Giving – A brief study of Christian giving – comments on 2 Corinthians 8 and 9

The Bible shows God’s viewpoint on the subject of money and Christian giving and provides teaching that will protect the believer from many common illusions and dangers.

A false notion about money is that money will buy happiness. Only the word of God brings happiness as the believer learns and applies Bible truth to his life. Another false viewpoint is that money is security; but the only true security is in the Lord Jesus Christ and it is only wishful thinking to seek security in any other place. Then there is the hippie mentality which says that money is not needed, leading to people borrowing money through life. Money is a bona fide medium of exchange and the Bible provides many instructions on the handling of money.

The Bible points out several dangerous errors to which non Christians are subject. Evangelistic teaching should deal with these important issues to help unbelievers see the true issue of salvation through Christ. For example:

  • Salvation cannot be purchased with money. (Mark 8:36-37) Salvation has been paid for and not with silver and gold. (1 Pet. 1:18, 19)
  • Money causes a rich person to put his faith in the wrong things. (Mark 10:23-25)
  • Money keeps the rich unbeliever from seeking salvation in the right manner which is by means of God’s word. (Luke 16:19-31)
  • Money has no credit with God at the last judgment. Only imputed righteousness is acceptable with God. (Prov. 11:4, 28)

The Christian can also fall into error in money matters. Thorough Christian life teaching includes the following:

  • Money can keep a believer from honoring Christ, the purpose for which he has been left on this earth (Eccl. 5:10-20; 6:2). Solomon was a rich king, but his riches crowded the Lord out.
  • Money can be a source of temptation. (1 Tim. 6:7-19)
  • A believer should spend his money wisely. (1 Tim. 6:8) Investigate carefully before you give. Give money for the glory of the Lord.
  • Two other passages of interest are James 4:13 to 5:6 and Acts 5:1-10.

Christian giving is a part of stewardship and faithfulness is the first requirement. (1 Cor. 4:2) God really owns everything and gives to believers (James 1:17). A Christian is accountable for everything that the Lord provides (Rom. 14:12).

Christian giving expresses the principle of grace. It is one means by which the Christian demonstrates graciousness. Having been a recipient of God’s grace in salvation and in the Christian life, the Christian ministers grace to others. He is a conduit of grace. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35b)

The principle of giving derives from the fact that grace depends upon the character of the giver. A Christian gives because of who and what he is, not because the needy person deserves it. Often the needy person is quite undeserving; but deserving is not the issue in giving. The issue in giving is the believer’s stability of character. The recipient is the object of grace, not the object lesson of grace.

The giver is the object lesson of grace. The more frequently a believer gives, the more he is oriented to grace, and the more grace is observed in him. It is vitally important, therefore, that the mental attitude for giving be correct, especially that the giving is not motivated by the desire for approbation. This will destroy the object lesson and devalue God’s grace in the eyes of observers. In giving, nothing must cloud the issue for either the giver, the recipient, or observers.

The Biblical standard excludes human religion and systems. Legalistic giving as seen in Amos 4:4 is replaced by the faith giving of Prov. 11:24. Neglect of the needy (Mal. 3:7-12) is replaced by giving more than is needed (Ex. 36:5-7). The Pharisaism of Luke 18:9-14 is replaced by giving secretly and before the evangelism event (1 Cor. 16:1ff). Bribery and public testimonies (Gen. 28:20-22) are replaced by freewill offerings (Ex. 25:1, 2; 35:4-10; 2 Cor. 9:7).

Covetousness is an occupational hazard to be guarded against. (Luke 12:15; Col. 3:5) Thirteen of the twenty-nine parables of Jesus referred to the correct use of possessions. Giving will involve first giving yourself to the Lord. (2 Cor. 8:5)

Poverty is no excuse for not giving. Believers should not have to be urged to give, because Jesus gave Himself. We give in gratitude, cheerfully, willingly and in grace. Read 1 Cor. 6:19–20; 2 Cor. 8:1-15.

The amount you give should be determined according to the following criteria:

  • By the need, 2 Cor. 8 and 9
  • By how much wealth you have, 2 Cor. 8:12-15; and by how much God prospers you, 1 Cor. 16:2, Deut. 16:17; Matt. 10:8; Acts 11:29.
  • Giving is to be systematic (1 Cor. 16:2) and sacrificial (Luke 21:3, 4; 2 Cor. 8:2)

Tithing is not the issue in Christian giving. Tithing was a tax to support the theocratic government during the age of the Jews. The Old Testament gives a systematic progression in the use of the tithe.

  • Tithes were given to the Levites to maintain the temple (Num. 18:21-24) and to provide for the official feasts and sacrifices (Deut. 14:22-24).
  • The Jews gave all the tithe of their produce every third year for the Levite, non Jew, orphan and widow in your town in Israel (Deut. 14:28, 29)
  • Other tithes mentioned in Num. 28:26ff and Gen. 47:24. Melchizedek’s tithe from the spoils of Abraham’s war is part of the illustration of the teaching of the superior priesthood of Christ (Heb. 7).

An example of correct Christian giving is given by the apostle Paul in his description of the giving done by the Macedonian believers, 2 Cor. 8:1-6. The Macedonians were born again, believer priests and had the right to give. They had been robbed blind by the Romans in order to pay for putting down a revolt, but they still gave. Paul wanted the Corinthians and us to know of the grace of God which was bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia. The reward from God is from grace and is invaluable, 2 Cor. 9:6; Matt. 6:20; Prov. 22:9.

Principles of Christian giving from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.

Read these two chapters and consider the following observations.

8:1, 2 All true giving is defined as mental attitude, not as an overt act.

8:3 Christian giving must be free from pressure and coercion. Free will or volition must operate.

8:4 The believers considered it a privilege to give. They are not begged to give. Giving under pressure contradicts grace.

8:5 They were in fellowship before they gave. Giving starts with self and not with money.

8:6 Titus was urged by the apostle Paul to to complete in the Corinthian church the grace based work.

8:7 Giving is part of grace.

8:8 Christian giving is love giving not law giving.

8:9 As Jesus Christ voluntarily gave Himself, we in giving must have the same attitude of volition, willingness.

8:10 Starting to give one year ago and continuing with a desire to give.

8:11 Giving is in accordance with what you have not in accordance with what you hope to get in the future.

8:12 Even if a believer has nothing to give, it is fully accepted by God, provided there is a willing mind to give.

8:13-15 When one member of the body of Christ is unable to give, others make up for their lack so that there is an equality in sustaining the local church and arms outside the church.

8:16, 17 Personal commendation of Titus. He was honest and headed the delegation to collect the offering for the Jerusalem church.

8:18 Titus had someone travel with him who helped spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

8:19, 20 Money given to the Lord’s work should be handled orderly and honestly. This is detail work for deacons or other administrators.

8:21 Regarding financial items of the church with honor before God and men.

8:22-24 Titus was sent as a diligent and tested fellow worker and the Corinthians were asked to openly show the proof of your love and reason for the apostle Paul boasting in them.

9:1, 2 Both the giving and administration of money should glorify the Lord.

9:3, 4 A collection or offering should not embarrass anyone.

9:5 Blessing in the Christian life results from giving to the Lord and not spending money for self pleasure. Bounty is used twice to mean blessing.

9:6 The more you sow, the more you harvest. God blesses the believer whose mental attitude is right.

9:7 Giving is done in a mental attitude of joy.

9:8, 9 God’s divine essence guarantees the principles written here.

9:10 God keeps on supplying so that the believer can keep on giving.

9:11 Bountifulness means blessing. The more faith you exercise, the more enrichment you receive; all is non-meritorious activity.

9:12-13 Biblical giving results in thanksgiving expressed and the glorification of grace.

9:14 Giving also stimulates prayer, love and an admiration of grace in the believer who gives graciously.

9:15The example of Christ. I can never come close to what Christ gave me in salvation. He is the unspeakable gift. True Bible giving is the result of occupation with Christ and gratitude to Him on the basis of who and what He is.

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

Hope – The Christian’s confidence is much more than just wishful thinking

Hope is the mental attitude of confidence that results from learning and applying Bible truth regarding the future.

In Bible usage, “hope” (Greek: ελπις) is synonymous with “confidence” or “expectation of a good outcome.” Growth in confidence comes along with growth in Christ. Applied knowledge of Bible principles of time and eternity leads to supreme confidence in God’s word.

The Christian has confidence in

See also 1 Th. 4:16-18; (verse context does not seem to fit.) and 1 John 3:1,2.

The hope of Israel is in their coming Messiah (the second coming of Christ), His kingdom on earth, and the new earth of eternity.

Luke 1:67-79; 2:28-32; Acts 26:6,7; 28:20; Eph. 2:12.

The Abrahamic Covenant (amplified by the Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants) promised to Israel the land of Canaan, the eternal seed (the Messiah), and blessing (new birth). Israel’s hope lies in these promises of God.

Abraham’s hope was directed to the promise of a new city, the new Jerusalem, Heb. 11:9,10.

The hope for the church is the blessed hope of the rapture. Titus 2:13-15; 1 John 3:2,3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18

Hope is derived from such passages as (this verse does not fit this context). which it is stated that there will be no more death, tears, pain, etc.

The hope or confidence we have in Christ has caused death to lose its sting and the grave to lose its victory. 1 Cor. 15:54-58.

The word hopeless should never be in the Christian’s vocabulary

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

God’s covenant with Noah and the Four Divine Institutions

Foreword: this comes from the Grace Notes Genesis study of chapter 9, verses 1-7.  The text discusses the four divine institutions established by God .  This is key as society continually tries to buck this system with its own relativistic truths.

Genesis 9:1-7

Genesis 9:1-7 records God’s covenant with Noah. The first provision of this covenant is found in Genesis 8:20-22.
Genesis 8:20, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Genesis 8:21, “The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.’”
Genesis 8:22, While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

The first provision stipulated that God would never again curse the earth on account of man and that day and night and seasons would never cease as long as the present earth remains and that there would be a continuation of humanity until the end of human history by guaranteeing its sustaining food supply.

Genesis 9:1, And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

The second provision stipulated that Noah and his descendants would multiply and replenish the earth. The command to be fruitful and multiply was also given to Adam as recorded in Genesis 1:28.

Blessed” is the verb barakh ( ErB^)* pronounced: bah-rach and means, “to bless,” in the sense that the Word of the Lord endued Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth with power to produce offspring in great numbers.
Be fruitful” is the verb parah ( hr*P*) (paw-raw) and means, “to be fruitful” in the sense of to reproduce.
Multiply” is the verb ravah ( hb*r*) (raw-vaw) and means, “to multiply, to increase” in number or quantity and denotes not only the concept of multiplication of one’s progeny but also sexual prosperity.
Fill” is the verb male ( al@m*) (mah-leh) and is used here of Noah and his sons being given the capacity to repopulate the earth.

In Genesis 1:28, Adam was commanded to have dominion over the earth but in Genesis 9:1, this is omitted since the earth has been brought under a curse because of Adam’s sin and as a result of this sin, Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and “ruler of this world” (Jn. 16:11).

Genesis 9:2, “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.

The third provision stipulated that Noah and his descendants would have dominion over the animal kingdom and implies that the interaction between humans and animals would not be peaceful, just as Genesis 9:6 suggests the same of human beings.
Genesis 9:3, “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

The fourth provision stipulated that all animal life was now given as food for people to eat and that the diet of the human race would not be restricted to a vegetable an fruit diet.

Genesis 9:4, “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

The stipulation recorded in Genesis 9:4 was given since the soul life of animals resides in its blood (Lev. 17:11, 14). By forbidding the eating of the animal’s blood, this regulation instills a respect for the sacredness of life and protects against abuse (Lev. 3:17; 7:2-27; Deut. 12:1-24; 1 Sam. 14:32-34). The eating of meat is not a license to savagery meaning that even though Noah’s descendants are predators at the top of the food chain, they must show a proper respect for life as a sacred thing.

Genesis 9:5, “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.

Genesis 9:5-6 records for us the establishment of the fourth and final divine institution. These four institutions are systems of authority designed to protect the freedom of members of the human race, both unbeliever and the believer: (1) Volition: You have authority over your own soul (Gen. 2:16-17). (2) Marriage: Husband has authority over the wife (Gen. 2:22-24). (3) Family: Parents have authority over the children (Gen. 4:1). (4) Government: Government has authority over its citizens (Gen. 9:5-6).

Murder is a violation of the first divine institution, which is volition. The government has the responsibility to practice capital punishment in order to protect the freedom its citizens.

I will require” is the verb darash ( vr^D*) (daw-rash), which is a judicial term used with reference to both men and animals and expresses the fact God seeks “restitution” for murder by the execution of the murderer or the animal who has taken a human life.

The fifth provision stipulated that as a result of the total depravity of mankind, God instituted capital punishment in order to protect both animal and human life and to curb violence and be a deterrent to crime. The reason why this provision is given is found in the phrase “for in the image of God, He (the Lord) made (`asah, “modeled”) (the soul of) man.

The emphasis of this stipulation recorded in Genesis 9:5-6 does “not” refer to vengeance but rather justice and the careful recognition of the sacredness of the divine image in man, though marred by sin. Murder is a shocking affront to God and a terrible crime against one’s fellow man.

Before the Flood the lack of capital punishment led to blood vendettas (Gen. 4) and without instinctive fear, the animals corrupted their behavior.

Genesis 9:5-6 records the institution of human government where God delegated authority to mankind as His agents in exacting retribution by capital punishment upon those who take a human life indicating as well that this is not a personal matter but a social obligation. Before the Flood, there was no formal arrangement of human government and thus no formal punishment of crime or of crime prevention, even for the capital crime of murder, as evident in the individual histories of Cain and Lamech. The absence of human government and the total depravity of mankind led to a universal state of violence and anarchy, which resulted in the judgment of the Flood. God established capital punishment and thereby human government in order to prevent the conditions of the antediluvian period from developing again.

Numbers 35:30-34, Deuteronomy 17:6-7 and 19:15 teach that capital punishment “cannot” take place unless there are two or more witnesses to the crime and that they all agree in their testimony after being individually and separately interviewed.
Capital punishment is taught in the Old Testament (Ex. 21:12, 15-17; 22:2, 18-20; Num. 35:6-34; Deut. 19:1-13; 24:7) and in the New Testament (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13).

The fact that capital punishment was instituted does “not” mean that there is never to be an exception to the punishment of execution for the crime of murder. With God, justice may be tempered with mercy, in response to repentance.

For example, David was guilty of the capital crimes of murder and adultery in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba respectively and God forgave David when he confessed his sin and thus David instead of dying by stoning or the sword as he deserved, “died in a good old age, full of days, riches and honor” (1 Chron. 29:28).

Also, the woman caught in the act of adultery was guilty by the Mosaic Law of a crime punishable by death (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) and the Lord Jesus seeing her heart of repentance, was moved to forgive her and to see that she was set free (Jn. 8:3-11).

In like manner, a judge or a governor is warranted in taking such mitigating factors as may exist in a given situation into consideration in determining a sentence, legal penalty of capital punishment.

The essential point is that man was delegated authority and responsibility of human government by God and that this responsibility first entails the recognition of the sacredness of human life and that man is created in the image of God and the recognition of capital punishment as the just and legal penalty for murder. It is clear that the authority for capital punishment implies also the authority to establish laws governing human activities and personal relationships, which if unregulated would lead to murder, robbery, adultery, thus this instruction to Noah is the fundamental basis for all human legal and governmental institutions.

Genesis 9:7, “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.
Genesis 9:7 is a repetition of Genesis 9:1 in order to emphasize God’s desire to have many people who will gather around His throne and enjoy fellowship with Him throughout eternity (Rev. 5:9-10).
Pastor William E. Wenstrom. (n.d.). Genesis.

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

Holy Spirit – Sustaining Ministry

For a Scripture friendly version, go here. See our topic list, click here.  Too check out our diploma courses, click here.

By R. B. Thieme, Jr., Pastor
Berachah Church, Houston, Texas

During the period of the first advent, the humanity of Christ was sustained by the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit. The humanity of Christ had to be sustained by God the Holy Spirit, just as the members of the royal family, the church, would be sustained by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit during the Christian life.

The Prophesy of this Ministry

Isa. 11:1-3, 42:1, 61:1a.

The sustaining ministry of the Holy Spirit occurs first at the virgin birth,

Matthew 1:18-20; Heb 10:5.

The Holy Spirit is the source or agent of conception. The Father planned Christ’s human body. The Holy Spirit was the agent carrying out the mechanics of the virgin birth. He provided the perfect chromosomes which fertilized the female ovum. The Holy Spirit is thus the agent in the execution of the hypostatic union.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit begins at the Incarnation:

John 3:34.

  1. Not only does the Holy Spirit indwell the body of Christ, but He also filled His soul.
  2. This is the total sustaining ministry to royalty. our Lord, in His humanity, was born into royalty as the son of David.
  3. His spiritual royalty is different. His spiritual royalty is being totally sustained by the Holy Spirit.
  4. There was no spiritual royalty in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit had no permanent indwelling in the physical body of any Old Testament believer in Christ.
  5. Glorification of Christ by means of the ascension and session instituted battlefield royalty. This caused the age of Israel to be interrupted so that the royal family of God, the church, could be formed. This is accomplished by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is the Holy Spirit entering us into union with Christ.
  6. Therefore, the church age believer is also royalty by being in union with Christ. As royalty we have the privilege of being indwelt by God the Holy Spirit.
  7. Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords is true royalty. Therefore, His body is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and His soul is filled by the Holy Spirit. This is why church age believers have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit and are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
  8. Thus, the total ministry of the Holy Spirit to the incarnate Christ has been continued in the church.

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit Related to the Baptism of Jesus Christ:

Matthew 3:13-17.

The dove speaks of the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit. Water represents the kingdom of God. Christian converts identified themselves with the kingdom of God by being baptized. They were testifying to the fact that they no longer had any responsibility to Judaism. Our Lord in the water represented the plan of God for our Incarnation in Christ. Christ in the water represented to others His dedication to the plan of God.

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit Related to the Public Ministry of Christ:

Matthew 12:18.

Jesus quotes the prophesy of the Holy Spirit’s sustaining ministry of Isa 42:1. In the same context, He says that His miracles were performed in the power of the sustaining ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Lk 4:14-21 tells us that the teaching ministry of our Lord was also performed in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit had a part in the resurrection of Christ:

Rom 8:11.

The permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of resurrection for the royal family:

1 Pet 3:18-19.

The sustaining ministry of the Holy Spirit is transferred to the royal family.

  • Just as the Holy Spirit sustained the humanity of Christ during the incarnation, so now the Holy Spirit sustains the believer during his life.
  • Jesus Christ was sustained as perfect royalty; we as church age believers are sustained as sinful royalty.
  • The strategic victory of Christ demands the tactical victory of the royal family on earth during the intensified stage of the angelic conflict.
  • The total ministry of the Holy Spirit, which never occurred before Christ, includes both the permanent indwelling of our human body and the filling of our soul. This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to royalty only.
  • This ministry to the royal family demands the filling of the Holy Spirit and applied doctrine also known as edification. This is why Paul wrote in Gal. 4:19, “until Christ is formed in you.” This is synonymous with the believer’s spiritual self esteem, which is the beginning of spiritual adulthood.
  • This is why we are commanded in Eph 5:18; Gal 5:16, to be filled with the Spirit and to walk by means of the Holy Spirit.
  • The sustaining ministry of the Holy Spirit is then transferred from the resurrected glorified Christ at the right hand of the Father, to the royal family of God on earth
  • The believer is commanded to avail himself of the sustaining ministry of the filling of the Holy Spirit, Rom 13:14.
  • The filling of the Holy Spirit sets aside the lust pattern of the old sin nature which distracts from the perception and application of Bible doctrine.

The Royal Family’s Glorification of Christ through the Ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of the sustaining ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church age is to glorify Christ, John 7:38-39. Rivers of living water means the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Compare John 16:13-14 to the previous verse.

It is the present ministry of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ. He accomplishes this through the metabolization of doctrine and the many expressions of that doctrine that come from maturity.

Edification or growth in Christ causes the believer to be a letter of commendation written by the Holy Spirit and read by men of our generation, 2 Cor 3:1-3. The letter of commendation principle is the royal family walking in maturity.

At the point of spiritual self esteem, there exists in the soul of the believer a balance of residency between the filling of the Holy Spirit and maximum applied Bible truth resident in the soul .

At this point Christ is formed in you, Gal 4:19, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit becomes a real working power, Eph 3:16-17; Acts 1:8.

The fulfillment of the transitional ministry of the Holy Spirit and its results in the life of the believer are found in Phil. 1:20-21.

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

Happiness

Philemon 7, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

This phrase demands some of our attention, for Paul is in prison, he is chained, his physical movements are confined, his recreation is very limited, his pleasures are denied; in these circumstances, how can Paul make the statement that he is not just happy, but that he has much happiness?

Happiness is the situation of well being or general prosperity of mankind. It encompasses the circumstances of life and relationships. Happiness can run the gamut from tranquility to being intensely ecstatic and the term often used in scripture to describe happiness is blessedness. Blessedness relates happiness to God and His plan of grace.

Happiness has many different facets:

  1. Happiness related to prosperity is described in Psalm 128:1-4, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.
  2. I Peter 3:14 declares that believers may be happy even in suffering, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’
  3. Proverbs 3:13 says that true happiness is found through knowing God’s word, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.
  4. Proverbs 14:21 states that happiness may be gained from treating others with kindness and grace, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
  5. Romans 14:22 says that a clear conscience produces a type of happiness, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
  6. Proverbs 29:18 states that happiness comes from obeying the laws of the land and that lawlessness and spiritual apostasy accompany each other, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.
  7. Psalm 144:13-15 states that happiness comes from living in a free and prosperous nation.

To fully understand the concept of happiness, we must understand the happiness of God. God’s happiness is unique in the sense that God’s happiness is absolute, perfect and unlimited. In other words, because God is perfect He has perfect happiness. God is eternal, so is His happiness; God’s happiness never ends and has never been diminished in the least and cannot be changed.

God is perfect and this means that He is perfect righteousness; thus God’s perfect happiness is directly connected to one simple fact: God is never wrong, has never been wrong and never will be wrong. This makes God happy. Additionally, since God is perfect He is also perfect justice; this means God is never inequitable, unfair or unjust. This makes God happy. Inasmuch as God is perfect, His love is perfect; this means that God loves the other members of the God head with a perfect love and that He loves Himself with a perfect love and that He loves His creatures with a perfect love; this ability to love perfectly, without bounds or mitigation, makes God happy. God is omnipotent, this gives Him an unlimited capacity to be happy. In His omniscience God’s very genius adds comprehension and sharpness to His happiness; in other words, God knows that He is happy.

Finally, in His sovereignty, in His reign, in His supremacy, God has determined that He will share His perfect happiness with mankind, for Psalm 43:4 says, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.” Psalm 97:12 tells how God shares his happiness with mankind, “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous , and praise his holy name.” Habakkuk 3:18 states that once the believer has God’s perfect righteousness given to him/her, then the believer may be given anything and everything by God, for God gives to His perfect righteousness (in the believer) from His perfect righteousness (in Himself).

The fact that God has determined to give His happiness to mankind and found a way to do it is called grace. God’s instrument of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ; thus true happiness begins at the point of belief in Christ. This is where happiness begins. From there, the more the believer knows about God and Christ, the greater the believer’s capacity for happiness becomes. Thus through spiritual growth the believer’s happiness may become as the happiness of God: without limit, without dependence on circumstances, events, people or any exterior influence. John 13:17 declares that once spiritual maturity is attained, the believer shares God’s perfect happiness, “Now that you know these things , you will be blessed if you do them.

God’s word is the source of the believer’s happiness, according to John 17:13, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

Sharing God’s perfect happiness should be the estate of every believer, according to Philippians 4:4, which states, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! I Peter 1:8 states, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Once the believer shares the perfect happiness of God, the believer’s happiness cannot be diminished by: circumstances, things or people, according to Philippians 4:11, 12 states, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.Hebrews 13:5 states, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’Hebrews 12:3 states, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Thus, even though mankind inhabits an imperfect world, mankind can have the perfect happiness of God. Jude 24 asserts that the happiness experienced by the believer in heaven is more intense than that on earth; this degree of intensity is related to the locale, heaven and not to any limits on the sharing of God’s perfect happiness.

Isaiah 35:1, 2 declares that in the future millennial reign of Christ happiness will be ubiquitous.

According to the following verses, II Samuel 1:19, 20, Ecclesiastes 9:9 and 11:8, 9, the happiness derived from the world, sin, evil and pleasure is temporary and inadequate. For the aesthetic age seeks satisfaction through the senses, physical beauty, erotic excitement and through success in any of its guises. True inner happiness cannot be found through the senses or being a celebrity.

Ultimately, the truly happy person, the believer who shares the perfect happiness of God, provides happiness for, and is a ministry of refreshment to, other believers and unbelievers. This concept is found in Philippians 2:28, 29 and II Corinthians 7:13, and our verse, Philemon 7, which says, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Paul’s use of the term brother, adelphos, indicates that Philemon is not only a fellow believer, a member of the royal priest/family of God along with Paul, but that Paul is about to discuss a family matter.

The Greek term for refreshed is anapauo; and this concept was briefly discussed in the above dissertation on happiness. However, the idea commands more attention and more detail, as refreshment is an attribute of those believers that have attained spiritual maturity. Thus we might say that the ministry of refreshment is the realization and function of the spiritually mature.

Paul calls Philemon a refreshment. This means that Philemon is a vivifying and soothing personality to all that interrelate with him. Spiritually and soulishly, Philemon provides refreshment to others. He is a pleasure to be with and around; others seek out his company so that they might be restored by his calm faith in God, by his virtue love toward others, by his real compassion and by his doctrinal perspective toward life.

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

The Faithfulness Of God

Foreword:  Where do you go when the pressures of life start to make you uncomfortable (or worse ready to yell)?  Is the solution self-help books, your office buddies, or jumping to another religion?   You don’t have to ‘turn’ or ‘jump’ anywhere!  When we study our Bibles before problems arrive, we are already equipped to handle life.  I was talking to a visitor at church who thought handling life’s problems is “tough.”   Scripture clearly tells us that with a eternal prospective, we can use a different lens when viewing problems.  Problems are temporary and limited to our earthly existence, not Heaven.  If we believe that God can deliver on His promises, then we have a fresh perspective on how we  view life.  We are not saying we enjoy diseases or natural disasters. The Bible has God’s promises written down! Louis

The faithfulness of God to the believer is expressed in many ways in the Bible.

The faithfulness of God to forgive sin.

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The faithfulness of God in keeping us saved.

2 Tim. 2:13, “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

2 Thess. 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful who shall establish you and keep you from evil.

The faithfulness of God in times of pressure.

1 Cor. 10:13, “There has no testing taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested above that you are able; but will with the testing also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

The faithfulness of God in providing for us under the partnership of Christ.

1 Cor. 1:9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

The faithfulness of God in keeping His promises to us.

Heb. 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.”

The faithfulness of God to us in times of suffering.

1 Pet. 4:19, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful creator.”

The faithfulness of God in providing for the believer’s eternal future.

1 Thess. 5:24, “Faithful is He that calls you who also will do it.”

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

Edification

Foreword: ed·i·fi·ca·tion, The instruction or improvement of a person morally or intellectually.

Edification: Growing in Christ

One of the words in the Bible used to describe Christian growth is edification. Edification is the process of spiritual growth in a Christian who is living according to the plan of God and who is fulfilling the command to grow in the grace and in knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Greek word which is translated edification is οικοδομη (oikodome), a noun found in a number of New Testament passages:

Rom. 14:19

2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10

Eph. 4:12, 16

1 Cor. 14:5, 12

In all these passages, edification has two meanings.

  • Collectively it refers to the building up of the body of Christ. In Eph. 4:16, you can see that the edification of individuals results in the building up of the church.
  • For individual believers, edification refers to the spiritual growth and momentum in the Christian way of life, resulting in the glorification of God.
  • When the collective connotation is used, oikodome should be translated “construction, building up or building process”. When the individual connotation is used, oikodome should be translated “edification”.

To grow in Christ, a Christian must be consistent on a daily basis in staying in fellowship with the Lord through confession of sin, and learning and applying Bible teaching.

Edification is the means of advancement and productivity in the Christian way of life.

Doctrine that is learned must feed both the human spirit and the human soul for capacity for both human and eternal life. Edification of the soul is the result.

Love is the means of reaching maturity and being edified. This is growing in applied knowledge. 1 Cor. 8

The growth of Christian love is a sign that a person has been learning and applying doctrine. “By their fruit you shall know them…” The fruit of the spirit is a result of edification.

Personal love for God the Father is motivation for the reception of Bible doctrine.

Impersonal love for all mankind is functional love. It gives one the ability to listen objectively to a pastor teacher regardless of his personality.

Occupation with the person of Christ is the ultimate result of love.

Synonyms for Edification

The Importance of the Pastor’s Teaching in Edification

The responsibility of the pastor in edification is found in a number of passages.

2 Cor. 10:8, “For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I shall not be put to shame,

The Corinthians wavered so much that Paul really had to get tough with them and throw his rank around.

The Corinthians were reacting to Paul’s authority and so were doing many things detrimental to their spiritual life.

Our authority refers to those with the communication gifts of pastor teacher as well as apostleship, e.g., Apollos and Timothy. The pastor establishes his authority through the communication of doctrine.

Paul makes it clear that edification depends upon accepting the authority of a pastor teacher who communicates doctrinal information.

2 Cor. 13:10, “For this reason, I am writing these things while absent, in order that when I am present, I may not use severity in compatibility with the authority which God has given to me for the purpose of your edification, and not for the purpose of destroying you.

No one can learn any subject without accepting the authority of the one who teaches.

Therefore, the importance of understanding that edification comes through the teaching of a pastor in communicating the mystery doctrine of the church age.

1 Thess. 5:12, “But we request of you, brethren, that you respect those pastor teachers who work hard among you [studying and teaching], who have command over you in the Lord and give you instruction.

The road to edification is paved with hundreds and thousands of lessons regarding the plan of God.

Heb. 13:17, “Keep obeying those who themselves are ruling over you, and submit to their authority , for these same keep watching for the benefit of your souls as those who have to render an account. Keep obeying them, in order that they may do this accounting with joy, and not with groaning, for this is unprofitable for you.

The threefold purpose of the pastor is found in Eph. 4:12, “for the purpose of equipping the saints, for the production of Christian service, for the edification of the body of Christ.

  • The “saints” refer to the family of God with emphasis on the baptism of the Spirit.
  • Equipping the saints refers to God’s grace policy and provision for the execution of the His plan.
  • Equipping is the function of the pastor who, through teaching doctrine, is able to see people grow and become mature, productive Christians.

All believers are in full time Christian service from the moment of their salvation. Christian service is the normal result of spiritual growth but never the means.

Eph. 4:16, “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Body function depends upon the proper use of joints. Athletic coordination depends upon the proper use of the joints.

The result of the communication of doctrine is edification in your soul.

The Motivation of the Believer in Edification

There are two categories of motivation: positive volition and humility

Positive volition is expressed in Rom. 14:19. Consequently, we run after those things related to prosperity and edification.

Running, not walking, expresses positive volition toward the doctrines of the church age, which gives us all the details regarding God’s plan, purpose, and will for our lives after salvation.

This includes the learning, understanding, and application of the mystery doctrine of the church age as the means of executing the plan of God.

Prosperity and edification go together; both are the result of continual positive volition.

In order for consistent perception of doctrine to occur, it is important to have a mental attitude of humility.

Rom. 12:2-5, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,”

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

The standard of thinking from doctrine includes every aspect of divine viewpoint, orientation to life through enforced and genuine humility and everything that makes us objective and teachable toward the word of God.

Many members in one body emphasizes that although we have different spiritual gifts and different personalities, we all belong to one family, the body of Christ.

Without genuine humility, there is neither objectivity nor teachability. Without objectivity and teachability in life, you will be miserable, whether you are a believer or unbeliever, successful or not. Without objectivity and teachability, there is no edification.

Edification: The Key to the Proper Function of the Local Church

1 Cor 14:12, “So also you, since you are eager to have the function of spiritual gifts, seek to abound in spiritual gifts that edify the church.”

Comments:

  • The Corinthians were all eager to get the gift of tongues because it was spectacular, and then they could assume they were spiritual. In reality, the worst believers in the Bible are described as having the gift of tongues.
  • Seek to abound means you should give precedence to those spiritual gifts which result in edification. The primary spiritual gift in this category is the gift of pastor teacher.
  • The precanon temporary gifts did not edify the church.

1 Cor 14:26, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

There are a number of ways in which we worship God, but they must all relate to our spiritual growth. Everything in assembly worship should be done with a view toward the objective, which is edification. The objective is to communicate the word of God, the purpose of which is to produce edification.

The key to the correct function of the local church is edification. Edification, or the advance to spiritual maturity, is the objective of the Christian way of life.

In the context of 1 Cor. 14, the gift of tongues did not fulfill that purpose. 1 Cor 14:40 concludes that the gift of tongues did not do “all things properly and in an orderly manner.

The gift of tongues illustrated how not to do things decently and in order. For tongues did not contribute to the principle of edification, nor did it contribute to doing things properly and in an orderly manner.

The Results of Edification

You begin with a foundation of eternal salvation and a body of teaching, the revealed scriptures, built upon the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

The moment you personally believed in Jesus Christ, a foundation was constructed, comprised of the many things from God. The foundation is Jesus Christ.

TOPIC: Salvation Doctrines

The foundation is constructed on the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, Please see Grace Notes topics: redemption, propitiation, reconciliation, imputation and justification.

2 Tim. 2:19, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal; the Lord knows those who are His. . . .

1 Cor. 3:11 “No one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

With edification you become spiritually self sustaining and you function under the privacy of your priesthood to resolve your own problems, including the greatest problems in life.

Problems are resolved in two ways: through the use of the biblical problem solving devices, and through understanding of specific principles in the word of God. Please see Grace Notes topics: confession of sin; faith rest; occupation with Christ.

Edification Motivates Believers

Edification is the motivation in the function of love in the congregation, through which tolerance provides room for spiritual growth.

Rom. 15:2, “Let each of us accommodate his neighbor for the good to edification.

1 Cor. 10:23, “All things are lawful, but all things do not edify.

Acts 9:31, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

Depression – Bible Solutions

Every Christian suffers from depression from time to time.

Sometimes depression comes through no fault of our own. There may be severe problems which are imposed by outside circumstances. Sometimes physical exhaustion, a weakening of physical and emotional strength, serious disturbances or distress in life with a feeling of being trapped or a fear of what might happen can appear as one or more causes of depression. If the depression is not caused by a sin problem, confession is not required The techniques of the Christian way of life are equally useful in combating depression in whatever form it comes.

Sometimes depression is self induced because it is caused by sin. Mental attitude sins will bring on depression. Failure to exercise faith rest principles or failure to claim promises from the Bible can cause depression. If sin is the problem, the first step to the solution is to confess sin Biblically and use the techniques of faith rest, occupation with Christ, and the filling of the Holy Spirit to begin a quick recovery.

Depression may include one or more of the following:

  • A feeling of dejection or sadness
  • An attitude of self depreciation
  • A reduction is quality or force
  • A lowering of vitality or functional activity

The Bible deals extensively with the subject of mental anguish, sorrow and depression. There are many Bible words used to describe the thoughts and feelings people have when they are depressed. Studying these definitions, and the Bible passages where they are found, is a very important part of the therapy for many kinds of depression. Almost every Bible verse that has a word related to depression also has part of the cure for that condition somewhere in its context.

As you study the following verses, try to determine in each case the reasons for the state of depression and whether it was caused by personal sin which is self-induced, was the result of undeserved suffering, or came from some other source. Then, try to decide on what cure is being suggested. In some cases, the cure will show up in the context. In others you will have to decide on a solution from categorical doctrinal principles.

The Bible deals with depression categorically using the following words:

(lupei), meaning grief, sorrow, distress, suffering, a sad plight. The verb form is (lupeo), to cause pain, to grieve, to annoy. In military terminology, the word was used of troops in the sense to harass; to annoy the enemy. In the passive voice, where the subject receives the action of the verb, the meaning is to be sad, to be sorry, to be grieved.

  • And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, “The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men; and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again.” And they were exceeding sorry.” Matt. 17:22, 23
  • And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?Matt. 26:22
  • But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.Matt. 19:22
  • And He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.Matt. 26:37, 38
  • Truly, truly, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.John 16:20
  • For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Romans 14:15
  • For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.2 Cor. 2:4
  • But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.1 Thess. 4:13
  • In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,1 Peter 1:6
  • All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.Heb. 12:11
  • For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.1 Peter 2:19

(adeimonia), noun, in great distress or anguish.

  • My soul is exceeding sorrowful…”, Mark 14:34
  • “because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.” Phil. 2:26

(anagkei), noun, necessity, constraint, natural desire such as hunger, bodily pain or suffering. When used with  (thlipsis), signifies a condition of necessity arising from some form of outside compulsion.

From here on, look up the verses for yourself.

(stenochoria), noun, narrowness of place, a trapped feeling.

(sunochei), noun, metaphorically for anguish or distress caused by a compressing together or narrowing of the way.

(thlipsis), noun, pressure, oppression, affliction.

(kataroneo), verb, to wear out with toil or suffering

(sunechw), verb, to forcibly hold together; to contain; to constrain; to oppress Used for holding rowers together on galley ships.

(odunao), verb, to cause pain. In the passive to feel pain.

(thlibo), verb to press; to distress; to trouble; to gall

(tarachei), noun, trouble, disorder, confusion

  • Mark 13:8, John 5:4

(tarasso), verb, to stir up, disturb, trouble; to trouble the mind; to alarm; to frighten; to throw into disorder

Matt. 2:3; 14:26

Mark 6:50, Luke 1:12; 24:38

1 Peter 3:14

Bible Techniques in Dealing With Depression

The following ten principles are Bible techniques which you can use to deal with depression in your life, regardless of the cause. Each of these topics is discussed in more detail in other notes in this series, but this outline will give you ideas on how you can make specific application of categorical doctrine to help with real world problems.

Confession of Sin

Personal sin leads to depression. You must deal with sin on a daily basis by confessing and moving on. If you do not do this, sin becomes a burden which clouds your joy, drains your spiritual energy, and destroys your productivity and vitality. In short, sin is always depressing.

In privacy, make a list of your mental attitude sins, verbal sins, and behavior sins. Ask the Lord to make you aware of the habits of your own life. Respond immediately to the Holy Spirit when He uses the word to spotlight your sin. Name the sin to God; then rejoice in forgiveness and cleansing and your renewed fellowship with God. All the promises and provisions of God the Father are now available to you. Make it a spiritual habit to confess sins whenever they show up in your life.

The Filling of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit fills you and controls your life when you have no unconfessed sin in your life. You can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you when you commit it, or even before. When the Holy Spirit is in control, He produces His fruit (Gal. 5:22). The fruit of the Spirit does not include heaviness, depression, discouragement, disillusion, anguish, sadness, dejection or loss of vitality. Consider these points:

  • Impersonal love is free from depression.
  • Joy pushes depression out.
  • Peace does not coexist with disillusion in the soul of the believer filled with the Holy spirit.
  • Long suffering gives the ability to deal with depression and trouble.
  • Gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance are fruits of righteousness, which is divine good. Divine good takes the place of depression.

Living in the Word

By living in the word you are constantly reminded of God’s viewpoint, of His plan, of His provision, or His awareness of our spirit of heaviness and what He want to accomplish in us with the testing. Living in the sphere of human viewpoint is a source of depression. Living in the word gradually transplants you to a new sphere, a new environment for your life, in which there is victory over depression.

Orientation to Grace

Depression is often caused by people, most of the time by people we cannot escape, or people we love, or people we cannot confront, or people we trust. Grace orientation includes the ability to look at people and see them as God sees them. It includes the ability to let them live their lives as unto the Lord, and trusting God to make His way clear to them. This technique lets people make mistakes without your judging them. It enables you to accept criticism without hurt or bitterness. It enables you to esteem other better than yourself, to do nothing through strife or vainglory.

Occupation with Christ

The technique of occupation with Christ helps to cure depression because it gets your eyes off your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your friends and yourself. Instead, as you move through the day, you are thinking about the Lord Jesus Christ, His plan for your life, the Father’s provision for each incident in your life, and His provision of wisdom for each decision you must make. Occupation with Christ is a by-product of the faith rest life. Depression is a by product of occupation with self, with life, with problems.

The Faith Rest Life

Faith rest is understanding and believing the promises of God and then entering into the rest phase of Christian living by claiming and enjoying those promises. Therefore, you must search the Scriptures daily to remind yourself of promises, and to learn new ones. You must know who and what God is so that you will not hesitate to believe that He can do what He has promised to do. Study the attributes of God using verses about the essence of God. Know Him as He reveals Himself in the Bible. Believe Him when He tells you what He will do for you. Count on it. Let your faith rest on it. Cast your burden on the Lord.

Relaxed Mental Attitude

A relaxed mental attitude is based on knowing God and on having the divine production in the soul that comes with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A relaxed mental attitude is one of the results of living in the word, Walking in fellowship, practicing the faith rest life and being occupied with Christ. All of the components of depression melt away when God provides this attribute.

Mastery of the Details of Life

We are all involved with details of life. Either we master them or they master us! If you are a slave to one or more details of life, your thoughts are devoted to them, and they drive you. They dominate your thoughts, your conversation, your decisions. Slavery to the details of life leads to disillusion, disappointment, and depression.

Mastery of the details of life means that you look to the Lord for every detail. When you are a master of the details of life, your happiness does not depend on people, circumstances or things. You have the peace of God that passes all understanding. You have learned to be content under any circumstances. You can wait for the Lord’s timing in providing the details you want; you can enjoy them when you have them; and you can remain happy when the Lord sees fit not to provide some detail.

Capacity to Love

There may be many depressing details that surround our relationships with other people or the circumstances of our lives. The fruit of the Spirit love deals with that depression by giving us the capacity to have a Spirit-produced love for God (1 Cor. 16:22); for their husband (Titus 2:4) and for other believers in Christ (Rom. 12:13).

Inner Happiness

Inner happiness is not possible for the believer who is occupied with himself and his needs. Inner happiness is a state of rejoicing based on knowing that God is everything He claims to be and that He can do what He has promised. Inner happiness is the joy of living where every provision for physical, emotional, and spiritual well being is being made by God in the life of a Christian who is walking in daily fellowship with Him.

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

Chastisement (Divine Discipline)

Foreword:  For some reason people turn defensive at the idea that God will discipline  individuals, communities, states, and even countries.  Why?  I believe there is too much focus on the attributes of God we like and ignoring those we don’t like.  Acts 17:25-27 clearly states otherwise.  That does not, of course, change God’s perfect character at all.  Please read the rest of this post and study what Scripture says.

For a Scripture friendly version, go here. See our topic list, click here.  Too check out our diploma courses, click here.

Introduction

Whom the Lord loves, He chastens, whether it is an individual, a city or community, or a nation. Because God loves the whole world, there has always been a lot of chastening going on. The history of the Jews as a nation is, in part, a story of the cycles of discipline and recovery they experienced throughout all their generations. Many parallel lessons can be learned by individual believers regarding the way the Lord handles the individual and nation in grace when either is disobedient.

Chastisement or Divine Discipline of the Christian Believer

Chastisement of individuals is for Christian believers only (Heb. 12:5). God’s discipline is based on love, and when a believer is out of fellowship, discipline is aimed at only one thing, to get the believer to acknowledge his sin to God, to confess in order to be restored to fellowship (Heb. 12:6).

Discipline never means a loss of salvation (Gal. 3:26). Divine discipline is chastisement for sins of the believer in the immediate context of the sin that was committed. Discipline is removed by Biblical confession of sin (1 John 1:9; 1 Cor. 11:31).

Suffering may well be part of the chastisement and confession does not remove the suffering. However, when suffering continues after the believer has been restored to fellowship, the cursing is turned to blessing; that is, the suffering is for a positive purpose.

If a believer continues in sin and refuses to repent and confess, the chastisement will become more and more severe. Certain sins bring compounded discipline, particularly those in which the believer is acting as a stumbling block to others (Matt. 7:1-12). In extreme cases, the believer could suffer the sin unto death. However, all chastisement is confined to time; there will be no discipline for believers in eternity (Rev. 21:4)

The believer can avoid divine discipline through a consistent exercise of the principles of Christian living outlined in the word of God, as illustrated by the passage in Heb. 12:1‑6.

Confession is equivalent to laying aside the weight of Heb. 12:1. The result is production and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The phrase let us run with patience refers to the faith rest life. This is faith patience, also spoken of in James 1.

The next recovery principle is occupation with Christ also called looking unto Jesus. described in Heb. 12:2. Then, avoid sins of the mind; avoid becoming wearied, a reference to mental depression resulting from sin in Heb. 12:3. If any of the following are harbored continually, mental illness can result: A guilt complex; bitterness or hatred toward others; jealousy or envy; fear about the present or future; anxiety or worry about little things; desire for revenge; arrogance; judging another or running him down to others.

Heb. 12:4 refers to having victory over the sin nature. Confess, keep moving, separate from the sin, grow up in Christ, stand on grace principles, exercise faith rest and rely on positional truth.

Live in the word, Heb. 12:5.

Divine discipline is designed to restrain us from sin and to teach us lessons which will result in growth (Heb. 12:11).

Divine Discipline for a Nation

The Bible has many examples of divine discipline being brought against communities or nations. The most dramatic discipline of a city occurred at Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed the cities and their inhabitants at one stroke. There had not been even a remnant of faithful people there in order to preserve the cities from final judgment. Even Lot and his family protested against having to leave.

Another example is the destruction of heathen Jericho in which all inhabitants were killed except for Rahab and her family. Rahab obviously had positive volition toward the gospel, and her family enjoyed blessing by association in their narrow escape.

As the individual goes, so goes the nation. In order for a nation to avoid divine discipline, there must be at least some of its citizens who live in fellowship with the Lord. A question arises as to how many positive believers constitute a remnant, a quorum. The answer is that at least some of the citizenry and some of the political leadership of a nation must be faithful believers and have enough influence to maintain the divine institutions in that nation. It is possible that the remnant could be very small if it is composed of the most influential and powerful citizens, such as kings, presidents, or other top political and business leaders. In a democracy, the remnant would probably have to be fairly large in order to have divine viewpoint influence in elections.

The key is this: in order for a nation to survive there must be freedom and morality. These are vital for the preservation of national integrity and for the maintaining of the divine institutions of volition, marriage, family and nationalism.

There must be freedom so that the word of God can be taught clearly and every citizen be given a chance to decide on issues of salvation and Christian living. People need freedom so that, under positive volition to the word of God, they can keep their marriages and their families together. Families and nations are a part of God’s plan for the human race. Satan’s program is immorality, family breakup and internationalism. The divine Institutions were given to preserve the human race after the fall and to protect the nations from the inroads of Satan’s program.

There must be morality in order to protect people from criminality, disease and the other consequences of unchecked sinfulness. In particular, the institutions of marriage and the family are very much dependent on a high level of morality in the community so that parents can maintain positive momentum for long periods of time while they are training and nurturing their children. It is the breakdown of morality which is the first and most obvious indication that both the individual and the nation are in trouble.

The Five Stages of National Chastisement – Leviticus 26

The cycle of chastisement for a nation refers to the five stages, or increments, of chastisement which God brings on a nation which steadfastly refuses to repent of its immorality and live according to God’s plan. When a nation at first very subtly begins to drift away from the Lord, indicated by a laxness in morality in many of its citizens and an indifference to the word of God, the Lord begins the discipline with relatively gentle reminders in the form of a loss of peace, a reduction in prosperity and so forth. At the other end of the scale, God allows the complete destruction of a nation which has defiantly ignored all levels of discipline. This destruction is analogous to the sin unto death suffered by an individual who is intractable in his defiance of God (Nadab and Abihu, Saul, Ananias and Sapphira).

At this point you should read Leviticus 26:14–29. That chapter provides a concise outline of God’s warnings about the levels of punishment He will bring on the nation of Israel if they will not turn from their sinful rebellion.

First Stage – Discipline of the nation begins with relatively mild problems, including people’s loss of inner peace and mental depression. There will be great fear and paranoia among the people, accompanied by lack of success in business and agriculture, poverty, sickness, and defeat in battle.

Second Stage Verses 18 to 20 show the discipline which is characterized by a continued lack of fellowship with the Lord, loss of national prestige and honor, a cessation of God’s grace provision for the nation and a great barrenness in the land.

Third Stageverses 21 and 22 include great plagues, no control over natural enemies, a general inability to subdue the earth, the death of children and the beginnings of great desolation among the people.

Fourth Stage – In verses 23-26 chastisement becomes severe, with increased attacks by enemies, invasions by foreign powers. There is extreme economic adversity and poor productivity, even in the production of necessities, resulting in famine. Some national sovereignty remains, but invaders have ever-widening influence in all areas of life. There are increases in plagues and disease.

Fifth Stage -The fifth stage of discipline involves complete loss of personal and national sovereignty, the destruction of the family and the nation. Offerings to God are unacceptable. Nations which have undergone this destruction have experienced slavery, cannibalism, and the assimilation of its surviving citizens into other cultures.

Seeds of National Destruction, Genesis 11

The people of Babel, in defiance of God, thought they could construct a better society, a more secure, more compatible, more idealistic community. Their volitional defiance of God began at the grass roots level; then they united in an effort to organize their society under agreed upon principles. They had a complete disregard for God; there was no communication between God and man. They refused divine viewpoint and the commandment to go throughout the world and multiply.

During the age of the Jews there were many examples of national discipline. Hosea 4:1-7 gives an example of the nation rejecting Bible teaching and building for chastisement. They were engaged in false business practices (4:2); there was no application of faithfulness or kindness(4:1); they were in a miserable state of life (4:3); there was false prosperity(4:7); they followed their religious leaders to destruction.

The whole book of Isaiah, notably chapter 28, was directed at the nation which had rejected the authority of God.

National destruction came on every nation that rejected the word of God, not just the nation of Israel. Canaan was destroyed by the Jews under Joshua. There was divine discipline on Egypt for refusing to let the Jews leave. Assyria was destroyed (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron. 32:21). Babylon, in turn, faded quickly as a nation (Daniel 5).

Discipline is related to cities as well as to nations, as the following examples indicate:

The two verses do not clearly state Rome is destroyed.

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!

Mastery Of The Details Of Life

Foreword: This topic was written by the Grace Notes founder, Warren Doud.  The mature Christian learns regardless of what their life is like, they are to glorify God.  

I met Ethel at church in Kansas City, in 1952; we were 18. She was then already a master of the details of life.

Ethel had accepted Christ at 16, and had immediately begun studying the Bible, learning and absorbing the teachings of Bible doctrine, virtually memorizing epistles and other large portions of Scripture. We got married in 1955; from then until now, Ethel’s life has been one of the continuous application of Bible doctrine to the details of life.

It’s easy to “master” the details of life when one is prosperous. It is when hard times come, and details of life are lost, that a Christian’s true mettle is seen. During those 60 years since I met Ethel, I have observed her spiritual responses in times of both privation and relative prosperity.

During hard times, Ethel has always trusted the Lord to provide. When she was hurt or offended, she did not fume and seethe, backbite, malign, or cast blame. Instead, she would grow quiet in order to pray, recall Bible promises, claim the promises (faith-rest), quickly recover a relaxed mental attitude, forgive the offenders (most often me), and be restored quickly to her usual condition of joy and cheerfulness. She never yelled at me or the children, she never asked for anything for herself, was always focused on the needs of others.

Ethel’s testimony has always been one of occupation with Christ, faith-rest, a relaxed mental attitude, and the resulting joy of the Lord.

The Details of Life

For the purposes of our Bible studies, we use the term “details of life” to refer to everything that is a part of human life on earth.

Anything that affects our life, or on which our life is contingent, is a detail of life. An exhaustive list would be hard to create, but details of life include such things as:

  • Your human body, which includes your health, physical fitness, age.
  • Your mental capability, e.g. intelligence, education, mental stability.
  • Necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, transportation.
  • Human love, marriage and sex, and family life.
  • Social life, including your relationships with friends, fellow workers, church family.
  • Finances, income, savings, and your financial future.
  • Employment: satisfaction with job, sense of accomplishment, etc
  • Environment: the country and community you live in, the weather, the comfort of your surroundings.

I know you could add many things to these, but this list is representative.

Human Happiness

Now the details of life can sometimes provide a measure of satisfaction and happiness, but only in the sense of human happiness.

When one has enough money, for example, there is a sense of relaxation and satisfaction. There is relief, as least for a while, of the fear of poverty, of not being able to pay bills, of being able to purchase things you want. We will call this good feeling “human happiness.”

Good health also provides “human happiness”; if you feel well, if you aren’t in pain, if you can exercise and work without physical problems, you may have a feeling of well-being and satisfaction with your life.

Likewise, when you have a good marriage and social life, with compatible friends, easy relationships with people, etc., you are happy with those situations.

If your employment also is providing you with satisfaction, and you feel you are contributing to society, that makes you feel good, too.

Human happiness depends upon one or more details of life to sustain it. Therefore, human happiness is temporary and dependent. It lasts only as long as it is supported by the details that provide the happiness.

Human happiness begins to be diminished, or disappears completely, when the details that support that happiness are no longer there.

The Loss of Human Happiness (Suffering)

One way of describing suffering is to say that it comes from the removal of some form of human happiness. Suffering is the loss of some of the details of life.

Suffering can occur several ways, both for Christians and unbelievers, including the following:

  • Suffering by loss of health – physical pain, illness, accident, loss of function, etc.
  • Suffering by privation – the lack of something necessary such as money, food, shelter, clothing, transportation.
  • Suffering from the weather – freezing weather or hot, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, as well as earthquakes, volcanoes.
  • Suffering from mental anguish – worry, sorrow, anguish, fears, phobias, bitterness, jealousy, not the least of which is “suffering by anticipation”.
  • Suffering from justice, the long arm of the law, deserved or undeserved.
  • Suffering caused by other people. As long as there are two people in the same location…well, you know what I mean.

Joy (Divine Happiness)

God’s happiness (joy) is independent of anything in this world. The Bible says that it is possible, “to be content in whatsoever state I am”, that is, to have a deep inner happiness and contentment that does not depend on other people, material possessions, or circumstances.

  • Joy is not dependent on the details of life!
  • You can see, then, that if a person possesses God’s joy (+H), the loss of human happiness is much more tolerable.
  • When you are a master of the details of life, your happiness does not depend on people, circumstances, or things.
  • You have the peace of God that passes understanding.
  • You have learned to be content under any circumstances.
  • You can wait for the Lord’s timing in providing the details you want; you can enjoy them when you have them.
  • You can remain happy when the Lord sees fit not to provide some detail.

Mastery of the details of life means that you look to the Lord for every detail, that you accept with calm fortitude either the gain or loss of details of life.

We are all involved with details of life. Either we master them, or they master us! If you are a slave to one or more details of life, your thoughts are devoted to them, and they drive you. They dominate your thoughts, your conversation, your decisions. Slavery to the details of life leads to disillusion, disappointment, and depression.

Inner happiness is not possible for the believer who so occupied with himself and his needs or desires that he ignores God’s plan. Inner happiness is a state of rejoicing based on knowing that God is everything He claims to be and that He can do what He has promised. Inner happiness is the joy of living where every provision for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being is being made by God in the life of a Christian who is walking in daily fellowship with Him.

There are many Bible teachings which contribute to a Christian’s being able to have mastery of the details of life.

The following is a list of many of the Bible doctrine topics that contribute to a person’s having mastery of the details of life. Your mastery of the details of life depends on your learning and applying these principles of Bible doctrine.

Doctrinal studies are available at the Grace Notes Topical Library site. Go there to download them.

http://www.gracenotes.info/GN_TopicsLibrary.shtml.

Chastisement

Depression

Edification

The Faithfulness of God

Faith Rest

Happiness

The Holy Spirit’s Sustaining Ministry

Hope

The Importance of Bible Doctrine

Jealousy

Mental Attitude

The Much More Care of God

Negative Volition

Occupation with Christ

Peace

Problem Solving Devices of Scripture

Promotion

Redeeming the Time

Reversionism (Backsliding)

Salvation Doctrines

Separation

Suffering

Stay Up-To-Date With Our Email Newsletter Today!