Tag Archives: Christian Living

The Rapture

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The word rapture refers to an event which will mark the end of the Church Age and which will be an occasion of great joy to Christian believers. All believers, both those who have died and those who are alive at the time, will be taken up to meet Jesus Christ, who will have returned to “the air”, earth’s atmosphere. Then, the Christians and the Lord Jesus will return to heaven together. At the time of the Rapture, Christ will not set foot on earth; and He will be visible only to believers. READ 1 Thess. 4:17; Acts 1:11.

The Rapture is to be distinguished from the Second Advent of Christ. While the Rapture sets the stage for the Second Coming, these are two separate events. A chart giving comparisons between these two future appearances of Christ is found in a later section of this article.

There has been controversy for many generations concerning the timing of the final events in human history. The position held by the majority of categorical and fundamental Bible teachers is as follows:

  • We are presently in the dispensation known as the Church Age, and we do not know when this age will end.
  • The Rapture will occur at the end of the Church Age; and the day of the Rapture will be the first day of the sever-year period known as the Great Tribulation.
  • The Second Coming of Christ will occur on the last day of the Tribulation period and will usher in the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.

The statements above are part of a position, or viewpoint, concerning the chronology of the final events of human history, a doctrinal concept known as the Pre–Tribulation Rapture / Pre–Millennium Tribulation view. There are several other schools of though among Christian scholars; and this article does not attempt to sort out the differences in these viewpoints categorically.

The study of the various points of view, and an examination of the proofs that the Pre-Tribulation/Pre-Millennial position is the correct one, is indeed a fascinating study. But the students needs considerable background to handle such research, including a thorough knowledge of general prophecy, a good general orientation to the whole Bible, and a lot of practice in tracing threads of logic through interwoven networks of Bible doctrine. For the time being we will settle for …

A Description of the Rapture

The Rapture was promised by the Lord Jesus Christ just before His crucifixion, John 14:1–3. At the Rapture, He keeps His promise and fulfills the prophecy. The Rapture completes the Redemption of the body because the believer receives a resurrection body at that time, Phil. 3:20,21; 1 John 3:1,2. It would be useful at this point to read the description of the Rapture in 1 Cor. 15:51–53 and then to note the comments below concerning the terminology used.

mystery – a doctrine “hidden” from the Old Testament saints. The Rapture is pertinent only to the Church Age and was never revealed to believers living before the beginning of the Church Age.

we shall not all sleep — i.e., there will be some believers alive at the time of the Rapture.

we shall all be changed – refers to the resurrection body.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – a reference to the time element. The Rapture is not a long, drawn out process of evacuation. We will be with Christ instantly.

the dead shall be raised incorruptible – the resurrection body does not include the decay and corruption of sin and death.

we shall all be changed – another reference to the new physical body and new personal attributes associated with the resurrection body.

this corruptible must put on incorruption -the most important feature of the resurrection body is that there will be no Sin Nature.

this mortal must put on immortality – the believer will not die but will receive an immortal body.

The dead in Christ (believers who have died previous to the Rapture) will be raised first. Then, those who are still alive will be taken up. 1 Thess. 4:16,17.

The Rapture is a rendezvous for living and dead Christians. Confidence in the Rapture is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. 4:18.

In principle, the Lord Jesus Christ is the “first fruits” of the believer, as noted in 1 Cor. 15:20–23. Read this passage first, then note the following comments:

firstfruits – pictures the resurrection of Christ which is a guarantee of our bodily resurrection.

by man came death – through Adam came spiritual death with the end result of physical death for every human.

by man came also the resurrection – by Jesus Christ, in His humanity, came spiritual resurrection (salvation) followed by physical resurrection, Phil. 3:21.

The word “hope”, translated from the Greek word ἐλπίς (elpis), meaning “confidence”, is a technical designation for the Rapture in at least three Bible passages, including:

  • The living hope, 1 Peter 1:3
  • The blessed hope, Titus 2:13
  • The purifying hope, 1 John 3:3

The Rapture takes the sting out of death, 1 Cor. 15:54–56. Therefore, the Rapture removes the despair of bereavement, 1 Thess. 4:13–18. This confidence in the Rapture comes through the obtaining of wisdom, discernment, and knowledge of the Plan of God, Job 19:25–27. The edified believer has confidence. The result is blessing, peace, a relaxed mental attitude, and stability.

The believer has a “reservation” in heaven, 1 Peter 1:4; Eph. 2:6. The Rapture takes the believer to the “mansion” which Christ has prepared in advance, John 14.

The testing which the believer and the Church endure during the Church Age is terminated with the Rapture. The Body of Christ is no longer a target of Satan in spiritual warfare.

It is not known, and cannot be predicted, when the Rapture will occur. Nevertheless, the Bible directs us to pursue certain activities while waiting for the Rapture. These are given in the last section of this article. Meanwhile, take a look at …

What to do While Waiting for the Rapture

Stay in Fellowship. “And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28

Employ the Faith-Rest techniques. “Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by forged letters as from us, as that day of Christ is at hand.” 2 Thess. 2:1,2

Have Confidence. “Being confident of this very things, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

Have Patience. “Be patient, therefore, unto the coming of the Lord…” James 5:7

Grow in Christ by continuing to be edified. “…be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:8 See also Isaiah 33:4 and 2 Tim. 2:15

Contrasts Between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

The Rapture

The Second Coming of Christ

Only believers see Christ. The Rapture is private. Heb. 9:28; Acts 1:11

Every eye shall see Him. The Second Coming of Christ is public. Rev. 1:7

Christ meets believers in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17

Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives, Zech. 14:4

Believers are taken off the earth, John 14:3

Unbelievers are taken off the earth, Mt. 24:37f

Believers go to heaven, 1 Thess. 4:17

At the Second Coming, believers come back to earth with Christ, 1 Thess. 3:13; Col. 3:4;, 2 Thess 4:13; Zech. 14:5

There is no timetable for the Rapture

The Second Coming is seven years after the Rapture, Matt. 24:29-30

Believers are rewarded. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; Rev. 22:12

Unbelievers are judged at the Second Coming; the Baptism of Fire takes place, Matt. 25:31,32,46

The Rapture is a source of comfort to the believer, 1 Thess. 4:18

The Second Coming of Christ is a source of terror for the unbeliever, Rev. 6:15-17

There are no changes in nature associated with the Rapture

There are many changes in nature associated with the Second Coming, Isa. 35

The world is not judged at the Rapture.

The people of the world are judged, Jude 15

The Rapture is a mystery of the Church Age, 1 Cor. 15:51

The Second Coming is the subject of extensive prophecy in the Old Testament.

The unconditional covenants such as those with Abraham and David are not fulfilled at the Rapture.

The covenants are fulfilled at the Second Coming; Israel inherits her possessions.

There is no dealing with Satan or demons at the Rapture.

At the Second Coming, Satan is bound for a thousand years, Rev. 20:2.

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Servants and Slaves in Palestine

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Some people, called hirelings, were employed for wages in ancient Palestine (Job 7:1; 14:6; Mark 1:20). But most of the servants of the Israelites, as well as those of other eastern peoples of Old Testament times, were slaves or indentured servants. Men and women who were held as property for various reasons and for various lengths of time. Some slaves were bought from neighboring nations or from foreign residents of Canaan. Some were captives taken in war. Some were children of slaves who were born in the house of the master. A slave might himself be a Hebrew who, through poverty, sold himself into servitude until he got back on his feet.

Slavery among the Hebrews was usually a mild and merciful system. The Bible, while it recognizes that slavery exists, does not approve or disapprove of the practice. Numerous standards were set up in the Law for the regulation of slavery and servitude, with laws which regulated both the conditions and the duration of the bondage.

One source of slavery was absolutely forbidden. It was punishable by death to steal or kidnap a human being for the purpose of making him a slave or to sell him to someone else as a slave. This regulation applied to Israelite and foreigner alike.

Deut. 24:7, “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and makes merchandise of him, or sells him; then that thief shall die; and you shall put evil away from among you.”

 

Exo. 21:16, “And he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall be surely put to death.”

 

The Treatment of Servants

Each Israelite was considered to be a servant of God. Therefore, he was not to be treated as a bond servant, but as a hired worker; and his master was to rule over him with kindness.

Lev. 25:39-41, “And if thy brother that dwells by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond servant; But as a hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.”

There were several ways that a Hebrew could become the servant of his brethren:

  • The Israelite, through poverty, might become unable to manage his own affairs or to maintain himself as an independent citizen. In this case he might pass by sale under the power of another. The passage in Lev. 25:39 ff, which lays down the law in these matters, does not imply that such a sale was compulsory. It is understood to mean that the individual sold himself or rather, he sold the rights to his labor to another Jew, so that he might be able to earn subsistence for himself and his family.
  • A Hebrew who had been convicted of theft was required to make restitution to the extent of at least double the value of the amount stolen if the stolen property itself was recovered. In other cases he was to pay four or five times as much as he stole also note the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8. If the thief could not make the required restitution, he was sold for his theft and he made restitution by his labor.

Exod. 22:1-3, “If a man shall steal …If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”

  • Children of a Hebrew servant became, by condition of their birth, became servants of the master (Exod. 21:4).
  • When a man was claimed personally by a creditor, his children were usually sold into bondage with him. While the impoverished man might sell himself into servitude, it was only to work off his debt until the jubilee year. 2 Kings 4:1; Neh. 5:5; Isa. 50:1; Job 24:9.

Every Israelite, male or female, who had become a slave, might be redeemed at any time by relatives or friends by the payment of what was owed. In any case, even if he were not redeemed, he was to be released after six years of service; and he was to be given a present of food and cattle (Exod. 21:2; Deut. 15:12-14). If he brought a wife into service with him, she was to be freed with him. However, if his master had provided him with a wife, the master could require the wife to stay when the man left. The children of such a marriage stayed with the master (Exod. 21:3; Jer. 34:8 ff).
If the Hebrew servant, for love of his wife and children or other reason, preferred not to accept freedom in the seventh year or when his obligation was completed, he was brought before the elders of the community and had his ear pierced as a token of his willingness to give life long servitude to his master (Exod. 21:6; Deut. 15:17).

If a Jew were to become the slave of a Gentile, the servitude could be terminated in two ways. First, it could be terminated by the arrival of the year of jubilee. Second, the servant could be released by payment to the master of the purchase price less the value of the services rendered, based upon the pay scale of a hired laborer (Lev. 25:47-54).

During the time that the slave was possessed by his master, the master had certain power of disposing of him as he would other articles of personal property. He could, for example, leave the servant to his heirs. The servant was said to have a certain monetary value, that is, his labor had a money value; but he was not supposed to be thought of as chattel.

A slave could be freed in one of four ways:

  • By redemption through the payment of money or goods.
  • By manumission, a bill or ticket of freedom issued by the master.
  • By testamentary disposition; the master could specify that the slave was to be freed upon the master’s death, for example.
  • By any act that implied that the slave was a free citizen, such as making an heir of one’s slave.

The Law had several means for the protection of slaves or servants. A servant was entitled to full religious privilege and access to all religious functions and practices, such as sacrifices, Passover and other feasts, circumcision, etc. He was to be given a day of rest on the Sabbath. He was to receive his liberty if the case of some grievous injury such as loss of eye or limb. See other passages: Gen. 17:12; Exod. 12:44; 20:11; 21:20, 26, 27; Lev. 24:17, 22; Deut. 5:14 ff; 12:12, 18.

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Faithfulness of God

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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.”

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Happiness

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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.

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Doctrine of Preaching

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Definition and Etymology

The word “preach” is found in many places in the New Testament (KJV); however, it has been translated from several different Greek words. For example, in 1 Cor. 1:17, the phrase “preach the Gospel” comes from eujaggelivzw (euangelidzo); while in 1 Cor. 1:18 we see the phrase “the preaching of the cross”. You can see that the translators took some liberties with their use of the word “preach”.

The Greek verb κειρυσω (keiruso) was commonly used in ancient times to refer to public proclamation or public teaching, and there are many NT verses where it is found. A complete listing can be found in a Greek concordance.

The noun κειρυξ (keirux) refers to the “proclaimer; publisher; messenger” who is making the proclamation. Thus,

1 Tim. 2:7, “Whereunto I (Paul) am ordained a preacher (keirux), and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (Likewise in 2 Tim. 1:11)

In 2 Pet. 2:5, Abraham is called a “preacher (keirux) of righteousness”.

The word keirux was used in several ways in ancient times. The keirux was a “publisher”, or “herald”, in the sense that he would broadcast important news to townspeople. The person making official proclamations or announcements to the public was called keirux, a sort of town cryer.

A man assigned to carry messages between enemies on a battlefield was also called keirux.

The message of the keirux is the κειρυγμα (keirugma). The keirugma is what was given to the keirux to proclaim. The originator of the message may have been a battlefield officer or a public official.

In the Bible, the keirux is the preacher, the keirugma is his message, and keiruso is the act of preaching.

The English word “preaching” would be correct if it were used in its primary etymological sense of “proclaiming before the public”, the meaning which is derived from the Latin,praedicere. However, the modern use of “delivering a moral discourse or religious message of any kind and in any manner” does not give the meaning of keirugma. There is no finger-pointing or arm waving in keirugma.

Scripture References Using keirugma

In Matt. 12:41 and Luke 11:32, Jonah’s message to the Ninevites is called keirugma . Jonah’s job was to proclaim God’s message of salvation in the Assyrian capital.

1 Cor. 1:17-22, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel (euangelidzw): not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

For the preaching (logos) of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

For it is written, I will destroy the wis­dom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

[Note: to “stop the mouths” of those who are opposed (Titus 1:9-11), the Lord employs preachers to bring an unusual message.]

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness (morias) of preaching (keirugma) to save them that believe.

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

But we preach (keiruso) Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Cor. 2:1-10

Titus 1:3

Principles of keirugma

  1. The emphasis of **keirugma** is on the message. Someone in authority, who has something to communicate, gives the message to a messenger, the **keirux**, preacher, who passes the information on to someone else, usually in a public setting. It is expected that there will be attentive hearers who will be receptive to the message and who expect to derive some benefit from the message.
  2. The messenger does not proclaim his own viewpoint, his own political opinions, his own grievances. The message is another person’s communication. The public proclamation is not the platform for him to expound his own theories, to support his side in a debate, talk about his own projects, or get things off his chest. The **keirux** does not call the people together for an important proclamation, then, instead, lecture them on some private matter not associated with the real message.
  3. The Bible teacher gets his **keirugma** from God Himself, as revealed in the Word of God. Correct preaching is done by making the message clear to the people who are listening to the proclamation. Public teaching protects the privacy of the believer. Confining himself to the message, the preacher does not unduly influence the listeners with personality dynamics or bullying techniques. The listener can accept or reject the message in private.

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Hope

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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

  • an eternal inheritance, 1 Pet. 1:4,5
  • the new home in the future, John 14:1-3
  • the resurrection body, 1 Cor. 15:51-57

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

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The Christian at Work

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Titus 2:9, 10, “Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not stealing, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

These verses show in capsule form the principles which are to govern the everyday life of a Christian who is an employee and who wants to be a witness for Christ on the job.

A Christian operates on grace principles. He is gracious. He gives evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He uses Bible techniques such as faith rest, walking in fellowship, occupation with Christ, to make it through each day producing divine good.

A Christian does his job as though Christ himself were boss as unto the Lord. He does a more than a day’s work for a day’s pay. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave. He takes sick leave only when sick. He does not cheat on break time, lunch, etc. He works diligently, cheerfully, enthusiastically and without complaining.

Using faith rest principles, a Christian trusts the Lord for salary and promotion, status. He is aware that only God knows how much prosperity he should have and when he should be promoted. He rejoices when others get ahead as evidence of the grace of God in their lives even when they do not deserve it.

A Christian is modest, self-effacing, supportive of others, cooperative. He realizes that he is there to be used by the Lord, not only as an employee, but also as a witness for Christ.

The believer’s personal life, social life, family life are happy and stable so that they enhance his work life rather than hinder him on the job.

He exercises grace principles, recognizes fellow workers as objects of God’s grace, does not bear grudges and forgives readily. Every day is a new day. He does not contribute to office gossip or politics, because he has no need to build his success on someone else’s failure.

He waits patiently for the opportunity for verbal witness, which is almost certain to present itself. The stage has been set for a vital witness by his life witness which others have been able to observe.

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Bitterness

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Bitterness is one of the most crushing mental problems in a person’s life. When a Christian is bitter, there is a loss of close fellowship with the Lord and a hindrance in one’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Bitterness causes a loss of many of the blessings of the normal Christian life, including emotional stability, peace and joy. Bitterness results in the loss of production of good works like gold, silver and precious stones which are a major source of blessing and reward in the plan of God.

Bitterness is a devastating mental attitude sin, and it triggers a wide range of other sins, such as:

  • Hatred Cruelty Antagonism Self-pity Unteachableness or implacability
  • Vindictiveness and desires for revenge Prideful ambition or arrogance

Bitterness is neither consistent nor rational. A bitter person is his own worst enemy. It is very difficult to maintain any kind of relationship with a chronically bitter person; and bitterness is a major contributing cause of marital and family problems.

The objective in this short article is to provide Christians with a thorough look at what the Bible says about bitterness, including many scripture examples, then to offer some direction about how to have victory over bitterness.

There are quite a few companion studies in the Grace Notes library which can help identify the mental attitude sin of bitterness and help deal with it from divine viewpoint.

Definition

In English, the concept of mental bitterness comes from the idea of something that has a sharp or unpleasant taste. We speak of something being bitter if it causes grief or is hard to bear; a bitter defeat, bitter failure. We also speak of a bitter loss when someone’s death has caused great grief.

Then, bitterness has come to be used of those things that cause pain or grief, such as bitter remarks or the actions of bitter enemies. We say “he fought to the bitter end”, meaning a struggle in the last extremity.

The biblical Greek words for bitterness are PIKROS = “bitter” and PIKRIA = “bitterness”, and other derivatives. PIKROS originally meant “sharp”, or “pointed”. Then it was used more generally for anything that was penetrating to the senses, something that had a pervasive smell or a shrill noise. PIKRIA was used for the bitterness of the taste of some plants, and finally found use in speaking of personal experience when something was unpleasant, undesirable, or when something bad was unexpected.

The words PIKROS or PIKRIA are used about 40 times in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), only rarely to refer to literal bitterness, such as the reference to bitter water in Exo. 15:23. Usually it is a reference to men who are (pikroi) the bitter ones when they are soured or cruel (Ruth 1:20; Hab. 1:6).

There are seven instances of these words in the New Testament: Matt. 26:75; Luke 22:62; Acts 8:23; Rom. 3:14; Eph. 4:31; James 3:11, 14.

So, in the Bible, except when it is obvious that the actual taste of something in meant, PIKRIA refers to intensity of suffering of mind and body, something that is difficult to bear, something that causes animosity and reaction, something that is brought about by hatred or antagonism.

Bible Examples of Bitterness
  • Women are bitter because they cannot have children, 1 Sam 1:10.
  • A foolish son is bitterness to his mother, Prov. 17:25.
  • Divine discipline or chastisement of the Jewish people caused bitterness. This demonstrates the weakness and failure of the people. Bitterness destroyed the people’s spiritual lives. The Jews brought on self-destruction by their bitterness.
  • Lam. 1:4; Amos 8:10; Ezek. 27:30; Isa. 33:7; 2 Kings 14:26.
  • Slavery causes bitterness, Exo. 1:14.
  • Suffering causes bitterness to people who do not understand the Bible’s problem solving devices and principles, and who do not give number one priority to their relationship with God. Deut. 32:24.
  • Ridicule is a source of bitterness, Lam 3:14. The people ridiculed Jeremiah because of their bitterness toward him. When truth is taught, people sometimes react in bitterness.
  • Consummate human pride is a cause of bitterness, Acts 8:23.
  • Degeneracy is a source of bitterness, Rom. 3:14.
  • Personal choice is a source of bitterness, Eph. 4:31.
  • Husbands and wives are a source of bitterness toward each other, Col 3:19.
The Results of Bitterness
  • Bitterness is antisocial. A bitter person is selfish, inconsiderate of others, withdrawn from society, indifferent or adverse to conformity with conventional standards of social behavior. Even strangers avoid bitter people, Prov. 14:10. No one is happy around bitter people.
  • Bitterness is a sign of the spiritual life gone wrong, Jer. 2:19.
  • A bitter person rejects Bible teaching. James 3:14, “But if you have bitter jealousy and strife, stop being arrogant and lying against the truth.
  • Bitterness shows total lack of grace orientation. A bitter person does not understand the plan of God, let alone how it affects individuals.
  • In Job 9:17-18, Job’s complaint against God, “Why does God let this happen to me?,” is a statement of bitterness.
  • Bitterness accompanies the sin unto death, Job 21:25.
  • Bitterness motivates complaining, Job 7:11, 10:1. People who habitually complain are bitter people; they have no self esteem.
  • Bitterness motivates gossip, Psalm 64:3.
  • Bitterness fragments other peoples lives. Heb 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled;
  • Bitterness is self induced misery, and it produces chain sinning.
  • Bitterness is misery to others in the periphery. But two wrongs never make a right. You cannot build your happiness on someone else’s unhappiness.
Recovery from Bitterness

Isa. 38:17, “Behold, bitterness became deliverance to me. In Your love You have delivered my soul out of the pit of destruction; for You have cast all my sins behind my back.”

Ephesians 1:8 tells us that we have available to us wisdom and prudence which are part of God’s grace provision for us. Wisdom comes with a thorough understanding of Bible doctrine and the principles of Christian living. Prudence is the practical use of applied Bible truth in making decisions and solving problems in this life.

You can use the following practical methods to deal with bitterness in your life, regardless of the cause.

Many of these topics are discussed in considerably more detail in other Grace Notes articles, but this outline will give you ideas on how you can make specific application of doctrine to help with real world problems.

Confession of Sin

Personal sin leads to bitterness. 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.

1 John 1:9 states that when you confess your sins, God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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

When you have unconfessed sin in your life, the Holy Spirit is grieved or quenched. But the Holy Spirit fills you and controls your life when you have no unconfessed sin in your life. This is why confession of sins is so important.

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, bitterness, discouragement, disillusion, anguish, sadness, dejection or loss of productivity. Consider these points:

  • Love is free from bitterness.
  • Joy pushes bitterness out.
  • Bitterness can not coexist with peace in the soul of the believer filled with the Holy spirit.
  • Long suffering gives the ability to deal with bitterness and other troubles.
  • Gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance are fruits of
  • righteousness, which is divine good. Divine good takes the place of bitterness.
Living in the Word

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

Furthermore, there is a continuous cleansing taking placed. See especially Ephesians 5 for how the Lord Jesus uses the word to cleanse believers.

Orientation to Grace

Bitterness 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 others better than yourself, to do nothing through strife or vainglory.

Occupation with Christ

The technique of occupation with Christ helps to cure bitterness 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. Bitterness is a by product of occupation with self, with life, with problems.

The Faith-Rest Life or Trusting God and Enjoying the Peace which Results

Faith rest is 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.

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The Characteristics of Weaker Brethren

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[Please read Romans chapter 14 before going through the discussion in this article].

Romans 14 has a splendid description of the characteristics of a legalistic person who is called the weaker brother. This is a great passage about how to think grace toward someone who does something obnoxious or unspiritual.

Remember, we all have areas of weakness.

You may be the stronger believer in some of your areas of strength and a weaker brother in areas of weakness.

The idea in both cases is to avoid legalism and judgmentalism.

The strong believer in Romans 14 is mature, oriented to grace, the plan of God, occupied with Christ and operates in fellowship most of the time under the power of the Holy Spirit.

The weaker brother has one or more of the following characteristics

  • The weaker brother is disoriented to grace, especially in the area of spirituality and practices one or more forms of legalism.
  • He is not comfortable unless he is judging the stronger believer in some gray area of behavior.
  • The weaker brother is strong on scruples, but not well informed about doctrine or divine viewpoint.
  • The weaker brother operations on criteria of feelings, emotions, traditions, experiences, background, instead of Bible truth.
  • The weaker brother operates in the energy of the flesh, producing human good like wood, hay stubble which he thinks is divine good like gold, silver and precious stones.
  • The weaker brother is proud and critical of the strong believer, always judging him.
  • The weaker brother sticks his nose into the affairs of others by gossiping, maligning and judging.
  • The weaker brother likes to set up a mold and try to squeeze everyone into it, so he is a bully.
  • The weaker brother has a guilt complex, so he is emotionally unstable; he is sensitive and demands attention; he is full of self pity and lusts for approbation in his sin nature.
  • The weaker brother is jealous of others and tries to discredit them; he nit picks and condemns the activities and projects of others.
  • The weaker brother is weak because he resists grace doctrines. He can recover quickly by confessing sin, being controlled by the Holy Spirit and pursuing a program of intake of Bible truth which will make him spiritually strong.

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Freedom in the Christian Life

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Romans 8:2

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Here we have two diametrically opposed laws. One that sets free and one that brings sin and death.

APPLICATION: If you were a salesperson and these were the two products you were to sell, which one could you find a buyer for.

Well Christian, that is our product. We can take to a world in bondage a message about a way to be free.

The LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE is the same higher principle of law that James referred to:

James 1:25 “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but aneffectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”

James 2:8 “However, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.”

In Hebrews it is seen as that better hope:

Hebrews 7:18-19 “For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

In II Corinthians 3:3 we find where this law is written: “You are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”

Principles

    1. The law of the Spirit of life is a law found not on tablets of stone but on the heart of the believer.
    2. It is a law possessed by the Holy Spirit.
    3. While normally a law regulates and controls, this law sets free.

II Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

    1. Since the Law of the Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself that law is not to be limited by a ridged system of law of legalism:

II Corinthians 3:6 “Who (God) also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

    1. The Law of the Spirit of life for the believer works in the believer at all times.
    2. We too often think that the Holy Spirit is totally idle when we are out of fellowship and that is not the case:

James 4:5 “Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?”

Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

  1. We are always free, we are always indwelled by the Holy Spirit, but to enjoy the benefits of freedom and the power and ministries of the Spirit we must be in fellowship, F/HS.
  2. And we are the Holy Spirit works in us continually cleansing us, conforming us, to the image and character of Christ.

As Paul comes out of the struggle of Romans 7, the great declaration of this new Law of the Spirit of life is . . . FREEDOM.

Now back in Romans 6:7 Paul stated: “For he who has died is freed from sin.” That was the positional death we have at the moment of salvation. There Paul uses the word JUSTIFIED which is a legal term for being set free from any indictment of law.

Here, in Romans 8:2 the word for freedom is not a legal word but a word that looks at the function of freedom.

The means of freedom back in Romans 6:7 was the baptism of the Holy Spirit wherein we were united with Christ in His death. Here the means of freedom is the Holy Spirit but His continual working in the believer’s life.

The verb SET FREE is a aorist tense that here looks back at what started at salvation and continues even today. This freedom is related to the three stages of maturity we studied . . . more maturity, more freedom.

It is a freedom that allow the one who is free to be independent and in that independence submit, to act out of his or her free will to serve God.

Some Passages that Describe our Freedom:

Romans 8:21 “That the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

Nature, the environment, will one day be as free as you, the believer. I toss that in because we think of being as free as nature? Nature, to personify it, wants to be as free as we are.

Since the beginning of the church there are those who cannot stand the freedom the believer has:

I Corinthians 10:29 “For why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?”

Also Galatians 2:4 the Jerusalem Council: But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.

We are to maintain freedom so as to not be brought back into any ridged system:

Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

We are to use our freedom to minister to others: Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

We must not let it become a stumbling block: I Corinthians 8:9 “But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Peter touches on this also in I Peter 2:16 “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.”

The Holy Spirit as the agent of freedom in the life of the believer uses the word of God to define this freedom: John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The objective of the CCL, however, is not freedom, it is what you will do with your freedom.

Peter talked of those who promised freedom: II Peter 2:19 “Promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”

The Law of the Spirit of Life sets us free from sin and from death so that we can function in that freedom, free from bondage, serving God and serving others.

Jesus Christ set the precedent for our freedom:

    1. Jesus Christ set the precedent at the cross. He was free to reject the cross, but He recognized the Father’s authority and became obedient even unto death,

Hebrews 5:8 “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”

Philippians 2:8 “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled

    Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”.

  1. The Lord Jesus Christ was totally obedient. His obedience at the cross results in our spiritual freedom.
  2. The application to us is that we need to exercise our volition towards self-discipline and consistently use our freedom for the learning, thinking, and applying of Bible doctrine.

We are free in the Spirit and that means we are free to live the Christ Centered life in freedom, not bondage, serving God and others out of our freedom.

LET ME GIVE YOU A RULE: If as you as progressing in your spiritual life, you are moving to greater bondage and law, there is a problem. If however you are moving towards greater freedom and grace, you are on the right track.

One is rigid and therefore predictable and comfortable.

But the only the other can lead you to places you never imagined, never even dreamed of, could not even hope for.

This freedom from the law of the Sin Nature and its resulting spiritual death is what Paul struggled against in Romans 7. He could not free himself from it, but now the Holy Spirit has come onto the stage, taken center stage, and given that freedom.

Again, this is functional. Positional freedom was the issue in Romans 6:3-11. Now we are into the living of the spiritual life.

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