As Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthians, he gives them fair warnings about sin and the consequences of continuing in sin.
He also advises them that the Lord is in the people and He is powerful in them, both to overcome sin and also to deal with the weaknesses of His people. But He will also be powerful in dealing with those who choose to continue in sin.
So how can this knowledge in these short verses help us today? In many ways, if we take the time to listen to His words and take heed, for too often the church today has lost it’s power. But even so, Christ is still powerful in His people and He continues to deal with them to bring them to the place He wants them to be.
In my last few posts I have spoken a lot about the state of the modern church in many of it’s parts. How it seems to take advantage of the people who come into the church and how many of the teachers, preachers, pastors and ministers seem to be in it for what they can get out of it.
And while these things are true, it is not the case across the whole church, for there are many who are in ministry for the right reasons. They have a desire for the work of the Lord and to help disciple and call people to Christ for THEIR benefit and not for selfish and self-serving reasons.
Such people are following the footsteps that Paul speaks of in this last section of 2 Corinthians 12. And importantly we see that in his work, Paul ensured that the churches were not left to their own devices, to fall into error. Instead he ensured that those who had made a start in the Lord received continuing teaching, counselling and follow-up so that they remained on the straight and narrow. Continue reading “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
In this last chapter of Romans Paul instructs the church to greet various of the disciples in the churches on his behalf. It is clear that these greetings are not a simple formal acknowledgement of those people but rather are a warm, friendly and heartfelt joy the Paul feels for each of these different people.
Paul in his humility recognizes the service that these different disciples have afforded both himself and the church. He speaks of sacrifices made and works done by those ones on his behalf and the behalf of many others. Some of these are people we recognize from other writings while others are mentioned only here.
It is evident also that some of these people are well recognized in the early church even though we do not know today who they were or what they did. Consider for instance two of those mentioned,
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. – (Romans 16:7)
These two were converts before Paul's Damascus Road experience when he came to Christ and these two people were also well known to the apostles in Jerusalem. But what they did and who they were is something of a mystery to us today. And in truth knowing them is not particularly important.
Much of this section of scripture pertains to Paul speaking of his own ministry. The Lord called Paul specifically to preach the gospel to the Gentiles to bring the Gentile nations to the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.
We then see Paul continue ministering in the letters he wrote to the churches he established. These letters defined the processes of the New Covenant; how it works, what it is, why it is the way it is and what they and we today need to learn and understand if we are to come into the fullness of all that God promised to those who seek Him through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
What we also see in these verses from Romans 15 is Paul's satisfaction with the early church in Rome saying they now had all they needed to be self-sustaining. It is this message too that we need to recognize today for it is quite different to how many modern ministers and ministries operate.
The differences between the followers of the lord and those who do not are strongly seen and felt in these two verses.
When it all boils down the major differences are based upon faith, attitude and priorities. The sum of those things leads the followers of Christ into a position that many in the world would consider desperate and untenable. It is not until a person comes to Christ that they see the power and the value in knowing and being known by God.
But Christians are not held in high regard by the rest of the world. In fact they are considered the lowest of all and hated by many. As this verse says,
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
When it comes to your eternal life with Christ there is one thing that this section of scripture tells us is essential and that is that we must have the spirit of Christ in us. The first verse in this section says this quite clearly.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Look at that last sentence in this verse. If you do not have the spirit of Christ in you, you do not belong to Him. You do not belong to Christ if the spirit of Christ is not in you.
A powerful message and a strong warning to all of us to learn and understand what this is and how we “get” the spirit of Christ. So let us look at this and see what the scripture tells us. Continue reading “Spirit of Christ”
Circumcision was the sign given to Abraham as an outward recognition of the faith that he had in the promises that God had given to him. It was a sign that sealed the covenant of faith between God, Abraham and his descendants.
But what is important to note in this is that it was not the physical act of circumcision that was the point of this whole process, but the faith that the recipients of the circumcision held. The Jews had a law that every male child born had to be circumcised on the eighth day after being born, but what was then the important part of this process was that the child grew up to hold the faith that Abraham had before God. Circumcision was to be a sign as a reminder of that faith.
In this section of scripture Paul discusses these distinctions and as we learn what he had to say we can see that there are many applications of this same principle. We also see how deceit can lead people astray to believe that the the act is more important than the faith, that is, that circumcision is more important than believing the promises of God.
The apostle Paul had been imprisoned and had already stood before several tribunals to give an account of himself and after being moved to Caesarea was brought before the council once again.
This time he was to be examined before the Roman governor of the region, Felix. Five days after Paul had been brought down to Felix by night with a very strong force of soldiers to guard him against forty Jewish assassins who had sworn to kill him, he was brought before the governor.
The high priest of the Jews came down with an entourage to voice their accusations against Paul before Felix. However we see this time they employ the tactic of flattery to attempt to get their way by bringing a spokesman named Tertullus who used this tactic to attempt to sway the governor. So let us look at what took place.
Do not believe everything you see and hear! That is the warning we get from this section of scripture.
There is truth and then there are words and teachings that sound like truth but are not. Paul discovered this when he was in Philippi and was being followed by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination. She followed Paul and the disciples proclaiming these words,
She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”
So what was wrong with that you may ask? What she was saying was absolutely correct. Paul, Silas and the others with them were indeed servants of God and they were proclaiming the way of salvation. But if that is so, why was Paul so annoyed with her that he turned and rebuked the spirit in her telling it to come out of her and leave. That is what we need to assess for it will help us to also sort out truth from error.
Often when people talk of antichrists they speak of THE antichrist as if there were only one. Revelation and Daniel certainly talked about a man who will raise himself up at the time of the end as an antichrist, but he is not the only one.
In fact there were, are and will be many antichrists. They existed in the time of the apostles in the early church and have been about ever since. The man who sets himself up as prophesied in the books of Daniel, Revelation and also in Thessalonians is just one of many. In fact the apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:18-19,
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
So it is clear from this that there are and were many antichrists. And when we look at the scripture in Acts 12:20-25 we see in King Herod one of the key factors that defines who and what an antichrist is, for they are not always easy to spot. We know that the devil is the most subtle and cunning of creatures, often disguising himself as an angel of light. So we can expect the work of him and his antichrists to likewise be subtle, cunning and full of deception to capture those who do not have a good grasp on the word of truth. Continue reading “Many Antichrists”