Saturday, February 21, 2015


        Jesus warned about the leaven of the Pharisees.  "Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadduccees."  Matt. 16:12  Compare Matt. 15:1-9.

        What if Simon the Pharisee had been the one to meet the Eunuch on the road???  Would he have said something like this?

        The Ethiopian said: "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"  Acts 8:36   "And Simon said, 'First, our scribes have searched the Law and found 613 laws.  You must be taught these and be able to speak to each of these laws.  Further, our scribes have found a hundred or more new laws from the silence of God - from the things He did not say.  You must learn these also.  And then we have another problem.  You need to be circumcised, and that is impossible since you are a eunuch.  So I see no hope at all for you.'"

        NOT!!!  The truth is: upon the Ethiopian's confession of faith in Christ -"I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" - Philip immediately baptized him into Christ!  Which included the Holy Spirit of the Living God as a gift (Titus 3:5-6).  And the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing!  When he got back home he joyfully spread the Good News Gospel that God had acted in Christ to put the world right with Himself!  Old barriers and walls have been torn down. It no longer mattered that he was a Gentile, or that he had been surgically neutered.  Whosoever will may come and be saved eternally!

        Damnable heresies come in different forms.  Jesus said of the Pharisees: "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."  John 5:40  They were intense Bible students.  They carefully read & studied each word, researched the fine print, and read between the lines.  But their minds were already made up against Jesus!  They were “agents of change” while they convinced themselves they were preserving The Old Ways.  Thus they rejected Jesus, and crucified Him.


Jesus speaks to the Pharisees

You have your heads in the Bible always.

You studied for degrees in the Sacred Books.

And PhDs in books about the Sacred Books.

And you're convinced this will get you into Heaven.

But you miss The Point: IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!

The Holy Scriptures are jam-packed with

huge stomping clues about ME!

But you can't find it in your heart to admit it.

Because then you would have to ask ME

for the eternal life you want so much.

Believe ME and live eternally!

[adapted from Rob Lacey]

[compare 1 John 5:9-13]


        Counterfeits.  “God has told us in His precious Word that we should know a tree by its fruit.  Wherever we find the real, we find the counterfeit also.  But praise God for the real.  We find in the time of Peter, when men and women were receiving the power of the Holy Ghost, the counterfeit appeared in Ananias and Sapphira.  But God’s power was mightier than all the forces of hell, so their sin found them out.  Be careful, dear loved ones for your sin will surely find you out.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”   William J. Seymour, 1906


        Example of a search for reality:

        Marvin is a guy in the house church and John is one of the main two characters.

 After a few moments Marvin let out a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know, John. I always thought the institution I left wasn’t working because it had the wrong principles. I thought we were getting the right ones in place so we could finally experience real church life.” Murmurs of agreement buzzed around the table.

“But you don’t see it that way?”

“No, I don’t. If it helps, I think you’re finding better principles–ones that reflect more accurately the life of the early believers. But keep in mind that following principles didn’t produce their life together. We can observe what happened as they followed Jesus, but copying that won’t produce the same reality.

“Jesus didn’t leave us with a system; he left us with His Spirit–a guide instead of a map. Principles alone will not satisfy your hunger. That’s why systems always promise a future revival that never comes. They cannot produce community because they are designed to keep people apart.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because they keep the focus on services or rituals, principles turn most people into spectators. By holding up standards and motivating people to conform to them they only encourage people to pretend to be what they are not, or to act like they know more than they really do. Questions and doubts are discouraged and people can’t deal with the things they are hiding. Thus they only let people see the shadow they want them to see, not who they really are. Feeling isolated, they only become more focused on their own needs and what others aren’t doing to meet them. They fight over control of the institution, however large or small, so that they can make others do what they think is best. It is a story that has been repeated for a couple of thousand years.”


Following a pattern or copying whether it is 2000 years ago that you copy or if it is the group whose conference you went to just doesn’t produce the same reality. I love that line about He gave His Spirit instead of a map. And I know the part about people pretending is so true. So whether you are in a big church, little church, house church, fluid church, coffeehouse church or whatever, Here’s to everyone, following the Spirit’s leading and to seeking God’s guidance on every decision.


Imitaion or Real?

Be careful to turn away from the counterfeit and run to the Living God.  As one has said: “We must recover holiness without legalism, boldness without presumption, and power without pride.  When the church does this she will gain the attention of both the heavens and the earth, because her God will be with her in His manifest presence.”

There is an energy, a dynamic, a power, a strength imparted by God through the Holy Spirit, love poured out into our hearts that energizes us to act.  “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.  To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily (Colossians 1:28-29 NKJV).


 Christian love and spiritual power are intended to be profoundly linked; when they are not, something less than the fullness of the gospel is present.  Strengthened now, in faith, hope, love, and spiritual power, let us look again at the situation in which we and the whole Church are living.


Ralph Martin wrote in 1994: “Seventeen hundred years of Christendom are falling into ruins around us.  An age is coming to an end, not just the end of a remarkable century but the end of seventeen hundred years of Christendom.  The greatest apostasy since the birth of the Church is clearly far advanced all around us.”  Yet at the same time we can see that Africa and India have emerged as a new center of Christendom.


God has made all mankind with an instinct for truth, a sense of right and wrong, and most of all a hunger for God Himself.  Eventually, truth will win out.  Perhaps after great suffering and great waiting, but truth will win out!!!


God is judging His church.  Judgment begins at the house of God. 1 Peter 4:17.  Our choice:  Throw up our hands in despair?  Or Lift up our  hands in prayer, praise, joy, hope!  Note 1 Timothy 2:8.  We are privileged to live in a time that while exceedingly difficult, is also a time where we have seen and will see yet more of the great interventions of God.  But one thing is certain, God is not worried about the situation.  He is not anxious.  He is not afraid.  He is in control and will see to it that all things work out to the good of those who love Him.  The nations may rage.  Mankind may scheme.  God laughs.  Compare Psalm 2:1-6.

At her best the Church is full of faults, many warts and wrinkles.  An ideal church is nowhere to be found, but a church with an IDEAL is found wherever there is a church in which the Holy Spirit dwells.  She - the Church - believes that great things are struggling to birth in the womb of the present.  She “abounds in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” ([Romans 15:13].  The Holy Spirit fills her life with a never failing hope.  “Then he said to  me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’  And he said to me, ‘These are the true saying of God.’”  Revelation 19:9.




Jesus taught in Parables

    God’s Book of Nature shows the pattern of how things work in our world.  Jesus used these as a pattern of spiritual things.  Some are dark sayings with hidden meanings.  Some are more easily understood.  In the NT Jesus used 50 parables in His teaching.

    “Then Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?" 42 And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.”  Luke 12:41-43

    “Jesus is not disclosing truth to some while hiding it from others.  He proclaims the Good News of the Kingdom openly to all, but only those who repent and believe can perceive the power of the Kingdom in Him and in their eyes.  The Gospel of God’s Kingdom is powerful, but our heart response determines its fruitfulness in our lives.”  Wallerstedt

    The word of the Kingdom.

    The farmer walked through the fields.  He would dip seed from his bag and fling it across the area.  The seed was always the same.  But the soil received it in different ways.

    "Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." Matt 13:18-23 (NKJV)

    At harvest time all available workers were pressed into service.

    “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."  Matt 9:35-38


    The Good News of the Kingdom of God.

    It is important to understand that the Gospel (Good News) is not merely an announcement of what Christ has done in the past to save a lost world.  It is an announcement of what Christ wants to do now, and is able to do, in the present time.  It is not merely an announcement of Bethlehem and Calvary, it is an announcement of a living Saviour, a Saviour who is able to save to the uttermost.

    He is our Eternal High Priest.

    “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Heb 7:24-25

    He is a Saviour who can save not merely from the penalty of sin but from the power of sin.  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  Titus 2:11-14

    He is a Saviour who not only forgives but cleanses from sin.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9

    He is a Saviour who is able to keep us from yielding to temptation.  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25

    He is a Saviour who ministers on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary.  Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” Heb 8:1-2




But something got hold of me,

Yes something got hold of me.

I went there to fight, but O my that night

God certainly got hold of me!

        [from old song]


1. Some think God is playing Hide & Seek.

    “Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”  John 6:43-45; Isaiah 54:13

    “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.”  John 15:16-18


2. Paul – Damascus Road - God had plans for Paul. 

    Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." 15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."  Acts 9:13-16

    “So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'”  Acts 26:15-18

    A direct call from God constitutes the highest authority.

    “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.  Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city." 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”  Acts 18:9-11


    3. Timothy – a second-generation Christian. 

    Timothy grew up in a Christian family, mother & grandmother (and father?).

    “Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.”  Acts 16:1-3

    “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”  2 Tim 1:3-5
                Born of a Jewish mother and a Greek father, and had been taught the Scriptures from childhood (2 Timothy 3:15) by his devout mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). J. G. Malphurs thinks Timothy's father was a "Gentile converted to Judaism," and that he was in the crowd on Pentecost and was baptized into Christ. Timothy's mother and grandmother were Christians as well, and this explains why such devout people had not circumcised Timothy. 1 Corinthians 4:17 shows us that Paul brought Timothy to Christ. Timothy could not have been more than fifteen at that time. Here he is probably sixteen or seventeen. So he circumcised him. Timothy was part Jewish, so Paul did this to prevent trouble with the Jews. Because Timothy was a descendant of Abraham, he could be circumcised as a civil rite. Since circumcision is without meaning (1 Corinthians 7:18-19), this could be done on the principle of 1 Corinthians 9:20. But in the case of Titus, who was a Gentile, the case was different. To have allowed him to be circumcised would have damaged the messianic community (Galatians 2:1-5), At this time Timothy was also "identified" [“ordained”] (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).  [BSNT]