Oh, The Deep Love of Jesus

A simply beautiful hymn performed beautifully.  Rejoice in the love of Jesus.  Follow the link below to be blessed.

Thank you  Antidote! ‘Oh, the Deep Love of Jesus’ — Lee Duigon  for posting such a beautiful piece of music


 

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God & Clouds

Clouds 2

Clouds

Clouds are complex.  The range of impact on our lives goes from supplying some shade from the noon day sun, and the ever desired gentle rain, to wreaking havoc by delivering hurricane type destruction.

I think it is so also in the Scriptures.  Why is this a topic today?

During services one morning, we sang the following song, and it got me to thinking.

The song goes like this…

These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the word of the Lord, yeah
And these are the days of Your servant Moses
Righteousness being restored
These are the days of great trials
Of famine and darkness and sword
Still we are the voice in the desert crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds…..

My  question is … when Jesus says He is “coming on the clouds”, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Coming on the CloudsClouds 3

What is the context in the New Testament to this phrase “coming on the clouds”?

Is there some Old Testament background that might give us some understanding?

A passage that comes to mind when associating clouds with God is Isaiah 19:1

Isaiah 19:1

An oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.

An additional passage that associates clouds with judgement on Israel.

Lamentations 2:1

How the Lord in his anger
has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!
He has cast down from heaven to earth
the splendor of Israel;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.

A number of times in the minor prophets,  clouds are associated with judgement on Israel.

Joel 2:2

a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Nahum 1:3

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Zepheniah 1:15

A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,

The reason I am writing is due to this seeming conflict.

When Jesus said He would be  “coming with the clouds” should we rejoice or shudder.

What was Jesus referring to when He made that statement.  Many believers think He was referring to Daniel 7:13.

But golly gee willikers, this could not be describing His glorious return to earth as many in the modern church think.  The verse speaks of the Son of Man coming TO the Ancient of Days!

Daniel 7:13

“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.

Of course His return is a Day that a true believer waits on, but is it ever described as Him “coming on the clouds”?

If Daniel 7:13 is describing the ascension, Jesus use of it clearly signaled to the Jewish leadership His claim to Messiahship, and the ability to come in judgement upon sinful nations.  The phrase “coming in the clouds” is found fours times in the New Testament, as seen below.

Matthew 24:30

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 26:64

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Mark 13:26

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Mark 14:62

And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

All of these verses have the context of judgement.

Paul refers to clouds once in his epistles and is referring to being joined with the dead in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.

It’s funny – I hadn’t noticed this before, but this verse doesn’t link the Lord with the clouds necessarily.  The clouds are the place for the “living” saints to join the “dead” saints, and then meeting the Lord in the air (not the clouds?)

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

I wonder – Does the prophet Amos have something to say to us?

Amos 5:18

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
Why would you have the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, and not light,

Let us always remember who the Lord is.  Let us not presume upon the kindness and mercy of God, and forget the utter awesomeness of the triune God in His return for His people.


I do hope you will supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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C.S. Lewis on Church Attendance

CSLewis 2I was surfing the internet a few nights back and as it got later in the evening, I tripped over a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis, which was supposedly found in his autobiography.

His opinion on church attendance is revolutionary, rebellious (?) and reassuring (to me at least, since it seems to echo with my sentiments.)

It goes as follows….

The idea of churchmanship was to be wholly unattractive. I was not in the least anticlerical, but I was deeply antiecclesiastical.

…But though I liked clergymen as I liked bears, I had as little wish to be in the Church as in the zoo.

It was, to begin with, a kind of collective; a wearisome “get-together” affair. I couldn’t yet see how a concern of that sort should have anything to do with one’s spiritual life. To me, religion ought to have been a matter of good men praying alone and meeting by twos and threes to talk of spiritual matters.

And then the fussy, time-wasting botheration of it all! The bells, the crowds, the umbrellas, the notices, the bustle, the perpetual arranging and organizing. Hymns were (and are) extremely disagreeable to me. Of all musical instruments I liked (and like) the organ least. I have, too, a sort of spiritual gaucherie which makes me unapt to participate in any rite.

This is an amazing quote!

What think ye?


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 2

Church on a hill 

Let’s continue considering Cody’s effort to convince me of the necessity of local church membership, with the assistance of Mark Dever from 9 Mark’s ministries.

The first point Mark brings to the table is……..

 

 


1) To be Obedient to the Scriptures

Matthew 16:13

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Although this is the beginning point for every person in their obedience to the Lord Jesus, I do not see any connection to church membership in this passage. Please correct me if I am missing something.

This is an important point for the believers life. The authority of the Scriptures in the believers life is to be final, yet we know as believers we struggle with other authorities such as tradition, logic, emotion, fear and such. I applaud Mr Devers reference to obedience to the Scriptures, but find his application in this point to be misguided. 

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Mat 18:15 – 20

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 
16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 
17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 
18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 
19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
 
20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

In this passage, Jesus refers to discipline to be administered to an erring brother, for the sake of “gaining your brother”. Jesus guides us to keep the offense local (between brothers) until refusal to “hear” the rebuke forces the offended party to tell the church.

What I find amazing is that the pastor or elders are not referred to here in this passage. The entire church is told of the offense.  Now, if a man who has signed his name on a church roll is in sin and it comes to the knowledge of the church, could not that man simply choose to move to another church, or possibly just give up on church.

The point is that church membership, in the form which is commonly thought of within our Christian culture, has had very little effect in performing its stated goals.

On the other hand, if (and when) I have been a part of a group (dare I say a family) of believers that love and trust one another, this type of treatment is very effective.

Therefore, I do not see the use of this passage, in relation to being obedient to the scriptures, to be as effective as supposed.  As a matter of fact, this passage could be used to define the local body as being as small as “two or three” gathered in His name.  Obviously local church membership would be a redundant concept for such a small local group!

Act 5:12 -14

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 
13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 
14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

What a great passage showing the authority the apostles exercised during the early church. Signs and wonders by the apostles were being wrought among the people (just believers or all people?)  Believers were added to the church.

Where is the justification for church membership in this verse?  Could it be in the verb “join” in verse 13?  I suppose this is possible, but the natural reading would not make me think of local church membership, but association with the believers through exercising faith in the Son of God.

Also, the local church, at this time in the history of the church, would have been in one location (all …. in Solomons porch) within the City of Jerusalem, and therefore would fall under the definition of a church within a city, and not that of the local church as we think of today.


I will continue posting my response to each of the 6 reasons in following days. I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Calvinism and Little Children

John_Greenleaf_Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier

I am generally not a reader of poetry, but this is an excellent piece describing the inconsistencies of Calvinism.

The reading of the poem may take a few moments, but the message is very worthwhile.

The Minister’s Daughter
Author: John Greenleaf Whittier

In the minister’s morning sermon
He had told of the primal fall,
And how thenceforth the wrath of God
Rested on each and all.

And how of His will and pleasure,
All souls, save a chosen few,
Were doomed to the quenchless burning,
And held in the way thereto.

Yet never by faith’s unreason
A saintlier soul was tried,
And never the harsh old lesson
A tenderer heart belied.

And, after the painful service
On that pleasant Sabbath day,
He walked with his little daughter
Through the apple-bloom of May.

Sweet in the fresh green meadows
Sparrow and blackbird sung;
Above him their tinted petals
The blossoming orchards hung.

Around on the wonderful glory
The minister looked and smiled;
“How good is the Lord who gives us
These gifts from His hand, my child.

“Behold in the bloom of apples
And the violets in the sward
A hint of the old, lost beauty
Of the Garden of the Lord!”

Then up spake the little maiden,
Treading on snow and pink
“O father! these pretty blossoms
Are very wicked, I think.

“Had there been no Garden of Eden
There never had been a fall;
And if never a tree had blossomed
God would have loved us all.”

“Hush, child!” the father answered,
“By His decree man fell;
His ways are in clouds and darkness,
But He doeth all things well.

“And whether by His ordaining
To us cometh good or ill,
Joy or pain, or light or shadow,
We must fear and love Him still.”

“Oh, I fear Him!” said the daughter,
“And I try to love Him, too;
But I wish He was good and gentle,
Kind and loving as you.”

The minister groaned in spirit
As the tremulous lips of pain
And wide, wet eyes uplifted
Questioned his own in vain.

Bowing his head he pondered
The words of the little one;
Had he erred in his life-long teaching?
Had he wrong to his Master done?

To what grim and dreadful idol
Had he lent the holiest name?
Did his own heart, loving and human,
The God of his worship shame?

And lo! from the bloom and greenness,
From the tender skies above,
And the face of his little daughter,
He read a lesson of love.

No more as the cloudy terror
Of Sinai’s mount of law,
But as Christ in the Syrian lilies
The vision of God he saw.

And, as when, in the clefts of Horeb,
Of old was His presence known,
The dread Ineffable Glory
Was Infinite Goodness alone.

Thereafter his hearers noted
In his prayers a tenderer strain,
And never the gospel of hatred
Burned on his lips again.

And the scoffing tongue was prayerful,
And the blinded eyes found sight,
And hearts, as flint aforetime,
Grew soft in his warmth and light.

1880.

Paul & James – What a Massive Contradiction!

How in the world does a fella deal with the following obvious contradiction in the New Testament?

ContradictionRomans 3:28

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

James 2:24

24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Extreme Solution

Some may take the stance that James is not worthy to be taken seriously, not even to be considered part of the canon.  I believe Martin Luther, the great reformer, called the book of James “a right strawy epistle”

One of Martin Luther’s quotes …

In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’s epistle is really a right strawy epistle, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.

I assume the remark was Luther’s attempt to rid the canon of the epistle, and it may hearken back to Paul’s use of straw in the first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul noted that worthless works are “straw…”.

I have always leaned on the thinking that if God the Father sent His Son to die on a cross for the sins of the world, He would have a vested interest in maintaining the message He wants the world to hear.  So far it looks like the epistle of James has weathered 2 millennium of attacks and stands strong.

Another factoid that supports James epistle as worthy of acceptance is the echoing of Jesus teaching within the book.  Check out this table comparing Book of James with statements of Jesus.  Sixty seven verses in the book of James (total of 88 verses) contain allusions to or expound statements of the Lord.  That is 3 out of every 4 verses!

So, if the book of James is to be considered acceptable canon material, how do Christians resolve the apparent contradiction between James and Paul?

I would suggest context plays a role.  Let me explain.

Faith Only

Paul is laying out the method of salvation for all lost men to establish a relationship with God the Father, through God the Son.  It is widely accepted that faith in Christ and repentance of sins are the two components of salvation.  I think Paul is using faith, being understood by his audience, who heard the message of repentance and faith from others. Although the passage refers to faith only, many other passages include the concept of repentance, which Paul plainly taught in other contexts

Acts 17:30

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Acts 26:20

20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Timothy 2:25

25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

This faith in Romans 3:28 is the noun form of “belief, faith etc.”  It is not the verb in the text.  The action word in the passage is “justified” and the action is performed by God in response to the faith of the sinner.  God justifies the sinner when the sinner exercises faith in the Messiah’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Consider the Old Testament passage the apostle refers to.  Paul mentions Abraham’s faith in the next chapter (5 verses away) and uses Abraham to support his teaching of faith only to be justified.

Rom 4:1-5

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
And to the one who does not work but believes in[fn] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

abraham-isaac

Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Paul is referring to Genesis 15:1-6

Genesis 15:1 – 6

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member

And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

In the Roman’s 4 passage, Abram’s faith was in the promise God gave to him of his future offspring.  It was Abrams belief in the promise of a son, in the bare Word of God.

Faith & Works

James. on the other hand is not referring to the Genesis 15 promise, but in Abraham’s continuing, fulfilling, outworking of that faith in the sacrificing of the very son God promised to Abraham.  James is referring to Abraham offering up his own son in verse 21.

James 2:21

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

James says Abraham was justified by works, by some action he took. 
WHAT?

James 2:22 – 23

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;

and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

Note that James uses the Genesis 15 passage (the promise of a son) in his teaching, but that the faith initiated in Genesis 15 (the promise of a son) was completed in Genesis 22, where Abraham proved his faith in the promise of God even if the son was to be put to death. 

His actions proved his faith in the promise.  (To God? or to men?)

James is telling us that true faith does not remain only faith.  To begin the Christian life, faith in the Son of God and His sacrifice is required.

To maintain the Christian walk, works will be evident.  If no works, James says there is no faith.

James 2:26

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. 

Summary

I’m thinking Paul is speaking of justification of the sinner in God’s presence, and that James is speaking of justification of the saint in men’s presence.  (James keeps saying – You see….)

There is no contradiction.

When each of us exercise faith in the risen One, challenges will come.  That initial faith, if real, will erupt in obedience to the One who supplied you life.  Not in any vain effort to add to your faith, or to improve your judicial standing before God.  It will be in response to the love and grace of the One you believed in.

How can we not obey, once we have tasted and seen that He is good.


If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Local Church Membership Q&A -1

Church on a hill

A while back, when I was considering the biblical defense for local church membership, I happened upon a brother named Cody.  He was a young believer, at least younger than I, and was passionate for the truth of the gospel.  I enjoyed his company very much.

Eventually, he asked me about church membership and where I attended, but was surprised when I told him I was not sure of the biblical basis for local church membership.  He expressed concern for my thinking and I offered him the opportunity to defend his position biblically, and thus help me in my beliefs.

Cody sent me a pamphlet from “9Marks” ministry, detailing  the biblical teaching supporting local church membership.  What follows is our discussion.


Cody

Thanks for the document.

As I mentioned in the previous email, I would appreciate your feedback on the comments below.  Although this reply may seem lengthy, it is primarily the passages referred to by Mr Devers in the document you sent me.  I find it very helpful to consider the texts when a teacher is trying to guide me in a life decision.

As a believer,  I am sure you will agree that the Word is the final authority for the believer’s life.  As I  considered some of Mr. Dever’s arguments, (and yours by extension,  I suppose) I have found some questions about the local church membership concept being argued for.  The logic seems airtight, and yet a Biblical justification seems to be without much support.  I do hope you will agree with me that logic is not the basis of our faith, but the Word of God and the Person of the Son of God.  Of course, if you see any weakness or blind spots in my considerations, I would gladly hear them and consider your counsel from the Word of God.

As I considered the pamphlet, Mark Dever stated, “The collection of people committed to Christ in a local area constitute a church”

I think this is a generally good definition of a church within a city, as defined in the New Testament (to the Church of Colossae, the Church of Thessalonica….)

He then states three components of a true church

  • The right preaching of the Word
  • The right administration of the ordinances
  • The right administration of church discipline (He refers to Matt 18 in this item)

Where does Mr Devers find these three components for the true church defined in the Word?  Although I have no serious argument with these points, Mr Devers seems to lack justification for them.  Could there be other components of a true church?  In two of the three components he does not even refer to passages for argument.  The third is a general reference.

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Mr Dever then implys that without church membership, we can not be sure “that we are truly saved”, and supports his statement with 1 John 4:20.  (Of course I am assuming that by church membership he is referring to the local church membership concept that is the theme of his document.)

 1 John 4:20

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

Where in this verse is there any mention of church membership? If importing foreign concepts into general passage11 is allowed, then I could use this verse to justify any activity I want another believer to perform. I am not sure that is very responsible.

Mr Dever then gives 6 reasons to join a local church.  I would like to discuss the passages he refers to with you, and consider the direction the Word gives.


I will be posting my response to each of the 6 reasons in following days.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Conditional Security – Sealed – New Testament Teaching

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

Sealing of the Spirit.  What does that mean?

This type of study (a simple word study) is my favorite type.

As discussed in the previous post, when I was a youngin’  and found out about Strong’s concordance, I well near flipped with the possibilities.  Computers were not available to me at the time, and the hard cover Strong’s I had given to me was a treasure trove of data!

This second part of the study, we will review all the New Testament verses that include the greek word translated as “sealed”

New  Testament References

Roman SealIn the previous post, we reviewed each Old Testament passage describing the concept of sealing.  Now that we will venture into the New Testament to discover how the Lord Himself, and His apostles understood the concept of sealing, I feel it is only correct to compare similar concepts of sealing.

Therefore I used the Septuagint to find the greek word used in the New Old Testament translation of the Hebrew text , (which Jesus and His disciples used during their lifetime).

In this case, when the translators of the Septuagint came to Daniel 12:9 and saw the Hebrew term châtham, they used the greek word sphragizo.  

Therefore I am going to continue with the study of “sealing” with the greek work sphragizo.  The following verses use ether the verb or noun of the simple word, and one strengthened verb (prefix of kata)

Σφραγίζω sphragizō – (Verb form of the greek word)

Matt 27:66

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

The intention of the seal was to ensure that no one disturbed the body. But we all know the seal was broken!

John 3:33

He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

Setting a seal is certifying something, or affirming something/someone to be correct or true. The metaphor of sealing is a common one for giving attestation (Robertson’s Word Studies).

John 6:27

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed .

It is interesting that in the previous verse, men affirm the Messiah’s testimony, and in this verse, the Messiah is affirmed by the Father.

As an aside, the verse could literally be read … for this one the Father sealed, God.

Rom 15:28

When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

Paul went to Rome with the intent of imposing fruit (delivering cash!) to the believers in Jerusalem.

2Cor 1:22

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

F.F. Bruce, in his commentary on Ephesians, gives us a good insight into Paul’s usage here when he states, “An owner seals his property with his signet to mark it as his; if at a later time he comes to claim it and his right to it is questioned, his seal is sufficient evidence and puts an end to such questioning. So, the fact that believers are endowed with the Spirit is the token that they belong in a special sense to God…Other seals, literal or figurative (like circumcision, the seal of the covenant with Abraham), were affixed externally; the seal of the New Covenant is imprinted in the believing heart.

2Cor 11:10

As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Paul is speaking of the inability of man to keep him from boasting of the churches in Achaia.

Eph 1:13

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Note the past tense of the sealing. Also that the sealing happened after the believing. Very interesting! Can you tell what type of soteriology I tend to?

Eph 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The sealing is for the purpose of redemption. Those sealed have the mark of ownership on their lives, and that mark is the Holy Spirit of promise. The mark is easily seen by others, (or at least should be).

What is to be said about the Christian who shows no “mark of holiness” in their life?

Rev 7:3

Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

The angel had to wait until the believers were identified. The “mark” is referred to often in the book of revelation and many times it is referring to believers! See below

Rev 7:4 – 8

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

No comment

Rev 10:4

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

John was instructed to keep from writing the message of the thunders. He was to “keep it” from us.

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.

The one who had a seal set upon him, was loosed for a little season.

Rev 22:10

And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

Consider Daniels message in previous post, where he was told to seal up the prophecy till the time of the end. Here John is told to seal not the prophecy since the time is at hand. Jesus is the seal breaker – He is worthy!

Σφραγίς sphragís

(Noun form of the greek word)

Rom 4:11

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Circumcision is a mark on the body signifying Abrahams faith.

1Co 9:2

If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

The Corinthian church was the mark of Paul’s apostleship. Amazing that they would commit mutiny as they did, questioning the apostles authority.

2Ti 2:19

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

A mark of identity seen by all in the believer’s life, is one who is departing from iniquity.

Rev 5:1 – 2

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

No comment

Rev 5:5

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

No comment

Rev 5:9

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

No comment

Rev 6:1

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:3

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:5

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

No comment

Rev 6:7

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:9

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

No comment

Rev 6:12

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

No comment

Rev 7:2

And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

No comment

Rev 8:1

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

No comment

Rev 9:4

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

Κατασφραγίζω katasphragizō

Rev 5:1

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

No comment

Additional resources below are provided for your convenience.

Strong’s

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

sfrag-id’-zo

From G4973; to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation (literally or figuratively); by implication to keep secret, to attest: – (set a, set to) seal up, stop.

Thayer

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

Thayer Definition:

1) to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal

1a) for security: from Satan

1b) since things sealed up are concealed (as the contents of a letter), to hide, keep in silence, keep secret

1c) in order to mark a person or a thing

1c1) to set a mark upon by the impress of a seal or a stamp

1c2) angels are said to be sealed by God

1d) in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing

1d1) to confirm authenticate, place beyond doubt

1d1a) of a written document

1d1b) to prove one’s testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G4973

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

σφραγίζω

sphragízō; fut. sphragísō, from sphragís (G4973), seal. To seal, trans.:

(I) To seal, close up and make fast with a seal signet such as letters or books so that they may not be read (Sept.: 1Ki_21:8; Isa_29:11; Dan_12:4). Hence, figuratively of lips, to keep in silence, not to make known, with the acc. (Rev_10:4; Rev_22:10; Sept.: Dan_8:26). Generally, to seal or set a seal for the sake of security upon a sepulcher, prison, with the acc. (Mat_27:66; Rev_20:3; Sept.: Son_4:12). Figuratively, to secure to someone, make sure, deliver over safely, in the mid. with the acc. and dat. (Rom_15:28 [cf. Deu_32:34; 2Ki_22:4]).

(II) Generally, to set a seal or mark upon a thing as a token of its authenticity or approvedness; used of persons, with the acc. (Rev_7:3); pass. (Rev_7:4-8). More often of decrees or documents, to attest by a seal (Sept.: Est_8:8, Est_8:10; Job_14:17). Hence figuratively, to attest, confirm, establish, with the acc. (Joh_6:27 [cf. Joh_5:36]), followed by hóti (G3754), that (Joh_3:33). So also of Christians whom God attests and confirms by the gift of the Holy Spirit as the earnest, pledge, or seal of their election to salvation. Mid. with the acc. (2Co_1:22); pass. (Eph_1:13; Eph_4:30).

Deriv.: katasphragízō (G2696), to seal closely.

Syn.: kleíō (G2808), to shut, close; asphalízō (G805), to render secure; sugkleíō (G4788), to enclose, shut up.

Ant.: anoígō (G455), to open; dianoígō (G1272), to open up completely; lúō (G3089), to loose.

Strong’s

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

kat-as-frag-id’-zo

From G2596 and G4972; to seal closely: – seal.

Thayer

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

Thayer Definition:

1) to cover with a seal, to close up, close with a seal

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G2596 and G4972

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragízō; fut. katasphragísō, from katá (G2596), an intens., and sphragízō (G4972), to seal. To seal up. Referring to a book or scroll (Rev_5:1; Sept.: Job_9:7).

Syn.: kleíō (G2808), to shut up; katakleíō (G2623), to shut down, incarcerate; asphalízō (G805), to render secure.

Ant.: anoígō (G455), to open; dianoígō (G1272), to open up thoroughly; apokalúptō (G601), to reveal.

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Conditional Security – Sealed – Old Testament Basis

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with SplashSealing of the Spirit.

What does that mean?

This type of study (a simple word study) is my favorite type.

When I was a youngin’ (that is a Christian youngin’), and found out about Strong’s concordance, I well near flipped with the possibilities.  Computers were not available to me at the time, and the hard cover Strong’s I had given to me was a treasure trove of data!

Jewish SealThis first part of the study, we will review all the Old Testament verses that include the hebrew word translated as “sealed”  חָתַםchatham (khaw-tham’)

For this study in sealing, using old Testament occurrences will help me establish the apostles/first century believers understanding of the concept.  Therefore the first portion of the study will look at all of the Old Testament verses that include the concept of sealing, found in the Hebrew word defined above.

Old  Testament References

Lev 15:3

And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it ishis uncleanness.

No comment

Deu 32:34

Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?

This is the Song of Moses and up till this verse, Moses is writing about the faithfulness of God and the chastisement required upon His people. At verse 34, Moses declares Gods compassion on His people, in that “this” that is laid up in store is the need for the chastisement the people of God need to experience. This judgment that is sealed up among God’s treasures is described many times in the Pentateuch, and many believe it refers to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. If so, this sealing was not permanent. But it was secure!

1Ki 21:8

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles thatwere in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

Jezebel sealed the letters with the seal of the King. 1 Kings 21:11 tells us that he seal was broken in order to read the letter and condemn Naboth to death.

Neh 9:38

And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.

No comment

Neh 10:1

Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah,

No comment

Est 3:12

Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.

Similar idea as 1 Kings 21:8. The seal was broken in order to read the pronouncement. As a matter of fact, it needed to be broken in order to effect its purpose.

Est 8:8

Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.

Similar to above

Est 8:10

And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:

Similar to above

Job 9:7

Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.

A poetic expression of darkness – when the heavens are completely dark, it is as if God sealed all the stars up in a bag. But thankfully the sealing is not eternal.

Job 14:17

My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.

Similar concept as above.

Job 24:16

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.

No comment

Job 33:16

Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

No comment

Job 37:7

He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.

No comment

Son 4:12

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

No comment

Isa 8:16

Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Isaiah speaks of the prophecy as being complete and that it should be stored away, sealed up among his disciples.

Isa 29:11

And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

The prophecies were sealed until the One who is worthy to break open the seals revealed the truth of the prophecies.

Jer 32:10

And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.

No comment

Jer 32:11

So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:

Jer 32:14

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.

Jer 32:44

Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.

Some background to these verses

Just before the destruction of Jerusalem, in the days of Jeremiah, God told Jeremiah to buy some land and to take the sealed purchase papers and the accompanying letter (open evidence) and to bury it in the ground. Verse 44 tells us that the day will come, when the captivity is accomplished, that men will again purchase property in the land of Israel. This occurred some 70 years later after the return of the Israelites.

Does this verse teach the unbreakableness of a seal or imply something else?

Eze 28:12

Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

Ezekiel is speaking of the King of Tyre and of his opinion of himself. He was full of himself! Ezekiel is a master of sarcasm!

Dan 9:24

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

A very difficult verse in many respects but the concept of sealing occurs twice, once with the idea of “completion” or “finishing”. A tremendous prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of finishing of sins and completing/fulfilling prophecy

Dan 12:4

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Dan 12:9

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

In verse 8, Daniel asked when the prophecy would be fulfilled. God told him to seal the prophecy, since it would not be revealed until the time of the end. The prophecy would be sealed until revealed! (Hey – I’m a poet and didn’t know it!)

In order to compare similar concepts of sealing, I used the Septuagint, (the greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which Jesus and His disciples used during their lifetime). For example, when the translators came to Daniel 12:9 and saw châtham, they used the greek word sphragizo.  

Therefore I am going to continue in our next post in the study of “sealing” with the greek work sphragizo.

The following verses use ether the verb or noun of the simple word, and one strengthened verb (prefix of kata)   חָתַםchatham (khaw-tham’) Strong’s 1. to close up 2. especially to seal [a primitive root] KJV: make an end, mark, seal (up), stop.   Brown Driver Biggs 1) to seal, seal up, affix a seal 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to seal, affix one’s seal 1a2) to seal up, fasten up by sealing 1b) (Niphal) to seal 1c) (Piel) to lock up 1d) (Hiphil) to be stopped Part of Speech: verb   The Complete Word Study Dictionary

A verb meaning to set a seal on, to seal up. It indicates the act of affixing an impression to serve as a seal on something, then sealing it up as well. It could be done to any clay object: a letter (1Ki_21:8); a bill of sale, such as the one used by Jeremiah (Jer_32:10-11, Jer_32:14, Jer_32:44); a house could be sealed up (Job_24:16); something could be sealed up or stopped up (Lev_15:3). It is used often figuratively: Daniel’s vision of seventy weeks when fulfilled will seal up the prophetic vision (Dan_9:24); Israel’s testimony or law is “sealed” among his followers for future reference (Isa_8:16). It is used in Son_4:12 to describe the bride of the bridegroom as a spring sealed up with promise of delights in marriage. It indicates sealing something so it can be opened only by the one who has the key that will open the seal (Isa_29:11).

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Christians and the Government

War & ReligionRecently I was discussing with a friend the role of Christians in the armed forces.

This conversation began to make me think of a Christian’s relationship to the government, specifically in the responsibility of a believer in raising a weapon against someone for the sake of a government’s ideology or geography.

Federal AgentLater that night I learned that one of my favorite niece’s husband was in training to become a federal agent. This seemed too coincidental for me to ignore, and since my niece confesses Jesus as her Lord, I thought I would discuss this issue with her.

As I mentioned earlier, her husband was in training to become a federal agent for a government. They are very excited. “Frank” and “Belinda-Lu” (not their real names, dontchaknow!) are in the process of finding out where the government will be stationing this family in the near future.

Exciting times!

These young folk are seeking to follow the Lord Jesus in their daily walk and because of that, I thought I would chat with “Belinda-Lu” about Christians and Government Authority.

A Discussion and a Distinction

What follows is that conversation. (Comments by Belinda-Lu is indented and in italics.)

May I ask you a question about your husbands vocation with the government?

Shoot! Hahaha no pun intended!

First off, congratulations on your husbands graduation!!! It must feel good to complete that step in your lives.

A friend at work has a son joining the US navy and it got me thinking about the armed forces and belief in the Savior. He mentioned that he may specialize in becoming a sharp shooter/ sniper. I asked him about how he feels about killing someone for no other reason than ideology or geographical circumstance. He said he was alright with it, but I am not so sure – he is very young! (I am also not sure of his commitment to the Lord Jesus.)

My question is similar for your husband. I am assuming as a federal agent for your government, your husband may be called upon to fire a weapon upon another person. How has your husband reconciled this possibility with Jesus’ teaching about loving your enemy, turning the other cheek,…

Frank would only fire his weapon if he sincerely believed his life was in danger; and after using every other kind of non-deadly force first to detain a person… Until a court date can be given and our flawed justice system can deal with the matter. Frank’s mission as an RCMP is to “serve and protect” not to “seek and destroy.” He graduates this September.

I understand that authority here on earth is flawed, but everything needs to be done in balance…. Living a life that honors God is attempting each day to do what you believe God is asking you to do, seeking obedience, expecting sacrifice, and desiring to please the Lord.

“Belinda-Lu” – At no time did I intend to infer that your husband was on a “seek and destroy” mission. I hope you will understand that I am not against y’all, and I know that you wish to please the Lord Jesus. (That is why I am asking you this hard question!)

Therefore, lets look at the passage you offered to see if Paul was advocating believers to be active in “carrying out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (v.4)

For many years, I saw Romans 13 as the strongest passage that allowed a believer to be active in government enforcement, but after considering the passage below, (Romans 12:9-21, which provides context to Romans 13), I think Paul was describing (in Roman 13), the God ordained activities of government, but not necessarily endorsing a believers involvement in the government.

Of course I am still learning, and I suppose that is one reason I thought I would ask y’all this question.

Thanks for your patience with me and I do hope all is well. May the Lord Himself bless you and keep you – He is Good.

Romans 12:9 – 13:5

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 13

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

One thing that is interesting to me is that Paul uses the second person (you) and the third person (he) in this passage. Since this letter was written to believers, it is safe to say that the “you” Paul is referring to are believers. Who is the “he”? Is it the “you”? Can’t be for then he would use the “you”! (BTW who’s on first?)

Following the grammar of the text helps me to show who Paul is referring to. I am going to insert (hopefully clarifying) added words into the text to help us see where Paul is going with his thoughts. Again – if I am incorrect in my understanding of the apostles teaching, let me know. As I said before, I would like to honor God, and to do so, I need to understand His will for my life also!

Romans 13:

Let every person (lost or saved) be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Therefore whoever (lost or saved) resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist (lost or saved) will incur judgment.

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you (Christians) have no fear of the one (the governing authority) who is in authority? Then (you Christians) do what is good, and you (Christians) will receive his (the governing authority) approval,

for he (the governing authority) is God’s servant for your (Christians) good. But if you (Christians) do wrong, be afraid, for he (the governing authority) does not bear the sword in vain. For he (the governing authority) is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

5 Therefore one (lost or saved) must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

I find it very instructive that in this passage, Paul actually defines two different groups.

  1. Christians

  2. Governing authorities.

If believers should be part of the governing authorities, why did Paul create the distinction? This distinction is what bothers me. I just don’t get it. Where in the passage does Paul advocate a believer “carrying out God’s wrath”?

You also mentioned…

  • “that authority here on earth is flawed”

– No argument there, but it isn’t the issue. Why join ourselves with a system/kingdom that is admittedly flawed (as you correctly state!), when we have been invited into a kingdom that has Him as King?

  • “but everything needs to be done in balance”

– Do you really mean that? Should I balance out my life with part God’s will and part my will? I am not sure what you mean by saying that. Please explain.

  • “Living a life that honors God is attempting each day to do what you believe God is asking you to do, seeking obedience, expecting sacrifice, and desiring to please the Lord.”

– I think you meant …Living a life that honors God is doing what God says to do, obeying, sacrificing, pleasing God. (There are too many scriptures to refer to, to show this. We are judged on our works, not our intentions.)

  • “Frank would only fire his weapon if he sincerely believed his life was in danger; and after using every other kind of non-deadly force first to detain a person… “

– I understand the “life in danger” argument, but my concern was whether or not God wants a believer to be in this situation at all.

Remember the words of the Master… “Blessed are the peacemakers” He didn’t say blessed are the peace keepers!

I do hope that y’all will continue to seek Him and His will. Drop a line when you would like to chat.

Love ya.

Be blessed

Uncle Carl

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, (ESV)

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