The Frustration of the Flesh…

Walking with Jesus in this life is simply a blessing! Being “in Christ” makes waking up every morning something to look forward to. Yet, because we live in these “earth suits” that we call “the flesh” we often- perhaps more than we care to admit… do those things that we know are not pleasing to the Lord. That is called sin. Anything that is not pleasing to the Lord. The Apostle Paul had the same “frustration in the flesh” to we experience. He spoke of it in Romans 7: 15-24… (Message Translation)

I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

I just love Paul’s brutal honesty. We all struggle with our flesh… each and every one of us. Even you.

And if Paul had ended his letter to the Romans at chapter 7… I think we would all feel a little deflated… but Paul went on… to Romans Chapter 8, and he answers his questions at verse 1, where we read: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

When we fall short in this journey that we call life… Paul let’s us know that there is no blame placed on us. No judgement assigned to us. No disapproval from the Lord… and that is because we are 1) saved by grace- Ephesians 2:8-9, 2) Jesus knows what we are going through down here- Hebrews 4:15 and 3) Jesus is even now interceding on our behalf- Romans 8:34.

This is good news and it is freeing. We need to live our lives, daily desiring to grow in Christ likeness… but when we do those things that we know we shouldn’t… confess, repent and move on… under no condemnation. Jesus frees us from the “frustration of the flesh.”

 

Can a Christian “lose” their salvation?

One of the most interesting and challenging sections of all scripture is found in Hebrews 6:4-6…

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

A proper interpretation of this section of scripture and in truth the entire epistle requires the understanding that it addresses three distinct groups of Hebrews: 1) believers; 2) unbelievers who were intellectually convinced of the gospel; and 3) unbelievers who were attracted to the gospel and the person of Jesus the Christ, but had not yet reached a decision about Him.

Failure to acknowledge these groups leads to interpretations inconsistent with the entirety of Scripture.

It is the second group that is being addressed in Hebrews 6:4-6. They were intellectually convinced yet spiritually uncommitted. They were enlightened in biblical truth, that was accompanied by intellectual perception… they had even been partakers of the Holy Spirit- probably referring to their participation in the miraculous ministry of Jesus and perhaps the apostles as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

But then had fallen awayit is the a Greek term equivalent to Apostasy. They knew the truth… perhaps even believed the truth… but had never actually trusted their eternities to that saving knowledge.

It is impossible to renew them again to repentance… those who sinned against Christ in such a way had no hope of restoration or forgiveness… because they had rejected Him with full knowledge and conscious understanding and experience. They could never have more knowledge than they had when they rejected Him.

There is no possibility of these verses referring to losing salvation.

The entirety of scripture make that unmistakably clear: John 10:27-29, Philippians 1:6, 1 Peter 1:4-5

But perhaps the strongest scripture for that is found in Romans 8:35, 38-39…

35. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 38-39. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saints… Satan wants you to doubt your eternal security. He wants you to live in fear. Christ Jesus does not, He has made it clear: WHEN YOU ARE BORN AGAIN NOTHING CAN SEPERATE YOU FROM THE LOVE OF GOD!!!

 

Can a Christian “lose” their salvation?

One of the most interesting and challenging sections of all scripture is found in Hebrews 6:4-6…

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

A proper interpretation of this section of scripture and in truth the entire epistle requires the understanding that it addresses three distinct groups of Hebrews: 1) believers; 2) unbelievers who were intellectually convinced of the gospel; and 3) unbelievers who were attracted to the gospel and the person of Jesus the Christ, but had not yet reached a decision about Him.

Failure to acknowledge these groups leads to interpretations inconsistent with the entirety of Scripture.

It is the second group that is being addressed in Hebrews 6:4-6. They were intellectually convinced yet spiritually uncommitted. They were enlightened in biblical truth, that was accompanied by intellectual perception… they had even been partakers of the Holy Spirit- probably referring to their participation in the miraculous ministry of Jesus and perhaps the apostles as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

But then had fallen awayit is the a Greek term equivalent to Apostasy. They knew the truth… perhaps even believed the truth… but had never actually trusted their eternities to that saving knowledge.

It is impossible to renew them again to repentance… those who sinned against Christ in such a way had no hope of restoration or forgiveness… because they had rejected Him with full knowledge and conscious understanding and experience. They could never have more knowledge than they had when they rejected Him.

There is no possibility of these verses referring to losing salvation.

The entirety of scripture make that unmistakably clear: John 10:27-29, Philippians 1:6, 1 Peter 1:4-5

But perhaps the strongest scripture for that is found in Romans 8:35, 38-39…

35. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 38-39. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saints… Satan wants you to doubt your eternal security. He wants you to live in fear. Christ Jesus does not, He has made it clear: WHEN YOU ARE BORN AGAIN NOTHING CAN SEPERATE YOU FROM THE LOVE OF GOD!!!

 

Gain the world, lose your soul…

In the United States, we are blessed with great material and physical wealth. No nation before has ever enjoyed the vast luxuries that this country has and currently enjoys. The average middle class American is very rich compared to much of the rest of the world.

The question for the Christian is this. Do you control your possessions, or do your possessions control you?

There’s an interesting story found in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospel account of a rich young ruler, who asks Jesus… what good thing must I do that I may attain eternal life? After some conversation, Jesus says: “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The rich young ruler loved his riches so much that they kept him from accepting eternal life from the Son of God.

We pick up the story at Matthew 19: 23-26… And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Jesus uses an illustration of the impossibility of a camel going through the eye of a needle. Some theologians have taught that the needle’s eye referred to a gate in the wall of Jerusalem through which by means of much effort, much pulling and pushing a camel could finally get through the needle gate.

However, the Greek of Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25 speaks of a needle that is used with thread, and Dr. Luke used in Luke 18:25 a medical term for a needle that is used in surgical operations.

It is quite evident from studying the language  that the gate is not meant, but rather the tiny eye of a sewing needle.

It is therefore IMPOSSIBLE for anyone whose love for wealth keeps them from trusting Jesus the Christ as Savior, to be saved.

In answer to the disciples’ question, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus says, ” The things that are impossible with men, are possible with God.” The word “with” in the Greek means litterally “beside.”

If we take our stand in this world with the riches that it offers, we run “beside” or along with the world… and it is impossible to be saved.

However, if we take our stand “beside” God on the matter of provision and worldly needs… then the formerly impossilbe becomes possible through faith, trust and a life of discipleship through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Who or what do you stand “beside?”

The Christ, the Savior of the world…

In John 4:1-42, we are given the account of Jesus conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. It is a spiritual conversation. Jesus offers her Living Water. This woman was drawing water in the heat of the day, this is because she had a reputation in town… and because of that… she isn’t accepted at the well in the cool of the day. And Jesus meets her in the heat of the day… and offers her something she could relate to- Living Water. Jesus was speaking spiritually concerning salvation and eternal life… but she was slow to understand this… and then Jesus lovingly, but directly addresses her sin… we are told in John 4:16-18… He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 

After dealing with the sin issue, in Vs. 25-26 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

And trusting and believing this… she runs into city proclaiming that they need to hear this Jesus… and we are told… in Vs. 39-41 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word… 

Here is the point of this post. When we are born-again, accepting that Jesus is the Messiah, and being forgiven our sin, we are then called to share our testimony. The Lord wants us to share with the world the change in our lives that the Savior has made. Sharing our testimony is not optional. Then after sharing our testimony, we need to bring that person to the place of getting into His word- the Scriptures, where the Holy Spirit can and will convict and lead to repentance.

But, how many Christians even know where to start biblically to do that? Here is a road that can be used. It is called the Romans Road. You can begin by:

  1. Show the human problem. That we are all sinners, and that is death. We find that in Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23.
  2. Show them Humanities hope in Christ. We find that in Romans 5:8.
  3.  Then we need to show them the sinner’s response to that truth. That is found in Romans 10:9-10, 13
  4.  Then we show them the result of salvation. That is eternal freedom, found in Romans5:1-2 and Romans 8:1

There is Living Water available to everyone on this planet, there needs to be no spiritual thirst in this world. But, like the Samaritan woman at the well… that needs to be shared with them and God has chosen to use you and I to do that. So, share your testimony and lead people to the words of Jesus.

A New Heaven and a New Earth…

In studying the Book of Revelation, it is always wonderful to get near the end of the book… because as we enter chapters 21 and chapters 22… we see that one day sin will be eliminated and the Saints in Christ Jesus will have eternal peace and joy with our Savior… and we see that pictured for us in Revelation 21:1 which reads:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. A new heaven and a new earth… and as you read on, a new Jerusalem… all things made new.

However, prior to getting to those chapters, one needs to progress through the chapters before them to get a true appreciation of how terrible it is going to get and what we have been redeemed from.

For example, it is going to get so bad in the “latter days” in heaven and on earth that we read in Revelation 12:7… And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war… probably at about the middle of the tribulation time… around the time of the “Abomination of Desolations” spoken of by Daniel the prophet and Jesus our Lord… there is going to be an actual war in heaven! Incredible!

But, Satan and his minions are no match for Michael and his angels… and then we read one of my favorite verses in the bible… Revelation 12:9… And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  Satan will once and for all be cast eternally out from heaven. That is very encouraging to me.

I do not know why God allows Satan access into heaven today… but from Job 1 and we know that he does have access… not unlimited access, but access nonetheless… and he gives reports and accusations to God about us. But, his days are numbered and he is quickly running out of time… and I am so grateful that we have our advocate, the Lord Jesus in our corner to counter Satan’s accusations.

As I stated, I do not know why precisely, God allows that old dragon access into heaven… but this I absolutely do know: wherever that old serpent goes, he makes a mess… he is a mess maker, that’s what he does.

So, I began wondering one day about Revelation 21… I understand why God needs to create a new earth and a new Jerusalem… Satan has made a truly awful mess of things down here… but why does God create a new heaven? And I think the answer is found in Revelation 21:7 which reads, concerning the new Jerusalem, but I believe can and should be applied to the new earth and heaven as well… God says, through John the Revelator:

and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

You see, when all that redeemable on earth have been born-again into eternity with God through the blood sacrifice of Christ on the cross… and God is going to restore things to their Garden of Eden state for eternity… He has to do that with heaven as well… because Satan has been allowed access to heaven… sin entered into heaven and made a mess of things… and that has to be cleaned up just as the earth and Jerusalem needs to be made new. Nothing unclean or abominable will be allowed there.

And that is wonderful news… because at that time… the Lord tells us in Revelation21:4:

and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

And that is truly something to rejoice about. One day, this worlds sorrow and pain will be eternally replaced! Keep looking up Saints!!

 

Gaslighting and Deepfake or The Time of the Signs…

These are indeed interesting times in which to live. For 35 years, I have been studying God’s word. For 35 years, I’ve been looking for the Lord Jesus to return for His church. During all that time, I’ve studied in great detail the things concerning the “Latter Days.” Watching detail after detail being prophetically aligned for His return… just as we are told it would in God’s word.

One of the things that has always been of interest to me is the words that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, who thought that the rapture of the church had taken place and they were left behind… to them Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:3… Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction… 

So, there will be an apostasy that will occur before the rapture of the church and the revealing of the Antichrist- the man of lawlessness. Apostasy means a falling away from the truth- the church is going to fall away from the truth that it has followed for centuries… and that is concerning to me. I’ve prayed often, “Lord, don’t allow me to be deceived.”

Interestingly, when the disciples of Jesus asked Him concerning the sign of His coming… the first thing He replies to them in Matthew 24:4 is… And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (NKJV)

There are a couple of terms that are used today, that weren’t around when I was a boy. The first is: Gaslightingit is a phrase taken from a 1940’s movie and it is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity (that is the plot of the movie).

The second is Deepfake, this is a technique for human image synthesis based on artificial intelligence. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos using a machine learning technique known as generative adversarial network. The phrase “deepfake” was coined in 2017.

Gaslighting and Deepfake are methods that media, politicians and governments are employing to deceive the public… to get them to believe something that is not true. I believe that it is literally happening all around us… we are being fed lies for truth.

The Apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus warned us not to be deceived. So, how do we avoid being deceived? By trusting and staying in God’s word, that’s how. It is the only way.

Jesus, when praying for the disciples (as well as for you and I) just before His crucifixion prayed in John 17:17… Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

And we know in Psalm 119:89 that it is said… Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.

And Paul famously told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17… All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Saints! Don’t be Gaslighted or Deepfaked! Jesus is coming! Stay true to His word, it is all we need!

 

Just passing through…

 

For the past few months, I’ve been studying the Book of Revelation… and this past week I found myself in Revelation 12:7-12

This is one of my favorite sections of the Bible. This is the section where the reader is told that Satan is cast out of heaven for all time… right now he and his fallen angels have access to heaven, where he is accusing us before God day and night… and we’ve seen biblically what that looks like in Job 1.

In this section of Revelation… we are told that there is a war going on in heaven during the Great and Terrible time of the Tribulation. Now, this is not new. There has been war between heaven and Satan since God declared war on Satan in Genesis 3:15.

But when Satan is cast out of heaven in Revelation 12:9… as we read… And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Satan and all is henchmen are confined to earth… to wreck havoc on humanity… for we read in:

Revelation 12:12… For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.

And it was in this verse… a verse that I have read and studied scores of time… that the Lord brought something to my attention that I had never seen before… and that is what I’d like to share with you today.

As, I stated earlier, Satan has been at war with humanity since the Garden of Eden… but clearly something is different about this time, when Satan is cast out of heaven… So, I asked the Lord… what has happened to bring out Satan’s Woe upon the earth?

When I asked that question, I was drawn to the first part of Revelation 12:9…For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. I thought to myself… hey, we will be in heaven- the Church, during this time! We won’t experience this wrath of Satan…

Then I was reminded of a verse… Ephesians 2:2… in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Satan is the prince of the power of the air. And the Lord, spoke quietly to my heart… Bryan, it’s the Rapture of the Church that sets off this woe… the Church being translated into the clouds to be with Jesus… Satan is going to see that, and know that all his attempts to undermine God’s plan of redemption have failed and his time is very short…  and all the wrath he possesses will be poured out upon the earth!

Wow. When that thought occurred to me, I was just so excited! I hope to get a glimpse of that ol’ snakes face (the shock and awe) as we pass through on our way to the Lord Jesus.

Emptied Himself…

Recently, I was leading a bible study. We were studying the Gospel of John and found ourselves in chapter four. There, Jesus and His disciples are enroute to the Galilee area from down around Jerusalem… and Jesus went into Samaria and met a woman at a well. We are told there in John 4:6 in part… So, Jesus being wearied from His journey…

This is important to note. Jesus got tired… we also know from other places in Scripture that He got thirsty… and was tempted. In short, Jesus demonstrated all the traits of humanity… except sin.

Duh, you might say… He’s Jesus… fully man and fully God… so what’s the big deal?

That verse in John 4:6 led me to Philippians 2:5-7… Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

That phrase “emptied Himself” is the Greek word: Kenosis and from that we what in theology is known as the Kenosis Doctrine.

In short, this doctrine asks: What exactly did Jesus empty Himself of to come to earth?

He did not empty Himself of His deity.. no, He came to the earth fully God and fully man… “God with us” as Isaiah 7:14 tells us. So, what did He empty Himself of exactly?

Well, He emptied Himself of :

  1. His heavenly glory. Again, as Isaiah 53:2 says in part… He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him…
  2. His independent authority. As we are told in John 5:19… Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
  3. His divine prerogative, to allow Himself to be led by the Holy Spirit. Dr. Luke tells us in Luke 4:1…Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness .
  4.  Eternal riches of heaven. Again, Dr. Luke records for us the words of Jesus in Luke 9:58… And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head…
  5. He emptied Himself of His favorable position with Father God, taking on God’s wrath for us on the cross… for we read in Matthew 27:46… About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Jesus did this so that in all things of His life, He would be aligned to the Father’s perfect will. In a real sense, He could not do any of His earthly miracles, unless it was the Father’s will. That is why we see Him praying before miracles as in feeding the 5000 in Matthew 14:18-19… we see Him praying early in the morning, before others had risen in… to begin His day aligned with the Father in Mark 1:35 and it was how He ended His day as we see in Matthew 14:23.

And His public ministry began with that perfect alignment as we are told in Luke 3:21-22.

He also emptied Himself to show the world what it looks like to live a human life pleasing to the Father… which is why Jesus is our example. Our perfect example on how to live every aspect of our lives… as we are reminded in 1 Peter 2:21… For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.

The Kenosis Docterine. It is key to understanding  Jesus love for the Father and His love for us… and why as a Christian, we have such a dear and personal relationship with our Savior… because as Hebrews 4:15 tells us… For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus knows what we are going through down here and has compassion on us. What a beautiful Redeemer… and all because of Kenosis… for us.

Thankful and Grateful for July 4, 1776…

Freedom is a blessing!

243 years ago, a bunch of men (and women- I love Betsy Ross’s flag)… took it upon themselves to become free from the tyranny of a king, thousands of miles away. They yearned to be independent and free from the law of others… taking the bold action of forming these United States of America- at great sacrifice. I am thankful and grateful for that.

A little over 71 years ago… a people dispersed and persecuted throughout the world… made a bold stand and declared their sovereignty in the world and in fulfillment of Isaiah 66:8… Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. Israel on May 14, 1948 once again became a free people- and they did it at great sacrifice (Immediately after declaring independence, they were attacked by their Arab neighbors.)

As great and significant as both those events are… they pale in comparison to what Jesus did for all humanity 2000 years ago on the cross! John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

That occurred at great sacrifice as well… for Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:18-19… knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

So, no matter what flag you are born under… regardless of the political system you find yourself subject to… in Christ Jesus, you are free! Free from sin… free from fear of death… free of the chains of this world and the liar (Satan) who would bind you.

Because we are told by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:1 (Kenneth Wuest- Greek Translator translation) Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

So, on this Independence Day holiday… be grateful and be thankful… we are free indeed… and that freedom was bought at a great price! Amen.