Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Government in the Assembly of God, Part 1

The Character of God’s Government

This is the first of four parts of a Bible study that I did some years ago.  Instead of writing out all my thoughts, I have decided to provide you only with my old notes and let you and the Lord fill in the gaps.  Enjoy the time with Jesus.

1. Greater Authority Requires Greater Humility
Lk. 22:24–27: The greater must be humbler.
Eph. 5:22–25.

2. All Genuine Authority over the Saints Comes from God
Heb. 5:1–5: Volunteers Are Not Accepted

Acts 20:28:
One has no authority over you in Christ unless Christ has put him there.
There is no authority in the Assembly of God unless someone has been anointed by the holy Ghost to be in authority over God’s saints.

Proverbs 29:18 (“vision” here and in the verses below means “revelation”):
God’s people suffer greatly, and sometimes perish, when there is no one anointed by God to guide them (1Sam. 3:1), or when their pastors only imagine that they have heard from God (Jer. 14:14, 23:16).

Ezekiel 13:1–16:
Nothing built upon false teachings will endure, no matter how many people trust in it.  Hope placed in false doctrine will not be realized.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Not A Thing

The Word of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“In the beginning, the Word was there, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were created through him, and without him was nothing created that was created” (Jn. 1:1–3).

The Bread of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life’” (Jn. 6:35).

The Light of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world’” (Jn. 8:12).

The Door of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“ Then again, Jesus said to them, ‘I am the door’” (Jn. 10:7a, 9).

The Resurrection of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’” (Jn. 11:25).

The Way of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“I am the way” (Jn. 14:6a).

The Truth of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“I am the truth” (Jn. 14:6b).

The Life of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“I am the life” (Jn. 14:6c).
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we beheld, and our hands touched: the Word of life.  And the life was revealed, and we saw it, and we are bearing witness and showing you the eternal life which was with the Father and was revealed to us” (1Jn. 1:1).

The Vine of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  I am the vine; you, the branches” (Jn. 15:1, 5a).

The Power of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“[We are preaching] Christ, the Power of God” (1Cor. 1:24).

The Wisdom of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“[We are preaching] Christ, the Wisdom of God” (1Cor. 1:24).

The Passover of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed for us” (1Cor. 5:7).

The Firstfruits of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“Christ is raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who sleep” (1Cor. 15:20).

The Peace of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“But now, in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace” (Eph. 2:13–14).

Our Hope in God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the command of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope” (1Tim. 1:1).

The Image of God is not a thing; it is Jesus Christ.
“God has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:2a–3a).

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The End of Patience

Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”
Psalm 1:5

Put that wicked man out from among you!
1Corinthians 5:13b

We all know that Jesus is very patient.  Peter said that our salvation depends on the Lord being patient with us (2Pet. 3:15).  I know that I have marveled at times at the Lord’s patience with me, and I thank him for it.
Just consider the great patience of God with that fallen cherub, Satan.  Even though God knew that Satan was wicked, God was patient with him up in heaven for thousands of years, waiting for the appointed time to reveal His Son and cast Satan out.
As Satan’s case shows, God can come to a point when His time for showing patience is over.  That is what we pray will never happen to us.  And we pray that prayer because we know that God has reached that point with some of His children and that when He casts out, He may not ever take back in.
In the case of the young man whom Paul and the saints in Corinth cast out of the Assembly, it appears that being put out of the meetings woke him up and brought him to his face before God.  That is what happened if he is the one of whom Paul was speaking in his second letter to the Corinthians (2:6-8): “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, inflicted by most of you, so that you ought to forgive and comfort him, lest such a man be swallowed up by excessive sorrow.  So now, I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.”
In a congregation of righteous souls, the ungodly will not be allowed to stand, just as the Psalmist said.  He will either leave on his own or be put out.  The only issue is, when he is no longer allowed to stand in the congregation, will he realize his error and repent, as did the young man in Corinth, or will he be turned away forever.

Friday, March 27, 2020

In Jesus’ Name

Every blessing that God has given man from the foundation of the world, every prophecy, every wise saying, every miracle, has been given in the name of Jesus.  Before His Son was revealed, God did not mention His Son’s name because He was keeping him hidden until the appointed time, but God knew him, and God was the One doing the work.  Just as every man John the Baptist ever baptized was, in truth, baptized in the name of Jesus, even before John met Jesus, so every man who ever followed the law was following the law in Jesus’ name.  The fact that those who kept the law did not know the name of Jesus made no difference, for the God who gave the law knew.  Moses did not know the name of Jesus, but he told Israel to look for another who was coming after him.  He said, “A prophet like me shall the LORD your God raise up for you, from among your kinsmen; to him, you must listen!”  Moses spoke those words in Jesus’ name.
At the foundation of the world, when the Spirit of God moved over the face of the deep, it moved in the name of Jesus.  At God’s command, Joshua conquered the land of Canaan in Jesus’ name.  What difference did it make what Joshua knew?  God knew His Son was coming to that land!  When the Spirit of God came upon Elijah to judge the prophets of Baal, he slaughtered four hundred of them in the name of Jesus.  The Spirit anointed David to sing in Jesus’ name, and David sang, “My God, my God!   They pierced my hands and my feet!”  The Spirit moved Isaiah to prophesy that a virgin would bear a son.  Was that not done in Jesus’ name?  And Isaiah, again in Jesus’ name, cried out, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, and the LORD has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.”  Was Isaiah prophesying in his own name?  No, no more than John was baptizing in his own name before he met Jesus.
Noah was preaching to the world in Jesus’ name when he built the ark; Samuel preached in Jesus’ name to Agag when he hacked that wicked King to pieces.  Elisha’s dead bones preached in Jesus’ name to the dead man whose corpse was thrown on top of them, and the dead man woke from the dead in Jesus’ name and stood on his feet.  Daniel preached in Jesus’ name to the lions, and it shut their mouths so that they could not harm him.  All those things were done in Jesus’ name by the God who knew his name.
What a glorious blessing it is to live in this time, when God’s Son has been revealed!  We know his name!  And in his name, our prayers are heard by the God who sent him here to make a way for us to live in peace forever.

The Authority of the Body

If he won’t listen to the Assembly,
let him be just like a Gentile or a publican to you.
Truly, I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 18:17b–18

When Jesus left earth, he did not return, and he will not return for many years yet.  In the meantime, he did not leave either the world or his people without governmental authority.  Paul stressed the importance of government when he wrote to the Roman saints, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, for there is no power but of God; the powers that exist are ordained by God.  Therefore, he who opposes the power is resisting the ordinance of God, and they who resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Rom. 13:1–2).  Paul said that he spoke to the saints “in Christ’s stead” (2Cor. 5:20).  That is what every true man of God does, and it is as unwise not to listen to such a man as it would be to refuse Christ if he was here, for he is the one who has anointed that man to minister to you “in Christ’s stead”.
Beyond that, however, every child of God should know that any Assembly of saints, taken as a whole, also has authority from Jesus to watch over the individuals who are in it.  And it is as unwise to refuse to heed their collective judgment as it would be to refuse Christ if he was here, for he is the one who creates every assembly in every place, according to the will of God.  Paul ended a controversy in Corinth about hairstyles by saying, “If anyone is inclined to be contentious about it, we have no such custom, nor do the Assemblies of God” (1Cor. 11:16).  In other words, the mere customs of God’s people, taken as a whole, have authority over any individual member of the body of Christ.
There is an old saying that, “No one is above the law,” and that is true.  Especially is it true that not one among God’s children is above the judgment of the saints around him, for that is the law of God.  Be wise.  While you can, humble yourself to the judgment of the Assembly of God of which you are a part as well as to the man whom God anoints to watch for your soul.  Your safety is in that kind of humility.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Family of God

To Timothy, my true son in the faith.
Paul, in 1Timothy 1:2

Matthew 12
46. All the while that [Jesus] was speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and brothers had been standing outside, wanting to speak to him.
47. Someone said to him, “Behold, your mother and your brothers have been standing outside wanting to speak to you.”
48. But he answered and said to the one who had spoken to him, “Who is my mother?  And who are my brothers?”
49. And extending his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Behold, my mother and my brothers!
50. For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

God has a time appointed for us all to be confronted with a decision.  That decision, which will have eternal consequences, will be determined by what you feel in your heart concerning this simple question: Was Jesus Christ serious about what he said?  Do you think that Jesus really meant what he said in the above verses?  I don’t mean, do you think he meant what he said in some philosophical, other-worldly way.  I mean in practical, daily, real-world terms, do you believe that Jesus was serious in saying that his family is made up only of those who hear the word of God and obey it?
If you answer, “No, Jesus did not mean his words to be taken literally,” then you must answer this question: What did Jesus mean?  When he defined his family as obedient hearers of the word of God, and if he did not really mean what he said, then what did he really mean?
My friend, there is no hidden message in Jesus’ words.  The Lord meant exactly what it sounds like he meant.  And he not only said precisely what he intended to say, but he is still saying it – and he still means it.  I am persuaded that God, through Jesus Christ, still considers no one to be a member of His family except those who have heard from Him and who have obeyed what they heard.

Confessing Christ

Many years ago, Jesus taught me that if we follow his example in just this one thing, if we are like him in nothing but his holy attitude concerning who our real family is, those who are of this world will hate us.  There is something about Jesus’ innocent and pure way of looking at life and family that enrages those who are “in the flesh” rather than “in the Spirit”.  And at some point in our walk with God, it is certain that we will be called upon to face their hatred and confess that God’s family is ours, just as Jesus did.  But then, isn’t the confession of belonging to God’s family just another way of confessing that we are “foreigners and pilgrims on the earth”, as did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Heb. 11:13)?
What did Paul mean when he said we are citizens of a heavenly country (Heb. 11:16)? Or that we are God’s ambassadors for Christ (2Cor. 5:20)?  Did Paul really mean what he said? Or was Peter serious about describing the saints on earth as “sojourning” here (1Pet. 1:17), that is, temporarily living in this foreign land?  Yes, these men meant what they said!   It was real to them!  They did not belong on earth, and they said so.  And for those men of God to make such a confession was to confess Christ, who came from his heavenly home into this wicked world to make it possible for us to belong to his world and his family.  Dear brother, if we who believe refuse to confess that basic truth before men, Jesus warned us that he will refuse to confess us before the Father:

Matthew 10
32. “Whosoever confesses me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.
33. But whoever denies me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

When Paul called believers “brothers” and “sisters”, he was confessing Christ and his family before men.  Paul understood that all who believe have the same heavenly Father, and he lived his life as though his family really was the family of God.  That was not evil for Paul to do.  Neither does that mean that Paul was unkind or unmindful of the feelings and needs of earthly relatives that he had.  He said he grieved constantly for his unbelieving “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:1–3).  We never hear of any of Paul’s fleshly relatives coming to Christ, but he maintained a relationship with at least some of them.  Paul’s sister’s son, you will recall, was visiting him in prison in Caesarea when the lad overheard some Jews making plans to murder Paul (Acts 23:12–16).
Paul exhorted the saints to do good to everyone, as opportunity presented itself, but then he added, “especially toward those of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).  In this, Paul was telling the saints that to do good to God’s children is more important than to do good to others.  What made Paul’s exhortation a godly one is that doing good “toward those of the household of faith” pleases God more than doing good to others.  God “loved the world” and gave His Son for the sins of all; still, He holds His children dearer than worldly people, and everything in the Bible, rightly divided, teaches us that.
God, speaking through Moses on one occasion, and the young prophet Zechariah on another, told His people that among all nations, they were “the apple of my eye” (Dt. 32:10; Zech. 2:8).  And there will certainly come a time when we will be called upon to confess that Moses and Zechariah, as well as Christ Jesus and Paul, and others like them, were truly speaking for God and that they all really meant what they said.  God’s family is precious to Him, and while He is willing now to forgive sinners and take them into His family, in the end, He will destroy forever every sinner who does not repent, and they will never trouble His dear children again.
At some point in your pilgrimage, my brothers and sisters, you will be asked by God to confess His Son and His family before men.  That family begins with your brother Jesus, and it includes all who love God as Jesus does.  But be prepared for the hatred and the slander that will follow your confession.  The world abhors and scoffs at the very idea of anyone belonging to a real, distinguishable family of God; therefore, when any of God’s children testify to the reality of that sweet, holy family, and testify of their participation in it, they will feel the contempt of ungodly men and the heat of the world’s cruel wrath.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Seven “Musts” of the New Testament

There are only seven things in the New Testament that we are told we must do in order to be saved in the end.  They are:

1. Believe in God.
Hebrews 11:6b: "He who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

2. Believe in Jesus.
Acts 16:30–31: "And after he brought them out, he said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your house.'”

3. Be born again.
John 3:7: "Don’t marvel that I told you, ‘You must be born again.’"

4. Worship God spiritually and truly.
John 4:24: "God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth."

5. Suffer for Christ.
Acts 14:22b: "We must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God."

6. Submit to the authorities God has established.
Romans 13:1–2, 5: "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, for there is no power but of God; the powers that exist are ordained by God.  Therefore, he who opposes the power is resisting the ordinance of God, and they who resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  Wherefore, it is necessary to be subject, not just because of wrath, but also for conscience sake."

7. Stand before Christ to be judged.
2Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each may receive recompense for the things done in the body, according to what he did, whether good or bad."

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Origin of the Spiritual Light Book

Four times when I was a young man, Jesus spoke to me, revealing truths that are mysteries hidden in God.  He spread out those four visitations over four years, beginning in the summer of 1975, to give me time to study the Bible concerning each one.  I was a seminary student the first three times Jesus spoke to me, in 1975, 1976, and 1977.  What he revealed to me ended up being the first three chapters of my book, Spiritual Light.
The fourth chapter was the result of Jesus speaking to me in 1978.  I was working construction at the time, and I would come home after working hard all day and would often spend my time, after Barbara went to bed, alone with God and the Bible.  At first, I worried about staying up so late, knowing I had a hard day’s work ahead of me the next day, but desire for God was burning in my soul, and it drove me on.  But then I found, to my great joy, that whenever I stayed up late with Jesus, he gave me such rest when I did go to sleep that I was not tired the next morning!  It truly was miraculous.  Jesus had all my heart and all my attention, and that hunger for the things of God led me to hidden spiritual treasures.  The evening in 1978 when Jesus spoke to me as I was studying the scriptures, I rushed over to my father’s apartment to tell him what the Lord had said.  It was late, but he and my mother were up.  What a sweet conversation we had!  I thank God for such memories.
Young people, Jesus is more exciting than anything you can even think of to do in this world.  Spend time with him, with all your heart!  Give yourself to him and trust him, and you will rejoice at the results for the rest of your life here on earth, and then forever!
The Word of God changed me; it re-created me into a different person.  Those who knew me before the Word of God came to me had to adjust to the new man Jesus had made of me.  Some of my old acquaintances still only know the fool I once was.  I wish they knew this new man.  But that is up to God.  And I know this: no one can know me now without knowing what is in the four chapters of the book, Spiritual Light.  It is online and is attached, below.  You can skip the Introduction if you like, but read the four chapters.  They are not from me; they are incredible things from Jesus to me.  Read it and let’s start really getting acquainted.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Not Enough

From a comment by Donna Nelson

When John the Baptist and Jesus preached repentance, they were not preaching to Gentiles; they were preaching “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  Their call for repentance means they were declaring to the Jews that being a Jew was not enough to be saved.  They were telling the Jewish nation that being a physical descendant of Abraham was not enough, that being circumcised was not enough, that keeping the law was not enough.  They were telling Israel that God required righteous conduct from each individual who would be saved in the end and that there is no safety in numbers.  Their message was that nobody will be saved because he belongs to a certain group, defined by any earthly measure or spiritual experience.
Those in this covenant who have been taught the truth about the new birth often emphasize “getting the holy Ghost” much the same way the Jews in Jesus’ day emphasized getting circumcised.  And the effect is often the same: pride in receiving it.  It struck me when, as a teenager, I heard my father say during a sermon in Louisville, Kentucky, “There are more people with the holy Ghost on their way to hell tonight than you can count.”  My father was combatting the pride of the “get the holy Ghost” camp just as Paul once combatted the pride of the “get circumcised” camp.  Both camps are like the modern “get saved” camp, and that is not good.
Jesus said that in the Final Judgment, some people would say to him, “Lord, we worked miracles in your name,” but that he would reply to them, “Depart from me, you evildoers!”  Those people probably often testified of the day they “got the holy Ghost”.  Maybe they testified of it too often, and neglected doing the will of God in their daily lives.
Many times, Jesus warned his followers that only those who live the way God wants men to live will be saved.  Yes, you must be born again; yes, you must “get the holy Ghost.”  But after that, what?  It is your attitude and your treatment of others, including your treatment of the God who gave you the holy Ghost, that will determine where you spend eternity.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Destroying the Law

From a conversation with Damien Callaghan

Do not think that I have come to destroy the law.”
Jesus, in Matthew 5:17a

[Christ Jesus] is our peace, who destroyed . . . the law.”
Paul, in Ephesians 2:14–15

At first, it seems that Paul is contradicting Jesus by saying that Jesus destroyed the law of Moses, but that is only because we read too much into Jesus’ famous words, “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law.”  Jesus did not come to earth to destroy the law; he came to earth to keep it.  However, when Jesus ascended into heaven to return to the Father, he went away from earth to destroy the law.  In heaven, Jesus offered himself to the Father, and when the Father accepted Jesus as the sacrifice for man’s sins, the law was done away with.
Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but he did go away to destroy it, just as Paul said.