Tag Archives: Christian Living

Teaching in the Local Church

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Introduction

Eph. 4:15,16 provides a concise description of a mature, productive local church.

  • “Speaking the truth in love,
  • we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,
  • 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.”

The mature local church is made up of mature believers who work together to fulfill the Plan of God and the Christian mission.

The Local Church’s Mission

The local church’s mission includes the following activities:

Worship as a local assembly – “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together”

Evangelism – the winning of people to the Christian faith. “He that winneth souls is wise…”

Edification – “Feed the church of God …” “Feed the flock”

Training – “Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman …”

Service – Attention to the details of encouragement and support of everyone in the body of Christ.

The local church’s mandate, then, is to maintain an organizational structure for the purpose of meeting God’s requirements for worship, evangelism, edification, and the development of skilled workers to carry out the work associated with the stated mission.

We are to worship “in Spirit and in truth”. The work of the local church must be carried out in the presence of the Holy Spirit, with His control, and through His total ministry of teaching, convicting, and controlling. The work of the local church must center in and deal exclusively with the Bible, the Word of God. The revealed Word of God, the “mind of Christ” is the only effective tool for learning what God’s will is and carrying it out.

Therefore, the main daily work of the pastor and members of a local church is to provide a maximum of high quality Bible teaching, in sufficient quantity to allow believers to make rapid progress in the Christian Way of Life. The main activity of the local church, apart from prayer and worship, is Bible teaching

To meet the teaching requirements of the church’s mission, the following are required:

  1. A well-defined strategy for providing the teaching needs of the church.
  2. A mature set of plans for developing and carrying out a teaching program.
  3. Execution of the plans by assigning and employing people to the work, setting schedules, and putting the plans in motion

The Church’s Teaching Ministry

2 Tim. 2:1,2 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

Bible study has four main components:

Bible Analysis – exegesis and exposition. The process of dissecting a passage of Scripture into its component parts (vocabulary, syntax, grammar) in order to learn as well as possible the meaning (interpretation) of the passage.

Topical Development – categorization. Briefly, the process of determining the meaning of words and concepts found in a passage of scripture by searching the whole Bible for clues, explanations, and illustrations of the subject under study.

Historical Study – The process of studying the social history of the people and cultures in the context of the Bible passage, and the language history of the text, to learn as much as possible about the text, as used colloquially in the time in which it was written, and to learn how the text was applied to the people living in that time and place.

Correlation of Categorical Doctrine – This involves the gathering together of groups of related doctrinal studies that deal with specific subject areas of application.

With these things in mind, a local church can design a comprehensive Bible teaching curriculum which will meet the needs of all age groups as they grow in Christ. Such a curriculum will contain components such as the following:

Bible Studies

Include:

  • Verse by verse expositional studies of books of the Bible
  • Studies of Bible topics regarding salvation, stability in the Christian way of life, and spiritual production
  • Survey studies: Old Testament survey, New Testament survey, life of Christ, Acts and Life/Epistles of Paul, etc.

Historical Studies

  • Survey of Ancient History (early times to Byzantine Empire)
  • Survey of Hebrew History (in Bible light)
  • History of major mid-Eastern world powers – Egypt, Assyria, Sumer, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Hittites, Greece, Rome
  • History of Judea
  • History of the Jewish religion and practices
  • Detailed history of the period from 100 BC to 100 AD
  • American History (from Christian viewpoint), American and state government
  • Law – short courses in “legal research” or “orientation to law and the courts”

Studies in Preparation for Teaching

  • Biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, etc.), introductory and advanced.
  • Hermeneutics and exegesis
  • Use of reference materials: concordances (English, Greek, Hebrew); Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias; commentaries; systematic theology studies
  • Development of expertise in preparing Bible studies
  • English grammar and composition
  • Public speaking
  • Christian literature (non-fiction)
  • Bible lesson development and organization
  • Use of parallel passages
  • How to find and use illustrations
  • How to determine and teach appropriate applications

Such a curriculum is very ambitious and will require several years for any individual to complete. But when this effort is compared to the requirements for obtaining a high school diploma or college degre e, the eternal results to be gained certainly make the work of organization, teaching, and study worthwhile.

Doctrinal Studies (Partial Listing)

The following is a partial listing of the doctrinal topics to be covered in a comprehensive Bible teaching ministry. These topics can be considered the essential “fundamentals” for any believer who is motivated to move toward spiritual maturity.

Salvation Doctrines

Grace Mental Attitude of God

Blood of Christ

Barrier Doctrines (Propitiation, Reconciliation, Redemption)

Salvation and Positional Truth

Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat

Imputation

Regeneration

Sin and the Penalty of Sin

Heaven and Hell

Faith

Adoption

Resurrection and Ascension of Christ

Christian Life Techniques

Confession of Sin

Faith Rest

Living in the Word

Occupation with Christ

Orientation to Grace

Spirituality vs Carnality

Divine Viewpoint vs Human Viewpoint

The Lord’s Supper

Baptism

Judgment and Judging

Justice of God

Divine Guidance and the Plan of God

Forgiveness

Christian Giving

Inheritance

Royal Family

Love

Repentance

Sanctification

Spiritual Adultery and Worldliness

Suffering – Deserved and Undeserved

Divine Discipline for Nations and Individuals

Stability Doctrines – Christian Life Foundations

Essence of God

Salvation Doctrines (the believer at the moment of salvation; 36 Things)

Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ

Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

Sin and the Sin Nature

Mental Attitude

Volition: The Will of Man

The Soul

Positional Truth

Marriage

Grace

Law and Legalism

Privacy

Works: Dead and Alive

The Faith System of Learning Divine Viewpoint

Edification

Productivity Doctrines

Grace in Production

Holy Spirit: spiritual gifts, power

Friendships

Personal Evangelism

Local Church – organization and work

Spiritual Testing and Suffering as a witness

Christian Missions

Divine Institutions

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Workers, Qualifications for Christian

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The following qualifications apply to anyone who is going into Christian service in some capacity to minister to others. These criteria particularly apply to those who take up Christian work as a vocation, such as pastors, evangelists, teachers, or missionaries.

  • The Christian worker must be born again and he must understand the Plan of God in all of its phases.
  • He must exercise his spiritual gift, such as that of pastor, evangelist, teacher, helps, governments, or other gift. The spiritual gift is a divine enabling for service given at the time of salvation and developed through intensive preparation.
  • He must be spiritually mature in the sense of being familiar with the whole counsel of God’s Word both by academic understanding and by application in his own life.
  • He must have spiritual endurance.

Maturity and the ability to do God’s work comes through years of study of God’s Word and practice in using doctrinal principles. Following is a review of the doctrinal ideas found in 2 Timothy 2:15.

Study — from the Greek word σπουδαζω (spoudzo) meaning “to be industrious, eager, to be diligent, to exert oneself”. It has a stronger meaning than “study”. It is actually connotes a way of life which includes the proper mental attitude and motivation to learn Bible doctrine daily. This word could be translated “make every effort”. And it is a command.

to show yourself or, “to make every effort to represent yourself…”. It means to make every effort to concentrate, to be objective to doctrine. to give priority to the Word of God. The reason that you are entering the Lord’s work is to live the life of Christ.

approve” — “to pass an exam”. δοκιμος (dokimos) The emphasis is on success, not failure. To be a successful Christian worker, you must study (Test #1), and you must use what you study (Test #2).

Can you teach to the glory of God? The test is on the accuracy of what you teach.

Can you work to the Glory of God? The test comes when you apply, whether you use Grace or legalism, whether you depend upon man or God.

Can you fix a car, iron a shirt, type a letter to the glory of God? The test is on whether you know how to do this.

workman” — ἐργατης (ergateis), an agricultural worker, a laborer, a routine worker. This word indicates one who is involved in the mundane, routine, ordinary, distasteful, or dull things in life. In the ancient world it meant feeding the cattle, working in the fields, cleaning out the barn, etc. Many people want to do great things for God, to get written up in articles, to get peer recognition for accomplishments.

Some people think that leading someone to Christ is more spiritual than giving a cup of cold water in the Lord’s name. But this is wrong! Any task can be done as unto the Lord; the Christian life is fantastic. The emphasis here is on doing small, routine things as unto the Lord. Stay in fellowship and wait for God’s promotion.

needeth not to be ashamed — literally, with the previous word, “a not–ashamed workman”. You don’t have to be ashamed of your station in life if you have an honest vocation. Every believer is in full time service. A Christian worker must keep grace oriented and not despise the ordinary things, or those who live an “ordinary” life. And he must have these qualities before moving out.

rightly dividing with the word of truth. — to cut straight, to line out a straight path. Use Bible doctrine to keep from straying into the cults, into the movements, to stay with accurate interpretation and application of the Word of God. This enables a life with no detours, no hangups, no blind alleys. Therefore, the verse says, “Making every effort to represent yourself approved to God, an irreproachable worker cutting a straight path with the Word of Truth.”

The Christian worker must also be able to stand the test of negative volition on the part of those he is reaching. READ Acts 13. Nothing tests the Christian worker more than a lack of response. Paul began his first missionary journey about ten years after he was saved, when he was mature. He ran into negative volition and corrected the situation with the direct approach (Acts 13:6-13).

Religion always has negative volition attached to it, as we see in this context. The religious people were filled with envy, jealous of Paul getting a hearing. They fabricated lies and began a vicious campaign of gossip and maligning. They “spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul”. They spoke against doctrine; they didn’t like Christ being called the Messiah; they didn’t like Paul’s authoritative teaching. They were the religious bosses and controlled everything religious in the town.

Paul and Barnabas “waxed bold” – that is, they spoke dogmatically with authority and confidence. He said, “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you (Jews)”, but they ran into negative volition, “but seeing you put if from you”. So Paul and Barnabas left and went to a place of positive volition (13:46-49) and had great results.

In Acts 15, they ran into the problem of negative volition on the part of believers, toward doctrine taught categorically (Circumcision). The believers were dragging works into God’s plan of Grace. The Christian worker must understand the doctrine of volition, both positive and negative aspects.

A Christian worker must also possess spiritual endurance. The idea is expressed in 2 Tim. 4:7,8 as having iron in the soul, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Or. “Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Prov. 27:17).

The enemy of spiritual endurance is “brittleness in the soul”, as seen in Jer. 13:8‑14. In the ancient world they understood how a dried out wineskin would shatter. This passage is talking about the disintegration of the soul of an individual, like Prov. 6:32. The soul becomes brittle when the believer fails to respond to doctrine and either goes into idolatry or sexual sins. The believer drinks the jug of the foam of this life and not only does the jug shatter in his face but so does his soul. It is part of the frantic search for happiness of the person who has received some prosperity, like Solomon who prospered materially but found nothing to satisfy himself (Ecclesiastes).

Brittleness in the soul can become a way of life, like the nation which goes into terrible judgment (Jer. 13:19). This is the pursuit of success and happiness apart from God’s Plan and provision. A brittle soul has not been fulfilled by the Lord and His Word. Instead of Grace orientation, the believer with a brittle soul has legalism, self-righteousness, pride, super sensitivity, human viewpoint, self-justification, a critical and irritable spirit, and accepts no authority but his own.

Instead of being a master of the details of life, the details master him, so he seeks satisfaction with cheap substitutes. Instead of having a relaxed mental attitude, the brittle soul has mental attitude sins: bitterness, jealousy, hatred, cruelty. Instead of a capacity for personal and impersonal love, the brittle soul has pseudo-love, a sickly sweet love accompanied by boredom and instability. Instead of perfect happiness, the brittle soul has depression, frustration, and accepts instant stimulation followed by instant misery. This condition is the opposite of spiritual endurance and has destroyed many Christian workers in all parts of the world.

The mechanics of obtaining spiritual endurance are simple, salvation plus edification. Stability and endurance come through the daily intake of the Word of God accompanied by the continuous filling of the Holy Spirit and application of doctrine to the life through faith. Eph. 4:1-13.

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The Christian Walk

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Besides the examples of physical walking in the Bible, there are many references to two types of spiritual walking:

  • Walking which is advancing in the Christian life through the use of divine power, and
  • Walking in evil or controlled by the sin nature and using human energy, results in stagnation, retrogression or backsliding.

So, in walking, a Christian is either advancing or retreating. To advance, a believer must walk according to God’s plan, stay in fellowship and grow in Christ. To retreat in the spiritual life is to reside in Satan’s cosmic system.

Therefore, walking denotes many functions, both pro and con, in the spiritual life.

New Testament Words for Walking

The Greek word (peripatew) means to walk or to walk around. It is used for literal walking in Matt. 4:18. But peripatew is used primarily for the function of the plan of God in the church age in such passages as:

Rom. 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk (peripatew) in newness of life.”

Gal. 5:16, 17, “But I say, walk (peripatew) by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 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.”

Eph. 4:1, 2, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk (peripatew) in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,”

Eph. 5:1, 2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk (peripatew) in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

The spiritual walk of believers who are out of fellowship is described in the following:

1 Cor. 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking (peripatew) like mere men?”

Phil. 3:17-19, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk (peripatew) according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk (peripatew), of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”

The way of life of an unbeliever is also described by the word walk:

Eph. 2:1-3, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked (peripatew) according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Col. 3:5-7, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked (peripatew), when you were living in them.”

The Greek word (stoichew) means to march in step; to march in rank; to walk in agreement with; to function in a system; to follow a leader from the ranks. It is used in the New Testament primarily for functioning under God’s plan and advancing in that plan to spiritual maturity.

Gal. 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk (stoichew) by the Spirit.”

Stoichew is used for the pattern of salvation by faith in Christ also called walking by faith.

Rom. 4:11, 12, “and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps (stoichew) of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.”

Stoichew is used for following the rules of the new spiritual life in

Gal. 6:16, “And those who will walk (stoichew) by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

Phil. 3:16, “however, let us keep living by that same standard (stoichew) to which we have attained.”

The word poreuomai) means to go; to proceed; to travel; to conduct oneself in a certain manner; to live; to walk. It is used for national degeneration:

Acts 14:16, “And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go poreuomai) their own ways;”

It is used for the carnal life pattern of the unbeliever:

1 Pet. 4:3, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued poreuomai) a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”

Jude 16-18, “These are grumblers, finding fault, following after poreuomai) their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after poreuomai) their own ungodly lusts.“”

See also 2 Pet. 2:10

It is used for occupation with the person of Jesus Christ on the part of believers:

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

The Greek (anastrephw) originally meant in the Attic Greek to upset; to overrun; to associate. Its figurative meaning was to behave or to function in terms of human conduct. It was also used for the practice of principles.

In the Bible, anastrephw is used for the conduct and the lifestyle of the unbeliever in Eph. 2:3.

It is used for motivation for Christian integrity.

Heb. 13:18, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct (anastrephw) ourselves honorably in all things.”

It is used for the operation of the sin nature.

Eph. 4:22, “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside (anastrephw) the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,”

It is used for life and conduct in Christian way of life.

2 Pet. 3:11, 12, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct (anastrephw) and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”

The Greek word (orthopedew) means to walk straight. It is used for legalistic modus operandi and resultant hypocrisy in Gal. 2:14; in other words, they were not walking straight.

Walking in the Light vs. Walking in Darkness

Walking in the light is a term used specifically for the believer’s execution of God’s will, plan and purpose for the church age. The concept of walking in the light is found in Eph. 5:8, “You were once in darkness , but now you are light in the Lord. Begin walking (peripatew) as children of light.”

This command is a reference to experiential sanctification. Walking in the light is synonymous for the Christian way of life.

Just as walking in the darkness is incompatible with walking in light, so Christian degeneracy is incompatible with the plan of God.

Walking in the light is compatible with the status of being in the light. Walking in darkness is not compatible with the status of being in the light. A Christian walking in darkness is degenerate, whether moral, immoral or both.

The command to walk in the light means that God intends for a Christian to be filled with the Spirit and to learn the word of God under the filling of the Spirit.

The Lord Jesus is our precedent for walking in the light:

1 John 2:6, “The person who says he abides in Him, he himself ought to keep walking in the same manner as He walked.”

Our example for the Christian walk is the Lord Jesus Christ during the His life on earth, not the walk of Old Testament believers.

Walking as children of light means we are to become spiritually mature believers.

The power for walking comes from using the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside, Gal. 5:16, walk by means of the Spirit. This is a command to remain in fellowship with God the Holy Spirit. Being in fellowship is the only way we can execute God’s plan.

Walking describes the purpose of living in the operational will of God to glorify God in the church age.

We are commanded in 1 Thess. 2:12, “so that you may walk in a manner worthy of God who elected you into His kingdom and glory.” This is a general reference to the fulfillment of the plan of God.

If we are going to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord after we believe in Christ, then we must be filled with the Spirit, and continually expose ourselves to the teaching of the word of God.

If we do all of this, then we fulfill 1 John 1:7, “If we keep walking in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

The challenge of walking in the light is found in Rom. 6:4, “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism, in order that as Christ has been raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so that we too might walk in newness of life.”

  • Walking in newness of life means we walk in the light of the word of God.
  • We walk in newness of life because we are in union with Christ.
  • Walking in newness of life means using all of the assets God has provided for us: the availability of divine power; the indwelling of the Trinity; our portfolio of spiritual blessings; our universal priesthood and ambassadorship, etc.

The faith rest principle is also a mandate for walking. Faith rest exercise provides the poise of the Christian life. Applying faith rest you control your own life under God’s plan for your life.

2 Cor. 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”

Col. 2:6, “As you have received Christ Jesus to yourselves, so keep walking by means of Him.”

The concept of walking is used for the function of problem solving in the Christian way of life.

Eph. 5:1, 2, “Become imitators of your God as beloved posterity, and begin walking in the sphere of love…”

Learning and using the problem solving devices moves you along in executing the plan of God, which is walking in the light.

Eph. 4:1 ,2, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, encourage you to walk in a manner worthy of your station in life into which you have been called with all humility and true sensitivity with perseverance, tolerate one another by means of love.”

All of these commands to keep walking are commands to keep learning doctrine, to keep advancing spiritually in the Christian way of life.

Walking in Darkness is Related to Satan’s Strategy of Evil

Walking is used as a warning against the cosmic system. John 8:12 is the prophecy of this.

Living in Satan’s system is called walking.

Phil. 3:18, 19, “For many keep walking, concerning whom I have often told you, even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. Whose termination is destruction, whose God is their emotions, whose fame comes by means of dishonor, who keep on thinking about earthly things.”

1 John 1:6, “If we contend that we have fellowship with Him and keep walking in darkness, we lie and do not live the truth.”

1 Cor. 3:3, “For you are still carnal, since there is jealousy and strife. And you keep walking in accordance with men.”

Life in the cosmic system also called evil is called walking in darkness.

John 11:9, 10, “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Eph. 4:17-19, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;”

Walking is Related to Executing God’s Plan.

Eph. 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared in advance that we should be walking by means of them.”

  • At salvation we became His creation, a new spiritual species.
  • We are to walk by means of the things prepared by God for us in eternity past, such as the problem solving devices. The result is divine good: gold, silver, precious stones

Col. 1:9, 10, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

This is the point at which you fulfill all the commands for walking.

Walking is used for a mandate to advance to the objective of spiritual maturity.

1 Thess. 4:1, “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.”

More References to Walking

Walking by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit:

Rom. 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Basic Christian living: we received Christ by faith, so now we walk by faith.

2 Cor. 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”

Col. 2:6, “As you have received Christ Jesus to yourselves, so keep walking in Him.”

Building up momentum in spiritual things:

3 John 4, “I have no greater joy that this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

Eph. 5:16-17, “making the most of you time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”

Col. 1:9, 10, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord , to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Walking related to the application of doctrine:

Col. 4:5, 6, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”

Eph. 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Testing as part of the Christian walk:

Read Rom. 13:13-14; Eph. 4:17; Phil. 3:17-19

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Prophecy Unfulfilled

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The following is a chronological listing of Bible prophecies which remain to be fulfilled in the future.

• The Rapture of the Church (at the beginning of the period of Great Tribulation, seven years before the Second Advent of Christ): 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

• The Revival of the Roman Empire as a ten-nation confederacy: Dan. 7:7,24; Rev. 13:1; 17:3,12,13.

• The rise of a Middle East Dictator: Dan. 7:8; Rev. 13:1-8.

• A peace treaty with Israel (also seven years before the 2nd Advent: Dan. 9:27.

• The World Church established: Rev. 17:1-15.

• The Northern Kingdom attacks Israel (about 4 years before the 2nd Advent): Eze. 38 and 39.

• The peace treaty with Israel is broken; a world government is estab­lished; a world economic system is in place; a world atheistic reli­gion begins (3 1/2 years before the 2nd Advent): Dan. 7:23; Rev. 13:5-8,15-17; 17:16,17.

• Martyrdom of Christians and Jews: Rev. 7:9-17; 13:15.

• Catastrophic divine judgments poured out on the world: Rev. 6 to 18.

• World War (Battle of Armageddon) breaks out in the Middle East: Dan. 11:40-45; Rev. 9:13-21; 16:12-16.

• The Second Advent of Christ: Matt. 24:27-31; Rev. 19:11-21.

• The Judgment of unbelievers (the Baptism by Fire): Eze. 20:33-38; Matt. 25:31-46; Jude 14,15; Rev. 19:15-21; 20:1-4.

• Satan is bound: Rev. 20:1-3

• The Resurrection of the saints: Rev. 20:4.

• The Millennial Kingdom begins: Rev. 20:5,6.

• Revolution at the close of the Millennium: Rev. 20:7-10.

• The Great White Throne Judgment: Rev. 20:11-15.

• Eternity begins with New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem: Rev. 21,22.

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Promotion – Personal advancement in the Bible; if God does not promote you, you’re not promoted!

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Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled. And he who humbles himself shall be promoted.” Everyone who exalts himself refers to the believer involved in self promotion, degeneracy and the lust pattern of the sin nature, the believer with vacuum in the subconscious.

The believer is humbled through the law of volitional responsibility, in which the believer takes the responsibility for his own bad decisions and responds well to divine discipline.

Humbling oneself involves several steps: First, confession of sin resulting in the control of the Holy Spirit; next, intake of Bible teaching through self discipline in study; finally, many decisions to learn and apply doctrine to life.

There are two kinds of humility: self imposed humility and spiritual humility. God only promotes on the basis of spiritual humility. You are not humble because you think you are humble or say you are humble.

James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will promote you.

Spiritual promotion is not related in any way to man promoting himself or being promoted by some other man.. All promotions in the Christian life are completely and totally fair, because all promotion is accomplished by God and God alone.

God does not promote anyone without humility. Humility only comes from knowledge of Bible doctrine and accepting God’s plan even when we do not understand it. You cannot make yourself humble; self-effacement is not humility.

1 Pet. 5:5-6, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble your selves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time.

A humility and grace orientation are always related to grace promotion. This is because with humility comes teachability and from teachability comes doctrinal orientation, and from doctrinal orientation comes grace orientation and execution of the plan of God.

Doctrinal orientation plus grace orientation equals promotion. Promotion implies the execution of the plan of God.

Promotion occurs through the distribution of blessings for both time and eternity by our Lord Jesus Christ. These blessings remain on deposit in heaven forever for every believer and are always available. Eph. 1:3.

Promotion implies that you have become grace oriented, which means he has capacity for every divine blessing associated with promotion. The arrogant believer involved in degeneracy can be classified as one who is in high visibility carnality, a Christian who is self promoting. The arrogance of self promotion results in failure to execute God’s plan.

The believer who lives in the world is always involved in self-promotion. The arrogance of the self promotion results in failure to execute God’s plan. This believer is classified as a loser.

Prov. 16:18, “Arrogance precedes destruction, and before a fall [there is] a lifestyle of destruction.

Prov. 11:2, “When arrogance comes, then comes dishonor. But with the humble there is wisdom.

Prov 29:23, “A person’s arrogance will bring him low, but with the humble is wisdom.

Humility is something you have to acquire. No one is born humble, naturally humble or humbled by their circumstances.

With humility, objectivity, and orientation to authority comes teachability. Teachability means doctrinal orientation. From doctrinal orientation comes grace orientation. Doctrinal orientation plus grace orientation equals promotion.

2 Cor. 10:18, “For not he who promotes [commends] himself is approved, but whom the Lord promotes.

Humility is related to the spiritual skills of the filling of the Holy Spirit; cognition of doctrine; and execution of the protocol plan of God.

Principles of Promotion

Never covet what God has not provided in grace.

The arrogant person becomes involved in the lust pattern of the sin nature and covets all kinds of things that God has not provided. But humility and grace orientation set aside the lust pattern through perception of doctrine, and therefore, develop a great capacity for life, love, happiness and grace blessing from God. As we develop capacity, God provides more blessing and greater promotion.

No church age believer can be promoted without at least five things:

  • Knowledge of the plan of God.
  • Knowledge of our catalog of spiritual blessings – our logistical support.
  • Knowledge of the unique characteristics of the church age.
  • Understanding and using the problem solving devices for Christians in the church age.
  • Understanding of principles of suffering for blessing and its contribution to spiritual growth.

Promotion in the plan of God is based on applied doctrine in the soul and never comes from Christian service or good deeds.

Christian service and Christian works is the result of functioning within the plan of God, but never the means. of promotion. Therefore, do not confuse means and result in the Christian life.

If God does not promote you, you are not promoted!

God promotes the humble believer who is classified as a grace oriented Christian. Humility is not self effacement or putting yourself down.

Grace orientation comes through applying Bible doctrine, which can also be called cognition of Bible doctrine. Cognition is an act of process of learning or perception, hence, something known or perceived. We do not withdraw from this doctrine under stress, pressure, or adversity.

Divine promotion in the plan of God requires humility, authority orientation, objectivity, teachability, flexibility and grace orientation. All of your thoughtfulness, tenderness, kindness and love in life have to be based on motivation.

Promotion from God begins in spiritual adulthood. No believer is promoted until he or she reaches spiritual self-esteem. Spiritual adulthood has three stages:

  • Spiritual self esteem, which is self confidence.
  • Spiritual autonomy, which is independence.
  • Spiritual maturity, which is invincibility.

When God can promote you, God is glorified. Promotion is always based upon the grace of God, and when God acts in grace, He is glorified. Divine promotion is always fair.

The promoted believer has maximum historical impact in the church age toward people and angels.

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The importance of the doctrine of Circumcision in Church Age teaching.

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One of the first acts of circumcision in the human race involved Abraham.

Genesis 17:6-11

And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

This initial act of circumcision was the seal of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise of possessing the land. It was the indication that Abraham believed God’s word. Abraham separated himself unto the Lord and to the Lord’s promise.

Circumcision is, therefore, a sign of regeneration for the Jews. It was to the born again Jew what water baptism is to the born-again believer in the Church Age, a sign.

Circumcision is also used by God as a teaching mechanism, a visual aid to provide a picture of regeneration by faith. The circumcision of male children on the 8th day was an act of dedication by the parents. By this means they declared that they would teach salvation by faith to their children. They anticipated that their children would become believers.

Col. 2:11-13

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

Circumcision is also a picture of positional truth, especially the identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

There can be no victory in the Christian way of life without victory over the old life, over the sin nature. This is the application of positional truth to experience.

The Lord also used circumcision as a picture of Israel’s restoration to fellowship and service.

READ Joshua 5:1-9

This restoration, by faith, was necessary for the victory the Israelites were about to experience (Jericho) and for the time of rest they were about to enter. There can be no victory over Canaan until there is victory over carnality (Egypt). Circumcision denotes separation from the world and the flesh, self-judgment, yieldedness, dedication, commitment.

Romans 4:9-13

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.

And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Circumcision is a sign of imputed righteousness; it is the sign that one has believed and is cleansed by the blood of Christ and has God’s Righteousness credited to his account. Gen. 15:6; 2 Cor. 5:21.

The true significance of circumcision was not in the physical act being perpetuated but in the reasons the ritual was begun in the first place. Circumcision was a sign that something had already taken place, namely, Abraham’s salvation.

Circumcision was also a seal. A seal indicates the validity of the thing to which it is attached. It has no significance apart from that which it covers. Circumcision was a seal attached to something valuable, salvation.

During the Church Age, water baptism is the outward sign of an inward faith. Circumcision was the outward sign for the Jews before the Church Age.

Religious Jews tried to make the seal valuable in itself. They attached spiritual value to the act of circumcision, ignoring the substance. They contended that circumcision was needed for salvation, which led to the formation of a ritualistic religion.

Abraham was saved by faith, long before he was circumcised. He is, therefore, the “father of all who believe” because he is the pattern of those who were saved in status quo uncircumcision, whether Jew or Gentile.

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What the Bible says about anger, ours and God’s. How to deal with sinful anger.

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Everybody gets angry. We know that we all have sin natures that have areas of strength and weakness. You may be strong where I am weak, and vice versa. So it may be that you would never think of committing a particular sin where I might be having a great deal of trouble.

But, in one way or another everyone has problems with anger. Sometimes the anger is a quiet, seething resentment or indignation at some large or small offense, real or imagined. Sometimes anger explodes into a rage that can turn into retaliation, violence or murder.

When we are angry we hurt people, usually those who are closest to us. An angry person is his own worst enemy, as we shall see in this topical study.

Christians can have victory over the sin of anger! This study is written to lay out what the Bible says about anger and to answer questions like the following:

  • What is the difference between sinful anger and righteous indignation?
  • Does God get angry?
  • What causes me to get angry and what can I do about it?
  • How can I have victory over the sin of anger?

Definition

The Bible describes many types of anger as sin like sins of mental attitude. As a sin, anger expresses antagonism, exasperation, indignation, resentment and outrage. Anger often produces an emotional feeling, but the feeling is not the anger. The thought pattern which produced the feeling is the sinful anger.

In the Bible, the type of anger which is not sinful is more properly called righteous indignation.

The Bible uses two Greek words for anger: orge, referring to mental anger and thumos, for mental anger. It is possible, but not common, to have mental anger without an emotional response. In Eph. 4:31, both types of anger are related to bitterness.

Anger is a sin which promotes sins against other people, such as gossip, self-righteous judging, maligning and complaining.

Anger and righteous indignation are mental reactions to events or circumstances. If the mental reaction is unjustifiable then it becomes an emotional reaction such as irritation or exasperation and may lead to irrationality.

If a reaction is justifiable, it is never irrational. An example would be righteous indignation regarding false doctrine or heresy.

Righteous Indignation

Righteous indignation is not sinful anger. It is a clear understanding of a bad situation because you have a clear understanding from the Bible of what God thinks about it. Therefore, there is no reaction which leads to anger and sin.

In Mark 10:14, Jesus became opposed to the disciples when they forbade the children to be brought unto Him. This was not anger, it was an understanding of a wrong.

Jesus expressed righteous indignation in Matt. 23:13-36 when he condemned the scribes and Pharisees. He wasn’t angry when He told Peter “Get behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling block to me. You have not concentrated on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23)

Another example of righteous indignation is a Christian’s mental attitude toward criminal activity. You can pursue, prosecute and sentence a criminal without compromising such principles as grace, forgiveness or impersonal love. You are aware that the criminal’s act is wrong and that he must be stopped. That is righteous indignation. But you do not hate the criminal or fall apart emotionally because of sinful anger. Impersonal love is a result of Christian growth and allows believers to have a regard for even the most obnoxious people that does not depend on their character or behavior.

It is righteous indignation that allows God to be angry about sin but to love us anyway. His love for us depends on His character, not on ours.

Characteristics of Sinful Anger

Anger is sin from the sin nature.

Gal. 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh [sin nature] are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…”

Anger is related to foolishness.

Eccl. 7:9, “Do not be quick to be angry in your heart, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.”

The Bible defines a fool as a person without divine wisdom. He may be a genius, but his thinking is from human viewpoint. He thinks and acts apart from God’s standards and controls. The paramount fool and the beginning of foolishness is the person who has “said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

Look at Romans 1:18-32 for a detailed description of the results of deliberately turning away from God. A fool is on a rapid downward slide towards destruction, both in this life and the one to come. In the list of terrible sins which characterize the ungodly are several which are either causes or results of anger.

Anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit.

Eph. 4:30-32, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Notice the contrast here between conditions of anger and the results of impersonal love.

Anger is a violation of the Christian’s code of conduct as a member of the body of Christ.

Col. 3:8, 9, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices”

Anger hinders effective prayer.

1 Tim. 2:8, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”

Anger is always accompanied by other sins.

Prov. 29:22, “An angry person stirs up strife and a hot tempered person abounds in transgression.”

Anger promotes the sins of gossip, self righteous judging, maligning, revenge, complaining, bitterness and many others.

Heb. 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble and by it many be defiled.”

Anger makes a person his own worst enemy; he brings misery upon himself.

Prov. 22:8, “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish.”

The unhappiness comes from many sources: failure to be occupied with Christ, failure to maintain a relaxed mental attitude, failure to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, thus, failure to grow in Christ. Lack of growth means lack of joy, lack of love and lack of divine viewpoint.

Anger promotes jealousy and cruelty. Prov. 27:4.

Anger causes misery for loved ones, friends and people around you. Anger destroys a nation. Prov. 21:19; 22:24; 24:25; 29:22.

Amos 1:11, “Thus says the Lord,”For three transgressions of Edom and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword, While he stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, And he maintained his fury forever.”

Other Bible Teaching on Anger

Eph. 4:26 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not . . .” or “Although you may have become angry, stop sinning.”

This verse is quoted from Psalm 4:4, which is about David’s righteous indignation at the revolt of his son Absalom. He is resisting the temptation to become angry. “Tremble with anger, yet do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) He was tempted to become angry at Absalom because Absalom had used his position to start a revolution against his father. He did not become angry, he trusted the Lord. This is also called occupation of your mind with Christ. He asked the army to spare Absalom. (2 Sam. 18:5)

It is possible to respond to unfairness or offense without sin. A person may sin against you, yet you can remain without sin. You can put the matter in the Lord’s hands, stay in fellowship and maintain a relaxed mental attitude. Furthermore, because you stay in fellowship, you are in the best position to be of service in the situation. You can forgive the other person and be open to any reconciliation he might offer. You will at least do your part to keep lines of communication open.

The Bible continually emphasizes righteousness maintained in the face of unfair treatment.

You cannot build your happiness on someone else’s misery. This is what retaliation tries to do. But you will never obtain happiness through revenge or by straightening out the other person. To punish someone else using verbal sins or violence is a revenge operation; worse yet, it obstructs divine judgment and discipline. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” from Matthew 7:1 is intended to warn us to let the Lord handle matters of sins against Himself. The angry person who arrogates to himself the position of judge is in a position of compounded divine discipline himself, worse off than the one who originally caused the trouble.

The Anger of the Lord

The Lord is said to have anger, or to be angry, in several places in the Bible. The word anger is used as an anthropopathism, a word or phrase that ascribes human characteristics or feelings to God, who is not human. God never reacts emotionally. He is never surprised, shocked or outraged. But He does have an attitude of wrath or anger against some things.

The phrase the anger of the Lord is used in the following passages:

Num. 25:4; 32:14; Deut. 29:20; Judg. 2:14, 20; 3:8; 10:7; 2 Kings 24:20; Jer. 4:8; 30:24; 51:45; 52:3; Zeph. 2:2, 3; Psalm 2:5.

The phrase the wrath of God is used in the following:

Psalm 78:31; John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15.

Victory Over the Sin of Anger

Recognize the sin of anger and confess to the Lord when you become angry. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9. This will help you maintain your walk with the Lord and be controlled or filled by the Holy Spirit.

Continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is an important part of grace being used by a believer. The more you are oriented to God’s plan of grace, the more adept you will be at using the assets He provides.

Practice trusting God or using faith. God says, “Cast your care on Me, because I care for you.” (I Peter 5:7) When you are in bad situations, tell the Lord about it and let Him handle it.

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Authority, God’s Chain of Command

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Introduction

Authority is defined as the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. Persons in command.

The most important earthly influence in a person’s life is that which comes from his relationship with his parents. The newborn child enters life completely dependent upon, and completely subservient to, an all powerful authority, his mother and father. As a child grows, he adjusts continuously in his responses to that parental authority, for better or for worse depending on the training he receives. He also gradually becomes aware of other influences of authority in society; those of his schools, of the various levels of government and law enforcement, of the people for whom he works, of his church, and of the authority of God Himself.

As an adult, a person often has two roles simultaneously. He is not only subject to authority of various kinds all of his lifetime, but he may also himself be in a position of power and influence over others, perhaps as parent, military officer, executive, or judge. A person’s ability to respond properly to authority, and his ability to exercise authority, depend on his orientation to divine principles of authority categorized in the Bible. As least three things are necessary to the proper response to authority. They are:

  • Careful training by parents in correct standards of submission to authority
  • A consistent daily walk with the Lord
  • An ever growing categorical knowledge of Biblical principles of authority accompanied by personal acceptance of the teaching leading to personal application in the life.

When any of these factors is missing, a person will accept non Biblical, humanistic principles of leadership, or the response to leadership, with the usually bad results that derive from a poor understanding of scriptural standards.

This paper explores the subject of authority in several ways. First we examine the source of all spiritual and temporal authority, God the creator. The Bible is the textbook for the study. God has delegated authority to His Son, Jesus Christ, who, in turn, has passed certain leadership responsibilities to human beings, the apostles. The apostles retained this mantle of authority as they were given the divine enabling to write the word of God for believers to read and understand.

The next consideration in this discussion is the Biblical teaching on a variety of types of authority, including parental, governmental, and ecclesiastical authority. Finally, the paper will describe some ways in which children and young people can be trained in Biblical principles of authority and in the proper responses to and uses of leadership. There will be a few paragraphs in the final section about chain of command which is intended to show believers the mechanics of a proper relationship to both divine and human authority.

The Source of Authority in Christianity

In all Christian activity some form of authority is exercised, either the authority of one individual over others, or the authority of an organization over individuals. The administration of leadership takes on so many varied forms that believers often become confused as to what constitutes legitimate Biblical authority. Some Christians in positions of leadership exercise Biblical principles of authority, others use human standards mixed with divine principles. Any Christian leader who is not well versed in the Biblical doctrines relating to authority is likely to use a combination of proper and improper authority.

All correct authority in Christian activity must derive from the Christian system itself: that is, a Christian leader must find his credentials of leadership in the word of God. Authority is of two kinds, primary and delegated authority.

Primary authority grows out of the relationship of those who have the right to command and those whose duty it is to obey. The basis of all primary authority in Christianity is the person of God. We are His; He made us. We are the creatures of His hand and the product of His intelligence. He is our maker, preserver and benefactor. He, therefore, has the absolute right to command; and it is our absolute duty to obey Him. God has seen fit only occasionally to govern man by His personal and primary authority. He usually delegates authority to others. He rules by His representatives.

Delegated authority is a right to command and enforce obedience which can be given to another by the party holding primary authority.

God’s Primary Authority Was Delegated to the Lord Jesus Christ

The first delegation of authority in Christianity was from God the Father to God the Son. Hebrews 1:1-2a, “God, who gave to our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son.” Jesus said, “The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s Who sent me.” (John 12:49) “No man knows who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” (John 14:6) Jesus closes His ministry on earth, and leads off His great commission to the apostles with the statement, “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

The Son stands nearest the Father in delegated authority. He is the “brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person.” (Hebrews 1:3) “It has pleased the Father than in Him should all fullness dwell.” (Colossians 1:19) When the Father acknowledged Christ after His baptism, He said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Christ was not only the delegate of God on earth, he is also the “image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15) and He said to His doubting disciples, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

There are several important inferences to be drawn from the concept of the authority of Jesus Christ. First, Jesus Christ is a manifestation of the power of God. Whether His power is seen in the material world or in the spiritual, our attention is arrested and our interest is challenged. God’s power is part of life itself. It is the agency through which God’s mind controls matter. It is the hand by which God’s purpose takes form in the world.

There is a difference between power and force. Force startles and frightens us. Power, when directed by intelligent love, is always pleasing to us. There is force in a lightning bolt. It shatters the sky, can kill living beings, cleaves a tree in half, or burns a building to the ground. There is power when an intelligent mind uses electricity to drive a train or light a city. Jesus Christ, who is God himself, is a manifestation of the power of God, not of the force of God.

Authority Passes to the Apostles

The Transfer of Authority to the Apostles

As long as Jesus was on earth, He talked with men face to face. Men were directly under His command, and could claim His promises directly. But He has passed away from earth and does not rule anymore by His own direct authority. Just as the Father delegated His authority to the Son, so Jesus delegated His authority to the apostles.

In John 17 are the following statements:

  • God gave the Son power over all flesh.
  • This power was given that He might bestow eternal life on all men.
  • Eternal life is bestowed through the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
  • God gave the Son certain men out of the world, that He might teach them all that God had given him.
  • All men should believe on Christ through the word of the disciples.

In the transfer of authority from God the Father to the Son there was no danger of error or mistake. The Son, being divine, could receive without misunderstanding all that the Father communicated. But the apostles were human with all the weaknesses and imperfections of their humanity. There was danger, therefore, that they might not correctly understand or apprehend the communication which Christ made to them.

It became necessary, therefore, for some power or influence to be exerted on their minds to preserve them from error either in taking in or in giving out the lessons which they received. Therefore, Christ promised them the Holy Spirit, who was to guide them into all truth in the conveying of the gospel to the world.

1 Cor. 2:9-13, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but in words which the Holy Spirit teaches.

The Apostles’ Use of Delegated Authority

The Spirit guided apostles are the representatives of God on earth for the purpose of making known His will to the sons of men. Their teaching is Christ’s teaching. Their authority is the authority of the Lord. “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” (John 20:21) So, when the apostles completed the revelation of the will of God in Jesus Christ, that revelation became the perfect law of liberty to which nothing could rightfully be added or taken away.

Anyone who teaches men to disobey the plain commandments of the apostles cannot be guided by the same Holy Spirit that inspired them to proclaim these commandments. The same Holy Spirit which led an apostle to proclaim truth will not lead anyone else to ignore or to disobey that truth.

Any attempt to add to, or subtract from, the words of the apostles, or to substitute other teaching in the place of their teaching, is not of God. Satan had no opportunity to corrupt the truth as it proceeded from the Father to the Son, or from the Son to the apostles. But his opportunity arrived when the apostles began proclaiming the gospel to mankind as they preached. “Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12)

The Apostles’ Exercise of Judgment

The apostles are administering the authority of God even today, through the written word of God which they wrote under divine inspiration. They began administering that authority on the Day of Pentecost. Their first judgment was, “These men are not drunk as you suppose, but this is that spoken of by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:15-16) The world’s judgment, that “these men are full of new wine”, was wrong; the apostles’ judgment was correct.

The apostles’ second judgment was, “This same Jesus whom ye have taken with wicked hand and slain, God has raised up and made both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:23-24) Their third judgment was concerning convicted sinners, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38)

Thus, in all their sermons and writings they delivered judgments for spiritual Israel which stand as authoritative today as when first delivered. There is nothing that is essential to the well being of Christian believers that has not been a subject for the apostles’ judgment. They are ambassadors of Christ. God acted through them and they represent Christ. “As though God did beseech you by us, we pray in Christ’s place, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)

Practical Considerations Related to Apostolic Authority

In Dr. G. A. Jacob’s book, Ecclesiastical Polity of the New Testament, there are quotations worth repeating. This book is worth thoughtful reading, and it shows the trend among some modern Christian thinkers to get back to the principles of the apostles. From the book:

The church of the apostolic period is the only church in which there is found an authority justly claiming the acknowledgment of Christian bodies in other times. Such authority is found in this church, not because it possessed a truer catholicity, or a purer constitution, or a more primitive antiquity than belong to succeeding ages, for neither antiquity, purity of form, or catholicity confers any right to govern or command; but because it was under the immediate rule and guidance of the apostles. It is their infallible judgment alone, as exhibited in this church, which has a legitimate claim to our submission. Of the church of no other period can the same be said, because the apostles had no successors to their office. They stand alone as the divinely inspired teachers, legislators, and rulers in Christ’s church and kingdom. They stand alone as men appointed and commissioned by Christ Himself, and not by man.

I appeal, therefore, from the Nicene Fathers to the apostles of Christ; from patristic literature to the New Testament; from ecclesiastical authority and practice of post apostolic centuries to the primitive church of the apostolic age. To go back to that time, and to endeavor, as far as possible, to reproduce the church of the New Testament, is most needful for us now, if we would preserve a faithful and distinct knowledge of Christian truth among our people. By realizing, as far as we may, the ideal of that church in our own community, we shall best maintain its liberty and purity, and we shall best meet the peculiar dangers of the present time and prepare for the future.

From the Apostles to Us – Lines of Authority

In the previous section, the transmission of divine authority to human beings is marked out in three phases: (1) God delegated all authority on earth to the Son, Jesus Christ; (2) the Son delegated teaching authority to the apostles; and (3) the apostles wrote authoritatively concerning the uses of and submission to authority on the part of believers of the church age.

Thus, every standard for the administration of authority over human beings by other people is derived from the teachings of the apostles as recorded in the Bible. The apostles wrote with the delegated power of God and were divinely inspired and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, we are obliged to give absolute obedience to instructions from the Bible.

Three types of delegated authority are described in this section: (1) authority in human society; (2) ecclesiastical (local church) authority; and (3) parental authority. By careful study of the scripture passages related to these topics, a believer should be able to gain a great deal of discernment into the problems of proper response to authority.

Authority in Human Society

The teachings of the Bible indicate that established civil authority is to be obeyed explicitly except where such obedience would cause the believer to deviate from direct Bible teaching. That is to say, God does not delegate any authority that would allow someone to overrule His expressed commands or to compromise a divine principle. The statement of Christ, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21) bears out this principle.

Bible References to Specific Types of Authority

  • The authority of the rulers of federal, state, and local government: Rom. 12; 1 Tim. 2.
  • The authority of a judge on the bench: 1 Cor. 6:1-8.
  • The authority of a business owner or executive: Col. 3; Eph. 5; 1 Tim. 6.
  • The authority of an athletic coach: 1 Cor. 9:24-27.
  • The authority of the military chain of command: Matt. 8:8-10.

See the following passages also for references to the concept of authority in many areas of human society:

Matt. 22:19-21; 17:25‑27

1 Pet. 2:13-18

1 Cor. 7:21-24

Eph. 6:5-9

1 Tim. 6:1, 2

Deut. 17:12, 13

Rom. 13:1-7.

Christian Life Principles Related to Authority

Submission to authority means doing the unpleasant thing as well as the pleasant. Therefore, there is a need for self discipline. Gal. 5:23 and 2 Thess. 3:8-15 point out that self control is a result of Christian growth. The entire book of Proverbs deals extensively with this issue. The believer can expect that as he grows in Christ his desire to be submissive to the Lord will grow, as will his ability to be a faithful servant.

A correct understanding of the concept of authority will cause a believer to gain respect for the privacy of others. He will learn that certain aspects of other people’s lives do not fall under his jurisdiction. So he will be much less inclined to invade privacy, judge, malign, gossip, etc .

The correct use of Biblical principles of authority also develops in the believer a respect for other people’s personal property. There are many passages in the Bible about stealing, covetousness, and the protection of property. Spiritual growth involves an acceptance of these principles as the believer better understands authority.

Respect for the rights of others to function in their own place under God’s plan is a basic principle of authority. Other people have the right to make decisions without interference. Mature believers do not judge others, to not bully others into conforming, do not attempt to exercise authority which has not been delegated to them. “…to his own master he stands or falls…” (Romans 14:4)

Ecclesiastical Authority

Scripture references to local church authority are found in Titus 1:5-16; 2:15–3:2; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Matt. 16:16-19; 18:18, 19.

Spiritual leaders are not elected, hired or appointed. They emerge. As the child of God experiences the development of his spiritual gifts, these gifts are recognized by others in the body of Christ. He will be given a place in which to exercise his gifts.

In Acts 6:1-7, for example, it can be seen that the first deacons were recognized as spiritually minded and filled with the Holy Spirit. These attributes of personal character, the results of years of growth as believers, were evident in these men’s lives. They emerged as leaders. The vote taken was merely an agreement that the majority of the local body recognized the mature lives of these men. There may have been others who coveted places of leadership. But such others were not recognized. The chosen deacons were selected to serve, not to be served. Nevertheless, in serving they did great works.

In becoming part of a local church, a Christian tacitly approves of the leadership structure of that church. By remaining with that congregation, he signifies that he accepts the pastoral teaching authority and the leadership of others in authority. The Bible commands submission to local church authority.

1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

To submit means to recognize the chain of command and to refrain from undermining that authority. This is a command to all believers; and nearly all trouble in local churches comes from the violation of this principle. The troublemakers in a church are those who undermine authority by criticism, by conspiracies or by other methods. It is the duty of the pastor teacher to guard against this and to nip it in the bud. The early Christians willingly placed themselves under the leadership of the pastor and deacons because they were known to be ordained of God and that one could profit from their guidance and leadership.

Parental Authority – Chain of Command

Case Study No. 1

A twenty-one year old girl returned home with an engagement ring and her boy friend in tow. After meeting and conversing with the young man, the parents told their daughter in private that they did not approve of her marrying this person at this time and that she should wait for a year or two. They stated their belief the marriage will not work and this fellow is not for you. The daughter argued that she felt that the Lord had brought they two of them together and that since they were both Christians it would be all right to marry right away.

What would be the correct answer in counseling with this young woman? Should she:

  1. Go ahead with her marriage plans if she thinks it is the Lord’s will for her, or
  2. Follow her parents’ wishes and wait until they give approval?

Case Study No. 2

An eighteen year old Christian young man announced to his unsaved father that the Lord had called him into the ministry and that he was thinking of going to Bible school to prepare for the pastorate. The father was strictly against such a move, and he advised his son to enter university instead, to prepare for a vocation. He told his son that he should have a profession to fall back on in case he should fail in the ministry. He wanted his son to get his college degree first; then, if he still wanted to be a pastor, he could pursue that career.

What advice should be given to the son in this case? Should he:

  1. Follow his father’s wishes and enter the university, or
  2. Follow his own desires and go to bible school?

Case Study No. 3

A teenage girl wanted to attend a certain Bible teaching church, but her mother refused to allow this. So the girl began to attend secretly as often as she could. Her mother found out and was very angry. She told her daughter that she should be at home attending to her chores around the house instead of spending so much time with those kids.

Should the teenage girl:

  1. Continue to attend Bible sessions secretly in order to get good teaching, or
  2. obey her mother’s wishes?

The answer in all three cases above is: respect the parent’s wishes! The following section describes the reasons for this answer.

The Biblical Basis for a Child’s Absolute Submission

The following commands from scripture indicate the extent to which God has committed Himself to working with children through their parents. Notice the spiritual condition and personality of the parent are not listed as conditions to obedience of these commands.

Eph. 6:1-3, “The right thing for you to do is to obey your parents as those whom the Lord has set over you. Honor your father and mother … that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Col. 3:20, “Obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

Prov. 6:20-23, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother; bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou wakest, it shall talk with thee; for the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; the reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”

The Focus of Response is the Lord, not the Parent

Part of God’s purpose for placing parents in authority is to teach obedience to Himself. God is able to accomplish His purposes in our lives through those He places in authority over us, regardless of whether they are good leaders.

The Lord has beautiful and significant plans for those who love and respect Him (Mal. 3:16, 17). We will be His jewels; we will be treated as the sons of God. When a young person reacts against the tools of authority that God has place in his life, he is reacting against God Himself. Severe warnings are given in the Bible about this.

Prov. 30:17, “The eye that mocketh at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

Heb. 12:5-6, “. . . My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Essential Insights in Identifying God as the Source of Authority

In order to properly identify the hand of God in the authority which is exercised over us, several insights are necessary.

We must learn to differentiate between position and personality. One of the first objections to obeying authority is, “I can not respect the one I am supposed to obey.” But it is possible to respect a person’s position of authority while at the same time being aware of character deficiencies which need correction.

A teenager might way, “Why should I listen to my parents? They tell me not to do certain things, but they go out and do the same things themselves!” But this young person fails to distinguish between his parents’ position and their character. The young man would be quick to see the error of his line of reasoning if his friend stated, “They other day I got stopped for speeding, but the policeman has such a bad personality that I tore up the ticket.”

Some say, “My parents do not even try to understand me, so why should I listen to them?” Here again, there is a failure to distinguish between position and personality. It is more important that the young person understand what God is trying to accomplish than that his parents understand him. God knows that those He places in authority will have character deficiencies? But He is able to work in spite of these deficiencies.

Psalm 76:10, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; . . .

Prov. 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

See also 1 Peter 2:18-20.

God can develop mature attitudes through His use of authority. He can use those who are the hardest to get along with to motivate us to develop mature attitudes. In each of the three case studies which are described above, the parent in authority detected an immature attitude on the part of the young person.

In Case Study No. 1, the marriage was disapproved because the parents detected underlying attitudes in both their daughter and her fiancé which would have made them incompatible in marriage. Each has a negative attitude of self will. Each expected to be the center of the stage. Neither had learned submission to authority. They had no concept of deference to one another or regard for the wishes of the other. Proper attitudes could be learned by the young people, if they would follow the advice to wait.

In Case Study No. 2, the father detected in his son attitudes of ungratefulness, stubbornness and insensitivity to the feelings of others. Even though he was not a believer, the father realized that these attitudes would cause his son to fail in the ministry. The fact that his father had some apprehension of his son’s failure in the ministry should have been a significant warning to the son that he might be wrong.

In Case Study No. 3, the teenaged girl, by responding properly to her mother would allow her mother to see that her old attitudes had changed as a result of attending the church, and she would be advancing the most powerful argument for her mother to allow her to continue attending the church.

God’s concern is that our attitudes become consistent with those of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was subject to the authority of His parents as He was growing up. Because of this response, He grew in wisdom, stature,and in favor with God and man. He “humbled himself and became obedient…” (Phil. 2:8)

Discerning Basic Intentions

The basic intentions of those in authority must be discerned. Daniel “purposed that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat.” (Daniel 1:8) Yet the authorities were not trying to make him violate his convictions; they were genuinely concerned about his appearance before the king. Daniel was in the right frame of mind to help the officer in charge work out a compromise.

In Case Study No. 1, the basic intentions of the parents who disapproved their daughter’s marriage were not to restrict her happiness but rather to help her achieve a lasting happiness. They intended to pass on to her the insights and lessons which they had learned, sometimes the hard way. They intended for her to avoid a lot of future complications which they knew would occur if she made the wrong choice in marriage. They intended to derive pleasure and joy from their daughter’s happy marriage.

In Case Study No. 2, the basic intention of the father for the son was not to talk him out of the ministry but to provide him with the tools for being successful in life. He intended to use the boy’s college education to build mature attitudes in his son. He wanted to be proud of his son’s achievements. He intended to rest in the fact that his son was building security in his vocation. He intended that his son be grateful and appreciative for what he had done for him. He intended to keep a channel of communication open so that his son would be responsive in the future.

In Case Study No. 3, the basic intentions of the teenage girl’s mother were not to stop the girl from going to church, but to develop obedience toward her parents. This obedience involved assuming responsibilities around the house rather than running off all the time. The mother observed that some of her daughter’s friends were not obeying their parents and often condemned their parents for not being spiritual. She did not want her daughter to develop these attitudes and practices.

Developing Creative Alternatives

Creative alternatives can be developed. Mature attitudes, along with insight into basic intentions, prepare the way for the development of creative alternatives or compromises. Daniel worked out an alternative which would not violate his moral convictions. As you read the study in the book of Daniel, notice the respect, the creativity and the careful choice of wording in Daniel’s request. He asked to be given a chance to show he was right; but he expressed his willingness to obey the officer in any case.

Alternatives for the girl who wanted to get married

  • Discuss with her parents the qualities she should look for in a husband.
  • Give her parents ample opportunity to become acquainted with the boyfriend before there was any discussion of marriage.
  • Ask her parents to point out areas where both she and her boyfriend could improve.
  • Request that her parents set up guidelines to help her discern whether she has met the right life partner.
  • Be willing to show deference to her parents on the timing of the marriage.

Alternatives for the young man who wanted to go into the ministry

  • Accept the challenge of motivating new spiritual interest in his father. This is the best preparation he could have for the ministry since this is one of the most important functions of the ministry.
  • Work out with his father and his minister areas of training at the university which would be useful in both the ministry and in another vocation.
  • Develop a personal program of Bible study while at the university; and use the university experience as an opportunity for a ministry with students.

Alternatives for the teenage girl

  • Ask forgiveness for her past attitudes and actions which were wrong.
  • Commit her mother to the Lord prior to her request to attend the youth group, understanding that the Lord would be speaking through her mother.
  • Determine ahead of time that she would silently thank the Lord for whatever answer her mother gave, and continue to develop right attitudes in the home.

The Results of Obedience to Parents

It is always right to obey God, even when that obedience interrupts or disturbs our plans. Obedience to parents is one of the most essential habits for young people to learn; and parents should insist on obedience from the time their children are babies. A great deal of rebellion can be prevented by parents using Biblical principles in training their children. See Exo. 21:15-17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-21; Matt. 15:3-6.

Divine discipline and other unpleasant results of rebellion are totally avoidable. The great inner peace, the happiness, the wonderful blessings of living the plan of God for the life are unmistakably the greatest experiences a person can have.

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Old Age – The doctrinal truth behind dying grace. How the last years of your life are the best years. Growing old and gracious at the same time.

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Many people have a tremendous dread of growing old. A great deal of activity during the working years is aimed at preventing as many of the problems of old age as possible: dependency on others, lack of money, boredom, ill health and so forth. The very fear of the problems of old age often make mental and physical wrecks of people then they become old before their time.

God’s plan is that old age be the crowning glory of a person’s lifetime. The word of God shows that old age can have promise, produc­tivity, vitality, confidence, and a great deal of happiness, providing that spiritual preparation has taken place during the younger years.

Age Divisions in the Bible

The Bible indicates that there are three broad divisions of a lifetime.

The period of youth lasts up to about forty years of age. Moses began to sense his re­sponsibility to Israel and to the Lord when he was about forty, Acts 7:23. He spent forty more years in training, however, before he became leader of the people of Israel. It was during the years from eighty to one hundred twenty that he did his great work.

In Acts 4:22, a man is healed and the Sanhedrin wanted to ridicule his testimony. However, “the man was above forty years old on whom this miracle of healing was shown”, indicating that he was mature enough to know what had happened.

In 1 Tim. 4:12, Paul writes, “Let no man despise thy youth . . .” Timothy was in his thirties at the time.

The period of middle age last from about forty to sixty years of age. In 1 Tim. 5:9, a sixty year old widow’s retirement was into a full time ministry of prayer supported by the church. Many believers hit their top pace in the middle years. The high priest’s work load was heaviest between thirty and fifty.

Old age is from sixty and forward. In Daniel 12:13, Daniel, at age ninety, was told to stop acting like a dead man and to get going. In Luke 2:36-38, a woman of great age (84) was very active in serving the Lord.

Some Principles of Old Age

Old age is a mental attitude as well as a physical problem. People shudder when you discuss old age. Next to the subject of death, it is the least favorite topic. There are many ways people try to postpone old age. They try various products to keep on looking and feeling young. They try traveling to relieve boredom and to give a sense of fulfillment. They use gadgets and programs to postpone old age.

But, the older one becomes as a believer, the better life should become! God’s plan is bigger than any problem this life can produce. Of course, to take advantage of this plan, a person must understand salvation and receive Christ as savior. Then, the individual must get Bible teaching every day over a period of years to make it possible to obtain the maximum out of every day of life. According to God’s plan of grace, which includes the con­cept of dying grace, the last day of your life should be the best.

But some of the most miserable old people around are Christians. They are cantankerous and obnoxious. Their youth is no longer there to protect them. They are seen for what their souls really are, without the camouflage of youth. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Youth is excused for bad behavior; but youth is no longer there to cover up. Old age exposes all the faults, habits, obnoxious characteristics, and degeneracy of soul.

When King Solomon reached old age, he wrote Ecclesiastes; and he has some advice for youth. A young person can prepare now to have a happy old age. Happiness is not in working, and it is not in retirement; it is not in this diversion or that. True happiness is in Christian growth, the production of the fruit of the spirit, operating on divine viewpoint, having a healthy edification structure in the soul which leads to having the inner beauty of soul.

Rejoice, O young man! Find happiness when you are young. Then you can carry your happiness around with you, the inner mental happiness found in the word of God, a happiness which does not depend on conditions, circumstances, people or the details of life. This leads to a marvelous old age!

And let thy heart cheer you in the days of your youth.” (Eccles. 11:9) Then you will not fight old age; old age will be the best age of all. This type of person is the salt of the earth in his old age, an aristocrat of the Christian family.

Walk in the ways of your heart. Now the young person who is immersed in doctrine uses the word of God in living the Christian way of life. The application of the word of God to experience is necessary.

“But know that God will bring you to judgment; therefore remove sorrow from your heart, put away evil from thy flesh.” This is a picture of judgment, chastisement, confession, claiming promises.

Therefore, old age is a mental attitude de­veloped during a lifetime. The older one be­comes as a believer, the better life should be­come. Happiness in old age is dependent on what is built up during the previous years of youth and middle age.

PROBLEMS OF OLD AGE

As you read the following listing of the problems of old age, meditate on the word of God and try to think of the doctrinal antidote for each problem. The prescription will be given in the succeeding sections of this article; but try finding answers in your own repertoire of doctrine.

• Old age may bring on a lack of mental sharpness. This can occur because of physical debility. Also, if the mind has been neglected, especially if the word of God has been neglected, there will be a failure of the mentality.

• In old age, there can be a disorientation to life from the standpoint of success standards. A person looks back and regards life as a failure. Maybe he set goals, and now he is old and never realized the goals. There is a great danger of disillusionment.

  • There is a tendency for great increase in mental attitude sins in old age, with emphasis on criticism and judgment. These things are often overlooked in youth; but they are horrible in the elderly.
  • There is often a lack of security in old age, especially if the old people can not take care of themselves financially. Their children are in the prime of their lives and often the children’s plans do not include them.
  • Old age may bring an inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, inability to converse, to hear, to see. So the old person gets used to sitting in a chair daydreaming, vegetat­ing and saying nothing.
  • There is sometimes a lack of motive to live, too much idle time and too much time for complaining. There may be a de­sire to travel but no means to do so. So there is a lack of significant things to do.
  • Old age brings future shock. Old age finds itself out of phase with the younger gen­erations of children and grandchildren. Therefore a dangerous trend can get started toward hypercriticism.
  • The older believer may have stopped growing spiritually, or worse, may never have got started. There is, therefore, no edification, no occupation with Christ, no desire for the word. There is a tendency to stagnate, to become jaded, to rely on the study done years before.
  • There can be a tendency toward the nega­tives of Titus 2:3, becoming false accusers, gossips, evil speakers and vicious in criticism.
  • There is a tendency among older believers to drink quite a lot when they don’t have anything else going for them.
  • Then, there is the tendency to think that getting old means that a person has some wisdom. So there is the garrulous senior citizen who never stops talking and inflicts continuous boredom on his listeners with his platitudes and homely chatter.

A Godly and Grace Filled Old Age

Coming into old age, the mature believer is assured of his redemption; and he comes into old age as a knowledgeable and productive Christian. He understands both salvation and spirituality. He knows how to claim promises. He understands suffering, has lived through some of it, and looks forward to greater tests. He is ready for both suffering and happiness in old age.

This person comes into old age able to apply the word of God to experience. Even his mind is saved, according to the principles of Romans 12:2. He realizes that there are many books, but only one book, the mind of Christ, the word of God.

The elderly believer uses the faith rest principles of life. While the body is getting weaker, there is this promise of 2 Cor. 4:15.

2 Cor. 4:15-17 “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiv­ing of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our out­ward man perish, yet the inward man is re­newed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Characteristics of a Beautiful Old Age

Review the following scripture passages to get a thorough understanding from Bible examples just what an exciting and productive old age can be like.

In 1 Tim. 5:5-10, there is the example of a widow alone who faces the occupational hazard of widowhood in loneliness. However, this woman trusts in God, uses the promises of the Bible and keeps on praying. A widow who is well reported for good works is making the most out of old age.

In Acts 9:36-43 is the story of Dorcas, full of good works, given to hospitality, who washed the saints feet, made garments, re­lieved the afflicted with her nursing skills, and was a producer of divine good. She had mastered the details of life.

In 2 Tim. 2, there is a discussion of the characteristics of godly elderly men. They are to be healthy minded, alert, sharp, with Christlike character, masters of the details of life or temperate, sound in faith, having spiritual healthy because of doctrine, being free from mental attitude sins such as bitter­ness, envy, hostility and having a mental attitude love.

In 1 Tim. 5:1-16 are listed the characteristics of godly older women. Their shining inner beauty reflects the glory of God. They are not false accusers or guilty of maligning, evil speaking, or gossip and they are not vindictive. They are also temperate and able to teach good things to the younger women. They had skill and wisdom and had the willing attention of younger women. They taught the young women to be healthy minded, emotionally stable, to have sound judgment, to be poised, in control of themselves, thoughtful, to be free from carnality or chaste, to be morally good and to respond to their husbands.

From these illustrations we conclude that there is plenty to do in old age, that old age can be a golden age, not necessarily in reliving the good old days, but in actively enjoying the present and the future.

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Joy without happiness – is this possible?

you rejoice (1 Peter 1:8)

Peter uses this word “rejoice” in chapter 4, verse 13. In ancient Greek the word “rejoice” meant to plume oneself in the sense of joyful pride.

Joy is the inner animation of the soul. Biblical joy is not happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances. If we have good circumstances we are happy; if not, we are unhappy. Joy, however, is independent of circumstances. Joy depends on our present relationship to God. Revelation 19:7 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

We rejoice when we look to God’s saving work in Christ. I John 1:3-4 “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”

Principle

Present joy depends on our present relationship to Jesus Christ.

Application

Present joy depends on our present relationship to Jesus Christ. Yesterday’s faith will not contribute to today’s joy. Yesterday’s meals will not satisfy today’s hunger. Present joy depends on present trust in Christ. It springs from our sense of forgiveness, our appreciation for the cross.

Joy does not depend on whether Caesar stops persecuting Christians; it depends on our relationship to Jesus Christ. What is your relationship to Jesus Christ like at this moment?

Has your faith grown lukewarm? Are you existing rather than living? Maybe you are going through deep trouble as you read this devotional. Is it unbearable? The key issue is how you resolve the problem. Are you merely bearing up under the pain? Are you experiencing the joy of God?

Someone asked J. D. Rockefeller, “How much money would it take to make a person happy?” He answered, “Just a little bit more.” All of us have known the staleness of excess and intemperate indulgence. Indulgence is fleeting enjoyment based on things, circumstances and people. These things do not ultimately satisfy.

The Bible has a different system for the possession of joy. We find joy in fellowship with a person.

Joy is not an end in itself, but a result. Joy comes from the fact that we are daily in a right relationship with God through faith in Christ.  “Very well,” you say, “I know that my joy comes from God. That is not my trouble. What happens when I lose my joy?” Joy does not rest on us but God. If God planned it and initiated it, He will see it to fruition in our souls. Many failures in the Christian life originate right here. People say, “I’m through, I’ve failed, I cannot live the Christian life.” Nothing could be truer. We cannot live the Christian life. We cannot produce or maintain the Christian life.

God must empower us or we will indeed fail. Joy is strictly contemporaneous with faith. If we tear away an electric cord from its source of energy, the light goes out. The same is true in the Christian life. If we separate ourselves from the person of Christ, we lose the source of our joy. He is our source of power. If we do not plug into Him, we cut off fellowship with him; we cut off our source of joy.

The joyous Christian is not necessarily the one with the least trouble. Often, he is the one with the greatest trouble. He has found the truth that Christ is with him in his difficulty. Nowhere does God promise us an easy path of roses. Anyone can glory in prosperity. To say with Job, “though he slays me, yet will I trust him” is true Christian living.

Did you ever notice that Jesus sang before He went to the garden of Gethsemane? Matthew 26:30 “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” On His way to the cross He was singing! He knew that the cross led to the empty tomb and victory over sin. He knew His Father was with Him. These principles transcended circumstances.

Why wait till we get to heaven to receive true joy? We can find joy as we travel along. It is foolish to wait for the heights before we enjoy the scenery.

Yesterday’s meals will not satisfy today’s hunger.

Neither will yesterday’s faith satisfy today’s joy.

Present joy depends on present faith.

with joy inexpressible

There are two qualifications that describe joy. These qualifications will help you determine whether you have joy.

Qualification number 1 – “joy inexpressible”

Qualification number 2 – “and full of glory”

The first qualification of this joy is the word “inexpressible.” Biblical joy is beyond description.

Joy is found in the “whom” of this verse. Joy is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is the object and ground of the believer’s joy.

“Inexpressible” means unable to tell out. Our joy surpasses our ability to describe it. We cannot express properly our joy in God. It passes all human speech. All attempts to circumscribe it will end in frustration. Still water runs deep. This goes beyond personality and psyche. This is not psychology but spirituality!

We can count a poor man’s wealth. Often, extraordinarily rich people cannot count their wealth. They have their riches in many forms: stocks, banks, businesses. We cannot count our riches in Christ. He is a limitless resource to our spirituality.

We can cram shallow emotions into the limits of human vocabulary. However, deep emotions cannot be fully expressed. How can we explain the love for our spouse or child? We can broach the subject but we can never fully describe that kind of love. It is impossible to describe to others precisely how much and what kind of love we have for them. In shallow streams, we can see pebbles below the water, but in the ocean there are depths that have never been searched by men. So it is with Christ. “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him,” (I Corinthians. 2:9).

Are you thinking on the things God has prepared for you? The joy of your life depends on the character of your thoughts.

Joy is not an end in itself, but a result of our faith. We reside in right relation to God through faith. We cannot live the Christian life; we need to trust God to empower us to live it.

Principle

Joy is the flag of the heart that shows the King is in residence.

Application

If we fly high enough, we will get into clear skies. The joy of our lives depends on the character of our thoughts. Joy does not depend upon circumstances, so joy is not happiness.

Happiness depends upon what happens to us. “Do I have good health? Do I have congenial company? Am I financially set? Do I have pleasant circumstances?” Happiness then is not joy.

A person may have joy when he does not have happiness. It is possible to lay on a hospital bed with joy. We can have physical affliction and rejoice in it. Happiness and unhappiness do not exist together but joy and sorrow can exist together.

The Lord was called “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” (Isaiah 53:3), yet we read that he held both joy and pain at the same time, Hebrews 12:2 says “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Another example is Paul. Paul was in prison. This is not a very happy situation, but he sang praises to God there. As a result the Philippian jailer came to Christ. It is foolish to wait until we have reached the heights before we view the scenery.

We find joy in a person, not circumstances. Do you remember when you first came to Christ? You could not hold your joy. It burst forth everywhere. You were full and running over. Somewhere along the way it leaked out.

Christian joy is an exulting joy. This is the joy of the prisoner on the day of his release from prison. We breathe out the joy from within. This joy spreads throughout our soul like a newly broken bottle of poignant perfume. The aroma penetrates our proximity until its fragrance moves everywhere we go.

Do you have personal joy? What is your view of Christ and His provisions for you?

and full of glory

The second qualification of our joy is the phrase “full of glory.”

There are many ordinary joys of men. For example, “The Yankees won the pennant!!” This kind of joy is fragile and hollow. It is like bubble that breaks on its own accord. This is not the “glory” of this verse.

The phrase “full of glory” means glorified. This phrase should be translated “having received glory.” The Christian’s body is not yet glorified but his joy can be. Joy depends on our mental attitude toward Christ not on our external resources. This would be an obvious platitude were it not for the fact that 99% of Christians do not believe it!

Principle

The joy that Christians have receives glory when they orient to the Lord.

Application

Christians can radiate with the glory of heaven. The believer is not yet glorified but his joy is if he enters into fellowship with the Lord.

This is not the glory of clapping hands or some overt emotional activity. This is the inner mental joy that comes from exposure to the glory of God. This is the glory of Christ. If we dislodge love for the Lord Jesus Christ based on the Word of God, then inner glory will leave us.

Glory is something we receive. We receive glory only in conjunction with joy in God. This is the glory of inner orientation to God, no matter what circumstance may come our way. God gives glory to everyone who experiences joy in him.

Glory is an overt word. When we come to grips with what Jesus has done for us, then we enter into glory. This is all inside. As a result, God gives us a glory or glamour. Glory and glamour are often synonymous terms that describe the manifestation of genuine Christian living.

“Glory” does not mean to scream and holler and jump around. It is a command to inner animation. We can only experience glory by fellowship with God. A person in fellowship with the Lord is free from attitudinal sins.

If we have a day when things are not going right, glory liberates us from attitude sins. Mental attitude sins produce misery. Envy, jealousy, bitterness, pride, vindictiveness all produce self-induced misery. All this bile will come to the surface at a time we least expect it. When we experience the glory of fellowship with the Lord, it will expel attitude sins.

A Grace Notes study of 1 Peter

A publication of http://www.GraceNotes.info

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