Saturday, October 29, 2016

Just a Thought "115"

Paul and the other 12 apostles before him preached the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. Paul preached what that meant to us Gentiles. The 12 apostles had preached the necessity of their Messiah being raised from among the dead in order to sit on the throne of David in the promised kingdom. And even though they were distinctly different messages, with different purposes, the preaching of both messages contained the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The message from the 12 apostles was about their king being alive. The promises made to their fathers can now become a reality. As long as Jesus lay in the tomb, he was just another tragic religious figure who suffered a martyr’s death. In fact, Paul tells us that the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest display of God’s power ever to be demonstrated, nor can it ever be surpassed.

Our degree of judicial perfection in the eyes of God comes not through Jesus’ death for our sins, but through our identity with Jesus’ resurrection life. Paul’s statement that Jesus’ resurrection was “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep,” the expression “first fruits” has little meaning for today’s urban dwellers. In Bible times, it had a rich meaning because it referred to the first produce of the harvest, which was offered in sacrifice to God to express gratitude for granting a new harvest. Thus, the first fruits, which were brought to the Temple, were seen not as mere hope of a new harvest, but as its actual beginning. Jesus’ resurrection, then, is “the first fruits” in the sense that it has made the resurrection of believers not a mere possibility, but a certainty.

Paul was not only first in line, when it came to dispensing the grace of God, Paul was also foremost in crime when it came to murdering the saints of Israel’s earthly kingdom program. If Paul was at Pentecost, would Paul himself, if he took part in stoning Stephen for believing the message given at Pentecost, would he have been a blasphemer at Pentecost? In Paul’s pre-grace zealousness, he would have been a foremost rejecter of any notion whatsoever that Jesus was Israel’s messiah or that Jesus had been risen from among the dead. First in line, first in crime are apt descriptions for the Apostle of Grace. Paul was the chosen spokesman for God to relay the information for this entire dispensation of grace. God is not dealing with Israel nationally today, he is dealing with all alike in the Age of Grace.

The apostle Paul dispensed a message that the 12 apostles had not dispensed, and that message was different, and that message was geared to the Gentiles. Paul is the chief pattern of God’s grace to all, he is the foremost example. We need to understand that even though Paul was saved, Paul still considered himself to be a sinner. Paul understood the word: Sin. And Paul understood that word meant to come short of the righteousness belonging to God himself. Paul is the foremost example of the impossibility, the total impossibility of gaining righteousness before God through the performance of the flesh. Paul could never preach and never preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, because the kingdom was no longer at hand. God cease dealing with “the outer man” in connection with God’s program with Israel and prophecy concerning their promised earthly kingdom, and then began dealing with “the inner man” in connection with his program concerning the saints of his heavenly calling.

Grace within a dispensation was one thing, a dispensation characterized solely by grace is something else altogether. Grace is the foundation on which Paul’s entire ministry was built, and grace covers all the bases for the believer’s life. There is a glory that belongs to God’s grace, and it is to be praised on the bases on what God’s grace has accomplished. Paul had been given special divine authority with the understanding that he is our apostle, and that authority carried with it the details of what God expects people to believe today, concerning the salvation Jesus purchased for them with his sacrifice.

Therefore, God in his infinite wisdom devised a plan whereby he could take the very faith belonging to his son, along with its resultant faithfulness, and credit that faith and faithfulness to the account of those who believe. It is Jesus’ faith that is freely credited to the account of the one who believes the good news message given to the apostle Paul to proclaim to us in this age of grace. Paul wants us to know how a person is saved. He wants us to understand the basis by which God provides eternal security, not only has provided the gift of salvation; but provides eternal security to all those who place their faith in what the sacrifice of his son accomplished. It is our faith in the accomplishment of Jesus’ faithful sacrifice that is the means whereby God acknowledges that we have accepted the gift his son purchased.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Just a Thought "114"

The good news from God to us today is that God is not counting anyone’s sins against them. Satan, Paul tells us, is working through ministers of righteousness to keep this news hidden from people. How are they doing it? By keeping that issue of sins on the table of God’s justice where the Bible clearly tells us that issue of sins was resolved. So there is no additional sin question in the mind of God when it comes to his forgiveness or his righteous justice. We’re not to listen to ministers of righteousness telling us sins are still the issue. It’s a clever counterfeit being conducted by good people who have your best interest in mind. They love you. They’ll give you absolution. They’ll give you forgiveness, come and get forgiveness from God. They want the best for you, but as Paul says in 2nd Timothy they’ll be deceiving, because they themselves have been deceived.

We’re not in the process of becoming something new and different. We’re not even in an instantaneously cleaned up version of the former creation. We’re not a sinless version of who we once were. We are at the very instance of our belief a brand new creation. God sees us in a brand new way. Not called to be saints, we are called saints, called holy ones. Sainthood is not earned at all. It’s not something to be sought after as though it could be attained to or something that only comes for a select few. In the fact that it’s called a new creation, it tells us this new creation as God sees it, is not an extension of some former creation. In other wards, we are not an extension of believing Israel time past carried on over in some spiritual form to the age of grace. God has designed believers to be a brand new unique organism, operating as a living breathing manifestation of the Savior’s body right here on planet earth.

The truth Paul has proclaimed in all of his epistles is you couldn’t get right with God in a million life times of trial and error. Paul knew that no matter what he did to merit righteousness, it was impossible for him to measure up to the righteousness required for Heaven. Do you suppose Paul would want us to believe that we can produce through our fleshly efforts what Israel was totally incapable of producing through their fleshly efforts, or for that matter, what Paul knew that he could never produce through his fleshly efforts even after his conversion, and after 30 years of ministry having had a time to set himself apart? Paul still said in Romans, “O wretched man that I am.” Paul knew that through the flesh will come no good thing.

We can do great wonders when it comes to relative righteousness. But measuring up to God’s standard of righteousness, none of us will ever do so apart from God decreeing that to be so, freely, a gift, the righteousness required to dwell with God or for him to dwell with us. We cannot perfect the flesh! Paul rendered his flesh to the dung heap and said, “No, nothing I can perform would cause me or give me cause to have a more holy or more righteous standing with God Almighty.” The capacity of the human race to earn the measure of righteousness that belongs to God is zilch. Setting oneself apart for holiness is one thing; setting oneself apart because of the holy standing God has already given that individual in the Savior is something altogether different.

I don’t know if you grasp the full scope of what predestination means to you if you are a believer. If you are a believer, God has predetermined (another wards, his mind is made up, he’s pre-decided) something where you are concerned once you believe Paul’s good news message and God’s mind is not going to be changed on this. Once you are justified unto eternal life, having first trusted in the Savior as Paul said there in Ephesians 1:12 and the choice is totally up to you, there are certain things that God has pre-determined to happen to you. But Israel as a nation rejected their king. They rejected their promised Messiah and thus, rejected their Kingdom.

At the entrance of Romans, the very first thing Paul did was he established the fact of his unique and distinct Gentile apostleship. So there in verse 1 Paul tells us that he was a separated apostle. In other words, Paul was not one of the twelve apostles, which tells us that Paul was not an earthly kingdom program apostle. God had no need for an additional apostle to fulfill the program of Israel’s promised earthly kingdom. How many tribes are there in Israel? Twelve! Well, that kingdom was offered to the nation Israel. That’s why it’s called the good news, or the gospel of the kingdom. It was proclaimed to be at hand by John the baptizer and by the 12 kingdom apostles and by Jesus himself during his earthly ministry. Paul worked under a different program than the apostles of Jesus that had come before him. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Just a Thought "113"

When it came to the earthly program, God’s glory was magnified through seeing. And, the prayer of faith was the catalyst. Miraculous events, visual events, that was God’s earthly kingdom plan. Is God utilizing the prayer of faith during this present dispensation of grace? Did the apostle Paul know what to pray for as he ought when he was asking God to deliver him from the thorn in his flesh? You see, had Paul known that God’s strength during the dispensation of grace is perfected in the lives of those who are weak, Paul would probably not have asked for deliverance in the first place. However, when Paul did come to understand how God was working in this dispensation, he did an abrupt about face telling us that he now took pleasure in infirmities.

The believer’s patient endurance through suffering is a way of demonstrating their hope, and when their hope is put on display in the midst of their suffering that brings glory to God. The grace and strength God gives a person to endure that suffering is the strength of God he wants others to see in that person’s life. That’s when God’s strength is perfected in a believer’s life. While a believer seeks deliverance from suffering, God seeks devotion through suffering. Prayer was never given to change God’s perspective of a believer’s greater preference. Prayer was given to change a believer’s perspective of God’s greater purpose.

God’s greater purpose was not to strengthen a believer’s faith by altering their circumstances. God’s greater purpose is to allow the believer to demonstrate their faith as they remain strong in spite of their circumstances. Prayer was never given to bring God into alignment with a believer’s wants. Prayer was given to bring a believer into alignment with God’s will. A believer can thank God, not with thanksgiving for receiving, but with thanksgiving that God is in control and that God is using the suffering circumstances in a believer’s life to perfect what God has begun in them.

What will it be like when God says enough is enough on his program for heaven so he can pick up where he left off with his program for those who will inherit the earth? Often times, people fail to see the distinction in the secret coming of the Savior and the second coming of the Messiah. When the apostle Paul talks about the last days or the latter times, he’s not describing the end of the world. The apostle Paul is describing some of the things that will be characteristic of the last day of this age just prior to the body of the Savior being caught up off this planet. A continual downward slide concerning human behavior; evilulotion not evolution, some call it devolution; increasingly more religious and superstitious in our last days, interested more in pleasure than lover of God.

This is how God is operating with age of grace saints, he’s not giving you things to look at or giving you signs. If you see something and say that was God, isn’t God good; guess what, same things happen to non-believers today. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. Personalize blessings that’s called worshipping at the altar of the miraculous. Worshipping at the altar of the miraculous is to worship at the altar of the flesh. To worship at the altar of the flesh is to allow experience to trump truth and to allow experience to trump truth is to allow emotion to trump truth. And when experience becomes king in a person’s life, experience is determining that person’s doctrine rather than the person’s doctrine determining the validity of their experience. Emotion not only becomes the fuel but the pilot of that person’s life.

A miracle is a supernatural act of power, but most often when people think of the term miraculous, they think of some special display of power that God performs just in special instances and for particular people or perhaps for a particular person and at a particular time. A criteria in a believer’s mind that they would use to decide whether that event they witnessed would be from God or from Satan, keeping in mind that Satan’s miracles would be the things a believer would expect God to do, not Satan to do. Divine miracles were always in scripture preformed to indicate or signify something. They were to indicate or signify or to be the signature of not only the massager but of the message.

Satan distracts from the truth through the miraculous. The meaning of deception is to be distracted from the truth, to believe a lie. When a believer lines up the miracle beside the message, it will immediately tell them whether or not God or Satan is involved. And Paul makes that so easy by telling us what the message is. (2 Corinthians 11:3) The simplicity of Paul’s message is total payment for sin, accomplished by Jesus’ total sacrifice. The believer has therefore how much forgiveness? Total forgiveness! If the message isn’t total forgiveness all upfront and all inclusive, the believer can bet it’s not a miracle being preformed of God. Satan’s miracles will never stand on this message, because they want to distract from this message. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Just a Thought "112"

But, what is our hope? Is it the fix of these old bodies? Or, is it the new body? What is the manner of our deliverance according to our apostle in this age of grace? Will we be delivered from the suffering situations in our lives by the preacher on TV? Is our hope the removal of the suffering circumstances we believers and unbelievers alike face from time to time? Are we delivered from our suffering circumstances based upon the number of people praying for that deliverance? Are we being delivered from the suffering circumstances to which we’ve been subjected such that God will allow us to see our deliverance and tell those around us that we’ve just witnessed a God-thing? Is our deliverance the repair and the escape of the problems of the old or is it the hope of the new? When we get our new bodies, we’ll be delivered from the suffering circumstances that adversely affect this old tent in which we must dwell until we die or we meet Jesus in the air occurs,whichever is first.

Paul tells us the body God has in store for each of us believers is a body that will be fashioned like unto the Savior's glorious body. It isn’t the deliverance of the old, it’s the hope of the new today. And all the while, we’re seeking deliverance from the suffering circumstances we face and we’re seeking it all the time. We want a deliverance that we can see. Our apostle, our pattern, prayed three times for a deliverance that God would allow him to see, to witness. There has been much speculation among theologians as to the manner of the affliction from which Paul suffered, but it really doesn’t make a difference. God’s answer to Paul is much more important for us to understand than the nature of Paul’s affliction. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Does God have a particular direction he wants every believer to somehow discover when it comers to every detail and every area of direction that believer might take? Or, does God want believers to apply Scripture where Scripture can be applied and where no Scriptural principle can be applied, to make the choices that they desire and then take responsibility for choices they made? God isn’t saying choose A, choose A, but you’ll first have to discover that choice A is the choice that I want you to make before you choose it. God isn’t saying pray and I’ll give you a feeling of peace, or watch closely and I’ll provide you a sign so that you can make my choice your choice. That’s how people are operating with God today. God can work through any choice a believer makes, the choice is theirs. God is not micro-managing believer’s lives today.

Place your faith in Jesus’ faithfulness and that alone. Any kind of works at all, even if they appear to be good works in your mind, that are done for the purpose attaining salvation or for the purpose of maintaining salvation or for the purpose of proving one’s salvation is a slap in the face of God who had to provide the gift of salvation, because people’s righteousness would be totally incapable of meriting it. Israel had a problem when it came to learning the lesson of their inability and the futility to gain righteousness through performance, and this needs to be perfectly clear in people’s minds lest they fall into the trap that many have fallen into today. God completely took works out of the equation when it came to gaining or maintaining salvation.

Some people are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth because they fear learning. Knowledge of the truth may cause them to have to change the truth they’ve been standing on for who knows how long, and that’s frightening thing for lot of people. It is much easier for many people to avoid learning then change in mid-stream. Paul’s message is unique and distinct from the message of Jesus and the 12. What traditions of the human race must be left behind in order to take the doctrine of Paul seriously. Pride will not let people swallow their own pill. What does it mean to die in your sins? It means to die with your identity in Adam number one, the Adam in rebellion; to die with that identification intact. Reconciliation and Sanctification, two different judicial transactions. God reconciled the entire world; believers and non-believers alike to himself through the blood of the second Adam. Now, a person needs to be placed into God’s son, so that they can have his son’s righteousness attributed freely to their account.

Good or bad has to do with being useful or worthless for reward. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul’s not talking about good and bad in the sense of judgment of moral goodness or moral badness, he’s talking about usefulness or uselessness when it comes to reward at the judgment seat of the Savior. Paul’s ministry was distinct, because Paul was the head architect for the age of grace for the building called the body of the Savior. The judgment seat of the Savior has to do with the building project. You as member of the body of the Savior are co-labours with God in the building project. The blueprint for the proper construction of this building has been given to the apostle Paul for the work crew of which you are apart, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Whenever you see that word labour or work in Paul’s epistles, they are always in direct connection to the judgment seat of the Savior.

The maturity of the believer is what the evaluation at the judgment seat of the Savior is all about. Three evaluation issues at the judgment seat of the Savior when it comes to your reward worthiness or not being worthy of reward; work of faith, labour of love and patience of hope. The believers effort in those three areas will be scrutinized. Most people think salvation is the end result, but salvation is the starting point. Paul was given the blueprints for the building. Most are still trying to operate with the blueprints of another program. God committed unto Paul the responsibility to lay the blueprint on the table before the work crew, so we might build in a manner worthy of reward. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Just a Thought "111"

If a person hears Paul’s good news message and that person refuses to believe, choosing instead to believe that their works can add something, that their works can do something to do with getting them save, or keeping them save, that person does indeed need to change their thinking, they need to repent. Repentance is necessary in this age of grace. All who are believing the messages presented by the ministers of righteousness today, they need to change their thinking and accept Paul’s good news message as being the truth in order to receive justification unto eternal life. Believers certainly can make some choices in their lives due to who God’s already made them to be by joining them to his son. God’s Grace is a vital aspect of the believers rejoicing.

Setting oneself apart for holiness is one thing; setting oneself apart because of the holy standing God has already given that individual in the last Adam is something altogether different. Does Paul want the believer to set their flesh apart in order that they might make their flesh become less sinful and therefore, more holy flesh in the sight of God through time through their efforts? Recovering from shame is often confusing, scary, and a painstaking ordeal. The believer can do great wonders when it comes to relative righteousness. But measuring up to God’s standard of righteousness, no believer will ever do so apart from God decreeing that to be so, freely, a gift the righteousness required to dwell with God or for him to dwell with the believer.

The believer can set themselves apart all they like behaviorally in order to gain holiness before God, but they will do no better at reaching that goal than the foolish Galatians who were themselves flirting with the idea of progressive sanctification. To attribute to the flesh the ability through performance to earn a righteous, or more righteous standing before God, or that righteousness comes from or sourced from what the believer does, or what they refuse not to do, or what they commit, or promise not to do again. A lot of believers gradually through time, they begin to slide to the place where the Galatians were sliding and that was back to error. But there are far more people who never started right to begin with because they never heard the truth of what was accomplished by the second Adam where their sin debt is concerned.

Believers during this age of grace are going to be delivered from Jacob’s trouble before it begins. Believers are not appointed to the wrath associated with Israel’s tribulation according to Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:9. Believers can thank God that they do not have to pray the Disciples Prayer. “Deliver us from the anti-Messiah!” During the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Israelites will be under tremendous persecution from the anti-Messiah. He will be putting them to death for their faith. The souls of the martyrs are seen as resting beneath the altar, not because they are in a disembodied state, but because they are awaiting the completion of redemption (“until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete” Revelations 6:11) and their resurrection at the Messiah’s coming. It is evident that if the martyrs are brought to life at the beginning of the millennium in conjunction with the Messiah’s coming, they can hardly be living in heaven in a disembodied state while resting in the grave.

Are believers during this age of grace looking forward to the next event on Israel’s prophetic calendar, the Messiah coming to establish Israel’s promised earthly kingdom on the earth? Or, are believers looking forward to the next mystery event, Jesus coming in the air to catch his body up off of this planet? The Disciples Prayer, it has special application to that tribulation period to those Israelites who were being taught to pray in this manner. But it’s recited in churches across the country in our day. It’s recited as though it’s a prayer for today. At the time this prayer was given to the disciples of the earthly kingdom program, Gentiles did not have a father-child relationship with God, Ephesians 2:12. At the time when Israel will be facing the wrath of Satan; the time that Israel was being prepared for when they were being taught how to pray, this prayer is appropriate for the people of that day. Are believers to be praying for Yahweh to provide their daily bread today? Or, are believers to work to produce it?

God worked in connection with the sign nation, the nation Israel, the healings that were performed and the power resident was in the prayer of faith. James epistle leaves no doubt about the power of prayer in Israel’s program. They walked by sight. God allowed their prayer life to work in connection with sight as that earthly kingdom was on their doorstep. James was clearing writing to the saints of the earthly kingdom promise and program. And what James was writing was in perfect agreement with the promise to Israel sitting in John 14:13-44. From the apostle of the Gentiles, believers never hear “the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” Paul never states: “whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” Rather, to the apostle Paul who is to be our pattern according to Paul, God made this statement in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

Understand that repentance in the earthly kingdom program was not about turning away from one’s sins and not sinning anymore. Repentance was about changing one’s mind when it came to earning a righteous standing with God through their performance. God had to do for the believer today, what they could never do for themselves. God places the last Adam’s test score on the paper of all who take him at his Word concerning their own inadequacy and the adequacy of his perfectly faithful son, having resolved God’s justice forevermore where those sins are concerned. God’s power from on high cannot depart a believer today! God places his power within each and every believer for the express purpose of guaranteeing those believers an inheritance in heaven. God’s power from on high is his guarantee that he will keep his promise. While God’s power cannot depart, it can certainly be grieved. 

It’s a dangerous thing to attribute righteousness to law keeping today. It’s one thing to make correct choices in our lives. Choices we know that God and Paul would agree with through scripture, choices that go hand and hand with agape as Paul relates it. Every believer should strive for righteous living in that respect, but to attribute our righteousness standing before God to do the choices we make is something else all together. It’s a dangerous thing when one attributes any of their righteous standing before God to their adherence to law keeping, whether they include the whole law or whether they narrow it down to the ten commandments or even the final two. To attribute a righteous standing before God to law keeping either to become saved or to remain saved is to misunderstand the good news Paul preached. Because the good news Paul preached has to do with a righteousness totally apart from the law.

Paul made statements such as, “I have learned” and “I reckon.” Paul reasoned things through; he assessed the situation. Why would we need to reason out the source of the problem? Their are avoidable suffering circumstances and there are unavoidable suffering circumstances that come our way. Avoidable suffering has to do with the choices we make in our lives. When we sow an inappropriate choice, we can count on the fact that sooner or later, we are going to be faced with an unfortunate circumstance. Most of the problems we face continue to be problems only as long as we refuse to prefer others over self and we continue to insist upon our right to be positioned on the top shelf. Many problems come our way simply because of our insistence upon having our way. And that’s the case whether it be on the job, in the home, whether it be with a spouse, with family members, or with friends. In such cases each of us hold the power to the resolution of our problem. Rather than wondering how God is leading when it comes to many of our problems, why not just apply God’s provided solution to avoid those problems.