Friends,
A friend and I were talking yesterday about the Lord, about suffering and death, about injustice propagated by this world’s present evil ruler, and about the age to come. During this discussion she asked me what I thought was the reason why so many people who don’t seem deserving have easy and prosperous lives while others who seem kind and good struggle and often suffer. I said that Scripture tells us that God uses hardships to test us in order to see if we will remain faithfully trusting Him, and so that we will draw nearer to Him, know Him and obey Him better, and this so that we will be loving Him and others more fully and correctly.

I said that Jesus taught that life is about overcoming –that we must overcome the temptations to give in or give up, and that we not allow trials to turn us from our Lord. I told her that if God does find us to be faithful overcomers, He will grant us huge rewards, including honor and rulership positions, when He comes (in person literally) to rule the earth (from the physical Jerusalem in Israel) with a rod of iron, with perfect justice, and with perfect righteousness.

I explained to my friend that our mortal lifespans are like one blade of grass, or one speck of dust, compared to our eternal, immortal life to come, and that it will definitely be worth it if we take our trials graciously and seek to do and become what God desires.

Here is a video sermon my brother gave at church back in July and it should be a great encouragement for anyone who would like a reminder of how to think and behave during hard times.

http://api.monkcms.com/Clients/embed_video_preview.php?moduleRecordId=4280628&CMSCODE=EKK

My brother is a very interesting speaker, so I want to also give the new link where anyone can listen to the sermons he gives to the college group at UTA. (Once you click on a sermon, it does take a minute to download.) Here is that link:

http://www.utacornerstone.com/listen

One of the verses I told my friend yesterday was John 12:26b. Jesus says there, “He who serves Me, him will My Father honor.” (Yes, we should definitely look forward to being honored by our King!) I described for her the Mt. 25:14-30 passage about the servants’ investments of their talents and about how we should do what is necessary so that we, along with some of them, will hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!” (v. 21, and again in v. 23) I told her about Jesus’ promise in Rev. 2:26: “To him who overcomes and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.” And in 3:21: “To him who overcomes I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne.”

There are many other verses I could’ve mentioned to my friend. Like Mt. 24:13: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” And 2 Tim. 2:12a: “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” And of course 2 Cor. 4:17: “Indeed, our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are producing for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.” And certainly Heb. 11:35, for it confirms that obtaining “a better resurrection” comes from having endured suffering faithfully.

Truly our hardships are not wasted. If we respond to them as God wills.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Dear Reader,
“I’m going to Heaven… I possess eternal life… I will live forever.” Such are the statements of many who call Jesus “Savior” and of many who even call Him their “Lord”. Are you one of these who claimed this privilege? If so, ask yourself if you do the will of God. Consistently? If not, how often? Is it actually only a few times a week that you obey what God asks of you? –What His Spirit and Word command? Let’s personalize these questions and be honest. For Jesus has told us very clearly that in order to inherit the Kingdom of God we must be doing the Father’s will. (Mt. 7:21-23) Nothing else we do or claim, no matter how righteous or powerful it appears, will save us. (Same verses)

Let’s not be deceived. Once we step into Christ, we are to leave the old self and lifestyle behind (2 Cor. 5:17 // Gal. 2:20), living not for ourselves, but for the will of God. (2 Cor. 5:15 // 1 Pe. 4:2) This is what it means to die and be buried with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:1-7) –the baptism into water, spiritual fire, and the Spirit (Luke 3:16 // John 3:5 // Gal. 3:27)– so that in becoming one with the Lord in spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), we receive God’s divine nature (1 John 3:9) and power (2 Pe. 1:3,4) and are enabled to submit to the control of the Spirit (Rom. 8:9) and conduct ourselves, at all times, with Christ-likeness. (1 John 2:6) Don’t let anyone tell you that we are not commanded to earnestly work toward this goal, for we certainly are to do so! (Rom. 8:13,14,29 // 2 Pe. 3:14) We are to be holy and perfect and sinless in ALL we do and desire! (Mt. 5:48 // 1 Pe. 1:13-16 // 1 John 3:5-10,24) This is what keeps us as permanent children within God’s family. (Mt. 12:50 // John 8:31-36) This is what keeps us in the will of God and justified before Him. (Heb. 10:26-39 // Ja. 2:14-26 & 4:17)

Should those who preach and teach be concerned about these things? Absolutely! 2 John 1:9 says, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God.” Verses 10 and 11 command us not to welcome such people and that if we do, we are sharing in their wicked work. Do we grasp what this is saying? False teaching is serious stuff! It is wickedness, and if not repented of, it is a cause for damnation both for teacher and hearer! (1 Cor. 15:1,2 // Gal. 1:8,9 // 1 Tim. 4:1,2,16 // 2 Pe. 2:1-3) Let us be, therefore, extremely careful that we not come under the delusion of a lie (Eph. 4:14 // 2 Thes. 2:10-12 // 2 Tim. 3:5-4:4), but instead rebuke those who turn to philosophies of the world and to doctrines taught by demons. (Titus 2:1,15 & 3:9-11 // 1 John 4:1-6)

In light of these truths, here are three excellent prayers from God’s Word:

Ps. 143:10: “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me in the land of uprightness.”

Ps. 86:11: “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

Ps. 119:33: “Teach me, O LORD, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.”

We must be praying, as well as studying God’s Word diligently. And we must be obeying. This is how we walk in / consistently do the will of God. This is how we attain Life Forever.

“The world and its desires are passing away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“The sinful mind is hostile to God.” (Rom. 8:7) It causes a person to rebel against God’s holy Moral Law. (Same verse) Such a person cannot please God and thus walks in Death (v. 6-8), meaning on the Eternal Death Path. (v. 13) Having entangled oneself in a vicious cycle –where one’s mind feeds on one’s sinful behavior, and one’s sinful behavior is fueled by one’s wicked mind– the sinner remains alienated from God. (Isa. 59:1,2 // Col. 1:21) Definitely he needs a Savior who is able to reconcile him to God. The Savior is Jesus. (Acts 4:12 // 2 Cor. 5:18-21) But how is the Savior accessed?

Rom. 5:2 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is accessed by faith. We place our complete trust in Him, and in so doing, we gain access into God’s grace (same verse) where we are pardoned (v. 1), cleansed of our past sins (2 Pe. 1:9), and reconciled to God. (Rom. 5:10,11) Being on the Life Path (Jesus –John 14:6), we walk in the Light, have fellowship with God, and are kept separated from the darkness / sin (1 John 1:7) through our possession of God’s own divine nature (3:5-10) which we keep by our submission to His Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9 // Gal. 5:16)

God’s Word repeatedly tells us to stand firm. Where? In Christ –inside His own life (Gal. 2:20); and the position is maintained through our faith. (Same verse) But let us understand that remaining in this position is what saves us (Col. 1:23), for only there are we “holy in God’s sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (v. 22) Only there are we shielded from severance from God’s grace. (Rom. 11:22 // 1 Cor. 15:2 // 2 Cor. 6:1 // Gal. 5:4 // Heb. 6:4-12 & 10:26-31)

This Solid Position is “the Hope offered to us” (Heb. 6:18) which we “have fled to take hold of.” (Same verse) Remaining steadfast in Christ is our secure anchor (v. 19) which enables our Hope (that hope of the salvation which comes through submitting to Christ living His own life out through us –Mt. 5:16 // Rom. 5:10 // 1 Cor. 6:19,20 // 2 Cor. 13:5 // Gal. 4:19) to reach fulfillment –if (if…if…if…) we remain there diligently to the very end. (Heb. 6:11) For “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Jesus in Mt. 10:22 and 24:13) Yes, only he who does the will of God till the end will inherit what has been promised. (Heb. 10:35-39 // 1 John 2:17 // see also Mt. 7:21-23) Indeed, we must remain faithful / firm / unmoved, for we are still in the testing process (1 Pe. 1:7) of “being saved.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

Remaining in this position (in Christ’s life and submitted to His Spirit) is what enables us to produce fruit (John 15:4,10), but if we do not produce fruit (good fruit), we will be cut off and thrown into the fire. (v. 2,6 // Mt. 3:10 & 7:19) Let us, therefore, not “become lazy” (Heb. 6:12), creating a life that “produces thorns and thistles” (v. 8 ) that ends us in Hell (same verse), but rather let us “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (v. 12) For we have been given “new birth into a living hope” (1 Pe. 1:3) and into a lasting inheritance (v. 4), knowing that, through our perseverance, God’s power is shielding us “until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (v. 5) Thus it is said to those faithful who remain firm in The Hope, “You are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (v. 9)

So, we are reconciled to God through stepping into Christ (His death, resurrection, and life –Rom. 6:3,4), which we do by faith in His atonement for us. (5:9,10) We stand firm in God’s grace (in His pardon / in the justified position) by remaining in Christ –which we do by imitating Christ. (1 John 2:6) This secure place with its promise is “the hope” we rejoice in (Rom. 5:2), “the hope” we do not move from. (Col. 1:23) It is “the mystery… now disclosed to the saints… which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (v. 26,27) Yes, Christ in us, we in Him –unification with His Spirit through our submission to Him. (Rom. 8:9 // 1 Cor. 6:17 // 1 John 3:24) This is the hope of Eternal Life in which the faithful stand, unmoved.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
The Word of God is replete with admonishments and encouragements for us to exalt God for His wonderful kindness in saving (redeeming and delivering) us from the rule and oppression of the devil. As Col. 1:12,13 remind us, the Lord has rescued us from the power (authority / dominion / domain / rulership / subjugation) of the darkness and transplanted (transferred / converted / transformed / changed / relocated) us into Christ’s Kingdom of Light, forgiving us and qualifying us to share in the inheritance of the saints.

Before our deliverance, we could not see. We were in darkness and our eyes and ears were dull to the Truth. But, by hearing and believing (Rom. 10:17) “the Word of Truth, the Gospel” (Col. 1:5), the Light beams into our understanding and we comprehend not only our deplorable condition and doom, but also that the Escape from Satan to God has been paid for and provided for us! (Acts 26:18 // Rom. 1:16)

Once we have taken the Escape Route, what are we to do? Are we to sit back and indulge ourselves in “those things [that] result in death”? (Rom.6:21) “Should we continue to sin so that grace may abound [increase / multiply / overflow]? Of course not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (v. 1,2) Being freed from the subjugation of the dark realm means we have been freed from sin’s ability to control us (v. 18,20) and it means we (by having genuinely and eagerly chosen to submit our will to God’s will) have been transplanted into the Domain (Territory / Kingdom / Realm / Government / Person) of Light. (John 3:19-21 & 8:12 & 12:46) Choosing to take the Escape means we have made a vow to God to keep a clean conscience before Him (1 Pe. 3:21) and to live the rest of our lives in the pursuit of His desires alone (v. 2), doing this by seeking His will with all our effort. (Col. 1:9 // 2 Pe. 1:5-11)

Anyone who claims to be saved, but who does not understand these requirements, is simply lying or deceiving themselves about their salvation. (1 John 2:3-6) Anyone who goes back to dwelling in sin (sinfulness) is not saved. (3:6-10 // Heb. 10:26-31) Anyone who keeps sinning, but insists that he is dwelling in the Kingdom of Light because he belongs to Christ, because he has been born again, and because he has supposedly been forgiven of all his past, present, and future sins (Mt. 18:32-35), is going to be told on Judgement Day, by Jesus, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (25:26) And this person will hear the King say to His angels, “Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 30)

So, if we have been qualified by God to share in His Kingdom, what, stated in one short sentence, is our responsibility? Col. 1:10 reveals to us the goal of our new life: “That you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way.” And how do we do this? Verses 10-12 inform us that it is by thanking the Father and by bearing fruit in every good work and by growing in the knowledge of God, all through which we are then strengthened with (more of) the power of God so that we may have great endurance and patience. And why that? Well, as Ja. 1:4 tells us, perseverance is what makes us become “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” For truly our works do need to be completed in the sight of God in order for us to be found worthy of salvation at the end. (Rev. 3:1-6) Yes, there is initial salvation (rescue / deliverance), but we must hold to that salvation to the end. (Heb. 3:12-14 & 10:35-39 // 1 Pe. 1:9) This we do by obeying Jesus (John 15:6,10) and His Word (1 John 2:5,6) with committed, life-long endurance, and with joyful eagerness, willing effort, and grateful love and worship to the Lord.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
2 Cor. 13:5 commands us to examine and test ourselves to see if we are truly abiding in The Faith. But do most who claim to be Christians actually take this command seriously? Do most know how to examine and test themselves, and if they do know how, do they obey? Do they put themselves under scrutiny and check, using the Word of God, the reliability and quality of their claim to be in The Faith / The Truth?

With the exception of God, we are the ones who best know ourselves (unless we are in some form of denial). But, for those of us who wish to be honest with ourselves, and make such honesty a discipline, we should regularly interrogate ourselves and judge whether or not our priorities are in line with God’s. Here are some good questions to ask ourselves:

1. Am I in the habit of prioritizing the study of God’s Word over everything else? (Dt. 6:6,7 // Josh. 1:8 // Ps. 119:11,97 // Col. 3:16) –Not commentaries or blogs about God’s Word, but God’s Word itself..?

2. Do I give up movies, internet, shopping, texting, etc. in order to have time to meditate on God’s Word, or do I give up God’s Word in order to have time to partake of other activities?

3. Am I memorizing God’s Word so that I am hiding it in my heart and letting it dwell in me richly as we are commanded to do? (See verses above.)

4. Am I putting God’s commands into practice in tangible ways? (Mt. 7:24 // 1 Tim. 4:7) What are those ways?

5. Am I motivated (to know the Truth) primarily by a fear of Hell, or primarily by a deep love and adoration for the Lord?

6. Being that we are commanded to get baptized, and being that it is a public declaration of our pledge to forever follow Christ as our Boss, have I been baptized yet? If not, why not?

I suggest that we write out our answers to the above questions, that we lay the paper before the Lord, and that we ask Him to correct us where needed and affirm us where we are approved. I encourage us to listen quietly, intently, and humbly, making sure that we are being honest and open-minded to what the Lord speaks to us. And I warn us to make the changes in our lives according to what He points out.

I believe that anyone (over twelve years old) who has been born again longer than two or three years should be feeding and training themselves daily while testing themselves regularly. Our human Bible teachers should be nothing more than secondary coaches –those who help us stretch ourselves and who point us to Scriptures where we can investigate for ourselves as we learn to rely more and more on being taught directly from the Spirit in the Word. (John 16:13 // 1 John 2:27) In fact, the degree of eagerness we employ in searching out answers directly from God’s Word is a good indicator of whether or not we possess a genuine, earnest, and determined desire to follow Christ.

Using the above questionnaire should be a good aid in recognizing where we are at according to The Faith, and this so that we can make changes where necessary. For whether or not we are abiding in The Faith now does affect our future –both earthly and eternally.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Bible teachers, especially those who are Calvinistic, often use Rom. 8:30 to persuade others to believe that all whom God calls are going to be saved. However, as Israeliteindeed explains, this is not so. She points out that “called” and “chosen” can be used interchangeably, as in 1 Cor. 1:26-31. She also points out that Judas was among the chosen Twelve (John 6:70,71) whom the Lord gave His supernatural authority to. (Mt. 10:1) She reminds us of Mt. 22:14 which says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” It is significant that four of the twenty-one versions I read at biblehub.com used “invited” instead of “called” for Mt. 22:14, quite telling against the argument that Rom. 8:30 is giving the blanket statement that ALL whom God calls (invites), He also justifies and glorifies. Thus as we let Scripture interpret Scripture, Rom. 8:30 means that all who respond to the invitation (the call) are justified and glorified.

As Israeliteindeed says:

In summary, the call of God goes out through the earth to all nations, to every creature. So in that sense, all men are called to come to Christ. Yet, “those who are called” in our original passage refers to those who have not ignored the call (in general, the humble), have not received God’s grace in vain, have repented, and have obeyed the gospel. These are following and fellowshiping with Jesus, are suffering patiently, are fighting the good fight, are being holy and obedient, are walking worthy of their calling, and are being sanctified by Jesus as they abide in Him. These will inherit eternal life if they are faithful to the end, and do not turn from the heavenly calling as Judas did.

This is an important issue to understand, so I highly recommend that everyone read the entire article. Click here: http://israeliteindeed.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/those-who-are-called/

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Abide As Required

June 22, 2014

Friends,
Abiding in God’s presence, abiding in the Vine who is Christ, and coming closer in next to Him in worship and petition, must be done through faith in the Gospel, through the Word of God, through the Spirit, and through the Blood of the Covenant. All of these, plus Christ’s body and His cleansing water, must be flowing through us –which happens as we abide in them proactively. In other words, we must be applying these Gifts we possess while putting the Lord’s commands into practice so that we walk in God’s will without wavering. For only the person who walks in the will of God is eternally secure. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50 // John 15:6,10 // 2 Peter 3:17 // 1 John 2:17)

When we draw near to God through those Gifts mentioned above, our hearts and bodies are washed so that we can live free of an evil conscience and thus hold faithfully to the pledge we made to follow Christ. (Heb. 10:19-23 // 1 Peter 1:22,23 & 3:21) Through these Gifts we are equipped with everything good to do the Lord’s will. (Heb. 13:20,21) We have no excuse to not be walking in the divine nature with which we have been supplied and which keeps us victorious over the sinful nature and the world. (2 Peter 1:3,4 // 1 John 3:6-10 & 5:4)

Unfortunately –grievously– most of Christendom preaches that walking in these Gifts is not necessary, even in the face of Scripture’s clear doctrine. For example, in Heb. 10:26,27 we’re told, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the Truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Many teach that these two verses do not apply to those who have come in under God’s grace through confession of sin. They say this warning refers only to those who have the knowledge of the Truth but who have not ever come into covenant with Christ.

However, if we look at the word “we” and if we read the whole passage, particularly verses 14-31 of Heb. ch. 10, it can be seen that the warning is directed toward those who have indeed come into covenant with God. It is Covenant people who are being told that to abide in God’s grace is accomplished only by walking in sincerity, faithfulness, and purity toward God’s laws which He has written on our hearts and minds. This passage is warning us that any continuous sin we do is to spurn Christ (v. 29), to “profane the blood of the Covenant by which we have been sanctified” (see same verse), and to “outrage the Spirit of grace.” (See same verse) As 1 John 2:3,4 clarify, it is only by keeping God’s commands that we truly are walking in the Truth. As Jesus Himself says, it is only by keeping His commands that we abide in His love and in Life. (Mt. 19:17 // John 15:10)

Abiding in Christ and in Eternal Life happens only by abiding in the Gospel, the Word, the Spirit, and the Blood of the Covenant. To sin purposefully is to profane these, and to keep sinning is to break one’s pledge to God. It is to show contempt for the Blood, the Covenant, the Spirit, the Word of God, the Gospel, and Christ. How severely do you think a person will be punished who does such a thing? (Heb. 10:29) Very severe! (v. 27,31)

Let all, therefore, who name the name of Christ abide in God’s presence as He requires so that we will not be spewed out. (Rev. 3:16)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel