Lesson #: 01

Hope

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Introduction:

Hope provides an inner strength to do the right thing when we are in times of difficulty.  People with real hope can overcome tremendous trials.   God designed it that way.   He is the author of real hope.   It is part of God’s plan for His children.  When we embrace the hope that God designed for us, then that hope that will be fulfilled by God.   Real hope comes from us believing the promises of God.  Hope in anything else is false hope.

These promises of God fall into two categories,  First those promises that are not conditional.  We do not have to do anything for them to happen.    The promise of God’s love for us is not conditional.   God loves each and every one of us, regardless of where we are or what we have done.

Second are the conditional promises, where God says if you do this, then God will do what ever He has stated in the promise.   If we do our part, God will do “all” of His part.   Salvation is a conditional promise.    That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.       [Romans 10:9] 

The Bible is full of God’s promises to us.   Plus in the scriptures He has told us what works in life and what will cause us problems.  He should know, for He is God and He has designed us and life both in intricate detail.  

These promises keep us on the path of life.  They give us the hope and encouragement to keep us doing the right thing when we would otherwise give up.  

Obviously we have to know about these promises in order to be able to believe them.  

We do believe and expect that our faith in the promises of God will positively affect us and those things around us.  The affect of our faith is sometimes immediate and sometimes it is delayed.   If delayed there are other people or things that need to come into alignment with God's will in order for us to see the fulfillment of our faith.  We need a genuine hope in order to be encouraged and to sustain our faith through these delays.   And we are expecting God to fulfill that hope according to His promises.

However we recognize a delayed fulfillment with God fulfilling His promise is so much better than an instant gratification where God is not involved.   What God does is eternal.  

Because God interacts with us intimately according to His already established plan, when someone says "I don't see God doing anything in my life" isn't it logical that the person is likely unaware of how God's plan actually works?   If they are unaware of God's plan, how could they tell if He is doing anything?  They are still walking in darkness.  God illuminates how real life works and He has given us a very precise description in the scriptures of how to obtain it.  He has designed and given us hope to encourage us as we transition from a life of unbelief to a life believing in His word.

God is the only trustworthy source of genuine hope.   No one else knows exactly how life or humans are put together.  He calls that hope in the scriptures, " blessed hope" (hope that has been blessed).   When our hope is in these promises of God, rather than in our own strength or dreams, then our hope will be blessed by the God that promised the promises.   If one chooses to believe the promises, yet will not forsake the destructive behavior God instructs us to forsake, how can we expect God to bless His promises?  Yes, God can and does break bondages, but God is calling us to forfeit destructive behavior so we will not again become captive to sin.  God's promises are designed to lead us on the right path of life.  But more than that, God honors His word, and He blesses our hope.  The instructions for the path of life, some might call restrictive, yet the logic of these instructions is really no different than telling our children to not play in the street.  God wants us to have life and that life more abundantly.  God's promises bring hope and His instructions provide a path to where that hope can become realized.

Scriptures:

"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"   [Ephesians 2:12]
 

Discussion:
 

Everywhere we observe people, who are without God, their common characteristic is that they lack genuine hope.   


Why would people lack hope when God has already given us hope?

It is because either we are not aware of what God has given us, or it is because we have rejected it.

Before salvation we were all without Christ.  We were with out any understanding of the will of God.   If one is a stranger to God's covenants of promise, then they are not going to be living them out.  We may even have been religious, or just unbelieving, but without an understanding of the word of God, this Jesus Christ, we are alien to the real church, and to God's people.  We were also strangers to God's covenants of promise.  Covenants of promise are where God made agreements or covenants (actually a covenant is stronger than an agreement) with mankind and these covenants contain wonderful promises.  God had promised these promises and they deal with life, protection, provision, and transformation.  If believed these promises provide a hope for our lives.  We were strangers to these promises.    Often we did not know that these promises even existed, or what they were.    These promises do affect our lives.   If God promised a promise where if we did something against His will, then there would be consequences for our actions and those consequences would come upon us, whether or not we knew about the promise.

If we trust God and by faith do it God's way, then we will receive the benefits of the promises we trusted.    Genuine hope, that God will honor, is one of those promises.  One cannot be an alien to God's people and His word and expect to receive. 

Here is an interesting point, if we live without God, the positive promises of God are not ours, and however once a person turns to God, at that moment, they may now claim them as their own.  The problem arises, as one is often not aware of God's promises after salvation.  God has provided them for us, but we need to learn of them.  God has set this hope before his people.  When we learn of it, we need to take hold of it by faith and make it our own.

The scriptures describe in explicit detail, both the results of trusting God and the results of living contrary to the scriptures.   These promises are often referred to as blessings and curses. 

When bad things happen, we may blame God for cursing us.  Its silly to think that God would just curse our life.  Our lives are cursed when we don't live as we were designed.   It makes no difference whether we acted in ignorance or in rebellion.   Those that trust God and followed His plan are more likely to be in a position to be blessed.  If you did not trust God and acted against God's plan you would be more likely to have experienced the curses God talks about in the scriptures.   The blessings were not just words, but were meant to affect the productivity of our lives, our crops, livestock, family, etc.  And likewise if cursed, they would all be subject to suffer. Logically it makes sense to live as God designed us.   Without God having an affect on our lives, we have no real hope.  So God, in His love, gives us all these precious promises. 

Our next scripture is in the book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 24 and 25, there it says:       

Scriptures:

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.  [Romans 8:24-25]

Discussion:

This scripture is not talking about our salvation.  It is talking about our hope in the promises of God.   As we wait in faith for the promises of God, in God’s timing God will bless His promises and God’s answer will solve or save whatever situation we trusted God’s promises for.

So why does God give us promises and ask us to wait in hope for the answer?  Some prayers and promises God answers immediately, and some take a significant amount of time.  We will discuss two possibilities, there are likely many more.   First, as we discussed earlier, God works by His Spirit and other people or things may need to come in line with God’s will.  This all takes time.  Sometimes it takes a significant amount of time.  The second reason is mankind often tries to take credit for work that God has done.   If God waits until there is no way you or I could accomplish something, them it is blatantly obvious that God did it. 

Additionally hope and patience are fruits of the Spirit.    If all prayers and promises were answered immediately, our old fleshly nature would be strengthened, instead of our new creation in Christ.   The work God is doing is working to build up our spirit man. 

Our next scripture is from the book of Hebrews, chapter 6, verses 18 through 20, and it says:

Scriptures:

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.     [Hebrews 6:18-20]


Discussion:

This verse has tremendous depth.  It is well translated in the KJV but because it has so much packed into it, it can be quite confusing.  Unless you have already seriously studied this scripture, we ask that you take the time to carefully digest its meaning rather than just assume you know it or blindly take our explanation of it.   We desire that people would know their Bible, rather than just accept our explanations.  To be able to know the scriptures, those studying the lessons need to see the truth of the scriptures for themselves.  Our lessons are hopefully an effective aid in that understanding.  If our readers blindly accept our explanations rather that grasp the truth of the scriptures, then we have failed.  If we explain a scripture and our reader's understanding is opened to what the scriptures actually say then we have received the greatest success!  

Some Bible verses, like this one, are a masterpiece of precise detail, that only God could inspire.  God wants us to understand His words.  Our taking it slow in order to grasp the truth, is how we prove we are focused on God rather than on prideful head knowledge.   We will break down each part to an understandable concept, then put them back together again in the same order to be able understand what God is truly saying. 

"That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie,"  

That by two immutable things . . . immutable means unchangeable"   Some would assume that one of those immutable things spoken of here, is that it is impossible for God to lie.  While it is true, it is impossible for God to lie, as we study further, we realize that, this is not one of the two immutable things specified here, even though it is an immutable point that God does not lie.   The first point here is the hope that God has set before us to strengthen us, it is immutable.  Its unchangeable.  It will not change because of our circumstances or feelings.   Our hope has to come from what God has actually promised in the scriptures.  This is not talking about hope that does not come from God.  God's hope is steadfast and sure and provides us a strong consolation.  The second immutable point is that our hope "entereth into that within the veil".  It enters into the presence of God, in the Holy of Holies.  Jesus is the forerunner of entering into that within the veil and has shown us how this is done.  This is a very deep point and we need to take some time with it to try and wrap our mind around what God is saying here.

The scriptures say:   "That by two immutable things, . . . , we might have a strong consolation"   By these two points or things, we receive a strong consolation or encouragement.  In other words God intentionally desires to console or encourage us in the trials of life, much like a parent would console or encourage their children.  The intensity of this consoling or consolation is more than strong enough to strengthen God's children in whatever situation they are in.  It needs to be, as we face many varied challenges throughout life.   This hope, that comes out of believing in the promises that God has set before us is for those "who have fled for refuge".    The picture is of one running from trying to fight life's battles in our natural strength.   We flee to our refuge of safety which is in God alone.   We are stronger with God than we ever were by ourselves. 

There is a huge difference in fighting life's battles in the strength of our flesh vs God fighting them for us.  When God does the fighting for us we are not passive.  We are submitted to God.   In other words God may work through our hands and feet, or He may have us stand aside and watch Him fight for us.  Our natural mind set from our old nature says "I can handle it".  The mind set for the child of God is not focused on what I can accomplish with my own strength or ability.  But it is God fighting for us or through us.  The mind set for those trusting in God is: "God, Your truth, love and power can handle this for me or through me."   When a challenge is faced, we may not be as close to God as we should be, so we flee to God for refuge.  God sees our turning to Him and He sets hope before us so we can take a hold of it.  This is usually by our turning to the promises of God in the scriptures.  There is no question, this hope is set before us, by God.  It is our choice of whether or not we choose to take it.  It is not far away nor impossible to find, it is set before us.

"we  . . . , who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast"  

This hope came from God and God will bless it.  It is hope brought about by trusting in the promises of God.  Just common sense or wisdom alone would tell us to take hold of the hope God has set before us.  God has set this hope before us so that we could be strengthened in our time of difficulty.  This cannot be changed.  This is immutable.  This is how God works.  We take a hold of this hope by faith.  This hope serves as an anchor to our soul; our thoughts, our emotions and our will.   When trouble comes each of these, our thoughts, our emotions and our will, need a refuge.   An anchor is a great illustration.  First when we are using an anchor, it is out of sight on the ocean floor.  Once we choose to use it, it is designed to "set" itself so that it holds us in a safe place.  We have freedom to move in the area that is safe.  However the anchor keeps us from being blown on to the beach, or on the rocks or adrift out to sea by the storms of life.  Scriptures are very clear, this anchor, Jesus Christ, is steadfast and sure.  Sure means in this case solid, unmoving, will not let go. 

"the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;"  

This scripture may seem obscure for some people, especially if one is new to the Bible.  Its talking about our hope "entereth into that within the veil"    Many assume here that it is talking about us entering into that within the veil.  That is not what it says.  It is saying that it is our hope which enters into that within the veil.  The second part of this verse is that it is not just entering into the Holy of Holies or past the veil, it is talking about entering into "that within the veil"  What is within the veil?  It is God's presence.   We study the temple in other lessons and some of this may not be clear until we gain a fuller understanding of the temple and what it represents.   (There are also some good books on the temple including one by James Strong which can be downloaded free as an ebook supplement to the free Bible software Bible Explorer.   Bible Explorer is an excellent resource.)   To have our hope enter the actual presence of God is what we all desire.  Many think it is impossible, yet God, through the author of the scriptures, says that this is one of the immutable things that cannot be changed.  Our hope can through faith enter into the actual presence of God, if we follow God's instructions.  God's expects us to believe the promises of God.    These promises, provide hope.  That hope is steadfast and sure and therefore provides a very strong consolation.   That is our hope actually entering into God's presence.   This is the God that spoke the universe into existence!   

This is really good news!   This is real encouragement!  

When studying the scriptures, we exercise caution in taking an obscure scripture or part of a scripture and building a doctrine upon it.  This is very important because if we got it wrong, since it is obscure we have nothing to confirm our error.  God knows this and has confirmations already in the Bible to safeguard us and keep our doctrine clean.   This discussion in Chapter 6 continues well into Chapter 7.    The scriptures between what we just discussed in chapter 6 and the scripture in chapter 7 which confirms our point, these scriptures mostly talk about the priest "Melchisedec", so for this discussion we will skip over them.   God has placed a wonderful scripture in chapter 7  that confirms what God means when He says hope that “entereth into that within the veil".  This is in Chapter 7 verse 19. 

"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw near to God.    [Hebrews 7:19]


God set before us a "better hope" intending for us to "draw near to God"   The law does not make things right, or complete them or make them perfect.  Legalism is not the answer.  For those bound up in legalism, they can point to measurable results to justify living by law.  From God's perspective it is just works.  Without faith its impossible to please God.  God wants us to draw near to Him, he wants a personal relationship with people.  One of the many ways God does this is through a better hope.  A real hope, that God will honor.  This is part of God's fantastic plan.

Illustration:
 

To clarify lets look at an example.  Lets say you are facing a terrible situation that looks totally impossible.  You have been reading the scriptures and have come across the scripture that says “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” [Philippians 4:13]".  What you had thought and what the Bible says are contrary to each other.  You recognize that this is a promise of God, so you choose to believe the word of God over what you previously thought.  You choose to believe the scriptures no matter what happens.   Five years later, you are telling your children the details of how God came to your aid when everything else looked impossible.

Discussion cont.:
 


Anytime the Bible says something this fantastic, one must exercise caution that their fleshly nature doesn't run wild with it.  What the Bible says is what it says and it is true.  To grasp that our hope now has the ability to enter into the presence of the Creator of the universe is hard to wrap our finite minds around.  There are tremendous implications related to this scripture and others like it.   However one must be VERY CAREFUL to not add or subtract from what the scriptures say.   God is talking about our hope, (hope is a type of faith) entering into His presence.  As before it is not just entering into the area behind the veil, but entering into that within the veil.  Some softer translations really butcher this verse.  But it is "entering into that within the veil". NOT "entering within the veil".  More on this topic later in other lessons.

So what does a life look like that does not have the God kind of hope vs one with the  God kind of hope?  Very obvious is the evidence of a more short sighted view.  A "Party today for tomorrow we die" mentality.  Without God's hope, there is no logical reason to work for righteousness, where the fruit often comes at the end of a season.  Those wanting righteousness will flee to God for hope in the difficulties of life.  Those without genuine hope will take shortcuts in life.  It could be a simple as cutting across the neighbor's lawn to as vile as robbing someone.  It is a man centered life.  This is why religion fails, it is still man centered.  When one is God centered, righteousness is a virtue of God and they recognize that God's plan is to instill His virtues in us.  We willfully submit to God so these virtues can be worked out in our lives.  It is easy to point out a weak or a Biblically uneducated person that has failed and say God's plan doesn't work.  That is just a silly justification to support one's own rejection of God.

This "better hope" provides us an inner strength.  Yes, that strength comes from our conviction, however God is actually with it.  A God that one cannot see, is actually present in a hope based on the promises of God.  This may not be evident to a new believer, but is very evident to a mature one, who has experienced it over and over.  God has said it and its true.  A wise newer believer can just accept God at His word and if their belief is genuine, in due season will see it come to pass.  In times that we truly need inner strength, God sets it before us and it will be there.   These promises are available to us in the scriptures right now.  The wise will seek them out long before trouble comes.  Yes these promises will still be there when trouble comes.  If we have not strengthened out hearts before the time in which trouble besets us, then the initial setback, delays our finding the promises that apply to our struggle.  This is like getting hit four or five times before you can fight back.

Scriptures:

My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle (very busy), and are spent without hope.”    [Job 7;6]

Discussion:
 


The work required to get through life can keep us quite busy.  The Bible uses the illustration of a weaver's shuttle, which has to be kept busy in order to produce anything.  A weavers shuttle is moved rapidly up and down, hour after hour, working away.  We like to think that our busy efforts provide us hope, but often the reality is, its just like a never ending treadmill.   This busy treadmill of itself has nothing to offer more than mere existence.  Yes, its a necessity of life but once the novelty is worn off, its just work.  It doesn't provide hope beyond existence.  

The world is so busy trying to get ahead, trying to survive, yet all this busyness does not bring any lasting hope.  We get paid for a portion of work and we spend that to live.  We stay busy because we must provide for our needs to survive, not because we have hope.

Scriptures:

. . .  return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.   And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.”        [Jeremiah 18:11b-12]


Discussion:

God instructs us to return to the Lord, and to depart from our evil ways and work to make our path and what we do, good.  Those that have not woke up to that conclusion yet, choose stuff and work to the best of their devices and evil imaginations to get it.   Gain is not godliness, however godliness will often see gain as a byproduct.  There is tremendous gain in living a godly life and being content in that.  

Scriptures:

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.   But godliness with contentment is great gain.”   [1st Timothy 6:5-6]


For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?     [Job 27:8]


Discussion:

The value of a life in God is of FAR greater value than stuff.  We may have opportunity to associate with those who argue and fight for every bit of gain they can get.  The scriptures clearly instruct us to withdraw from these.  They may even be educated, very bright, and even respected in the world, but God considers them corrupt and destitute, severely lacking of the truth.  When God calls their lives into account, do you think they can win against God?  No, they may have lived for excess here on earth, God will take away their soul. 

What does it mean when it says "when God taketh away his soul?"  A simple definition is your soul is your mind, your will and your emotion.  If we posses our mind, we are thought of as normal.  If we don't we are thought of as crazy or somewhat off or somewhat loony.  When we no longer posses our will, some other force is controlling our will.   Sometimes you will hear statements like: "when it comes to chocolate (or alcohol, or drugs, or men or women, or shopping, etc) they have no willpower.  There is another force stronger than themselves at that moment, that is in control.  It may be an addiction, lust, hate, fear, pride, etc.  In other words, another force, other than themselves has control of part of their will.  God desires that they themselves should have control over all of their will.  There are similar issues with possessing our emotions and our thought life. 

So the question is; what hope is there when other forces control us or parts of us.  These other forces are destructive.  They will steal from us, they will destroy homes, families and businesses.  And if not addressed can ultimately kill us.   Its our choices about life and God that keeps us safe from or gives us over to these other forces that can take over and destroy our lives.  If our focus is the greatest gain at expense of others are we not living hypocritical.  We want the best, yet we only want it for ourselves.

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.   [Job 11:20]

From God's perspective we all should leave off our evil ways and spend the effort to make our ways and doings good.  How is that done?

Unsaved, we go our own way, we do what we dream up or imagine.  Our efforts are self motivated, and often causes suffering and pain.    We know we should change our ways and do good.   Without knowledge of or hope in God's promises, what motivation is there to do the right thing?   Anyone without Christ, has limited, or no lasting hope.  We often don't realize our limited hope.   Hope is a part of God's plan.   God has promised a hope that will come to fulfillment, a hope that will be blessed.  It is conditional on our trusting in the God of creation.   When one does not know or understand the promises God has promised to mankind, how can they have real hope.   One is then without a relationship to the God who is the source of real hope, real life and that life more abundantly.


We put our hope in our own devices, our ways, our plans, our imaginations.   Yet in the end, they wear out, they fail, they show that they are flawed.   There are times that we feel that we have gained from doing it our way, but have we really?    When the wicked were young, they were full of their own ways. In their contrary ways was their hope. When they get old, their hope evaporates.  God allows this to show us that our ways do not lead to life, we are sinners.  Rather than turn to God to have life, they put their hope in their death, thinking that death is the end, but it's not.  We are eternal creatures and beyond this life we will be either in Heaven forever, because we have chosen God, or in Hell forever because we have chosen to reject Jesus Christ, God's son who has the keys of life.

How much wiser it would be, to put our hope in something solid, something lasting, something real, this Jesus Christ!

Scriptures:

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.   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.       [2nd Corinthians 4:14-16]

Scriptures:

The scripture says: “Knowingthat he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus”.   There comes a time where we, as a believer, we realize that some of the scriptures we have heard and believed, we now do know.  Knowing and believing are not the same.  We believe and think in the mind and we know in our spirit.   It may be difficult to discern this difference between believing and knowing, but the difference is real.   As Paul knew that Christ was raised from the dead, he states that “the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus”.   This provides hope for the believer.  There is not a hopelessness in death.  There is hope that our efforts for righteousness here on earth are not in vain.    And Paul says that he knows this Jesus will lift us up also, and we will be with God along with other believers.   It is easy to say that a notable Christian will go to heaven, but what about those of us that have struggled in life and we are not a Paul?   Paul is saying this to church to give them hope.  To help them take their eyes off the natural realm and believe what God has promised “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.”  

Again to Paul he knew this to be true.  Paul knew that Christ had died and was truly risen from the grave.   The historical account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is very well established.  Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God.  And it is this same power that will raise up us by this Jesus Christ.   This Jesus Christ represents the will of God, and it is the will of God that will cause us to be raised up.  It would be silly to think that our works would justify us so we could go to heaven.  Where would you draw the line?  How many works would you have to do?  I did more works than you did so I get to go and you don’t.  

That’s just silly.  It is our faith alone in this Jesus Christ that will justify us.  And it is our faith in this Jesus Christ that will cause us to do the good works that God expects us to do.  The key is our faith, not our works.

Paul was talking to the church, trying to strengthen their faith.  He goes on to say: “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.

In other words, this gospel is for us.  God is trying to impart hope to us.  It was written for our sakes.  If God didn’t love us, He would have just stayed in heaven, and let mankind destroy themselves.   Instead, God gave us His word, His instructions to life, so that those that would choose life, would be able to have it because of their faith.  That life starts on earth and carries into heaven forever.  That is our hope, and Paul knew it to be true.

As God knows mankind is made of flesh or a fleshly nature, God provided abundant grace to allow us to grow.  The scriptures say  “that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound (or overflow) to the glory of God”.  This abundant grace is given to each of us for our mess ups in life.  As we realize that God has us covered with abundant grace, the natural response to thankfulness to God.   And our thankfulness to God causes an overflow of glory to God.   In other words, we have room to mess up in our spiritual walk and that grace really is to the glory of God.   Just like a loving parent, we allow our children to make mistakes, yet we are there with grace pointing them in the right direction. 

Again Paul was talking to believers.   In the church there are people at all levels of faith.   The hardships of the world causes our outward man to suffer and we realize that in the end, our outward man will eventually perish.   In contrast, it is this faith in God that causes us to press on and not give up.  The scriptures say: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 

God is doing everything He can to give us hope, without forcing us to accept Him or the hope.  God is the only spiritual being that is a gentleman and everything He does is done with integrity and love.   He does not manipulate us or force us in any way.

Living in this world, our outward man does slowly perish.  If all we have is our outward man, then as we see this happen, we may fear the end.  Why?   Because we know we are spiritual eternal beings.  And we realize our kingship is limited and there is nothing we can do about it.  It is limited because there is greater king.  If we are wise, we will make this Jesus Christ who is the King of kings, our king.  That means we dethrone ourselves and make this Jesus Christ our new king.   It is the most important decision we make in our entire life. 

For those that have made the decision to have the King of kings as their king, there is no reason to fear.  “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”   The outward man is destined to die.   However the new creation, the inward man gets renewed day by day, as we feed him.   Yes we do need to feed our inward man.   We feed our inward man by Bible study, prayer and fellowship with other believers. 

Its this inward man that is being raised up by this Jesus Christ, not the outward man.   How this kingdom of God works may be a challenge for new or young believers, but as one continues to study their Bible, it begins to make more and more sense.   Paul is saying to take hope in God as it is God that will raise us up.  God will raise up our inward man.  Even if one sees their outward man perishing, don’t let that distract us from the real issue of choosing to believe the truth that God is,  .  .  and will raise us up.    

Our next scripture is from the book of Psalms, chapter 39, verses 4 through 7.  There it says:

Scriptures:

"LORD, make me to know my end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.    Behold, you have made my days as an handbreadth; and my age is as nothing before you: truly every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

Surely every man walks in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heaps up riches, and knows not who shall gather them.   And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in you."      [Psalms 39:4-7]


Discussion:

It is God alone that can make known to us “to know my end”.   It is interesting to note that with all the religions claiming to be of God, only a believer in God and Jesus Christ has real life and gets connected so they can know real truth.  And, interestingly, it is only by understanding the scriptures that saying such a statement makes logical sense.  

God’s meaning for the words “life” and “knowing” are different enough from our normal meanings that it is easy to reject the scriptures.    Yet when we get serious, we realize that God’s meaning for these words is by far the more accurate definition or meaning.

God wants us to know our end.  Both, the end to the outward man, and the end, to our inward man.   This scripture in the book of Psalms is discussing primarily the outward man, how frail it truly is.  We may think we are invincible, but we are not.  When we consider that eternity means forever without end, our time on this earth is as nothing.   Even in our most advanced state, we are vain and self centered.   Where it says “his best state” the meaning in the Hebrew is like an officer standing erect.  Where everything is as man thinks it should be.  Our best cloths, grooming and training.   When we are at our best, we are self exulted or vain.

Truly our hope should not be in ourselves or our vanity.

Where is says: “Surely every man walks in a vain show”.  The Hebrew meaning is that we are walking in an illusion.  We are fooling ourselves living in our polished natural man centered existence.

The scriptures say  “surely they are disquieted in vain.”  We make quite a show, quite an uproar, but it doesn’t do any lasting good.

he heaps up riches”  The focus of our natural man centered life is on our self indulgence and piling up “things” for another day.  Yet we do not know who shall actually end up with them.  There is a balance here as other scriptures talk about a parent having an inheritance for their children.   While realistic gathering is considered prudent, heaping up riches at the expense of everyone else isn’t God’s plan.   In reality God owns all things and God expects us to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us.

The psalmist is realizing the vanity of living as the world teaches.  He says “And now, Lord, what wait I for?  my hope is in you.”   In other words, I have made a choice to wait on God and even though I do not know all the reasons of why I am waiting, I do know that it is God’s will and it is the best choice!  And because it is the best choice, I will stick by my decision to trust you and put my hope in God

God has placed us in a real world with real problems that arise from people not living as God has designed mankind to live.   God has given us instructions on how to live, and these instructions are contrary to our man centered nature.  Living according to God’s plan is a learned response.  

The scriptures say “And now, Lord, what wait I for?  my hope is in you.”  So the issue here is, how long do we wait?

There are a number of factors that affect the fulfillment of God’s promises.  We listed 6 here, they are:

  1.  Our correctly understanding God’s promise in context
  2.  Our choosing to believe and trust the promise
  3.  The maintaining of our faith in God’s promise over time until fulfillment
  4.  Other people, situations, etc that God needs to bring in line, by His Spirit in order to fulfill the promise
  5.  Forces of darkness opposing the fulfillment of God’s promise
  6.  Un-confessed sins we know about and have not dealt with

 

These 6 issues, and there may be others, if we have done all to bring them into alignment with God’s will as best we can, then we are in a waiting mode for God to fulfill His promise. 

We want to make sure we understand and are believing the promise in context.  Honesty and care should take care of this one. 

Are we choosing to believe and trust what God said?  This we do initially and then we continue to believe the promise of God.  The trials of the world and Satan will work to get our trust off of the promise of God and onto other things.  This happens often slowly or by our exciting our emotions or thought patterns we justify outside of the scriptures.  Again, honesty and being careful with details should also take care of this one.

Then there are times where other things or people are involved, in which God is also working by His Spirit to bring them into alignment with His will so He can fulfill His promise to us and to them.    We work to bring things into God’s will by faith, prayer, and the word of God.  

If we blunder ahead trying to accomplish God’s promise by our own strength then we can actually make the situation worse.  The wise will trust God in their prayers. 

Additionally we recognize that there are forces of darkness that work to oppose God’s will.  These are not equal opposing powers to God.  While Satan is more powerful than us a  humans, he is miniscule in size compared to God.  God is far more powerful than Satan will ever be.   We fight these powers of darkness by our faith in God and through prayer. 

Many believers have unresolved issues, which God has previously brought to light.  We know what they are, but have been unwilling to deal with them.  If God has shown us areas we need to give over to Him and we have refused, why should God answer prayer or fulfill His promises?   If we deal with what God has brought to light, then we are clean before God and ready to continue on with God.  And we are ready to believe God’s promises and look for the fulfillment of those promises.   If we haven’t, then it is time we deal with what ever issue God has illuminated.  If we continue to refuse, God can expose it even more.  Each time we refuse to deal with what God desires to deal with, our hearts get harder and harder.   In the natural realm, things that get harder, get more brittle.  Generally the harder they are the more brittle they are.  So it also is in the kingdom of God.  As we get harder and harder, we also get more and more brittle.  If our lives get hit just right everything can shatter.    

We can often hide these sins from other people, but, we cannot hide them from God.

The wise will confess their sins to God and trust God to give them the strength to overcome, so their hearts can be clean.   Then we can have hope.

Our next scripture is from the book of Lamentations, chapter 3, verses 21 through 26 and there it says:

Scriptures:

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.   It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.   They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.   The LORD is my portion, said my soul; therefore will I hope in him.   The LORD is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.     [Lamentations 3:21-26]

Discussion:

By remembering the character of the Lord, in that we have hope.  God’s character is love, mercy and compassion.   God’s mercy to us flows out of His compassion for us.   Each day is a new start and God is faithful.  To have the life God intended, we make God part of our life.  In reality we make him our foundation.  In doing so, God is our portion and we have our hope in Him. 

The abundant grace and mercy that God has provide to us, allows us room to grow to get right with God.  In God's love He provides an abundant amount of mercy and grace.

 

Mercy is:

The leniency that God provides in His love to us,

for things we have done wrong in the past. 

 

Grace is:

The mercy God extends now for the wrongs we have not yet done,

but will do in the future, as we try to grow in Him.

 

If, there is no allowance for our human side to make mistakes, we would not have an environment in which we can properly grow.   Since we have been provided abundance of grace and mercy, should we just sin and not worry about it?    That would be devastating, as it would be dishonest conduct and God's may remove or reduce our allotment of mercy and grace.   We need God's mercy and grace as a necessary provision in our growth.  The event, where we choose to get in right relationship with God, and to do things God's way, is called salvation.   It is God's saving grace that brings us to salvation.   Down deep, we most likely already know, that we should not act ungodly and should not follow worldly lusts.   Just because we knew this was true, does not mean that we chose God.   While we may not know all the meaning that makes up the word "godly" or even the word "lusts", we do know that we have followed our own thoughts and desires, which have been ungodly.  Lust includes far more than physical or sexual lust.  There are lusts for power, pride, money, gain, things, etc.  The grace that God provides to overcome the controlling power of our sins, strengthens our hope.   Many churches will not preach on overcoming lust as they do not want to offend anyone.  When a person sees how they can overcome their lusts in Jesus Christ, their hope is strengthened.   There is a significant difference between love and lust.   We will discuss those in their respective lessons.


While other scriptures talk about our hope being blessed, here is says that “The LORD is good to them that wait for him”.  And it goes on to qualify that as the soul or person that “seeks him” is the one God is good to.

This is something we can do.   We can seek God.  

Our next scripture strengthens this concept. “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.”   It is the right thing to do.  This is how we were designed by God.   This is a necessary part of the life God as desires us to live.   To just think we can live by truth without a relationship with God, is gross ignorance to how we are designed and made.

We respect others as we see genuine hope and quiet assurance by faith, reflected from their lives.    God desires each of us to live this way.

 

Scriptures:

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"      [Titus 2:11-13]



"Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."  [1 Peter 1:21]

Discussion:

So how should we live, to have this life that God promises?  

We know that we should "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts".   Down deep we also know that it would be prudent to live soberly, not drunken, live righteously, seeking what is right, and live godly, living by faith in God and the concepts of the Bible.   Even though in this present world there is much evil, we can still live soberly, righteously, and godly.   It is easy to get discouraged trying to live a righteous life, by just trying to do good.  That is not God's plan.  God's plan is that each of us, follow God by following God's instructions by faith.   Our goal is to follow God and in doing so we are good.   If we do things to be good, then God is left out and we are the focus.  Our focus is self or man centered,  By then following God, our hope is kindled as we look for God's answer that will be answered in line with the Bible.   That is completely different than doing or being good, so we can be accepted by God.  Huge difference.   When we embrace God's word, by faith, we will realize that our efforts are much more than just works.   More than us just trying to do the right thing, and getting God's approval.  Yes, our faith in God, coupled with our doing God's will by faith, brings the power of God gently into the situation.   This is why the Bible calls it "blessed hope".   Our hope is blessed.   God actually blesses it, if we put our hope, in what, the Bible instructs us to.   As we study the Bible, we understand that God honors His Word.   He does what He says.   All of this is part of real life and this hope, when fulfilled, makes us not ashamed to trust the God of creation.


LORD, make me to know mine end . . .  This scripture shows how easy it is to push aside eternity.  The author of the Psalm was asking God to remind him about his end, of how frail this life is.  We all face eternity.   This is why it is important that we consider that our life here is but a vapor.  We are here for such a short time.   We need to consider our end, what happens once our present life is over.   Our hope here on earth, for both, during this present life and for the here after, should be in God.   For us to face eternity without God, is so fearful.   God made it this way so that for those that seek the truth, could face eternity with genuine hope and joyful anticipation.   But for those that reject God, there is no hope and eternity is a fulfillment of their greatest dread.   All people have been programmed this way to help lead them to salvation and ultimately Heaven.    If our life on this earth, is just man focused, focused on ourselves, we have wasted it and God calls it vain.  We get upset over things that really have no eternal value.  Such also is vain.   We hope in riches and others spend them.  How much wiser to make our life "God centered", to put our trust in the living God where there is real hope.

By this Jesus Christ, the Word of God expressed in human flesh, do we believe in God.   So that our faith and hope might be in God, God raised this Jesus Christ from the dead and gave Him glory.   This glory is shown when the pure love, genuine righteousness, and truth of God is lived out in our lives.
 


So what are the promises of God that provide a blessed hope?

Our next scripture today is from The book of Matthew, chapter 11, verses 28 – 30:

Scriptures:

 


"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I (God) will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.     For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."     [Matthew 11:28-30]

Discussion:



God is saying “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I (God) will give you rest”.  

Come to God those of you, that struggle and your burdens in life are heavy.   What an offer!    God will give you rest.  He will take the bulk of the burden.  He desires us to put His yoke on us.  His yoke is light.  The world’s burden over time becomes heavy.   Between what burden we in ignorance put upon ourselves and the burden that world tries to put on us, it definitely is a heavy burden.   As we follow God and let go of the temptations the world tries to entice us with, our burden is lightened.   God does not desire us bear the heavy burden of the world.  If we live according to the world's system, we will do it's bidding.  It can become a very heavy yoke.  When there are problems, the heavy burden gets heavier.  There is no rest.    If we become a servant of God we will find the yoke is actually easy to accommodate and the burden is light and there also will be times of rest. 

So what are these burdens?  It may be the stress of raising a child born out of wedlock, it might be financial obligations where we got in over our heads, it might be fears from a past event, it might be bitterness, it might be a lifestyle that has brought disgrace, it might be our living in legalism that we learned in some dead religion, and the list goes on. 

God has the answer to all of these problems.  He really does.  He makes us a new creation and he gives us life and the instructions of how to live it.  The yoke of truth, life and love is indeed an easy yoke.   God is “meek and lowly in heart.”  God is not an oppressive taskmaster.  He does not drive us, He leads us. 


Scriptures:

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.   But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,      [John 1:11-12]

Discussion:



When Jesus Christ came to this earth, He came to His own people.  He came to those people that had been given the oracles of God.  Those that had been given the true prophets and the true words of God.

If any should have welcomed Him it should have been this group of people.   But like so many things that are contrary to how we expect that they should be, God’s chosen people “received him not”.   No not every one of God’s people rejected Him, but as a group they did.  

When someone is rejected by their very own people it is cause for severe humiliation and hurt.   Can you imagine, never having done anything wrong to your own family and they reject you.  Even the leaders in your own family reject you.  And all you have done for them, is good.

These scriptures say: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”  

It is interesting to note that here is that those that would receive this Jesus Christ that would have the power to become sons and daughters of almighty God, yes God!   

The word “receive” here means to:

to actively or aggressively lay hold of, or to aggressively take or receive properly, willfully accepting what is offered or available.  The emphasize is on the assertiveness of the one receiving

In other words becoming a child of God is conditional upon our actively taking a hold of the will of God, this Jesus Christ.   If we do,  .  .   we have the power to become a child of Almighty God!

What a promise.   What hope!

The word “power” as used here means the “right” or the “privilege”.  So by actively receiving as God instructs, then we have this right or privilege to become a son or daughter of God.

However there is another step, the scriptures say “even to them that believe on his name”.  To actively go after something is not enough.  Those that become a child of God, are those that also “believe on his name”. 

The word “name” as used here is interesting!   According to Biblos.com, a wonderful Bible reference website which is not affiliated with 4BibleStudy.com, the word name means:

the manifestation or revelation of someone's character, i.e. as distinguishing them from all others.  Thus "praying in the name of Christ" means to pray as directed (or authorized) by Christ, bringing revelation that flows out of being in His presence.   "Praying in Jesus' name" therefore is not a "religious formula" just to end prayers or get what we want!

It would be very easy, if we are not paying close attention, to get the meaning of the word “name” out of context when using the Biblos.com definition.  It is NOT saying that we should NOT pray in Jesus name.   What it IS saying, is that praying in Jesus name is NOT a religious formula.  

The question is whether our faith is in the character and will of God, or is our faith in the words “in Jesus name” added to our prayers.  

This is a huge issue.   It divides those that are just religious from those that truly believe.  However we should not use it as a club against young or misinformed believers. 

We should use it in examining our own hearts for where we are at in our own faith.  Doing so will likely bring up areas of growth in our lives that we would be wise to give over to God.

When we choose to actively receive God at His word, and to believe on the name of this Jesus Christ, then is when we become a child of God. 

Scriptures:

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.    [Philippians 4:19]

Discussion:

God will supply all our need.   This we need to think through as not only is it conditional, but we need to understand it in context.   First there is a difference between a "need" and a "want".   A need is things like food and clothes.  A want is things like jewelry, furniture etc.    Some translations translate this need and some translate it needs.   The dominate view is that it means that God will supply your present need.  In other words we need to trust God now for our need that we have right now.   Then on tomorrow, the now will be, tomorrow.   It is all present tense.   In other words God will supply your present need, however He may not supply tomorrow's need today.  But if He did not already supply tomorrows need, then tomorrow He will supply tomorrows need.  He may or may not supply today’s or tomorrows wants.


The conflict here is we often confuse a need that is not a present need, as a present need.   This can be an excuse for our natural man to rise up, discard faith in what God says and try to do ourselves "what God should have done".  This is just the carnal nature that is trying to dethrone God from your life.  We would be far better to trust the God of the Bible than our old nature, even if what we thought was a need was not met.

Another issue here is, we should to pray for our needs in line with the scriptures.  If we need food and we pray for, only the highest quality steaks, lobster, and exotic fruits, God won't likely answer our prayer according to our desires of excess.  However there are times we may pray for something special and He may provide it.  Our prayers for provision should be for things that nourish us, not prayers to feed the lusts of our flesh.

Scriptures:

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.   For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.   A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.      [James 1:6-8]


Discussion:

And if we are double minded, don't expect God to answer prayer.   So what is the difference between being double minded and being weak in our faith?   Double minded is recognizing what the scriptures say and choosing to believe it, then when any pressure comes along with a different opinion, we abandon the word of God, and change our beliefs.   It may be caused by new  feelings, new thoughts or new desires.   Satan comes along and creates a feeling, a circumstance or a thought contrary to scriptures and the person chooses to believe the content from Satan rather than God's Word.   One may continue to flip flop back and forth depending upon the environment they are in.  In contrast the weak person hears God's word and barely has the strength to grab a hold of it.


Now a weak Christian can be both weak and double minded, however they don't have to be.
 


This set of scriptures from the book of Deuteronomy is spoken to the Jewish nation.  Yet a nation is made up of people so it is an in depth overview of what God expects from us as people.   God tells us what will happen if we do as he instructs, and he tells us what will happen if reject God’s instruction.  One should keep in mind that the results of either decision, are seen over time.   It is also important to note that these old testament scriptures are fully applicable today, just as they were when they were written.  These have not been done away with by the coming of Christ.

Again it from the book of Deuteronomy chapter 28, verses 1 – 48, and it says. 

Scriptures:

"And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth:  And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of the LORD your God.

Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.

Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep.

Blessed shall be your basket and your store.

Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

The LORD shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways.  The LORD shall command the blessing on you in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand to; and he shall bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.  The LORD shall establish you an holy people to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in his ways.   And all people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you.   And the LORD shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.  The LORD shall open to you his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain to your land in his season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend to many nations, and you shall not borrow.  And the LORD shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if that you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them: And you shall not go aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come on you, and overtake you:

Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.

Cursed shall be your basket and your store.

Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep.

Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

The LORD shall send on you cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that you set your hand to for to do, until you be destroyed, and until you perish quickly; because of the wickedness of your doings, whereby you have forsaken me. The LORD shall make the pestilence stick to you, until he have consumed you from off the land, where you go to possess it. The LORD shall smite you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish. And your heaven that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron. The LORD shall make the rain of your land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down on you, until you be destroyed.

The LORD shall cause you to be smitten before your enemies: you shall go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shall be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And your carcass shall be meat to all fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.

The LORD will smite you with the botch of Egypt, and with the tumors, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof you can not be healed. The LORD shall smite you with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: And you shall grope at noonday, as the blind gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways: and you shall be only oppressed and spoiled ever more, and no man shall save you. You shall betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: you shall build an house, and you shall not dwell therein: you shall plant a vineyard, and shall not gather the grapes thereof.   Your ox shall be slain before your eyes, and you shall not eat thereof: your ass shall be violently taken away from before your face, and shall not be restored to you: your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have none to rescue them.   Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in your hand.   The fruit of your land, and all your labors, shall a nation which you know not eat up; and you shall be only oppressed and crushed always:   So that you shall be mad for the sight of your eyes which you shall see.   The LORD shall smite you in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.   The LORD shall bring you, and your king which you shall set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known; and there shall you serve other gods, wood and stone.   And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations where the LORD shall lead you.

You shall carry much seed out into the field, and shall gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.   You shall plant vineyards, and dress them, but shall neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.   You shall have olive trees throughout all your coasts, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olive shall cast his fruit.   You shall beget sons and daughters, but you shall not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity. All your trees and fruit of your land shall the locust consume.   The stranger that is within you shall get up above you very high; and you shall come down very low.  He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him: he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

Moreover all these curses shall come on you, and shall pursue you, and overtake you, till you be destroyed; because you listened not to the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you:   And they shall be on you for a sign and for a wonder, and on your seed for ever.

Because you served not the LORD your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shall you serve your enemies which the LORD shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron on your neck, until he have destroyed you."        [Deuteronomy 28:1-48]

Discussion:
 


While this was written to the nation of Israel long ago, it is applicable today whether someone believes in the Bible or not.  

These scriptures describe in detail of what happens over time to those that choose to follow God and that happens to those who don’t.   There is hope in hearing that if we do chose to live according to how God has designed us, then God supernaturally will protect us and has provision for us.   

Again these scriptures were written to the Jewish nation.   However it is people that make up a nation.  And as the people, so goes the nation.    So in reality the instructions, including the blessings and curses were an admonishment for anyone who would like the real life God desires that we all have.  God is far more serious about us living a pure righteous life than is most of mankind.

These scriptures tell us to observe and to do according to all of God's instructions.   With the tremendous lack of Biblical understanding, even in the church, we don’t see as much of the blessings as the scriptures talk about.  Then when someone then uses worldly tactics to get ahead, we praise them as though God has blessed them.   God means exactly what He says in the scriptures when He says :

And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth:  And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of the LORD your God.

God’s people have a season of growth to go before they even start to take back the dominion, they have given over to the ungodly of the world.  Again this life God has designed for us is a learned life.  And that learning only comes from God as stated in the scriptures, where it says: “if you shall listen diligently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day”.

The normal church goer, goes to church, in order to learn something else to make the natural life just a little cleaner. 

This is not God’s plan. 

God’s plan is for us to follow this Jesus Christ by faith according to “all his commandments”.   The only way to do this, is for the man centered control of our natural life to die and for us to be born again as a new creation, with a new lord, and a new savior.  What is interesting the work necessary to receive these blessings and curses will work by both faith and by law.   However we know that real life does not come by law.   It comes by faith and is worked out in our lives through because of the abundant grace and mercy provided by God.

So yes, these blessings and curses are conditional.   If we fulfill the conditions by faith for the blessings, we will have them.  If we fulfill the conditions for the curses, we get them.  

The conditions for the blessings are that we both observe and do as instructed by God.  There are two parts, first observe or study so we can know what the will of God is, and then do it.

In addition to many of the blessings taking time, it is interesting to note how God says we are to receive the blessings.   In other words if we do according to what the scripture says:

And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of the LORD your God.”   

Here God informs us, that in due time, these blessings will come on us and overtake us.  There is an implication that while we are doing what God instructs us to do at first we don't see the blessings.  Then as we continue to walk in faith, obeying God's instruction we realize that we are beginning to be blessed.  These blessings have started coming towards us when we started obeying God by faith, and in time they catch up to and overtake us.  As we continue walking in Gods instruction by faith there comes a time that we see a definite change.  This change is from where we are living by faith and don't see the blessings to where they catch up to us, to where they overtake us and not only are they around us, but also to a point of where we are walking into them.  What a beautiful picture of life and hope!   So many things are implied here.  

If we turn aside for the blessings and they displace God, then we can restrict our flow of blessings coming our way.  Our focus should stay on God.   When the blessings we have received from God get between us and God, then in effect we have cut God off.   In doing so we cut off or restrict the flow of blessings from God.

Here the person continues to put God first, and as they do so, the effect is the blessings continue to come more and more.

The scriptures say:

And the LORD shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.

Of the world we come up with clever schemes to increase our goods.  Yet in the normal course of life, “the LORD shall make you plenteous in goods”.  This is not a blab it and grab it doctrine.  This is just part of the blessings and curses of life that is dependent on whether or not we choose to follow God.

If sadly we choose to reject God and His instructions that are for life, then the curses are waiting at the door and are far greater than what we want to experience.   This is most logical.  In a simplified explanation, God’s attributes include truth and love.  If we are not living in truth and love, what are we living in?  Living outside of God’s instruction we are living in selfishness and in a lie.

There are approximately twice as many scriptures on curses in this section on the blessings and curses than there is scriptures on blessings. 

What is interesting to note is that our natural mind will often justify many of the curses by categorizing them as the negative results of a natural course of events.   It does this to maintain it’s control.  If we yield to such justifications we will just keep on experiencing more of the curses.

Is God trying to scare us?   Absolutely not.  But God is trying to show us the reality of how things work.   Are you trying to scare your children when you tell them to not play in the street?  No, but you are trying to convey to them the seriousness of doing so.   The point is, if we are not serious with God, evil will triumph over us even against our will.  It may take time, but it will happen.  God is trying to protect us.  He is saying if we will live, as the God that created us, designed us and instructs us to live, we will be blessed.  We do not have to understand everything in the Bible, because that is physically impossible.   But we can seriously study it and learn all we can.  Then if we will follow God's instructions for life by faith, God will bless us.

If we want hope, God has the answer to hope.  The blessings will be God blessing us.  All good things come from above.  There is protection.  There is a lifting up of the people among the nations.   There is respect.   There is fruitfulness.  There are blessed families, crops, businesses, and wealth.  Not that the focus is on the blessings, but the focus is on the God that provides the blessings.  These promises of blessings bring real hope.  A hope that is definitely obtainable.


Our part is to, by faith, "hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments".   It means to give our full attention to learn and to do, "all", not just part, but all, of what the scriptures instruct us to do.  Our natural tendency is to do just enough to alleviate our  current problems, then drift back to our former lifestyle.   Doing so will bring the curses, not the blessings.   To hearken diligently is not just for a season.   We choose to become God's people and we choose to stay God's people.   Many of these blessings build over time and it is through time that we find these scriptures to be so very true.

God's blessings are often conditional.  As we commit our ways, and learn and do as God instructs, God blesses.  As we continue to remain with God the blessings multiply.   This is not to say that trouble, setbacks or trials will not come.  They will come.  How much better is it to face the trial with God as opposed to facing it alone.  A trial is not a reason to forsake God, for He will fight for us.  That is not a blind faith.  People forsake God in times of trial because they do not understand how God works.   They turn to what they have trusted, which is themselves.  The time to learn about God is before the trial hits.  It is still the right thing to seek God after the trial hits, but the learning process is often painful and a struggle.  There is a depth of understanding here that we will discuss more in future lessons.  



These blessings and curses scriptures in the 28 chapter of Deuteronomy verses 1 – 48 conclude with:

Because you served not the LORD your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shall you serve your enemies which the LORD shall send against you

We have all know believers that have continued to be bitter, self serving and arrogant.  That is not how God wants us to serve Him.   A believer who understands what they have been saved from is thankful and glad in heart.   This was true even way back in the old testament times that this scripture was written.  Even though they were under a different covenant, a believer knew he or she was of God’s people.    Serving God is not something we have to do.   It is however by far the wisest choice.   If we are aware it is the right choice, yet we begrudge our choice then it is like a marriage of convenience.   It will be painful because our hearts are not in it.   We don’t want that type of relationship in a marriage, and God doesn’t want it either.   Often the reason people begrudge their decision to live for God is we don’t want to go to Hell, yet we don’t want to live for God either.  So our choice is between two things we don’t want and we choose what we think is the least painful of the two.   God is not happy with this kind of a relationship any more than a spouse in a marriage would be.   God is trying to give us His best, and if we are not thankful for it, with all its blessings, then God will allow trials to come against us.  Why?  Because our hearts are not with Him.   If trials will not cause us to recognize the value of God, then God will not protect us from our enemies.   Our natural man centered nature destroys life.  If we are not willing to give it up, then we get to see others with the same motivation rule over us.  

With this kind of self centered heart, we are focused on ourselves and that is not love.  God desires our love for him to be genuine.  Just like we do in our relationships.   He has gone to great lengths to give us the real life.

These believers that have continued to be bitter, self serving and arrogant are living like a dry drunk.  They are only doing the right thing because of their will power even though their hearts are elsewhere. That is not God’s plan.

If one cannot serve “God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart” then their faith to accomplish the working out of their salvation is in the wrong thing.  Joyfulness and gladness of heart are fruits of the Spirit of God.    Living without these things shows us that we needy people.  We need to observe and do, by faith, God’s word at the same time giving up our old fleshly man centered nature for a god centered one.

Next we have two scriptures.  The book of Psalms, chapter 37, verse 25 and the book of Philippians chapter 4, verse 19.  The first scripture says:

Scriptures:


I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”  [Psalms 37:25]


But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.     [Philippians 4:19]

Discussion:
 

The writer is old yet all his life he has “not seen the righteous forsaken”.   God considers those that believe in and trust Him as righteous.    This writer speaks from experience.  Interestingly, a person usually does not say they are old unless they are really old.

Forsaken is an interesting word.  It means being left in a time of need by those that would normally be expected to stand with you.   Forsaken is being left when you are having difficult times or troubles.  When others leave in normal times we can handle that.   But when they leave in during our tribulations and troubled times, that's forsaken.

This scripture is talking about God not forsaking people that are in trouble or difficulties.  To the young believer being forsaken by God can be a scary thing.  People are used to how things work in the world and there they are not only forsaken, but they are also trampled down and abused.   The kingdom of God works differently. 

Many people miss that this scripture is conditional.  

not seen the righteous forsaken

Only the righteous qualify.   That sounds bad but it is true and it is not really bad at all.   As stated above, one is righteous who believes in and is trusts God with their lives.   The new believer, often fears they have to be perfect to qualify.  However they don’t.    If it were no one would be considered righteous, except for Jesus Christ.

If a person does what they know God has asked them to do and have done all that they know God wants from them at that time, and they have acted in faith, then they are considered righteous.  Far less is expected from a baby believer, than a mature believer.  

Where people often fail is where they do not do those things that they know to do and they just expect God to cover everything.   While God in His love provides abundant grace, God does expect us to do what we know to do.  If we have not done what we know to do within a reasonable time, it is considered sin.  
There are several issues here.

This is a good time for each of us to seek God for any area that God wants brought to light.   If we are wise we will not try to hide from God?   God sees everything.

Also is our conscience clean?

Have we acted in faith or because of law or legalism?

Are we expecting God to do a miracle to get us out of a situation, but we know that when we are free of the situation that we will again go back to avoid God?

Can we hold fast our decision to trust the scriptures and the God of the scriptures, if things get bad?

Additionally one of people's greatest fears seems to be trusting in the provision of God.  The same writer, this old man has not seen the righteous forsaken, has also not seen the righteous begging for food.    God does not forsake His children.   He provides for them if they are trying to trust and obey Him.   Yes there are times of trouble and famine, yet God still provides for those that diligently hearken and do as God instructs.  There is a direct relationship between our righteousness and faith and God's provision.    God provides for all people, but those that are righteous, they have done the right thing, and God will not forsake them.  Their family will not be begging bread.

If we say we believe and yet we continue going our own way, would it not be better for God to allow us to suffer so that we could see that our way was not right?   This provides hope, both in that if we walk in righteousness God will be with us and provide and also in that if we say we believe and go our own that He may withhold so that we can see we are in error.

The word of God is living and includes truths that transform the very makeup of a person's conduct and motivations.  It will transform a person from the inside out.  As we mature, this process of transformation will affect our actions..  It will cause us to be, where God wants us to be, for the needed provision in our lives.  Yes He can provide for us where we are at, however many times He will allow or create circumstances that would move us into His provision.  It is our actions by faith, that causes us to be in right position for His provision.   This is not to say that He cannot provide for us wherever we are at, He can and does.  But as we mature awhile, we see that He wants our obedience, and in this obedience is often the blessings.  Take Joseph and Mary for example.   Mary gave birth to Jesus and Joseph was her husband.  The king started collecting a tax and that required a censes or counting of the people.   Each adult person was required to go back to their own town to be registered.   In the natural this registration to be taxed had nothing to do with the birth of Christ.   But in reality, it had plenty to do with Christ’s birth.   For by this law Joseph and Mary traveled to where it was prophesied that Jesus would be born.     The city of Bethlehem.   

Many times things that happen in our lives are nudges by God in the direction He wants us to go.  If  we know that that we re doing is the right thing to do according to the scriptures, then we should yield to it even if we do not understand it’s outcome.   Yes there is also the evil one, this Satan who would love to get us doing things contrary to the scriptures.    So it is the scriptures which direction we take.  For the just shall live by faith.

These moves of God are often a mystery and it is so beautiful to watch them play out.



Scriptures:

 


But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.    [Matthew 6:33]
 

Discussion:



The scriptures say “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”. 

This is not our natural way to make decisions.

But over time we learn this is the right thing to do.  As a matter of fact it is exactly the right thing to do in all areas of our lives.

Our natural man centered nature turns to our natural capabilities when making decisions and for the provisions we need for life.   This is how we were born, and for many this is all we know.    Adam was created as an adult.  Then he was given instructions on how to live to have real life.  Adam was also instructed on what to avoid, so as to avoid the death that will eventually come, . . . if Adam sins.

We do not have that privileged position.   We are born as babies and have to rely on others to initially instruct us in God’s will.  Or we have to learn how to read well enough to study the Bible on our own.   By this time we are well versed in following our natural man centered nature that we were born with.

When we do get around to paying attention to the scriptures, and we read the scripture that says: “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” it is so contrary to our already established thinking patterns.  It is not how we have done things since our birth.  Depending on the age of the person, our natural man centered perspective has grown and has been strengthened for several years. 

Usually our first response, is that doing this scripture it is probably a good way to do things.  So we may apply it to 3 or 4 major current decisions in our life.   When we do realize, that we want to obey the scriptures, we don’t even begin to realize how many things are tremendously affected by just these few words.   This is okay as we have to start somewhere.   It is important to understand that the believer is given an abundant amount of grace to come into an understanding of the depth God has in the scripture. 

In time we will realize that this scripture applies to almost all areas of our lives. And this is only “part” of one scripture of one scripture of the Bible.

As we do choose to “seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” then we start to see, over time, the kingdom of God have an affect on our lives.   In the natural we may have fought to scrape together our provision of food and clothes.

Now we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and God says then “all these things shall be added to you”.   In other words, as we do what God instructs, rather that what we think or feel, and we do it according to His righteousness, then God will provide the provisions we need.

This is so contrary to our natural way of thinking.   If we want this provision, then we choose to do as God instructs.   Our natural man centered nature, that has been our king since birth, probably won’t co-operate with our decision to simply follow God.  If it said no then its rebellion would be blatantly obvious.   So, with Satan’s help, our hearts will use trickery.  We often don’t realize how deceitful our hearts really are.  The scriptures say in the Book of Jeremiah chapter 17, verse 9:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  [Jeremiah 17:9]

So what kind of games does our heart come up with?

If we are not fully knowledgeable of the scriptures, we may assume something rather that dig until we find the answer that we know is the correct answer.  The key word is know.  

We may just assume God has everything under control and passively not even look for the kingdom of God regarding a situation we are in.  God may give some grace to a young believer in this area, but it is not wise to passively assume things about God.  God instructs us to seek and says that if we do seek, then we shall find.  Assuming things here is ignoring the instruction to: “seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”.   

There are many false religious ideas floating around that sound good to our natural man centered nature.  They don’t however line up with the scriptures.  God expects us to compare them against His word, and to cast down those that don’t line up.  This is the responsibility of the believer.  In the second book of Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 5, it says: 

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;   [2nd Corinthians 10:5]

To bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” means to take control of our thinking and cast down every thought that does not agree with the will of God as stated in the scriptures of the Bible.  This is not passive activity.  This is the responsibility of every believer.   God considers these as imaginations and as things that exult themselves against His will.  Imaginations are things we may even have considered as true.  The things listed as exulting itself against Christ indicates that there are contrary powers that we may have mentally accepted that are contrary to the will of God.   God expects us to take away their power, to bring them into captivity, so they have no power to mold or control our thinking.  We do so by believing God’s word and not believing these other things.   All of this is our responsibility.

There is another VERY interesting point here.  Why does the scriptures say  "But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness"? 

Why does God tell us to both, first "But seek you first the kingdom of God"? and then He says "and his righteousness;"?

God wants people to be genuine.   He wants them to be pure and righteous.  This is only accomplished when our hearts are pure.  We have all seen situations where someone has done something wrong and their response is they have done everything within the law.  This scripture blocks any justification by God’s word for that manipulative type of thinking.  If the scripture left off the part that says "and his righteousness" then someone could play this same game with God.  They could say that they have done everything according to the scriptures, even though they and everyone else can plainly see that what they did was morally or ethically wrong.  There is no set of laws or instructions that cover every point or every possible angle.  It is just physically impossible.  So God ads "and his righteousness;" to this scripture so that the person’s intent is brought in line with God’s will.   This way the instructions or law of God is followed AND the intent of those instructions.  It is only by doing both that the man or woman of God can fulfill this scripture.  It is interesting to note that by requiring a person to honestly seek, both God’s instruction, and God’s intent then it will separate those with a right heart from those with a manipulating heart.

So what about those that were not able to fully find what is the kingdom of God and His righteousness for their situation?  They may be new to the scriptures.  They may have limited abilities to understand.  They may be full of conflicting imaginations and be confused.  What God is doing to directing the person’s heart toward righteousness.  When the person is seeking “the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”, then there is no room for them to honestly do something that is unrighteous, and still keep inside the law.   Because they are instructed to also seek God’s righteousness.   This scripture is so simply stated, yet so powerfully worded.

Then, for all the provisions we need the scripture says: “all these things shall be added to you”.

Scriptures:

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care on him; for he cares for you.   Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brothers that are in the world.    But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect (complete), establish (established), strengthen, (and) settle you."      [1 Peter 5:6-10]



Discussion:

We want the provision of God.  We want the blessings of God.   We want the life of God.   If we make a decision to humble ourselves under the hand of God, then God will exalt us in due time.  

We will never be exulted higher than God.  And we really wouldn’t want to be there.  

Being exulted by God pertains to the provision of God, the knowledge of God, and the respect of honest people.  All those things exult us.

It was us exalting ourselves that had negative consequences.   The hand of God would indicate God's direction and God's correction.   We cast all of our present cares upon the Lord.  When we cast something, we exert effort to force it away from us and we completely let go of it.   Why do we cast our cares, our problems, our worries upon the Lord?  Are they not still an issue?   We cast them upon the Lord because He is big enough to take care of them.  The battle is now the Lord's.   The only ones we can give our problems to are those that deeply love us enough to do something and they are big enough to handle the problem.  That is our Lord, Jesus Christ!

To rise in life our natural man centered nature tries to handle all the cares and burdens of life by it’s own strength.  In contrast, in the kingdom of God, we cast our care on this Jesus Christ.   On the living will of God.   For God cares for us.  When God says something in the scriptures, He means it.  When God says He cares for us, He means He cares for us.  He truly does care for us and he expects us to believe Him at His word when He says that He cares for us.

The scriptures go on to say:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith

After we have humbled ourselves under the hand of God and cast our present cares upon Him, we walk or live then being sober and vigilant.   Just as God is real, so is, our enemy, the devil, real.  Its for this cause that we are not drunken and we remain watchful.   The devil prowls about like a roaring lion, instilling fear and seeking whom he may devour.   We resist the devil without wavering, resisting him, standing firm in our faith, because we know that our brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  

The God of all grace, who allows us to make mistakes, who has called us to live in His eternal glory starting here on this earth will after we have suffered a while will cause us to trust more in Him making us complete in Him, established, strengthened and settled.  That gives hope! 
 

Scriptures:

 



Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.   For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”    [Galatians 5:4-5]



Discussion:

It is by our faith in God through the power of God's Spirit (the Holy Spirit) that we have the strength to wait for the hope of righteousness.   In other words by faith we wait on God for the righteousness that we are hoping for.  When we do all that we can, sometimes it takes time for the righteousness of God to settle out.  There may be others or circumstances that are contrary to God's will.   These oppose the righteousness or solution we seek.  We trust in faith that the Spirit of God is able to accomplish what his word says.   Sometimes when there is opposition to God's word it may not look by appearances that God's word will come to pass.   Yet, by faith we trust God's word and in time God's word prevails. 

The argument of Law vs Grace seems to never end in the church.  If people would take the time to study their Bibles this debate might get settled, but since so many won’t, this debate continues to keep going on.

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace

For those that reject God's will, which is what Christ represents, they will not have the real life of God for their lives.  Part of the will of God is that we are justified by faith through grace and not by works or law.   It is that our justification is by our faith.  And our faith will cause us to do works, however the works do not justify us, our faith does.  Believing that we are justified by the law removes grace from the picture.   So the scriptures describes it as we “are fallen from grace”.  

We absolutely need this grace to live and grow.   This seems like a fine line, but as we mature we realize that it is a major division in our thinking.   No one can fulfill all the law so none can be justified by law.  If we miss a point of law, we are still missing it.  We come up short.

Our believing God’s word and having the abundant grace to make mistakes, provides us this environment in which we can grow as children of God.  All of us can fulfill the requirement of making a choice to believe by faith.  God gives us more than enough grace to grow in our relationship with Him.   The person living by faith will likely look like a failure in the beginning, but over time, because they can grow without condemnation and rejection from God, their faith and love for God will get stronger and stronger over time.  As their faith gets stronger, their ability to live according to the scriptures also increases and it is solid growth.  The end result is a beautiful relationship with God.

In contrast the person trying to live by law, is limited to the strength of their mind and will.  Their performance at the beginning, may look impressive, but as they come to the end of the strength of their will or thinking, their religion fails.  

The person living by law may have a religious life with a new philosophy, but their new philosophy  will not provide them the necessary grace to make mistakes.   They are under this heavy yoke for their flesh to perform perfectly.  That yoke gets heavy. 

The scriptures say:

Scriptures:

 



. . .  but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.    For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.”            [Isaiah 38:17b-18]

Discussion:

 



In love God provides the believer abundant grace and mercy to provide deliverance from the pit of corruption.   From Hell.   If one would receive the love God has already extended, then their soul can be delivered from any chance of going to Hell.

By that grace, God chooses to cast our sins behind Him.  In His incredible love God is not interested in keeping our past sins in front of Him where they are easy to remember over and over.  No, He cast our sins, when we ask forgiveness, behind Him and in His love He seeks our good.  His love is poured out on those that choose to believe in Him by faith.



Once we die, neither our death nor our grave praises us.  Those that rejected God and His plan for real life, they have NO hope when in Hell.  Nothing good is in Hell, including living in God’s truth.

The next scriptures says:

Scriptures:

 



. . .  but the righteous hath hope in his death.”    [Proverbs 14:32b]

Discussion:

 



Even in death is there hope for those that trust in God.  The grave is not their end.   God has already made a wonderful home for those that have chosen God.  Once we die we no longer have that ability to make that choice.  It is then too late.  If we do choose to follow Jesus Christ, then Heaven is for those forever that have made that choice to trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.   And Hell is for those that have rejected life from the God of creation.

Scriptures:

 



If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.   But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.   For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.   For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”     [1st  Corinthians 15:19-22]


Discussion:

 



If our faith in Jesus Christ is only for life on this earth, we are most miserable.   Why, because there would be no eternal reward beyond this earth.   We have forsaken many of what the world calls pleasure so as to stay pure to God.  However there is a heaven and it is for ever.   It is worth enduring for, for righteousness sake.  Some of our enduring will have fruits here while on earth and some will come in the hereafter.   In Heaven, the life of God will be ours forever and ever.   And it really is true.

Just as Christ rose from the dead, the believer’s  immortal souls will arise to heaven.  The scriptures say:  “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  We are made alive with real life and that life lasts forever.


Scripture:

He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.      [Malachi 3:3]

Illustration:

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.  One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.  That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. 
 
As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.  The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says:

"He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver"
 
She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.  The man answered that. Yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
 
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"   He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."      (from the internet, author unknown)

Scriptures:

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”     [Hebrews 7:19]
 

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.    [Romans 15:13]

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.   And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.     [Romans 5:1-5]

Discussion:
 


Doing something because we have to it or doing a list of do's and don'ts, living by law, does not produce life or perfect results in the end.  The concept looks so good in theory but theory is not reality.  It will never achieve making everything right, never.


However the bringing in of a better hope, a hope that is in line with God’s will and one that God will bless, that will, in the end, make things the best that they can possibly be.   That is why God calls it a better hope.   It is far better than a hope someone is trying to fulfill by law.  This better hope will do what living by law never could.   In theory law looked good but fails because it was dependent upon the strength of our mind and will.  

In theory a better hope looks like it would fail, but instead it brings about the perfection of God's plan.   Yes it often does look like a failure at first to the uneducated eye.   But its not.  It causes us to draw closer to God and in our submission to God, it accomplishes what the law couldn't.


This hope in God is designed to fill us with joy and peace as we believe and trust in the God of creation.  As we grow in God we see how great, how awesome, how loving, how wonderful He is and it causes our hope to abound or overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.  God is certainly the author of hope and He knows how to increase it.

A key point here is our faith.  We are justified by our faith and this causes peace with God.  This peace with God is only through Jesus Christ.   It is also by Jesus Christ alone that we have access to the grace, the allowance to make mistakes.  This grace allows us to stand upright before God.  Not downcast or with droopy shoulders, but upright, rejoicing in the hope of God.  So as we walk uprightly in righteousness in this evil world we rejoice or exult God in our troubles knowing that as we see God overcome our troubles, it works patience in us.  As we learn to live in patience, we gain experience.  This experience gives us hope as we have become confident that God will do in the future just as He has done in the past.   This is real hope.   It is a hope, of which we are not ashamed.  We know it works!   We are not ashamed because we see the love of God poured liberally into our hearts, our innermost motivations and desires, by the Holy Spirit, which God has given us.   This is a process.   We should not seek trouble, nor should we should not run from most troubles that come upon us.  These troubles, which we cannot avoid, are the first step in this process that builds our hope.
  Our old man centered nature runs from these tribulations.   But we believers glory in them as we get to see God build character in us as He through us overcomes these tribulations! 

Scriptures:

For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?   Or saith he it altogether for our sakes?  For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.    [1 Corinthians 9;9-10]
 

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.     [Romans 15;4]
 

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?   But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.     [Romans 8;24-25]

Discussion:
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Scriptures:

 
 

 

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We will discuss these in depth in other Bible Lessons.

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.    [Proverbs 29;20]
 

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.     [Proverbs 26;12]
 
 

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.    [Proverbs 19;18]
 

When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.     [Proverbs 11;7]
 
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. . .     [Proverbs 13;12a]
 

And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,    [Acts 16;19]    (read whole story Acts 16:16-40)
 
 

Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.   Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.   And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.     [Ezekiel 37;11-14]
 

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.   And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.    [Hebrews 6:10-12]
 
 

But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.   For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.    One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.  Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.   Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:    Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.     [Joshua  23:8-13]
 

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;    [1 Timothy 1;1]

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:    [Ephesians 1;17-21]
 

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.   [1 Corinthians 13;13]
 

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.   For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.   Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,  (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.    Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.   And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.    And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.   Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.     [Romans 4;13-25]
 
 
 

But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.        [Acts 24;14-15]
 
 

 
. . .  moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:    [Acts 2;26b
]

. . .  but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.    [Joel 3;16b]
 
 

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.   The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.    It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.     [Lamentations 3;24-26]
 

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.   It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.   They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.    [Lamentations 3;21-23]
 

And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.   I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.   Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.     [Jeremiah 31;17]
 

(Oh Lord) Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil.  Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.    [Jeremiah 17;17]
 

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.     [Jeremiah 17;7]
 
 

The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.     [Proverbs 10;28]
 

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.     [Psalms 147;11]
 

Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.     [Psalms 131;3]

Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.      [Psalms 130;7]

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.     [Psalms 130;5]

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.     [Psalms 119;116]
 

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.     [Psalms 119;114]
 

That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:     [Psalms 78;7]
 

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.     [Psalms 71;14]
 
 

Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.     [Psalms 33;22]  

(MORE HOPE, MORE MERCY)

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.     [Psalms 33;18]

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.     [Psalms 31;24]

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.    Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.      [Psalms 16;9]
 

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.   It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.    They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.   The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.    The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.    It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.      [Lamatations 3;21-26]

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Wealth

Wealth

 

The Bible uses the terms "wealth" and "riches" and they do NOT mean the same thing.

Business, and especially big business, has worked hard at redefining the meaning of the word wealth in the minds of consumers.  Their efforts to encite a lust for things has produced a solid increase in their profits.  Their clever efforts to make the consumer believe that wealth is the posession and ownership of things and property has worked.   However the possession and ownership of things, is NOT wealth, it is the possession of riches.

True wealth is productivity.   This is contrary to a normal consumer's understanding.  We have often willingly jumped on to a treadmill of work that God has not called us to, in order to have what the world calls wealth.  The possession and ownership of stuff and propeties is a sympton of wealth but it is not true wealth.   There has to be an underlying wealth that supports riches, or riches will be diminished until they are gone.  That wealth is productivity.

This is a huge issue because, many go whole heartedly after stuff and property.  After they have gained enough of these riches, they may come to realize the emptiness of it all as they have forsaken the true riches that have eternal value.  God has designed it where, when we seek after the true riches, then we will find God's true riches and often, but not always, worldly riches may accompany our getting of the true riches God designed and desired for us to have.  It is quite deflating to realize, often so late in life when a good portion of one's vitality and ambition is gone, that we have missed the true riches God has designed for us, and only have the temporal riches of this world.  The worlds system is designed to encourage us to give up the true riches God designed for us eo have in order to increase our gain of temporal worldly riches.

This brings us back to wealth which is productivity.   Some productivity produces monitary or worldly gain.  Those who have worldly riches focus on this.  They seek out and control what others want.   It is easy to see that having an income producing property, a manufacturing plant, a retail store, or being a dentist, or an attorney all would fit this description of productivity. All these produces monitary or worldly gain.  There are also other types of productivity that can fit this category such as a theif, a con artist, or any other type of crook.  Wealth or productivity can be of an honest or dishonest nature.

Some productivity does not produce an immediate or short term monitary or worldly gain.   For a mother and father to raise healthy children who are honest, moral and ethical, is wealth as well.  The children will grow up to be productive.  It is wealth for the parents, their community and their nation.   Examples of this are parents, ministers, aid workers, etc.

God's plan is that we have the pure riches.  If, in our efforts to gain riches, we sacrafice our integrity and righteousness, we will loose the true riches and only have the worldly riches.  God is not against us having worldly riches, however, God is adamant that His children are not where the riches have or control them.  

So if we have sacraficed ourselves for worldly riches, we will likely realize that, it is far harder to gain back the true riches of real life, honesty, purity and righteousness, than it was to have gained the worldly riches.   Our sacrafices have not only robbed us, but they have made the world a more corrupt place.

If we would choose to view wealth as productivity, then our efforts can be to focus on productivity.  If we do so in righteousness according to God's plan, then we make the world a better place.  And as stated before, often there are worldly riches and blessings that will accompany our efforts.  It is the lust of our flesh that does not want to wait for God to provide the blessings and riches of the world.  It is the lust of our flesh that steals the true wealth God desires us to have. 

We have some control over whether or not this happens.  Obviously God's plan is the untimate way to having the true riches and blessings.

 

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Worship

Lesson  #: 01

Worship

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Worship is a multi-faceted word.  Biblically there many expressions that make up worship. 

While often lumped together, praise and worship are not the same thing.   Worship is deeper, emanating from our spirits, while praise comes from our souls.  Many churches use the term "Praise and Worship" or "Worship" for the musical part of the service.  For many churches it is often just praise.  If you find a clean, Bible based church whose music causes its people to experience both praise and worship, you will be truly enriched.  It doesn't matter what part of the world you are in.

Your spirit loves to worship, however your soul may or may not. 

Scriptures:

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.    Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.   But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.   God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.    [John 4:21-24]

Discussion:

This is the event where Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well.  "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh,"     She was not a Jew, and she, like most who have an encounter with Jesus, realized the this Jesus was not just another man.  She still didn't know who Jesus was, but he was telling her that change is coming.  She had been taught a different religion a religious system of worship.  God's plan was to replace an external religious system of worship with worshipping in spirit and truth.   Jesus was saying that neither her form of worship, nor the external form of worship previously practiced at Jerusalem was God's final goal in how people should worship God.  There are different views on how to interpret "the hour cometh,".  Some believe that this could happen only after Jesus's death and resurrection.   Others believe that the hour comes when a person gets serious with God.   That the death and resurrection was to bring in the new covenant, which was necessary for people to be able to live in the fullness God has for a new creation in Christ.  One, such as the lady at the well, did not have to wait for Christ's death and resurrection to worship in spirit and truth.   However for her to have the fullness of life as God had planned, the new covenant, had to come into existence.   That new covenant was conditional upon the death and resurrection of the Christ.   

Jesus told her, she worshipped without really knowing what she worshipped.  This was a nice way of telling her that in her religious efforts, she had missed it.  There was not a connection between her religion and reality.  Jesus said "we know what we worship:".  Some would call this statement "arrogant", however if it is true, and we are thoroughly convinced that it is, then it is not arrogant.  Used with the other content of these scriptures, it really is a necessary part for our understanding.   Mature Bible believers know what they worship. They know God as their Lord, their master, and they know God as their Savior, the one who saves them.  Its one thing to be worshipping a god that you "hope" will save you, and it is altogether a different world where on worships a God where His will can be known.  As we learn and submit to His will, we find salvation in a living God.   Yes salvation is only from the true god of the Jews.  With other gods people worship, there is no salvation.  It is one thing to be worshiping God in a man made religious system, and it is a completely different world to worship God as God intended, in righteousness, truth and love, knowing His will as He has revealed Himself to us.

"But the hour cometh, and now is," The time is coming and now is here.  As we choose to get serious with God, the time to make peace with God is now.  When we make peace with God, we now no longer worship by a man made religious system, but we worship "the Father (God) in spirit and in truth".   The wording of the scriptures is precise, whether we understand it or not.   If one is new and trying to grasp the meaning of these scriptures, you could interpret this as "we worship God in attitude and in truth". Yes the actual scriptures have more depth, however this is a good initial understanding.  In other words, when we have given our life to God, we are a new creation.  We don't have the same attitude, we have God's attitude, God's Spirit, that is our foundation.  We now live by truth. 

So it is by living where our attitude reflects God's

loving, righteous Spirit and living as honest and truthful people,

there is where our life shows our worship of God.         

 

Compare Biblical worship to external religious activity and it is plain which one is pure, which one has life. I was chatting online, about God, with a person from the middle east and he said "I have to go, it is the call to worship".  To him, worship was putting his prayer rug down, and prostrating himself on his knees and doing a works based, external form of worship.  His call to worship would come several times a day.  His religious system had taught him, that these activities were worship.   He knew nothing else and was trying to do what he thought his god wanted.   He could recite many details of what he believed, but did God really have him and his heart?

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LIFE

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Christianity does not fit the description of a religion, instead it is a new life.  A pure, righteous, and overcoming life in God.  It is not a polished version of the natural life we were born with.  In reality, our old natural life is just an existance.  This new life in God is contrary to our old natural life.  At salvation a major change takes place, we become a new person, yes a brand new creation, and we inherit this new God centered life.  What we do with this inheiritence is now up to us.

Scriptures: 

I (Jesus Christ) am come that they might have "life", and that they might have it more abundantly.    [John 10:10b]

Discussion:

Jesus Christ, said:    I am come that . . .    

Here Jesus Christ is making a statement of purpose. 

When He says "I am come that" the form here is; “I am doing or have done this, so that something else can happen”.   He is stating the purpose of why He came. 

He came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.  The they are those people who choose to believe the scriptures, i.e.: you and me.  In other words “Jesus Christ came from Heaven to earth with the purpose of making a way so that we could have life, the pure righteous life that He designed for us to have.  The they are those that have made a genuine decision to make Jesus Christ their personal Lord and Savior.    And they, if they actively follow through with their decision, could have that new life more abundantly. 

God knew that it was difficult for mankind to relate to God.  Jesus Christ was sent, and He came, so we could relate to God on a human level.  It is only by being able to relate to God that we can understand how to live according to God's plan. 

Some see this Jesus as a teacher.  Others think of Jesus Christ as a prophet or guide. While it is true He is a great teacher, and He could be considered a prophet, both definitions are incomplete.  He is more than a teacher or prophet, He is the Word of God expressed in human flesh, made as a man like you and me. 

He knew that in coming, He would be ridiculed, rejected, whipped and eventually killed.  God in the form of Jesus Christ, has made a huge effort to reach us.  He has done it becoming an expressed image of the scriptures.  He came as a gentleman, not forcing His way on us.  A true gentleman will not force their view on others.  By giving us Jesus as a living example of the scriptures, God has graciously given us the opportunity to accept or to reject Him.  It is far more righteous for God to allow people to choose to accept or reject Him, than to manipulate or force our acceptance.  God has given us this choice, allowing us to exercise our free will as to whether or not we will accept the life that God offers.   While complex, this perfect plan for mankind to receive redemption is accomplished in simple steps.  Namely admitting that we have sinned against God and then choosing to believe the scriptures making Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.  God's plan is incredibly effective and obtainable for every person, regardless of their situation or past. 

You may have seen others or even yourself do something and when you reflected back upon what was done, you realized "that was not life".   Yes, that conduct was done by a living person, but it was empty and there really was no life in it.  However a life in God is real life. 

Some view God as mean and ready to punish at the slightest mistake.  This is a mis-understanding of the scriptures and of the character of God.   Our fears will create all sorts of wild imaginations, often even justifying them with scriptures taken out of context.  Let’s take the time to learn the scriptures. Then fear will not control us.

So the purpose here is, that “they might have life” and

that “they might have it more abundantly”.  

The word “they” is referring to a certain set of people. 

Just who are these that Jesus refers to as “they”?  

The word "they" is referring to any person that would receive this Jesus Christ per the Bible’s instructions.  These people can have a pure, righteous, life according to God's plan.  God wants all people to have the quality of life that He has designed for us. 

This statement is conditional because, not all will come to God.  And many that come to God will not be serious enough to ……learn God's ways and give up the kind of life that is leading them in a downward spiral to death.  They miss out on the life more abundantly that God desires for us to have.    

So the key word here is life" After reading and considering this scripture, it is easy to grasp that this is either part of, or its Jesus' primary intent, for coming to this earth. 

Yes, the intent here is reasonably easy to see. 

What is so often missed is the considerable depth of the scripture, and how we are to receive God's life. 

Our natural understanding of life is completely different from God's meaning of the word life as used here in this scripture.   If we miss what God means by the word life, then we will also miss the meaning of having it more abundantly.

We communicate with between ourselves with words. 

To enhance our communication, we also use body language, tone, volume and actions.  As a universal communication tool, words are the most precise, and common method used. 

Our words communicate what we think, our wisdom, our will, our love, and our emotion.  God's word, what we refer to as the scriptures or the Bible, does the same thing.  It communicates to us God's thoughts, His wisdom, His will, His love, and His emotion.  Yes, God chooses to communicate to us with words. 

Words are far more effective than force.  Some other religions demand obedience and will use psychological and even physical force, to gain and control their converts.   And in some cases, they will even threaten you with death.  In these situations, the force and death threats may gain converts, however, they really don't gain the hearts of the people, except in fear.  It’s another fear the people have to deal with in their natural lives.  In contrast, converting people through the abundant love and verifiable truth of God, is how the true God converts people into a personal relationship with the creator.  God uses words, His words, to define detail.  These details define the actions that a true child of God should follow by faith.  These words connect us to the one God that created the heavens and the earth.  And that connection, gives us life"

So for us to have this pure life we need pure, detailed instructions.  Such instructions can only come from God.  We need a plan that doesn't just change our outward appearance, but changes the very essence of who we are.  Yes God's plan will change us from the inside out.  Our hearts change first, then our conduct.  This is God's plan. 

The beauty of God’s plan is, that if we would do as He instructs, we would have this life more abundantly.   He put this plan in motion long before we even knew He existed.  He did it by making His words, His will, His truth, His love, walk this earth as a pure righteous man that we could relate to. One who was subjected to living on earth like ourselves. 

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."    [John 1:14] 

The scriptures, the Bible, the living will of God, was made into a man, the man Jesus Christ.  Yes, God sent His truth, His will, His love, and righteousness to earth so we could relate to God on a human level.  A God that is great and mighty beyond our understanding, the God of the universe. 

So in effect, the Word of God is far more than just the actual words that Jesus spoke, far more than the red letters contained in the Bible, even far more than the new testament.  So the Word of God, is everything from Genesis 1:1 to the end of the book of Revelation.   This word of God is the Bible. It’s the will, the truth, the love and the plan of God, for all people, everywhere.  And to do so this word became flesh, this “word” became the man, Jesus Christ.

God’s plan has details and design and since we are made according to an intelligent design, some of our old actions and beliefs will agree with that design and many won’t.  It is silly to discuss whether or not we are actually made by an intelligent design.  Two human cells multiply into billions of cells and those billions of cells are a recognizable human being.   And that process repeats itself billions of times.  An person cannot truthfully say, that process is not by intelligent design.  Any large manufacturing facility that hires large numbers of engineers to make their plant run professionally, would love that precision, they would love that repeatability.  They spend great amounts of money to learn how God designed the natural realm, in order to advance their business.  So yes, we are made according to intelligent design.  It is so obvious.   Again, to deny something so obvious is just plain dishonesty.  

It takes the defining ability of words to make known the details that are necessary to be in and to sustain that new life.  Our conduct and beliefs that are contrary to God’s design will negatively affect our quality of life.

A life lived according to God's plan is so different from all other types of existence. 

This word life", is very broad.  You may find more than 30 different dictionary definitions.  However in the Biblical sense, as used here in John 10:10, it is still a very broad term but its definition from God’s perspective has a very precise meaning. 

God is the author of life and it is through God that we can have real life in its most pure form.  God intended for mankind to have real life. 

We humans so often don’t understand the great depth that is in this scripture in the book of John chapter 10, verse 10 where Jesus says:

"I (Jesus Christ) am come that they might have "life”

First we are comparing our existence to God's definition of life.  Most of us have given little thought to life itself other than living after what we want, what we think and what we feel.  There is more to life. 

God has given us “the breath of life” and “a free will”.  

It is this breath of life that powers our heart, enables our mind, muscles and body functions to work.  It is the human spirit.

By God’s design, this breath of life powers our existence so that we are in a place where we can choose either to enter into the life which God designed for us or we can choose to exist without Him.  Any life without God, even with the best education, culture and worldly success, still falls far short of the life that God designed for us.  Whether we live outside of God by ignorance or by rebellion, it makes no difference.  Life without God is only an existence and it is a downward spiral that ends in eternal death.  

Our natural existence is a man centered, self centered life.  It is limited to the to the abilities of the person and mankind.  While that may seem like all a person would need to live on this earth, it falls far short of the quality of life God intended for mankind to have.  Look at the news.  Is a high quality of life reflected in the news?  No, it is an continual barage of the failures of mankind.  To improve quality of life it is necessary to change how people think.  To change their hearts and change what motivates them.   It has to be a change that goes to very core of the person.  Otherwise it would be just like paint that peals off over time. 

Christianity does that, it changes people from the inside out.  In doing so it brings a person into real life.

One of God’s attributes is truth.  When we live a God centered life, deeper truth is available to us to guide us in the decisions that we make.  Additionally that truth is our protection after we have made those decisions.  This is so much better than decisions that are made based on a lie, and later come back with consequences that hurt us.  Another attribute of God is love.  A pure, righteous, and balanced love.   And this love is part of our new God centered life.    Understanding how God designed us to live this pure, righteous, overcoming life is detailed through out the scriptures. 

God's plan is open and available to any person on the face of the earth that would desire to have the life that God designed for them.   Because of our culture, civilization or education, we may think we are living life normally.    However our normal is not God's normal. 

Jesus came so that we could have real life.   Calling our existence life is definitely not the life that God intended mankind to live.   The only way we can have real life, is to receive it from the one who designed both, life and us. 

From the beginning God gave us a free will.   That free will gives us the choice to live as we want to live.  When we choose the natural life, there are consequences to our Godless choices that will show us our failures.  It is so easy to be deceived into believing that a better culture, more education, more money and more possessions will make a better life.  These are not evil of themselves, but so many are decieved into making them their God.  They will sacrafice their souls to have them and in turn be in bondage to them.  So better to retain God in our knowledge, placing Him above all else.

To not make a decision to live for God is making a decision to reject God.    At the same time making a decision to not live for God is also a decision to reject the life more abundantly, that God intended for us to have.    Again we don't initially see it that way, but that is how it works. 

God’s instructions were for us to choose life and live as He designed us.  Living in Jesus Christ as God designed us, is life.   As we effectively follow God, we learn how to become over comers and in the end we have an additional benefit; Heaven.    Living contrary to God has its consequences as well.  Those consequences will take place whether we are living contrary either by our rebellion or ignorance.   

When living contrary to God, our free will chooses greed, lust, selfishness and shortcuts, when making decisions.  These push aside the truth.  They often provide short-term pleasure or gain.  These pleasures or gains can deceive us into believing that our natural man centered decisions were the right thing to do.  In our ignorance we think or conclude that our way was okay and the gain or pleasures were an acceptable trade off for any consequences that might follow.    

It’s not that God is against pleasure or gain.   He has many of both for His children.  It is that trusting in anything false is like building your home on a sand foundation.  The storms will come and the consequences will follow.

What we think of as a  successful life, where we have lived without God, will not gain us a ticket to heaven.  Trying to live by faith according to God’s plan, will.  But even more so, we have access as Christians to wisdom, truth and power unavailable to the unbeliever.

So our choice is learning to live a pure life in God, or to live “our” way for a season and in the end suffer the greatest loss of all, our opportunity to real life.   

If during our lifetime we refuse to choose the pure, righteous,life

God designed for us, what kind of should punishment we deserve?

Isn’t life on earth a taste of the qualities of life that God intended mixed with the dead existence of a life without God?  God desires for us to choose life but allows us to choose death.  That is the power of a free will.  In the end, our choices will result in the completeness of life or death and it will be pure life or pure death.  Only by choosing God's life will we make Heaven. 

God is desiring that we make this decision while we can here on earth – In the Book of Joshua, chapter 24, verse 15 it says:

"but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Someone may say "Oh, I get it, there is a natural life and a spiritual life."  They may say this and still be far short of understanding the depth of what God is saying.  Without understanding the meaning God applies to different words, we can easily have only a surface understanding of the scriptures.  For us to assume our understanding of a word is the same meaning as God ascribes to a word, can cause us grave error.  This is the case with the scripture in the book of John, chapter 10, verse 10.   God’s meaning is different.  

Thinking normally, from our natural man centered perspective, we may assume the words mean the same, and then in error, also assume that we have a conclusion as to what the scriptures mean.  With that false conclusion, mentally we have closure, as to understanding the scripture.  We have deceived ourselves, and it’s cause is our man centered perspective.   This is a huge problem when one studies the scriptures.  We think we fully understand something and we only partially understand it.   While this is common event in the growing process, it is somewhat avoidable by actively trying to have a God centered perspective, instead of trusting our natural man centered perspective. 

What we don’t normally realize is that God’s meaning is very precise and its very pure.   Whiles the words have similar meaning, God’s meaning is exact, it’s precise, it is pure, it is righteous, and ours is not.  And that difference, that little difference can make a tremendous difference in how we understand a scripture.  Additionally there are parts to living as a child of God, with God as their Lord and Savior, that the natural man centered person never sees.

Since a believer in Christ, actually thinks different, they act different, they have a relationship with God, their whole life is different, the whole landscape of life changes. 

With our natural man centered perspective we would say something like this in our hearts "I understand it, now what is the next scripture".   The person trying to be God centered would say in their heart, "God show me the depth that in your scriptures?"  One is man centered and one is God centered.  One perspective focuses on what "I" or "self" can do to ultimately elevate me, and the other perspective is putting God first, trying to learn God's will to please God.  This difference may seem small, however the effect on our lives, over time, is huge!

There is a tremendous depth to what God means by the word "life" as used in John 10:10.   Full understanding doesn’t come in a half hour discussion, because there are so many issues and details that fall under as broad a topic as life: 

Relationships (both to others as well as to God), education, health, finances, work, church, marriage, and on and on. The list is just huge.

God desires that His word is received into our hearts and allowed to grow and produce fruit.  Those fruits bless us and others.  When we look around us, Godly fruits are few and far between.  The problem is not God, the problem is us.  We lack depth in understanding and living God’s word.  The Bible speaks to this issue of lacking depth in the parable of the sowing of the seeds in the book of Matthew, chapter 13, verses 3 - 9.  

"And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and immediately they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.   And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred times, some sixty times, some thirty times.  Who has ears to hear, let him hear."     [Matthew 13:3-9 note: verse 5 and 6]  

God desires we have depth, so in addition to providing fruit, we are also able to stand when difficulties arise through out our lives.   God desires that we come through victorious with our purity and righteousness intact. 

Lets talk about the depth God wants us to have.  Just making peace with God does not provide depth.  Yes this is a necessary step, but it does not provide depth.   Just hearing lots of God’s word does not provide depth.   Our heart’s perspective, the strength of our decision for God, and how much we have made God’s will our own, will determine how much depth we have.  If our hearts are hardened by believing or trusting the ways and beliefs of the world, we will not have the strength or faith to wait for the outcome of God’s word to work.   As the heat of the difficulties of life becomes intense, we will wither away as a plant with no depth of root withers away in the hot sun.

This creates a problem.  When we come to God, we recognize that God is true.   We know this deep within our spirit.   However there are many things in the Bible that we may not have chosen to believe, based on what we thought was evidence that was contrary to God.  Our hearts are still hard due to not believing God’s word.   It takes time to examine each of these issues and realize that God was right all along.  Again for most of these conflicting thoughts and beliefs we may have to see their negative consequences, before we realize that they are false.   These consequences can be immediate or they can take a long time to be seen.  The short term pleasures or gains of the world’s ways, have convinced us this worldly wisdom is true.   And we use that conclusion to determine whether or not the Bible’s wisdom is valid.   While these short term pleasures and gains of the world’s wisdom may be legal, it is only the pure wisdom of God that is sustaining and pure, long term.  As people, we often don’t care what happens long term, but God does, because He knows that day, will eventually come.   God wants us to have real life both now and in the future.

We can have the depth God desires us to have, by opening our lives to the God of the Bible, trusting His word and making all of the will of God the foundation of our lives.  Without depth when facing difficulties, when our human strength fails we give up, wither away and the end is failure.   God’s plan is that we would be over comers trusting in His will and strength.

Let’s choose to learn and live according to God’s plan.  

We then become a God centered person and we give up the natural man centered perspective we were born with.  In giving it up, we choose to believe it dead.  As we have seen, the natural man centered perspective we were born with, will warp our understanding of truth.  Our man-centered perspective has a natural desire to be in control of our lives subject to the limitations we have to endure.  It’s these consequences that we experience in life that prove the error of this  man centered perspective.  It does not lead to a pure righteous life. God does a better job of leading us through life, than we could ever do on our own.

If someone is self destructing, they can take this precept and flog themselves even more.  Our point here is not to take something unbalanced and make it an even greater extreme.  

God’s love for each of us, is far greater than even the most knowledgeable people understand.  His purpose is to give us life, and that life more abundantly.  If we would just receive Him at his word.

Just because God said something, does not mean it is known about or understood.   Even the educated fall far short in understanding the word of God.  No, neither God nor we are against education, it’s an important part of life.  However read what the scriptures say in 1st Corinthians chapter 2, verse 8:

"the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;"

By understanding how things started, we begin to understand why we have missed what God has said.

So after man (the first man Adam) sinned, shortly after creation, the connection between God and man was broken andmankind drifted farther and farther from God.  Obviously in doing so he also drifted from understanding the plan of God.  So now being unaware of God’s plan and loving promises, he lives in what is left, his natural faculties of what he feels, what he thinks, and what he wants.  So, in ignorance, he tries to make the best of this natural life, without God.  He is born as this natural man centered person, and sadly many die the same.   In living so, he is unaware that he is missing the pure righteous life God designed for him.  So, from God’s perspective, he is missing real life.  He is dead.

This is stated clearly in the book of Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 1 where it says:  "And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" We thought we had life but God considered us dead, because we were only existing, we did not have life, real life.   Without "life" we are existing in a downward spiral towwards death.  

If we have made peace with God by giving Him our life, we have life.  Yet when we look around us, many who have made this decision are still in difficult struggles.   Making peace with God does not mean we won’t have struggles, it means we will now have God with us in those struggles.   God desires we now live according to how He designed us.  If the goal was just to make peace with God, to be saved, we would have accomplished that and our journey to God would be complete.  However God’s purpose is that we might have life and have it more abundantly.   The event to make peace with God is just that, the event so that we are now at peace with God.  So we make peace with God and then we still have to live our lives on this earth.  This making peace with God is a very important part.  It is the doorway to living the life God designed for us.  It is not an end in itself.  So as we now live as a child of God, the natural inclination is to live a cleaned up version of how we lived before salvation.  That is not God’s plan.  As we have studied in previous lessons, God has made us a new creation.  We are to live as the new creation, not as a cleaned up version of the old creation we were from birth.  Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.  He is now the foundation of our life.  The living will of God is the foundation of our new life.  God has given us His will as the Bible.  If a couple got married and one of them never paid attention to the will of the other, there would be difficulties in that marriage.  It’s the same in our relationship with God.  The Bible states many places that the lack of knowledge of God’s word will cause us severe problems. 

A couple examples are such as in Isaiah 5:13

"Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge:"

and

Hosea 4:6

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children."

It is interesting that the word “captivity” as used in Isaiah, when studied in context with the surrounding scriptures, indicates that their thinking and beliefs are captive.  Their conduct follows their thinking and beliefs.   Their conduct fails in meeting the necessities of providing their daily provisions.  Their houses are desolate, their farms fail and they become hungry and thirsty.

There is knowledge that flows from the truth of God and there is knowledge that flows from the world.   The knowledge that flows from God, is the foundation for life.  The Bible credits Noah as being righteous because he believed God.  You are I are also considered righteous if we believe God.   If we believe God we will tend to the will of God which will deal with the issues of life.  

"The labor of the righteous tends to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.[Proverbs 10:16]

Part of this tending to life is to seek out the knowledge of God.  If we are made captive due to having no knowledge of God, then we have a much higher likelihood of having a quality life with freedom if we will seek out and receive the knowledge of God.   Its in making this knowledge of God, our life’s foundation, that we are able to receive this life more abundantly that God designed for us. 

The difference in what man (mankind) thinks of as life and how God defines life is huge.  God’s perspective is different and His ways are higher than ours.  Obviously, since He is God. 

Providing a shopping list style, definition of life, will not do a good job of explaining Biblical life.  Further more just studying scriptures where the word “life” is used will also not provide a full understanding.  Understanding fully the meaning of this Life comes from learning and living the scriptures.  Obviously we cannot immediately learn all the scriptures.  So as we make the decision for God then we legally have this life.  As we continue in God and learn to understand and live out the scriptures, then we come to experience the life that God has for us.  The more we learn and live the scriptures, the more pure and righteous we will see the quality of our lives.  

Is the meaning “life more abundantly” or is it “more abundant life”.  In the Greek it is “life more abundantly”.  In other words God is saying that if we are serious and try to understand and live out the scriptures, then we will have what God calls life, more abundantly.  If we, in error, re-worded it to “more abundant life” the scripture could be miss interpreted to make us believe that God was meaning we would be blessed with possessions, wealth, etc.  This scripture is not talking about those things.  What it is talking about, is if we do, by faith, the things God designed us to do, we will have the pure, righteous life that God designed us to have.  And if we are serious about it as instructed in the scriptures, then we will have this life more abundantly!

God designed it, so that, if we were serious, that each of us could have a new, pure, righteous, wholesome, and sustaining life.  However,  God made it conditional, both, having this life and having it more abundantly.   If we participate as God instructs, then it is ours.   The more we make it our own, the more abundantly God’s life will flow. 

This is not just wishful thinking, this is God's plan.

Looking at this from God’s perspective, all of mankind live their lives in one of two categories. 

As either "a man centered life" or as "a God centered life"

The natural perspective we were born with is always a “man centered” perspective or life.  Even if we are naturally gracious and thoughtful of others.

Its most interesting:
The natural man centered life,
that we usually consider as our normal life,
that is the life where God considers us as dead.

The life that Jesus came to impart to us is not a cleaned up version of this natural, man centered life.  

Without an understanding of the scriptures, to understand how this Jesus Christ can impart life, is pretty confusing.  Due to the lack of Biblical understanding, for most people, its is quite confusing.  Since this new life is so different than our natural lives, it takes time and effort to learn how to live as God intended. 

Once we start to grasp an overview of God’s plan, we begin to see the tremendous detail and precise structure that He has put in motion so we can have this life and freedom in Him. 

This life starts when we make the decision to give our lives to Him and do things His way.   It is an actual decision we make, not a temporary acceptance.

We don’t have to wait for heaven.  We can make peace with God right now and start the process of learning to live this life.  If we have made the decision to give our lives to God, we are now legally a child of God.  We now are to renew our minds to the will of God.  Unless we think as God intended and submit to Him, then we are still living in our old nature.  A child of God, yes!  Living as God intended, NO! 

This brings up a very interesting point.  That is, since ”Life” is such a broad topic, we naturally have many views, thoughts, desires and beliefs.  Many of these are contrary to God’s perspective.  No, not everything is contrary, but much of it is. 

Each of these contrary points will eventually have a negative affect us as we live our lives.  If we hold onto these contrary points at the same time we are trying to live for God, they will block part of the life God has intended for us. 

It is God’s intent that line upon line, precept upon precept; we examine ourselves in light of God’s word and weed out anything contrary.  We don’t go into a legalistic witch hunt.  Instead we study the scriptures, and as we recognize the truth where we conflict with God, we renew our minds to the truth.

The Bible is the authoritative standard, above all else, for our new life.

Jesus Christ is claiming that His purpose in coming to earth is to impart life.  This is a claim that cannot be made by any ordinary man and its especially true when we grasp what God considers as life. 

This claim that Jesus Christ can impart life, is either true or its false.  If its part true and part false, then its suspect and we have to consider it’s  false.  However if we have made our decision too quick because of false assumptions or a view warped by a man centered perspective, we should rethink our conclusion.

Many, when they start to study the Bible, realize that what they thought the Bible said and what it really does say, are completely different.  Either this Jesus is the author of life, or He isn't.  Either He can lead one into real life or He cannot.

This scripture describes the purpose for which Christ came and many other Bible scriptures, describe in great detail how this purpose is accomplished. 

The Bible is clear.  If a person is willing to do as instructed in the Bible, then that person has this life.

 

Word Meanings:

The word "life" is a very broad term.  If one looks it up in a dictionary there may be 30 or more definitions or uses.   While the Bible uses many of those definitions, there are three "common" definitions that we should understand to grasp what God is saying in the Bible.  Two of these are different than the dictionary as this is how God defines these two uses of the word.  As stated before you will find many different uses, it's just that the understanding of these three specific uses will clarify what God is saying in the scriptures.   When the word "life" does fit one of these three definitions, it will make much more logical sense about what is being said.  If you understand the word life, from a biblical perspective, you will understand what most people miss.  The usage of the word outside of these three common meanings will also make more sense.   We will examine just these three uses here.

1.)  Your life or my life.  The life we have lived, are living or will be living.  This is where the word life is understood in relation to time. In other words the things that we have done or do that make up how we live over a period of time.  Example i.e.: "her life was hard",  "he will be a fisherman all his life".

2.)  Next is the natural life that we often think of as our life.  This is the man (mankind) centered life we were born with. What we think, what we feel, what we want, and our abilities, molded by our environment, provides the foundation of this life.  The key word here is the word foundation.  The decisions that we make, the life that we live, this is all from our man centered foundation.  Whether we are educated, uneducated, civilized or uncivilized, it does not change our basic foundational structure that flows from us.  Yes, our outward appearance will look totally different, and we may act completely different, but our core person is still man centered.  This is how God considers our natural man centered life.  Education and civilization does not purify our hearts.  They just make them more sophisticated.  We often assume coming to God will clean up the problems of our life, our natural man centered life.  And to a point they do.  But we still have a man centered life.  As situations press us, we find that we are still living on our natural foundation, which is man centered.  

We were born with this natural life, so, it seems so right.  This natural, man centered life, carries a strong force of preservation. The problem with this natural man centered life, is it will deny the truth to protect itself or to get what it wants.  Living a man centered life is contrary to God.  We are in a sense, our own king.  We determine how we live by our abilities, our thoughts, our will and our emotions, subject to conformance to the pressures of our environment.  Success is often to the strong, the clever, the beautiful, and the educated.  It is a life of survival, of dominance.  Failure is how the weak, the lazy, and the ignorant are flushed out.  The end justifies the means.  To the educated and civilized, this may seem like a somewhat drastic view of the natural life.  Being educated and civilized we pride ourselves on being intelligent, kind, and loving people.  But when our lives, get seriously pressed out of shape, or there is opportunity for substantial gain or short term pleasure, our natural motivations kick in, and we may do, what we would not normally do.  We then often justify our actions to appease our conscience.  Being civilized or educated, may hide some actions that could be seen by others, but is doesn't change the core motivation of our hearts.  Even at its cleanest, being man centered, is not a life that is pure, righteous or sustaining.  Education may make it more sustaining, but long term compared to God's definition of sustaining, even an educated man centered life, is not sustaining.

3.)  Contrary to our natural life, the life God desires to impart is a life that is pure, righteous, wise, holy and sustaining.  The fruit of this life is truth, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  This kind of life only comes from having a foundation on a living, pure, loving and almighty God.  The God that created the heavens and the earth.  The God that made life itself.  In addition, God has designed this type of life to be a personally connected relationship with Himself through the words of his will and by the power of His Spirit.    This is a completely different foundation for our lives than a man centered foundation, even when polished with civilization and education.  This it not to put down civilization or education.  They are part of God's plan, however they are just a stepping stone in our learning of God.  Many times our education and civilization's foundation is based on a godless ancient Greek style of thinking, that leads one away from God.

Life, wisdom, love, protection and blessings flow from a God centered foundation.  These are real and visible here on earth and are present even in the death, for those whose foundation is God.   This God centered foundation does not come naturally.  God has a plan that brings one into a right relationship with Him.   "I (Jesus Christ) am come that they might have "life"," and the rest of the plan that brings us to an abundant life "that they might have "life", and that they might have it more abundantly. [John 10;10b]".  God's plan makes us a new creation.  A creation that no longer has a man centered foundation, but a God centered foundation.    Make no mistake, they are not the same.

 
Lesson #: 02

LIFE

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Scriptures:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."      [2 Cor 5:17]

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.   For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;"     [John 5:24-26]

"And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead:"    [Luke 9:59-60]

"And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter."  [Acts 17:32]

Discussion:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature

Yes the Bible says that if someone is "in Christ" then that person is a new creature or creation in God.  He is a new creation.   It is so easy to look at ourselves after we made peace with God, and wonder if we really are a new creation.  We most likely look the same and may still have our bad habits. 

This is written so that we will know its true.  God wants us to know that this is how it is, even though it may not look like it.  Because some scriptures are easy to doubt, God includes these truths in the scriptures so that we may know the way things really are.  God said it and it is an absolute truth.

If we have made peace with God, we are a new creation!

It takes time to see things mature and become fully complete.

Many things that grow don't look like much, during the early stages.  Just as a farmer plants his seed and sees nothing for a period of time until the plants start to break forth.  Even then, they don't look anything like the full plant with fruit.

Mature believers will tell you that simply choosing to believe the scriptures will allow you to overcome many attacks of the enemy of our souls.

God expects us to believe Him at His word.  The scripture says:

 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away"

because from God's perspective legally, we are a new creation.

God does not consider our old man centered nature any longer the king of our lives.  We have given Jesus Christ that position.  Now, Jesus Christ is our new king.

It is just like an adoption. If an adopted child, embraces the fact that they are adopted and seek to grow into their new family, they will do well.  Yes there will likely be some adjustment struggles, but in the end, they will do well.

If they doubt the legal decree or the intent off those that made it, it will be hard for them to feel secure enough to trust that this is their new family.  In like manner, God clearly states that “he is a new creature, old things are passed away” to console our fears and doubts of our salvation.   Since what God says is true, we can trust that we are a new creation, even though many things really don’t look any different.  But they will in time.

God has accepted us into His family, and He now wants us to trust that and begin working on learning to understand how to live as a child of God.  The replacing of our wrong thoughts and beliefs is often called being “sanctified.

God considers your decision to give your life to Him a legally binding decision.  God expects us to honor our decision and He will likewise honor it.    In fact God will honor His commitment even if we fail.  The reality of the decision is God is bound to you, just like we are to Him.

There is so much that we can receive from God.  God is asking for our love and our obedience.  At first that doesn’t seem like much, especially since, by us giving what God asks, it seems that we get so much more out of the relationship than God does.  Our love and obedience provides tremendous blessings back to us in the form of purity, righteousness, and a new overcoming life.  It is when people are living these pure righteous lives, that cities, states and nations are all affected for the good.  The more that people live as God designed, the more glory God receives. This is how God designed it.

This is a brand new life, new thinking, all under a new king.  God expects us to learn to live this new life that He designed for us.

Remember the farmer?  After he planted the seeds, all he sees is the dirt.  No seeds and no plants.  There will be a fair number of days before the seeds germinate and break forth where they can be seen.

So just because we don’t see any change, does not mean that nothing is happening.  Some seeds take longer to come forth that others.  Be patient and water them occasionally with faith, prayer and Bible Study.

If you have done what God has asked you to do, God will do what He says he will do.  That is God’s promise and His loving nature.  Do remember that some times there is more to a situation than we understand.  That does not mean that God doesn’t love us.  It means there may be other unseen issues that might affect the outcome of our faith and prayers.  We choose to trust God and His word regardless of what we see.

Because God loves us, He came so we could have life.  Life grows.  We grow into things and we grow out of them. Look for that growth and allow it time to grow to fruitation.   Remember if we plant good seeds we get the same type of plants.  If we plant bad seeds, we get what we plant.  And if we don’t plant at all, well, we get what we planted.

So what does the scripture mean by saying to “be in Christ"?

If we give our lives to Jesus Christ, then legally we belong to God and we are in Him.  There are two ways we can be in Christ.  First is by making peace with God by giving our life to Him.  As described earlier, once we have made peace with God, we are now legally in Him.  Just like being adopted.  Once we are adopted, we are then legally in the new family.  We may not look like or initially act like them, however we are now part of that new family.  It is an absolute truth, once we have made the decision to make peace with God, we are now a part of God’s family.

The second way we can be in Christ is, as a person that has made peace with God, we can be in Christ by being in God’s will.  Jesus Christ is a representation of God’s will.  The Bible says that the word, the will of God, became flesh. (see the first chapter of the Gospel of John)  We use words to communicate, to express our will and truth.  So does God.  His word is all the scriptures contained in the Bible.  See 2nd Tim 3:16.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

So being “in Christ” can refer to being a child of God, just having made a decision, yet ignorant of how to live as God intended all the way to someone who is a mature believer, living in God’s will with the life of God evident in the things they do.

Regardless of what we feel or see, we are still a new creation.  When it says:

 "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new"

It means just what is says.  In future lessons we will go into detail of how this works.  Nevertheless, it is an absolute fact.  As we study the Bible in depth, this all becomes clearer and clearer, to the point we grow out of questioning whether it is true anymore.

The Bible does not play games with words.  God inspired it to be written to say exactly what He intended it to say.

Our next verse is in the book of John, Chapter 5, verses 24 – 26.   Here Jesus says:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.   For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;"       [John 5:24-26]

When the term “verily, verily” or “truly, truly” is used, God is saying this is very, very important, it would be wise to pay careful attention.  This information is vital to the believer.

Jesus Christ is making a distinction between Himself and the Father.  While Jesus Christ and the Father (God the Father) are one in unity and purpose, Jesus wants us to recognize there is a reason for Him to make this distinction.   He clarifies that by saying:

"He that heareth my word"

In light of who Jesus is according to other scriptures in the first chapter of the book of John, this makes perfect sense.  Jesus Christ is the will of God, as expressed from the book of Genesis clear through to the book of Revelation.  This will, of God the Father, was made flesh, was made a man.  This will of God is saying that if we will hear His word.  Please note it says “word”.  It’s singular.  It is not words, (plural) - like words He may have just spoke to those around Him. He said “He that heareth my word”   This word as in the same usage as the “word of God” which is expressed through out the entire scriptures. Then that person “hath everlasting life” providing they also believe the scripture that says; “and believeth on him that sent me”. 

In other words, those that believe in God  . . . . and . . . .  believe the scriptures of the Bible, will have life everlasting.

There is so much detail packed into these scriptures in the book of John, chapter 5, verses 24 to 26.  We are asking you to please, please . . . .    take the time to study this set of scriptures enough to digest what Jesus is saying.   There is so much here to wrap our minds around.  And God wants us to understand it.   That’s why, He said “Verily, verily” not once but twice in these scriptures.

The words translated “everlasting life” when we look at the original Greek language is actually “life everlasting” or “life eternal”.  Many would say the difference in translation is small or not noteworthy.  I would agree as long as it was interpreted correctly.  However, God had it written in a particular order to say exactly what He meant.  If we keep it as God inspired it, then that keeps confusion at a minimum.  Since God’s meaning for real life is usually different than ours, the meaning may be less clear if we are not too serious about being concise.

This scripture is a wonderful scripture to help identify if a religion is based on the one true God.  Not only do we need to believe in God, we need to define who He is.   Many religions claim their god is God.  So believing in God is a necessary first step.  Actually since God programmed all people to know that there is a God, it is something all people do already know.  However not all people will acknowledge it.  So the first step is to acknowledge the truth, we do know that there is a God.

What then differentiates between those believers with a relationship with the one true God versus all other religions?   God has given us His definition of what constitutes real life detailed in the scriptures.  Sadly not every religion that claims to be of God, believe God’s word as defined in the Bible.  Some of these ungodly religions, even have the words Jesus Christ or Christian in their name.

If the words on a sign are what we believe over what we read in the scriptures, then God will judge accordingly.  Rejecting God’s will is what condemns us.  Don’t expect a perfect church, people like you and I are there.  A church should be trying to learn and live the will of God as indicated in the scriptures.  If you study the scriptures, you will know within a reasonable time if they are honestly seeking God.  If they are, support them, if not get out and find one that is.

Again the scripture says:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”.

God is saying that if we do these two things, we shall have life everlasting or life eternal.  In other words, if we do as God instructs, we will have the life God designed for us, because of our connection and faith in God, through the living will of God, Jesus Christ, and we shall have that life forever.

By realizing that life as God designed it, is different than what we naturally and  typically think of as life, this takes on added meaning.   There is none of God’s kind of life in Hell.   And when people die their human spirit, their breath of life, goes back to God.   Yet the life that that we naturally think of from our man centered perspective, is the life commonly thought of as lived in Hell with Hell being a very bad place.  This is not how it is.

These two views are drastically different.  Many years ago we knew a man that had a son, die in the Viet Nam war.  As any father, he deeply loved his son.  The father refused to give his life to God, because he was convinced that his son had never made that decision and that his son , when he died, went to Hell.  He believed that by rejecting God, he would spend eternity with his son, and it just would not be as nice a place as Heaven.   This is a drastic misjudgement on his part.   When one learns more about what Hell is, its easy to see that the likelihood of him even seeing his son in Hell, was minimal, and most likely won’t happen.  In addition the pain and torment there dominates people’s time so he would not have any joyful time to spend with his son.   What a terrible mistake!

In contrast the natural man centered life that we are accustomed to, will not be found in heaven.  That is not real life.  God calls it dead.  There is no death in heaven.  This is why God has gone to such great effort to give man real life, the life that God designed for us.  A life defined by His will.  A life that lasts forever.  A life that is pure, righteous and holy.

When we get to Heaven we will be set totally free from our natural man centered style of life.  We will then live the pure righteous life God designed for us.   However God desires that we start living the life He designed for us right now.

Lets look again at this scripture in the book of John, Chapter 5, verses 24:  

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”.

Many use this scripture to explain how we get to Heaven.  They see everlasting life as Heaven.  God’s meaning here is that we can have the life He designed for us and that life lasts forever.  The meaning of life everlasting is not Heaven.   However if we do have God’s life and we will have it forever or everlasting, we will have Heaven because our physical bodies only last so long, and the next and final stop is Heaven.   Upon physical death we go to either Heaven or Hell.  If we have the life of God, we go to Heaven.  So “life everlasting” is the primary meaning here, and the fact that we will end up in Heaven if we have that life, is an additional and valid conclusion.

This scripture takes some time to study and wrap our minds around.  It clarifies the importance of receiving the life God designed for us and it gives us the conclusion to a life with or without God.

Is this worth it to give up our natural, fleshly, man centered life, for the life God designed for us to have?

The answer is an absolutely, YES!

But God is not done speaking.  He continues on saying:

 “and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

People can be so self condemning and they believe God is going to condemn them as well.

God is not condemning!

He sets up a plan where we can have real life and that life more abundantly.  In His plan, as believers we also have that life forever and ever.

It is our rejection of God and His will that condemns us, not God.

Everybody sins and our sin, works to destroy real life and weaken the breath of life that God gave us.  This puts us in a downward spiral towards death.  God in His love has given us the instructions on how to live and how to have real life.  For God will not condemn the believer, but we will be passed from death to life, to real life.

Jesus goes on to say:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

Those that are living dead to God, living as dead concerning the life God planned for us, for those there is a time coming and that time can be right now, where we can hear the voice of Jesus Christ, and respond by choosing God as instructed in the Bible, and we can have the life God designed for us.  That decision will give us God’s life starting right now providing we do decide right now.  We can have this life and we can have it more abundantly.

To verify that Jesus Christ has the authority to impart this life according to God’s plan, Jesus says:

 “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Jesus Christ does not hide anything that we need to know.   It is pretty logical that, God the Father, would have the keys to life.  He created all living things; you, me, plants, animals, and everything that lives.

Our challenge comes trying to wrap our mind around the second part of this verse where Jesus says:

 “so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Jesus is saying that God the Father has given this Jesus Christ real life.  Not just life to power Jesus’ body, but that there is life in the will of God as expressed in the scriptures and revealed to us by this Jesus Christ.  God desires that we receive this life and we receive it through belief in Jesus.  We believe in Jesus by believing the word, the scriptures of the Bible.  If we say that we believe in Jesus Christ and we don’t believe the Bible, then we are confused or deceiving ourselves.  If we reject parts of the Bible, then we are rejecting parts of Jesus Christ.

Some would say that we have to understand the Bible, before we believe it.  Do we know what is in every dish we eat?  Do we inspect every bridge before we cross it?   No we don’t.

There are many things that we trust without understanding them fully.  We usually try to confirm they came from a good source, but this is not always the case.   In ministering to a room of drug addicts one asked how we can trust God.   While it was a serious question, it was quite funny.  Here these people had stuck almost everything imaginable into their bodies, without the slightest concern.  Yet when the wisdom of God was made plain to them, they adamantly questioned if it was trust worthy.   This is another example of how a man centered perspective warps reality.

God proves His truth and righteousness by reality and consequences.  It is not wrong to want to verify whether the Bible is true, even for those coming out of drug addiction.  In reality their question was not one of the validity of the Bible but one of theology.  The Bible was contrary to their man centered theology, to what they wanted to believe.  As they continued in the scriptures, God’s word, the truth becomes more and more evident.

As that became truth became more and more evident, those that chose to believe, received the life which God had designed for them.  The amount of God’s life seen was small at first just like the plants in the farmer’s field.  But it is real life and it becomes more and more real to the person as they continue to grow.  Just because its small, does not mean its, it’s not what God says it is.  What God says is it is, is what He says it is.

Jesus said in John Chapter 5, verses 25 & 26:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

There are two ways this scripture can be taken where it says "when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." and we feel both of them are valid.  First these scriptures in the book of John, chapter 5, when taken in context of the earlier surrounding scriptures could indicate that anyone who would honestly hear the word of God and respond by giving their life to God they will have life everlasting or everlasting life.   God considers those living other than a child of God as dead.  We see this in the book of Luke, chapter 9, verses 59 and 60.  

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead:    [Luke 9:59-60]  

Here He calls people living or existing without God, as dead.  These people can bury the person that physically died.

The second way this scripture in John chapter 5, verse 25 can be understood is that God has the power to bring dead people, people that have physically died, back to life.  This seems to be indicated in the scriptures following verse 25.   We also see this in the Book of Matthew, specifically verses 52 and 53;

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many.   [Matthew 27:51-53]

Jesus Christ has the power to impart life even to the raising of the dead.  He created this universe and it is possible for him to even make old dry human bones to have flesh and become living human beings.  We see this in the account of raising Lazarus from the grave, in the Book of John, chapter 12, verse 17;

The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bore record.   [John 12:17]

There are other examples like where Peter raised up Dorcus from the dead in the book of Acts chapter, 9 and others.

Sometimes people ask “do I actually believe these accounts of people being raised from the dead”  I have to answer an absolute YES, and so do also millions of other believers that have come to trust God with their lives.   Once a person starts to see God move in many parts of their lives and the lives of people around them, the answer is always the same.   We realize that God, as presented in the Bible, is correct and when my views conflict, it is I,  that is wrong.  He must increase and I must decrease.

If we are living or existing without God, there comes a time that we will hear God trying to get our attention.

The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

Being the gentleman that God is, it becomes our decision as to whether we choose to hear and take heed when God is trying to get our attention.  God knows the beauty and purity of Heaven and God knows the stench and torment of Hell.  Yet God will not force us.  He will try to get our attention through preachings, consequences and situations.  With each of these the truth is obvious.  We know it.  It is the hardness of our hearts that overrides this obvious truth God reveals to us.   God is saying those that hear shall live.  They shall live the pure righteous life God designed for us.  It is implied that those that refuse to turn at the hearing of God’s truth that bears witness with us down deep inside, will NOT have the life that God designed for us. 

Is refusing the truth God speaks to us a logical choice?   This situation plays out so many times.  Someone will know they should not reject God, but they keep putting God off.  Reality is some people get many chances, and some don’t.  The issue is not whether we like or don’t like the preacher that we listened to.  The issue is God is trying to bless us with that life more abundantly while on this earth and give us that life to have forever.  Do we reject God because we don’t want to give up control?    Do we reject God so we can get more worldly stuff and do whatever we please? 

Do we not as parents discipline our children for such conduct?

Because we are adults, are we exempt from consequences?

If we refuse God’s call, will He give up trying to call us?  If that happens, God is saying that we are due for consequences.  Those in God, can learn how to see trouble afar off and avoid it.  Those outside of God’s kingdom do not understand how the kingdom of God works.  The safeguards God has in knowledge and protection for his children will not make sense to the non-believer.  

So many times we hear people say they knew God was trying to get through to them, yet they just were not ready.  While that it may be true that one may not be ready to turn to God, there is something else to consider.   The Bible says in the book of James, Chapter 4, verse 17;

Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.”  [James 4:17]

In other words, if we know the right thing to do and we don’t do it, it is sin.

That is a reasonable thing to expect from any adult.  God expects such and we as humans usually expect it from each other.

It is interesting to note here that the scriptures use the word  “knows to do good”  There is a difference from what we know and what we think or believe.  God is trying to give each of us life and that life more abundantly.  What we know is true.  What we think or believe has a lower likelihood of being true.  We know in our spirit, and we think and believe in our minds. 

Since God calls us to be accountable for what we “know”, it might be wise to rethink whether we should continue to reject the voice of God.  We should rethink whether we should continue to reject what we know is true.    

What more could God do to lead us in the right path without forcing us?  He has made a perfect plan for us to have a pure, righteous and holy life and to have that life more abundantly.  Plus have that life forever, even when this mortal body expires, we will continue to have this life in Heaven.

Looking again at the scriptures in the book of Luke, chapter 9, verses 59 and 60.  

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead:   [Luke 9:59-60] 

Jesus said to him:

Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead:   [Luke 9:59-60]

Here, Jesus invited this man to “follow Him.” He gave this man the opportunity to become a disciple, or follower, of Jesus.   His response is very sad but all too typical.  He offered an excuse. He knew the right thing was to follow Jesus but he had other pressing things to do.  He asked Jesus to let him go bury his father.  Jesus did not have authority over this man where it would be required to ask permission.   How many times do we intend to follow through on something just to get sidetracked and it never gets done.      In that day it was customary, in fact required by the law, to bury the dead the day that they died.    Even today, when hearing the voice of the Son of God, people often respond with equally poor excuses. ‘I am busy right now, I’ll think about that later” or “my free time is very limited and I don’t have time to go to church.”   We do not see the larger picture of eternity like god does.

Another common excuse is “I need to clean myself up before I could follow Jesus, I am just not good enough to be a child of God.”   This view is from a misunderstanding of how God works.  As lightly touched on in past lessons and there will be future lessons that go into much greater depth, God does not clean up the natural man centered person but makes us a new creation.  It may appear that God cleans up the old natural man (person) but when one understands how things actually are in the kingdom of God, one realizes that instead of a cleaned up natural life, we actually are a new creation and that new creation is designed to life a clean, righteous life according to God’s plan.   What it appears like to the uneducated and what has actually happened as God planned it are completely different. The natural man logically assumes that to just learn to do right will cause him or her to do the right thing.  While there is some positive effect to this way of thinking, God’s plan is not only completely different, but it is far more effective.    At first it seems that God’s plan wouldn’t work, yet when one begins to understand it more completely, God’s plan is an absolute perfect plan.  Not everyone will follow or take the time to learn God’s plan, so some people see Christians that have failed and say a system like this doesn’t work.  That is like saying a good company is bad because the employee you have interacted with has not yet been trained.

There are many excuses people can come up with, as they reject  “the voice of the Son of God”.

In this passage from Luke, Jesus gives the man the truth, expecting he will then make the right decision.   God does exactly the same with you and I.  He gives us the truth and the option of accepting it or rejecting it.  He does not force our decision, manipulate us, or pressure us to accept Him. 

Note that in our scripture Jesus simply said “Follow me .   He did not impose any restrictions or requirements. He simply said “Follow me”.  God wants us to do the same; follow the will of God in our lives.  That will give us the pure, righteous life, god designed for us.

Our fore father Adam broke the connection to God.  Because of Adam’s fall we started our existence on earth without a connection to God.

God has offered a way to restore our connection to Him.

God wants us to choose Him because in doing so we establish again a connection with the one true God.  Once we recognize that Jesus Christ is our connection to God, there is the part of following Him.   Without following Jesus all we have is mental assent.

Jesus invited the man to follow him. It was a personal offer which required a personal response.

I had an experience where I was trying to share this good news with friend. He told me “my wife handles those things for our family.”  This man rejected Jesus by dodging any personal commitment, so he choose to exist rather that have the life God designed for him.  He may not have realized what he was doing.  He may have rejected Jesus Christ without even questioning his own reasons.   Many times this battle is not articulated or thought out in a person’s mind.   God considers his current life as “dead”.  He is just existing, powered by his breath of life.   He is lost, not knowing where he is going or what life really is.  We do not despise his condition for all of us were in the same condition in times past and most of us are still coming out of this darkness.

In the book of Acts, chapter 17, verse 32, it says:

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, “we will hear you again on this matter.

The apostle Paul had gone to the city of Athens in Greece to share the Gospel.  At that time, the people of Athens, believed in multiple gods and had a “god” for almost everything imaginable.   It was the center of philosophy and there they had a large community meeting place where many who considered themselves open-minded and great thinkers met. This meeting place was called the Areopagus or sometimes called Mar’s Hill.  In times past it had been a tribunal.  But over time it lost its power and now was reduced to a meeting place.  Paul had taught in the synagogues, as usual, but this time, he went into the Areopagus to discuss God with these intellectuals.   Acts chapter 17 verse 21, describes the event, there we read; 

"For all the Athenians and all the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but to either tell or to hear some new thing."

The apostle Paul had gone to the city of Athens in Greece to share the Gospel.  At that time, the people of Athens, believed in multiple gods and had a “god” for almost everything imaginable.   It was the center of philosophy and there they had a large community meeting place where many who considered themselves open-minded and great thinkers met. This meeting place was called the Areopagus or sometimes called Mar’s Hill.  In times past it had been a tribunal.  But over time it lost its power and now was reduced to a meeting place.  Paul had taught in the synagogues, as usual, but this time, he went into the Areopagus to discuss God with these intellectuals.  

Acts chapter 17 verse 21, describes the event, there we read; 

"For all the Athenians and all the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but to either tell or to hear some new thing."

Athens was full of statues to their many gods. They even had one dedicated to “the unknown god”. Paul had told them that he knew their “unknown” god.  The God they did not know, that God was the one, true, living God.   The God that had made the world and all things therein.

Anything we worship can be a god to us.  However there is only one true God that made this earth and all living things.  None of the other gods, can create life.

These philosophers were just like philosophers today, they love to elevate themselves with their words.    This man centered mindset or life is a life that God calls dead.

You would think that thinkers would be looking for the truth, however, that is often, not the case.  If a person’s life or perspective is man centered, then the only “truth” they want to hear is what will benefit them.   These Greek’s time was not spent for the betterment of humanity.  It was to feed their arrogance and pride.    Neither arrogance or pride contributes to one’s quality of life.  Both come from weakness.  Paul knew he had something that these men needed, however to the best that we can tell, most of these men didn’t recognize their plight.  Again in Acts chapter 17 verse 32, it says:

some mocked: and others said, “we will hear you again on this matter.

It is so easy to mock what we don’t understand. 

It is so easy to say “we will hear you again on this matter” where its more of a figure of speech to put Paul off than a genuine desire to hear.  Is it possible that some actually did want to hear more?  Yes, and a few did respond, however the number was quite small.   Especially considering this Areopagus was a prominent place and a large number of people came there. 

So some mocked.

None of us are used to seeing or hearing about people that have physically died and then come back from the dead. We all generally accept that once a person or something that’s living has died, they are gone and they are not coming back.

This is how God designed things to work in the natural realm.  It worked that way back then and it still works that way today.   However, the spiritual realm is different.  The spiritual realm controls the natural realm and God controls the spiritual realm. 

God desires that the natural realm operate under the physical laws that He has established.  This does not change.

Trusting in the natural laws makes sense.   Science has studied the things around us and has tried to define how things work.   And people try to learn enough of these truths to learn how to live and get ahead in their natural lives.  All of this is good even for the believer.

If someone has chosen to believe that God does not exist, then it’s logical to press our boundaries to see how much freedom we have.    

In the book of Romans, chapter 1, verses 19 – 22 it says:

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,   [Romans 1:19-22]

The problem here is that God has made known to all of us that God does exist.    The reason people deny there is a God, is so that they can do what they want.  So they can be, the authority in their life.   This is a very complex battle that goes on in every person’s life.   It most usually is not something we are conscious of, until its pointed out to us.   Even then we usually resist giving up and recognizing God as the true king.  Few are honest enough to examine what is going on in detail.  We have denied God and we don’t want to know the details of why He is king. 

Of course when one denies that there is a God, they are expanding their own boundary.  We start to learn these boundaries as a child and continue trying to define them into adulthood.   The concept is, if we push and expand our boundary then we will have more freedom.   This is a natural unspoken motivation common to all of mankind.

Once we establish our boundaries of what we can get away with, then we live that way until the consequences of our lives start to come back to us.

Again God’s perspective is very different.  An attribute of God is truth.  If everybody lives life without boundaries, people encroach upon each other.  This causes discord and conflict.  The method of societies is to make laws and people should live within those laws.  While creating laws improves the situation, it still does not cause people to live pure righteous lives.   Laws can settle disputes, but laws don’t change people’s hearts.

Lets go back to those that mocked Paul when he told them of the resurrection from the dead.  They were living normal natural lives.  Through philosophy and their itching ears to hear something new, they were continuing to expand their boundaries.  They had already rejected what they knew about God in order to expand their boundaries and ego.  It made no difference how many “pretense” gods they had.  They were still the king of their lives.  They had used their intellect to expand their boundaries and their arrogant ego, and they were bright enough that they could dodge any real truth all day long. 

Who do we fool, when we dodge God?

We don’t fool God, not even for a second.   God sees exactly what we are doing, and sees it much clearer than we do.

A man centered person, in their attempt to escape being under authority, will try to convince themselves there is no God and they will also try to convince others that are around them.

This is hypocrisy to the extreme and it is so commonplace it’s considered normal through out society.

We need to remember that God programmed all people to “know” that there is a God.   When people convince themselves that there is not a God, they have denied what they truly know, and have replaced it with what they want to think.  By doing so, it expands their boundaries to conduct that which will provide them with what they consider additional freedom and often additional pleasure or gain.   But those all come with consequences and usually also negatively affect others.  The more that envelope is pushed, the more others suffer.  Its not just normal life or business, but it becomes dominance, control, and abuse.  This is clearly seen in criminal behavior.  But it is also seen in people who are still living a man centered life.  We have traded the truth for what we wanted to be true.

We have chosen to justify our man centered life because we are in the center of it.  We believe it wrong, only when it negatively affects us or goes beyond our level of acceptance.  We give higher authority to what we think than to what we know.  We have made our mind our king.  As such, we have come to accept this man centered perspective as normal.  This is not God’s plan.   

Many people consider what Paul said later in Corinth an indication that the men of Athens had very hard hearts.  Trying to reach them on an intellectual level failed because they were not looking for the truth, but just to feed their man centered ego.   By the time Paul got to Corinth, he had recognized that trying to reach people on a philosophical level was a failure.   This is indicated in the scriptures in 1st Corinthians chapter 2, verse 2:

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  [1st Cor. 2:2]

Philosophical discussions are discussions from our minds.  Our mind, our thinking, is part of our soul.  When the scriptures refer to our flesh they referring to one of two parts.

One, our fleshly nature which is part of our soul.  Or two, our physical flesh which is our body.   Quite often, the word flesh is referring to just our fleshly nature.  What we feel, what we think, and what we want.   Again, sometimes the word flesh refers to our physical body.  And there are times the word flesh refers to “both” our fleshly nature and our body.   

Besides our soul we have a human spirit.  They are not the same.  It is only by the detail written in the scriptures that these two parts are dividable.   Nothing else can divide soul and spirit.  Many cults work to merge our understanding of soul and spirit as one entity.

When Paul tried to reach these philosophers, but could not go deeper than a fleshly discussion.  The mind was as deep as the conversation could go.  These philosophers and intellectuals considered the mind the most noble part of man.  Sadly they did not realize that the God they had rejected had designed their mind to be their servant and not their king.  Because their hearts were closed they missed some of the greatest truth ever told.  

Once one recognizes that we have a spirit and God can dwell in us, in our spirit, then the establishment of truth takes on a whole new level.  It is not what we choose to believe that is true, but that which really is true, that is true. 

This plan of God is “SO” contrary to how the natural man centered perspective thinks.  By making Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, it dethrones our mind as our king.   If we limit our understanding to the mind, we have our mind as our king.   Jesus Christ is the will of God made manifest in human flesh.  If He is now our new king, our mind isn’t king any more.  

Since God knows all things, He knows much that we don’t. 

This brings up another VERY interesting topic which we will study deeper in future lessons.   That is, that the spiritual level is deeper than the mind level and the spiritual level controls the natural.  

In the book of John, chapter 3, verse 6 we read:

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

So the question then is; 

What is the difference between this flesh and what is born of the Spirit?

We will save the depth of this for a future lesson however, something that is born of the flesh are those things that emanate from our fleshly or soulish nature or the dictates of our body.   So our will, our emotions, and our thinking that is outside of God, these are all born of the flesh.  We usually don’t struggle with the concept that our will and emotions flow from our fleshly nature.   However, it’s sometimes hard to grasp that our thinking, those thoughts which are thought outside of God, which flow from our fleshly nature or from our soul are to be considered our flesh.  But they are.

If we regard the mind to be the most noble part of man, then, we in error are living a more base design of life than God designed or intended for us.   We are not and can not live up to the full potential God designed for a child of God.  God designed the mind to be a servant and Jesus Christ to be our king.   

The mind can also be used of God, if one’s heart is open to the truth of the scriptures.  This is why the mind is often a battlefield and this is why God tells us in the scriptures in the book of Proverbs, chapter 4, verse 23:

Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Our hearts are our innermost desires and motivation.

When it says in the book of John, chapter 3, verse 6:

        “and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Please note:  The first word Spirit is capitalized.  It is capitalized because it is referring to the Holy Spirit of God.

It is saying those things that are born of the Spirit of God are spiritual in nature and they come from God.

So what can we deduct from this?   Discussions that are only from the mind of man, only penetrate as far as to the minds of others, no matter how religious they are. 

In contrast, discussions that flow from the Spirit of God, will penetrate deeper than the minds of people.  They will penetrate clear to the depth of their human spirit, providing their hearts are open.   In the case of Paul at Athens, because these men were not seeking truth with an open heart, they only could relate to Paul on an intellectual level.

From a natural man centered perspective anything outside of trusting the natural laws of science, or what is promoted as science, is foolishness to these intellectuals.  Even though these same intellectuals, in their wisdom, have rejected what they knew so that they could believe what they wanted to think. 

So when Paul was trying to discuss this “unknown God” to these philosophers and intellectuals, because their hearts were not open, most really did not receive what he said.  In their worldly wisdom, the truth of God was intentionally shut out.

And later when Paul went on to Corinth, he made it clear, he was not interested in mind games. 

We see in the 1st book of Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 2, where Paul says:

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

He only knew Jesus Christ and Him crucified.   When one understands all that knowing this Jesus Christ and this Christ crucified, means, one could assume Paul was making an also making an arrogant statement.  Paul was definitely NOT making an arrogant statement.  He was stating clearly, that a discussion from Paul’s mind to the mind of others, had little spiritual value.  Ministry takes place when our words are from God and the people allow them to penetrate into their hearts.  In contrast, a mind to mind discussion does NOT impart life, just facts and figures.   Paul was making a declaration that he was not going to preach just from his mind to try to convince the minds of others.  It was a waste of time.

Some might interpret these efforts in Christianity to go deeper than our minds as a religion that’s not for intellectuals or bright people.   That is a misunderstanding! Christ is for all people.

The issue is intellectuals and bright people have more tools to dodge the truth of the scriptures than normal people.   The issue of life remains the same.  Real life only comes through Jesus Christ.  If you are bright or an intellectual, you can now use your God given talents and abilities to serve the creator that you used in times past, to serve yourself.   There is no superiority of any class of people in the kingdom of God.  We are all sinners that were saved by the mercy and grace of God through faith in this Jesus Christ.

Normal human behavior is the same today as it was when Paul tried to reason with those at the Areopagus in Athens.  

When we are faced with real truth, we usually do one of four things.  1.) we get mad and upset, and give a strong show of our feelings to intimidate the truth.  2.)  We deny or even mock the truth.   Or 3.) we just ignore what was said.  Or 4.) we acknowledge the truth.

It could be argued in Acts chapter 17 verse 32 that they mocked because they could not relate to someone being resurrected from the dead.  Mocking is a form of one-upmanship.   A righteous person does not mock.   Of course someone who has denied what they already do know, already has issues with being righteous.

When it says:

"and others said, “we will hear you again on this matter."

was this actually meaning that they were thinking about what Paul said and wanted to hear more, or was this just a way to put him off?

Where Paul went, he established churches if he could connect with the people.   We know that he didn’t establish a church in Athens.  Instead he went on to Corinth.  From this the likelihood is strong that these intellectuals were just putting him off.  There were a few conversion, but very few. 

Logic would say that intellectuals are looking for the truth, but that was not the situation Paul encountered with most of those at the Areopagus in Athens.

Our flesh naturally wants to reject God to stay in control.  For our flesh it is a matter of survival and survival instincts are strong.  This battle for our souls is most often an unspoken battle.  It is not normally articulated in our minds.  Because it is waged in our hearts, it is waged in a hidden arena.  We think we know what is in our hearts, but it is only through a relationship with Jesus Christ, that the motivations of our heart, become clear. 

We have an established position because we are born with it.  That does not make it right.   Jesus Christ came so that we could have real life and that life more abundantly.

We, just like the intellectuals need open hearts, if we want the pure righteous life of God.

This is not blind faith.  No, instead, God will lead by bearing witness in our inner man to the scriptures and we will know it.

Lesson #: 03

LIFE

Scriptures:

"He that hath the Son (Jesus Christ) has life; and he that hath not the Son of God has not life."   [1 John 5:12]

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."   [John 8:12]

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"      [John 11:25]

"And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers."   [Acts 3:17]

Discussion:

The Bible says:

"he that has the Son has life; and he that hath not the Son of God, has not life."

This is contrary to how we naturally perceive life.  Before we began to realize that God's view of life was different, we thought we had life.  We just needed more smarts, more beauty, more love, more things.  

As stated before, we were learned that God gave each of us the natural breath of life.  That breath of life allows us to exist where we have the ability to make choices.  It is those choices that will determine whether or not we have real life, the pure righteous life that God designed for us.

He that has the Son (Jesus Christ) has life”   Here the scriptures state clearly that he that has the Son has life.  It is talking about that pure righteous life which God has designed for mankind, if they would receive it.   Having the Son of God comes only from us making a choice to do so.   It is not inherited, nor does it come just by an association with others who have made this decision for God. 

It is interesting to note that the scriptures say “He that has the Son (Jesus Christ) has life”.  In other words, its not just learning about this Jesus Christ or learning His ways.  It says “He that has the Son”.   It is implied that whoever has this Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior, that this person “has life”   This goes far beyond trying to learn principles from the scriptures and applying them in our lives.  Yes we do that however, that is really not the point God is trying to make known here.  

What God is saying is the person that has this Jesus Christ, or has Him as our foundation, that person has real life.    This Jesus Christ is the will of God expressed in human flesh.   God wants His will to be expressed from our lives in sincerity and truth.  That is far more than picking up a good concept here or there from the Bible and doing it.  Instead of maintaining a man centered life using the Bible for an occasional truth to help make our life clean, God is saying that the very word of God, is our life.  This Jesus Christ is “the resurrection and is the life”  God is telling us that when we give Him our life we are buried with Him in His death and we are risen with Him in newness of life.   When we are risen with Him, we are risen as a new creation.  Now this Jesus Christ is our foundation.  It is not I that live, but Jesus Christ, the will of God that lives in me.  Old things are passed way, behold all things are become new.

Does this mean we change how we teach concepts of the Bible?  No, instead it means we  change our perspective so as to teach believers that at salvation, they became a new creation.   We want people to learn that now God considers them a new creation, not the same person with a cleaned up old nature. 

When we choose to make the will of God our new foundation.  All of our actions, our thoughts, our conversations, where we go, what we do, what we choose to see, it all flows from our trust and understanding of the will of God, this Jesus Christ.  And this is the new creation that we are in Christ.

In doing so, we will have the life that God designed for us.  The life God intended for us to have, rather than existing by what we feel, what we think and what we want.  All of which have their consequences.   God designed us, God made us, and He really does have the best plan for our lives.

God says that “and he that has not the Son of God has not life”.    This describes how we exist without God, blindly groping to get ahead.   Using the world’s wisdom for pleasure and gain, but still in a downward spiral towards death.  We don’t have the pure, righteous, overcoming life that God desires we have.  We have come up far short of the quality of life God has for us in His Son.

Yes, without this Jesus as our foundation, we are missing real life.  Even in our best human efforts we are not able to identify it.  We were born missing it.  There is a void, an emptiness in each of us that desires this life.  This void only God can fill.  

We have tried so hard to fill this void, this emptiness.   Emotion, pride, wealth, drugs, power, peace, excitement.  None of these were satisfying.  None of these worked because they can’t.   We may have tried to cover it up or justify it away in denial.  Again it just doesn’t work.  We may have tried to keep ourselves so busy that we don't have time to face reality.  Eventually we realize that doesn’t work either. We may have kept worldly noise going all the time to block out our fear of facing God.   Not grasping that God loves us so much and His plan for us is for our own good.   We have been empty and missing real life.   Yes, we have been running from God.

As we get older we find that we may not have,  . . .   the quality of life that we thought we were going to have.  We may have done well according to worldly standards, but while all this is nice, there is still this emptiness.   That emptiness is God’s way of saying “You don’t have real life.  Come home.  Come to God. Nothing else has the real life we seek.”

We sense God calling us when we are quiet, when the music fades, when the show is over.   We may not articulate it, but it is God calling us to Himself.  Without God, that emptiness, will still be there.   More of the world will not make it go away. 

In our past, parts of our life may have become enslaved and we didn't realize it until it was too late.  We have given up part of our soul, in order to get what we thought we wanted.  Now we realize that other things control parts of us.  After the fact, we have realized that, that the loss, is often greater than we expected. 

Some find they walk in darkness more than others, its still the same situation for all people.  Living in our natural born, man centered perspective, is a life far short of the life that God designed for us and intended for us to have.

People tend to build up for themselves a worldly kingdom.  It may be as simple as their cell phone and the clothes on their back, or it might be as complex as the kingdom of those few who control the world's international banking.  There is a natural kingdom and there is the spiritual kingdom.  We may consider ourselves very clever in building up our natural kingdom.   Our friends may praise us for our accomplishments but it is impossible for anything to fill this void that is inside of us, except for God.  Jesus Christ is what God has made to fill that void.  And we are far better becoming a child of God.  When we receive this Jesus as God intended, we will have real life and if we whole heartedly apply ourselves to God, as He instructs, we will have real life and we will have it more abundantly. 

The natural kingdom almost always ends in death, and if we are honest with ourselves, we may be afraid of dying.

  We are afraid because we know, we have not made peace with God.  We may not even be able to articulate why we are afraid.  God has made this fear to confirm to us that we have not made peace with Him.  Just like the emptiness discussed earlier, this fear of death is designed to motivate us to do the right thing.  We will discuss dying in greater depth in other lessons.

Scriptures:

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."   [John 8;12]

Discussion:

 Jesus describes Himself as the light of the world.  It is by following Christ that we see how to live our lives in this world without becoming contaminated by it’s evil ways.  We are making a choice to not be in ignorance of God’s kingdom.

God’s kingdom controls the natural kingdom.  When we live as we were born, a natural man centered person, then all we can see is the natural kingdom.   Living naturally we just don’t understand how living according to the scriptures would give us more insight.  But it does.

God knows all things.  Learning and following the will of God is like having a light to illuminate our path in this dark world.   The illumination of God helps us to make the right choices in life.  So the light shed by our understanding of the word of God, this Jesus Christ, is called the light of life.  Isn’t this what we truly want?  The wisdom and understanding to make good quality choices as we go through this life.

The non-believer or even the new believer will often question the effectiveness of the scriptures.  We are used to rating effectiveness by worldly standards, so our initial reaction to the effectiveness of the scriptures may be as ineffective or even stupid.   But God rates effectiveness according to truth, purity, righteousness, love, and sustainability of life.   It’s far different than our man centered standards and it needs to be because God’s standards produce a pure, righteous, and holy life.   To have such a life we need to see clearly as we make choices in life.

The Bible describes Jesus as the light of the world.  In Christ, we have a perspective that allows us to be able to see or understand what is going on around us, both in the natural and the spiritual realms.   This insight grows as we search out and believe the scriptures.  An interesting point here is one does not have to have full understanding in order to follow Jesus.  Sometimes we will only have the wisdom and not full understanding.  We understand the scriptures enough to obey them, however often don't have the understanding of how they work to give us this life and keep us in God's protection.  So we walk in the wisdom and sometimes the understanding comes later.   God desires first that we receive His wisdom and live it.  Then over time our understanding will follow.  In other words learn what God is instructing us to do and do it.  And if possible try to learn why.  However if we only understand the instruction, and not the reason why, the scriptures will still fulfill the will of God in our lives.   We can receive the benefit by simply following the scriptures by faith.  When one understands that Jesus represents the will of God, this makes a lot of sense.  God's word is the will of God and is the light of the world.

  It illuminates our path and our understanding.

Scriptures:

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"      [John 11;25]

Discussion:

Here Jesus said that "I am the resurrection and the life".  Jesus Christ made this statement to Martha, one of Lazarus’ two sisters after Lazarus had died.  Just earlier Martha had said to Jesus in verse 21: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died.”  The problem was Martha, really did not grasp who Jesus really was.  We often have the same problem.  Martha saw this Jesus as a man of God, rather that the word of God that came as a man.  This sounds like a small difference, but the implications are huge.  Jesus spoke gently with her to get her to see the difference, and to recognize which view was correct.  It is so easy to give mental assent without believing the truth.  Martha told Jesus what she truly believed, when she said “Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died.”.   What she meant is that since you are a man of God, and if you had been here, God would have heard your prayers and my brother would still be alive.  Jesus in a gentle but non-condemning way, precisely stated that her view was wrong.   He was not just a man of God, but He was the word of God come to earth in human flesh.  He is the resurrection and He is the life.  Those that believe in this Jesus shall have live, as in the life that God designed for people to live.  Then He asked Martha if she believed this.  We were not there, but many, including us, believe that Martha’s next response was just mental assent.  She had heard that this Jesus was the Christ, but she didn’t believe it.   Or it is very possible that she had not understood quite what it meant.  When people did not understand the scriptures, Jesus was consistently gentle in His explanations.  In contrast, when Jesus spoke to people, like the religious leaders who should have know the truth, they sometimes got called vipers and hypocrites.  God expects us to be responsible for what we know or should know.  Now that Martha heard Jesus explain who He was to her, she likely mulled it over in her mind for some time.  This was included for our admonition.  We also are faced with this same issue of who Jesus is in our lives.  Is this Jesus just a man of God to us?  Or is He truly the living word of God, the resurrection and the life?         

He told Martha that “I am the resurrection, and the life” some time before His own crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. 

The "I am" makes this sentence to be in the present tense.  In other words Jesus was claiming to be, in present tense, "the resurrection, and the life" Martha needed.  It doesn't make sense that He was talking about His own resurrection from the dead.  He is, present tense, the resurrection to lift her right now from her natural sin life that would normally end in death.  He is also the real life she was seeking, again present tense.   The same applies to us.  This Jesus Christ, represents the will of God, that we rejected.  He is the resurrection to bring us out of our life of sin into the real life we seek.  Just like Martha, this is also present tense for us, based upon when we choose to believe.   We were dead to God, but if we believe, when we shall live or have God’s life.

Scriptures:

And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.”    [Acts 3:17]

Discussion:

In ignorance we have all done wrong, we have all sinned.  Specifically here the sins are denying God his rightful place and killing the Prince of life which is Jesus Christ.  Not only did we do it, but so did our leaders and rulers.  Those that we have considered the brighter, more educated, and more knowledgeable people.  

The penalty for our sins, even one single sin is death.  Jesus took that penalty in our place, so you and I would not have to pay the penalty for our sins.   When we choose to believe that He died in our place, and we give him our life, we receive this new life.  Even though we may not grasp all it entailed.  We have now chosen life in God and by our choice, we have become a child of God.   We made our peace with God.  Before this choice we were spiritually dead, but now we have the life of God in us.   Before making this choice to give our life to God, we were in direct rebellion of God, if by nothing else, just by going our own way and ignoring God's word.  

Most of us did not realize that we were rebelling against God.   But we were.  We did it in ignorance.  Just as those around us and our rulers and leaders did.  

This is one of those realizations where when a person when they come to God, as they study they realize that in just being ignorant of God’s plan they trampled truth and life into the dirt.

Scriptures:

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;    [2nd Timothy 2:24-25]

Discussion:

Most of us have not realized that we have been opposing ourselves.  And of those of us that have come to that realization, many are not willing to admit it.  Its time we admit the truth. 

God calls his ministers to be gentle and patient.  Why, because it takes time for us to admit we have been wrong and it takes time for us to admit that the truth is the truth.  And it takes even longer for us to make the truth part of our foundation.  So God’s ministers need to not strive with us when we oppose ourselves.  They are instructed to be gentle with us when we are in rebellion, opposing ourselves.  And rather than pull away from us they are to, in meekness instruct us in the way of righteousness.

One of the major points we have discussed these last few days is where we deny what we know in order to believe what we want to believe.   Everyone has done it at some time or another, however looking back on it, it was not a great show of brilliance. 

We tend to believe what we are taught until it becomes obvious that its in error.  We find the Bible is contrary to some content we learned in school.   God is definitely for education.   God designed us to use our intelligence and abilities to their fullest potential.  This gives glory to God.   The true child of God learns to act and think as instructed in the Bible.

Lesson #:  04

LIFE

Scriptures:

"And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.  And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.   And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.   And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.   And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.   Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.   But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our's.   And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.   What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.   And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?"      [Mark 12:1-11]

"But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.   And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.   And now, brethren, I knew that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.  But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.   Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;"      [Acts 3:14-18]

Discussion:

Mankind typically has rejected God.  In order to have, the real life God desires us to have, it really helps to understand the depth of our natural rejection of the God of all creation. This rejection ranges from flat out denial to replacing Him with man centered religion, where man is still in control.  God's heart has always been that man could have a blessed, pure and righteous life.  There is only one way to have that, God's way. 

God had sent prophets and messengers to turn people from living in sin to trusting in the one living true God.  The people scorned, beat, and even killed these messengers and prophets.  Jesus described this when He was speaking to the common people, in a parable (a short story that uses familiar events to illustrate a religious or ethical point. TheFreeDictionary.com 2010).    It detailed how these men of God were beaten, shamed and wounded.  And finally in the end, God sent His own son and mankind killed God's own son also.  The common people understood that to treat God's messengers this way was evil, was wrong.  When they heard the parable, their response was "God forbid". What they may have missed was that Jesus Christ, the son of God, represented the will of God.  The people rejected, scorned, beat up, and even killed the will of God in their lives.  All people did it.  Yes, even you and I.

So what shall God do for such actions?  If we stay as we were, God will come in due season and destroy those that have done such.  Even if we never make peace with God to the end, at our natural death, we will then face destruction.  From there is judgment for rejecting the one trying to impart to us, real life.  The real question is: "why reject real life?"  Why would anyone want to?  Is the temporary gain of this world a good trade for real life?  Especially since God has said that He will take care of those that are His?

Jesus quoted previous scriptures, "that the stone that the builders rejected, the same stone is become the head of the corner".  Jesus who represents the will of God, is that stone.  In modern language, the stone the scriptures are talking about, is the chief cornerstone, or the foundation (stone) of a house.  In scriptures a house is likened to our life.  It has a foundation, and all the rest of its structure, depends on a solid, square and level foundation.  Modern homes typically pour a solid one piece concrete foundation. Being able to mold or form concrete in any shape desired by a modern builder is very convenient.  In Bible times, concrete was not commonly used as it was not readily available, if available at all.  Jesus is the foundation that God designed for all mankind and people reject Him.  Other scriptures that talk about this concept is:  [Psalms 118;22, Isaiah 8;13-15, Isaiah 28;16, Matthew 21;42, Luke 20;17, Acts 4;11, Ephesians 2;18-20, 1 Peter 2;6-8]  

So why did God use the term stone, chief cornerstone, or foundation to describe this concept.   Because it perfectly describes the point that God wants to make.  Whether it is told to an uneducated peasant in a remote area, or it is read by highly educated person, if they are sincere and open, the concept can readily be understood by both.  The point is, in the building of our lives, we rejected the very foundation, the cornerstone, of life that God Himself has designed for us.

 

If you were God,

would not you also, punish those that rejected the gift of real life?

 

What is very interesting is, that, most often, we rejected it without even realizing, what we were doing.  We had our justifications for rejecting this Jesus and the Bible, however our justifications were not based on truth or facts, even though we were comfortable in believing they were at the time.  We all rejected God's foundation, which is the only foundation, for a pure, righteous, overcoming and sustaining life.   Most of us would still be rejecting the scriptures, except that the consequences of our wrongs, our sins, and the sins of others have become very apparent and are impacting our life.  Something is wrong, something is missing.  God designed it this way so that in truth we would seek out that which is real and give up that which is not.

This brings up a most interesting point.  We study the scriptures and try and grasp its meaning and we do so from our natural man centered view.  For the most part, this is all we know.  We were born and have lived our entire lives, all from a man centered viewpoint.  We have believed that a man centered viewpoint was necessary to take care of our needs and our wants.  Being our natural born foundation, we may not have even articulated or even grasp that we had this view.  It was just the way we were.  And to reinforce this viewpoint, most of the world around us, lives by the same, man centered viewpoint.  In contrast, the scriptures, the Bible, was written from a God centered view.  

What is written in the scriptures is exactly what God intended the scriptures to say, as it was originally written.

 

It is this difference of viewpoints that often causes us

to struggle with the content of the scriptures.

 

Our viewpoint is so ingrained in us, even our survival is based on it.  It is the foundation on which our whole lives have been built.  In time we begin to realize that there are faults with this man centered, or self centered foundation.  Upon this realization, we may feel vulnerable, afraid and even run.   But then in our quiet time the truth is still there.  Something needs to change.  

At this point there are many unbelievers that, in their fears, will justify themselves.   They reason these consequences, cannot be from living in a sin nature.  After all God made them that way.  They often reject the Bible because of a suspected or preconceived list of errors or unknowns.  They would cite one, so called authority, or another, to justify their position or their fears.   This single lesson cannot prove the truth of the scriptures in a few sentences to one who is motivated by these unknown fears from within.   However if one is sincere enough to go to the effort, to dig out genuine truth, the Bible will prove itself.  And it will do so over and over.   It is not a problem for God if you use caution to determine what is genuine.  If fact God asks you to do just that.  Making quick judgments on appearances or feelings is not what the scriptures instruct.   A big concern of many is their fear that the Bible has picked up errors over time and in its translations.   Rest assured, any differences that do exist are so small, so insignificant, that you will be well into studying the original Greek and Hebrew languages, before you have anything that you can inflate to antagonize others with.  Our man centered view will create plenty of fuel for our fears and it is through honesty and truth that we confirm what is genuine.  Rather than any provable Bible errors, it is most often our man centered view, that's keeping us from real truth.   Just as our man centered view has caused us to sin, it will fight God to retain its kingship, even to our own destruction.

 

This is why the pain of sin is necessary. 

Without the pain that comes with consequences,

we often will not face real truth. 

 

As God confirms real truth to you, the scripture that we rejected the chief cornerstone, or the foundation of life that God originally intended, will become real.   There comes a time where we make a decision to give up the man centered foundation that leads us to doing wrong and sinning and we will make the step from the man centered foundation to the foundation of Jesus Christ, where our lives will be founded on God.  It is real and it is God's plan for all mankind.  It is far more glorious than can be seen from outside of God's kingdom.  Only on a genuine foundation of God, can we have the pure, righteous, overcoming life, God intended.  The Bible is trustworthy and it well details God's plan on how this process works.

  We all denied God and for most of us, we did it in ignorance.  We killed the Lord by rejecting His will and not allowing God to have any authority over us.  And God knew we would do it, even before we did it.   In His love for us, even knowing that we were rejecting Him, He made a way to restore the relationship between God and man.

One more very interesting point.   You will find the Bible to be very rich in precise detail.  You will be studying these lessons and the scriptures used will provide clarity, to much more than just the points of the lesson.   The Bible is written this way.    Our focus is to provide a person with a solid foundation, so they are able to come to where they can rightly divide the word of God on their own.  There is no way that we can cover everything in these lessons.   If one makes a study of the scriptures a part of their life, the richness of the scriptures will continue to bless you over and over.  That is good and a great blessing, but we also advise a strong caution.   As stated above, we come from a man centered viewpoint or a man centered foundation.  The natural tendency is to continue viewing things, including scriptures, from this man centered viewpoint.   This can cause an unbalanced and distorted view, all the while thinking we are right.   It takes a conscious effort to try to study from God's view, rather than a man centered view.   It is very do-able, it just takes a conscious effort.   We should lay aside what we think and seek what God is trying to convey to us.  This is why group Bible study is wonderful.  Usually there are some who have been trying to see from God's view and that helps those who are new.   God confirms His word through truth.   God will blot out our sins and refresh us in Him.

 

Lesson #:  05

LIFE

Scriptures:

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."     [Genesis 2;7]

Discussion:

Lets look at the scriptures from God’s prospective.  Genesis is considered by some unbelieving scholars and Christians as a fable or a myth.  Our response is YES, that is unbelief alright.   Sadly I have personally seen a professor in Bible college teach this heresy.  I would not want to be in his shoes at judgment time! 

God made all living things.  What throws many people off is the precision that is in the conversational English of any good translation of the Bible.  We watch scholars fight over what its says and get nowhere.  Then a sinner comes along and believes it by faith and becomes a righteous man or woman.  The theologians and scholars are still fighting but the sinner turned saint is now a productive member of society praising God all the way to heaven. 

God uses this conversational language, so we can relate to Him.  Here in Genesis, God describes how we are made.   I am still learning from this very scripture after more than 30 years of studying it.  It is definitely NOT a myth and it is definitely NOT a fable!   It’s the book of Genesis, chapter 2, verse 7:

Lets look at the scriptures from God’s prospective.  Genesis is considered by some unbelieving scholars and Christians as a fable or a myth.  Our response is YES, that is unbelief alright.   Sadly I have personally seen a professor in Bible college teach this heresy.  I would not want to be in his shoes at judgment time! 

God made all living things.  What throws many people off is the precision that is in the conversational English of any good translation of the Bible.  We watch scholars fight over what its says and get nowhere.  Then a sinner comes along and believes it by faith and becomes a righteous man or woman.  The theologians and scholars are still fighting but the sinner turned saint is now a productive member of society praising God all the way to heaven. 

God uses this conversational language, so we can relate to Him.  Here in Genesis, God describes how we are made.   I am still learning from this very scripture after more than 30 years of studying it.  It is definitely NOT a myth and it is definitely NOT a fable!   It’s the book of Genesis, chapter 2, verse 7:

"God formed mankind of the dust of the ground."

Yes, our bodies are made of the dust or elements of the earth.  They will go back to the earth, after death, given enough time and the proper conditions, and will completely decay to the point of becoming part of the earth again.  

"and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;"

God created our bodies and gave each of us "the breath of life".

"and man became a living soul" or being. 

In other words God designed and formed us a body, then breathed into that body the breath of life and man became a living soul.  A living man did not exist before Adam, so then the man that became, became because of the interaction of this breath of life and this physical body.  Man was more than just a body or a breath of life, or even a combination of the two.  He now had a will, a mind, emotions and his five senses.  It is these, the mind, the will, and the emotions that make up his individualistic traits.  In other words, man came into being by the combining of the breath of life or his human spirit into this body designed and created by God.  

So with this God given breath of life, this ability to live, God has also given us a free will with the ability to choose.  Choices are made in the soul.  And with this free will we determine the kind of life we are going to live.  A free will is only free if the choices we make do not bring us under the control of something else, otherwise its not free.  It is the exercise of our choices that determines the type of life we live.   Whether we exist or whether we have the life God designed for us. 

This breath of life, or our natural human spirit is not the Holy Spirit.   It is a natural human spirit that empowers the functions of our body, and our soul.  

There is a lot packed into this scripture, however, our focus for this study is “the breath of life”.

We are discussing several similar sounding words here with different meanings.  We have "the breath of life", we have the "life" or existence that we live, and there is the "life" as defined by God which is pure and righteous.

Lets talk about this breath of life that God has given each of us.  We are making distinctions here that may seem trivial, however these differences take on meaning as we begin to grow.  If it’s the word of God, it is in the Bible for us to dig it out.  God did not waste words.  The Bible is not idle chatter.  The clearer we understand God’s word. The clearer we will be when we face the trials of life.   

Our breath of life or our human spirit, is not our life, it just allows us to live a life of our choosing.  Our lives are what happens from the choices we make and all else that happens to us, including all that we do, think, feel and want.  From our natural man centered perspective, we assume that our natural life is the life God designed for us, and is the only life available to us.   This is not correct.   The Bible says differently.  

It is interesting that it’s worded “And the LORD God formed man . . .

Why not just say “And God formed man . . .

We tend to casually use the word “LORD” thinking of it as just a title.  But in that title is implied the control of the details, the engineering, and the authority that it took to design and create mankind.  It wasn’t just some strange creature that wanted to be called god that made mankind.  God is saying here, that by His will, He designed and created all the intricate systems and complexities that make up the human body.  It is a physical impossibility for some of the body’s systems to have come about by evolution.  The human reproductive system had to work the first time.  So did the eyes, the ears, and many other parts.  The “LORD” God has the wisdom, control, and authority to make such an incredibly designed human body.  Our cars have far more barbaric engineering than a human body and we don’t go around saying, that they evolved.   No other spiritual creature has this ability.  The word “LORD” even in the natural sense, implies one with a will, with capacity for details and the authority to see them carried out.  

Can you imagine a “LORD” without details, or authority?  That would be foolishness.

Scriptures:

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."     [Genesis 1;26-27]

Discussion:

Looking at the Hebrew, it is saying that God made man in similar form or image to Himself.  We would interpret this as we were made similar in our desire for love, creativity, and an intimate relationship plus the fact that we are composed of spirit, soul, and body.  Some believe this scripture also means our human shape is similar to God's, however we cannot make that statement based on the scriptures.  He may, but we cannot find an indisputable scripture to prove it.   Please  - make no mistake, God did not clone Himself.  We are human and He is God.

God said let us make man (mankind) in our image.

   We are made in the image of God.   You are and so am I.   It does not matter where you are from, your race or any other issue.  You are made by God and in the image of that same God.   That makes you precious to God.   All of mankind is made in His image.  Not only are you precious to God, but so is every other person, regardless whether we choose to like them or not.  God made all people and desires all people to live the life He designed for us. 

It is only a base person that would choose to believe otherwise.  Calling a segment of God’s people, not human, is a deceived or an intentionally chosen, evil view.    It matters not whether they are a different color, born or unborn.

The scriptures in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26 says “And God said, Let us make . . .”   The word us is plural.  Cults will point to this to justify their multi-god view, even though many other places in the Bible, the scriptures clearly state that there is only one God.  In the book of Malachi, chapter 2, verse 10 it says:

Have we not all one father? has not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?       [Malachi 2:10]

God is stating the logic of how a father works. “Have we not all one father”   Only one father fathered us.   Each of us have only one, physical father.   It would be silly to think otherwise.  The scriptures follow this same pattern in that one God created us. 

So, why does the scripture say “And God said, Let us make . . .” where the word “us” is plural?   It is because God the Father is made up of three parts; first there is God the Father, Himself, and then there is the Son, which is God the Father’s will expressed in words and come to this earth in the flesh as a man, so we could relate to Him.  And finally there is the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit or power of God. 

Those three make up the us, so yes it is one God, yet it took the decision of the father to put the event in motion.  It took the Son, which is the will of the father, to provide the precise detail that we see in the construction of our body.   And it took power of God, the Spirit of God, often called the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, to carry out the decision and details necessary to make Adam.   These three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are one.   This is stated clearly in the 1st book of John not the Epistle of John, chapter 5, verse 7.  There it says:

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”   [1st John 5:7]

When understood in perspective, it makes so much sense.  It takes a decision, it takes details, and it takes some sort of power to do anything.   We are made in the image of God and our process of making something works in the same manner as His.   It take the decision, it takes the details, and some sort of effort or power to do it.

Looking again at Genesis 1:26 where it says

God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness

Looking at the Hebrew, it is saying that God made man in similar form or image to Himself.  We would interpret this as we were made similar in our desire for love, creativity, and an intimate relationship plus the fact that we are composed of spirit, soul, and body.  Some believe this scripture also means our human shape is similar to God's, however we cannot make that statement based on the scriptures.  He may, but we cannot find an indisputable scripture to prove it.   Please  - make no mistake, God did not clone Himself.  We are human and He is God.  

It goes on to say in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verses 26:

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”        [Genesis 1:26]

There is a tremendous amount of detail packed in the meaning of this.    For this lesson we will look at the issue of the dominion God has made for us and how that relates to life.

God created mankind to have dominion over all that’s in the earth.  

The word “dominion” means to have authority over, to rule over. 

With our natural man centered perspective, we most often tryto have dominion apart from God’s plan.  There may be temporary victories, but the end is always the same.  Just because a temporary victory lasts a lifetime, does not mean it’s a success.  Our lifetime is just a vapor that appears then vanishes away compared to eternity. 

Reality is the way it is, whether we accept it or not.   We sing the song Amazing Grace where it talks about being with God for 10,000 years and we have just begun.   This timetable is very real for those of us that have made peace with God, however it is also very real for those that haven’t.   It is just that the difference will be an eternal environment that will be forever heavenly or it will be forever continual torment.   The choice is ours.  We just have to make the choice and live it.

God has made a way for us to take dominion over the earth.  His method works in a balanced manner and will promote the pure righteous life God designed for us and those around us.  We all like blessings, therefore, following God’s plan, take dominion of those things that you can.  The efforts will be like seeds planted by the farmer.  In due season the blessings will be there.  

It is important to recognize that if the blessings become our God rather than God Himself, then we have made a serious mistake.   God always needs to be number 1 in our lives, with absolutely no exceptions.   We cannot have both God and the blessings as our king.  We can only serve one master. 

If we take dominion as God has designed, keeping God as our king, then barring other potential problems, we will likely see the blessing of God in our lives.   We are always better off in God’s plan, even if we see others that are living outside of God’s plan and they appear to be getting blessed for it.

What is involved for us to take dominion?

Our natural, man centered perspective, naturally thinks, that taking dominion is where we can be in control, we can increase our ownership and our power.  This view has caused mankind to suffer great pain, hardship, and death. 

Few are they that keep God on the throne as they take dominion over things around them.  As our control and possessions increase, we naturally tend to push God aside, for more and more control.  Neither control nor possessions are evil of themselves as long as God is first.    The evil comes when one pushes God aside to increase their own control and possessions.   These are the decision that inflict heavy burdens and bondage on people.

The believer has made a covenant with God to have God as our Lord and as our Savior.  When the lust of control and possessions is allowed to displace God, we have allowed that agreement to be broken.  God takes this covenant seriously.  Just as there is often a grace period in worldly agreements, God gives us some grace to recognize our error and to correct it before the bigger consequences start.   And just as in worldly agreements there comes a time that the grace period ends.   The difference, in worldly agreements is we may be taken to court, our car or home may be repossessed.  In other words, the consequences are usually of a physical nature and readily seen.  

With God, the consequences may be physical, but most often they are emotional, psychological, physiological,  or spiritual in nature.  Usually physical consequences are readily seen, even by others.  They are harder to cover up or ignore. 

The consequences that come from rejecting God, are just as real, however we, in our brilliance, can devise many ways to hide them.   And we do.  God sees our corrupt actions as clear as if they were in a spotlight.  Because we have hidden our sins from others, others may continue to consider us as pure and righteous.

We think we own our possessions.  The reality is that God ultimately owns them.    Yes our cars, our money, our homes and our businesses are in our names, and God gives us possession, but the truth is, God ultimately owns them all.  For God to be considered the owner of what we have and control, is so contrary to our natural man centered perspective.   We are actually managers and stewards of the possessions God allows us to control.   We so often, as believers, give mental assent to this, but from God’s perspective, this is exactly the way it is.  Our mental assent is carried over from the world’s ways.  We are now a child of God and God asked us to lay them at the foot of the cross.   God can bring increase and He can frustrate our efforts.  He can also allow evil to increase to destroy and take away possessions that we have considered ours.   

This brings up a whole new set of issues.  If God owns everything and He desires that we take dominion over the earth, it is not going to be done the way that we would have done it without Him. 

The scripture in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26 kind of breaks down the dominion that we are to exercise into three areas.

The first area in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26 is:

let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle,

This first group relates to those living creatures that are a provision for food.  We consume fish, birds, cattle and milk.  Some of this dominion is by governments such as fishing quotas and licensing and some is by the individual such as the farmer with his cattle.  We do not believe that this is an exhaustive list, but a listing of general categories.  In other words, if someone raised sheep, God still wants us to have dominion over the sheep.

The second group listed in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26 is:

let them have dominion over  . . . . ., and over all the earth,  . . . . . . . .

This word earth, means earth or land, or lands.   God wants mankind to have dominion of the land.  Where we live, our farms, our ranches, our cities, our roads, our mines and our seaports.

The third group in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26 is:

let them have dominion  . . . . , . . . .  and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth

The word creeping refers to anything else that moves.  This would include things like bears, mice, cats, snakes, insects etc.   These creatures that are not normally in our food category do have the ability to affect us and we are to have dominion over them. 

Is there anything that is not included in this list?

Other people are not listed.  The Bible does not say that we are to have dominion over other people.  God ordains governments, so we can exclude them here.  But aside from governments, God did not plan for people to have dominion over other people.  God desires that His will alone is Lord over people.

God does not take the issue of dominion lightly.  Dominion outside of God’s plan, causes evil to triumph.  The believer has power and authority to bring about God’s will on this earth.  This is accomplished only through the plan and design of God as detailed in the scriptures.  

 

Lesson #:  06

LIFE

Scriptures:

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."   [John 3:3]

Discussion:

When a word such as "verily" is repeated, God is saying, this is very important.

We don't even perceive how the kingdom of God works until we have made peace with God by giving Him our life and receiving Him as our lord and savior.   Salvation is so important so we can begin to see God's plan and pattern.  The acceptance of Jesus is the door through which we enter the kingdom of God.  Even then it is like being born again.   We start out being a spiritual baby and it takes time to come to an understanding of the fullness of God.  Just as a parent loves their children, God loves all the people of His creation.  

Sometimes when Jesus calls a person, it is simply a “follow me” and other times the “born again process is explained in great detail.

Either way the same process takes place.  One realizes that this Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God, they repent of their sins and ask God to forgive them, and they make a decision to follow God by following Jesus Christ.  This decision to follow God or some would define it as giving their life to God, is a covenant decision.  In other words God has made us an offer to become a child of God and we made the decision to accept that offer at face value.  While the agreement is simple, the depth of the covenant is far more than we realize.   Just as a small child may cry and scream murder when their parent gives them a bath, a baby believer may find some of the methods God uses to clean them up unusual or scary.  As they grow they learn the washing by the word of God is a good thing and will even look forward to it.  

Because the kingdom of God is so contrary to our natural man centered thinking its just as the scripture says:

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God

Making a decision to make peace with God, makes us legally a child of God, and now we can grow in this new kingdom.   Legally we are a new creation and that new creation has the ability to receive spiritual truth if we will use our faculties as God intended. We have been living outside of God’s plan since birth so it will be easy to, in ignorance continue living by our old natural nature.  That old natural nature, sometimes called our “old man” does not see or understand the kingdom of God, even though we are born again.  The new nature, the new God centered perspective that we received when we were born again has the ability to see the kingdom of God.

It is a daily decision to believe dead the old nature and learn to live in the new God centered nature so that we can see the kingdom of God.  The Bible is the plan of God that shows us how to live as this new creation.

However anyone can see that this creation was made by a very intelligent and powerful being.  There are millions of examples.  Take the tall redwood trees that are hundreds of feet tall.  An engineer would have to create a very powerful pump to pump water up that high.  You do not see normal redwoods that have problems getting water to the top branches.  All the systems of the human body and how they work in harmony is just absolutely amazing.  We could go on and on and on.  To deny that creation had a creator, one is without excuse to support their view.  God, yes God says "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God".  While everyone knows there is a God, many will not acknowledge Him.  And many have no foggy idea who God is. 

We as people, come from every background with a wide set of preconceived ideas about who God is, asking "Is Jesus Christ the real answer to life?"   The only way to know, is to examine the Bible in detail and find out who God says He is and choose what you know, is right.   That is the purpose of this site.

 

Scriptures:

"For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: "  [Romans 1:20]

Discussion:

We were discussing that the heavens and the world around us verifies that an intelligent and creative God exists and made these things.  But in addition to verifying that God does exist, they also show God’s eternal power and Godhead.  It doesn’t take more than a simple study and honesty to recognize that the heavens and earth had to be created by God. 

In addition,

Most will concede that God’s eternal power is visible.   However the Bible also says that the Godhead is also visible.   Many believers believe that it is only by our studying the scriptures that the Godhead can be known.  But again the Bible says that in the creation, we can clearly see the evidence of God, His power, and the Godhead. 

The word Godhead can cause some confusion.  It does mean Godhead.  However the word translated Godhead, can also be translated divinity or divine nature.  People usually equate the word Godhead with God the Father, Jesus Christ the son, and the Holy Spirit.  Those three being one. The King James version uses the word Godhead meaning that we can see the divinity and even the Godhead in the heavens and earth created by God.   The softer translations may use words like “divine nature” or “divinity” which when one considers its full meaning, we realize that the Godhead would be included. 

Usually those people that we see which are saying that they can know God from His creation are people that are dodging God to be able to go their own way.  They are not studying the Bible, nor are they following it.  

However that is not the case with all people.  Abraham did not have our Bible or reference material.  He lived in a sinful culture, yet he found God and got to know God on a personal level. 

So what is the difference between most of the population and Abraham?

Abraham was seriously honest about what he saw of creation.  Probably even more than you and I as he did not have the Bible to correct his errors.  God honors this kind of pure honesty.

This brings up the issue of the difference of knowing something and thinking or believing something.  We typically lump all these meanings together, but God doesn’t.

There is a definite difference between what we know and what we think or believe.  We think or believe in the mind, and we know in our spirit.  This is a rather deep topic but we will discuss enough here to get an overview of it from God’s perspective.  God wants us to learn to trust what we know over what we think or believe.  If we are truly honest about what we do know, we can trust what we do actually know.  If something is false, it is not known, but it is a thought or a belief.   The problem comes from people trusting or confusing what they think, with, what they know.  The world’s system tries to teach us things, and expects us to consider these thoughts as what we know.   That is different from reality and from the kingdom of God.   God gives us truth.  In time we begin to realize that some of this truth from God, we do actually know.   It is not just a thought or a belief.  This is why God asks us to believe His word, which is true.  If we believe it, because it is true, it will bear witness in our spirit or in our conscience.   In time we come to recognize this bearing witness, to where we are certain that it is far deeper than just a thought or belief.   It is most crucial that complete honesty is used when making these determinations.  Sadly most people are not used to exercising the amount of care, necessary to make this distinction.  We can however, make the choice to exercise the necessary care and the honesty to discern the difference.   Because we are not used to it, we should exercise great caution and take the time to learn these differences.

Because the existence of God can be clearly seen if we are honest and take the time, then we should be honest with ourselves and acknowledge Him for who He is.

Where the scripture in the book of Romans, chapter 1, verse 20, says:

we “are without excuse it is certainly true.  

It makes no difference that all those around us are also rejecting God.  Because if we are seeking the truth, we will see the emptiness of a life apart from God and we can clearly see that there is a God, the eternal power of God, and the Godhead.  

It is interesting to note the scriptures use of the word “even” in “even His eternal power and Godhead”.  By this we understand that it is easier to see that that God exists by the creation He has made, than it is to see the eternal power and the Godhead.  Yet if we dig deep enough, we can “even” come to see God’s eternal power and the Godhead by the creation God has made.  This is where, only those seriously searching for the truth and are honest with themselves will likely find it.   You and I are SO blessed.  We have an incredible volume of quality reference materials available that others have not had.   Some had to learn of God by creation.  We have both; creation and access to extensive Bible resources.   It should be much easier for us to recognize God and understand who He is.

When our life on this earth comes to a close, and it will someday, we won’t have a valid excuse, to have not made peace with God.

Our next scripture is from the book of Psalms, chapter 14, verse 1a (a represents the first part of the verse)

Scriptures:

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.    [Psalms 14:1a]

Discussion:

Anyone can see that this creation was made by a very intelligent and powerful being.  There are millions of examples.  Take the tall redwood trees that are hundreds of feet tall.  An engineer would have to create a very powerful water pump to pump water up that high in a skyscraper or tall building.  You do not see normal redwood trees that have problems getting water to the top branches.  All of systems, in plants, animals and how the world is constructed, God designed are with incredible detail and efficiency.  Even the systems of the human body and how they work in harmony is just absolutely amazing.  We could go on and on and on.  To deny that this creation had a creator, one is without excuse to support their view.  God, yes God says:

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God". 

While everyone knows there is a God, many will not acknowledge Him.  And many have no foggy idea who God is.   Since God does not force himself on us, we can ignore him for a season. 

Is it really foolish to choose to believe that there is no God?   It is most foolish.   God is not condemning.  But God does have to tell the truth.  If someone made the foolish decision to believe there is no God, then God would be a liar if He did not say:

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God".

Everyone in their ignorance, has asked the question “Is there a God?”

So what makes a person a fool that says that "There is no God"?  

We cannot see God,  . . . .  so until we come to realize that there is a God, would it not fair to say "There is no God"?  

Since all people are born sinners, and all they know is their fleshly nature from birth, would not God allow for that until someone realized the truth? 

When we look closer at this scripture, we see that there is more to this than a person is trying to sort out the concept of God.   The person has already accepted this thought into their heart and now they are repeating as truth.   They have made several decisions prior to this point.  And each time they chose to believe that God does not exist.   They have pushed aside their conscience and any contrary evidence and accepted it as truth.   Now this belief is all the way down in their heart.   All this was done, . . .  before they made the declaration that "There is no God".

We do have to interject here that God does give abundant amounts of grace.    Just as loving parents give their own children lots and lots of grace, God does the same or more.  From a human perspective, God gives people more grace to make mistakes than we think they deserve.  He does this in His love as He sees clearly the reality of eternity.  That reality we seldom pay much heed to.   God has more patience than we do. 

To say from their heart that “There is no God”, they have rejected what they already knew, in order to believe what they wanted to believe.

Then they have rejected the things of this creation, the heavens and the earth, that are clearly seen to prove that a God exists. 

Then they have made a choice to embrace this view, for which they had no proof.  

That is three reasons they are a fool.   There are likely several more.   Our hearts are our innermost thoughts and motivations.  This is not someone struggling with determining what is truth.  God does not call those people fools.  But when we reject the obvious in order to believe what we want to believe, the title fool is really quite accurate.  Sadly most all of us have been there at some time in our lives.

Lesson #: 07

LIFE

Scriptures:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."     [Galatians 5:22-23]

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."    [1 John 4:18]

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.   And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."    [1 John 1:1-4]

Discussion:

So what does the fruit of this new life look like?

 

When a person makes peace with God they receive the Spirit, the Holy Spirit.  All believers receive the Holy Spirit at their salvation.   Most do not recognize what the Spirit is nor do they understand how it works.   In our past we have lived according to the dictates of our fleshly nature and those actions were contrary to how God designed us to live.    The fruit of this living outside of God’s plan provides negative consequences that may have caused us to come to consider God.

In like manner there is fruit to living according “to” God’s plan.

The fruit, or what is produced by the Spirit (of God), in our lives, is pure love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, etc.   Are not these, the "things" we really want in life? These are the day to day basic fruits that God will cause to flow from a person, as they submit to and live in God.  All of these promote a clean, pure righteous life.  We do need love, we do need joy, and we need all the rest of these, to face life successfully and overcome all its evils.   These truly are needs, These are not just wants.

There is no law against these fruits of the Spirit.

When we are around someone who is bitter, hateful, spiteful, selfish, greedy or vicious,

it takes away from our "quality of life".

Societies make laws to protect their citizens against the actions that flow out of people who are bitter, hateful, spiteful, etc.   These actions are obviously sins and they are destructive to life. In, contrast, when we are around those that exude the genuine fruits of the Spirit, we are strengthened, encouraged and uplifted.  We are more able to open up and face our challenges and fears.  We are in a safer environment.

So we can make these fruits part of our life and not only will our lives be better, the lives of others around us will also be impacted for good.  To have these fruits evident in our lives does not happen naturally.  We choose God and in our making God our king, the fruits are our test to see if we are in God.   Each of these fruits flow from a life in God.  If we say we are in God and these fruits are not genuinely evident, then something is not correct.   Fruits are the final outcome produced by something else.  If the world’s fruit rather than God’s fruit is coming out of us then our hearts are still focused on the things of the world.  If we, by faith, follow God, these fruits of the Spirit of God will flow out of us.  In our love and submission to God, these fruits will come.

It does take time for the fruit to appear naturally on plants and trees and it also takes time for fruit to appear in a Christian’s life.

Love is the first fruit mentioned.  It is the most need fruit among mankind and it often is  the first fruit that we start to show.   It does not have to be the first fruit, sometimes others are and sometimes several fruits come visible about the same time.  Like so much of the Bible, God’s meaning of words is different than how we usually use these words.In the English language, we have several meanings for the word love.   In the Bible there are also several definitions for the word love.   For love in the Bible, there is a natural, self serving type of friendship love, there is a physical attraction, sensual type of love, and there is a pure unselfish love that is the love of God.  This love of God is pure without any hint of selfishness.  It’s the love we all need and seek. We need it from people and we need it from God.   The Bible instructs us to keep ourselves in this kind of love so it can flow out to others.  This is foreign to a natural man centered life.  God desires His children to live, day in and day out in His pure love.  It will cause life to flow from us and to those around us.  Pure love, God's love is contagious.  Living in God's pure love does not come naturally.  God’s love is not a “give to get”.  The love of our natural man centered perspective does, give to get.   Our best natural affection does not compare to the purity of God’s agape love.   Agape is the Greek word used for God’s pure love. God's pure love is a learned response.   It does not mean we become passive or a pushover.  No, instead, living in God's love, causes this real life to flow out from us.  There is more to learning it than just understanding it and trying to apply it with our own strength.   It is a fruit of the Spirit of God working in our lives.   We will see more on how this process works in other lessons. In our natural born, man centered life, we do not know how to love with an absolute pure love, we have real difficulty maintaining joy.  Our peace is to remove conflict.  Yet in God the believer can have peace in the midst of conflict.   Yes the believer will avoid unnecessary conflict, but some conflicts we have little to no control over.  We can have real peace in these storms.  When one understands the depth of the kingdom of God, it makes so much sense as to why a believer can have this genuine peace in the worst of life’s storms.  It is not just a get tough mentality type of faith.  It is true peace in the storms of life.  That does not mean every Christian is going to exhibit this peace when they face trials.   The kingdom of God is vast and there is a growing process which takes time.  If one is faced with a storm of life before they grasp God’s plan for this area of life, of course they are not going to be living what they have not yet learned.

Another fruit of the Spirit is Joy. Joy is not simply happiness. Happiness is a man centered concept and is dependent upon our circumstances. Joy is not. Joy is a God centered happiness that is not based on circumstances. There are many scriptures that mention joy. If we look at them, we can see that living in God’s kind of joy provides a deep satisfaction.   Its like a happiness that is based on the character of God.

This joy brings us God centered peace. This peace transcends everything around us.

Another fruit of the Spirit of God is faith.  Its faith in God’s word and in the God of creation.   This is not blind faith.  God has proven Himself over and over.  But, He is not a genie to do our bidding.  The faith He imparts to us is so that we may live a pure, righteous, loving, and productive life as a new creation in Him.   Trying to use faith for selfish gain is not God's plan.   Our faith is to be rooted in the promises and instructions of God.  For in doing so, we have a hope that is blessed.  God will honor His word.

The remaining fruits in this list help us love others with a God centered love.

Scriptures:

"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it."    [2 John 1;6]

Discussion:

It says:

"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments"

This is how we love God and love His people.  Like so much of the Bible, this is contrary to our natural thinking. Yet it works exactly as stated in the scripture.  Because God loves all people, if we follow God's commandments by faith, we will be in a balanced love towards God and other people.  And in doing so we will be walking in real love.

 

In contrast, if we follow God’s commandments by law, because we believe we have to, we will not be acting in love.

 

Perfect love casts out fear.  As we grow in this “life” which is “in Christ” we grow to love God more. The commandment mentioned here refers back to verse 5 which says the commandment we have had from the beginning is to love one another. And in Matthew, chapter 22 verses 37 through 39, Jesus condensed all the Law to two commandments: Love God with all we have and love your neighbor as yourself. Something else to see here is that we are to “walk after His commandment. Walking is an action. It requires a physical movement. “Love” from God’s perspective also requires action.  It is not simply a feeling.

Another point to note here is that “ye have heard from the beginning”.  Since the time of creation this is what God has commanded of us and He has made it clear.

In first John chapter 4 verse 18, we read,

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. [1 John 4;18]

 

The scripture says “There is no fear in love”.  Here God is saying if you love Me and you choose to believe what I have told you, that I, God, do love you, then because you believe it by faith, There is no fear in that love.The word  “fear” here is the kind of fear like where someone is running from a mad she bear, not the respectful reverential fear of coming into the presence of someone of great authority.

 

If we are trying to live the commandments by law, the law where we tell ourselves that we have to do this because the scriptures say so, then we are living in fear.  A fear relationship is NOT the kind of relationship God designed for us.  The relationship God did design for His children is one that is based on love, not fear.  God designed none of that running from a mad she bear fear in our relationship with Him.  God’s love casts out that kind of fear.  God does not desire we live in the torment that fear creates.

 

If we are acting out of fear, we are not being made complete in God, or God’s love that should be flowing out of us.   Living by law in fear is deceiving us.  Additionally we are deceived by it giving us milestones of our accomplishments supposedly for God.  In reality those accomplishments are just justifications to support our fears.

 

As we live the new life that Jesus has given us, the love that is the fruit of the Spirit, is a gentle, pure, and complete love, just the way God designed it to be.

The word perfect in this verse does not mean without flaw.  Rather, it denotes completeness or fullness.

In pure or complete love there is no fear. How many decisions do we make where fear determines the outcome of the decision?  Not only is there no fear in Love but perfect love actually “casts” out fear. Cast is a violent word. It is not simply releasing your grip or dropping something. It means to throw out or down forcefully. He says fear has torment and wow is that ever true! I think we all have seen people consumed with worry and stress, all from fear.  If you hold onto fear you can not be complete in love. To have the love and the balanced, loving relationships that God intended for us to have we must release our fears and let them be replaced with a pure, righteous love.

Scriptures:

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.   And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."    [1 John 1:1-4]

Discussion:

When someone is telling about something that they have never seen or personally experienced we tend to not trust fully what they say.   However when someone has the first hand knowledge and they have experienced what they are talking about, then the credibility of their words increases immensely. 

Here John is bearing witness, as an eye witness, as one that was actually there, and as one that has experienced this “Word of life” first hand.  If one has this first hand experience and their words hold up under scrutiny, we call them a faithful witness.  They were there, they witnessed what happened and told what happened.  This is such a powerful type of speech that our court system will condemn a person to death upon a witness describing what they personally saw at the crime scene.  Of course the lawyers have tried to find fault in what he said.  If the lawyers cannot disprove his witness then the courts count his witness as truth.

John states that this “Word of life” which was from the beginning, he has heard, seen, looked upon and handled.  It was not a new doctrine.  It was God’s doctrine that was available from the beginning.  Johns says that “which we have heard”.  In other words John heard it, but so did others.  If it or part of it would have been false there is a good chance someone would have detected it and that knowledge would have been communicated to the others.  If a proclamation is made to a group, and something proclaimed is false, there are usually people that will speak up and make it known.

The scriptures say that John first heard this “Word of life” and now they say that John saw it.

Sometimes we can hear something yet we need more information to verify whether or not it is true.  It helps to actually see something.   But the scriptures do not stop there as even appearances can be deceiving.  Please note the scriptures say both “which we have seen with our eyes” and “which we have looked upon”.

These two statements do not mean the same thing.  The first statement is to see or to look upon.  The second statement is to gaze upon, to contemplate, to examine in detail.   In other words to study it.  Lastly John says “and our hands have handled, of the Word of life”   John heard the Word of life, he saw the Word of life, he studied the Word of life, and he handled and experienced the Word of life.

These are all necessary to provide a clean accurate account of what happened.  These are the credentials of a good witness.  One that knows what they are talking about and can be trusted.  

Then the scriptures say:

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you

John goes on to say that what they have seen and heard, they declare they to us.   The word “declare” has some very interesting characteristics.

First it means to declare rather than to just speak. It is an intensifying announcement.  As he is declaring it the realization of it is made again fresh in his mind and his words intensify.  He is declaring something that is very important.   The declaration of what he is speaking looks back to its source for what it is reporting or speaking.  In this case the speaker is looking back to the “Word of life” for the content of the declaration.   It is not a speech coming from his what he feels, but is based on the source, his witness of the “Word of life”.  And that information he does feel very strongly about.   It has affected him deeply.  He has fully experienced what he is declaring and he desires to convey the fullness of that experience to the hearer.  This is definitely not idle chatter.

At first John described why his witness is credible and now he repeats again that it is what he has seen and heard.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you,

He is emphasizing the point a second time to convey that what he is saying is not what just what he feels, but what he has seen and heard.

The purpose of his declaring this to us is “that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” 

It should be evident to anyone John was talking to that he has had and is in a relationship with God.  The message John declared is a messages so that we can join John in fellowship.  The fellowship John has is “with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ”. 

We would be wise to consider for a moment the magnitude of that statement.   We are talking about the God that created the universe.  It is possible for us to have fellowship with other genuine believers, but that fellowship is with God almighty Himself and with the Son, Jesus Christ.   No, not everything that happens in our interaction with other believers is fellowship with God but if we are with genuine believers then some of it is. God expects us to exercise common sense discernment to embrace those things from the scriptures and to not give heed to what is not. 

This fellowship with Almighty God is how God himself designed the relationship of between God and man.  Religion is not God’s design, but a relationship is.  Part of that relationship is fellowship. 

So what is fellowship?

The word translated here as fellowship is the Greek word “koinonia”.  It means an intimate, social, friendship or community.  An excellent definition from Wikipedia is:

The essential meaning of the koinonia embraces concepts conveyed in the English terms community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy.   Koinonia can therefore refer in some contexts to a jointly contributed gift.   The word appears 19 times in most editions of the Greek New Testament.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koinonia,   http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Many religions, even many called Christian, miss what John is saying here in the book of 1st John, verses 1 – 4.

From our natural man centered perspective we often think the way to God is to do things to appease Him.   In other words, if we follow rules and regulations, we are justified with God.   This appeasement is not God’s plan.   God wants a relationship with each person.

Some would say that even this site promotes making peace with God.   God’s plan includes making peace with God so we can enter God’s kingdom.  We don’t come to God, nor do we live as a child of God by following a list of do’s and don’ts.  Our obedience to God is out of our love for God, not because we fear that we have to appease Him by doing what He wants.

On the surface this difference looks small, but the outcome in living it is huge.  God’s purpose, the reason that He came to earth and died, is so that we could have real life and have it more abundantly.   That works well as we live in God’s love and we do His commandments because we love Him. 

A life of doing a list of do’s and don’ts is not real life.  It is living in fear.  We may have not identified it as fear, but that is exactly what it is.   Real life does not flourish in fear.

Fellowship with other people and God may cause anxiety in us.  Anxiety is a type of fear.    Some of these are deep rooted fears that we have had for a long time.  Our conduct can easily become warped to appease these fears.   They can become our normal.   If we don’t know how to break the power of these fears, we may succumb to where we just accept them.  Yet God desires us to have an intimate, social, friendship with other believers and also with Himself.    God desires us to choose Him.  In doing so God becomes our king rather than fear.

This passage concludes with John telling us in the 1st Book of John, chapter 1, verse 4:

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.     [1st John 1:4]

When we have this pure, intimate, social, friendship or community it provides the love and acceptance that we all need.  It nourishes the joy that we desire to have.  John writes that this witness, this declaration is written so that your joy may be full.  Isn’t being full of joy a much higher quality of life than trying to appease a distant God by doing a list of do’s and don’ts?

Having genuine fellowship with other believers, is having fellowship with God, and Jesus Christ and it is truly a part of living “life” more abundantly.

Lesson #:  08

LIFE

Scriptures:

"Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.   This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.   Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."    [Acts 4:10-12] (For the whole account please read Acts 3:1 to 4:12)

"And the Lord said to him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness."   [Luke 11:39]

Discussion:

Here in the 3rd and 4th chapters of the Book of Acts, a lame man was instantly healed by God through the faith of Peter.   Peter was taken into custody of the religious leaders because he, in the name of Jesus Christ healed a lame man. It is interesting to note that healing someone would be considered a crime.   The next day these religious leaders brought Peter before them for questioning. Peter confronts those that are religious, the leaders and rulers, telling them that they rejected the true foundation for life.  Because of faith in the name of Jesus Christ, the only true foundation of life, was a lame man instantly healed.  The real foundation had been rejected by the very ones that should have had the greatest understanding and submission to God.

  In Acts chapter 4, it refers to Jesus Christ as the cornerstone that the builders rejected, yet this is the cornerstone or foundation that God chose for our lives.  We discussed this in earlier lessons, however we find it amazing how the very top religious leaders that worked in the temple missed or maybe intentionally denied God for who He was.  This is absolutely amazing!

Yet is it any different today in our educated, sophisticated society?   We still have both kingdoms at work.

The scriptures make the distinction very clear. On one side was the religious leaders and on the other was Peter, who was filled with the Holy Ghost. The religious leaders were violently opposed to the man filled with the Holy Ghost.

It is no different today that it was then. A person that is living the natural man centered life, even if they call themselves a man or woman of God, will fight against God when the life of God is evident.   They think they are right, and will fight for their view. What they do not understand is their own perspective distorts their view of reality. And it will continue to distort their view, until their perspective changes from being man centered person to being a God centered person.

These are two different kingdoms that are not compatible with each other. There is real life in only one of them.   To consider healing a man as crime against God as happened to Peter is ridiculous and it comes from a warped perspective. Did anyone ask the man that was healed if a crime was committed against him?   No, instead what Peter did in faith went against the man centered perspective of the religious leaders, so they determined that it was a crime.   It threatened their position and status.

The problem is a religious person convinces themselves that they are a man or woman of God.

To determine what they truly are, . . . God . . . looks at their hearts.

If they are living as a natural man centered person, then they are living a base, natural life that trusts in the strength of their fleshly nature.   God calls that type of life dead, because there is no real life in it. Being religious or going to church does not make any difference, unless the core person has changed.   Even if we can comfortably talk about God, or we might even have a religious position, unless we are a new creation, we are just religious. The religious person may have a new philosophy but that new philosophy isn’t life. If in their heart they are still man centered, Jesus Christ is not yet their king.

The situation changes when one makes a real decision to believe in the God of the Bible. They make a decision from their heart to have this Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior. That believer is now legally a new creation. It takes time to learn how to be God centered and have the life of Christ flowing through them.   Sometimes from outward appearances it is hard to tell a God centered person. The actions of believers range from new babies still acting out of their old nature all the way to a few like Peter, so full of the Holy Ghost that others get healed coming into contact with them with.   But God knows each and every one of these whose hearts are for Him. A new believer may have a hard time understanding who God is, but they have the life that is in Christ. They may not initially see it, but they do have it. If they continue in Christ, as they grow, God’s life will become more and more evident.

Peter stood before the religious leaders and said:

 

"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them, You rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the weak man, by what means he is made whole; be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole."

 

Even though the religious leaders’ perspective was warped, Peter still tried to reason with them. He did not condemn them.

The religious leaders did recognize that a miracle had been done, but rather than correct their own base man centered view, they feared backlash from the people so they decided to threaten Peter to not talk about Jesus Christ. The natural man centered perspective will warp reality, it will fight to maintain its control, even to the hurting of others. It will not regard good that has been done.

As we again look at the scriptures in the 4th chapter of the book of Acts where it says:, "that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," it is interesting to note that the lame man was made whole or healed by faith in this Jesus Christ.  The educated leaders, the scribes who copied scriptures, and the lawyers who professed their knowledge of the scriptures, none of them had ever healed a man in anybody’s name.  Then someone, in this case Peter, in the name of Jesus Christ, heals a man.  And yes, it did happen.

 

Why was the man healed through Peter and yet all the religious leaders, 

not only couldn't do it, but they knew they couldn't do it? 

 

The unbelievers in Peter’s time are no different than unbelievers today. If we live in our natural man centered perspective, that we were born with, we will not have the life and power of God flowing through us. We will be limited to the natural capacity of our fleshly nature. And we will know it.   In contrast, if we want the real life of God flowing through us then there is a conscious decision we have to make and that is to make Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.   Doing so makes us a child of God.   A child of God is expected by God to take dominion over the earth to bring about God’s will on this earth. It is done by faith in the will of God. The more we live in the will of God and the less by our fleshly nature the more we will see the life of God flow out of us and the more dominion of our God that will take place around us. Yes, living as a child of God is definitely a new creation. Things do not work the same in God’s kingdom.

It is so easy to say the words from our lips but not to say them from our hearts. Peter is declaring

This miracle healing (it did really happen) of the lame man was by the faith of Peter in Jesus Christ to heal the man.  Peter knew first hand the power of God to heal.  He had walked and lived with Jesus.  Peter knew that God was with him.   In contrast, the religious leaders, didn't know God.  They knew religion.  Therein is the difference.  God wants us to intimately know Christ, and to have the foundation of our lives on Him.

A religious person is a man centered person. They look like a man or woman of God, yet in their hearts the world still revolves around them.

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

The religious leaders knew they did not have the power to heal as Peter did. The evidence of what is in their hearts, is clearly seen by their reaction.   No man and no other god has the power to instantly heal another person. Yet Peter by faith healed this lame man. An honest religious leader would be afraid of spurning God by rejecting something as powerful as this.   Yet the hard hearts of these religious leaders wanted to eliminate Peter as he was endangering the glory and control of their religious world. 
It made no difference that Peter was imparting life and the religious leaders could not.   It is Jesus Christ as the resurrection and life of God, that provided the power of God to heal this lame man.  This same power created the universe that we live in.

Concerning healing, there are many varied doctrines and intense arguments regarding this topic across the different Christian denominations.  People tend to side with the argument that they are most comfortable with, rather than search out the scriptures for what God says regarding healing.   What we are doing is showing God our hearts by taking sides this way. While we may be comfortable determining doctrine by this method, it is not a great show of brilliance. God is not happy when we pull back from searching out the truth to take a view that is comfortable to us.

4BibleStudy.com tries to NOT argue for or against any personal or denominational doctrine. These different church doctrine battles are of the flesh. If people would diligently study God’s word with an honest heart, in due season the truth would be known. If a person’s belief does not line up with scriptures then the life of that part of the scriptures is not available to you. Please do not accept a churches doctrine over what is stated in the Bible, ever.

It is by this Jesus Christ, that real life comes. The life that flows from God is not the same as a life lived by the power of the breath of life.   Just maybe we really don't understand the depth of who this Jesus Christ is or the real life that comes from Him.

When Peter said to the leaders and rulers of Israel: "by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified. . ." this was written also for us.  We also crucified this Jesus Christ, if nothing else, then simply by rejecting Him.  The point here is not to blame religious leaders, or anyone else. We are all to blame. We are all responsible to decide for ourselves who this Jesus Christ is.   The leaders and rulers had their foundation on their natural lives.  Scriptures describe this as making clean the outside of the cup, and the inside is full of raving and wickedness.  In other words religion did not change the core person.  It just made the person look better from the outside.  This is why we need the to change the foundation of our lives.  This is why God calls someone who has made peace with God a new creation.  They don't think, live or act like before.  They have chosen to do more than just clean up the outside of the person.  They have honestly chosen to follow Jesus Christ. Then they begin to live a brand new life that is pure and righteous. This new life has a new foundation, Jesus Christ.

The religious leaders thought because they educated themselves in the scriptures, that they were men of God.  The scriptures are clear, it takes more than an education.  It takes making the scriptures our new foundation of life, by us becoming a new creation in Christ. There is a natural tendency to want to learn good things. Being a Christian is more than that. If we just learn good things we are still king of our lives. A Christian is a new creation where Christ is our king.   This is contrary to the beliefs of many educated people.  Please note, God is not against education.  However, one can use education to build up their natural kingdom or they can use education to learn how to live as a new creation in Christ.  These two do not blend.  The religious leaders were a good example of how these differences play out.  They crucified the true Son of God.

Scriptures:

"And the Lord said to him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness."     [Luke 11:39]

Discussion:

The Pharisees were people that believed that God existed but there was no change in their core person. They were religious, but they do not have the life of God.

The scripture says “Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter”.

Just studying the scriptures will not make a person a child of God. Jesus uses the analogy of a cup and platter as a picture of a person. A person is like a vessel. It can be used to hold good things or bad. When we sit down to eat a meal, the primary focus is on the food, not the vessels we eat and drink out of. The attention to the vessels is secondary to what is in them.

The Pharisees had gone to extraordinary measures to make their vessels look spotless and polished, but had not made good what was in their vessels.   Where is says to:

make clean the outside of the cup and the platter

It is referring their lives and their bodies.

Our lives can be full of pride, anger, hate, lust, arrogance, manipulation, envy, etc, yet none of these adds to the quality of our lives. We, in error often think they that they do add to our lives as we may use them to elevate ourselves and for gain. However a person thinking this way has a weak and flawed character. This weak and flawed character comes from what we believe in our hearts.   This is why the God that made us, instructs us in what to believe. If we believe the instructions on how God wants us to believe, then out from us will flow a pure, righteous life filled with the fruits of the Spirit of God.

We can cloth our bodies to make our image look much more sophisticated and righteous than we actually are. This is what the Pharisees were doing with their religious garb, their long prayers where they could be seen, and their arrogant attitudes.

As Christians, our dress should reflect our desire to dress in a manner that God would approve of for the situation that we are in.   How a Christian should dress has been the subject of considerable heated debate and legalism. I believe God is disgusted with both.

The point here is God is concerned with what kind of person we are. The only way to change human nature is to become a new creation in Christ. This is God’s plan and it is the only way for it to truly work. We cannot clean up our man centered life and make it pure and righteous. It is just physically impossible. God has the perfect plan by making us a new creation. A new creation that thinks different, acts different and has heaven in their future. That my friends, . . . is truly GOOD NEWS!

Jesus was telling the Pharisees that : “but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness

Jesus is saying that their inward part, what is in their vessel: “is full of ravening and wickedness

Ravening means: the act of plundering; pillage, spoiling others, or robbery.

Wickedness here means: pain-ridden evil, resulting in "toil, then drudgery, criminal like.

Jesus is saying that these religious leader, the Pharisees, made themselves look good on the outside while on the inside their heart was full of the desire to rob or plunder others. They were full of wickedness and evil that causes others pain and drudgery. They were criminal like in their hearts.

God was saying all this about the religious leaders.

The question is why?

These leaders had the best access to the manuscripts, the brightest minds of their country, the scribes, the lawyers, everything about God that was then available.

So why were they considered evil?

We know that they were evil for they killed God’s son some time later.

Most of these leaders likely didn’t consider themselves evil any more than you or I. It would be easy to go into a discussion that we are all sinners. But the real question is why, even if we are religious do we have evil in our hearts?

Yes, we have all done wrong.   But that is not the answer, it is just a symptom.

The problem is when we live by our natural breath of life, we are living a life that God has designed to die. It is designed to allow us to exist long enough for us to make a decision whether or not we are going to live according to God’s plan.

Being religious is man’s plan, not God’s. There are appearances and there is fruit.   If we choose outward appearances over Godly fruit then we will receive the consequences of our decision.

Someday God will tell each of us either,

Welcome, good and faithful servant”,

or He will say

Depart from Me, you rejected my plan of life that I designed you for and I never knew you”.

The decision we make while on this earth will determine whether those words will welcome us or judge us.

Scriptures:

"Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word."    [John 8:42-43 (KJV)]

Discussion:

The Pharisees claimed that they were pure men of God. Yet Jesus states that if they were of God, then they would love Jesus. This makes so much sense. Jesus represents the word of God, and it they didn’t love the word of God, how could they love God?

Scriptures:

"Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.    Love never faileth:"   [1 Cor 13:4-8]

Discussion:

We find that, over time, our natural understanding and strength is not enough to live a pure, righteous life.  Even our best attempts fail to achieve the purity and righteousness that most of us desire.  Some may think that because they are mentally bright that they don’t need God, but the truth is all people need God.   God has programmed us with a deep, deep need to be loved.  Apart from an understanding of love from God’s perspective, we don’t truly know, what love is. Of all the things that we make a mess of in life, love tops the list. We are born with a self love, but self love is not pure.   Over time we get tired of it.   It is so self serving.   God's love is pure, nourishing and gentle.   The Greek word for God’s love is agape.

Not everything about love is warm fuzzy feelings. The scriptures say:

Love suffereth long, and is kind;

We key in on the fact that pure love is kind.   Yet as we are sinners, for those extending the love our actions many times are causing them to suffer. Sometimes they suffer for a long time.   The greatest example is God’s love for us and us rejecting Him.   We reject Him far more than we know, some out of rebellion and a large amount out of ignorance. Yes, that suffering can and often does go on for extended periods of time. Our desire to extend God’s love to others, can expire as we tire of their rejection and hostility.   Yet the believer suffers long and is kind.   Mature believers tend to have the ability to take more abuse as they are not extending love based on how they feel, but they extend love based upon their faith in God.   The more faith they have the more love they extend.

Kindness builds people up.   Kindness also provides an environment for us to safely deal with life’s issues. It is so powerful when we are mistreated and we respond back in gentleness.

It goes on to say “love envieth not;”. Pure love is not self focused, envy is.   Envy is defined as :

an emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.” (Wikipedia – www.wikipedia.com)

Envy can be one of those hidden motivators like some of the subtle fears we deal with. It can warp our life without us being aware. It takes work to weed envy out of our lives.   Yet in God’s love there is no envy.

Where the scripture in the book of 1st Corinthians, chapter, 13 says: “love vaunteth not itself”, we find this word VAUNT.   This is not a commonly used word in the English language, but it means exactly what God is trying to say.   It means:

"To vaunt is to proudly call attention to our possessions, our accomplishments, our associations, or our righteousness" (Answers.com: http://wiki.answers.com/)

Again, God’s love does not vaunt itself.

The next part of this scripture says:

is not puffed up

Puffed up means arrogant or proud. Again God’s love is not arrogant or proud.

Next this scripture in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13 it says:

does not behave itself unseemly

To behave unseemly means to be unbecoming, to act not appropriately for the situation, or even to act dishonorably. And this is not part of God’s love.

Next it says:

seeketh not her own

This is acting where we desire or seek, or even demand for ourselves. Again this is not part of God’s love.

Next the scripture says:

is not easily provoked

This means we are not easily angered or irritated. The focus is on the word easily. Everybody gets angry sometimes when there is enough just cause. In God’s love, one does not get easily angered or provoked.

Next in the scriptures of 1st Corinthians, chapter 13, it says:

thinketh no evil

The word evil here means evil flowing out of inner malice. Malice means:

A desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness. (Dictionary.com - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/malice)

In other words to “thinketh no evil” means that we have no intent to see evil towards others.   God’s love does not desire that evil will happen to others.

Our next part of this scripture says:

rejoiceth not in iniquity

This part of the scripture completes the previous part where is says “thinketh no evil”.   To think evil towards others is thinking of future evil towards them. This part that says “rejoiceth not in iniquity” means where evil, hurt, or injustice has already (past tense) happened to others, we do not rejoice in that.   In God’s love there is no rejoicing in evil that has happened to others.

The next part in this scripture describing God’s love in the book of 1st Corinthians, chapter 13 it says:

but rejoiceth in the truth

The meaning here is more specific than it appears. The word truth is not all inclusive. Instead it means real truth such as truth that comes from God, divine truth, straightforwardness, truth that is morally pure. It does NOT include worldly wisdom which is sometimes put forth as truth.   In other words we rejoice in pure truth, Gods truth.

This next part of the scripture also has additional depth.

beareth all things

The word bears or beareth, in the Greek, means to place under a roof. To provide a roof over to keep water out, or to cover, or to endure because it’s shielded.   It does not mean to cover up, hide or evade. It is using a physical description to describe what should take place in our dealing with the lives of other people. To illustrate the point, we knew a man many years ago that had a troubled past and then came to Christ. After 5 or 6 years he made some bad choices that destroyed his marriage, and put him behind bars. We did not approve of his actions, but the possessions he had needed to be protected while he was incarcerated. We stored those under our roof, or more specifically in our garage, until he got out. So the meaning here is we endured patiently with him and we also provided a roof. No, we did not approve of his actions, but we tried to show God’s love to him. We did not hide his belongings from the law, we just provided protection. This principle applies to both the stuff and to people’s lives that we should endure with.

Next in the scripture in 1st Corinthians, chapter 13 it says:

believeth all things

 This means that we have faith in, or belief in, all parts of the whole situation according to God’s plan. Obviously in many cases we will not know all the details, but we will believe God none the less.

Our next part of this scripture says:

hopeth all things

Hope is to expect, to trust, to actively wait for God's fulfillment about the faith He has in-birthed through the power of His love. It is hope for all parts of the situation. (Biblos.com)

Next in the scripture in 1st Corinthians, chapter 13 it says:

endureth all things.

Like hope, this type of enduring, persevering, or bearing up under load, is actively waiting for God’s fulfillment because of our faith in the provision and power of God.

This last part of this set of scriptures is interesting. It says:

Love never faileth

The word faileth or fails, means to fall away from, or to wither away. Love itself never fails. We sometimes confuse our giving up on love with love failing. Love itself does not fail. If we give up on love, we in effect take it off the job and we replace it with other things. However the love itself does not fail. How many things in life do we know that does not fail?   One more point on this love that does not fail, it is the agape, or God’s pure love we described here that does not fail. We are not talking about the philia love (Greek word for friendship love) or the eros love (Greek word for sensual love) or even the storge love (Greek word for family love – like a parents love for their children).

It would be easy to say that we do not have the capacity to love with this pure a love. That is true with our natural born, man centered perspective. We don’t. However living as the new creation in God, we can have this pure, righteous love.   It takes time to cultivate it and have it flowing from our hearts. God designed us to live as a new creation and His design includes this kind of love.   It is one of the many blessings to living in God.

Lesson #:  09

LIFE

 Scriptures:

"And ye will not come to me (Jesus Christ), that ye might have life."    [John 5:40]

Discussion:

Jesus is talking to the religious leaders and he tells them that they will not come to Him in order to have real life.   Many people just will not come.   It doesn’t make a lot of sense.   If we build up our worldly kingdom, we may feel it’s hard to submit to God, as what we have built up may be at risk.   What we may not realize is, that this time that we have been given to exist on earth, God has given us, for us to make a decision.   That decision is whether or not we will choose life.   Most people get a lifetime to make that choice, however some people’s lifetime is shorter than others.   In order to make a valid decision, God allows the available choices to have value.   God tells us clearly that in coming to Him, we can have a pure righteous life that is not available from any other source, and if we seek it seriously we can have it more abundantly.   If we choose to reject the life God that designed for us, then we get what’s left and that is a downward spiral to death.     As stated before, we in error think we already have life.   We don’t, we have a breath of life that allows us to exist so that we can exist long enough to make a genuine decision whether or not to accept the real life God designed for us.   A lifetime is long enough to exist so that when our lifetime is over, the only one we could honestly blame is ourselves for not choosing the life of God.   It makes no logical sense to have NOT searched out about this life while we have lived on earth.

In light of that , God is not saying He will destroy or take away what ever worldly kingdom we have built up.   And He is not saying He won’t, either.   What God does promise, is to make you a pure righteous person with an eternal future, if you seriously choose life.   Sadly the lure of the worldly kingdom is just a test for you to see if you are choosing the things with the highest value.   It’s not just a matter of providing for ourselves and our families, God desires we do that and has provisioned it for us.   But it is a decision for you and I to choose between the life God has designed for us and a glorified existence the world would like us to have. It boils down to a decision of eternal consequences to accept or to reject real life.

When we reflect on the real values of life, it is not the worldly kingdom that is considered the most important. We see that when we attend a funeral.   Here the most important issues of the person’s life are revisited and they are love, compassion, joy, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control etc.   These are the character traits that are developed in a real relationship with God.   It’s God’s plan that teaches us these issues and strengthens them in our lives.     When we look at the long term scope of things, these are the real values and they are the values we wish others around us would have.

So why would a person not come to God to have real life?   They are either deceived or they are VERY short term in their thinking.

Jesus knew, even before He came to earth that many would not come to Him so that they could have real life. Existing as a natural man centered person, we may not only choose to reject life, but often we will often rise up against Him, even though this Jesus has never done us any wrong.   Clearly such motivation does not come from an intelligent examination of the truth.

If you have been studying with us for awhile, you have come to recognize that God’s meaning of some words are often different than ours. Because of that we may miss what God is trying to tell us.   In addition to that, our natural man centered perspective quietly warps our understanding.   It takes a conscious effort for us to get past these issues and to be able to start seeing things from God’s perspective. When we do, we begin to realize that the word of God has an absolutely incredible plan. That plan is for us to have the pure, righteous life that God intended.

So why is it, that people will not come to Jesus Christ,
 so that they might have real life?

  The answers people come up with, are just not logical.  Often people are just acting out of their natural perspective.  They would rather retain control of their own lives.  They try to dodge the consequences of sin.  The smarter ones are more successful than those less smart, however in reality they all fail.  In not coming to Jesus, they don't have (real) life.

Scholars may assign the meaning of a scripture to only a certain period of time or a certain group of people.  God however, has His wisdom for all people and all ages.  Yes  this scripture was targeted to the people back in Jeremiah's day, but it is also applicable to us.   By not paying attention to God's instruction, rejecting His commands that are designed to give us life, it will bring evil.  In reality, it couldn't do anything else.  If we don't pay attention or obey those things which provide a real, pure life, then we will be paying attention to those things that are not pure and do not lead to life.  If they don't lead to life, what else can they lead to besides evil?   The fruit of our ungodly thoughts is going to be ungodly or evil fruit.

Jesus said: "If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me."  We are born of the flesh, of the natural.  In other parts of scriptures, it says we have a need to be born again, this second time to be born of God.  It is only after being born again that we can say we were born of God.  God is not our Father if we are religious.  God is our Father only if we have been born of God.   If we have been born of God, then we love His word.  Jesus represents the word of God.  Jesus was sent to mankind so mankind would both; come to more fully know God, and to receive real life.  Jesus did not come teaching his own "man centered" view.  No, instead Jesus came as the will of God in the flesh.  He was sent by God the Father to us.  As Jesus was sent from God the Father, He asks "Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word".

So why do people not understand what God says?

First, most really don't know what the scriptures actually say.  Sad, but true.   Next, we judge the scriptures by our own context and perspective, rather than step outside of ourselves, and examine them according to how they are written.  The power of our man centered, fleshly nature is just amazing.  We are so caught up in ourselves that we often don't hear what God is saying.  Oh, yes, we hear with our ears, but that is as deep as it penetrates.

And, as stated before, since this is how we were born, we may have not even thought about it.  Additionally there can easily be a fear of the unknown or of spiritual things.  Like "how can I trust God with my life?" It is so easy to advise others to trust God, yet in our own lives, have a real fear of trusting Him.

 

If the God of all creation has emphatically stated

that He loves us so much,

that He has sent His own son to die in our place,

so that we could have real life

and that real life more abundantly,

so,

what logical reason could there be, for rejecting Him?

 

If God was a dead god, then it would be the smart thing to not trust, but the living, loving Creator of the Universe, that had His son die in our place, so that we might have life ? ? ?   It just doesn't make sense.

However, sometimes we need to get more fed up with our own man centered ways.  It may not be totally logical, but most likely it is a reality that we will have to suffer, before we turn and trust the Creator of the universe.

Making the transition to go from living a natural life to a spiritual life, requires change.  We initially think we have life.   We think we can do it on our own.  But time proves God is right and we are wrong.  Our natural life is not the pure life we yearn for deep within. 

Its comforting to know millions of people have gone before us and have successfully made this change.  Its even more comforting to know that you are free to examine any part of God's plan, before or after one makes the choice to chose this new life.   In a truly free life we are able to choose what is right but we also have the freedom to choose what is wrong.   And, in a truly free life, there usually is the ability to go back to our old ways again.   More on that later.

It is the Spirit of God that draws us and quickens this new life.  This quickening is not mystical, or strange or to be worshiped.   It is part of the life we seek.   This spiritual life is obtainable.   It is based on truth and it fulfills those needs that we all have: love, truth, peace, faith, acceptance, etc. 

The Bible promises life, but it also promises this "life" more abundantly.   Our foundation needs to be based on rock solid truth.  Something unshakable.

Another issue that is at play here is unless one is "born again" they cannot see the kingdom of God.  It is possible that one can live their entire life without realizing that the kingdom of God is real.  They don't want to see it and they cannot see into it.   However God has shown that there is a God, by the fact that this world and cosmos we live in, shows intelligent order and design.   To deny that this order and design was by intelligent design, is just plain silly and dishonest.   The Bible calls one who says there is no God, a fool.  We want life, we don't want to be a fool.  Some in rejecting God have convinced themselves they are right.  However at death, they will be eternally faced with the truth on whether they were right or not.  Of course, then will be too late to do anything about it.  We have the time now to search out and verify what is true, so when that time comes there will be no surprises.

Scriptures:

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."     [John 8:36]

Discussion:

We, most often, think we are free, but when we are honest with ourselves, we may realize that, in different areas of our life, we may not be free.  Jesus Christ came so that we might have life.   To have a quality life, we need to be free.   We think of freedom as being able to come and go freely. God’s meaning of freedom goes far beyond that. God’s plan includes that our will, thinking and emotions are also free.   If the powers of darkness took sudden and large amounts of control over our will, thinking or emotions, we would fight with everything we had to regain our freedom.   What Satan does is deceive us in small steps and tries to convince us that we are right in making these steps.   These bondages take place in our soul and we may notice them first in our weakened willpower.   Our soul (our will, thinking, emotions) may be obeying some other power other than us or God.    When we are exposed to some things or situations, we may not have the willpower to effectively resist.  There is a pull or power that is strong enough to get us to do what rationally we would not. These bondages go far beyond just physical dependencies. There are spiritual powers at work. Some choose to believe that the powers of darkness or evil, does not exist.   However the Bible clearly states that they do exist.   The power of evil is more than just bad thoughts or emotions. The Bible describes both the powers of darkness, and the power of God that works in truth, love, and righteousness. What is most important is that we have, as a child of God, power and authority over the powers of darkness. Like any power or authority, it needs to be used with wisdom and understanding.

When we say we are not free, we are not talking about God given responsibilities.   However we may have put ourselves under responsibilities that God did not intend. That is a different issue.

If someone is bound by the powers of darkness, the Son, this Jesus Christ, has the power and the authority to set you free.   And if one is set free by this Jesus Christ, he is set free indeed. It is not a game. Satan slowly takes more and more control of our will, our emotions, and our thinking when we are deceived. He allows us to live what our natural man centered perspective calls normal.   In that process God is shut out, more and more.   The Bible says that Satan is out to kill, steal, and destroy. People, even Christians, often give little heed to that scripture. God has given us detailed instructions of how all this works. If we do not study the scriptures we will not have the understanding to know how to overcome evil.   But more importantly we are missing the life God designed for us.

God’s plan is for us to be over-comers through the word and the power of God.   It is easy to see how an alcoholic is not free when he will buy alcohol, for himself, instead of food for the baby, but there are many less obvious bondages that can and have deceived us.  It may be a lust for food, a confused sexual orientation, addicted to sports, computer games, control, or anything else.  If something dominates us rather than truth, love, and righteousness, then we are in bondage.   We are not talking about responsibilities, but things that bend our will, warp our thinking and destroy life.

There are many ways in which we might not be free.   If we are not free to choose, then we are not free.  This loss of freedom is an indication that something is wrong.   It is not leading to life.  While it may have enjoyment for the moment, it will have a negative long term impact and it is time to consider a change.   "If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."   Those new to the scriptures, often have difficulty understanding how God can make one free.   They may be praying for a miracle to relieve their problem.  In many cases if God performed a miracle it would relieve the present pain, however since the structure of the person's life has not changed, the person most likely will just become ensnared again.  If we are willing to follow God rather than the dictates of our fleshly nature, our life structure will change and we can live in freedom. Coming to God will change one's very foundation of life.

We are not used to thinking in terms of souls and sin, however this is the language that God uses to explain things that affect us.

Scriptures:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.   [John 14:27]

Discussion:

We often naturally assume that peace is an absence of conflict or chaos.   While that is a type of peace, there is a greater peace that is only obtainable through the God of all creation. And the peace the God gives, is a peace regardless of the situation that we are in.   To understand the peace that God gives, it takes a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

The scriptures identify the world’s peace that we are all familiar with and that we all enjoy when it’s available.   God is saying that He gives us His peace and it is not the same “as the world giveth”.

A believer can sense God’s peace without an understanding of how it works, however, they can make far less errors in discernment if they do understand the architecture of the relationship between God and man.

We will provide an overview here, however this is a very deep topic and believers should study this very carefully to avoid costly mistakes to themselves and to others.

Anytime deeper topics are discussed, there is a segment of the population that wants to argue or fight over doctrine.   However truly wise people will go back and search out the scriptures and in time the truth will be evident.   It takes time to study out these deeper topics, especially since they are contrary to our natural, man centered way of thinking. God’s goal is that we become God centered, through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The believer has available many advantages that the non-believer doesn’t have and does not understand.

First the believer is deeply loved by God. Yes, so is the non-believer, but the believer knows it, or should at least believe it. The knowing that they are loved, gives the believer an inner strength that the nonbeliever doesn’t have.   God so loves each one of us with a deep pure love.   This love of God is an absolute, and unchangeable truth.

Additionally the believer understands or should understand that God has total control of the entire universe. Every detail. He is Lord! God has designed laws of physics and nature that control the natural realm. But the believer realizes or should realize that God has the power to do things outside of the laws of physics or nature.   God usually lets the physical laws do, what they are supposed to do, regarding how this universe operates. However, to the believer, God is personally their Abba Father or daddy, and sometimes God intervenes to help His child along the path of life.   This intervention is usually the result of a believer’s prayer, but not always.   The scriptures are full of examples of God’s intervention and most true believers have experienced some of this as well.   If not, then it is time to get serious with understanding and trusting the God of the Bible.

While knowing that God personally loves us and that God is truly in control, can give us some peace, that is only a fore taste of the peace that God is describing here in the book of John, chapter, 14, verse 27.

To understand how it works, we will look at the way God made us and it will become clearer why the unbeliever cannot have this kind of peace, because they do not have, a relationship with God.

All of us from birth, we are used to receiving input from our emotions, which is a part of our soul.   In other words, the place we all experience emotion is in our souls.   When we face trials, our emotions will often run wild giving us all kinds of input that usually dictates the outcome of the decisions we make.

But this is different with the believer.   The believer is learning that he or she actually knows in their human spirit because God dwells there in their hearts.   The believer has chosen to stop this nonsense. They have chosen to no longer allow their emotions to be their king. Their king is now the Son of God, this one called Jesus Christ. So the believer will listen to the heart of their emotions but they will NOT allow their emotions to dictate what to do. Actions that come out of following emotions most often are not the wisest choice.   The believer is seeking direction from their King.   They are seeking what they know is the truth for an answer. God will bear witness with the truth in our spirit or in our conscience.   It will be something that they do know in their human spirit. The believer will choose to believe anything thought, to be of less importance than what they know in their spirit. Since the believer has made the decision to invite God into their life, into their spirit, the are looking for truth now in their spirit.   This is not looking for voices in our head, that can make a person crazy. We are looking for truth, real truth.   And if we are honest, let me say that again, if we are honest, in our discernment between what we believe and what we know, then what we truly do know, is something that will be trustworthy. Obviously we need to walk through this process with great care and honesty. Did I say honesty? . . . And honesty!

The mind is a battle field, and the deceiver of our souls wants us making decisions by how we feel, and what we think, and what we want, instead of by what we know.

So what about compassion? We use the same process of decision making also here, however, if in doubt, we error on the side of compassion. The scriptures say in 1st Peter, chapter 4, verse 8:

And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins.”   [1st Peter, chapter 4:8]

So what happens when we don’t “know” what to do, when in the trial. First at any particular time, we may not know. We keep seeking in hope of God revealing to us the truth. In the book of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 7, Jesus is speaking to believers and He addresses this issue. There it says:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:”   [Matthew 7:7]

Sometimes God does not need to provide a new answer. The answer may not be what we are expecting and we may already know the truth.

And there are times we think we need answers and we don’t.

Another option is God has clearly given us the answer, but we have not discerned it.

There are many reasons we may not have discerned it. Maybe lack of experience discerning. Maybe what we want is so strong we would not consider what we do know. Maybe our emotions are screaming so loud that we missed God.   Maybe our thinking or our beliefs so strong in opposition to God’s will, in a particular area, that we rejected what we knew and embraced what we thought or believed.

This is why we have to be very careful and honest, if we want clean discernment.

So what does God’s peace have to do with all of this.   First, if we can find truth and direction in the trials of life, that brings peace and hope. If our spirit is truly at peace when the world is hectic and chaotic around us, then for that moment, we also can be at peace.

However if in the trial we know in our spirit to act, then we act. Obviously complete honesty with ourselves is crucial for clean discernment, and one needs to exercise great care.   We seek out and learn the scriptures because it is they, that light our path.

We are not used to thinking this way, but this is part of the plan of life that God designed because God does not want our hearts to be troubled nor afraid.   He is Emanuel or God with us.

Our next scriptures are from the book of Colossians, chapter 1, verses 10 & 11, there it says:

That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and "longsuffering" with joyfulness;"       [Col 1:10-11]

Here the desire is that the believers would walk worthy of the Lord. We fail miserably when we walk after the dictates of our fleshly nature. But the good side of that is we are over comers and fruitful when we live according to God’s plan. God’s plan has the capacity to where there can be some fruit from every good work we put our effort into.   As we continue to walk out our life according to God’s plan, we increase in the knowledge of god, and as we do we are strengthened with all might.   The term “all might” means - "Power through God's ability". Scriptures confirm that next where it says “according to his glorious power”.

We have been discussing an overview of how God strengthens us by truth. We were all born living by the dictates of our fleshly nature. When we come into a relationship with God, God desires that we think according to how he designed us. Our faith is not or should not, be blind faith. It should be in a living God based upon truth, love and righteousness.   Believers do not have to live in the same manner as unbelievers, with just a new philosophy.   Especially believers but also non believers suffer when their thinking is according to their fleshly nature. People living this way are quite easy to manipulate and it usually happens without them being aware of it.

God is not desiring to make us superman, but desires to make us pure and righteous.   In order to do so, understanding how God designed us to think, is part of how God designed us to be: “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power”. God wants us to have real life, and basing our decisions on truth will allow us to grow in Him.

Scriptures:

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."   [Hebrews 2;1]

Discussion:

If we have studied the scriptures, and come to the conclusion that they are true, then we should pay attention.  The Bible uses the words "more earnest heed" to indicate the seriousness of the point.  God says what He means.  He could have just said that we ought to heed what we have heard.  But that would not show the seriousness of what God was saying.  God didn't just say earnest heed, which is pretty serious paying attention and doing.  No, He said that "we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard".  We ought to give this very serious heed, in other words it will cost us something, maybe time, maybe more.  The caution here is that if we let them slip, there are consequences, serious consequences!

Scriptures:

"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."    [Matthew 13;13]

Discussion:

On this day, Jesus had started teaching by using parables. A parable is a fictional story, which is not hard to understand on the surface. But a parable has an underlying meaning. The disciples were somewhat surprised because up to this point Jesus had been speaking clearly in all of His teaching. In verse 10 Matthew records that they had asked Jesus why he was speaking in parables. In response to their question Jesus told them “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven but to them it has not.” He went on to tell them why. “because they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” At first glance this could appear to say that God was including some and excluding others but He continues on by saying they are fulfilling a passage from the prophet Isaiah that says “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”  This says that they do not understand the meaning of the parable because they will not look, and they will not listen.

The accent here is on the “will”. They “will not hear”.  I can recall many times (especially as a teenager when I knew everything) that I chose to not want to hear what someone was saying. There might be many reasons that I did not want to listen. Maybe I was being told I was wrong about something. Maybe I was being told to do something that I did not want to do. Most often, I did not listen because I just wanted to do whatever I wanted to do. With my natural man centered view, the only important question was what I wanted.

To truly hear what someone is saying is a choice that we make. It is a choice often made by our hearts or perspective. We don’t often give real consideration to it, we just go along with what ever our perspective dictates.  To understand a parable one needs to realize that our perspective may warp our understanding then take the necessary steps to actually hear what is being said. To hear does not mean to agree with. The decision to agree or not agree comes after we have heard.   The problem is if our man centered perspective forms a rejection before we have heard, or thought about it, then we have shut out any hearing.    Every parable that Jesus spoke had another important factor. He always spoke from God’s perspective and in relation to God’s kingdom. This presents a problem for most people because we must include God in attempting to understand.

In verse 9, Jesus ended this parable by saying “He who has ears, let him hear.” Of course they all had ears. This was not about the physical ability to hear. They had the ability to hear. But the key here is “let him hear.” Let him hear goes to the very center of our being. It asks “will I allow myself to hear? Will I try to understand what God is saying? Will I put my own thoughts and desires to the side to be able to hear something that may be different than what I currently believe? Will I get off my throne and give God a chance at explaining His position?

We find, in scripture that Jesus used this phrase many times.   Many people, in this account, had already decided to reject Jesus and were not willing to listen. They were not willing to consider the words Jesus spoke to even find out if what God said was true, let alone give Him authority in their lives.

When He told this parable, Jesus had been speaking to a large crowd.  From their perspective they had seen and heard Jesus. From God’s perspective they did not see and they did not hear. These people had come for many reasons and with many agendas. We are not told of each of their motivations. One thing is clear: many were not there seeking God. They were not there to learn the ways of God from His perspective. They were there for their own, natural man centered, self centered gain.

Scriptures:

"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."     [Matthew 13;15]

Discussion:

Here we are clearly seeing God’s perspective on the attitude of these people. Their heart has grown dull and their ears are dull.   The phrase “waxed gross” means grew thick or became thickened. Referenced to “the heart” speaks of their senses becoming sluggish and dull, or stupid due to self-indulgence. Dull of hearing speaks of being so self absorbed that you do not listen to anything outside of yourself. Having your eyes closed clearly speaks of this being a willful decision; they blocked out information they don’t want to see. And just as it was a choice to do it, we can make a choice to correct it. Unfortunately a choice to correct it by the strength of our flesh will most likely fail – We need two things – 1st we need the power of God to overcome, and 2nd we need to be living as a new creation the way God intended for us to be.  The old creation lives with their heart shutting out anything it doesn’t want to hear.    A new creation in God tries to hear and sees what God is saying from God’s perspective.

If only they would listen. God desires to heal them, to reconcile them to Himself, to give them ”life”.   If they would try, they would understand. If they would understand their hearts would be converted.

Some of the people in this crowd were believers and yes, some were not. But this scripture applies to both.   This is why Jesus needs to be our Lord and Savior. Most people look at the Bible for ways to improve their, natural man centered lives.   That is a misunderstanding. They are still man centered, with “self” still their king.   A Christian is supposed to have a new king. We become a new creation in Christ and this Jesus becomes our foundation – scriptures say “it is not I that live, but Christ lives through me.

At the beginning of His answer to the question, posed by His disciples, Jesus said “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven but to them it has not.”

The good news of this passage is that those who “will” listen are given the ability to hear.   Those who “will” see are given the ability to see.   And, those who “will see and “will hear are given the ability to understand.

Scriptures:

"For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."    [Luke 10;24]

Discussion:

Many people desire truth even before they discern that there is a God or who God is – these people would have loved to had access to have seen Jesus firsthand!    In the verse right before this one, we see that Jesus was speaking privately to his disciples. He also told them “blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” They were with the Messiah and hearing him speak and seeing His face. It would take some time even for these disciples to realize that this Jesus was far more than a great man or prophet.   Eventually they would come to realize that this was the embodiment of the word of almighty God, of His will, His truth, His love, and His plan of salvation, all in one person, fully God and fully man. Many people through out the ages have sought deeper truth and here it was speaking with the disciples as a meek and lowly man.   They were in a very privileged position regarding all of history, and they did not grasp the depth of what was going on.

Scriptures:

"Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.   Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;"    [Proverbs 1: 23-26] 

Discussion:

We have to hear before we can make decisions. If we have not heard, then we will not turn at God’s reproof. God designed and made us, He knows what we need.   He tells us how to live so we can be both in His kingdom and discern His kingdom. Reproof is God showing us, or proving again, the correct way. When we are in or on the correct path, then, yes then, can God pour out His Spirit on us to where it can be effective. Only then will the words of God start making sense. When we are headstrong going our own way, the words of God don’t make sense – they don’t apply to life the way we are living it, or how we expect things to work. There are two kingdoms. God’s instructions on how to live as a child of God don’t make sense in furthering our agenda as a natural man centered person. In learning to live in God’s kingdom on this earth it causes us to put forth the necessary effort to place ourselves into God’s kingdom. Then we need to learn how to live in God’s kingdom. Only then will the words of God make sense.

What does it mean when God says that He will pour out His Spirit unto us? The church in their man centered, selfish ambitions, fight over the meaning of this scripture. Where are those that will choose to hear and see what God is saying in His word, rather than destroy their brother or sister, trying to prove themselves right?

We are all wrong. Only God is right. Only God is the judge of our brothers and sisters that disagree with us.   If we will hear and see the scriptures from God’s perspective, this arrogant bickering of doctrine will subside. But no, God calls and we refuse. God has stretched out His hand and no one regarded. We have made worthless the council of God. God has tried and tried to prove again the truth of His word, and we have decided we wanted none of it.

So what should God do?

He will let the consequences run their course and eventually calamity and distress will come. These consequences will bring fear and because we chose not to hear and we chose not to see, God will mock.   Yet even still, if we would turn and repent and get serious with God and open our ears and open our eyes, God would forgive us. He would take us back.

This is not God laughing at us who are trying. This is God pleading with us to not act in such rebellion. Take the time to learn the scriptures rather than fight over doctrines that we don’t understand. Take the time to see things from God’s perspective. Hear what God is saying to us in His word.

Scriptures:

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"    [Mark 8;36]

Discussion:

On one side God says to take dominion over the earth and then this scripture balances that out by stating if we gain everything, and lose our soul in the process, then it really is not profitable.  Like so much of the Bible, real truth is so contrary to our natural man centered thinking.  It is really easy to listen to the world’s hype and struggle with this scripture.  God’s position is that he has designed life to be the best it can be.   That life is sustaining and because it is pure and righteous, it is good for us and it is good for others around us.

In short term thinking this scriptures makes no sense.  However, when viewed from God’s perspective where God wants us to live a long, healthy, and productive life, it is so logical.   It’s the wisdom we wish we would have followed after the consequences of our short term thinking become evident.  This is why God has included it in His instructions to us.

Where it says “, and lose his own soul?” there is at least two ways this applies.  First is the obvious.  If we die without establishing a relationship with God, our breath of life will go back to God and our eternal soul will have no place to go except to Hell.  So our soul would be lost forever.  

That is not God’s plan, but when we reject a relationship with God, that is what will happen.  We have rejected life, so we get death and all that goes with it.
The second way we lose our soul is we lose control of a part of it at a time.  In God’s plan, we are free.   But freedom does not mean that we can do absolutely anything that we please and still have life or freedom.  Freedom means that we can freely live and act within the realm of reality of how things are.   This is why God has given us such precise instructions.   While many would disagree about whether the Bible’s instructions are precise, they are looking at the Bible from a man centered perspective.   When we start to grasp the scriptures from God’s perspective, it becomes clearer and clearer  just how precise they really are.   But in that precision, we are free.   If this is a point of contention, please study with us for a while and in due season this will start to make sense.   

So how do we lose our soul a part at a time?   Sadly many churches consider this topic too deep, yet it is part of the basics of our Christian faith.   A simplified description of our soul is our mind, will and emotion.   Each of these three parts can be broken down even further.  Take our will for example.  As stated, it is part of our soul.  When we lose control of a part of our soul like our will, we don’t lose control of our entire will.   Take sugar for example.  Some people are not free because sugar, has control of part of their will, which is part of their soul.   That person can likely walk past the bags of sugar in the baking isle in the grocery store, without realizing that sugar has control of part of their soul.   Now take that same person and have them walk into their kitchen.  On the counter is a large pan of fresh brownies, and freshly made soups, sandwiches and salads.  If a person is free, then they can choose what they want to eat.   They will eat what is sufficient for them, not neglecting foods that nourish the body.   The power of lust will not dictate what foods they choose.   Many people are addicted to the lust for sugar without even realizing it.  They will bulk up on brownies and not pick up any nourishing foods.   This is a small example.   

A larger, more easy to identify bondage is the control of alcohol or drugs.  It is not just an enjoyment of the effects.  There is power that bends the person’s will related to these things.  Does that mean that we totally forsake all uses of sugar, alcohol or drugs?   No each has their place where they can be used without capturing part of a person’s will, provided the person is free.   Many times a person does not realize that part of them is captive.  As a side note, are we advocating the use of alcohol as a refreshment or drink.  The answer is no, the Bible considers strong drink a mocker.  We are not legalistic, its just that some things really don’t have a positive impact on a godly life, and being free in Christ is far more important than wasting efforts and resources that pull us in the direction of sin.

So how does this relate to trying to gain the whole world?    To make the effort to gain the whole world, will cause us to compromise what we think, or what we want or what we feel.  We will have to violate our conscience somewhere.  What we don’t realize is that powers other than our own soul, is slowly taking control.   Just as the drug addict, does not realize it until they are well hooked, those sacrificing their own soul may not either.  Even if they do, they often feel the tradeoff is worth it.   But its not.   It’s not because not only do we not know what will happen tomorrow, but eternity, that word we haven’t paid attention to truly is part of reality.   

Trying to gain the whole world is a man centered endeavor.    God is real whether we acknowledge it or not.   We can try to be our own king, but God is the King of kings.  Some day we are going to have to face the real King and we will not be able to stand in His presence.   It is interesting to note that some satanic groups, and some of the world’s leaders are part of these groups, have satanic services just like we have services to worship God.   Only in theirs they worship satan.   In their worship service they crucify their conscience.   This allows them to push God aside so they can justify their evil deeds.  

In contrast, a believer, pays close attention to their conscience.   

So the question is, is it worth it to, sacrifice yourself for gain?   Even if there was not an eternity, when one understands the loving provision of God, it is not the smart thing to do.   Add to that the fact that there is eternity, it really makes it an unwise decision.

We need to note here, God is not saying that we should not gain wealth.   Instead, God is saying that we should NOT sacrifice our soul to gain wealth.  

One additional point here.  It says  “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world”.     The emphasis is on the word if.   Our efforts to gain the world have no guarantees.  God will sometimes allow us to accomplish what we are after to show us how empty our decision was.   And sometimes we will get caught in our own devices and the end can be tragic.

Contrast that with the exceeding great promises of God, supplying all of our need according to  God’s riches in Christ Jesus.    The book of Philippians, chapter 4 verse 19 says:

 
And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  [Philippians 4:19]

 

"Why boast you yourself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endures continually.   The tongue devises mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.   You love evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.   You love all devouring words, O you deceitful tongue.  God shall likewise destroy you for ever, he shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, and root you out of the land of the living. Selah.   The  righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: see, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness."       [Psalm 52:1-7]


Our man centered perspective boasts of what it has done.  When we learn God’s ways, we learn to glory in what God has done.

When we live without acknowledging God, we can greatly increase our gain by mischief.    It is quite interesting that the scripture calls this man of mischief “O mighty man”.  This is calling the man what the man wants to be called.   This is not calling the man mighty from God’s perspective.   

God is saying that in God’s goodness, God will give him room to repent.  Also implied is “why resort to mischief, when God is there with goodness?”.   Then God goes on to describe in detail that God understands this man’s doings.   And God describes what he shall do if the person does not turn.  

“God shall likewise destroy you for ever, he shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, and root you out of the land of the living. Selah.   The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: see, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.”.   

Here we see a man who is pursuing “the whole world”. And He is proud of it. He could see the love of God, it is there, but he does not want to see it. He is busy making plans of how he can get more for himself. He often cuts others down and deceives them to increase his gain. He actually enjoys this lying and deceit. He can enjoy his evils ways for a season. But, the bottom line is, he will lose his soul. God will take him out of this life and into judgment. He will be sent away forever. Out of the land of the living and away from the love of God. Those who have listened to God can see the bottom line and they laugh at this man who refused to see God and refused to hear Him. This man trusted in his riches right up to the end.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus said:


"But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."      [Mat. 6:33]


Just before this verse, Jesus had said that the Father knows of our needs. He knows we need food and drink. He knows we need clothing and shelter. He knows we need relationship. Most of all He knows that we need someone to worship. We need to serve someone. He understands all these needs and He wants to supply them. If we pursue God, and His way of living life, He can give us what we need. If we give up our plans and seek His, He will give us righteousness. That is what we need the most. Once we are His, if we will diligently seek Him and follow His ways, he will take care of everything else.

Scriptures:

"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.   For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."   [2nd Peter 1:2-8]

Discussion:

As we come to know God we find that grace and peace are multiplied. It is interesting to note that they are “multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord”.   The scriptures list both God and Jesus Christ.   Many consider them to be the same, but here God wants us to recognize that that the differences are important.   If the scriptures just said that they were “multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God” in some people’s minds they would exclude the details of the Bible.   There are hundreds of thousands of religions on this earth all claiming to have a connection with God. The Bible is the only scriptures that detail without error, the true God of creation, the one god that can impart life.   So it is important to distinguish this one true God from all others. One of the names of Jesus is the “Prince of Peace”It says:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness”.   This grace and peace is multiplied  “. . . according as his divine power . . . .”. 

God is saying that His grace and peace be extended and multiplied to us through God’s divine power, just as God has (past tense) given us all things necessary for real life and godliness through His divine power. This pure righteous life, that we are starting to learn about, has the environment to flourish and grow in with this grace and peace.   Grace is an allowance for us to make mistakes and peace allows us to think clearly in the midst of life’s trials.   People usually react to life’s trials, by their emotions and the pressures put on them by the world. In doing so their choices are most often not based on God’s truth and righteousness.   So this grace and peace is important to a successful righteous life. It is interesting to note that God gives us an abundant amount of both, conditional upon our knowledge God and God’s will made part of our lives, this Jesus Christ. God wants us to know a clean understanding of His word.   In it He has given us all things that are necessary for real life and godliness including abundant amounts of grace and peace. Grace and peace to not disappear when life’s trials come. They are there for all of life and especially for our difficult times. Again we must not forget that they are conditional upon our knowledge of God and God’s will.

Living in the will of God, He “hath called us to glory and virtue”. There is glory living in God’s glory and there is virtue. It is not ours but we can have it living in God’s glory and virtue. It is like those living with the king live in his glory and blessings.

This all comes through knowing Him. He has called us to live in this and He has the power to carry it out.

whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

By this call He has given us wonderful, powerful, and extremely valuable promises. He promises that through knowing Him we might (its conditional) “be partakers of the divine nature” This means that by believing and making the promises of God ours, we can be partakers of God’s divine nature. We then become increasingly more and more like Him. As we become like Him we escape the world’s corruption, that comes from lust.  Lust was normal to us and we did not grasp how much it was corrupting our lives. Through our natural desires and lust we were doomed to corruption and death. Our natural man centered perspective, is being replaced as we become partakers of His divine nature with a pure God centered perspective.  This all comes through knowing him.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.   For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

If we diligently make God’s precious promises our own, we will be rewarded just as the scriptures say. Being diligent is something we have control over, but we can also get lazy and let them slip.   Here we see that it all starts with our faith in these promises of God. It’s through faith in God and His promises, that we can begin to know Him. Many times in the Bible we are told to seek Him. As our knowledge of God increases our faith in Him grows stronger. As our faith grows, we are increasingly transformed into the new creation that God has designed us to be and we become more able to live pure and, righteous.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue

We are to add to our faith, virtue.   We learn from God’s word, what God’s meaning of virtue is and we add it to our faith. To add it to our faith means that we make it part of the foundation of our lives. It is an active adding on our part. It does not come naturally. We may have to weed out contrary thinking and habits so that virtue is not polluted by our old nature and its man centered thinking. This takes work and time. (Dictionary.reference.com) defines virtue as “moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.”   Virtue causes righteousness to come from within. Virtue is key to living the life that God desires for us. Virtue is one of the first outward evidences seen by others that a real change for good has taken place in our lives.

and to virtue, knowledge

Just as we had to work to add virtue, it takes work to add knowledge. This knowledge is “the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” Because “the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” is far more vast than the understanding of virtue, it will become a lifetime effort. A good one we might add.

and to knowledge, temperance

As our knowledge of God is growing we add temperance. When we lived in our natural self centered way our driving force was our fleshly appetites and attempting to satisfy them. As we become transformed into the image of God, we replace our natural appetites with the desire to live the life and that life more abundantly that God designed and wishes for us to live.

We replace our natural lusts with temperance or self control. Self control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us, as listed in Galatians chapter 5.   It does not come naturally.   We determine to act according to this temperance or self control and we trust God to give us the strength to accomplish it.   Self control is the inner power to have temperance in our daily pursuits.

and to temperance, patience

To our temperance, we add patience. Just as the others, it is necessary to work at it to make it happen. Patience, also a fruit of the Spirit, is the outward evidence of repeated inward temperance.

and to patience, godliness;

To patience we add godliness and to godliness we add brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness we add love. This love is the agape, the genuine Godly love.

This passage ends with:

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have an entire cycle described in this passage. It starts with faith and ends with love. As this love grows our faith increases and our love grows. This is not a circle but a spiral that takes us closer to God and the true, pure, righteous life He designed for us.

Scriptures:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;”    [1 John 1;1]

Discussion:

When we look at this one verse the meaning is made even more clear when we include the next verse. It says;

the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.    [1 John 1:2]

The first phrase, “That which was from the beginning” gives us a clue. If he is saying the beginning of all things, he must be talking about God. In verse two we see that this “Word of life” was with the Father and that He was made manifest. In the first chapter of the gospel according to John, we can see more clearly that he is speaking of Jesus Christ. Here, Jesus is referred to as “the Word”. He was with God and He was God. We also see “In Him was life.” When we compare First John 1:1 with these other scriptures we can clearly see he is speaking of Jesus.

This “Word of Life” was made manifest, he became a person. John saw this person and touched Him. John is telling us that he was an eye witness. John records in many places that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life.

In John chapter 8 verse 12 Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Now we can clearly see that Jesus is the “word of life” and that he became an actual man to being “life” to us.

Scriptures:

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”     [James 4;14]

Discussion:

James is giving a wake up call about our perspective. In our natural man centered point of view we think our lives belong to us and we make all sorts of plans. James reminds us here that from God’s perspective we are just a small blip on the timeline. Here our lives are compared to a “vapor”. In other scriptures our lives are compared to “grass”. Also, we are said to be “dust”. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We might not even live until then. God is in control of everything, including our individual lives. He has numbered our days. We truly are here today and gone tomorrow.

From first John chapter 2 verse 16:

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”   [1 John 2;16]

Again we see man’s perspective is not God’s perspective. “For all that is in the world.” John mentions the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are things that are common in this world but he concludes they are “of the world”. Things that are of the world are under the control of our natural desires and are things that flow from our natural man centered perspective. These are not of the Father. These are not things from God. From God’s perspective they lead to destruction and to the opposite of “life”.

We should note here that our natural desires are not evil of themselves. Some of them are designed by God and some of them are not. However for our natural desires to dictate or control our lives, that is what is not of God. They will try to be king and they will try to displace God. If they have or they do, then our life is just a glorified existence. A wise person will dethrone their natural desires and their man centered perspective and will make Jesus Christ the king of their lives.

Scriptures:

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: [1 Peter 3:10]

Discussion:

In this passage Peter is talking, to fellow believers, about living the life that God wants us to live. He is actually quoting a part of Psalm 34:13, where it says.

 

Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile

 

In Matthew chapter 15, Jesus said “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth, that defiles a person.

 

In Matthew chapter 12 Jesus had said “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Likewise God desires a person who is a new creation and has “life everlasting” to not speak evil or deception.

In 2nd Timothy chapter 1, verse 1: 

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of "life" which is in Christ Jesus," [2 Timothy 1;1]

Paul, was one of the most influential men of all times behind Jesus Christ.   Paul was made an apostle by the will of God. Society usually thinks that for a pastor or minister to be credible, they need to be ordained by other men of a recognized ministry.   This was definitely not the case with Paul. He learned first hand that who he was, was due to this Jesus Christ according to the promise of life. And that was only in Jesus Christ.   God called Paul, not to be a religious leader but to be an apostle. The meaning of the word apostle is:

"One who is sent forth as a messenger" (Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostle_%28Christian%29) 

In fulfilling the call as a messenger, Paul was one of the greatest men to have ever lived. We also can fulfill God’s calling on our life, what ever it may be. Clerk, manager, Mom, Dad, plumber or president. First and foremost is our life in God, then where ever God has placed us, let the life of God shine.

Timothy was a young man whom Paul in the next verse called “beloved child”. Timothy was a young pastor and Paul was writing to give him instruction and encouragement. He opens by stating who he is and his position. Then he acknowledges the foundation of our faith. Jesus is “Life” and he has promised to give us ‘Life”.

Scriptures:

"Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it."     [Jer 6:19 (KJV)]

"Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word."      [John 8:42-43 (KJV)}

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."   [John 3;3]

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."   [Hebrews 2;1]

"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."    [Matthew 13;13]

"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."     [Matthew 13;15]

"For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."   [Luke 10;24]

"Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.   Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;"     [Proverbs 1: 23-26]

Discussion:

Lesson #:  10

LIFE

Scriptures:

"Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.   Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;"    [Proverbs 1: 23-26]

"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."     [Matthew 13;15]

"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."    [Matthew 13;13]

"For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."   [Luke 10;24]

Discussion:

God instructs us to "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you".   Reproof is God trying again to prove to us the truth of His word.  It may be by God giving us another opportunity to examine His word in the light of it being true, or it might be correction by consequences.   Either way God expects us to turn.    If we do turn, God will make known the Word of God to us.   He will also pour out His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) upon us.  Some have chosen to believe that God no longer pours out His Spirit on people. Yet as one studies the scriptures, it becomes evident that this view is usually born out of a fear that God is alive.  We will study scriptures on this Topic in other lessons.

"Because I (God) have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; ".   Sadly, many refuse God when He calls them to receive life.  God has gone the extra distance, He has stretched out His hand but so many of us didn't pay attention.  In not paying attention to God, we rejected God's wisdom and counsel, we rejected his His correction.  What is there left for God to do, but to watch us suffer the consequences of our sins?   From these consequences God tried to protect us.   They could be a calamity (a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering - © 2010 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated) or could be fears.  That calamity could be an event while we are on earth or when our life ends and we realize the truth too late.  Many scoff at fears, yet fears can take a heavy toll on one's quality of life.

"For this people's heart is waxed gross,"  What this is a picture of is a heart that is encased with so much fat from self indulgence, that it just looks gross or disgusting.  The heart represents our innermost motivation and desires.  So it is a picture of one's innermost motivation and desires that are just disgustingly focused on self without regard to God or anyone else.  They don't pay attention to what they hear or see, its all about them, all man centered.  Such a disgusting condition is not healthy.  Not for physical or mental health, and definitely not for spiritual health!   What is interesting is that if they would seriously decide to turn to God, God will bring them into the kingdom of God and He will heal them.  The word heal mean to cure or to make whole.

God desires that we see and hear with our eyes and ears the truth and that truth makes an impact which causes us to turn to, and follow after God.   The word converted is probably better translated turn, or turn to, God.

God usually is gentle and loving.  A good example of that is where He often speaks to us in parables.  When we are confronted with raw truth that is contrary to our thinking or culture, it is easy to reject it as it is foreign to us.  By giving us truth in parables and allowing us time to considerate it, God is showing us respect and love.  He wants us to receive truth that we have confirmed as truth.  We get so much worldly "noise" hitting our emotions and thinking.  This noise tends to, short term, drown out real truth.  Yet if we will meditate on God's words, the truth will shine forth through all the noise.  Yes, we will recognize the truth, we will know that it is true.  The reason God uses parables is this;  we think we see and hear, but, really we tend to not really see or hear.   Television has added to our subconscious thought, that we shouldn't take much of what we see and hear seriously.   Cultures throughout the ages have each had their "noise". 

People of our time, have tremendous availability and access to Biblical information.  Yes there are still cultures that have never even heard of the Bible, but the amount of Bible resources currently available is likely greater than at any time in the past.  Prior to Christ, many prophets and kings desired to see the things that Christ brought into reality.  Since Christ we have had more and more access to this knowledge.  Having access does not mean one will learn or take advantage of it.  Do we realize how fortunate we are?

Lesson #:  11

LIFE

Scriptures:

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"    [Mark 8;36]

"Why boast you yourself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endures continually.   The tongue devises mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.   You love evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.   You love all devouring words, O you deceitful tongue.  God shall likewise destroy you for ever, he shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, and root you out of the land of the living. Selah.   The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: see, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness."       [Psalm 52:1-7]

"But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."      [Mat. 6:33]

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."     [John 8:36]

Discussion:

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?".    Many pursue riches ultimately thinking they can buy happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment.   So what does it profit us if we gain the world's riches and lose our soul in the process?   

This does not mean that worldly riches are evil.  No, riches are just things.   Where evil enters the picture is where the lusting after riches, causes us to deny truth and righteousness.  Deceit, dishonesty, mischief, trusting in ourselves, pride, lust, etc creep into our conduct and change our behavior.   It causes us to do wrong, to sin by us violating honesty and integrity in order to increase our profit or gain.   The lust for things has control of us, rather than we, having things that we control.  Is the drug addict in his enslavement to the drugs any different than the workaholic that neglects the upbringing of his children?   They are both sin and have negative consequences affecting us and others.    In time, will not a holy God send the destroyer to recompense for such sin.   Be it sickness, a broken home, rebellious children, etc.   God would much rather we repented, turned from our sin and turned to Him.        

Our soul is our will, our emotions, and our thinking.   It is easy to understand how a drug addict in search of the ultimate high gets hooked to the point that they cannot stop.  They went from "having fun" to where the "fun" had them and is destroying their lives.   It leads to a life of crime to support their habit, until the police carry them off to prison.  Their emotions, will, and thinking, have all been taken captive.   This is often referred to as "Satan has their soul".   Is it any different for other sins we allow to overtake us, where something is controlling either our wants, our feelings, or our thinking?

   Here are indications that we are already in bondage.  I just have to have that 74th pair of shoes, we really are going to get our share at the buffet dinner, we just have to have a boat, that $164 make up kit will make me more attractive, I want it my way, lets go get drunk, I have to have designer clothes, the one who dies with the most toys wins, and the list goes on and on.   This isn't life.

We think we are free, but when honest with ourselves, we often realize that, in different areas of our life, we may not be free .  Our soul (will, thinking, feelings) may be obeying something (lust, pride, hate, fear, etc.) other than us.  It is easy to see how an alcoholic is not free when they will buy alcohol instead of food for the baby, but there are many less obvious bondages that decieve us.  It may be fishing, a confused sexual orientation, or a lust for food.  If something dominates us rather than truth, love and righteousness, then we are in bondage.

If we are not free to choose, then we are not free.  This loss of freedom is an indication that something is wrong.   It is not leading to life.  While it may have enjoyment for the moment, it will have a negative long term impact and it is time to consider a change.   "If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."   Those new to the scriptures, often have difficulty understanding how God can make one free.   They may be praying for a miricle to relieve their problem.  In many cases if God performed a miricle it would relieve the present pain, however since the structure of the person's life has not changed, the person most likely will become ensnared again.  Coming to God will change one's foundation on life.

We are not used to thinking in terms of souls and sin, however this is the language that God uses to expalin things that affect us.

 

We may seek things because we think the happiness  they provide is fulfillment.   Happiness is conditional upon "things".   In contrast, joy is not conditional upon things and is a gift given by God.   If you have joy, you will likely also have much happiness.   However if you only have happiness, you will likely be broken when whatever that thing, that your happiness is depended upon, is  gone.   Worldly riches are subject to moth, rust and thieves. That is not to say that riches are evil of themselves.   One who sincerely gives their life to God, will be kept by God.   God will take care of you.  More on this in another lesson.


   Scriptures show us that seeking God brings fulfillment that stuff cannot.  Seriously abiding in God, will in time, prove that true fulfillment, only comes from God.   Some that are wealthy are the most hardened and bitter people you will ever meet.  Not all wealthy people are this way.  However, it is so easy to fall into this trap where the wealth has us, rather than we having the wealth.    God's plan is a new foundation for our life.   He promises to take care of us if we follow him.  We would be wise to learn the depth of what this means.

   Those following God, their labor tends to the issues of life.   It is wise to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness for all that we need shall be added to us.  That is His promise to us.  And this is real life!

Lesson #:  12

LIFE

Scriptures:

"Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.    Love never faileth:"    [1 Cor 13:4-8]

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And these things write we unto you, that your "joy" may be full."      [1st John 1:1-4]

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."   [John 14:27]

"Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and "longsuffering" with joyfulness;"   [Col 1:11]

"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be "gentle" unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves;"   [2nd Tim 2:24]

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."    [Psalm 27:13]

"Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm (strength), and whose heart departeth from the LORD.   For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.   Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."   [Jer 17:5-8]

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."    [Eph 4:1-3]

"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.   For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."    [2nd Peter 1:2-8]

Discussion:

These "fruits of the Spirit (of God)" are the real building blocks of a quality life.   We need each of them, both to receive them and to give them.   Weaknesses in any of them allows us the possibility to fall.  We find that, over time, our natural strength is not enough to maintain these.  We need additional help.   That help comes from God. 

There is a deep, deep need in each of us to be loved.  We are born with a self love, but it is not a pure love.   It is natural and self serving.   God's love is pure, not self serving. 

The trials of the natural life tends to destroy joy.  Few are they that do not let go of joy as the years go by.   Joy and happiness are not the same thing.  Happiness is a state that is conditional upon something else or caused by something.  I.E.: received money, got a new friend, having a party, etc.   Joy is that state of being that is not conditional upon gain or any outside influences.  God desires us to have genuine joy.  It is obtainable to those settled in their faith in God.   Some try to maintain a joy that is upheld by their own strength.  This is not the true joy that God imparts. 

Peace is like joy.  There is a natural version and there is God's version.  The natural version sets itself to have minimal intrusions and often believes peace is a lack of conflict.   This is an unbalanced view.   Cultures and nations that adopt this view are easily overthrown or controlled.   God's peace is inner quietness regardless of external situations.   Often referred to as "quietness in the midst of the storm".   Yes, with God, there is also peace when there is natural peace.   This peace is really a great strength and it is obtainable. 

It is interesting that God lists long suffering as a fruit of the Spirit.  The natural man does not want to suffer, yet there will be times of suffering in life.  However to succeed in the storms of life, there is a need for long suffering.  How we handle it or it handles us determines our success. 

It takes strength to be gentle, especially in difficulty.   

The natural man sees strength as brute strength.   Brute strength seldom changes hearts toward good.  It works to dominate and oppress, not to promote life.   Gentleness will overcome brute strength in the end, for it changes hearts. 

As one grows in God, goodness will follow.   God bestows his goodness on us (as we are properly able to handle it), and we bestow it on others.  This is not just resources like money, but what ever is fitting. 

We all have faith, so the issue is what do we place our faith in.   The natural man puts their trust in themselves, but the wise put their trust in God. 

Temperance, sometimes translated self control, is needed for a higher quality life.  It is hard to say no to some natural desires as a natural man or woman.   If we cannot say no we are not free, we are a slave to that desire. 

People come to this site with every conceivable belief on what life is and so many don't agree with each other. 

The Bible describes an obtainable life that is a higher life than just a natural life.  A life that is pure, honest, loving, overcoming and based on real truth.   If we received all this, most of us would be satisfied.   But God recognizes that if He gave you all that, there would be a huge flaw.   

At first it would be wonderful.   However, over time it would not last, because we were born with a natural life and we then would still be trying to live the higher life with the foundation of that natural life.   When we are young, we want to be older and when we are older, we really want to be young again.   Such a perception is due to our perception of life.   We all recognize that we have a life, whether we consider that life good or we wish it were better.   Every morning we wake up, we do our daily duties, possibly work, play, eat and go to bed.  Many things promise to make our lives better: fun, freedom, beauty, money, education, intimate relationships, power, religion and much more.  We pursue these things and many others thinking, that they just might make our life better.   Thinking that they might add life.  
Ultimate life to the business man may be a large profitable sale, life to a drug addict may be the next hit, life to the cook may be that extraordinary meal.   Asking the question “what is life” brings all sorts of responses. Some conclude, that life is what you make of it, or life is what goes on around us.  We have our present life and there is this quality life that our day dreams consist of.  Yet God still calls us to a still higher life.   A life in God.  Spiritual life.

 

 

Lesson #:  13

LIFE

Scriptures:

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;"  [1 John 1;1]

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. [James 4;14]

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."   [1 John 2;16]

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:"  [2 Peter 1;3]

"For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:"   [1 Peter 3;10]

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of "life" which is in Christ Jesus,"   [2 Timothy 1;1]

"For bodily exercise profits (a) little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the "life" that now is, and of that which is to come."   [1 Timothy 4;8]

"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit (of God) shall of the Spirit reap "life" everlasting."   [Galatians 6;8]

"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the "life" of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:"   [Ephesians 4;18]

Discussion:

There is only one religion that imparts life and as we apply our whole heart, that life more abundantly.   
If we use our present understanding to determine if the Bible is true, it is likely not going to be based on what the Bible actually says.  We are not accustomed to thinking Biblically.  The Bible presents a whole new way of thinking.  This new thinking and spirituality is designed to give us real life.   So what we are comparing, is our natural life that we have been living, with this new spiritual, God based life.

  On this site we discuss and explain scriptures that we have handled and studied.  Our conclusion after extensive study is that the scriptures of the Bible, truly are, the words of life.  They are the words of God presented in a manner that we can comprehend and follow.  
Most people, live and die with their life on the same foundation.


This is the foundation they were born with.
  That foundation is:

1.)  What we want, 

  
2.)  What we feel, and                                                                    

  
3.)  What we think

Lesson #:  14

LIFE

Scriptures:

"Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.   For he shall be like the in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.    Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.     For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.     The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"        [Jeremiah 17:5-9]

Discussion:

Those that trust in the natural man, that trust in the strength of man (themselves or others), those whose heart departs from the Lord shall live under the curse.   Their lives are not blessed with real life.   It is like a desert plant that lives in a dry dusty desert.   It is a rough harsh life.

  In contrast, those that have chosen to put their hope and trust in the God of the Bible, will have their lives blessed.  While many would like this to mean financial blessing, the blessing of God is a blessing that tends to the issues of life.     God will bless you with a clean productive life that is able to withstand the trials and evils of the world.

Lesson #:  15

LIFE

Scriptures:

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."      [Genesis 1;26-27]

Discussion:

God made (created) man in the image of God.  He made mankind to have dominion over all the earth and everything on the earth.   He created both man and woman.  There is no single race of mankind that is made in His image.  All of mankind is made in his image.

  

Lesson #:  16

LIFE

Scriptures:

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."       [Genesis 2;7]

"I (Jesus Christ) am come that they (you and me) might have "life", and that they might have it more abundantly."    [John 10;10b]

"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."     [Galatians 5;17]

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile (deceipt) found in his mouth:"       [1 Peter 2;22]

Discussion:

The word life has several meanings in the Bible.  Care should be taken to make sure we are not mixing the meanings to establish our understanding of what the Bible says. 

Here it describes how God made the first man.  God took the dust of the ground, or the elements of the earth and formed a man.  Into the nostrils of the man's nose, God breathed the breath of life.   This is a life spirit.  It is NOT the Holy Spirit.  It is the life force that animates the body and causes the organs to function.   The words "Breath of Life" in Genesis 2:7 have a different meaning than the word "Life" in John 10:10.    The emphasis is on the word breath, or the spirit that would allow a life to be lived in that person.   So we understand that the breath of life or this life force we some times call the human spirit would allow a life to be lived in that body or person.    The word life in John is the allowed events that make up a pure, living, overcoming life in God.   The breath of life in Genesis is the life spirit or life force that allows a life to be lived in that body that has been quickened by the breath of life.  This will allow a life to be lived in this body however it is still incomplete.  We will discuss other details of the Genesis scripture so we have a full picture then come back to this topic.

   Please note:   There is a lot of controversy on this topic as this infringes on the lordship of our natural man.  As one studies the Bible, this spiritual battle of the lordship of Christ vs the lordship of the natural man will gain more importance.   Many will deny the scriptures on these points and justify their position as they want to remain king of their own life.  At some point practically every human struggles with this issue.  It is actually the battle that ultimately determines life or death.   It is important to grasp what the scriptures are saying here.   It is not what we feel or want to believe that interprets scripture.  We would be wise to carefully study the words of the Bible and let the Bible speak for itself.  The Bible means what it says and each word has been intentionally God breathed to be used where it has been used.  Yes, we are using a translation, however that is why we use the KJV and NASB versions, as these two are considered the most literal, of all the common translations available.   There is no deceit in Christ.  We deceive ourselves until we get tired of the consequences of it and decide to open up and consider trusting God's word.

   Back to the scripture in Genesis.   When the breath of life made alive, the form that God made of a man, man became a living soul or being.  This "man" that became a living soul, lived in a body and had the breath of life that enabled him to live a life of his choosing influenced by his environment.  This living soul or being, was made up of; his will, his mind and his emotion.  These parts were created new by the coming together of the body form and the breath of life.   His being or soul defined him as him.   His soul is different from all other souls or beings of men and women that came after him.    What he wants, what he feels and what he thinks is at least a little different than what any other person, thinks, feels or wants.  What he chooses, thinks and accepts, characterizes a large part of his individuality.  This individuality is also influenced by his body's size, structure, health, age and features.  So what you have here is God, the creator of all and a man, both with separate wills.

Lesson #:  17

LIFE

Scriptures:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.    Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.    But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.    And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.   For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)   Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.    For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.    Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.    For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.   For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."        [1st Corinthians 15;12-22]

"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."      [1 Corinthians 15;45]

Discussion:

Adam sinned and through his sin, sin entered into the world and all people have likewise sinned.  All have sinned, so all will die.  The effect of sin over time always ends in death.   Before Adam sinned, Adam was free within the bounds God had created.  We think we are free, even when the consequences of sin stare us in the face.  We don't want to submit to the will of another.  Even with the best upbringing, the best education, our best efforts, we come to realize that some of our decisions did not lead to life.  Adam sinned.  That sin affected all mankind   We are born in sin and given the ability to see if a natural life, according to what we think, what we want, and what we feel will provide real life.  When honest with ourselves, we recognize we come up short.  All of us.   Since God is pure we cannot co-exist with God.   We are separated by our sins from living the quality of Life God intended for us.   Just as sin entered into the world by one man, so by the obedience of one, Jesus Christ, we may be made righteous.   Future lessons will cover this in detail.      

After Adam sinned, Adam was in bondage to sin.   As we have already seen, God is pure.   Sin, separates us from God.

   Just as sin entered the world through one man, the gift of God (salvation and life)

These characteristics make up who the person is.  It is in this soul or being that the quality of life is controlled.   We are born where this soul, in effect, is our king.  


People that all have come to the same conclusion, contribute content and support to this site from all over the globe.  We all are convinced:

  That Jesus Christ is God! 
and that
 The Bible is the true Word of God!   
Our foundation may conform some to the culture or society we live in, however it is still our foundation.  All three parts of our foundation have a major influence in the decisions we make.  Sometimes we make good decisions, sometimes, not so good.   In this process we may think; if we could live a more perfect life, have more beauty, more intelligence, more money, more prestige, we would have the wonderful life we so deeply desire.    Its not wrong to have more beauty, intelligence, money, prestige or other blessings, its what can happen to our focus.  Those that obtain these things, often find that the obtaining of them can cause us to be selfishness, demanding, and prideful.  These are the negative fruits that we don't like in others.  When we see selfishness, a demanding attitude or pride, it tells us that “this isn't the fruit of a quality life”.   

Separating, "us having the blessing", from "us being better people because of the blessing", is a challenge.   We strive harder to gain more yet it does not make the emptiness go away.   We cover it up with noise, activity, emotion and denial.    Yet when the music fades our emptiness, fears and weaknesses are still there.

   Where is there hope?
   Where is there real life?
   God promises us true life and that life more abundantly.   Why do we not turn to God?   
We don't turn to God because of:

  FEAR, 
IGNORANCE, or
 REBELLION.

But down deep I want this real LIFE and I want that LIFE more abundantly.   

Real life from God's perspective is a loving productive life, free from being controlled by anger, lust, pride, addiction, worry, envy, or

anything else. 
We follow the Word and Spirit of God and He leads us by truth, love, righteousness and faith. 
Compare our natural man centered foundation with a God centered foundation.

Scriptures:

"For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."      [1st Peter 4:1-2]

Discussion:

In a typical Sunday teaching we hear how Jesus died on a cross for our sins and rose again to life three days later.  It may be delivered in a toned down mode to not offend anyone.  

The reality is, this Jesus Christ has NEVER ever done anyone wrong.

In this scripture we just read where it says  “as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh” we take it to mean where Jesus was crucified and nailed to a cross.

Yet in addition to a painful and shameful cross, this Jesus suffered an extreme amount of rejection and persecution!   Do we really know how much?   In times past, the most pure, loving, honest, truthful, and powerful being that ever existed, we, and all of humanity, treated like the scum of the earth.  

God took that rejection.   That hurts more than we realize.

In God’s loving grace and mercy, God forgave us. 

Now that we have made a real decision to follow God according to God’s plan, the scriptures say to “arm yourselves likewise with the same mind”.

God is saying that just as we used to resist and rebel against God in our ignorance, there are still many others right now, just like we were.  We are to make ourselves ready, to equip ourselves to prepare for the same kind of rejection and persecution that Jesus got.

In 2nd Corinthians chapter 10, verse 4 it says:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)”   [2nd Corinthians 10:4]

The believer does not fight as the world fights.  We are fighting using truth against a lie.   Our weapons are strong even though they look weak.   Our weapons in God change hearts.   The world’s weapons destroy lives and property, but they don’t change hearts.   The meaning back in our earlier scripture in 1st peter, chapter 4, verse 1 describe this where it says “with the same mind”.   Meaning for us to have the same mindset as Christ.   We are to have the same mind toward sinners as Christ had.   God forgave us, and did what was necessary to bring them to salvation.  We are to do likewise.

Of our natural man centered thinking this is not possible.  Love and forgive people that reject us, fight with us and try to destroy us?   No our natural man centered perspective would be to fight back and destroy them.

God’s perspective is to fight back but not to destroy them.  God wants to restore them to living according to His plan and design.   That way they can have the opportunity to a pure, righteous, and productive life.  The only way to have this life, is if our perspective has changed.    Our perspective flows out of our hearts.  Our hearts have to change.   If our hearts are centered on ourselves and mankind as the ultimate being, then that perspective is our problem.   We don’t obtain perspectives, like we do different philosophies.   Our philosophies flow out of our perspective.  If we add another perspective, then we will have to decide of which of the two masters to serve.   The scriptures say it quite clearly in the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verse 24, where it says: 

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  [Mat 6:24] The word “mammon” means what the world considers as wealth or riches including money.   That is not an accurate definition of real wealth, but a definition of how the world defines wealth.  We will discuss that later in lessons on money.

How can you clean up a heart centered on self and mankind as the ultimate being? 

You can’t.  Even in it’s most clean state it is still centered on self and humans as the ultimate beings.

This is why just having culture, education or religion does not work.   They are all external parts of our core person.   Changing them does not change the core person itself.

With no real change in our core person, we are still living natural man centered lives.  God considers our efforts to clean up the outside of our lives to be like we are clothed, in filthy rags.  In the book of Isaiah chapter 64, verse 6 is says:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteous acts (righteousnesses) are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.    [Isaiah 64:6]

What is most interesting is, God’s plan does change our core person from the inside out.   God’s plan is the only plan of all religions that will.    

In God’s plan we become a new creation and the person we were, dies.  This is not talking about us physically dying.   God does NOT desire we commit suicide or have a burial.

A modern analogy is a software migration.  In other words, you have a software you use.   The manufacturer of the software completely re-writes the software.  It is not just an upgrade, changing and fixing a few things, but instead is a completely new program.  Some things are similar, but many things just don’t work the same way anymore.  When the new software is installed, the old software is deleted and the new software takes its place.   You could say as far as the old software was concerned, to you it was as dead.  You do not think or act according to its processes anymore.  You now use only the new software with new processes and per it’s new design.

A similar process happens as we become the new creation.  The scriptures in the book of 1st Peter, chapter 4, verse 2, says:

That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.    [1st Peter 4:2]

In other words, we don’t live by the old nature anymore.  We believe it dead to us.  We are a new creation that lives after the will of God, after this Jesus Christ.  Just as the old software no longer has any use to us when we have migrated to the new software, we have no use for the control of our old nature.   We are “dead” to our old nature.  We are now alive in Christ.

Our next scripture continues this thought.  It describes where our natural man centered perspective leads.  Its in the book of 1st Peter, chapter 4, verse 3, and it says:

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:   [1st Peter 4:3]

We were all born with that perspective.  We lived as any other non-believer, our lives following our natural man centered perspective.   Some may have done more or less of these that others, but it does not matter.  All of this conduct flows out of our natural man centered perspective.

Lasciviousness means:

“Outrageous conduct, conduct shocking to public decency, lewdness, including willful violence.”

Lasciviousness flows from our natural man centered perspective.   A person may keep it in check due to the laws of the land, but some don’t.

Lustmeans:

passion built on strong feelings, urges or desire, eagerness for desires not within proper or reasonable limits”

Revellings means;

“riotous party (a drunken feast) with unbridled sexual immorality”

Banquetings as used here means:

         “a drinking party, carousing

Abominable Idolatries means:

“worship or service to an image or idol, which is not acceptable based on the prevailing custom or ordinary practice”

This scripture deals with conduct that is often considered fun to someone with a man centered perspective.   So why does God not also consider it fun?   Because these types of conduct have negative consequences and those negative consequences are destructive to a pure righteous life.  Disease, unplanned offspring, accidents, confusion, fights, imprisonment, and even death.   Destructive lifestyles also have addictions that are often part of the package.  

On one side God is instructing us on how to live a pure, righteous and yes even fun life and on the other side there is the pleasure for a moment, in a destructive, downward spiral heading for death.

Since we are eternal beings, God ‘s instructions carry even more seriousness.  

Our next scripture is from the book of Revelation, chapter 22, verse 14 and it says:

Scriptures:

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”   [Revelation 22:14]

Discussion:

Some years back I asked a man that took great pride in his Biblical knowledge “what is the difference was between Bless'ed and Blessed'.

He was describing to me that blessed was a religious word that had overtones of holiness to it.   To him, . . .  it meant that God had anointed it.  Take for example the song Blessed Assurance.

He went on to say that the other word “bless'ed” was just where someone had received something good for them.  

Sadly the church seems to follow this false religious view.   The word blessed is an old English pronunciation that just means blessed.  It flows better when sung as  blessed assurance than blessed assurance, or at least it did back in old English times.

Biblically the word blessed means blessed and there are no holiness overtones to it.

God is saying here in the book of Revelation, chapter 22 that the person that does as God instructs will be blessed.  Good things will come to them.   The scripture goes on to include greater detail.  Part of being blessed, for our obedience to God is:

they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city

The tree of life is often misunderstood.  People tend to argue far more over what they think the Bible says than over what the Bible actually does say.   Just as it was a waste of our efforts to argue over whether the word was blessed or blessed.   It is also a waste of time to argue over what kind of tree, the tree of life is.   Instead, if we’re wise, we just study the Bible until God, reveals what it means. 

The term tree of life occurs thirteen times in eleven scriptures between the new and old testaments.  It is a specific term and God has given it a specific meaning.  The most widely known use of the term “tree of life” is in the book of Genesis, chapters 2 and 3, where it talks about the original sin.    In the book of Genesis, chapter 2, verses 8 and 9 it says:

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”    [Genesis 2:8-9]

and in the book of Genesis, chapter 2, verses 16 and 17 it says:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”   [Genesis 2:16-17]

It is really easy to assume we understand a scripture,  yet when we dig deeper into the Bible, and it isn’t what we initially thought.   Before we start to cross reference this, lets look a small point that most modern translations have omitted.

At the end of verse 17 we read “for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”.   We are looking specifically at where it says:  “you shall surely die.”      Yet in the original Hebrew it says something more like “dying you shall surely die.”   If you have a Bible published in the 1920’s to the 1960’s it likely has a footnote saying something like it was considered a figure of speech so it was dropped.  Most newer translations have now dropped the footnote, as well. We would encourage you to not discard even small parts of the Bible.  The way modern translations have translated it, they are saying that in the day that you sin, you shall surely die.  We know that is not correct for us and it was not the case with Adam or with Eve.  In the book of Genesis, chapter 5, verse 5, it says:

 “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

What God is saying here is in the day that a person eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that day you start the dying process and in the end you shall surely die.

That point will just help clarify as we study deeper.   Lets look closer at our scriptures starting with the book of Genesis, chapter 2, verse 9 where it says:

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food;  [Genesis 2:9]

God tells us what we need to know.   The scriptures say “out of the ground”.  Now why, . . .  would God say “out of the ground” when describing trees?  Everything that is in the Bible, is there for a purpose, and things not in the scriptures are not there because God had a reason for them not including them.  Here God is saying that a type of tree grew out “out of the ground”.  

Then God describes what kind of trees grow out of the ground.  The scriptures say “made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food;”.   The Hebrew word translated “tree” is a very interesting word.  It is a very generic term.  Yes, it does mean tree.   However it also can include most other types of plants and shrubs, including grass.   So what God is saying is, that out of the ground, God made to grow every plant, shrub and tree: “that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food;

We can understand this fairly easily.  We look out our window and we see plants, shrubs and trees.  The dominant vegetation we see is the trees because they are larger. 

Next we see that the translators put a break after the words “and good for food;”.  Some translations put a period, some a colon and some used a semi-colon.  There is definitely a break here even though the original Hebrew text, did not have punctuation.

Then the scriptures say: “; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden”.   Here is the term “tree of life” again.  So how do the scriptures define the tree of life?

We will turn over to the book of Proverbs, chapter 3, verses, 13 through 18.  Please pay close attention to the first and last verses.   They say:

Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding.   For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.   She is more precious than rubies: and all the things you can desire are not to be compared to her.   Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor.   Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.   She is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her: and happy is every one that retains her.  [Proverbs 3:13-18]

Here it says that wisdom and understanding are a tree of life.  We have to be careful here because there are more than one types of wisdom and understanding.  Lets look at the book of Revelation, chapter 22, verses 1 and 2, there it says:

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.   In the middle of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bore twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”   [Revelation 22:1-2]

Lets keep in mind that Proverbs call the “tree of life” wisdom and understanding.  Here in the book Revelation, chapter 22, we have the river of life “proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” For us that is real life from God.   Next is the tree of life which was in the middle of the river of life and on both sides of it.  In other words, the wisdom and understanding that we are talking about is God’s wisdom and understanding.  This godly wisdom and understanding is wisdom and understanding fed by God.  The tree in the middle of the river would be pure wisdom and understanding directly from God.  And the tree on the banks of the river of life would be godly wisdom and understanding that we get filtered through other things.   Still godly wisdom and understanding.

So what other types of wisdom is there.  There is worldly wisdom that does not flow from God and is contrary to God.    The “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” is this worldly wisdom.  The supposed knowing of what is good or evil, or right and wrong, that does not come from God this is what is spoken about in the book of Genesis, chapter 2, where it says:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.  [Genesis 2:16-17]

Neither the tree of life, nor the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, grew out of the physical ground. 

Just as the scriptures say, that in the day we choose to determine what is good or evil, apart from what God says, on that day we start the dying process and in the end we shall surely die.  Here is again how the scripture is worded:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.  [Genesis 2:16-17]

This knowledge is foundational to living the pure, righteous, overcoming life that God designed for us.  

The tree of life, this godly wisdom and understanding has benefits.  The scriptures say “the tree of life, which bore twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month”.  Godly wisdom is not seasonal, it is good all year. 

This overview of the tree of life opens the door to a whole new level of understanding.

Most Sunday sermons do not go into any depth when discussing the tree of life.   It takes some time to wrap our minds around what God is trying to tell us.  Please take it slow, one bite at a time.  We are going to revisit the above overview and discuss it in more detail to try and clarify just what God is trying to say.

There are several key scriptures here.  The first one was in the book of Revelation, chapter 22, verse 14, which says:

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.   [Revelation 22:14]

Here God is saying that those that do the will of God by faith, they may have the right to the tree of life.   This is an absolutely incredible statement, when we understand what it is actually saying.   As we found out, . . .  the tree of life is godly wisdom and understanding.  So those who, by faith, do God’s commandments are blessed.  They are blessed with the right to Godly wisdom and understanding.  And they may enter into the kingdom of God through the gates into the city.

It is interesting to note that the word translated “may enter” means

to enter into for an important purpose – for the believer, doing so to experience the result of the Lord's eternal blessing.”   (Biblos.com)

So, what are the gates and the city?  Gates represent decisions.   We may enter into the kingdom of God by making the decision.  Both the initial decision and daily the decision that we are staying with God.

Next we discussed two sets of scriptures in the book of Genesis, chapter 2.

The first set was verses 8 and 9 and they say:

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”    [Genesis 2:8-9]

We focused on the part that says: 

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And then verses 16 and 17 where it says:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.  [Genesis 2:16-17]

The scriptures needs to define scripture.  This only works with the Bible, because the Bible is pure.  We find lawyers have a difficult time with this concept, because they are taught in law school, that circular reasoning is invalid.  Of course it is invalid when you don’t have pure sources.   It is easy for a lawyer to assume the Bible is not a pure source.  Law school is not about God, but it is about winning cases, sometimes even to the discarding of all truth as long as you can stay within the law.    It’s easy to assume everything else follows this same pattern.   Like all assumptions, they are can cause us to error.

Where people start to struggle with these two sets of scriptures, are the words “tree” and “eat”.  We also should be careful to not assume anything in what we think we know.

For years people have seen artist’s drawings of Eve, an apple and a snake.  Because of this many believe that Eve ate an apple when she was tempted in the garden of Eden.   An artist’s rendering is not anything we can rely upon to be scriptural.  Some would say that just Eve eating the fruit of the tree would be rebellion and that was the first sin. 

While, yes it would be rebellion, that is usually a justification to just get past a scripture someone does not understand.

The scriptures tell us in the book of Matthew, chapter 15, verse 11, that: “Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”    In other words, that which comes out of the mouth of a person, it is from their hearts, and that defiles a person.

So is all food physical food?   No, we back up in the book of Genesis a two verses to chapter 2, verse 7, and we read:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. [Gen 2:7]

By this we see that God made man with three parts, a human spirit or breath of life, a soul which is a person’s mind, will, and emotions, and a body. 

It is no accident that God tells us we are made of three parts, spirit, soul and body, then two scriptures later mentions that there are three trees that feed us.

We all know that we feed out bodies to keep them strong.  But we also feed our souls and our spirit.

So how do we feed our souls?    We feed our emotions.  It may be TV, or a movie, or mountain climbing, or opera, or a wild fling.  We feed our minds with things that are intellectually stimulating.   Our will encourages both. 

We also feed our spirits.   When we realize that we just exist without God, then seek spiritual things.   Nothing feeds us spiritually except God’s word and His Spirit.  It is designed this way to show us that each of us has a need for God.   We invite God into our lives, and he comes in.  We study the Bible, pray, and fellowship with other believers, all to feed our spirit man.  This makes it far easier to believe dead the old man centered nature, as our new creation takes it’s place.  

Talking now about the trees.  The only type of tree that God specifically said grew out of the ground were those pleasant to the sight and good for food.   To my understanding that includes all the physical trees that grow out of the ground.  Those are the most obvious and they feed our bodies. 

Next God lists the tree of life, which is godly wisdom.   Again if you want the details and scriptures that discuss this in detail, go to our website at 4BibleStudy.com and under Bible lessons, choose a Bible lesson and the radio MP3 player is in the right column.    Choose the radio lesson for May 16th.

Godly wisdom feeds our inner man, our spirit man, our new creation.  As we make our spirit man stronger, we replace the old sin nature experientially.  The scriptures describe this in the book of John, chapter 3, verse 30 where it says:  “He (this Jesus Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.

The feeding of our spirit man, is not a new thing.   Here are three scriptures that discuss it.   The first one describes the spiritual work that Jesus did as and calls it food or spiritual food.  It fed Him to do the will of God.   When we do the will of God it feeds us as well.  It’s from the book of John, chapter 4, verses 31 – 34 and it says:

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said to them,I have meat (or food) to eat that you know not of.   Therefore said the disciples one to another, has any man brought him anything to eat? Jesus said to them, My meat (my food) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.   [John 4:31-34]

Also here in the book of Hebrews, chapter 5, verse 14 it says:

But strong meat (or food) belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. [Hebrews 5:14]

This scripture is not talking about physical food.  It is talking about spiritual food. The scriptures are discussing that if one is only able to receive the milk of the Word of God, then they are babies in Christ, yet the mature believer feeds off of the full Word of God.  One who, by reason of use, has their spiritual senses “exercised to discern both good and evil”.  

This scripture is not talking about eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Another scripture that add to this issue of feeding our spirits is from the book of John, chapter 6, verses 26-27 and it says:

Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, You seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.    Labor not for the meat (food) which perishes, but for that meat (food) which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for him has God the Father sealed.”  [John 6-26-27]

Gods’ instruction here is to labor for spiritual food.  Food that feeds our spirit man, our new creation.   Food that lasts, or continues for ever.  This spiritual food only comes from the Son of man, this Jesus Christ.  Its this Jesus Christ that God the Father has authorized to do this job.  Nothing but the word of God and God’s Spirit can feed your inner man, your new creation.  

God gave us a free will and God instructed us as to what was harmful to us.   I have to interject here, those are the actions of someone who truly loves us.

Back in the book of Genesis, chapter 2, verses 16 & 17 it says:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.  [Genesis 2:16-17]”

In God giving us a free will, God even allowed us to choose what was bad for us.   Please note, that God gave us instruction of what to avoid at the same time He gave us a free will.  If we would have listened we, and those around us, could have avoided a lot of painful consequences.

Or better said godly wisdom and understanding “yielded her fruit every month”.

Some people get heartburn over the fact that God calls godly wisdom and understanding the tree of life.  They want to reduce it to a physical tree of bark and wood.   The religious leaders crucified Christ.  Those that thought they knew the scriptures, they killed the very one, who was the will of God come in the flesh. 

We as believers are a brand new creation.

And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.”     [Revelation 21;6]

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”   [Revelation 2;7]

 

Scriptures:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.    Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.    But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.    And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.   For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)   Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.    For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.    Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.[Romans 5:12-21]

"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.   For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."        [1st Corinthians 15;21-22]  

Discussion:

By one man Adam, came sin and through his sin, sin entered into the world and with sin came death.   Adam had the life that God designed for mankind.  His sin dethroned God and polluted the relationship that Adam had with God.   In effect, Adam’s life went from real life to an existence type of life, eventually ending in death.  This death was passed on to all of mankind.  Because Adam and Eve were created as adults, they had full control of their full facilities.  All people since Adam are born as babies and sin because they do not have their full facilities to avoid sinning.   Death is the end result of sin.  Since all have sinned, all are destined to in the end to die.   Sin that is done exists, whether sin is imputed or not.  Before God gave the law, sin existed, but sin wan not chargeable.  In the modern vernacular, if there was no law about robbing someone, then there would be no penalty imposed for robbing someone.  However that changes when a law is created, then when someone robs someone else and is caught, the law demands that a penalty be paid, whether it is money or jail time.  So all the people that sinned between the time of Adam and Moses, there was not imputed a penalty for their sin.  However because death was the result of sin, each of them experienced death.   With Moses, came the ten commandments, or the law of God.  And when law is broken, then there is judgment and a penalty for breaking that law. 

Gods plan and desire for all people is to have the pure, righteous, overcoming life He designed for us. 

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

And just as sin all originated from one man, the free gift also came by one man, but not in the same manner.    Sin was by one man, and automatically spread to all people after him.  The gift of life was given by one man to all people who would receive Him with all of their offences.  But that one man would suffer condemnation, or in other words, be condemned and die.  The penalty for the sins of all mankind was put on this one.  That made all the others free of any penalty for their sins.  The penalty being paid by this Christ Jesus, is a free gift justifying those, before God, that would receive the gift.  Being that is was a gift, some will receive the gift and some will reject the gift.  Those that reject the gift would not be justified before God .  They would, in the end suffer the second death, which is separation from all things of God. 

For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”   

Because of one man’s disobedience, many died.  Yet by the grace of God, the gift of life, which only is only available through one, this Jesus Christ, abounds to the many that will receive him.   The penalty of sin came on mankind automatically, yet the gift of life is a just that, a gift and only those that receive it will have it. Jesus was fully God and fully man.  Because Jesus was a man, He showed us the path of life and to freedom from the bondage to sin. Because He is God, He can offer us that life.

For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

Because of one man, death ruled over us.  Yet to us, we receive an abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness and we shall rule in life under the living will of God.  

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Because Adam sinned we were all made or born sinners.  Yet by this Jesus Christ, who was willing to suffer and die for us, we have the opportunity to be made righteous.  Many will receive this Jesus Christ and because of their faith, they shall be called righteous.

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound

When God brought the law by Moses, sin abounded.  God knew that law would cause sin to abound or increase.  So why did God bring the law?  Mankind was waxing more and more sinful.  Their sinful state was becoming their normal.  As they multiplied their sinful state multiplied also.   God needed to show mankind that their lives were as filthy rags.   Why, because they were compared to the pure, righteous life God had designed and prepared for them.   So God sent Moses with 10 laws that would show mankind their hearts.   Sin increased.  But God in His mercy, caused grace to the much more abound.

In the book of Genesis (1:25) we see that God looked at all He had created and said it is good. He then created man, in His image, and gave him to take dominion over everything. And again, God looked at it all and said it is “very good.” 

"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."      [1 Corinthians 15:45]

When God created Adam, He breathed into him the “breath of life.” Adam became a “living soul” and that soul is an eternal being.  Adam was the first of a race, the human race. When he sinned, Adam lost the pure, righteous life that God had designed for him.  Since Adam sinned, every human was born, condemned to death. Just as Adam was the head of the human race, the last Adam, Jesus Christ, is the head of a new race. Jesus, who is the “Life”, defeated death and gives “life” to all who are “in Christ.”   

This scripture “the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” means the last Adam was made a quickening spirit, or a quickened spirit.   The first Adam lived by his soul, and in no time he was sinning and denying God.   The last Adam was made, not to live after their soul, but by a quickened spirit.   In other words, when they invited God into their life, they were inviting God into their human spirit.   God literally came into their human spirit.  Now it is God that makes alive our human spirit by the Holy Spirit.  This is NOT some mystical weird thing.  God quickens us in truth, love and righteousness.  If a believer plays games here, they can make a real mess of things, however, if in honesty, they truly seek God, they can have the inspired, pure, righteous life God intended for us to have.   

This is a deep topic and the subject of intense, heated arguments in the church.  Our position is the same as always, these arguments are a waste of time.  Discussion is good, arguing is not.  All of us should just examine our hearts for honesty and then search out the scriptures.   We cannot emphasize the honesty issue enough, keeping in mind that our natural man centered perspective will subtly warp the truth. 

 

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When going through the Bible, there may be questions and differences of opinion that arise.  This is especially true with the Bible since it presents a gospel of salvation and new life that is based on a totally new foundation from our present lives.   Our natural person has been "king" of our lives since birth.  It is not surprising that when one's thinking, based on their natural man centered views, happens to conflict with the often completely different spiritual views of the Bible.   To enthrone the God of creation also requires a dethroning of our natural lives or self in order to have the pure, righteous, productive life we so desperately desire.  For most, this submission to the cross instead of our sin nature, is a struggle and our survival instincts may kick in and cause strange conduct, feelings and questions that five years from now will seem silly.   Know that God has a plan that works, even if you fail occasionally.  This struggle is actually a good thing.  It is working out of the issues and hopefully we are sorting out the truth and discarding the invisible chains that had us bound.   Often questions will be answered in future lessons.   Our goal is to open the Bible to where the scriptures will provide the answers to your questions.    Due to the volume of questions we are only able to answer a few.  We apologize, but we do often work the answers of your questions into future lessons or into revisions of existing lessons.   Many of your questions will cause wonderful improvements, but this takes time and detailed study on our part to complete in a clean and scriptural manner.   Our goal is to help you learn enough that the Bible becomes your trusted source and our lessons are a blessing along that path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson #:  18

LIFE

Scriptures:

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.   [1 John 5;20]

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.   [1 John 2;25]

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.   [1 Peter 3;7]

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.   [James 1;12]

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;   [Titus 1;2]

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:   [2 Timothy 1;10]

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.   [1 Timothy 6;19]

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.   [Colossians 3;3]

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.   [Galatians 2;20]

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.   [2 Corinthians 5;4]

For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.   [2 Corinthians 4;11]

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 
[2 Corinthians 3;6]

1 Cor 3:16    Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 Cor 3:17    If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

1 Cor 3:18    Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

1 Cor 3:19    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

1 Cor 3:20    And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

1 Cor 3:21    Therefore let no man glory in men.

For all things are yours; 

 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 
[Romans 8;10]

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 
[Romans 8;6]

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 
[Romans 8;2]

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
[Romans 6;23]

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in 

newness of life. 
[Romans 6;4]

That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 
[Romans 5;21]

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification 

of life.   [Romans 5;18]

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 
[Romans 2;7]

Acts 20:7    And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued 

his speech until midnight.

Acts 20:8    And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

Acts 20:9    And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and 

fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

Acts 20:10    And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.

Acts 20:11    When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

Acts 20:12    And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

Acts 17:24    God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Acts 17:25    Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Acts 17:26    And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their 

habitation;

Acts 17:27    That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. 
[Acts 11;18]

Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 
[Acts 5;20]

And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 
[Acts 3;15]

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 
[Acts 2;28]

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. 
[John 20;31]

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 
[John 14;6]

John 12:42    Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

John 12:43    For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

John 12:44    Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

John 12:45    And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

John 12:46    I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

John 12:47    And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

John 12:48    He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

John 12:49    For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

John 12:50    And I know that his commandment is life everlasting:

whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. 

 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 
[John 12;25]

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 
[John 10;28]

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 
[John 6;63]

And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 
[John 5;40]

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. 
[John 3;36]

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 
[John 3;16]

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 
[John 1;4]

The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 
[Luke 12;23]

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 
[Luke 12;15]

Luke 1:68    Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

Luke 1:69    And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

Luke 1:70    As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

Luke 1:71    That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

Luke 1:72    To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

Luke 1:73    The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

Luke 1:74    That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

Luke 1:75    In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. 
[Mark 8;35]

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. 
[Matthew 20;28]

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 
[Matthew 16;25]

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 
[Matthew 7;14]

When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 
[Ezekiel 3;18]

Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 
[Galatians 3;21]

We are born with the breath of life.   This is the power that makes our body alive.   It allows us to use the functions of the body, 

including the mind, the emotions and the will.   We can observe, learn, make choices and function with the capabilities we have, constrained by 

our strength, our environment, and to some extent what we believe plus other factors.   Most of us call this life.   This is a natural life.  We all 

would like a better life, but this is usually all we know.

DISCUSSION:

WORD MEANINGS:

CONTEXT OF SCRIPTURES:

Gal 5:18    But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Gal 5:19    Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Gal 5:20    Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Gal 5:21    Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:22    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Gal 5:23    Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Gal 5:24    And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Gal 5:25    If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit

1 Cor 13:1    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

1 Cor 13:2    And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

1 Cor 13:3    And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

1 Cor 13:4    Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

1 Cor 13:5    Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

1 Cor 13:6    Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

1 Cor 13:7    Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

1 Cor 13:8    Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

1 Cor 13:9    For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

1 Cor 13:10    But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

1 Cor 13:11    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Cor 13:12    For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Cor 13:13    And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1st John 1:1    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

1st John 1:2    (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

1st John 1:3    That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

1st John 1:4    And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

1st John 1:5    This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

John 14:1    Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

John 14:2    In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

John 14:3    And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:4    And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

John 14:5    Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

John 14:6    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:7    If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

John 14:8    Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

John 14:9    Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

John 14:10    Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

John 14:11    Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

John 14:12    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

John 14:13    And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 14:14    If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 14:15    If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:16    And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:17    Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:18    I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:19    Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

John 14:20    At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

John 14:21    He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:22    Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

John 14:23    Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 14:24    He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

John 14:25    These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

John 14:26    But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:27    Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Col 1:3    We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Col 1:4    Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Col 1:5    For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Col 1:6    Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

Col 1:7    As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

Col 1:8    Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Col 1:9    For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Col 1:10    That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Col 1:11    Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Col 1:12    Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Col 1:13    Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Col 1:14    In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Col 1:15    Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Col 1:16    For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Col 1:17    And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Col 1:18    And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Col 1:19    For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Col 1:20    And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Col 1:21    And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

Col 1:22    In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Col 1:23    If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

2nd Tim 2:15    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2nd Tim 2:16    But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

2nd Tim 2:17    And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

2nd Tim 2:18    Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

2nd Tim 2:19    Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

2nd Tim 2:20    But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

2nd Tim 2:21    If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

2nd Tim 2:22    Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

2nd Tim 2:23    But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

2nd Tim 2:24    And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

2nd Tim 2:25    In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

2nd Tim 2:26    And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Psalms 23;6    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 27:13    I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:14    Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Psalms 31;19   Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

Psalms 107;15   Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Rom 2:1    Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Rom 2:2    But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

Rom 2:3    And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Rom 2:4    Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Rom 2:5    But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Rom 2:6    Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

Rom 15:11    And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.

Rom 15:12    And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

Rom 15:13    Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Rom 15:14    And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

Luke 18:9      And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Luke 18:10    Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

Luke 18:11    The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Luke 18:12    I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luke 18:13    And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Luke 18:14    I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Psalms 33:18    Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Psalms 33:19    To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

Psalms 33:20    Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

Psalms 33:21    For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

Psalms 33:22    Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. 
    [Psalms 28;7]

Eph 4:1    I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Eph 4:2    With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

Eph 4:3    Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Eph 4:4    There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

Eph 4:5    One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Eph 4:6    One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

2nd Peter 1:2    Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

2nd Peter 1:3    According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

2nd Peter 1:4    Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

2nd Peter 1:5    And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

2nd Peter 1:6    And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

2nd Peter 1:7    And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

2nd Peter 1:8    For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.      [Dueteronomy 30:19-20]

When going through the Bible, there may be questions and differences of opinion that arise.  This is especially true with the Bible since it presents a gospel of salvation and new life that is based on a totally new foundation from our present lives.   Our natural person has been "king" of our lives since birth.  It is not surprising that when one's thinking, based on their natural man centered views, happens to conflict with the often completely different spiritual views of the Bible.   To enthrone the God of creation also requires a dethroning of our natural lives or self in order to have the pure, righteous, productive life we so desperately desire.  For most, this submission to the cross instead of our sin nature, is a struggle and our survival instincts may kick in and cause strange conduct, feelings and questions that five years from now will seem silly.   Know that God has a plan that works, even if you fail occasionally.  This struggle is actually a good thing.  It is working out of the issues and hopefully we are sorting out the truth and discarding the invisible chains that had us bound.   Often questions will be answered in future lessons.   Our goal is to open the Bible to where the scriptures will provide the answers to your questions.    Due to the volume of questions we are only able to answer a few.  We apologize, but we do often work the answers of your questions into future lessons or into revisions of existing lessons.   Many of your questions will cause wonderful improvements, but this takes time and detailed study on our part to complete in a clean and scriptural manner.   Our goal is to help you learn enough that the Bible becomes your trusted source and our lessons are a blessing along that path.

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