Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People
One comment said “…We learn great lessons when we suffer. Patience, determination, consideration and developing a feeling toward others who also suffer are some of the benefits…”
And if those weren’t enough lessons/benefits for suffering, we may consider the following words from the Apostle Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, to those of God’s Church of the Thessalonians:
2 Thess 1:2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. :3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; :4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: :5 [Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
Suffer and be counted worthy!
:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:
All done according to grace :12
Comment was made saying: “…The opposite is mentioned in Romans 1:21, which describes the world today, and the fruit of an ungrateful heart…”; however, who are “they” in Romans 1? Who knew God? Who didn’t glorify God? Who didn’t give thanks to God?
So often, this verse is applied to mankind, but mankind does not really know God unless and until God reveals Himself by the power of His Spirit through His Son Jesus Christ. Again, who knew God? “They” are “them:” Satan and his angels.
Considering context, Romans 1:19 says: “…God hath shewed [it] unto them.” :20 “…they are without excuse:” :21 “they knew God, they glorified Him not as God..became vain in their imaginations..their foolish heart was darkened.” :22 “…they became fools,” etc. :31 “…unmerciful:” perhaps their worse character trait!
And mankind (James 4:5; Eph 2:2; 2 Tim 2:26; I John 3:8) in this present evil world reflects ungrateful hearts, but it’s not forever.
Regardless of our physical circumstances, yes, especially for those sealed as God’s Firstfruits (John 1:12-13), our attitude should always be one of: “…thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor 15:57
Two questions: “…Why did people, who had the Eternal God in their midst, depart from Him into senseless idolatry (Jeremiah 2:5)? Why did they abandon a way of life that would guarantee their happiness, serenity and productivity (Deuteronomy 28:1-14)?…”
With the solution where one must: “…always give God first place and to diligently obey His commandments (Acts 3:19; Colossians 3:5)…always give top priority to God and His Word and the wonderful future that awaits us…”
Ancient Israel was given similar knowledge, but God preserved their example for us to learn to know that one, like Adam and Eve, living in a “world held captive,” by this world’s present evil gods (I John 3:8; Eph 2:2, 6:12), could not obey until God first provided His Spirit and repentance:
And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Tim 2:26-25
Deut 29:4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
So, still today, people, without receiving God’s Spirit (Eph 1:19) and repentance (Acts 5:31), continue with sin (Rom 7:17), enmity (Rom 8:7), lust & envy (James 4:5) within.
Stephen, you wrote saying the counterfeit phenomenon: “….reminds me of the churches we find in the introduction to the book Revelation. Several of them are easily misidentified as false churches. It’s intersting that a couple are described as having a doctrine Jesus hates, but the doctrine is not clarified and we really do not know what that doctrine teaches. It’s a real mystery.…”
Some have done enough research to know that the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes Jesus hated concerned the Catholic Church which, hard to believe, for some hundreds of years actually observed the 7th day Sabbath. Yes, they had some truth, with lots of error, but it was of Satan’s counterfeit ministry:
2 Cor 11:13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Satan strived to bring into God’s Church such characters as Simon Magus, Ananias and Sapphira, but God’s sheep, John 10:9, 27-29, always remain in the best hands!
We are told: “Matthew 5:16 holds the key!” What key?
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The key is about God, who is light: not works of self! The Father, who is light, makes lights!
Jesus knew He was light (John 8:12); however, He admitted: “…I do nothing of myself…” (John 8:28).
What about that key and us?
Yet, Jesus tells us: “…without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
How does light function? Even Satan is a light-bringer, but his light, like this present evil world, is darkness.
Christ took no credit, no praise, no glory and He knew it all belonged to His Father.
When a man sick of palsy was healed, the multitudes: “…marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” (Matthew 9:8)
Brighter light? Jesus and Stephen, full of God’s words, were murdered. Paul, after receiving “the light,” went through “hell on earth” for the remainder of his life.
God, who daily drags (John 6:44) His sealed Firstfruits, makes us His workmanship, produces by His Spirit the fruits in us (Deut 29:4).
That key? Jesus knew a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
This article explains how we, with and without God’s Spirit, dig in our heels and “..put our ways above the ways of God,” but why?
Jonah fulfilled God’s will (Acts 15:18; Matt 12:40)!
God will receive the praise and glory (Acts 11:18) for repentance/change in one’s life, because one is is His workmanship and God produces the repentance and Godly fruits in our lives (Jonah included), but why that reluctance to change? Is it b/c we are of a creation made subject to vanity and Satan (Eph 2:2; I John 3:8)? No, there’s more!
Another spirit? “…The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy..” James 4:5
Sin? “..sin that dwelleth in me.” Romans 7:17, 20
Evil? “…evil is present with me.” Romans 7:21
Even Satan’s ways (Ezek 28:15) were not God’s ways b/c that most subtil beast: “..wast perfect in..” his own ways and that perverse, evil, thing was “..made without fear” Job 41:33
It is God who has the power/strength, while no flesh will ever glory in His presence. So, whence comes Godly change?
Israel waited until God, decently and in order, exalted Christ to be “…a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31; 11:18; Matt 9:8.
Question asked was: “How do we train ourselves to keep our wits during the times prophesied to be ahead?”
This article has lots of ideas of how “self” may achieve that; however, there will be times when each of us “are at our wits’ end;” then what? The focus needs to be beyond self and what self can do. How so?
We each shall have tribulation and Jesus, in John 6:45, tells us all shall be taught of God. Thank God for that, and there will be no exceptions.
God created evil, Isaiah 45:7, and it has its place in our lives (Romans 7:21). We are all part of a creation that has been made by God subject to vanity, but wits’ end?
Jonah fled and God, who has “veys to make us cooperate,” created some evil resulting in Jonah, at his wits’ end, asking to be thrown overboard. Why? It’s an example of God’s wonderful works.
God inspired Jonah as to what to say/do.
Jeremiah 40:42 “For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.”
Psalm 107:21-32 is God’s solution, in advance, to all before it dawns upon them they “are at their wits’ end.”
God will never forsake a sealed Firstfruit!
Lorelei wrote: “…It is important not to allow evil into our lives in any form. If it does get in we must stop…and put an end to it at once…”
But, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
This creation, made subject to vanity, by God’s will, was designed so we learn to discern and perceive between good and evil, and then learn to hate the evil!
Jesus Christ revealed and exposed evil in the lives of religious leaders: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?..” Matt 12:34
Paul admitted evil is within us: “..when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Rom 7:21
Paul knew of sin (Romans 7:17, 20) within and described some of its evil fruits in Romans 1:29-31; Gal 5:17, 19-21! James identified the source (“..The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?..”) of such evil in James 4:5, but who really believes that?
We must learn to hate evil: “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil…” Ps 97:10
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil..” Prov 8:13
Hatred? The Bible’s warnings, admonitions and examples were: “…written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” I Cor 10:11
Kathy stated: “..As Christians, we must determine what is real and what is counterfeit. Our eternal life depends on it!..”
Eternal life depends on The Porter and Christ our Passover sacrificed for us (John 10:2-3, 9, 28-29!
The entire world has been deceived by Satan, who takes individuals captive at his will (2 Tim 2:26). This world is still held captive by that most subtil beast of the field!
A question asked was: “..Where in the Bible do you find a description of…setting up a tree in your house, covering it with shiny glitz..?”
Jeremiah 10:3-5 is a very close description. Why? Satan, a deceiver, imitates virtually everything that is “of God,” and that was as true in the days of Jeremiah as it is in our day today.
One may present God’s truth on a platinum platter in front of our faces and we still wouldn’t recognize it unless/until God, who accomplishes things by His Spirit (Zech 4:6), first gives us the mind, eyes and ears to perceive:
Deut 29:4 “Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.”
Thank God for His Spirit (Eph 1:19) allowed into one’s life (John 6:44; Rom 8:9), and into “the rest” later! John 12:32
It was stated: “…From Jerusalem, peace will begin and expand across the face of the Earth (Micah 4:1-3)…”
Mic 4:3 says: “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares… spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
When they not learn war any more? After a little war season!
Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. :7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, :8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
When? When God establishes: “…David to be over my people Israel…” 2 Chron 6:6
Eze 37:24-25 And David my servant shall be king over them…and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever…”
David’s / Jerusalem’s hopeful future “for ever peace” occurs after a fulfilled “little season!”
Dr. Ward, in your timely Passover message you stated the following: “…God and Christ had led them out of bondage in Egypt into the Promised Land…”
Did you intend to write that or might you have actually had the following in mind?
“…God and the Word had led them out of bondage in Egypt into the Promised Land…”
Comment made saying: “..Where is the love or concern over solving the problem? It is becoming non-existent..”
In this present evil world, controlled by Satan (Eph 2:3; 2 Tim 2:26; James 4:5; I John 3:8), that love is non-existent unless/until God intervenes by providing that love.
Offenses? In today’s world, offenses will occur:
“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2
We all get caught up in offenses to one degree or another.
Offenses are a form of oppression in body and mind. How did Jesus deal with the offenses/oppression of others?
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
Thank God for His intervention and gift of His Spirit! Why? Some cannot/will not respond in kind at this time. Why not?
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” I John 4:6
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Phil 2:13
When thoughts run amok, we are experiencing evil in our lives. Why is that?
For one thing, God allows Satan’s evil fruits in this present evil world. For another, God created the tree of knowledge of good and evil for a purpose. All Bible examples of good/evil have been written for “..our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Cor 10:11
We are to learn to hate evil, but evil exists where we least expect it:
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Romans 7:21
“Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” James 4:5
No wonder Jesus (yes, even in us) says: “..Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt 6:34
It was suggested: “The best in us, as I said, is Christ, through God’s Holy Spirit. We have to use it.” But we can’t use it!
The Father in us is actually the key: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21
We don’t “let Him,” but The Father gives His Spirit/fruits and uses His workmanship!
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil..” Pr 8:13
One comment said: “..Christ was teaching us to not seek vengeance on our own, and to rise above it to the point of loving our enemies..”
All enemies? Should we love Satan and his angels? Should we love death (last enemy)?
Christ, who always spoke in parables and gave us His Father’s words, explained in 2 verses why we should love our enemies:
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. :48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Jesus gave us an example of loving enemies (e.g. thieves, priests and Roman soldiers) when He said: “..Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do..” Luke 23:34
Stephen gave an example of loving enemies when: “..he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge..” Acts 7:60
Both men, by the power of God’s Spirit, understood what the Apostle Paul later wrote:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness..” Eph 6:12
Lorelei wrote: “… We are told to accept them as leaders and be subject to them, that God places them in their positions. (Romans 13:1)..”
No, God does not place those leaders in their positions. As Doug pointed out: “..Satan is the ruler of this world and he sways the people to put EVIL in office..”
And Rom 13:1 says: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
God is allowing it all, but God is not responsible for everyone that has been placed into
In 2 Chronicles 36:12 Zedekiah: “..did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.”
The people aren’t necessary evil, but people do do evil. We are to learn to hate evil, but evil is not a fun thing. The Apostle Paul, who knew sin dwelled within him (Rom 7:17, 20) said this: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”
If that evil was present with Paul, what about the rest of humanity?
God’s Spirit worked with Jeremiah producing good fruit in his life. Zedekiah exhibited evil fruit (2 Tim 2:26; I Jo 3:8).