Wednesday, January 22, 2020

RELIGIOUS SNAKE HANDLERS

Jesus,  in Mark 16:17-18 said that these signs would follow them that believe, they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. 
There is, as a general rule, two ways this scripture is handled the first being is to either disregard and ignore it. The second, though rarely done is to take it literal and at face value and incorporate the handling of venomous snakes during worship service. Surely neither of these two courses can be right. Both make the respondent look either incompetent or foolish. So, what is the correct understanding of this scriptural directive?
Let me begin my gift of the understanding of this truth with the defining of a metaphor, (the application of a word or phrase to an object or concept it does not literally denote in order to suggest a comparison, such as, "A mighty fortress is our God. God here is in metaphor likened unto a mighty fortress.) When reading the scripture one of the first principles of understanding is the realization that all scripture is not to be read as literal but often times figuratively, by simile, or imagery, and parable. To read this any other way is to require that God violate the very nature of His creation. He is the one who created all things and it is He who endowed the serpents with poisonous venom and certain herbs with elements of deadly consequence.
What I am saying is that here in this commandment the terms, Serpents, Deadly Things, and The Sick are all metaphorically posed to the hearers in representation of something of a far greater significance than what could be compared to magic stage tricks used to dazzle and amaze a crowd. I do know that there are those who will find my enjoining the term, the sick shall recover confusing at first but I admonish them to remember that consistency is relevant and that it would be inconsistent, in this context, to see the first two signs as in metaphor and the third as being literal. This deviation of the third sign as being literal is not only incorrect it would unnecessarily taint the truth of the first two with reasonable shadows of suspicion.
I will begin with a scripture where Jesus likened serpents as being Representative of false and apostate ministers who then opposed Him and would soon oppose those whom He sent, Matthew 23:33, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" The apostle Paul in Romans three verse thirteen had this to say of them, "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps, (A poisonous middle Eastern snake), is under their lips. Using these scripture it is easy to see that what Jesus was telling His disciples was that they would be empowered, by His Spirit, with the ability to handle even the apostate priesthood of Israel. Then as regarding the drinking of any deadly thing it should be noted that imbibing of religious lies and false doctrines is deadly. Notice Paul's warning to Timothy in, Second Timothy 2:15-17, giving special attention to verse seventeen, "And their word will eat as does a canker; of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus, (two false ministers operating at the time of the Early Church). With this understanding we can realize that false teachings are deadly things and those who then were not, and now are not empowered to deal with them by the Holy Spirit of Truth are jeopardizing their very life in God to do so. When novices and uncalled persons presumptuously assumed, and do assume, to override the care and judgement of those who watch for their souls giving ear to the five thorns that so bedeviled Paul which are, false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, false doctrines, and false brethren they effectively take their lives into their own hands by drinking the poison of the teachings of doubt and fear poured out of the cups, and spewed from under the tongues of these serpents who foister their wares to the ignorant and unlearned.
Now I will address the Lord's statement about the sick recovering as a sign following those who believe. God does heal the sick, and the prayer of faith is sometimes responded to with the intervention of a supernatural healing. My revealing of the truth of the contextual meaning of this particular usage of the term, "the sick shall recover" in no way reflects any disparity on the reality of God healing the sick. It is simply that if we use this scripture in literal consideration as an absolute proof text of God being obligated to demonstrate His power and the ministry's authority we must also use the previous two signs literally as well. The sick referenced here are not the physically sick but rather the spiritually sick of the Israel of God both then and now. In 1 Peter 2:24, Peter looking back to Isaiah's words in Isaiah 53:55 speaking to Israel according to the flesh reminded his fellow brethren according to the flesh that by the suffering and death of Christ they were now healed of the sickness, and the imminent curse of eternal judgement that fulfilled itself in 70 A. D. which was brought on by the leaders of the false principles and precepts of apostate religious Judaism. Those who believed were healed whilst the remainder were reserved in everlasting chains of darkness unto destruction, 2 Peter 2:1-4, and Romans 11:1-10. The gospel was to the Jew first, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the world.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

THE SICK AND THE AFFLICTED, TWO DIFFERENT CATAGORIES IN NEED OF PRAYER

King David understood affliction and its purpose:
Psalms 34:19
Psalms 119:67
Psalms 119:71
Psalms 119:75
The apostle James also understood affliction and its purpose, James 5:13-14, Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any sick among you? Let him call on the elders of the church; and let them pray over him. 
Why the difference of instruction? I offer the following as the answer.
In the context of James's admonition to be sick is to be suffering a natural malady within the natural body from which one can be delivered by prayer, even if caused by sin. 
To be afflicted is to to be suffering in the spirit of someone from something that is hindering them in their relationship with God that is causing them to be experiencing a loss in the fellowship of the Spirit of God and the blessings of God. They oftentimes find themselves spiritually sick, in a dry valley of emptiness and despair. More than often their prayers seem to be without inspiration, passion, or answer. The Spirit of God seems to be absent in their worship. Their testimonies are as dry as the dust that blows away in the wind of empty words. In short the problem is not some disease or injury of the body. The problem is someone so afflicted within is sick in their soul. There is a cure for the sins of the heart, but it requires self administration. 
First Corinthians 11:28-32, Many are sick and weak in the faith because of sin, some are even dead to  the Spirit of God. Perhaps the sin is not a willful sin, but is a sin resulting because of a character flaw or ignorance. Perhaps it is a sin of omission, are even a presumptuous sin. All unrighteousness is sin, First John 5:17, but there is sin unto death, and there is sin that is not unto death. Willful sin however, Hebrews 10:26-27, requires personal consequence to the uttermost consideration. The benefits of the blood of Jesus Christ are forfeited when one who knows to do good does it not, James 4:17. Until resolved by the contrition of repentance of a broken heart and a contrite spirit we become inured to the Spirit, and graces of God. 
Because of our natural and carnal natures we are very adept at self justification and by reason of this we often redeem ourselves in sin rather than godly sorrow unto repentance allowing God to save us out of our sins, Second Corinthians 7:9-11. To do this it is necessary that we examine ourselves to see that we be in the faith, Second Corinthians 13:5. Searching our hearts we seek out the fault, failure, shortcoming, mistake, or willful sin that has dulled our senses to the presence and working of God unto our full salvation. 
Is it un-forgivness? Is it bitterness? Is it strife? Is it envy? have we neglected to do righteousness, Romans 6:16?  Have we failed in being a servant? Have we failed in well doing? What is the sin we hide in our hearts. We know the heart of man is deceitful, and desperately wicked above all things, Jeremiah 17:9. It is so deceitful that it can lie to itself and believe its own lie. For a true believer to be separated from God is to be in torturous torment of mind and spirit.
God chastens them that He loves, Hebrews 12:4-13. This chastening oftentimes is effected by the affliction of heaven being as brass.     

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

JUDGMENT

Moses decreed by inspiration of God, Deuteronomy 25:1, That Israel was to have judges who would justify the righteous and condemn the wicked. 

First Peter 4:17, As the apostle Peter said, The time has come that judgment begin at the house of God. 

There are those who present the idea that no one has the authority to judge while, using a few choice scripture (out of context) to create an untenable pretext for tolerance while calling it mercy.  Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day calling them hypocrites for doing the same kind of neglecting of judgment, mercy, and faith that some who are called New Testament Christian ministers  of today are guilty, Matthew 23:23.
The apostle Paul in his directive and rebuke to the ministry at the church at Corinth, First Corinthians 6:1-5, made clear that the ministry does in fact have both the obligation, and the authority to judge all things. Consider His words in First Corinthians 2:15. Then consider this apostles commandments in First Corinthians 5:9-13. 
The true God called, God sent ministry, is duly delegated the authority to bind and loosen, forgive or retain, Matthew 18:18-20, John 20:23, within the church. That is to say cleanse, and forgive, or call into judgment, First John 5:16-17.
 These scripture clearly show the grave responsibility of a minister when lawfully operating in his ministerial authority of judgment, mercy, and faith, and the executing of the same. 
The ministry when operating in the divine authority delegated to them by God is final authority. Anyone seeking to ignore, disregard, usurp, or overthrow such who are working in the authority of God does so against God, Romans 13:1-7.      

Saturday, January 11, 2020

HONOR ALL MEN, LOVE THE BROTHERHOOD, FEAR GOD, HONOR THE KING.

LET GOD BE YOUR AVENGER
I offer this post to any and all of those who ever once shared in this glorious vision of The Body Of Christ, but who have forsaken us because of some real or imagined grievous offence. To those who no longer hold to and love this vision. Those who have lost confidence in  those who minister to and love this vision, it' s messengers, and its congregations of people. To those who now hold us all in equal guilt and contempt with the guilty offenders.

To these I offer these words, not in rebuke, but in reasoning, and consolation  of our Savior Jesus Christ, and His holy apostles.
 It is true that there were in times past, and probably still are, wolves who have come among us, First Corinthians 11:19, who have sinned grievously against God, and His church. While this is true; it is not true that because of this that anyone has the God given prerogative to speak, or work against God, The Son of God, His ministry, or the church of The Lord Jesus Christ, in vengeance of their having so hurt you and yours.  

Jesus Christ said …… John 13:35
The apostle Peter said ….. First Peter 2:17
The apostle John said …. First John 2:8-11
The apostle Paul said ….. First Thessalonians 4:9

Paul said …..  Romans 12:17-21  Recompense no man evil for evil, avenge not yourself, feed them, give them drink. Which is to show them the love of God thereby allowing  God alone His vengeance in His wrath if they fail
Jesus said …. Matthew 5:43-44, love them, do them good, pray for their salvation.

Fear not God will reward them according to their works, Revelation 20:12. 
Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord, Romans 12;19.

I add this: If God in His sovereign, and providential will,  should forgive, and restore them to His grace, rejoice and receive them even as He has you. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

A MAN WITH A WOUNDED SPIRIT

Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but wounded spirit, who can bear?
Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle. 

It is a sad truth that there are many fallen souls who have become "bitter" because of the deadly wounds they carry by reason of their loss of the confidence they once held for a minister who failed in their expectations. 
The fact is also that there are many good men in the ministry who although sincere, and even called of God who have really failed in their ministry, by reason of both real, and perceived weakness's, and human frailties.
 Yes, sadly there are also those who being overcome their base natures have committed inexcusable behaviors, and who have subsequently lost their authority of ministry. They, because of willfully not being examples and first partakers have disqualified themselves. Unfortunately lost confidence in a leader is seldom restored to another, although another may be worthy. 
There are those persons of whom it can truly be said that no one, not even themselves, can measure up to the standards they require of those who could well lead them. Then it is also a fair adage that there is none that can please all of the people all of the time. With this in mind I do know that there are many men in the ministry who though not perfect are dedicated, concentrated, and have kept themselves pure from willful sin, especially heinous sins such as extortion, fornication, adultery, abuse of mankind, unnatural sex acts, drunkenness, and such like. 
I might also add that some men may be in error on some teachings, or administrative exactness, or abilities, but they are holy Christian men of God, and should be respected and honored as such. Until someone reaches perfection (as the bible defines perfection which is the achieving of His divine nature) I think they would be very unwise in condemning these faithful fellow laborers of love.
While following the admonition given in, Second Thessalonians 3:6, and withdraw from them, however pray that you ….. "Fail not in the grace of God, Let not a root of bitterness spring up in your heart, and you thereby be defiled", Hebrews 12:15.         

PROGESSIVE SALVATION UNTO HOLINESS WHICH IS HIS DIVINE NATURE


Salvation is a progressive act accomplished in its fullness by the doing even unto everlasting life, Romans 6: 16-23
Often being asked for specifics concerning dress and lifestyle standards, I offer this. Any dress or lifestyle standard should declare a determination of fulfilling Christian character attributes defined by the word of God, with these being as defined by the God called ministry of this time. It is the observation of the writer that there are five attributes of Christian lifestyle which define our  conversation of life. These five distinguishable attributes  are as follows:
Chastity,
Modesty,
Obedience,
Sacrifice,
Servitude,
All these character attributes being expressed in the all of ones life's purposes, passions, actions, and associations.

If dress standards were nothing more than customs and traditions I like others, would be advocating the doing away with them. It was almost thirty years ago  when I first in prayerful earnestness wrestled with this very question and seriously entertained doing exactly that. The Assembly I pastored just suffered a terrible shaking, and my faith itself had been shaken to its very foundation. A charismatic element within the Assembly rose up in opposition to the holiness lifestyle I preached, the identifiably separated holiness standards of life and dress as well as my leadership because of these holding these standards inviolate . These were men and women whom I had through the preaching of the gospel, brought out of religion and into the Body of Christ. Men and women whom I had labored with, cried with, prayed with, worshipped with. Men and women whom I had joined together in marriage, shared the joy of the birth of their children with. People that were my dearest friends. I loved them. With tears of love and concern I sought the Lord for his direction.

There are those who will be surprised to learn that I was prepared to capitulate all things, forsaking any and all tradition or custom to do whatever the Lord wanted for His Church. After several weeks of deep and travailing prayer, during the early hours of one morning following a three day fast God opened my understanding to know His way and His will in this matter. It was then that He allowed me to comprehend the attributes of holiness and how to attain unto them. I,  with my wife, sons, and many witnesses who are with me unto this day remember my actions on that glorious day of epiphany. With tears of thankfulness in my eyes  and joy in my heart I crawled out onto the roof of the building we called our Church and with my hands placed a sign for the whole world to see, "HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD" it declared in bold letters. The next several weeks were spent in study and prayer seeking God on how to present what I now knew as His will to His people on this matter. During that time I developed a small pamphlet, some of you may recall the little book with the Trojan Horse depiction on the cover, that many ministers use unto this day to explain the why and how of separation from the world. It was also during that period that I received the enlightenment of the five attributes of holiness and how they are essential to the achieving of the place we are seeking in God. As repeated many times, but never too many, again they are, an expression of MODESTY,  a declaration of CHASTITY, the act of self SACRIFICE, the denying of self by SERVITUDE, and the humility of OBEDIENCE to the three powers of God. The Lord has revealed that our standard of dress reflects our heart in these five characteristics of being holy by the open unashamed public expression of our values and determinations. No ... standards are not about traditions and customs they are declarations of our very purpose by an outward expression of our inward determination in fulfilling our purpose.

Some detractors accuse those of us who love holiness as expressed in a dedicated separated lifestyle of being hypocritical by being in association with persons whom they deem to be immoral and unfit. I will answer thusly, Jesus was also so libeled: Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34. We are not ashamed of the gospel we preach, or of those we try to assist in the redemption process.  

Saturday, January 4, 2020

THE WOMANS PLACE IN THE CHURCH

In reality our western culture of today is mainly matriarchal. Because of this  there is in many apostate Christian religious systems who have ongoing querulous questions concerning a woman's place within the New Testament church.
 The word of God however, (which is the bible, and only the bible) leaves no honest question on this subject unanswered. Of course there are those who would want to argue this by privately interpreting the scripture, (Second Peter 1:20-21) to accommodate their own ambitions with prejudiced and preconceived ideas. Those who do so wrest the scripture, Second Peter 3:16, to their own determinations unto destruction. This has always been true,  and no doubt will be true until The Lord finalizes His church in full restoration. 
Paul in his letters to the churches leaves no doubt concerning the matter of women in the ministry,  First Timothy 2:11-15,  wherein he writes, "Suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man but to be in silence." Then in First Corinthians 14:34-35, he said, "Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also, saith the law. And if they will learn anything let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church." The absolutism of these two passages of scripture alone should be enough to resolve the matter,  but of course they are not. Some recently said; "that was only for the early church". 
In Titus 1:6, where we find some of the qualifications of a minister it is written that, "he be the husband of one wife." Except someone be reprobate, (Romans 1:28) it is understood the word husband denotes a man and the word wife denotes a woman. Clearly a woman cannot be the husband, or a man a wife excepting in the most morally perverse of considerations not recognized by God or His true church. 
In, Ephesians 4:8-11, it is plainly offered that the Lord, "gave gifts unto men." There is no bible reason to believe God has ever violated His creative order by placing in a woman giving authority over the man except as a matter of punishment. In the book of Judges we learn of the prophetess Deborah the wife of Lapidoth. Why was Deborah given judgment over Israel. It must be remembered that the time of the Judges was a time when, "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes," Judges 21:25. This was in violation of the commandment of God in Deuteronomy 12:8,  where He commanded them the exact opposite. Also one might consider Isaiah 3:12, wherein it was declared a curse of judgment from God for children to oppress them and for women to rule over them. The nation of Israel was divided, it was effete, given to effeminacy, and had fallen guilty of every evil work.
In, Acts 21:8-9, we learn that the evangelist Philip had four virgin daughters which prophesied. Philip, their father was the covering over their heads, (First Corinthians 11:5). They were shamefaced,  (modest with reverence) toward their father less they should dishonor his ministry by boldly getting ahead of him.  Yes women can and should speak of the things of God and His Son. To say that someone prophesies is not to say that the someone who does so has the gift of a prophet. It only denotes that they tell of the gospel of God and His Son. Paul the apostle benefited much from the many women who assisted him in the ministry, see Romans 16:1-15, where many of them are mentioned by name. Paul in, Second Timothy 1:5,  gave special mention of honor to Lois, Timothy's grandmother, and Eunice his mother.
Obviously the apostle Paul was not a misogynist, (woman hater) or a male chauvinist, (one who believes males are superior to females) he simply believed and taught that the scripture that teaches the order of God in all things both natural and spiritual does not allow for women in the ministry or to be rulers. 
A new testament woman is called to be a good wife, a good mother, modest, chaste, a keeper at home, obedient to her husband, an example to the younger women, in open support of her husband as her head, not contentious, she is to be discreet, not brawling, bickering, complaining, or a busybody. All these things and more so that the word of God be not blasphemed, Titus 2:3-5.  The scripture proving these things are almost inexhaustible.