be a judgment day, what additional miracle do we need to show this?
  • We know that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and that we are to do whatever He commands [Luke 6:46], what additional miracle do we need to show this?

The Book of Acts, a book of conversions

Conversions in the Book of Acts

A mistake that is made in learning what we must do to be saved is by consulting only the books written to the saved without looking at what else is said in Scripture.

For example, many will quote the book to the Roman Christians; (Rom 10:9) without considering what Paul taught the Romans when he dwelt there for two whole years. [Acts 16:30]

They will quote the book written to the Ephesian Christians; (Eph 2:8-9) without considering what Paul taught the Ephesians [Acts 19:1-5].

These two examples show us why we must look into the book of Acts to see what lost people did. Those who heard the gospel and either obeyed it or rejected it. This is why it could be called the book of Conversions.

Let’s examine just a few of the conversions in this book to see how they responded to the preaching of the Gospel as commanded by Christ Jesus. [Mat 28:18-20]

Jews at PENTECOST [2:14-47] This represents the first gospel sermon after the DBR of Christ. The beginning of the church that Jesus promised to build [Mat 16:18] and the first example of those being saved. “Be saved from this perverse generation.” What happened? They HEARD the gospel [22-36]. They believed [37]. It must be inferred that they CONFESSED Jesus as the Christ the Son of God [Mt 10:32]. They were told to ‘REPENT & be baptized’ [38]. They were BAPTIZED into Christ [41] and 3,000 were added to the church. Then we see them ‘CONTINUING steadfastly in the Apostles Doctrine, which is from Christ [42; cr. John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; 1Cor 14:37].

THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH [8:26-39] This man is reading from Isaiah and struggling with its meaning. Philip approaches him and is invited by the Eunuch to explain the passage. We then are told, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” What Happened? He HEARD the gospel of Jesus [35]. He BELIEVED [36-37] It is inferred that he REPENTED [Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30]. He CONFESSES that Jesus is the Christ [37]. He is BAPTIZED with water, by immersion, into Christ [38-39 cr. Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27]. He went away REJOICING [39].

The Apostle PAUL (Saul of Tarsus) [9:1-18; 22:6-16; 26:12-19]. While on his way to persecute the church of Christ, Saul saw Jesus risen from the dead. He HEARD & BELIEVED [9:5-6]. He was REPENTANT [9-11]. He CONFESSED [5-6]. He was BAPTIZED [18]. When retelling of this event, he states that baptism was the moment his sins were washed away [22:16].

CORNELIUS [10:1-11:18] This story tells of the first Gentile conversion. We must read chapters 10 & 11 to get the full picture. They were told to HEAR and they HEARD [6, 22, 33-43; 11:14]. It is inferred that they REPENTED & CONFESSED [Luke 13:3; Act 17:30; Mat 10:32]. They were BAPTIZED in water [47]. They received remission of sins [43].

Chapter 11:1-18 contains the retelling of this event by Peter to those of the circumcision who contended with him about being with gentiles. This retelling is necessary to show that God had made the same gospel plan of salvation available to every nation [Mat 28:18-20]. Up to this point, the preaching had been only to the Jews. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” [Rom 1:16] The “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” only occurred twice, here and at Pentecost. It was done to show God’s approval at the beginning.

As you can see, the book of Acts shows people obeying the Gospel. The same method can be applied to…

LYDIA [16:14-15]

THE JAILER [16:25-34]

THE CORINTHIANS. [18:8]

THE EPHESIANS [19:1-5]

The same Gospel requires all after Pentecost to HEAR, BELIEVE, REPENT, CONFESS, be BAPTIZED in water & have FAITHFULNESS. God shows no partiality, no bigotry. The Gospel is for all and all must obey the Gospel in the same way. God is no respecter of persons.

He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” [Hebrews 5:9; cr 2Thess 1:8-9; 1Cor 15:1-4] –Spencer

How to have Biblical UNITY

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” [Eph 4:13]

Every few years there is a call for UNITY. Nobody likes arguing nor complaining. We all seek for UNITY to avoid such fighting.

It would seem that many think, as long as there’s no arguing, then UNITY must therefore exist. While this may give the appearance of UNITY, it is not biblical UNITY.

What we have is peace, but not UNITY. “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” [Rom 12:18]

What must exist for us to have biblical UNITY?

Fraternity or Fellowship? Living at peace with others is key to developing UNITY, but there’s much more involved in developing Biblical UNITY.

To illustrate the problem, answer this question; If two math professors are kind to one another, yet one teaches 2+2=8,346, do they have Mathematical Unity? Certainly not. While they may be agreeable, they do not agree on the facts, therefore they are not in UNITY. They have Fraternity, but not UNITY.

This illustration brings us to the very FIRST condition needed in developing Biblical Unity. An UNDERSTANDING of the Will of the Lord is essential to establishing Biblical Unity.

whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; [Eph 3:4]

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest, haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them.” [Acts 28:27]

Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” [1Tim 1:7]

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” [Eph 5:17]

Without agreement on the doctrine of Christ, how can two walk together? [Amos 3:3]

Next, we can never achieve UNITY if we fail to be NICE in our words & deeds. “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” [1Cor 13:4]

Next, without personal INTEGRITY there can be no UNITY. Integrity is defined as; adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. We may speak about UNITY all we want, but without INTEGRITY no one will believe us. That’s hypocrisy. “If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” [1John 1:6]

Biblical Unity must also include TENACITY for the Truth without wavering. It should go without saying that UNITY is based on the TRUTH of God’s word. [John 17:17] “that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;” [Eph 4:14]

Lastly, since we’re not perfect and we’re all in a state of growing and maturing, we may not yet know what we ought to know. People coming together with varying levels of maturity can achieve UNITY if we all have a YEARNING to do the Will of the Lord. With this Yearning, we can still have UNITY because we all want to learn and do the will of the Lord. This is the best understanding of “Unity of the Faith” in Eph 4:13. It doesn’t mean that we all have the exact same understanding. What it means is that we all have access to the same information, God’s word and our desire, YEARNING, to know the Word.

Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation;” [1Peter 2:1-2]

With these 5 elements we can develop Biblical Unity.

U- Understanding the will of the Lord.

N- Nice words & Deeds

I- Integrity

T- Tenacity, consistency

Y- Yearning to know the will of the Lord

–Spencer

What Would You Do?

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“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” [Gen 2:8]

There’s a TV program called, “What Would you Do?” The premise is to create scenarios in public and film the reactions of innocent bystanders.

What if we took the same concept except, we used events from the Scriptures?

What Would You Do if…

You were in the Garden?

You were called to build an ark?

You were told to marry a harlot?

You were told to sacrifice a son?

You met Jesus by a well?

You were Peter by that fire?

You were standing by Stephen?

These are just a few of the People and events we will explore in this & future articles.

What would you do

If you were in the GARDEN in Eden?

GOD had placed man in the Garden and was told to dress it and to keep it. [Gen 2:8] Having access to all the good fruit that God had made, What Would You Do? Would you view the work as being good, or would you view work as a necessary evil?

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]

Adam was ALONE in the Garden. What Would You Do if you were alone? How would you feel if after a search of all of creation that not a creature was found suitable for you? What Would You Do if no one was watching? Would you continue to be faithful? Would you slack up on your work?

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching:” [Luke 12:37]

What Would You Do if you were RESTRICTED from just one tree? You’re given everything else, but one tree, the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. [Gen 16-17]. Just two commands, one positive (do) and one negative (do not). What Would You Do? Would you be angry saying, ‘I don’t like being told what to do?’ You have freewill. Why can’t you do what you want? What Would You Do, realizing the penalty for disobedience?

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13]

What Would You Do if the DEVIL appeared to you in the form of a Serpent? [Gen 3:1-5] What Would You Do if someone misquotes God’s command? Would you put up with it?

[2Cor 11:1-4] Would you know that the original command had been changed? An addition was made.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Gen 2:17]

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” [Gen 3:3]

You’ve EATEN the forbidden fruit, now What Would You Do? Will you hide from God? How would you do that exactly? Where would you go, What Would You Do? Would your conscience try to excuse you or accuse you? Would you consider it sin, or would you call it a little thing?

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” [1John 3:4]

The last question is more troubling. What Would You Do if were NOT allowed to remain in paradise? Would you cry out that it’s not fair? Would you put together a list of all the good things you’ve done trying to ignore or overlook your iniquity? Would you blame everyone else as they did?

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”

[Mat 7:22]

What Would You Do?

God’s LOOK

God LOOKS at the Heart

God’s LOOK

“Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart.

[1Sam 16:7]

What a comforting verse, or troubling, depending on what’s going on in our hearts. Whether we like the scrutiny or not, the looking continues.

This passage demonstrates two divine truths:

  • God Looks upon the heart. [cr. Prov 15:11]
  • Man looks upon the outer appearance. [cr. Mat 7:1-2]

There are two looking at man, but did you know there’s a third?

Who’s Looking at whom? Being aware that someone’s watching gives us an advantage. We can and should make adjustments to our lives.

The DIVINE look.

We think of God as LOOKING down from above. “And the LORD came down to see…” [Gen 11:15] And in another passage; “I will go down now, and see…” [Gen 18:21].

Man is willing to overlook or hide sin when it favors him, but God looks down and sees. “For mine eyes are upon all their ways; they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity concealed from mine eyes.” [Jer 16:17] He has, “set our iniquities before thee, Our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” [Psalm 90:8] In looking down, Divinity takes account of these three main things:

God sees our state of mind, or attitude, when rendering service. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” [2Cor 8:12] “Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” [2Cor 9:7] God doesn’t accept our obedience if the heart is not connected.

God sees and takes into account our capacity of output. What are we able to do? “…to each according to his several ability;” [Matt 25:15] The problem for the one talent man wasn’t his one talent. It was his failure to USE his talent. The first two received the same reward; “Well done, good and faithful servant:” [25:21,23] Neither did more than the other for each were doing according to their ability. It is not the amount of work done that gets the attention & approval of our Lord. What matters is whether we are reaching our capacity for output in service to the Lord. We will be LOOKED upon based on our individual ability as well as our attitude.

The third thing God sees is not how much we give, but how much we have left after giving. Don’t mistake this statement as being just about money. It includes our TIME and other RESOURCES. We remember that the widow gave all that she had. [Luke 21:3]. The Macedonians were poor, but it wasn’t the money they gave that got God’s attention, “But first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God.” [2Cor 8:5] God sees whether we are trusting in Him or in ourselves. [cr. 1Tim 6:10-17; Matt 6:19-21] “for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.”

The SATANIC look.

“And Jehovah said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” [Job 1:7] What was Satan looking for? Satan looks OVER the earth for the purpose of seeing where he can hinder our Christian work. “…and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary.” [Zec 3:1]

Paul said, “we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” [1Thess 1:18] Satan’s power is limited, but his teaching and his human followers are certainly hindering the Gospel. [cr 2Cor 11:13-15] Peter also warns, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” [1Peter 5:8] Satan hinders the spreading of the gospel, which is able to save men’s souls, through false teachers. Satan looks OVER to hinder.

The HUMAN look.

God LOOKS DOWN, Satan is looking OVER, and man is to look into his OWN self. If man looks unjustly at another he is looking with the eyes of Satan. The bible clearly teaches that we humans are to look at our OWN heart. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” [Matt 7:3] The Lord is emphasizing that we must look into our hearts by looking in His word.

The Lord wants us to look at our OWN selves during worship. “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” [1Cor 11:28] While we eat, we may find ourselves looking at another, impugning their hearts, while we are to be looking at our own heart. This is an outward examination, when our Lord says it should be inward.

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your OWN selves. Know ye not your OWN selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” [2Cor 13:5] An inward look is essential for our lives. David said, “I thought on my ways, And turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” [Psalm 119:59] God LOOKS down, Satan looks OVER to hinder and humans are to look at our OWN heart. One more thing; Our eyes should be KEEPING watch; “Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.” [Matt 24:42]

2021 Easy Bible Reading Plan

No photo description available.

How to EAT an Elephant?

One Bite at a Time.

The answer to this question is one way of talking about beginning & finishing an enormous task. Another illustration… “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I’m inviting you on a journey with me in 2021. A journey through the scriptures. Admittedly, it appears at first as a daunting task. Some have said, “where do I even begin?”

I can empathize, the Bible is…

66 Books, with 1,189 chapters.

There are

929 chapters in the Old Testament.

260 chapters in the New Testament

Where do we begin?

How do we stay motivated?

What does it mean to me?

The answer to these questions is the same answer to the question; “How do you EAT an Elephant?” One bite at a time.

Jesus said, “I Am the Bread of Life.” This discourse about Himself, He is not referencing the Lord’s Supper. Rather, He is encouraging followers to learn everything we can about Him. This is done through reading His word. [John 6:22-68]

Following is a 3-step overview of how to EAT an Elephant, then a Bible Reading Plan for 2021;

3 Steps for how to…

EAT an elephant?

The first thing is to break it into

EASY to manage, smaller bites. (A Bible Reading Plan)

Just as we have regular eating times, we should set an

APPOINTED time to bite, chew & digest. Nothing ever gets done until it is scheduled. (Set an Appointment with yourself)

The hardest part has been in taking the first bite, now just

TAKE another bite. Then rest a bit. Chew on what you’ve read.

Psalm 1 says; “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (emp mine seb)

The Hebrew word for meditate literally means to chew the cud. It is an agrarian term used for us to compare how cows digest their food & how we can study God’s word. Cows sit and ‘chew the cud’ so as to squeeze out as much nutrition from their food as is possible. So, take small manageable bites. Meditate upon what you’ve read. Then TAKE another bite.

Here is an easy Bible Reading Plan for 2021. Here are a few helpful tips.

  • Maintain your own pace, each according to their own ability.
  • If you miss a day, just read what is appointed for that day.
  • Read to understand not just to get through the material.

Pray for wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” [James 1:5]