Whom We Preach

Col. 1:28-29.

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.

In verse 28, the pronoun Whom refers back to v. 27, the Lord, Jesus Christ. Some translations use the word Him instead of Whom. It indicates that Jesus Christ was the sum total of all that Paul preached. He didn’t entertain with one funny story after another. He didn”t preach anything or anyone except the Lord Jesus Christ. He was totally focused on presenting Jesus wherever he went, including doing so from his prison cell.

He taught Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, come down to earth to save all mankind. The word man in this passage embraces all humankind. It excludes no one.

His goal was to present all those who heard the gospel perfect (full grown, complete, mature) in the knowledge of Jesus.

The word warning in v. 28 is also translated as counseling or helping to impart understanding. Paul’s desire, his life’s work, was to establish and enable people to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ.

Paul not only preached; he taught, mentored, encouraged, poured his heart and life into the ministry of spreading the gospel wherever he went. It was his sole purpose in life.

I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the years. I can tell you that preparing for one session in which I am the speaker isn’t nearly as much work as dealing with individuals on a daily basis, helping them grow in the Lord. More than that, making sure that I practice what I preach so that my walk is not a stumbling block to anyone who is watching is a daily goal.

Be certain, if you are a believer, there is someone who is watching you. People are watching to see if your walk matches up with your talk.

Finally, Paul clarifies that it is not he himself who is powerful in the work of the gospel, but rather it is the work of the Holy Spirit in him that constrains him to waste no time feeling sorry for himself or questioning his circumstances.

That same Holy Spirit enables us today. All we need to do is to seek Him with all our hearts, and He will supply what we need for the ministry of the gospel.

Things to Come

John 16:12-13.

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.

These words were not spoken in the Upper Room, but on the way to Gethsemane. They are a continuation, though, of the conversation that began around the table, and I liked this picture. I think it’s perhaps a better representation than some of the traditional paintings I’ve seen. Anyway, I’m not trying to mislead you, so felt I should explain why I used this image.

Jesus knew that His disciples were having trouble understanding what He was telling them. They still had not accepted what was about to happen to Him, still not clearly grasping the entirety of the truths He was giving them. We shouldn’t be hasty to judge them. They were not stupid, or willfully ignoring His words. They just didn’t have the whole picture, as we do.

The precious promise in v. 13 didn’t come home to them right then, either. They would understand it much more clearly in the days to come.

The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, would guide them into ALL truth as they journeyed on their separate ways after Pentecost. The Spirit would speak to each of them. He would not speak of Himself, but only what the Father gave Him. The Spirit speaks to each of us according to our need, and according to what we need to know in order to fulfill our calling. For example, not all of us are called to be pastors. Those who are will need counsel from God, through the Spirit, in a way suited to their particular calling.

I take great comfort in knowing that God has arranged things so. My husband has his own path, apart from mine. The path we walk together, of course, is more important than our individual paths. One thing we have learned over our 51+ years is that the Spirit never leads us differently from each other in decisions that affect our “together” walk. There have been times when we haven’t yet discussed something, but the minute we start we realize that we are in complete agreement.

On the other hand, Terry may not be giving any thought at all to what we’ll eat today, while I have it all firmly in mind. He doesn’t think much about what gifts to give at Christmas, but I do. When we discuss it, he’ll offer perhaps a different idea, but he pretty much leaves it up to me. I don’t think much about the mechanics of our household unless something breaks down, but Terry is constantly aware of what needs to be checked or repaired. This is a very down-to-earth example of different leadings of the Spirit depending on our individual needs. I hope it doesn’t seem trivial to you. We both depend upon prayer to help us to know how to go forward, individually and together.

Verse 13 also tells us that the Spirit will speak to us of things to come. As far as I can see, from various commentaries, those “things to come” are not events of the end times, but of the development of the church. The Holy Spirit spoke through various authors, including Paul, Luke, John, and Peter, to teach how the church was to operate and be conducted. Through those men, the Spirit taught how we are to behave toward and with other believers, as well as those outside the faith. He established authority (i.e. pastors, elders, deacons) and policy, things Jesus knew the disciples were not yet ready to hear.

God knows what we can absorb and handle. His Word has been our guidebook over two millennia, and continues to be just as applicable today as when it was first penned. Amazing, and comforting, that He knew exactly what we would need!

Holy Spirit Power

Isaiah 54:1.

“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.”

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The Apostle Paul quotes this verse in Galatians 4:27.  It predicts the salvation of the Gentiles during the rejection and dispersion of Israel. Paul quoted this verse to prove that more men will be saved under the new dispensation than under the old one, which is cast  out and abolished. Before the Day of Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the relatively few believers following Jesus’ death and resurrection,  the church was mostly in hiding, not sure of what to do next. Souls were not being brought to Christ.

Once the Holy Spirit filled the Apostles and other believers, all that changed. Thousands of people in Jerusalem came to Christ, and persecution drove them out into the world where the gospel was spread quickly, and church were established all over Asia, into Africa, and  in Greece and even Rome, where Caesar was the god to be worshiped.

What a change!  The power of the Holy Spirit remains with us today, and we need to learn to tap into it, to empower our witness, to continue to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever way we can.

We need revival!

Sealed

Ephesians 4:30. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

We need to understand that our sin grieves God. When we claim to be His children and then behave like children of Satan, He is grieved. The Comforter that He sent us to come beside us, and by Whom we are sealed (kept, protected, set aside for the owner), is  pained and offended by our ungodliness.

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye have been sealed unto the day of redemption.” We are His temple and all must be avoided which displeases the holy guest. That He dwells in us and we are sealed by Him is the evidence of our eternal security. We are sealed by Him unto the day of redemption. We may grieve Him, but He will never leave those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb. He abides with us forever. in Ephesians 4:32 we find another exhortation how the members of the body of Christ should act towards each other.”

                              (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gaebelein/ephesians/4.htm)

Sealed by the Spirit

Ephesians 1:13-14. “In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession,  unto the praise of His glory.”

These verses  take us back to verse 12, where Paul says that we shoul be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. First, the Jews received the gospel, and then the Gentiles also began to trust in Christ. Many who heard the gospel for the first time understood and believed; others came to faith more slowly, But one thing was certain: The moment a soul turned to Christ in repentance and faith, trusting Him only for salvation, that soul was sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells a new believer, and seals that person for all eternity. Two other places in the New Testament that teach this same principle are 2 Cor. 1:22 and Ephesians 4:30.

A seal was a stamp of ownership, a mark of approval. In Paul’s day, it was a drop of hot wax that was stamped, as it cooled, with the unique mark of, for instance, the letter-writer. Once it was cooled and the letter was sealed, it was actually illegal for anyone but the recipient to open it.

Both Corinth and Ephesus  were great centers of the lumber industry in ancient times. A raft of logs would be brought from the Black sea and notice sent to the different lumber firms that the raft was in the harbor.  The lumber firms sent their men out, and as they examined the rafts of logs, they would select what they wanted and pay down a little earnest money. At that point, a wedge was cut into each log that was chosen by a company. This wedge was called the seal.  The logs may be left there in the harbor for many weeks, but each was sealed by the company that purchased it.

The sealing of the Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance with Jesus Christ, Who has redeemed us. We will be drawn out on the day of redemption, because we are His.

Heir of God through Christ

Galatians 4: 6-7. And becuse ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Salvation has always come by faith. The diligent keeping of the Law did not make a person sure of heaven; it was by faith that the Old Testament saints believed God. They kept the Law as an indicator of their faith in God, and out of reverent obedience to His Word.  When they taught their children the Law, they taught about the great and holy Yaweh Who had given them the law to bring them to an understanding of their sin.

Since Christ’s finished work at Calvary, every true believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, sealed and anointed. Anyone who does not have that indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not a true believer.  Because He dwells in our hearts, as we grow in understanding and knowledge of Him and Who He is, we look with adoration and reverence into His face and cry, “Abba, Father.”  Both Jew and Gentile now have this free access to God, by grace, through faith.

Because we now have the Holy Spirit, we are indeed  no longer in the place of servants, but of sons. As sons, we are heirs of all His possessions through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you sometimes find yourself thinking, “Yes, I know this.  I believe it is true. But I have a really hard time getting my head around the idea that I have the same standing with God as His Son does, and that my heavenly inheritance is equal with His. How can this be?”

I know only that it is through the unlimited grace and love of God that it is possible. To know it now is amazing. To experience it there?  I can’t even begin to imagine.

The Blessing of Abraham

Galatians 3:14. “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ: that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

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Why did Jesus Christ become sin for us?  Why was He made a curse for us?

He did it so that all nations, not just the Hebrew nation, could receive the blessing of Abraham; the promise of the Spirit.

What was the blessing of Abraham?

Justification with God by faith (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4; Gal. 3:6-14).

How do we receive that justification?  Through the sealing of the promised Holy Spirit Who would come to comfort us in our earthly walk until the day we go to be with the Lord.

Abraham was blessed to be a blessing.  We, too, are blessed that we may be a blessing by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Watch Therefore!

Matthe 25:10-13. “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

The five wise virgins who were ready for the appearing of the bridegroom, ready to meet him, calmly refilled their lamps and were ushered into the house to enjoy the wedding and the festivities. They had made their preparations in advance, and were not caught short because they understood that there was no doubt that the bridegroom WOULD appear; that waiting for him was only an unavoidable delay of some sort. Though they fell asleep, the moment they heard that midnight cry they were up and about their business.

While the foolish virgins rushed out to find someone who could sell them oil for their lamps, the bridegroom arrived at the home of his bride.  He and his groomsmen were admitted, along with the five wise virgins, and the door was shut.

Remember when it was time for Noah and his family to enter the ark? There was still time, as long as the door was open, for the unbelieving mockers to repent and seek shelter in the ark.  But then, the Bible tells us, God shut the door. The opportunity was lost. Their was no time to build another boat. The was no place to seek shelter. As the rain poured out of the sky, how those people caught outside the door must have begged.  I’m sure some of them were angry, demanding to be rescued. But there was no rescue.

After the door was closed at this wedding, there was no further admittance. The five virgins had lost their opportunity because they had not prepared while there was yet time.

The midnight cry had two separate effects.  For the wise virgins, it was a moment of great joy and anticipation as they went to meet the bridegroom.  For the foolish, it was a time of desperation and defeat as they rushed out to do what they had failed to do when there was time. They were earnest.  They were sincere.  But they were wrong.

What a perfect reflection all through the church age of those who have professed some sort of Christianity, but have never received Jesus Christ as their only Savior, their only way of salvation. They employ many forms, impressive in their liturgy and in their outward display. But their lamps are empty, and they will find themselves outside the door when the bridegroom comes. There will be no more opportunity for them to fill their lamps with the oil of the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow we’ll start looking at the third parable, which  concludes the second part of the Olivet Discourse and supports everything Jesus has taught so far.

Behold the Bridegroom!

Matthew 25: 6-9.  “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil: for our lamps are gone out.  But the wise answered, saying Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”

Don’t be confused by the website on the picture above. This is NOT a prophecy of the Rapture, which has already taken place by the time these events will happen.

Whatever had caused the delay of the bridegroom, it was now being announced all along the route to the wedding feast that he was, at last, coming.  It was customary for the bridegroom and his friends to begin crying out this announcement as he left his home, and all along the route, people would take up the cry until it came near enough to the home of the bride to wake up those who slept.

It was the duty of the ones chosen by the bride to go out and welcome the bridegroom. As they woke from sleep, they began to trim their lamps and make sure they were shining brightly for the coming of the bridegroom. And it was at this point, of course, that the five foolish virgins  realized they were unprepared. There may have been oil in their lamps when they arrived, but it was used up by this time and they had brought no oil to supplement the flame. They would be found wanting in their duty if their lamps were not filled and burning.

Oil is often  used as a type, or picture, of the Holy Spirit. I remember singing a song in Sunday school when I was just a little girl, called “Give Me Oil in my Lamp, Keep Me Burning,”  I didn’t have a clue what it meant, really, although I suppose someone, somewhere along the road, explained it. We need the oil of the Holy Spirit to keep our “lamps” burning as a light in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation  (Philippians 2:15). The foolish virgins saw that their lamps were dark, and immediately applied for help to the wise virgins who had brought a supply of oil that would last all through the night.  Those wise young women refused, not wishing to be caught short themselves, and advised the foolish ones to go purchase their own oil wherever they may be able to find it.

The wise virgins were not being cold, hard, or selfish.  They were focused on the task they were given to do, and they knew they could only weaken their effectiveness if they gave their oil to those who hadn’t thought ahead enough, paid enough attention, to be prepared themselves.

Some believe that the reference to the “midnight hour” means that the Lord will come again at midnight. We have other scriptures, as we’ve said before, that tell us that no one knows the day or the hour of His coming. It was the warning  of His coming that was given at midnight. The warning was, “Be ready!  Trim your lamps! The waiting is about to end!  He is coming, He is coming!”

There are signs of His coming that are clear warnings today.  One of those signs is the growing enmity of all nations, including America, against the Jews; the determination to completely and finally destroy the Jewish nation. But that final effort will not be made until the end of the Tribulation period, which has not yet begun.

Governors and Kings

Matthew 10:18-20. “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”

As Jesus continued to prepare His disciples to go on their first mission, He warned them that not only the Jews would resist them and reject their preaching; the Gentiles wouldn’t be all warm and welcoming, either!  They would be brought up on charges before governors and kings who had the power of life or death over them.

They were to “take no thought,”  or not be worried or anxious, about how they would defend themselves.  Jesus made a wonderful promise to them.  He told them that the words would be given to them through the power of the Holy Spirit of the Father.

Remember, they didn’t have the complete canon of the scriptures, as we do.  They didn’t have the writings of Paul, or even their own inspired works.  Jesus promised them that the Father Himself, through the Holy Spirit, would empower them to have the right words to say when the time came.

Did you know that we have all the right words we’ll ever need?

When I first started working as a therapist, I wanted to have all the answers in my head like a filing cabinet, with everything labeled and organized so I could just pull out the right folder and offer counsel based on study, research, and the Word.

The longer I work, the more I realize that it doesn’t matter how much I know, or how much information I have stored away in the corridors of my brain.  It is WHO I know that makes the difference!  His words so often come to me just when I need them, providing exactly the most helpful response.  It’s a wonderful way to work.

We have the same power today to know what to say. In order to use that power, however, we need to be students of God’s Word every single day that God allows us to serve Him.