EXPOSING THOSE THAT LIVE THE LIE

Cutting-and-Self-Harm-The-Lies-You-Believe-and-the-Truth-that-Sets-You-Free

The Bible exposes Satan as THE FATHER OF LIES! Jesus said, “Whenever he tells a lie, he’s doing what comes naturally to him. He’s a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).

I find that fascinating. People and inventors like Jubal in (Genesis 4:21) were the father of all who handle the harp and organ. He was the first one to invent that instrument.

Satan is the first liar.  How does one become a liar? He must believe a lie. Once he believes that lie he must tell that lie. 

Satan’s number one original lie is not what he told Adam and Eve (Gen 3) but what he told himself: “I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Satan’s position, wealth, talent and power led him to become vain and arrogant and he was so deceived he began to believe he could rule heaven better than God. He began to believe that his will was greater than God’s will.  He challenged God’s Sovereignty. His claim that his own will was greater than God’s will brought him crushing humiliation.

But even after his eviction from heaven he still believed his own lie.  Every lie that has ever been told can be traced back to him. Satan is not only the first liar but the father of all liars, “Whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Rev 22:15). One version says, “All who love to live a lie.” (NLT).

John 8 exposes people who live a lie. Jesus Christ was and is the light of the world and the Great I AM, Yahweh who sees and exposes all lies. At first blush, we see the adulterous woman was caught in a lie but once exposed she was forgiven and given a gentle reprimand. She no longer lived the lie. Christ only rebukes and chastises those whom he loves or those with whom he has a permanent spiritual relationship by sovereign grace.

But the church leaders of that day and their followers learned to live lies. They wanted to murder Christ (v.40) ! They were children of the devil (John 8:44) who thought they were children of Abraham (v. 33) and children of God (v. 41).

Jesus told them they were spiritual slaves, that unless they obeyed his teaching they could never be free from the lies and oppression of sin and Satan. They said they were never slaves as descendants of Abraham. Yet, years earlier they had just come back from Babylonian captivity! They were so blind! So in order to do this their religious leaders had to redefine SIN and SLAVERY. Just like today. 

Sin is either made into breaking petty rules instead of obeying God from the heart. It requires doing the right thing in the eyes of people and no fear of God. You can seem moral, give your tithe, say the right words, participate in the latest spiritual trends and read the right books, go to the latest religious music concert and you will fit right in. But all the while you are a child of the devil and a slave to sin.  Nothing has changed.

Jesus said, “These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’ “You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.” (Mark 7:6-8). This is where all the self help guru’s, marriage counselors, financial wizards with a form of godliness come in. They deny the power because their rules coagulated with a scripture here and there become the worst dogma of men and create a pseudo christian life that is no more that a mirage and a huge lie and it cancels out God’s Word.

It is easier for some to live codes and rules of man because it does not require a heart relationship. Their life has no relationship to the Son or God. It does not require a new heart just the ability to please man and it is the darkest form of slavery and deception for it rejects the teaching of Christ while calling itself Christian.

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GRAB HOLD OF THE HORNS OF THE ALTAR!

 ALTAR“Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, so he rushed to the sacred tent and grabbed on to the horns of the altar.” (1 Kings 1:50NLT). 

In the Old Testament there is a piece of furniture referred to as the bronze altar. On it were four bronze “horns.” (Ezek. 43:15). It seems that all worshipers had access to the altar and fugitives seeking asylum might cling to the horns of the altar (Exodus  21:13-14).

The verse above come from a time where rightful King of Israel was Solomon. But one of his brothers Adonijah got it in his mind that he was to be King. Once David found out he proclaims Solomon as King and Adonijah was afraid that Solomon might kill him. His immediate reaction was to run the place of worship and grab the horns of the altar and ask for mercy. He received it that day.

The altar has two meanings: the first meaning was that the altar symbolized the cross of Christ (Heb 13:10) and the second is that the altar symbolized fiery prayer (Lev. 6:13). One man said that, “Altars were places where the divine and human worlds interacted. Altars were places of exchange, communication, and influence. God responded actively to altar activity.”

Simply put, when we use the term “grab hold of the horns of the altar” that means we go to God with all of our hearts and cry out for mercy based on the result of what Jesus did when he died on the cross. We plead our need before God until we receive it! How we in this day need to learn how to grab hold of that horns of the altar of prayer!  This is the place where God interacts with people on the basis of what Jesus has done not their misguided efforts. God the Father receives, shows favor and grants access to that praying person as he would his own Son Jesus into the throne room (Heb 4:16).  A person grabs the horns of the altar he consciously mentally and spiritually grabs hold of the sacrifice of Christ! He or she says “Heavenly Father because of Jesus and what he did on the cross I need you to answer my prayer.” That is why we always in Jesus’ name.

I realize that among many of my denominational brethren loathe the altar call and think that those who practice it have replaced it with true salvation. Not so.  If anyone wants the reality of salvation seen among them it is the people who love truth. Jesus Christ is the altar. He is the mercy seat. He is the high priest. He is the slain Lamb. He is the tabernacle of God. Jesus is everything.  The altar call is not to come to a certain part of the church that is holy. It is not a forward motion or kneeling up front that is holy. But what is holy is the act of faith in prayer. The altar call is a time of prayer. It is a time when we call for people to respond to the gospel. Where people can come and be prayed for as they lay hold of God for healing, deliverance and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  No one prays to be seen by man but public or private, the right kind of  prayer is where people do business with God! Grabbing the horns of the altar is where a transaction that takes place between heaven and earth! God and his sons and daughters commune together in sweet fellowship.

The Christian want to pray so somehow they are sedated or they just feel better or perform some religious exercise that is like therapy rather than communicating with God! But rather they want to grab the horns of the altar! They offer the kind of prayer that gets an answer from God. They seek to pray in the Spirit! To have prayers ignited by the Spirit. The Bible says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much! (James 5:16).  James says that the person who gets an answer to prayer has a sense of urgency. Their prayer has the intensity of a cry for help. That is why a person who grabs hold on the horns of the altar does it energetically. The prayer they speak is from the heart and it is red hot, it burns like the unyielding fire on the bronze altar. It is heated by the fire of the Holy Spirit upon the altar of the heart not manufactured by emotion. James says that this produces powerful results. It accomplishes MUCH.  Whether in private or in public when we come to the altar of prayer we lay hold upon the God of Jacob and will not let go until we get a blessing.  We go to the altar for our lost loved ones. We fear that they will die and go to hell and we beseech the God of heaven as we grab the horns of the altar until they are saved. We see the sick the diseased healed as we grab a hold of the horns of the altar.  The kind of prayer is grabbing hold of the horns of the altar!

© 2014 Soul Health Care Ministries. Give credit where credit is due.

YOU ARE BETTER COLD OR HOT!

Laodicea“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:15-16). 

Laodicea is the last stage of the church age before the Rapture.

We live in that day.

If it is not that day that I am distressed because could this form of Christianity get worse?  God help us if it does.  It is at an all time spiritual low like I have never seen.

No wonder he tells this church to, “be zealous…and repent.” (Rev 3:19). 

Jesus teaches that there are three spiritual states:  the cold, the lukewarm and the hot.  It is important to determine what condition they each indicate, in order to not interpret this passage incorrectly.  One thing is clear: these three conditions of spiritual life  relate to the church not the world. 

It is easy to see what the term hot means.  It is a state of spiritual intensity, passion and enthusiasm. It is a heart on fire for God and is filled and floats with the joy of God’s love and presence.

Christ hates lukewarmness. It is obnoxious and an abomination to him. When a person is Lukewarm the state of their heart has no zeal. They have no forward motion.

They are stagnant.

They may go to church but they would not know self-denial if it bit them in their blessed assurance. They do not fast, they do not pray or read their Bible. They do not strain, stretch or exert any spiritual muscles. There is no self-denial that costs them anything. There is no cross bearing for them, they never get a splinter. They feel no need to be a witness to others about Christ. They are vapid, bland and innocuous.

The old preachers used to say the devil does not even bother them because they are no threat to him at all.

But what is it to be to be cold? Does it indicate a state of corruption, wickedness or being an unbeliever. That is ridiculous. It is repulsive to think that our Lord Jesus would wish that anyone would be like this! “No state can be more offensive to Christ then that of the sinner in open rebellion and his heart filled with every evil.” (Smith)  It says of Christ, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.” (Heb. 1:9).

Heat and cold are preferable to lukewarmness. They will be rejected if they are not hot or cold.

But what kind of spiritual state is indicated by the term cold? Cold would seem to be a spiritual condition where a person realizes that they are spiritually destitute.  They realize that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17) and they long to recover what they have lost!

The lukewarm are content where they are.

But the “cold” are alarmed that they are spiritually unfit, and seek to be restored. The Lukewarm person feels they don’t need any restoration and are just fine.

So it is easy to see why Christ prefers to see his church in a state would not be comforted, because they are not where they should be. You can’t stay cold long.

Cold people will seek out heat.

The lukewarm person is in great danger until Christ finally has to reject them as nauseatingly loathsome.

On the Death of David Wilkerson

“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.” (Isa. 57:1-2 NLT).

I came home last night with my wife after prayer meeting to find out that David Wilkerson had been killed in a car crash.

It was an odd feeling, because before prayer, the Pastor asked if we had any testimonies. Everyone who testified, told of how during the week or even on their way to prayer meeting, they had escaped being in bad car accidents. How faithful is our Protector and Provider!

Then I read this news. I could only say I felt both the comfort and dread of the Lord. I know this man went home to be with the Lord. So many people are speaking and writing in tribute to this man who touched so many lives for Christ and founded that Soul Saving Station of a church in the heart of New York City and what is now known as World Challenge. David you will be missed, but one day we will all rejoice together in the presence of Christ who died for us and sealed our pardon with his blood!

But I wondered with a certain sense of dread thinking of what significance this holds for us who have been touched by his ministry and the words of admonition he gave us while alive.

I was concerned last evening thinking about the scripture with which I opened this article.  As much as I want to provide comfort those to who remain here grieving. As much as God protects his people miraculously in hard  times-He also protects his saints by taking them home! As John Gill says there are, “safely housed in heaven, that they may escape the evil coming upon a wicked generation.” When our work is over and complete, God calls us home, even in a manner that fills us with so many questions. I know the Lord will provide refuge for those who remain on earth but all this makes one examine their heart.  Many of God’s people living for Christ love to see men of God exemplify the truth in a day of so many false prophets and deceivers. How there is such a hole left in history of our lives when they leave us!

I had heard many good things about Brother Wilkerson, his humility and tenderness and generosity from my family who attends and is involved in the church he founded in Manhattan. My love for this man is based on his love for Christ and his Word. I admired his intensity and strong gospel preaching. In a day full of compromise and pandering, men like David Wilkerson are hard to find.  He preached unapologetically and yet with such grace about repentance and holiness. He believed as I do, that “God has never in the history of mankind, allowed his name to go long offended.” 

How we need men of God that preach the Holy Scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit! It is a sign of God’s mercy to us and our nation and the world.

Last evening, I began  to reflect what the old sage A.W. Pink said in his book on the Life of Elijah, “The removal of the ministers of His truth is a sure sign of God’s displeasure, a token that He is dealing in judgment with a people who have provoked Him to anger…there is no surer and more solemn proof that God is hiding His face from a people or nation than for Him to deprive them of the inestimable blessings of those who faithfully minister His Holy Word to them…so much more dreadful are spiritual calamities than material ones…for the Lord to remove His teachers into a corner was the sorest loss His people could suffer..” 

Oh Lord have mercy upon us! Send us men of God! The Lord is the only one who can show us any good.  We need God’s goodness and mercy in this day! Mercy and goodness that come in the form of men who preach the Sovereignty of our God and his saving grace in his Son Jesus Christ.  May other men now come forth in this dark hour and shine as beacons with the gospel of  Jesus Christ to this generation.

Condemned?

Sometimes questions are better than answers.

Paul asks a good question, “Who is he that condemns?” (Rom. 8:34NIV).

That is a not only a good question but a loaded question.

Well, who is it Paul? 

“It is Christ.”

Surprised? I was. The answer is something different from what we expect.

There is a truth you may not have  known: Christ condemns.

What is it to be condemned?  Is it someone being mean to us, not understanding us? We usually think of being condemned in a unjust light. We do not want people to judge us. But God’s judgement is different. He never misses a clue, he never overlooks evidence, he sees clearly every motive and thought. He is just. When God condemns he sentences a wicked person-a person worthy of punishment and God’s wrath. One day Christ will sentence people for their crimes against heaven.

Christ is the one in scripture that could easily condemn anyone, anytime on the spot! One day people will drop lifeless as the awesome Christ sentences them. I have heard preachers say that those rebels who refuse to bow on Judgment Day would have their knees broken. There is no need for such an action.  Christ conquers all his enemies while seated on his throne and he does not need to rise to his feet (Ps 110:1). All he needs to do is speak and the “spirit of his mouth” will cut people to shreds. His words are sharper than any two edged sword and His words will impale and slice them to pieces to the very marrow of their spirit, soul, and body (Heb 4:12; 2 Thess 2:8). He is the judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1). The Bible speaks of the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16) and that we should “kiss the Son lest he be angry.” (Ps. 2:12). Yes, Christ is the Judge of all men.

The idea of Christ being crucified for our sins should shock and terrify us. It was by far the most horrific catastrophe in history! The Author of life  had a chapter entitled “Death” (Acts 3:15) in his book. The wicked hands of sinners took the eternal Son of God who was always with the Father, begotten before all worlds, Lord of life and heaven and crucified him. Oh what condemnation should be ours!

It is like when a newscast is taking place covering the crucifixion and suddenly the screen freezes on all channels and all you can see is the head of Christ hanging on his chest, blood covering his body and every channel you switch to is the same. THE SON OF GOD CRUCIFIED! Oh we are without hope, because of sin, yet the death of Christ was worse than all sin put together and piles on an unthinkable condemnation upon us! It takes away the breath of life and darkens the sun of hope from all creation!

Christ could condemn us but instead it says it is, “He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:31NASB). He who is the perfect Judge is the perfect Savior!

For one question, four wonderful answers!

It is Christ that died. He was crucified  for you and I. Christ could condemn us for our many sins before and after we became Christians, yet he does not. Why, oh, why when he should! But he does not. This does not mean he pleads our innocence before the Father, but his work on the cross. He testifies to his blood that poured out after gulping in the cup filled with the liquid wrath of God that was rightfully ours to experience. 

It is Christ that is Resurrected. He could have condemned me to death and hell. Instead he generously sends us to heaven. He gives us not only “newness of life” (Romans 6:3) but eternal life! Christ says, “Because I live you shall live also!” He gives us newness of life, the new birth! His power has raised our dead spirit. He fuels our hope, and ignites his holiness in our hearts.

It is Christ that is Enthroned.  Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 19:16).  Instead of condemning us He has conquered us by his Sovereign matchless grace.  Jesus is King, all other would be rivals are exposed as frauds, and that there can be no other King other than Christ. Those things that would have dragged our souls down as abject slaves the Lord Jesus Christ has defeated! He takes the authority away from all the powers of sin, demonic forces, and death (Heb. 2:14-15). 

It is Christ who Intercedes.  He could have condemned us by not praying for us. Yet scripture says, “From my birth he has made mention of my name.” (Isa 49:1).  We could never go to God on our own. We must have a mediator.  The second person of the Triune God became flesh in his incarnation, becoming one of us and at the same time not  like us. He is the God-man. He can sympathize with our weakness without giving into weakness. Oh what joy and hope is this: that the Son of God whose prayers never go unanswered has already prayed, keeps praying and prays again for his saints.  He is the one who stands between us and God. He is the perfect mediator.

Be encouraged Christian! Christ does not condemn those he has already chosen, called and saved. He seals them up in his heart! None shall be stolen, their foot shall not slide, he will bring you home to present you, “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” (Col 1:22).

God’s Statutes: Loving God’s Law

“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart…”

AMONG church attendees there are two kinds of people, those who see God’s law as constraining, others which see it as liberating.  That is because they make a distinction between God’s Word and God’s Law that the Bible never makes.  God’s law reveals God’s will and nature. We do not make up our own standard of obedience once we are saved by grace. That standard has never changed, nor will it ever.

The human heart by nature is opposed and hostile to God’s laws (Rom. 8:7). After regeneration the laws that they once hated are written upon their heart by the flaming pen of the Holy Spirit and He ignites a love for God’s written Word that they did not have before (2 Cor. 3:3). God’s law before and after salvation reveals sin in our lives (Rom. 3:20), but we come to love the law of God because when it exposes our sin, it leads us to Christ over and over again.  The same external law that led us as a schoolmaster to Christ for salvation (Gal. 3:24), acts now as the internal law that reveals his perfect will and leads us to Him as the Lover of our souls (Rom. 7:22; 8:2)! 

When God exposes our error and sin, the Bible promises, “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). The word “confess” or homologeo according to Dr. Ken Wuest is not just to freely admit our sins but  in the Greek it is in the  “present subjunctive, meaning continuous action. This teaches the constant attitude of the saint toward sin should be one of a contrite heart, ever eager to have any sin in the life discovered for him by the Holy Spirit and ever eager to confess it and put it out by the power of that same Holy Spirit.”   We are liberated to confess our sins, repent and with tearful joy knowing that our fellowship with Christ is growing each time as he delights to forgive us. Glory to God!

Now the word statutes in today’s culture refers to the policy that prohibits something or permits something.  In the Hebrew language in Psalm 19:8 statutes comes from a root word which teaches that God is paying attention and overseeing how He wants things ordered. His Sovereign grace is at work in our becoming more holy and Christlike. This verse teaches that God orders and oversees his law in all of it facets especially those of the heart and our relationship to Him. He is tending and gardening the soil of our hearts through the sharp blade of his Word (Heb 4:12). He plants the seed of the Word (Mt 13:37) and sustains it by the water of the Word (Eph 5:26) and that makes our hearts fertile and productive for him (1 Cor 3:6-7).

These statutes are right. What He says, He has every right to say because He is Creator and King. God is God. Those who believe his Word are orthodox, those who do not are heterodox.  Simply put one is right and one is wrong. As Christians we believe the Bible is right, it is the settled and established policy of heaven. It is the rule that rules our lives. Unlike relativists or humanists we believe that God has given us those rules as our absolute truth and sole authority.

These statutes are so right and just and equal that obeying them brings great joy to the heart.  A person who is a Christian does have a fear of God, for sure, yet they need not live under the threat of penalties for not doing God’s will. Instead, they trust in the law of God as a prescription for health. He provides through his statutes the internal understanding and motivation to do God’s will as he directly communicates with us, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Heb. 8:10). When the Word is in the heart it affects the thoughts and emotions.  Because they are written on our heart they provide the desire and the ability to act upon God’s will (Phil 2:12, 13). They bring rejoicing of heart, a joy of heart that has a clear conscience knowing we are going the right way, heading in the right direction.

God calls us to serve him for his own sake. He is our motivation and we love his laws. We serve Christ for Christ. We love and serve God because he is worthy and has given us worthy laws that propel us to be zealous of good works (Titus 2:14). 

More Loving Than God?

I have shared with some of you, that I believe there are some people who think they love others more than God does. They see themselves as generous, hospitable and kind. They bristle at people whom they see as harsh and straightforward with scripture. To them that is so unloving.
 
Now of course they would never say that but I would like to test their approach. Scripture says this:
 
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth.  Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. Love never ends.” (1 Cor 13:4-8NCV).
 
These wonderful virtues are in list form and if you see yourself as placing a check to any or all of these-there is one word that buries all of us and should bring us to our knees in a realization of failure:
 
Always.
 

THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC!

“But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (Isaiah 26:19NLT).

On Oct 13, 2010 the whole world watched in awe as 33 Chilean miners that were trapped two thousand feet below the earth were lifted to safety by what many call a miraculous rescue. They spent 69 days (a much shorter timespan than predicted) underground but just a few days ago they took a 15 minute journey upwards to the surface in a small capsule that was no wider than an average man’s shoulders. There was a lot of joy, men thanking God and family reunions. In a time of really bad news in the world, I think this was a real boost to the global morale of  the millions of people who watched the rescue updates on television. I posted on Facebook, “EVEN NOW MEN ARE COMING UP OUT OF THE GROUND!

I read in one article, “They were trapped underground, in a place like hell itself — claustrophobic, dark, fetid — and they come up like they were resurrected,” says Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. “Western civilization doesn’t come up with stories much better.” 

Salvation in the Bible is often compared to being brought out of  a pit, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Ps. 40:2). I CALL THIS THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC. He brings people up from out of the ground of death and distress into new life. The idea of  salvation, the resurrection of the body, heaven and eternal hell are biblical  concepts of the Christian faith.  Problems of many kinds were illustrated often as a pit into which people fell and were trapped. A pit also symbolized unsolvable problems and desperation  from which only God could save you.  A pit was a place where unless you received outside help you would die. 

God is the wonderful Savior of all men (1 Tim 4:10). It is because of Who He is that He delights to rescue his own people (Ps. 18:19) and he  even shows kindness to the most miserable, unthankful characters (Luke 6:35). No one is like God who still loves doing awesome wonders (Ex. 15:11). he brings men and women up out of the ground all the time. But we should note that here are two kinds of salvation: one is temporary and the other eternal. Sometimes in the scripture physical salvation illustrates and symbolizes eternal salvation. One is the saving of the body, the other is the saving of the soul.  Your body can be saved, but that does not mean your soul is saved. Your body may not be saved, but your soul can be saved. You see my point: they are not the same. The physical salvation of the Chilean miners is only temporary, the salvation of the soul is eternal.  

Jesus Christ spent his life before he went back home to heaven doing good, especially temporal acts of salvation: healing the sick, opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, providing miraclous food, walking on water, evicting demons and raising the dead (see Acts 10:38).  Talk about the SALVATION UNDERGROUND gone public!  He did so many wonders that the whole world could not contain the records (John 21:25). But one time he warned the crowd that was fed miraculously, “Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.” (John 6:27GNT).  We get out of trouble only to fall back into trouble again. That is the life we live. That is the here and now. Those who are healed physically can get sick again, those who are provided for financially can lose their money, those who were raised from the dead will die again. 

But eternal salvation is the greatest gift from which real joy comes. The gift of eternal life begins by the most powerful act of God! He takes the soul of  men and women that were once dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1-5) and regenerates them (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5) or brings them back to life. They are born again with a living hope (1 Peter 1:3)! When the SALVATION UNDERGROUND goes public, once a person is born again that life can never be taken from them because it is the beginning of eternal life (John 10:27-29). Even if they die physically they will go on living eternally in heaven, because we are at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

There is physical life on earth and spiritual life in heaven. Jesus said, “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. ” (Mt. 6:19-20GNT). Things do not last on earth. They can be eaten away, rusted away and taken away. In heaven everything lasts forever.

Christ even empowered his disciples then and now to do wonders (Mt 10:1; Mk 16:16-18). But He laid out his disclaimer about miracles and taught his followers that real salvation is not because you can do wonders or have experienced miracles yourself (John 4:48).  The real joy of salvation is that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).  God can and will use people on earth to rescue others but only God can rescue our souls from eternal death and hell. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” (Eph 2:8-9). We should rejoice and be thankful when God rescues us in this life as he does so many many times. But his greatest gift is when he gives eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9) to those who trust in Christ alone as Savior because “Salvation is to be found through him alone..” (Acts 4:12GNT). 

God may be speaking to your heart even now through this article. The Salvation Underground can go public in your life. He will bring you back from the dead and the first sight you will see will be Jesus Christ reaching his hand to you in this horrible pit of sin you are living in. You know without his help you will be lost!  He is the only One who cares and can save you!

Selfish or God-ish?

The Bible says to “be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

I don’t care what anyone says, when we think of being filled with something,  it gives us the picture of having a liquid like water poured into a glass until it is full. It probably means something else in the Greek.  It always does it seems, but thank God for the English Bible. Somebody apparently  thought we would understand what “filled” would mean.

No, I do not disparage scholarship nor exposition. I love it. When we understand this to be filled to the full  it makes much more sense.  But it does not seem to carry the meaning to accomplish or execute or be fulfilled.  That makes no sense in the context. It is quite clear that God wants all of us. He wants to fill us. Paul describes being filled with the Spirit as the displacement of self and the replacement of Himself  in our lives like water replaces the air in the glass with liquid. 

When we are full of self we cannot be full of God.  It is so easy to be full of self mainly due to the fact that  I am…me-myself and you are your self.  When we are full of self we are selfish as human beings. We are self-centered or egocentric. “Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.” (Websters 1812 Dictionary).  The suffix, “ish”  in essence means “belonging, pertaining or tending  toward.”  Thus a person who is selfish does what pertains to, or tends toward self.

There is a tincture or hint of selfishness even in the very best, most selfless things we do. We are such needy people because sin contaminates the best things we do. This is why the sinner must be justified by Christ and the work he did on the cross alone or we would be lost simply and easily. It was the most selfless act. It was God-ish. That is also why we need to be filled with the Spirit of God.  I see that benevolence although the linguistic opposite of selfishness just does not cut it for the point of this writing, so I pray you will indulge me on this point. I guess it would awkward to say but we need to be God-ish  but that is the meaning that is carried with being filled with the Spirit of God. It is a life that tends toward, leans and pertains to God’s Spirit at work in us.

It would seem obvious with the following verses of the text above that after a person is filled with the Spirit they are God-centered or theocentric.  That involves, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (5:19-20). They live for God’s glory not their own whims. Being conscious of the influence of sin should drive us to our knees to ask for the Spirit of God to work in us, but we act so independently of God’s power most of time, we invent our own idolatrous devices, thus we are selfish because we are man-centered. 

Being filled with the Spirit is not an esoteric level of spirituality-it is a life centered around God and his laws.  It is a life that worships God in every aspect of their lives, individual character, family, work and church.  It is a God-ish life. The only way this can happen is by the grace of God that gives us the recognition and awareness of His presence. I believe the Latin term Coram Deo comes into play which is,

“Something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live Coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.” Coram Deo, R.C. Sproul 

This is a genuine fear of the Lord. It is what I like to call the comfort and dread of the Lord. When I read about the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence of God in passages like Psalm 139 it brings me a sense of relief and freedom from anxiety to know he sees all that I do. It also brings a fierce fear and awe of the God who sees and knows all that I do.  To know he is everywhere and with that knowledge is to honor him and is evidence of being  filled with his Spirit.  It is to be God-ish. Oh that we might be filled with his Spirit in every part of our lives.

THE SECRET STASH OF OIL

lamplight2“And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matt. 25:7-13NKJV).

This parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The Kingdom of God is like these ten virgins. The virgins would seem to be symbolic of people who say they are Christians. They all appear to be believers. But they are not. In the Age to come, only the righteous and holy people will live together. Jesus said that in his day and ours it is like coexistence between weeds and wheat, good and bad, and of course, the wise and foolish (Matt. 13; Mark 4).

The Lord’s verdict is that five were sensible enough to have that secret stash of oil and five were foolish for not bringing it. The parable goes on to show the bridegroom delayed in his coming. The hour became late and there was no specific time given for the bridegrooms coming so they nodded off and went to sleep. There is some spiritual blackout approaching before Christ’s coming and if there are no batteries for your spiritual flash light you will be in the dark forever.

Oil is an accepted symbol of the Holy Spirit and the oil mentioned here in this passage has to do with the work of the Spirit of grace in our hearts. The Holy Spirit wants to teach us about Christ, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me.” (John 15:26RV).  He gives us illumination and understanding about Jesus.

The Holy Spirit also wants to help us in our devotion and dedication to Christ, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13). In another version it says, “It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please him.” (GW). The grace of God is the secret stash of the oil grace that will burn with knowing and loving Christ that gives us the illumination and dedication to Christ we need.

There are two instances in the gospel that shed light on this passage. On the mount of transfiguration when Jesus brings his disciples up to pray, the disciples slept: “But Peter and they that were with Him were heavy with sleep and when they were awake they saw his glory…” (Luke 9:32). When Christ unveiled his glory instead of praying they experienced blackout. Like oil in the lamp that fuels its flame so that it lights up the room, Christ wants to illuminate our hearts by his Holy Spirit teaching us about him. The light of Christ enlightened our hearts when we first became Christians (Heb 10:32). This is called illumination or the time “God’s light shone on us” (GNB).

But in the time of illumination or the time Christ would have given them understanding they experienced blackout!

Again, in the garden of Gethsemane, while Christ was agonizing in prayer, they could have demonstrated their dedication to him. Instead he found his disciples, “…sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, “Why sleep ye? Rise and pray lest ye enter into temptation.’” (Lu. 22:45-46). What is interesting is that the name Gethsemane means “oil press” and can relate to the beaten green oil used for the golden candlestick of the Old Testament tabernacle. Jesus prayed and profusely sweat great drops of blood (Luke 22:44) and he wrestled with drinking the cup of God’s wrath against sinners on our behalf. He would say, “Not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). The oil of devotion was pressed out of the Son of God who learned, “obedience by the things which he suffered (Heb 5:8). It was the same for the disciples, when the oil of devotion should have been pressed out or created in their hearts they slept. In the time of devotion and obedience they blacked out.

The disciples were blacked out in sin. They had to be saved by grace (Eph 2:8-9). Sleep on take your rest Jesus told them (Mk 14:41). Jesus would have to sleep for them three days in the tomb (1 Cor. 15:1-3). Jesus turned them back to himself (Luke 22: 31-32). That is the oil of God’s grace. Sleeping means they were out of the picture. They could not manufacture oil or save themselves. Like Adam (Gen 2:21-22) and Abraham (Gen 15:12). God was doing a work of grace they had no part in (Eph 2:8-9). Only Christ could give them the oil they needed. We know that Christ’s everlasting love has softened our hearts in his Sovereign grace, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’ (see Eph. 5:14).

They all were startled awake as they heard the cry, “Behold the bridegroom approaches go out to meet him!”  Now, the only time that remained at this point was to ignite their lamps. There are people very proud of their lamps. They have the “sinner’s or salvation prayer” lamp or the water baptism lamp, church attendance lamp, the ministry lamp but no oil of grace in their spiritual inventory. I want to tell you that they loved their lamps of self-righteousness more than the oil of knowing and loving Jesus Christ! That is clear from this parable. There is no difference between the ten virgins until that fateful moment when we see five ladies holding radiant torches and the others staring at their smoldering lamps.

These types of weddings commonly took hours and this presented the possibility for their lamps to burn out so the sensible girls brought extra oil. The thing that is most surprising is that since most of the weddings of that culture took place at night, it would seem just plain common sense to bring oil with them, thus their folly and stupidity is seen. Something so important, a fact of such common knowledge is overlooked.  Jesus taught, “You also must be ready all the time for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Mt. 24:44).  

The five simple ladies were excited at first, but their enthusiasm sprung a leak.  As far as they were concerned, the party is over before it has begun.

They look at the other ladies igniting their torches, chattering with excitement, their hearts glowing with an amber flame like their faces. The silly ladies cry, “Give us some of your oil, we have run out!”  The response of the wise virgins was, “We only have enough for our lamps. You are going to have to buy oil of them that sell!”

We must remember that the oil was something that the sensible virgins could not give to the foolish virgins.  We cannot give the oil to others; they must buy it for themselves. This means a denomination or organization cannot dispense oil.  You cannot rely on a refueling with oil from your pastor or church.  Children who have Christian parents cannot siphon their parents oil tanks for a ride into heaven, nor can a wife borrow oil from her husband or a husband from his wife. They were asking the wrong people at the wrong time for oil. It is Christ and only Christ that can pour the extra oil of his spirit into our hearts. No one can give you what he can.

What a lesson for us- we should be found greeting Him at the door upon His arrival, not shopping for oil in the middle of the night.  Love and devotion cannot be bought. Anyone who waits this long does not love and know Jesus they only like his parties. The sensible virgins watched the foolish go out to buy oil at midnight and of course, there are no shops open. They slept through business hours. Our Father’s business of salvation will close its doors one day. There is coming an hour where no matter how genuine the repentance God will not honor anyone’s requests due to their procrastination. “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6). You and I are on God’s schedule, not He on ours.

The bridegroom comes while they were away and the door of “opportunity” is permanently shut with a sickening clap. It was customary for the owner of the house where a wedding was taking place, after all the invited guests were checked in, to close the door, not allowing a soul to enter no matter how persistent they were in their pleas. This prevented the curious and unwelcome guests from access to the reception. The door we speak of is the entrance to God’s kingdom (Lu. 13:28). It will be like the constant ringing of a phone, and no answer. It will be like a running to a gate at the airport, to find you have missed your flight and all flights to that place have been cancelled indefinitely. It will be knocking on a door that refuses to open. The Bridegroom will eventually separate those who know him from those who do not. Christianity cannot be casually browsed through, you cannot come late! What a warning for those who have lamps but no oil. Like Augustine said, “God promises forgiveness for repentance but what promise does God give for our procrastination?” There is coming a time when God cannot be reached and therefore be ready at all times.

The foolish virgins can hear the laughter and music of the wedding reception and their hearts see a closed door. They are missing the wedding. They panic and bang and bang on the locked door until a response is given.

If we add the commentary of Luke chapter thirteen, they begin to panic and cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us!”

There is a muffled voice behind the door, “Sorry, you’re not on my guest list…I do not know you!” 

They say, “But we’ve known you all our lives!’

He interrupts, “Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don’t know the first thing about me.” (see Luke 13:25-27Message).

No excuses, apologies, or explanations are accepted. Why? This is the heart of the matter: they are strangers to him. He does not have a close relationship to them. They do not burn with the secret stash of oil that shows they know and love Christ.  Jesus affirmed this declaring, “I know mine own and mine know me” (John 10:14). Salvation is God knowing us. God is omniscient he knows everything but this is a different knowledge. It is saving knowledge. Paul said, “But now after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God…” (Galatians 4:9). It is a privilege for a person to have God reveal Himself to them. It is an honor for us to love him who loved us so much. We would do well to put salvation in those terms.

As for the foolish virgins of today, they have been duped by the worst kind of lie, self-deception, and they do not know the bridegroom. They only look like virgins and have a lamp, but they have no oil. There are many who profess to belong to Christ and even claim to know and love Him, but they only have a façade of religiosity, just an empty lamp with no light, with no evidence of “the power of God unto salvation…” (Romans 1:16). This is a terrifying prospect for silly neglectful church goers. They do not care until it is too late. Their “break glass in case of emergency” relationship with God will not help them. The Lord’s delay serves as an opportunity for these hypocrites to sin. They do not see it as the Lord’s longsuffering (2 Pet. 3:8-10) and giving them opportunity to repent (Rev. 2:21) but they think the Lord is neglectful and careless about his promises. Jesus warned, that day would be, “like a trap. That day will surprise everyone on earth.” (Luke 21:35CEV).  They will be caught and trapped by their own hardness of heart.

As for the elect wise virgins, they went with him into the marriage! This passage is an encouragement because God is our Savior. Heaven is where Jesus is. That is why the wise virgins want to go to heaven. It is not heaven unless Jesus is there. We are saved and supported by the secret supply of his grace in the most difficult of times. His mercy and kindness is extended to all who will prepare to meet with Him. They are promised that their “bottle of oil shall not fail” (1 Kings 17:14). They are vessels of His mercy and He who is the author and finisher of their faith oversees their salvation.

Thomas Brooks the great puritan writer wrote about this and said, “Oh, God forbid that my heart should be affected or taken with anything in comparison with Christ. The more I know Him, the more I love Him; the more I know Him, the more I desire Him; the more I know Him, the more my heart is knit unto Him. His beauty is captivating. His love is ravishing, His goodness is attracting, His manifestations are enticing, His person is enamoring, His lovely looks please me! His pleasant voice delights me, His precious Spirit comforts me, His holy word rules me! All these things make Christ to be a heaven unto me!