All Hail the Power of Jesus Name II

Image result for there is power in the name of JesusHow often have we spoken or sung the words superimposed over the cross to our right? How often have we spent more than five minutes considering what that phrase means? It is true, that there is power in the name of Jesus Christ, yet to fail to grasp what that means practically, concerning our walk of faith, places us at risk of giving “lip service” to the truth of God. To do this is unacceptable to God, at best, and irreverent at worst. In either case, failing to grasp that power in Jesus name and properly exercise faith in it, is to damage the testimony of Christ.

Our discussion this time, is not and exhaustive study of the name of the only Begotten Son, in the entirety of the bible, but a hearty morsel, enough for the sincere to “taste and see that the LORD is good”, in taking in the power of Jesus name. Let us consider the passage, we will continue to look to from Acts Chapter 3:16, remembering that Peter is explaining how the man who was lame for 38 years, had been made well, in the midst of thousands of onlookers.

Acts 3:16  And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

BACK TO THE BEGINNING TO LAY THE FOUNDATION

In Acts 3:16 we see clearly that it is faith in Jesus’ name that made this man well. Despite many Christians having read this passage or at least heard of it and would most likely say “Amen” to this truth, few have really consider the ramifications for us in our time.

Jesus had Himself commissioned the disciples to minister in this exact manner in Mark 16:15-18 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel… “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but He who does not believe will be condemned. and these signs will follow those who believe; In My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover“.

Once more we see a statement clearly indicating Jesus’ name at the head of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which confirms the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:20). In order to understand why this is, let’s look at another passage from John’s gospel.

John 1:12-13  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Here we see, that those who receive Jesus by faith, are granted the right to become God’s children. Wow! But what does it mean to receive Him according to this passage. Simply put “received” means to “lay hold of” or to “take”. To receive Him means to take Him as He is, yet this passage gives us a little more to go on. Those who receive Jesus are “those who believe on His name” (vs. 13).

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In the first place we must consider the Jewish context of this passage. In the Hebrew culture of Jesus’ time, in fact middle eastern culture in general, everything about a person was contained within the confines of their name: a persons character, ability, upward mobility, honor and heritage. It is not to say that they chose names considering the message that child would carry. When reading the O.T. prophet Hosea, this becomes clear.

Although names are chosen today for far more frivolous reasons, this cultural under pinning is not lost to everyone. Each one of my children have been named to represent servants of God, as chronicled in His word and my wife and I are disciplined to remind our children who they represent when they are away from us (not the Erdel family primarily, but Jesus Christ the Messiah). Scripture reminds us of the power of a good name.

Proverbs 22:1-2 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.

Once more let us return to what it means to receive Jesus by believing on His name. What is it that is contained in His name that we are to believe? We can begin by looking no further than in the same chapter of John we are looking at; particularly verses 1-5, where we find that contained in the name of Christ is His character as…

  1. Fully God; the Word who was with God and was God (John 1:1).
  2. He is Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-16).
  3. He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14)
  4. This makes Him the virgin born Son Immanuel, the fulfillment of prophesy (Isaiah 7:14).
  5. His name, Jesus Christ (Yeshua) YHWH saves, reveals He is the Atonement of God (John 1:17; Isaiah 53:1-10)
  6. In His name, as the Atonement, He is also “the LORD who heals…” (Isaiah 53:5; Exodus 15:22).
  7. His name, Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamaschiah) reveals He is God’s “Anointed” or “Messiah” and the only Begotten Son” (John 1:17; Psalm 2:2; Isaiah 11:1-11, 61:1-3).
  8. In His name as the Atonement and the Anointed of God, He is the LORD who sanctifies” (Isaiah 53:5 and Isaiah 61:1-3).
  9. In His name as the “Anointed” He is the King of Israel, who will return (John 1:49; Psalm 2:6-12).

To receive Him, is to believe on His name. To believe on His name means to trust that Jesus Christ is all of the above and that in His name is the power that each title brings into the life of the one who has faith in His name. He is our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and soon coming King, but not just in a head knowledge fact sense.; He does these things in God’s power in the one who truly trusts and obeys.

There is still one more powerful truth to consider concerning the name of Jesus. He has been given “the name” which is above every name…

In my next post we will dive into the depths of this wonderful truth concerning the power that is in Jesus’ name!!! You do not want to be left out.

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Posted in Acts 3:16, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, John 1:12, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“lip service”… All Hail the Power of Jesus Name!

Related imagelip service” is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “an avowal of advocacy, adherence, or allegiance expressed in words but not backed by deeds”. The Urban dictionary provides further clarity by defining “lip service” as “to say something but not actually do it” and “to pretend to believe a certain thing but not practice that belief.

The reality of “lip service” from a biblical perspective cannot be ignored. In Mark 7:6-8 Jesus bridges the Old Testament to the New Testament period, as He quotes Isaiah the prophet.

Mark 7:6-8 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”

In this address the Lord Jesus Christ is referring to Isaiah 29:13. This O.T. prophecy is one of “double reference” or “duel fulfillment”. Simply put this means that some prophesies have a short term fulfillment and a long term and final fulfillment. For the purpose of our discussion, this means that God followers in both the Old and New Testamental period, were called to practice what they proclaimed to believe, concerning God, His word, and our response to them.

One of the most sobering prophetic utterances concerning “lip service” came through the mouth of Jesus, where He declares “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’… And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).

It would appear that our God really despises “lip service”. It is time we consider, very soberly, whether our practice matches our profession. Let’s consider some areas of American Christian lip service.

We believe Jesus is coming very soonImage result for the blessed hope

Christian media is filled with talk of the Lord Jesus’ soon return. Most Christians of any biblical literacy will agree, and even talk of the sign of the times. Despite this truth and the impact it is supposed to have, we find quite the opposite. Consider that Titus 2:11-14 and II Peter 3:10-14 call us to consider how Christ’s soon return is affect our behavior. These passages declare that our Lord’s second coming is to catalyze us to living holy, godly, without spot, blamelessly, zealously and always going about the will and work of God. Let’s be honest, most Christians are ignorant of the true meaning of these words and for the most part unconcerned, assuming that  having “accepted Jesus” they’re cool, no matter how cold they are to His ways, work and will. This is “lip service”.

Even more primary to how we live in the light of our professed belief in Christ’s return is, that it is our blessed hope. This means that regardless of the circumstances we have hope and deep abiding joy, as we look for His physical return to catch us up to be with Him forever.  This has been the fuel for Christians since Christ’s ascension and is the buoyancy of the persecuted church. Yet in America, many Christians live with more hope in the prospect of their party’s political candidate being elected. Hope does not disappoint, as God’s word declares, but many of the Christians in the U.S. are disappointed, frustrated and anxious. This is to give “lip service” to God’s word concerning “our Blessed Hope” the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”.

“Nothing can separate us from His love” & “I will never leave you nor forsake you”

The two quotes above are well known and recited often in Christian circles in America. Let a brother take a down turn and a well-meaning Christian will quote the above verses, to encourage the down Christian to “buck up” and “cheer up”.  Yet, allow the well-meaning encourager to hit a rough spot and they may sing another tune. Being a Christian is filled with trials and joys, in fact the greatest joy, by biblical definition, arises during trials. Perhaps we need to do a better job at living and teaching this truth, but it would seem we can be a depressed group of Christians; in comparison to Christians of other nations, where their trails are life threatening on an hourly basis.

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No matter how often we quote this above passage, to behave as if Jesus Christ has forsaken us, when we say we believe the above passages, is “lip service”. Let us do some personal inventory, concerning this truth. Do we look for an immediate way out of difficulty? Do we feel as if God does not love us, because our circumstances have turned difficult? Do we sulk and question our calling when challenged by obstacles? Do we move into time wasting and carnality to avoid dealing with our problems with faith, as Christ is with us, even when we don’t feel him?

These are only two “lip service” issues prevalent among believers in America. Not only is it “lip service” it is also a poor testimony to the lost around us. Consider this quote from Christian Brennon Manning…

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Although we could explore this topic of “lip service” in many ways, I would like, over the next few posts, to explore it regarding the power in the name of Jesus. In relation to the power of His name consider the passage below.

Acts 3:11-16 11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

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In this passage we see that there is real power in the name of Jesus for all who use it in faith. But what does that mean and how ought it affect us, as we are to walk in faith? These questions are important, for to profess we believe there is power in the name of Jesus yet fail to live considering that power, is to give “lip service” to a most important foundation of God’s word.

The ramifications of misuse or watering down the power in Jesus’ name are far reaching, especially when we sing of the power in Jesus name regularly in our times of fellowship. Over the next three posts we will examine the singularly unique character of Jesus’ name—the power unleashed when we use His name in faith—how this worked practically in Acts chapter 3—and what gets in the way of our walking in the blessing of Jesus’ name.

Please begin to prayerfully consider the name of Jesus and walk with us as we discover the power in Jesus’ name, in the next post.

Posted in I'll never leave you nor forsake you, Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RESOLUTION: Don’t Die While Soaring!

Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

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While cleaning out my files, I came across a message I preached in Bedford Pennsylvania, back in August of 2005. The message was entitled “GOD IS ANGRY WITH A CHURCH, THAT IS ANGRY WITHOUT CAUSE”. After 13 years of space from its presentation, I still believe it to be a God anointed message; one very necessary in the Church of Jesus Christ in America, regardless of denominational affiliation. Some suggest God can never be angry at His Church or at the least that the title implies an overstated assumption.

If you are in that crowd, I encourage you to read James 3:13-18 through James 4:1-10. In this passage we encounter a church that was tearing apart at the seams from strife, which could have ended in angry separation, because of the flock’s submitting to the world, the flesh and the devil. God was angry with them.

Even more plain, is the force of the Lord Jesus Christ’s words against His church in Revelation chapter’s 2 and 3. How can one deny God’s anger with His children, when Jesus declares in one place, that unless they repent He “…will come quickly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Revelation 2:16). In another place He proclaims to the lukewarm church that “I will vomit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

Therefore we ought to be able to grasp God is angry with a Church that is angry without cause, because God is angry with individual saints that hold anger without cause (read again Matthew 5:21-22). My encouragement is to resolve in this next year to not be angry without solid biblical cause.

Why is this so important? Because we are living among millions in this nation, who believe they have the right to be angry if they have to wait too long for their morning coffee at the drive thru (hope that’s not you Christian). In America every slight, pass-over, or unintentional intrusion into one’s personal space is a reason to be angry, yet with our God and Father, this is not the case. Note I did not say, “Don’t ever be angry”, because we can and should be angry over the same issues that anger God; just not carrying out that anger sinfully.

Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

How do we practice this? Take your feelings and the reason for them and submit them to God in prayer. Don’t ever assume you have a right to be angry, just because a persons behavior falls outside of the confines of a passage of scripture; but trust in God with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, submit to Him and He will direct your heart and behavior going forward (Proverbs 3:5-7).

As a pastor the last 15 years, I can report that people being angry without a biblical cause, has caused much of the missing power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ in America. We have grieved the Holy Spirit, with our angry, entitled, and selfish attitudes toward one another. Several years ago Jim Dobson, the former founder and head for Focus on the Family ministries had this to say, concerning undue anger in the Church.

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“Satan’s most successful maneuver in the churches and Christian organizations is to get people angry at one another; to attack and insult our brothers and sisters, thus splitting the body of Christ”.

I would add, this is the same tactic used by the kingdom of darkness to divide ministry families, as well as to take down ministers of the gospel. The temptation to remain angry without biblical cause can sink the most faithful in the kingdom. Therefore the Lord instructs “… let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).

My encouragement to you is when angry, be swift to hear from God in prayer, as to if you have a valid and godly reason. If you do, then seek and wait for His solution. If you have no biblical reason, deny your pride, arrogance and preference and move forward walking in love. Anger in and of itself is not sinful, but must be expressed in the context of God’s will and always through the self control that is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). If not walked out in this manner, we are headed for trouble. Consider this quote found in Chuck Swindoll’s “Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes”.

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Anger won’t fix itself… same as a flat tire or a dirty diaper. I remember reading about an eagle that swooped to the ground one day, catching a weasel in its powerful talons. But when it flew away, its wings inexplicably went limp, and it dropped to the ground like a lifeless doll. As it turned out, the weasel had bitten its attacker in mid-flight, killing the proud eagle as it flew. If we cling to a attitude of anger (without biblical cause)…, it will, like the weasel, sink its teeth into us when we least expect it.

I would like to add, the “when we least expect it” to be, just as we are set to soar for Christ. Resolve in this next year not to die while you are set to soar with Christ. Resolve to walk in love and to reject any anger, which has no just and biblical cause.

Posted in Be angry and do not sin, biblical anger, do not be angry with a cause, Matthew 5:21-22, righteous anger, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“To Be or Not to Be HOLY!!!” IV

Related imageIt is my sincere understanding that God has always wanted to walk with those who were created in His image. From the beginning of the creation of man, YHWH walk with Adam and Eve in the garden. As they commiserated with Him, they were naked and unashamed. Before their willful sin, they enjoyed unhindered fellowship with God, but after the fall, the relationship between God and man had changed; fellowship would be hindered. From that time forward, a blood offering would be needed to cover the sin of the one who desired to walk with God, until the blood of Christ would be offered once for all.

Some, who honored God’s call to atonement, walked with God with great success and their lives bore the mark of that relationship; which is holiness, where by they set themselves apart from the world around them. The world regarded these people as different, as God’s own. These few who were friends of God, were persecuted by the world.

The first of these was Enoch, who was so fixated on God that the scripture reports “Enoch walked with God; and He was not (found), for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). This means that Enoch was translated directly to heaven, at a very young age (365 years) compared with those of his generation and even his offspring (his son Methuselah, his grandson Lamech and his great-grandson Noah). Although we have understand that Methuselah and Lamech were godly, Noah is where we see the results of the previous three men’s commitment to walking with God who alone is holiness.

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Noah, was the last righteousness man on earth, and he walked with God, sticking out like a sore thumb in his generation. In his walk with God, he obeyed some outrageous commands, such as building an ark, in the middle of a region with not large bodies of water, before rain had ever fallen and would not fall for another 120 years (Genesis 2:6). Noah’s work itself would be a rebuke against the world’s population concerning their wickedness against God (Genesis 6:5). Like his great-grandfather Enoch, Noah would be “taken” out of the world (as it perished) through the ark. Noah walked with God, set apart from the world, with no compromise.

Of course after the flood, things once more got drastically bad, yet God had reserved a man named Abram, whom the LORD would later rename Abraham. His walk with God begins in earnest in Genesis 12:1-4, where out of no where God speaks to Him.

Genesis 12:1-4 ​ Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Let’s note a few things about Abraham’s walk with God, which concern our topic of “Be holy, for I am holy”. In the first place Abraham was called out of darkness into the light of God. We have not indication that God had ever spoken to Abraham before. Historical documents will tell us, Abraham live in Ur of the Chaldean’s.

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Abraham lived in the anti-God pagan capitol of the world. Jewish tradition would relay that Abraham likely an astrologer in the vein of the Magi, but when he looked at the stars he saw that there could only be One true God. Once more this is Jewish tradition and he subsequently rejected the multiplicity of god’s his culture worshiped. What we know for sure is that Abraham heard YHWH’s voice and walked away from all he had ever known, to follow the only true God, whom he just heard for the first time! Secondly we see Abraham believed he was hearing from the one true God, because he moved away from his world, his culture and his own preferences.

This leads us to the third and very important aspect of Abraham’s walking with God… it changed his disposition, thinking and behavior. When reading through Genesis account of the life of Abraham–we see him obey God–make rash decision’s with potentially disastrous consequences–obey God again–make more rash decisions–hear God concerning His promise and be accounted as righteous for his faith in God–exhibit great compassion for the potential loss of righteous lives, while he intercedes with God concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah–we see the promise realized in Isaac. We finally witness Abraham’s faith and love for God above all other people, including Isaac, when he was going to kill the boy, at God’s command.

The point to this recounting is to highlight that Abraham was not holy in himself, but he obeyed God’s call to set himself apart from Genesis 12:1-4. In setting himself apart, Abraham interacted with the God who is HOLY. Even though his relationship to God was intimate, it was not what we have in Christ, yet interacting with God changed Abraham forever. In a very similar fashion, God has called us to walk away from our old lives and set ourselves apart, in our call to “Be holy, for I am holy”.

2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among themI will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” ​ Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

I suggest you spend some quality time in a season of prayer over this passage. For the sake of time, I want to focus on God’s call in Christ “Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord“. In this we can see, like Abraham, we are called to leave behind the world, the flesh and the devil; we are called to cleanse our lives from anything which defiles our spirit cleansed and sanctified, by Christ’s shed blood. In doing this we are walking with God. Similar to how God’s holiness transformed Abraham, as he walked with God, so in new relationship to Him, our lives ought to be transformed; that transformation will not ultimately look like the life of Abraham, but that of Christ Himself (Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 5:21).

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In his relationship to God, Abraham was considered a friend of God; we in our walk are considered God’s son and daughters. Our walking with Him is also different in that God would appear to Abraham in some form of His manifest presence (in human form or glory). We have the benefit of the indwelling presence of Abba, with the potential to be filled with all His fullness (Romans 8:14-17; Ephesians 3:14-21). Therefore, our walk with God, produces a holiness that transforms us from the inside out. This is only a guaranteed promise for those who obey His command to “Come out from among them and be separate“, with all our hearts.

My hope is that the practice of walking with God, a His way to “Be holy, as I am holy“, relieves you of some of the anxiety associated with the call. Remember that God has His part and we have ours. If we can leave behind the world, the flesh and the devil, He makes it as easy as letting Him lead the walk; we simply learn to hear Him and yield to His moving in and through us. For the person who has committed to walking away from their old life, this is less difficult than we tend make it (Romans 6:11-13).

That being said, the absence of full commitment to walk in holiness, is without a doubt the one of the biggest drags on the church in America. Without holiness we can not expect God’s manifest presence among us, or to have true discipleship or ministry in the power of God’s Spirit. Let us commit to simply obey God’s call to be what we are in Christ… holy!

“To Be or Not to Be HOLY!!!” Part I

“To Be or Not to Be HOLY!!!” Part II

“To Be or Not to Be HOLY!!!” Part III

Posted in Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Be Holy, for I am holy, Genesis 12:1-4, holiness, I Peter 1:13-16, II Corinthians 6:14-18, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“To Be or Not to Be HOLY!” III

1 Peter 1:13-16  Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

*If you have not read the first two parts of this series click the link below to go to            “To Be or Not to Be HOLY! #1″                                                                                                              “To Be or Not to Be HOLY! #2”

In answer to the question that is contained in the title… Yes, we are to be holy! by faith in Christ’s shed blood (Romans 5:9) we are holy in God’s sight, as if never having sinned (positional holiness). This holiness is to extend to our every day experience and is possible by not only His resurrection from the dead (Romans 6:6-14) but through our being regenerated in the new birth, as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell with us. In addition we are called to be (be being) filled with the Holy Spirit, which amplifies our ability to walk in holiness without which none will see the Lord (Romans 8:11, Ephesians 5:18).

The Holy Spirit makes any man who is absolutely surrendered to the Savior holy; that person lives a life of being set apart from the world and set apart to God, that is powerful testimony of Christ. In this post we will dig deeper into our call to be holy.

OUR BE HOLY IS SIMILAR TO HIS “I AM HOLY”

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When dividing this phrase “Be holy, for I am holy”, we come to understand the word for our “Be holy” is the same as His “for I am holy”. We found in our last blog that God’s “holy” means to be sacred, “consecrated” and “set apart”. His holiness also means to be completely other and above all that He has created, in this respect He alone is HOLY, yet in Christ, we share in the benefit of His unique HOLY.

Ephesians 1:17-21-18b that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Ephesians 2:4-7 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

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Aside from that sharing, lets look a bit deeper into our holy being similar to God’s holy.  In the first place we are “sacred”. Now God being sacred means deeply inherently righteous and morally pure; no thing and no person is as sacred as God. This relates to our being washed in the blood of the Lamb of our sin. Our accounts being cleaned and our very being removed of all stain of sin. To the angels, the world and the kingdom of darkness we are sacred vessels.

Secondly, God is the epitome of being consecrated. This means that in His holiness He does not accept nor allow Himself to be defiled by darkness. The word declares that our holy God dwells in light which is unapproachable (I Timothy 6:16) and that in Him there is no darkness nor shadow of turning (James 1:17), which means that He won’t be influenced whatsoever by darkness. Consecration in our being holy, means that we as sacred vessels of God, refuse to be influenced or sullied by the world, the flesh, or the devil. In this we turn from our bent toward self, by yielding to the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:11-13). In this see our being holy as He is, means we maintain our sacred status, by refusing to be unrighteous, by yielding  to the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, we understand our being holy as He is holy means we are set apart like God. God’s set apart, is His unique otherness that sets Him above all His creation. Further still this is seen in God being 100% about fulfilling His will and purpose in His creation. Yet let us remember that this is not self motivated any more than His desire to reveal His glory. We remember that God is love, meaning that His will and purpose is expressed and pursued for the benefit of His creation. Wow.

Similarly, we are set apart unto God. This means that we are to be different and unique among all humanity. We are to be uncommon in the midst of everyone else’s commonality, selfless in the midst of selfishness and holy and truly righteous in our actions. Yet all of this is because in being holy we are set apart for God’s purpose, will and pleasure. This means our being holy reveals to the world that we as faithful bond-servants have no will other than what pleases our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Therefore, our “be holy, for I am holy” is in opposition to the half-baked view of the Church in America (in-general), which tries to convince those who are still sinners and outside of the kingdom, that we we are just like them accept forgiven. Truth be told, if we are truly saved it is a lie to declare we are just like the world only forgiven–or worse yet to declare I’m not perfect, I sin all the time. If you use this to endear the lost to listen to you, PLEASE STOP; learn the gospel and preach the cross. Oh and stop refusing to yield the the Spirit of God, that your positional holiness becomes practical.

1 John 3:4-9 Whoever commits (continues to practice) sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin (continues to practice). Whoever sins (continues to practice) has neither seen Him nor known Him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins(continues to practice)  is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin (continues to practice), for His seed remains in him; and he cannot (continue to practice) sin , because he has been born of God.

How we accomplish this “be holy for I am holy”, can still produce anxiety, but if we are willing to take a walk with God, we will find “be holy, for I am holy” a delight, not a burden. More on that next time.

Posted in Be Holy, for I am holy, holiness, Holy Spirit, I Peter 1:13-16, sanctification, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Where was God, when Paradise burned?”

Related imageCalifornia is still burning. In the most recent catastrophic wild fire the death toll has climbed to 88, with 500 people still unaccounted for. Paradise California, a town of 26,000 residents, is almost entirely uninhabitable.  When adding another major wildfire and several less widespread fires, California is burning as it never has before; the devastation in human life, loss of property and loss of cultural and community is beyond American comprehension.

Sadly, the loss resulting from these fires seems to be beyond the scope of many Christians ability to comprehend. Recently, I saw an article addressing where God was, during the California fires. I find it quite interesting, that many Christians in this nation will ask these types of questions, whenever these catastrophes effect American lives or property, but conveniently forget to question when… 22 Egyptian brothers in Christ are beheaded on YOU-TUBE by ISIS terrorists—or a Tsunami wipes out 200,000 lives in less than 6 hours—or we see the hovels and holes Syrian families are living in, as a result of the proxy war being fought within the borders of that nation?

I will be blunt! I have grown tired of the doubt filled musings we American Christian’s offer when we feel or see suffering, we think ought not to happen in such a “blessed nation”. Let us once more drill down to the bedrock of faith in our God, that we may cease giving improper testimony to His character and nature. Where is God when devastating fires happen in America? Where He always has been… EVERYWHERE! Is this not what Psalm 139 reveals about God’s omnipresence?

Psalms 139:7-10 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

During these devastating wild fires, as well as when our brothers in Christ were brutally beheaded, or the Syrian proxy war continues to devastate or where life continues in squalor for most of the world’s population—our Father is where He has always been, present in His creation. Paul reiterates this truth to Roman pagan philosophers, as He enlightens them to the “Unknown God” for whom they had erected an alter.

Acts 17:26-28 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

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It is difficult  for those who declare they believe in God’s omnipresence, to also reconcile God would be present in His creation, without intervening, when it burns; whether what burns be trees, animals or humanity. But if we believe the account of the flood, or Sodom and Gomorrah, it is not impossible; and I am not implying the wild fires are judgment or wrath from God (remembering tragedies happen, at times, with no direct link to human sin such as the Tower of Siloam, in Luke 13:2-5).

Despite, the truth concerning God’s character from His word, Christians waffle uncomfortably in articulate the truth about God during devastating events like the wild fires. Considering this hurdle let’s frame the question a little differently…

Where was God in California when its people have consistently voted for politicians bent on murdering human life in the womb—its citizens pushed for the legalization of marriages between those practicing sodomy and lesbianism—where as a State it leads the push for the legalization of marijuana, which opened their populace to the unclean spirit of “pharmakia” (demon which Jesus cast out and responsible for judgment in Isaiah and Revelation)—or when it’s populace created and sustain the industries responsible for pumping immorality through every inch of American society and to the nations of the world (Hollywood and Silicon Valley)?

During all of those sinful choices and wicked cultural movements, where was God? EVERYWHERE present in His creation! This is why the psalmist revealed that against God and God only do we sin and do what is evil, in His sight (Psalm 51:4).

When considering sin or tragedies the one true God, who is present EVERYWHERE in His creation, is not in suspended animation, insensitive or even indifferent to what is happening. Consider how active He is within the realm of what He has created.

Psalms 29:9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare;

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In looking at the second area affected by the voice of the Lord we see that His voice “strips the forests bare”. This simply means that the trees respond to His voice, as to when they shed their dying leaves. Some may believe me to be overstating a simple mechanism placed within the biology of trees that works like a program, without God’s instigation or supervision; I am not.

God is not the watch maker in the sky, who winds it up, lets it go and then takes a break in a galaxy far far away. We are too often given to scientific explanation, at the expense of God’s intimate presence and activity as the catalyst to reality. His voice is what causes foliage to fall every year, for His voice presently commands it.

Psalm 29:9 also reveals that YHWH is intimately involved in the birth of every single deer for “The voice of the Lord makes the deer to give birth”. Let’s take this last statement to its rational conclusion. God created all the animals, therefore His voice commands the birth of not only each deer, but each animal. Again one could argue this is an overstatement, but once again it is not. Scripture also reveals God alone opens the womb of a every woman who gives birth (Isaiah 66:9). We also understand that Christ is the light that lights every man that is born into the world (John 1:9).

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Combining these truths we understand God declares the opening of the womb for child birth and all who make it through birth are have been stamped with His image by the Christ. Is this another overstatement? Not a chance, when we consider, that God also upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 12:1-3), and by Christ all things continually consist (Colossians 1:17).

The point to my line of reasoning is to clearly state that the God is present in all things in the universe He created, is present in tragedy and not insensitive or indifferent to the terror or suffering. Because He is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing), He has either allowed them or ordered them for His purposes (Romans 8:28).

In considering the wild fires specifically, we ought to note both man and God’s potential involvement in the devastation. In the first place, these wild fires are a direct result of poor land management on the part of the Californian governance. In these catastrophes there is always a lot of hand-wringing from politicians, as to not having enough funding for the necessary land cleanup of dead debris, but the hand-wringing is a bunch of sinful, political hooey. California is perpetually on the verge of economic peril, because of the sinful waste of tax payer dollars.

We must remember that God has given us free will and with that gift comes great potential for good and evil. For God’s purposes He has often allowed the sinful free will choices of the few to adversely affect the many; especially when the few are leaders who give the populace promises to their liking. Yet this is not the only reason for the fires.

We must consider that California has been in perpetual drought since 2006. Although there are reasons for drought effect, hidden in the policies of the Californian government, in relation to water delivery systems and land management, one cannot deny drought in the weather patterns.

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One need only to peruse the written word of God to know, God does send drought as judgment upon the idolatrous and immoral. Perhaps one of the most famous droughts was chronicled in I Kings 17, whereby the prophet Elijah’s declaration, it did not rain in Israel for three years. The consequences upon the population, economy, and government were devastating. Does drought lend to more ferocious wild fires? Yes!

Am I saying that God ordained this season’s wild fires? No I am not. Am I saying that God definitely did not ordain these wild fires? No I am not. What I am saying is that God was present and at the least allowed them to take place.

At this some would cry foul, because “innocent” people were killed, but this again is faulty theological thinking. There are no innocent victims of death before a Holy God, before whom all have sinned. Some would decry, what about the children? Well, if they are unaccountable before God, not being old enough to understand the depravity of their sin and its remedy in the cross of Christ, they are with God forever; all others have had their opportunity at the mercy of God.

Romans 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Here in, we see all men deserve judgment for their sin. God’s word also reveals that in the end of time, all nations and governments are particularly aligned against God. One need only to read Psalm 2:1-3 to understand the vitriol of the world system against the holy one true God. California for its part has for generations railed against God with its policies like nations of Psalm 2 declaring against the LORD and His Christ, “we will break your bonds in pieces and cast your chords from us”. Would anyone be surprised if the whole state was on fire (or many others for that matter)?

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That the State is not completely destroyed IS THE MERCY OF GOD! In His mercy, He has once more revealed (in the midst of devastation), that life is brief and fragile; only those who are in Christ by faith in His atonement and resurrection are guaranteed the mercy of being forgiven–made new in this life–and having the promise of eternal life, rather than everlasting condemnation.

Rather than question where God is, let us warn those remaining of the wrath to come, in these last days, before Christ’s visible appearance. Let us warn them of the devastation of God’s wrath, which will make all catastrophes in history up to this point, like a momentary flash. Let us warn them of the second death, which is a fire that will never be put out.

And let us lead them to the love of God displayed in the cross of Christ, that they may avoid the wrath of His unquenchable judgment and receive the comfort of His presence in the valley of the shadow of death.

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Posted in Paradise California, Paradise destroyed by fire, Psalm 139:7-10, Psalm 29:9, Uncategorized, Where was God when Paradise burned? | Leave a comment

“To Be or Not to Be… HOLY!” Part II

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“To be or not to be Holy” should never be a question. Sadly, many who think they understand holiness, are simply wrong, still others live frustrated as they attempt to make themselves holy.  Because of these extremes there exists much confusion concerning the meaning of “Be holy, for I am holy”.

As we discovered in Part I of this series holiness in the human can only be possible if God first makes some changes to that humanity in a definitive way. We find this change, in the power of the finished work of Christ in His death and resurrection. The person in Christ, is a literal supernaturally new creation. By repentance and faith, the blood of Christ is applied to cleanse our sin from our souls. We are declared not guilty (Romans 5:9-11). This not guilty means we are holy in God’s sight.

This is what theologians refer to as “positional holiness”. Interestingly, this “positional holiness” carries with it an idea we often forget, which is that our being declared “holy” means we are dedicated as His property for His use alone. We do not often dig that deep, focusing on the ticket to paradise view point we have, concerning the atoning work of Christ on our behalf.; more on this a bit later.

Truth told, although some struggle with understanding the positional view, it is the most readily understood and accepted. More difficult is how this relates to God’s command to “Be holy, for I am holy”, because the “Be” carries with it the truth of being more holy with each passing moment, as a growing state of being. Before diving into what this means, let us go back to the foundation of all holiness first, God Himself; in order to rightly understand the “holy” we are to be.

1 Peter 1:15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

“FOR I AM HOLY”

I Peter 1:15-16 is a quote from Leviticus 11:45; a passage where God is outlining the commands Israel were to obey, which would make them unique among the pagan nations. These commands would define them as the people of YHWH, the One true God. These commands were given to keep Messiah’s line as pure as possible, while highlighting the need for grace in the pursuit of holiness. Note “Be holy, as I am holy” was never stated as a means of attaining salvation, but a means of ultimately being desperate for the Savior.

How was this possible? Remember, God’s commands are not burdensome, therefore, even the ten commandments could be followed to a certain degree, just not perfectly. but to be holy is a state of transformation, that leads to practical and growing righteous and holy behavior. Being Leviticus was written before Jesus’ cross and resurrection, the only outcome for the Israelite’s sincere attempt to “Be holy” would be, the need for temporary atonement, as they failed in keeping the law perfectly.

Yet for us, the once for all atonement has been made, and the change of nature needed to grow in “Be holy for I am holy” is present within the believers life. By the resurrection of Christ we can choose to yield to the Holy Spirit leading us contrary to the old man, at all times. This of course is a progressive process, but more than possible for us with God. In order to grasp our “Be holy” let us first look at God’s “I am holy”

In the Greek language of our passage the word for “I am holy” means to be “sacred”, “consecrated” or “set apart”. In taking these three into consideration with what we know about God “for I am holy” means to be completely “other” or “wholly different” than anything God has created (as in above, beyond, past finding out). Scripture itself gives us a more detailed picture of God’s holiness.

Isaiah 6:1-7 ​ In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hostsThe whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Then one of the  seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.

From this passage God’s holiness is seen in…

  1. His holiness unfiltered purity and filled with majestic fiery glory, even His most glorious creatures need to be partially in His sight and elicits a cry of “Holy, Holy, Holy” (vs 2-3).
  2. As majestic is the universe created by God, his Holiness is greater than it all, so much that His holiness permeated all of His creation (vs. 3).
  3. His holiness is so powerful in its presence, it causes the things created and things created to shake (vs. 4).
  4. His holiness revealed causes the best men the world has to offer to be unwound in His presence (vs. 5).
  5. His holiness changes those who humbly submit to Him, allowing continual contact (vs. 7).

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

In line with #5 above Isaiah 57:15 reveals that God’s Holiness is expressed in His love. for those who acknowledge their sin, and approach in contrition of heart, He removes their sin, that they may abide in Him. This is where we see God’s holiness in the cross of Christ, to punish our sin in His perfect justice, in the body of Jesus Christ on the tree. Then as we believe in faith, our sin is applied to the body of Christ and His righteousness to our lives, that holy in God’s sight we can approach Him (II Corinthians 5:21). Yet further still

Revelation 4:8-11 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God AlmightyWho was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

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  1. Remembering His Holiness means He is above and beyond all that He has created, we see this in the title Lord God Almighty. His holiness reveals omnipotence (vs. 8).
  2. His Holiness is eternal and independent, He needs no one to make Him Holy (v. 8)
  3. Not only did He create all things in holiness, He continues to hold them all together in His almighty and Holy power (vs. 11; Colossians 1:15-18).

Revelation 5:4-5 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

  1. His Holiness is seen in Jesus Christ, alone worthy to take the scroll and open the seals.

In the above picture of God’s Holiness, which is what sets Him apart, above and far beyond anything He has created, we see a pretty good characterization of God’s “for I am holy”, but the O.T. offers further necessary details…

Exodus 15:11 reveals that when God manifest’s His glory in this world, it is His Holiness that arouses fear in His enemies.

Exodus 34:5-7, although not using the word holiness, this scripture implies through the revelation of His glorious person to Moses, that God’s holiness is what draws the contrite. It also reveals that His Holiness being so pure, is absolutely intolerant of any impurity. He hates sin, and judges those who refuse to repent.

Psalm 97:9 reveals God’s Holiness in that He is higher than all the fallen angels who masquerade as god’s to the people of the world. We also see in this psalm God’s Holiness demands He hate evil, or moral impurity and preserve those who are righteous by faith in His Son.

In some manner, most have heard or read some of these wonderful things about God’s Holiness, but let’s make it practical. Think of the most remarkable person you ever read of, besides Jesus, because He is God, then know that as awesome as their person or exploits may have claimed to be, they can’t come close to God. Consider the most powerful awe inspiring thing you have ever beheld with your eyes, and it can’t come close to God’s Holiness. Think of the universe itself with all its massive incalculable size and it will never come close to the immensity of God. He is Holy, which means so incomprehensible or immeasurable in all His attributes, that words can’t describe how HOLY He is.

Although His Holiness may be more than mind boggling, we can know “for I am holy” through faith, because all we can grasp or know about His “for I am holy” is seen and experienced in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Colossians 2:9-10 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

In Jesus Christ, the fullness of God’s Holiness can be encountered and since we can know Jesus Christ by His indwelling Spirit, we can “Be holy, as I am holy” in more than just a positional sense. Do you believe that? If so, come back next time as we go on a walk of holiness with God.

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Posted in A.W. Tozer, Be Holy, for I am holy, holiness, Holy Spirit, I Peter 1:13-16, Uncategorized | Leave a comment