A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH
It was the middle of winter and the electricity had been knocked out by an ice storm. As we listened to our battery-powered radio the announcer said, “The following churches will be closed due to lack of power.” What a provocative statement! What would the announcer say about many American churches today? They probably wouldn’t be closed for lack of activity, but lack of power is another matter!
Francis Chan – God put His Spirit in us so we could be known for our power. Sadly, most believers and churches are known for talent and intellect rather than supernatural power. What’s worse is that we’re okay with it…. I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.” (Forgotten God – Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit)
David Platt in his book Radical has a chapter entitled “Beginning at the End of Ourselves — The Importance of Relying on God’s Power (Subsection entitled – “Dependent on Ourselves or Desperate for His Spirit”) – This is where I am most convicted as a pastor…I am part of a system that has created a whole host of means and methods, plans and strategies for doing church that require little if any power from God….I am frightened by the reality that the church I lead can carry on most of our activities….never realizing that the Holy Spirit of God is virtually absent from the picture.” (Radical- Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream)
Vance Havner – We are seeing much today of service without the Spirit. There is an appalling ignorance of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in our great church bodies. It is not what is done for God that counts, but rather what is done by Him, the work of His Spirit through our yielded wills. Programs, propaganda, pep, personnel, these are not enough. There must be power. God’s work must be done by God’s people God’s way. The Quakers got their name from the fact that they trembled under the power of the Spirit. At least their faith shook them! Too many of us today are shaky about what we believe but not shaken by what we believe! Too many people assemble at God’s house who don’t really believe in the power of God. Having begun in the Spirit, we live in the flesh (Gal 3:3)….Never has the church had more wire stretched with less power in it. All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down (cp Zech 4:6). Sad to say, we seem not even to know that we have not the Spirit in power. If He ceased His work many church members would never know the difference. Like Samson, we don’t realize that He has departed (Jdg 16:19, 20, 21), but we keep “shaking ourselves” in the prescribed calisthenics.
A.W. Tozer some 50 years ago made a similar pronouncement “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the NT church (in Acts), 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
SO HERE IS THE QUESTION… Which 95% would you want your church to be? Mostly natural or mostly supernatural? A humanly energized group of people or a Spirit filled and empowered Church? The popular spiritual song This is the Air I Breathe aptly summarizes what every believer’s daily cry should be…
Your Holy Presence living in me
This is my Daily Bread
Your very Word spoken to me
And I, I’m Desperate for You
And I, I’m lost without You!
Ray Pritchard (Sermons – Keep Believing Ministries) said that the modern church’s “greatest need is for spiritual power” explaining that actually “our greatest need is to know how great our need really is….(and that need) is to know the Spirit deeply and personally. It is never enough to possess the truth. The truth must eventually possess us in order to change us….I remember some years ago hearing Dr. J. Vernon McGee preach a commencement address at Dallas Theological Seminary. He was then in his early 80s and near the end of a long and fruitful ministry. I’ve forgotten almost everything else he said that night, but one comment has stayed with me. He said that if he were starting his ministry over again, he would give much more attention to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. He would preach on the Spirit more frequently and attempt to lead people to depend on his power every day.” (How Can I Be Filled With the Holy Spirit?)
And so this overview on the Spirit Filled Church hopefully will transmit some information, but it will be for naught if it does not bring about Spirit wrought transformation for that is the desperate need of the body of Christ in these last days! The preacher and teacher can (and should) preach and teach the Word of Truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart and implant that Word into the fertile soil of our hearts!
CAVEAT/DISCLAIMER – The mere mention of the Holy Spirit may send shivers down your spine! Questionable practices and emotional extremes in the Name of the Spirit by some have caused many believers to shy away from the Holy Spirit and to become coolly intellectual – espousing orthodoxy but without true orthopraxy! In so doing these orthodox saints have essentially neglected the vital, necessary role of the Spirit in a Spirit filled church. The enemy is undoubtedly quite pleased that many in the Body of Christ are firmly entrenched in one of these two polarized camps — either fully fanatical or insipidly intellectual! I believe the Scripturally defined “middle ground” is where God wants His Church and the goal of this message is to outline the Scriptural pattern for a Spirit filled church.
A C Dixon – When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do. When we rely upon education, we get what education can do. When we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we get what God can do.
Let’s drop the plumb line of God’s Word to determine the truth about the Spirit Filled Church (and we are just scratching the surface). Any ministry that exalts the Spirit at the expense of exaltation of Jesus Christ is clearly in error for our Lord Himself stated that the Holy Spirit “shall glorify (doxazo = give a correct opinion or correct estimate of Jesus) Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.” (John 16:14). Jesus explained that “When the Helper (parakletos = the Holy Spirit) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will testify (martureo = bear witness of the truth) about Me (Not primarily about Himself).” (Jn 15:26) The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks “What is the chief end of man?” and answers “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.” The chief end of the Spirit of Christ Who indwells every believer (Ro 8:9–note, Ro 5:5–note) is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through us, not to glorify Himself!
So let’s begin with the “birthday” of the Christian church in Acts 2.
Acts 2:1 “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled (pleroo) the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled (pimplemi – see Greek word study) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Thayer wrote “what wholly takes possession of the mind is said to fill it.”)
From the diagram we see the church as a body of Christ (Eph 4:12–note) was born when the Spirit came on the believers and all were filled. Notice that “all” were filled and all began to speak as the Spirit was giving them utterance. As Ray Pritchard says “The filling of the Spirit is not primarily an emotional experience, and it’s certainly not reserved for a few super-Christians. It’s nothing more than the normal Christian life when the Holy Spirit is in control.” (Ibid) As discussed more below being filled pictures these believers as controlled by the Spirit. We see this meaning of filling in other passages where we observe that what fills a person controls them. And so the Jewish “were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus (notice that filling often energizes action!).” (Lk 6:11, cp Lk 4:28, 29). Jesus was gone but (as discussed below) He had fulfilled His promise to the disciples to send the Spirit Who would be His representative and their (and our) empowering Agent. Remember that…
Bethlehem was God with us.
Calvary was God for us.
Pentecost is God in us.
So let’s look at the effect the Spirit exerted on the early church, keeping in mind that these Scriptures provide a pattern for the Spirit filled church in our day…
Acts 4:1-4 (context = persecution) And as they (Peter and John) were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple [guard,] and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed ( because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand (cp 3000 souls saved in Acts 2:41)….
Acts 4:18 And when they had summoned them (Peter and John), they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Why couldn’t they stop speaking? Because they were filled with the Spirit, the One Who is to bear witness of Jesus [Jn 15:26]! And how did the church respond to the persecution and subsequent release? They held a prayer and praise service!)….
Acts 4:24 “ And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord” (Don’t miss this picture — the Spirit filled church is a unified church. The word Luke uses here is homothumadon or homothymadon which means of same temperament and helps us understand the Spirit wrought unity of the first Church)….
Acts 4:29 “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence (boldness – parrhesia), 30 while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (the fact that this is repeated shows that Acts 2:4 filling was not permanent, one time event), and began to speak the word of God with boldness (parrhesia) (affects speech). 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul (creates unity); and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them (stimulates generosity). 33 And with great (megas) power (dunamis) (Note not just power but great power! God’s answer recalls Eph 3:20–note where Paul writes that God “is able [see God is Able] to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power [dunamis] [What power? Not an impersonal power, but power provided by a Divine Person, the Holy Spirit!] that works [energeo in present tense = continually “energizes”] within us!” Do we really believe this?) the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (fulfillment of Acts 1:8–note), and abundant grace (charis) was upon them all.
There it is – a Spirit filled church! Let’s summarize what we observed about a Spirit filled body of believers:
(1) They will experience persecution
(2) They will pray together
(3) They will be filled with the Spirit
(4) They will be filled with holy boldness (parrhesia),
(5) They will be unified in heart and soul,
(6) They will be generous
(8) They will experience abundant grace (charis).
Before Pentecost, the disciples were like rabbits. After Pentecost, they were like ferrets! Indeed “Peter the denier” (Jesus = Mt 26:34, Peter’s 3 denials =  Mt 26:69-70,  Mt 26:71-72,  Mt 26:73-74) empowered and emboldened by the Spirit was supernaturally transformed into “Peter the Proclaimer!” (Acts 2:4,Acts 2:14, 36-38, Acts 4:8 = “Peter filled with the Holy Spirit”). Before Pentecost the disciples found it hard to do easy things; after Pentecost they found it easy to do hard things. Pentecost was a once in a lifetime occurrence, that “changed everything.” And remember that if Pentecost was never repeated, neither is it retracted. In other words, despite the passage of 2000 years, we are still in the era of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit filled church! The potential is there for every church to be empowered by the Spirit to glorify the Name of Jesus (cp Jn 16:14)!
Other Acts passages related to the Spirit filled church…
STEPHEN – Acts 6:3 “But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task….5 Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…7 And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people….Acts 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he (Stephen) gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…60 And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And having said this, he fell asleep.
Comment: These passages reveal a number of interesting results or effects of Spirit-filling. For example notice that Acts 6 mentions men full of the Spirit and then describes the effect — “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly” (Acts 6:7)
Spirit filled believers (like Stephen) are supernaturally empowered to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8), shining brightly even before those who are filled with hatred (Acts 7:58, 8:1 = Saul/Paul) Spirit filled believers are supernaturally enabled to forgive even those who persecute them! Finally note that being filled with the Spirit enables one to die with a peace that surpasses human understanding.
SAUL/PAUL – Acts 9:17 (Three days after Saul/Paul’s conversion-cp Acts 9:1-16) And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.…20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”…22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this [Jesus] is the Christ.
BARNABAS – Acts 11:22-24 And the news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he had come and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.
Comment: Spirit filled believers like Barnabas encourage the church to “to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart.” And notice the impact –
PAUL – Acts 13:9-10 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze upon him, and said, “You who are full (what a dramatic contrast full of the Spirit vs full of deceit!) of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?”
Comment: Spirit filled believers are armed with the Spirit’s power for spiritual warfare (cp the filling in Eph 5:18 which is necessary to carry out the commands in Eph 6:10-17. Because these verses are so far apart and are even separated by a chapter break, many expositors miss the fact that we are just as dependent on the Spirit to fight our invisible foe as we are to sing to one another!)
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were continually filled (pleroo in the imperfect tense = over and over filled) with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (cp “joy of the Holy Spirit” = 1Thes 1:6–note) Acts 14:1 And it came about that in Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner (Spirit empowered) that a great multitude believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. 2 But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles, and embittered them against the brethren. 3 Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly (enabled by the Spirit) with reliance upon the Lord, Who was bearing witness to the Word of His grace (“The Gospel,” cp Jn 15:26), granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.
Norman Brown summarizes – From these passages, it is clear that the results of filling vary with individuals and circumstances. But apart from special manifestations, there are always certain results: (1) the experience is Christ-centered, not Spirit-centered (cf. John 16:14); (2) the Spirit will reproduce—not imitate Christ in the believer (Gal. 4:19); and (3) the Spirit will impart His own spiritual power (cf. Acts 1:8–note). In connection with these results, it is important to note that tongues is not a universal evidence of the filling of the Spirit. Many times in the book of Acts, Christians are described as being filled with the Spirit without any textual mention of tongues as being its manifestation (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:5;9:17; 13:9). To argue for the necessity of tongues in relation to filling—in spite of these silent passages—is to break basic rules of hermeneutics…..The sum of the teaching of the passages in Acts seems to be that the Spirit-filled life is the normal condition of the believer. Spirit-filling is intended for all Christians as a part of the will and purpose of God for their lives. The evidence in Acts suggests that the filling with the Spirit is both an act and a process; both an event and a life….In order to be filled, the Christian must meet the scriptural conditions of yieldedness. Accordingly, Ironside states, “We cannot be filled by deciding to claim it by faith. Neither are we filled by praying for it (Ed: But we can pray to know the “surpassing greatness of His power” Eph 1:18,19–note and to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” Eph 3:16–note) … We are only filled with the Spirit as we yield ourselves to God and walk in obedience to His Word…..When the Christian meets the conditions for being filled, the Holy Spirit, like an overwhelming force, immediately occupies as much of that person as is relinquished to Him. While the former sin nature is still present, it has been reckoned dead, and the new nature—energized by the Spirit—is capable of producing the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22, 23–note). (The Filling Of The Holy Spirit In The Book Of Acts)
What is a Spirit filled church? A Spirit filled church was the normal experience for the church in Acts and is to be the expected experience of every church of every age! And so in simple terms a Spirit filled church is composed of Spirit filled believers, irrespective of their position in the church or their degree of maturity. Every believer has received the Holy Spirit at the moment of regeneration, for as Paul explained “you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Ro 8:9–note, cp 1Cor 6:19–note) So the moment we were born again by the Spirit, the Spirit comes in as resident, but when we allow (yield, surrender to) Him to fill (control) us He becomes “president” so to speak! In other words, the Spirit comes not just to residein us, but to preside over us! As Wayne Detzler says “The Christian church can only adequately fulfill its function in the world when every member knows this Spirit fulness.”
God has sovereignly made His provision available. Our responsibility is to make His place available. Are you willing to allow Him to preside and to guide your life? Your answer determines whether you will experience His filling or not! And remember, Scripture teaches that when we believed we received all of the Spirit we will ever possess. The question now is how much of each of us will He possess (fill, control) each day?
It is one thing for you to have the Holy Spirit.
It is another thing for the Holy Spirit to have you!
Let’s look at Paul’s command to be a Spirit filled church, noting that the verb filled is plural which indicates this command is for the entire church…
Ephesians 5:15–note Therefore be careful (present imperative = command calling for this to be their lifestyle – something only possible as we yield to the Spirit) how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16-note making the most of (exagorazo in present tense = continuously redeeming) the time (kairos), (why?) because the days are evil (poneros). 17-note So then do not be foolish, but understand(suniemi in the present imperative) what the will of the Lord is. 18-note And do not get drunk(methusko) with wine, for that is dissipation (asotia), but be filled with the Spirit, 19-note speaking (present tense) to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing (present tense) and making melody (present tense) with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks (present tense) for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject (present tense) to one another in the fear of Christ.
Comment: Be filled in Eph 5:18 is not a suggestion, but a command (it is every believer’s responsibility) in the present tense calling for Spirit filling to be our habitual practice, our lifestyle so to speak. It follows that no believer understands (or is in) the will of God who is not filled with His Spirit (Eph 5:17–note) The present tense also underscores the fact that filling is not a one time event but is a repeated action. The implication is that each morning we need to wake up with a sense of our desperate need for Spirit to fill us. The passive voice indicates this filling is not something we do, but something we allow the Spirit to do in us. Our part is to acknowledge our need and willingly surrender our will to the Spirit. I would add that given that the Spirit is Holy, we also need to “keep short accounts” and continually confess our sins when He brings them to our mind (1Jn 1:9–note whereconfess = present tense = as our lifestyle, our habitual practice). Finally, the verb be filled is in the plural which indicates this command applies to the entire church (as we say in Texas it applies to “Y’all”). Every church (and every member) is to be a Spirit filled church. To not be Spirit filled is to disobey God’s command, which of course is a sin!
Charles Swindoll – I don’t know of a more important verse in the New Testament for the Christian than Ephesians 5:18—honest, no exaggeration. This verse tells the believer how to live an authentic, empowered life.
Ray Pritchard describes how we are to be filled with the Spirit — “We need two things—emptinessand openness. You can’t fill a jar that’s already full, and you can’t fill a jar that is not open. There must be a sense of need—“Lord, I’m empty and I need to be filled by your Spirit.” There must be a willingness—“Lord, I’m open to you. Let your Spirit fill me now.” The filling of the Spirit is really as simple as that. As long as we are conscious of our need and as long as we are willing to yield to the Lord, we can be filled with the Lord because His power is available to us all day long.” Pritchard has coined the term “fillability” to describe our need and desire adding that “when your need to be filled with the Spirit becomes your great desire, you will be filled. Over and over again. Instantly. Every time.” (Ibid)
Let’s summarize what a Spirit filled church looks like according to Ephesians 5:15-21…
(1) The members are continually speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. As an aside, this “fruit of filling” enables one to discern whether he is filled with the Spirit, for out of the mouth comes that which fills our heart (cp Mt 12:34). When the Spirit fills (controls) our heart, wholesome speech proceeds from our mouth. On the other hand, when unwholesome speech proceeds from our mouth (Eph 4:29–note), we can be know that we have grieved the Spirit (Eph 4:30–note) and at that moment are not controlled by Him, but by our sinful flesh! How were your words today? If unwholesome, then confess them to the Lord, so that you do not continue to grieve the Spirit.
As an aside, there are some commentaries that combine speaking and singing (#2) as one effect, but in the Greek sentence these are separate and distinct participle verbs. Furthermore, when one compares the parallel passage in Col 3:16–note speaking in Eph 5:19 parallels “teaching and admonishing“, which is is distinct from singing.
(2) The members of the body continually sing and make melody with their hearts to the Lord. He is to be our audience to Whom we seek to please as we sing, not others in the body.
(3) The members are always giving thanks for all things. Notice the two key adjectives – always andall things! A continual “attitude of gratitude” even in the face of trials and/or afflictions is a strong indicator of Spirit filling, for such a genuine response is not natural but supernatural! Notice also that since gratitude is the antithesis of grumbling, the latter response is a sure sign of control by the unholy flesh rather than the Holy Spirit. In Phil 2:14–note we are commanded not to grumble, but the only way this is possible is to work out our salvation in fear and trembling in daily dependence on God at work in us giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases God (see Phil 2:12–note, Phil 2:13NLT–note where “God Who is at work in you” = the Holy Spirit!) Did you grumble today? Are you still grumbling and grieving the Spirit (Eph 4:30–note)? Then run to 1Jn 1:9–note and Pr 28:13–note! Remember that “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)
(4) They are continually willing to submit themselves to each another in the fear of Christ. When we surrender to the Spirit, He will enable us to willingly surrender our right to be in control in every situation. Spirit wrought mutual submission in the body of Christ will be manifest by a Phil 2:3-4–note mindset (Doing “nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind” regarding “one another as more important than” ourselves, not looking “out for [our] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”). In short, such submission to one another is not natural but supernatural as the Spirit empowers each member of the body to have an attitude of humility and selflessness.
(a) Walk wisely.
(b) Redeem the opportunities God provides. (See related discussion Redeem the Time)
(c) Understand God’s will. (See related discussion – The Will of God).
Comment: Note that each of the preceding verbs is plural which means Paul is addressing the entire church. In addition each verb is in the present tense which calls for these attitudes and actions to be our lifestyle, clearly something we can accomplish only supernaturally as the Spirit enables us!
Note also that the effects of Spirit filling do not cease in Ephesians 5:21, but successively impact ourmarriages (Eph 5:22-31–note), our children (Eph 6:1-4–note), our workplace (Eph 6:5-9–note), ourwarfare (Eph 6:10-17–note), our prayer life (Eph 6:18–note) and our power be a bold witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 6:19-20–note). Too many believers forget that in every area of our life, we are continually in desperate need of the power of the Spirit, Who alone enables us to live as more than conquerors in Christ!
Relationship of being filled with the Spirit and “filled” with the Word…
Colossians 3:16–note Let the word of Christ richly dwell (present imperative = command to the entire church [verb is plural] calling for this to be their lifestyle = only possible as we individually yield to the Spirit giving us the desire and the power) within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
|RELATIONSHIP OF BEING FILLED…
WITH THE SPIRIT AND WITH THE WORD
|Ephesians 5:18, 19, 20||Colossians 3:16, 17|
|Be filled with
|Teaching and Admonishing
|In Psalms and Hymns and
|With Psalms and Hymns and
|Singing and making melody
with your heart
to the Lord
|Singing with thankfulness
in your hearts
|Always giving thanks||Giving Thanks|
In summary, being filled with the Word is intimately related to being filled with the Spirit. The corollary conclusion is if you are not daily eating the Word or meditating on the Words you have memorized, you are not likely to be filled with and controlled by the Spirit. (cp John 6:63 where Jesus links the Spirit and the Word). Are you eating (e.g., inductive Bible study) and “chewing the cud” of (meditating on)the Word of Life daily? Spiritual health like physical health depends on adequate intake of good nutrition (cp Jesus’ words in Mt 4:4, Job 23:12–note)! See discussion on the inestimable (and even eternal – see1Ti 4:8–note) value of Memorizing God’s Word. See online memory verse tool to aid your daily intake of the “bread of life” – Memory Verses by Topic.
Charles Spurgeon once said that a Christian’s blood should be “bibline,” bleeding Scripture wherever he or she is pricked or cut (speaking figuratively of course)!
Let’s test the hypothesis of filled with the Spirit and filled the Word by observing the example of Jesus. Remember that He emptied Himself when He became flesh (Phil 2:6-7–note) and one reason was that He would then give His disciples the example of how a godly man can live in this fallen world. In light of that truth, it is not surprising that believers are repeatedly instructed (even commanded) to follow Jesus (“Be[present imperative = continually] imitators…of Christ” = 1Cor 11:1, “be imitators…walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us” = Eph 5:1-2–note; Christ left “an example for you to follow in His steps” = 1Pe 2:21–note, “walk [conduct yourselves] in the same manner as He Himself walked” 1John 2:6–note, ).
Luke 4:1-4 And Jesus full of (pleres) the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan (where the Spirit descended on Him = Mt 3:16-17, Mk 1:10-11, Lk 3:21-22, Jn 1:32) and was led about by the Spirit (Mt 4:1 – demonstrating His willingness to submit to the Spirit; cp Mk 1:12 = “impelled Him”!) in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted (peirazo in present tense = continually tempted) by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE (Matthew adds “BUT ON EVERY WORD [rhema = spoken word] THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” = Mt 4:4, quoting Dt 8:3).’
Luke 4:14-15 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power (dunamis) of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
Comment: If Jesus’ taught filled with and empowered by the Spirit, how can any teacher not be desperate to emulate His example, lest their teaching be wood, hay and stubble?
Peter summarizes Jesus’ 3 year ministry in Acts 10:37-38 – “You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed (chrio) Him with the Holy Spirit (cp Lk 4:18, Isa 61:1-2,Isaiah 42:1, 59:21, Isa 11:2–note) and with power (dunamis), and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.”
Comment – Jesus was anointed for ministry with the Spirit and power. His disciples have also been anointed for Paul says “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed (chrio) us is God.” (2Cor 1:21). John referring almost certainly to the Holy Spirit’s anointing of all believers, adds that we “have an anointing (chrisma) from the Holy One” (1Jn 2:20–note) and this “anointing(chrisma) which you received from Him abides (or dwells = meno in present tense = continually) in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you (John is not saying we don’t need teachers at all – see note); but as His anointing (chrisma) teaches you about all things.” (1Jn 2:27–note)
Two important observations:
(1) Jesus defeated temptation filled with Spirit and filled with the Word the “sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17–note). By His victorious example, Jesus has shown us the secret for triumph in times of temptation—the Word and the Spirit (cp Ro 8:13–note)!
(2) Jesus carried out His powerful ministry in dependence on the Holy Spirit and His power(dunamis). How are we carrying out the ministry God has given us — with the arm of flesh (2Chr 32:8) or the strong arm of the Lord (Ps 89:13, Isa 62:8)?
Comment – Without supernatural power, we can do absolutely nothing of eternal significance (cp Jn 15:16, 15:8). As Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me (separate from the enabling power of the Spirit of Jesus) you can do (Greek = absolutely) nothing.” (Jn 15:5) Being saved is not a matter of what we do for God, but is what God does through us as we allow His Spirit to empower His ministry in and through us. Stated another way, the human spirit fails us unless the Holy Spirit fills us.
John MacArthur adds “A Christian can accomplish no more without being filled with the Holy Spirit than a glove can accomplish without being filled with a hand. Anything he manages to do is but wood, hay, and straw that amounts to nothing and will eventually be burned up (1Cor. 3:12-15). Functioning in the flesh produces absolutely nothing of spiritual value.”
Conclusion: A Spirit filled church follows Jesus’ example –
Filled with the Spirit of Truth
Filled with the Word of Truth
Filled with supernatural power
Let’s join the 11 tremulous disciples in the upper room the night before the Cross, the night Jesus told them that He would go away (Jn 13:33, 36, 14:2-4, 12, 28, 16:5). Last words! The last words of anyone are worth listening to especially if they are the last words of Jesus (John 13:1-16:33 = His last words before His crucifixion).
IN THIS CITY
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; andgreater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father (cp Jn 7:38-39–note;, Jn 16:7 below).
Examples of greater works (quantitatively, not qualitatively) are seen in the number of souls gathered into the Kingdom in Acts 2:41 = 3000 and Acts 4:4 = 5000. And so most agree that far more souls were saved in the ministry of the apostles in Acts then in Jesus’ entire ministry.
In Chris Tomlin’s spiritual song God of this City there is a line that echoes Jesus’ prophetic promise that “greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city.”
Question: Do you want to be a body of Christ in your city about which it is said they “have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6KJV) for the glory of Jesus the King? I do! Then we must determine to jettison dependence on men’s methods and stay desperate for the Spirit’s power, for only by His supernatural dunamis can we expect to do “greater things…in this city“!
John 14:16-18 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another (not heteros but allos = another of the same kind!) Helper (parakletos = one who stands by to help or render aid, to enable), that He may be with you forever. [that is] the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, [but] you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (Post-resurrection = Jn 20:19-21, 22; Then at Pentecost when the Spirit of Jesus came to indwell them)
Jn 15:26 “When the Helper (parakletos) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, [that is] the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness (martureo = bear witness of the truth) of Me,
John 7:37-39–note Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Mt 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples (matheteuo in the aorist imperative = command conveying a sense of urgency! The only command in the “Great Commission!”) of all the nations (compare “all the nations” with Jesus’ commission in Acts 1:8 and you see our total need for the powr of the Spirit in both passages), baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always (How? The indwelling Spirit of Jesus! cp parallel “Great Commission” passage in Luke 24:46-48, 49, cp Acts 1:4,8–note), even to the end of the age.”
Conclusion: The potential for the Spirit filled church is a greater harvest of souls then Jesus Himself is His 3 year ministry. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is not just in one person but in every member of the body scattered in the fields that are white for harvest (John 4:35)!
Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord!
Be all thy graces now out-poured
On the believer’s mind and soul,
To strengthen, save, and make us whole.
As we yearn to yield more to the Spirit of Christ we will encounter increased resistance from the world, ourfallen flesh and the devil, so let us pray without ceasing (1Th 5:17–note, Eph 6:18–note) for ourselves and for one another Paul’s prayer for the saints at the church in Ephesus (Eph 1:18-19). Notice that he is not praying for them to be filled with the Spirit per se, to receive more of the Spirit, to be baptized with the Spirit or to experience what some refer to as a second blessing. No, he is praying for the eyes of their hearts to be opened to the vistas of the great riches they already possess in Christ (cp “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” – Eph 1:3–note). In short, he is praying for these saints to possess their possessions, to possess what God has already promised them and made available for them in Christ through His Spirit. How do they possess their possessions? Ultimately by faith and obedience. (See study of relationship between faith and obedience) Or as the old hymn says “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey.” As former Wheaton College president V. Raymond Edman used to say “The Spirit-filled life is no mystery revealed to a select few, no goal difficult of attainment. To trust and obey is the substance of the whole matter.” So as a body let us boldly approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16–note) and pray Paul’s great prayer. What might God do with His church if we kept on asking, kept on seeking, kept on knocking (Mt 7:7–note)?
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that (term of purpose or result) you will know (eido = know beyond a shadow of a doubt – an assurance only given by the Spirit to our hearts) what is the hope (elpis) of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing (huperballo = to a degree which exceeds extraordinary!) greatness of His power(dunamis) toward us who believe (pisteuo). These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (Ephesians 1:18-19–note)
Comment: Hope (elpis) is not “hope so” but “hope sure!” The great doctrine of Biblical hope speaks of the saint’s absolute assurance of a future good. We can be absolutely confident that God will do good to us in the future. The writer of Hebrews describes it as “full assurance.” (Heb 6:11–note). The surpassing greatness of His power in context is the same power that resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead (see context – Eph 1:19b–note and Eph 1:20-21–note). One wonders if the saints at Ephesus continued to pray this prayer (and similar Pauline prayers – Eph 3:16-19–note) for one another (something that is really only possible as the Spirit enables us), because in the short span of only about 30 years the church was the recipient of some painful words from Jesus – “I have this against you, that you have left (aphiemi) your first love. 5‘ Remember (mnemoneuo a present imperative = command calling for this to be their lifestyle – something only possible as we yield to the Spirit) therefore from where you have fallen, and repent (metanoeo in the aorist imperative = command conveying a sense of urgency! And dependency!) and do (poieo in the aorist imperative = command conveying a sense of urgency! And dependency!) the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.” (Rev 2:4-5–note) God grant that these words never need to be spoken to your church beloved. Amen
What would (could) God do with a truly Spirit filled Church?
What clues do we see in the Spirit filled church in the book of Acts?
Would you like to be part of a Spirit filled Church?
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are persecuted churches because the enemy knows from experience (he has read the book of Acts!) they are mighty instruments in the hands of the Almighty God. (Acts 8:1, Acts 4:29)
John Piper on Fasting – Fasting is an exceptional measure, designed to channel and express our desire for God and our holy discontent in a fallen world. It is for those not satisfied with the status quo. For those who want more of God’s grace. For those who feel particularly desperate for God.(Sharpen Your Affections with Fasting)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are Scripture saturated churches (“continually devoting [proskartereo in the present tense] themselves to the apostles’ teaching [didache]”), exalting Jesus for the sake of transformation not information. (Acts 2:42)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are composed of saints who continually recognize their desperate need for the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit coupled with a deep desire (similar to Ps 42:1-2) for the Spirit’s filling. They have “fillability!” (Eph 5:18)
C H Spurgeon on Ps 42:2 – My soul. All my nature, my inmost self. Thirsteth. Which is more than hungering; hunger you can palliate, but thirst is awful, insatiable, clamorous, deadly. O to have the most intense craving after the highest good! this is no questionable mark of grace. For God. Not merely for the temple and the ordinances, but for fellowship with God himself. None but spiritual men can sympathize with this thirst. For the living God. Because he lives, and gives to men the living water; therefore we, with greater eagerness, desire him.
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES –Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph 5:19)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Sing joyfully from the heart to exalt the Lord. (Eph 5:19, cp “pure heart” in Ps 24:4 As C H Spurgeon says “The soul must be delivered from delighting in the groveling toys of earth.” Psalm 24:4 Comment)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Continually express gratitude to God the Father (always, in all things) rather than grumbling and complaining. (Eph 5:20).
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Willingly submit to one another, surrendering their rights to their brothers and sisters in the fear of Christ. (Eph 5:21)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly, daily reading, actively memorized and joyfully meditating on the Scriptures. (Col 3:16)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES — Are characterized Spirit filled marriages (Eph 5:22-31–note), Spirit filled families (Eph 6:1-4–note), Spirit filled workplaces (Eph 6:5-9–note), Spirit empowered warfare (Eph 6:10-17–note), Spirit initiated prayer life (Eph 6:18–note) and Spirit given boldness to bear witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 6:19-20–note).
Comment: Sadly many believers do not realize that in every area of our life, we are continually in desperate need of the power of the Spirit, Who alone enables us to live life and live it abundantly in Christ and for Christ (Jn 10:10)!
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are supernaturally empowered to engage in spiritual warfare (Acts 13:9-10).
Comment – As discussed above being filled with the Spirit as commanded in Eph 5:18 is vital for waging spiritual warfare against supernatural beings as described in Eph 6:10-17! Because Eph 5:18 is so far from Eph 6:10-17 and also separated by a chapter break, many expositors miss the fact that believers are just as dependent on the Spirit to fight our invisible foes as they are to sing and make “melody with (their) heart to the Lord!” (Eph 5:19)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Follow the example of Jesus of continually being ready for temptation by being Scripture filled and Spirit filled! (Luke 4:1-4)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Experience the power of God to see souls added by the LORD for His glory not theirs. (Acts 2:47)
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Attract outsiders not to come see their programs but the One the Spirit is exalting.
SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are radical but not fanatical, depending on God’s Spirit, not men’s programs. (Zec 4:6)
GOD OUR REFUGE – Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our REFUGE. Selah. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take REFUGE in Him. (Indeed) a humble and lowly people will take REFUGE in the Name of the LORD, for You are a REFUGE for the poor, a REFUGE for the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. O taste and see that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes REFUGE in Him! Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take REFUGE in Him. You are my REFUGE and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust! You are the eternal God, my REFUGE, and underneath are Your everlasting arms. Let me dwell in Your tent forever. Let me take REFUGE in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. You will cover me with Your pinions, and under Your wings I will seek REFUGE. Both high and low among men find REFUGE in the shadow of Your wings. God is my REFUGE and strength, a very present help in trouble. He is a shield to all who take REFUGE in Him.
It is better to take REFUGE in the LORD than to trust in man. (Therefore) in the LORD I take REFUGE, (for) blessed are all who take REFUGE in Him! He is a REFUGE for the oppressed. (And so I) will say of the LORD, “You are my REFUGE and my Fortress, my God, in Whom I trust. You are my God, my Rock, in Whom I take REFUGE. I call to You when my heart is faint–Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been a REFUGE for me, a Tower of strength against the enemy. How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You bestow in the sight of men on those who take REFUGE in You. O GOD, my Lord, in You I seek REFUGE. Leave me not defenseless! I cry to you, O LORD. I say, “You are my REFUGE, my Portion in the land of the living.” You save by Your right hand those who take REFUGE in You from their foes. You deliver me because I take REFUGE in You (and I know that) none of those who take REFUGE in You will be condemned, for the righteous has a REFUGE when he dies.
As for me, I will sing about Your power. I will shout with joy each morning because of Your unfailing love. For You have been my REFUGE, a place of safety in the day of distress. (Indeed) You are my strong REFUGE. In You, O LORD, I have taken REFUGE. Let me never be put to shame. Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take REFUGE. O LORD my God, I take REFUGE in You. Save and deliver me from all who pursue me. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes REFUGE. I will take REFUGE in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed. (Indeed) let all who take REFUGE in You rejoice. Let them sing joyful praises forever. As for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Lord GOD my REFUGE, that I may tell of all Your works. Amen and Amen.
Ps 62:8, Nahum 1:7, Zeph 3:12, Isa 25:4, Ps 34:8, Ps 64:10, Ps 91:2, Dt 33:27, Ps 61:4, Ps 91:4, Ps 36:7, Ps 46:1, Ps 18:30, Ps 118:8, Ps 11:1, Ps 2:12, Ps 9:9, Ps. 91:2, Ps 18:2, Ps 61:2-3, Ps 31:1, Ps 141:8, Ps 142:5, Ps 17:7, Ps 37:40, Ps 34:22, Pr 14:32, Ps 59:16, Ps 71:7, Ps 71:1, Ps 16:1, Ps 7:1, Ps 57:1, Ps 5:11, Ps 73:28)
Related Resource: Christ Our Rock of Refuge
Below are a few memorable quotes in memory of a magnificent saint, Elisabeth Elliot, who “fell asleep in Jesus” (1Thes 4:14) and entered through gates of splendor into the glorious presence of Jesus Christ on June 15, 2015 (1926–2015).
There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.
Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.
The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.
Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ashes.
Does God ask us to do what is beneath us? This question will never trouble us again if we consider the Lord of heaven taking a towel and washing feet.
Freedom begins way back. It begins not with doing what you want but with doing what you ought – that is, with discipline.
God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.
We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.
Maturity starts with the willingness to give oneself.
I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.
Where does your security lie? Is God your Refuge, your Hiding Place, your Stronghold, your Shepherd, your Counselor, your Friend, your Redeemer, your Saviour, your Guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security
God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful—‘severe mercies’ at times, but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts’ desire except to give us something better.
Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.
I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts. Its easy to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence—easier sometimes than to wait patiently.
If we hold tightly to anything given to us unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily “ours” but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes
The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God . . . or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.
Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.
To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss.
Worry is the antithesis of trust. You simply cannot do both. They are mutually exclusive.
One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.
Worship is not an experience. Worship is an act, and this takes discipline. We are to worship ‘in spirit and in truth.’ Never mind about the feelings. We are to worship in spite of them.
When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love Him.
The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.
To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured by One who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His wise appointment.
The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived—not always looked forward to as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.
The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment. ‘If a man will let himself be lost for My sake,’ Jesus said, ‘he will find his true self.”
Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first?
We never know what God has up His sleeve. You never know what might happen; you only know what you have to do now.
By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.
Money holds terrible power when it is loved.
It is God to Whom and with Whom we travel, and while He is the end of our journey, He is also at every stopping place.
The Word of God I think of as a straight edge, which shows up our own crookedness. We can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.
It is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself.
Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering.
The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.
God knows what He is doing and He is not under any obligation to make us any explanation
Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, His lordship.
If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.
Cruelty and wrong are not the greatest forces in the world. There is nothing eternal in them. Only love is eternal.
Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.
A young woman asked the great preacher Charles Spurgeon if it was possible to reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. “Young woman,” said he. “You don’t reconcile friends”
You can never lose what you have offered to Christ.
God has promised to supply our needs. What we don’t have now we don’t need now.
God has never promised to solve our problems. He has not promised to answer our questions … He has promised to go with us.
The work of God is done on God’s timetable. His answers to our prayers come always in time—his time. His thoughts are far higher than ours, His wisdom past understanding.
You can’t get to tomorrow morning without going through tonight.
Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him Who has all things safely in His hands.
Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.
Elisabeth Elliot’s life was a life wisely spent, one that forever “will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven.” (Daniel 12:3)
Father, may you cause her “tribe” to increase for the glory of the Lamb! Amen
MESSIAH THE ANOINTED ONE: Webster says Messiah is a title given to “the promised Deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.” Messiah is derived from the Hebrew word mashiach which means “anointed one” and which corresponds to the NT title of “Christ” (Christos = anointed one). As Andrew exclaimed to his brother Peter “We have found the MESSIAH” (which translated means CHRIST).” (John 1:41) And as the Samaritan woman at the well said to Jesus “I know that MESSIAH is coming (He Who is called CHRIST).” (Jn 4:25) So when you encounter the title “CHRIST” in the NT, you are really encountering “MESSIAH.” Let me encourage you, as you read the NT, especially the Gospels and Acts, to consider substituting “MESSIAH” when you see the title “CHRIST”. Indeed, even “Jesus Christ” can properly be read as “Jesus the Messiah,” for Christ is actually Jesus’ official title more than His proper Name. Some translations such as the NIV (2011 edition) and Christian Standard Bible (Holman) even translate “Christ” in the Gospels and Acts with the title “Messiah” to emphasize the importance of the concept of Messiah. And as discussed below the majority of Jews (and this Gentile writer) have come to salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9–note) as the Spirit unveiled the OT messianic prophecies (2Cor 4:6–note, Jn 3:8) to clearly show “Jesus (is) the Messiah appointed for” them and for us, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek (anyone not Jewish).” (Acts 3:20, Ro 1:16–note). In fact the main purpose of John’s Gospel is that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name.” (Jn 20:31) Jesus is the Anointed One, the fulfillment of the three OT offices which God anointed (selected and set apart for special service): Prophet (Ps 105:15–note, Dt 18:18, fulfilled = Jn 7:40), Priest (Ex 29:7, Lev 4:3–note, Ps 110:4–notefulfilled = Heb 6:19-20–note) and King (1Sa 2:10, Ps 2:2,6–note shadows of Messiah fulfilled = Mk 15:26,Rev 19:16–note). Norman Geisler adds that the concept of MESSIAH (Christ) “is the key to the interpretation of the Bible, not only in that He is the fulfillment of OT types and prophecies, but in that Christ (Messiah) is the tie between the Testaments, the content of the whole canon and the unifying theme in the Bible!” In short the entire Bible is “Messiah-centric” or “Christo-centric!” Beloved brethren, God’s Anointed is appointed, and we shall not be disappointed! “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name!, Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all.” (Perronet)
MESSIAH THE EXPECTED ONE: The anticipation of national deliverance through a Man anointed by God has been a theme of Judaism throughout the ages, even as many first century Jews were “eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel…looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:25,38). John the Baptist asked the question every pious Jew had been asking for centuries “Are You the Expected One?” (Mt 11:3, Lk 7:19-20), which is another way of asking “Jesus, Are You the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Deliverer?” The 12th article of the orthodox Jewish creed says “I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though He tarry, yet will I wait daily for His coming.” (Rambam) The first century Jews expected a conquering king who would free them from Rome, but instead this Messiah died a shameful death on a Roman cross. And so there was great disappointment because Jesus did not appear to be the Expected One. Have you ever been discouraged because someone in whom you placed your hope let you down?” Then you can identify with the two disciples who walked on the dusty road to Emmaus and were joined by a resurrected Stranger whose identity was veiled. Jesus saw they were “looking sad” for they “were hoping that (Jesus) was (the Messiah) Who was going to redeem Israel.” (Lk 24:17, 21) Had not Zacharias said that “the Lord God of Israel…(had) visited us and accomplished redemption (paid the ransom to effect deliverance) for His people?” (Lk 1:68) And yet Israel was still in Rome’s grip, a grip “as strong as iron!” (Da 2:40–note) Against this backdrop of hopelessness and despair began the greatest Bible lesson ever taught, for the Teacher, the Messiah, “beginning with Moses (Pentateuch – Genesis to Deut) and all the Prophets explained to them what was said in ALL the (OT) Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27, cp Jn 5:39, Lk 16:29-31)
And so Messiah gave hope to these downcast disciples explaining that the woman’s SEED (Messiah) would have His heel bruised but would crush the head of the serpent (Ge 3:15 – the protoevangelium = the “first Gospel,” cp Heb 2:14-15–note, Ro 16:20–note). He explained that the prophet Micah had foretold of His birth from the clan of Judah in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Micah 5:2–note). He explained that 500 years earlier Daniel had predicted the exact time of His arrival as “Messiah the Prince” (Da 9:25NASB–note) and that He would not conquer but “be cut off” (crucified) (Da 9:26–note). In fact 60 major messianic prophecies with 270 ramifications (Jewish rabbis saw up to 456 messianic allusions!) were inspired by the Spirit so that there would be absolutely no doubt to OT readers that the Man Jesus was truly the long expected Messiah. Sadly, first century Jews were looking for Messiah to be a conquering King, not a suffering Servant and as a result most failed to recognize Him as God’s “Wonderful” One (Isaiah 9:6–note) because they missed Isaiah’s later prediction that He would be “despised, forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief…stricken, smitten of God, afflicted…and pierced through for our transgressions…crushed for our iniquities…by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5) In His first coming Messiah came as a King riding a donkey to conquer sin (Zech 9:9, Mt 21:4-5), but in His second coming He will return as King of kings riding on a white horse to conquer sinful men (Rev 19:11-16–note)! “Born Thy people to deliver, born a Child and yet a King; born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.” (C Wesley)
MESSIAH THE END POINT: Jesus was the “end point”, the fulfillment of all the OT prophecies that foretold of a coming Messiah. Many men have claimed to be the Messiah over the centuries and these pretenders will proliferate in the last days for Jesus warned that “false Messiah’s and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Mt 24:24), but only Jesus fulfilled every detail of the more than 300 OT Messianic prophecies. Applying the laws of probability, Stoner says that the chance of fulfilling just 8 of the 300+ Messianic prophecies is “1 in 10 to the 17th power.” To help visualize these odds Stoner says imagine one had 10 to the 17th power silver dollars and scattered them over the surface of the state of Texas producing a pile two feet deep. Mark one of the silver dollars distinctively and stir them together. Now blindfold a man with instructions to travel anywhere in the state and select one coin. The chance of finding the marked coin would be the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing just eight prophecies fulfilled in one man! And Jesus fulfilled every detail of every prophecy perfectly declaring to His disciples that “ALL THINGS which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Lk 24:44) As Josh McDowell said the “New Testament writers spotlighted the Old Testament “ADDRESS” of Jesus for one main reason–to convince their Jewish readers that Jesus was the Messiah—the Deliverer they had been praying for God to send.” “Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us: Let us find our rest in Thee.” (C Wesley)
An old pastor was speaking with an inquisitive Jewish man and began to read Isaiah 53 to him asking where he thought this was in the Bible? The Jewish man said “probably Matthew” and when he was told it was “his Scripture” (the Jewish Old Testament), he realized that this description was none other than the Messiah! (See link below for Michael Goldstone’s fascinating testimony) The apostles give us a good pattern to imitate when we speak to our Jewish friends, as they repeatedly appealed to the Messianic prophecies to substantiate their claim that Jesus was the long expected Messiah. And so Peter declared to the Jews that “the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His MESSIAH should suffer, He has thus FULFILLED.” (Acts 3:18NIV, cp Acts 5:42NIV) Paul speaking to the Jews at Thessalonica was “explaining (lit. “opening wide” the OT passages) and giving evidence (lit. “setting before” them) that the MESSIAH had to suffer and rise again from the dead, saying, “This Jesus Whom I am proclaiming to you is the MESSIAH.” (Acts 17:3NIV–note, cp Jews in Berea Acts 17:11–note) Paul in explaining the Gospel wrote the Messiah “died for our sins in accordance with what the Scriptures foretold (Ps 22:1, 16–note), that He was buried (Acts 2:31) and that He arose on the third day as the Scriptures foretold. (Jonah 1:17, Mt 12:40, Ps 16:10–note)” (1Cor 15:3-4–note) “Tis finished! The Messiah cries, Cut off for sins, but not His own: Accomplished is the sacrifice, The great redeeming work is done.” (C Wesley)
MESSIAH OUR EXAMPLE: Paul instructs believers to “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (Messiah).” (1Cor 11:1NIV) But how can we imitate the Messiah? What pattern did He provide? At the beginning of Messiah’s ministry, He was FILLED WITH “the Holy Spirit…and LED about by the Spirit in the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil” (Lk 4:1-2). We as His followers are commanded to continually be “FILLED WITH (controlled by) the Spirit” (Eph 5:18–note) that we might be “LED by the Spirit.” (Gal 5:18–note) After His temptation “Jesus returned to Galilee in the POWER (dunamis = inherent ability to accomplish a task) of the Spirit.” (Lk 4:14) Similarly, we as His followers are “to be strengthened with POWER (dunamis) through His Spirit in our inner man.” (Eph 3:16–note, read Acts 1:8–note) When Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth to begin His ministry, He read from Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has ANOINTED (chrio – verb root of Christos = Christ) Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19 quoting Isa 61:1-2). As Warren Wiersbe explains “When our Lord lived on earth, ALL THAT HE DID was directed by the Father and EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father gave to Jesus “without limit” (Jn 3:34).” And so at the beginning of His ministry “God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power, and He went around doing good and healing” (Acts 10:38). And even as Jesus was anointed for ministry, the Father has established us “in Christ and ANOINTED us.” (2Cor. 1:21NIV) John adds that like Jesus every believer has “an ANOINTING (the Holy Spirit) from the Holy One” (1Jn 2:20–note) and that “the anointing which we received from Him abides (continually) in” us empowering us and enabling us to “walk in the same manner as (Messiah) walked.” (1Jn 2:6–note). Are you walking in your natural “power” or in the SUPERNATURAL POWER of the Spirit Who anointed you for service? If we are to successively walk in the “good (God) works which God prepared (for us) beforehand” (Eph 2:10–note), we must continually seek to follow Messiah’s example of ministry, “redeeming the time, for the days are evil.” (Eph 5:16–note) “Give every flying minute, Something to keep in store; Work, for the night is coming, When man works no more.” (Anna Coghill)
MESSIAH OUR EXPECTATION: After American troops were forced to surrender the Philippines in May, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur vowed to retake the islands, giving his famous “prophetic promise” “I WILL RETURN” which was printed on thousands of matchbooks, buttons, bars of soap and leaflets dropped by air all over the Philippines to encourage and give hope. MacArthur kept his promise! But even better the “Commander of the Lord’s army” (Josh 5:15NLT), Jesus our Messiah, made a similar “prophetic promise” to His disciples declaring “I go to prepare a place for you” and “I WILL COME AGAIN!” (Jn 14:3) As Hoekema rightly observes “The faith of the New Testament is dominated by this expectation.” Indeed, the NT has some 318 prophetic promises (direct and indirect) describing Messiah’s triumphant return as King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev 19:11-16–note), which means that there is approximately one prophecy on the Second Coming in every 20 verses! In fact it has been estimated that for every prophecy of Messiah’s First Coming, there are eight describing His Second Coming! As the old Scottish preacher said “The doctrine of Messiah’s Second Coming, as it appears in the NT, is like a lofty mountain that dominates the entire landscape.” John Walvoord adds that Messiah’s Second Coming is also “implied in hundreds of OT prophecies” often mingling them with His first coming as in Isa 61:1-2a which was fulfilled at Messiah’s first coming (Lk 4:18-21) and Isa 61:2b which describes “the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all who mourn” to be fulfilled at Messiah’s Second Coming. And so just as MacArthur’s promise on leaflets gave hope during the dark days of WWII, the prophecies of Messiah’s Second Coming “give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises” (Ro 15:4NLT–note). As this world grows darker and the promised return of Messiah grows brighter, we should continually be “looking (expectantly) for the BLESSED HOPE and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ (Messiah) Jesus.” (Titus 2:13–note) Paul called Messiah’s return ‘the Blessed Hope’ and as our world unravels morally and ethically, indeed He appears to be the only hope for the world! And so it is interesting that the largest type used by newspapers for headlines of astounding events is called “second coming” type and is reserved for the most amazing front-page news (beginning or end of wars, moon landings, etc). One day soon every eye “will see Him,” (Rev 1:7) the One for Whom “Second Coming” type was named! Messiah came first as the “Man of sorrows” (Isa 53:3), but will come again “with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30) as Judge and King (2Ti 4:1–note). Martin Luther well said, ‘I preach as though Messiah died yesterday, rose from the dead today and was coming back tomorrow.” How different our lives would be if we lived them in that spirit! As one has well said “Don’t complain about what this world is coming to. Proclaim the One Who is coming to this world.” “And for the hope of His return, Dear Lord, Your Name we praise; With longing hearts we watch and wait; For that great day of days!” (Sherwood)
APPLICATION: Jesus may come at ANY time, so we must be ready ALL the time! This begs the question, do my day to day choices reflect the reality of an expectant attitude? “Expectant looking” is always a great “antidote” for “apathetic living!” Look for Christ’s future return, and you will live for Christ’s glory in the present, remembering that His SECOND Coming is as certain as His FIRST! Indeed, “the certainty of the Second Coming should touch and tincture every part of our daily behavior.” (Blanchard) “We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1Jn 3:2-3–note, cp 2Pe 3:11–note) “Precisely because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments.” (C S Lewis) “Uncertainty about the date of the Lord’s return is calculated to keep believers in an attitude of constant expectation and to preserve them from despondency.” (Ryle) John Piper asks “Does your mind return frequently to the truth of Christ’s appearing? When your mind turns to the truth of His appearing, does your heart want it—is there an eagerness to see Him? Do you pray for His coming? Maranatha, prayed the early church! Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen! (Rev 22:20–note)
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Summary of Messianic Prophecies
How a Jewish man Michael Goldstone met Messiah
How to Recognize the Messiah as “More Than A Carpenter”
Jewish Tradition of Two Messiahs
Questions Skeptics Ask About Messianic Prophecy
A WORM AND NOT A MAN – Psalm 22 is often called the “Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm of the Cross” and is clearly a Messianic psalm giving a detailed prophetic description of our Lord’s crucifixion almost 1000 years before the actual event. Spurgeon writes “For plaintive expressions uprising from unutterable depths of woe we may say of this psalm, “there is none like it.” It is the photograph of our Lord’s saddest hours, the record of His dying words, the lachrymatory (containers used in Roman tombs to collect funeral tears) of His last tears, the memorial of His expiring joys. Before us in Psalm 22 we have a description both of the darkness and of the glory of the Cross, the sufferings of Christ and the glory which shall follow (Heb 2:9). Oh for grace to draw near and see this great sight! We should read Psalm 22:1-31 reverently, removing the sandals from our feet, as Jehovah instructed Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:5), for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is in this Psalm.” “And can it be that I should gain, An interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain—For me, who Him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” (C Wesley)
Matthew and Mark both quote from Psalm 22:1 as they record Jesus’ cry of anguish “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34). In verse 6 we encounter a most unusual description of Messiah – “I am a WORM and not a man.” While there is no record of Christ uttering these words on the Cross, there is little doubt that these words were on the heart of our Lord. As Jon Courson says “Great is the mystery (of godliness) that God became a man (1Timothy 3:16). But greater still is the mystery that the MAN became a LAMB (Jn 1:29) and the LAMB became a WORM to save you and me!” As Spurgeon says Psalm 22:6 “is a miracle in language. How could the Lord of glory (1Cor 2:8) be brought to such abasement as to be not only “made for a little while lower than the angels” (Heb 2:9), but even lower than men? What a contrast between “I AM” (Jn 8:24,28, 58) and “I AM A WORM”! Yet such a double nature was found in the Person of our Lord Jesus when bleeding upon the tree. He felt Himself to be comparable to a helpless, powerless, down-trodden WORM, passive while “crushed for our iniquities,” (Isa 53:5), and unnoticed and despised by those who trod upon Him. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from Whom men hide their face. He was despised (disdained, held in contempt), and we did not esteem Him (Literally, “we estimated Him as nothing”).” (Isaiah 53:3) He selects a WORM the weakest of creatures, which is all flesh; and becomes, when trodden upon, writhing, quivering flesh, utterly devoid of any might, except strength to suffer. This was a true likeness of Himself when His body and soul had become a mass of misery—the very essence of agony—in the dying pangs of Crucifixion. Man by nature is but a WORM (Job 25:6, Isaiah 41:14); but our Lord Jesus puts Himself even beneath man (Php 2:7-8), on account of the scorn that was heaped upon Him and the weakness which He felt, and therefore He adds, “and not a man!” Indeed, as William Cowper wrote, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform!”
Spurgeon goes on to observe that “There is a LITTLE RED WORM which seems to be nothing else but BLOOD when it is crushed, it seems all gone except a blood-stain; and the Saviour, in the deep humiliation of His spirit, compares Himself to that little red worm. How true it is that “He made himself of no reputation” (Php 2:7KJV) for our sakes! He emptied Himself of all His glory; and if there be any glory natural to manhood, He emptied himself even of that. Not only the glories of His Godhead, but the honors of His manhood He laid aside that we might come to “know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich.” (2Cor 8:9) “Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.” (Isaac Watts)
Warren Wiersbe adds that Psalm 22:6 is surely a description that applies “to our Savior. “I am a worm and not a man” is a forgotten “I AM” statement that speaks of how little value the leaders of Israel and the Roman officials placed on Jesus of Nazareth. A WORM is a creature of the ground, helpless, frail, and unwanted. Isaiah 52:14NIV predicted that Messiah would be terribly disfigured by His enemies and not even look human – “Just as there were many who were appalled at Him–His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness (so that He seemed to be “not a man”).” Isaiah’s description recalls the words of Stuart Townend’s beautiful modern hymn “How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turned His face away. As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10).”
As mysterious as is the figure of the King of glory (Ps 24:7-10) condescending to become like a mere WORM, the picture is even more profound when we examine the original language. The Hebrew word for WORM is TOLA, which most scholars associate with a CRIMSON WORM (Coccus Ilicis) that in ancient times was crushed to procure its blood-red SCARLET dye (Hebrew for “scarlet” is same word TOLA), the SCARLET dye used to adorn the “ten curtains” of the Tabernacle (Ex 26:1), “the screen for the (one) doorway of the” Tabernacle (Ex 26:36, cp “I am the door” Jn 10:9), the Veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (Ex 26:31, cp Jesus’ cry with a loud voice, yielding up His Spirit and the Veil of the temple tearing from top to bottom, opening “a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His [torn] flesh” – Mt 27:50-51, Heb 10:19-20) and the beautiful garments of the high priest (Ex 28:5-6, Jesus became our “merciful and faithful high priest” Heb 2:17). Indeed, how deep is the mystery of these OT uses of TOLA which depict a WORM in Ps 22:6 and in 33 OT passages (most in Exodus) depict the blood-red SCARLET material which foreshadowed the Messiah, even His work of redemption on the Cross! Little did the Roman soldiers comprehend the deep significance of the SCARLET robe they placed on Christ, mocking Him with their cry “Hail, King of the Jews” (Mt 27:28-29)! And so we see the Holy One of Israel Who was “made for a little while lower than the angels” (Heb 2:9), then even lower than man, and yes finally made like a mere TOLA, a helpless “crimson worm,” a WORM that was crushed beneath the load of our sin, “having become a curse for us.” (Gal 3:13) “Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut His glories in, When Christ, the mighty Maker died,For man the creature’s sin.” (I. Watts)
And so it should not surprise us to see the Spirit use the Hebrew word TOLA to picture our SIN! In Isaiah 1:18 Jehovah gives the universal invitation “Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they are red like CRIMSON (Hebrew = TOLA!), they will be like wool.” In a display of God’s amazing, mysterious grace, the Spirit chose the same Hebrew word (TOLA) to depict MESSIAH and SIN! Indeed Paul explains this deep mystery, writing that the Father “made Him Who knew no sin to be SIN on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Cor 5:21) When Christ was crushed by the weight of our sins, like a crushed crimson worm (TOLA), He shed His blood, that our sins might be covered by His crimson flow and we might be forever clothed in Christ’s “garments of salvation, wrapped with His robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10). These deep truths recall the original words of Isaac Watts’ hymn “Alas! and did my Savior bleed, And did my Sovereign die! Would He devote that sacred head, For such a WORM as I?” And the answer is a resounding “Yes!” His crimson blood for our crimson sin, that we might be washed whiter than snow! “Hallelujah What a Savior! Thank You God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen”
Play this wonderful modern hymn…
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (by Stuart Townend)
How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure
That He should give His Only Son, to make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turned His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life; I know that “It is Finished!”
I will not boast in anything: no gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ; His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom
For more detailed discussion:
THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – The last prophet of the Old Testament wrote “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My Name the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will rise with healing in His wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Mal 4:1-2) And so the Old Testament closes with the prophecy of the day of the Lord and the coming of the Sun of Righteousness. The New Testament ends with the testimony “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the BRIGHT MORNING STAR.” (Rev 22:16) Who promises that to those who “hold fast until I come…who overcome (not a special group but all believers – see 1Jn 5:4-5)…who do my will to the end…I will give the MORNING STAR” (Rev 2:25-28) Christ Himself as our eternal possession! Hallelujah! The prophet Daniel adds “those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Da 12:3) Dear tried and true saint remember that though we live in a time of great spiritual darkness, the MORNING STAR heralds the SUN RISING with healing in His wings. In the meantime, we must hold fast to (and be held fast by) “the prophetic word made more sure, to which we do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the MORNING STAR arises in our hearts.” (2Pe 1:19) The darker the night becomes the brighter the MORNING STAR shines and the nearer must be the hour of the fulfillment of the pledge of the Sun of Righteousness to come again. This blessed event, the Second Coming, is the hope of the church, the hope of Israel and the hope of the world. Just as the sun drives away darkness and clouds, bringing light and joy, so the Sun of Righteousness will appear to forever dispel gloom, oppression, and injustice. “As the sun is full of light, the ocean full of water, Heaven full of glory, so may our hearts be full of Thee, O Sun of Righteousness.” (A Puritan Prayer)
The One described as the Sun of Righteousness can be no other than Jesus Christ Himself to Whom the ends of the earth will sing “Glory to the Righteous One,” (Isa 24:16), the “Righteous Branch of David shall spring forth” (Jer 33:15), the One Who “loves righteousness and justice” (Ps 33:5), the One Who brings healing in His wings causing the unrighteous to “become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Cor 5:21), for “by His doing (we) are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us…righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1Cor 1:30) And at the end of this age the Sun of Righteousness will rise “to judge the world in righteousness” (Ps 96:13), and “all the arrogant and every evil doer will be chaff.” (Malachi 4:1) “In His days the righteous will flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more,” (Ps 72:7) and in that day “the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14) May our song ever be “Christ, Whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true, the only Light, Sun of Righteousness, arise, Triumph o’er the shades of night, Dayspring from on high, be near, Daystar, in my heart appear.” (C Wesley)
Spurgeon writes that while the Son of Righteousness rising with healing in His wings was “fulfilled once in the first advent of our glorious Lord, and will yet have a fuller accomplishment in his second advent, this gracious word is also for daily use. Is it dark time with you reader? Does the night deepen into a denser blackness? Still let us not despair: the Sun will yet rise. When the night is darkest, dawn is nearest. The Sun which will arise is of no common sort. It is the Sun—the Sun of Righteousness, Whose every ray is holiness. He Who comes to cheer us, comes in the way of justice as well as of mercy, comes to violate no law even to save us. Jesus displays the holiness of God as much as His love. Our deliverance, when it comes, will be safe because it is righteous. Our one point of inquiry should be—“Do we fear the Name of the Lord? Do we reverence the living God, and walk in His ways?” (Mal 4:2) Then for us the night must be short; and when the morning comes, all the sickness and sorrow of our soul will be over forever. Light, warmth, joy, and clearness of vision will come, and healing of every disease and distress will follow. Has Jesus risen upon us? Let us sit in the light of the Sun. Has He hidden His face? Let us wait for His rising. He will shine forth as surely as the sun.” And while we wait we sing “Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings.” (C. Wesley)
Ralph Erskine rightly said that “The sun in the sky is only a shadow of the Sun of Righteousness and of His glory.” The sun is the great star of our galaxy but the Son’s brilliance infinitely outshines the sun. Balaam prophesied of a Star, the Sun of Righteousness, declaring “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A STAR shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter (King) shall rise from Israel.” (Nu 24:17) Habakkuk saw an incredible vision of the Sun of Righteousness rising declaring “His radiance is like the SUNLIGHT. He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power.” (Hab 3:4) The wise men asked “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His STAR in the east, and have come to worship Him.” (Mt 2:2) Zacharias filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied of the coming of the Sun of Righteousness, saying “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the SUNRISE (DAYSPRING – KJV) from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (“with healing in His wings”).” (Luke 1:78-79) Peter, James and John saw Him on the mount “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the SUN, and His garments became as white as light.” (Mt 17:2) Paul was healed in a moment by the Sun of Righteousness when “at midday (he) saw on the way (to Damascus) a light from heaven, brighter than the SUN, shining all around.” (Acts 26:13) John “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” and beheld the Sun of Righteousness testifying that “in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the SUN shining in its strength.” (Rev 1:16) And because Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness, John writes “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1Jn 2:8) and in that glorious day to come “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev 21:23) Hold on, dear stormed tossed child of God. The Sun of Righteousness will soon rise with healing in His wings! “One day He’s coming. O glorious day! O glorious day!” (Song by Casting Crowns)
Spurgeon again applies the truths of Sun of Righteousness – “Believer, in the midst of plenty there is a famine if your Lord is absent. The sun may shine, but if Christ is hidden all your world is dark and it is night (cp Jn 13:30). Is the Bright and Morning Star gone and there is no other star to yield a ray of light in its place? What a howling wilderness this world is without our Lord! If we do not see Him our flowers wither, our enjoyable fruits decay, the birds stop singing, and storms overturn our hopes. All the lights of earth cannot produce daylight if the Sun of Righteousness is eclipsed. He is the Soul of our soul, the Light of our light (Jn 8:12), the Life of our life (Col 3:4). Dear believer, what would you do with the temptations and cares of this world if you did not have Him? What would you do when you awaken and prepare for the day’s battle if you did not have Him? What would you do at night when you arrive home exhausted and weary if there were no door of fellowship between you and Christ? Blessed be His name, the Sun of Righteousness. He will not leave you. His promise is sure, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5 – Greek has 5 negatives!) When you think what life would be like without Him, it magnifies His preciousness.” May our prayer daily be “Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear, It is not night if Thou be near; O may no earth-born cloud arise, To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.” (John Keble)
The Sun of Righteousness has come. He has risen from the grave! He is here. He has risen in the hearts of those who fear Him with a sense of reverence and awe! And He will come again “on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30) and we will come with Him “clothed in fine linen, white and clean, on white horses” (Rev 19:14)! O glorious day! Indeed, the Sun of Righteousness has come and He has risen, shattering the power of sin and death that we might be justified by grace through faith in His glorious Gospel of peace (Eph 6:15). Then the Sun of Righteousness rose from the earth (Acts 1:9-11), sending us His Spirit, the Helper, the Spirit of Truth (Jn 15:26), that we might might be sanctified and transformed from glory to glory, as with unveiled faces we behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord (2Cor 3:18). And yet the best is yet to come for when the Sun of Righteousness rises with healing in His wings “we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” (1Jn 3:2-3) and “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” for “this perishable will put on the imperishable and this mortal will but on immortality” (1Cor 15:51-54) Dear child of God, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Ro 8:18) Therefore “let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary,” (Gal 6:9). Instead may God’s Spirit grant us faith to wait for the LORD that we might gain new strength (exchange His strength for our weakness) and mount up with wings like eagles, able to run and not get tired, able to walk and not become weary (Isa 40:31), ever mindful that the Sun of Righteousness says “Yes, I am coming quickly.” And so we cry “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS – The last words of any dying person are always worth our full attention. Is not the question when a loved one passes, “Did they have any LAST WORDS?” And so we desire to hear the LAST WORDS which are indeed the greatest words from the greatest Man the world has ever known! Let us linger over the FAMOUS LAST WORDS of our Savior, Redeemer and Friend, His last words at His CRUCIFIXION, His last words after His RESURRECTION and His last words after His GLORIFICATION.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS AS HE WAS CRUCIFIED – Jesus spoke seven times while hanging on the Cross.
(1) He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).
(2) He promised one of the criminals crucified with Him, “Today you shall be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
(3) He remembered His mother, “Woman, behold Your Son!” and to John, “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27).
(5) “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said ‘I thirst.'” (John 19:28).
(6) He uttered His cry of victory – “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” (Tetelestai – “Paid in Full!”) (John 19:30).
“Yes, indeed / Finished, ev’ry jot / Sinner, this is all you need / Tell me, is it not?” (Ira Sankey)
(7) “Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” And having said this, He breathed His last.” (Luke 23:46)
When our Savior cried out these FAMOUS LAST WORDS from the Cross “with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Behold, the VEIL of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mt 27:50-51), the VEIL through which we now “have confidence (boldness) to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the (rent) VEIL, that is, His (rent) FLESH.” (Hebrews 10:19-20)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS AFTER HE WAS RESURRECTED – His last words to His disciples (which includes us beloved) were “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20) “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS AFTER HE WAS GLORIFIED – Our glorified Redeemer spoke His last words in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible – “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end….Yes, I am coming quickly.” (Rev 22:12-13, 20)
To which we cry “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
An ancient legend says that in the early church a believer was about to be martyred for his faith in the Messiah and as they tied his hands to the stake, they asked if he had any LAST WORDS, to which he jubilantly shouted “HE IS RISEN!” Unknown to the authorities, in the surrounding hills, the followers of Christ had gathered to watch the execution. When they heard the martyr’s last words “He is risen,” they cried out with one voice “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”
HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Below are the powerful words of the great Phillip Bliss hymn “Halleljujah! What a Savior” (Sung by my home church, The Austin Stone)
Man of Sorrows! what a Name
For the Son of God, Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD February 11, 2012
ANISTEMI – GREEK WORD STUDY July 31, 2012
BOOK OF JOB – OVERVIEW July 30, 2012
BOOK OF NUMBERS – OVERVIEW July 27, 2012
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL? July 26, 2012
BACKSLIDING – DRIFTING AWAY FROM GOD July 23, 2012
EL ELYON – GOD MOST HIGH on July 20, 2012
ESCHATOS – GREEK WORD STUDY July 18, 2012
EL ROI – THE GOD WHO SEES July 14, 2012
BOOK OF JEREMIAH – OVERVIEW August 29, 2012
HABAKKUK COMMENTARY – CHAPTER 2 August 26, 2012
1 Peter 2:1-3 COMMENTARY August 21, 2012
HABAKKUK COMMENTARY- CHAPTER 1 August 18, 2012
BOOK OF HABAKKUK – OVERVIEW August 16, 2012
EL OLAM – EVERLASTING GOD August 12, 2012
COMPROMISE August 9, 2012
BOOK OF PROVERBS – OVERVIEW August 6, 2012
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THE BLESSED HOPE? September 30, 2012
THE LORD OF HOSTS – JEHOVAH SABAOTH September 26, 2012
POIEMA – GREEK WORD STUDY September 24, 2012
MALACHI COMMENTARY – CHAPTER 1 September 22, 2012
BOOK OF MALACHI – OVERVIEW September 14, 2012
HABAKKUK COMMENTARY – CHAPTER 3 September 10, 2012
FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT-RICHLY INDWELT BY THE WORD Sept 2, 2012
CHRIST JESUS OUR HOPE October 17, 2012
CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT October 11, 2012
BIBLICAL PEACE – PART 2 November 20, 2012
BIBLICAL PEACE – PART 1 November 18, 2012
A POWERFUL PRINCIPLE: HOPE IN GOD November 7, 2012
THOUGHTS ON HALLELUJAH December 28, 2012
THOUGHTS ON THE “QUIET TIME” December 19, 2012
THE WILL OF GOD December 5, 2012
ABBA, FATHER January 22, 2013
THOUGHTS ON A “MARANATHA MINDSET” January 9, 2013
THOUGHTS ON HOSANNA January 5, 2013
SHEKINAH February 24, 2013
SHALOM February 13, 2013
GOD IS ABLE February 9, 2013
OUR SPIRITUAL ADOPTION February 1, 2013
THE LAMB OF GOD March 27, 2013
THOUGHTS ON JOY & HOPE & PERSEVERANCE & PRAYER Mar 14, 2013
IMMANUEL, EMMANUEL (GOD WITH US) March 6, 2013
TETELESTAI – IT IS FINISHED! PAID IN FULL! April 5, 2013
JESUS NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES May 31, 2013
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE (Part 2) May 28, 2013
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE May 23, 2013
CHRIST: THE SMITTEN ROCK May 16, 2013
CHRIST THE ROCK OF OUR SALVATION May 6, 2013
JESUS, MIGHTY GOD (EL GIBBOR) June 19, 2013
FATHER KNOWS BEST August 26, 2013
PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME August 21, 2013
BIBLE COMMENTARIES August 8, 2013
A LIFE TO IMITATE – JOHN BERRIDGE September 5, 2013
CHRIST OUR HIDING PLACE October 22, 2013
ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED October 3, 2013
JEHOVAH EZER – Part 2 November 15, 2013
JEHOVAH EZER – Part 1 November 6, 2013
HE IS… November 2, 2013
INDELIBLE GRACE: Inscribed on His Hands January 5, 2014
2014 A YEAR OF GRACE January 1, 2014
MIGHTY TO SAVE (Part 2) February 15, 2014
MIGHTY TO SAVE (Part 1) February 11, 2014
CHRIST THE BREAKER (Part 1) March 24, 2014
MIGHTY TO SAVE (Part 3) on March 4, 2014
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST on April 22, 2014
CHRIST THE BREAKER (Part 2) April 14, 2014
CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY May 19, 2014
CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY-Part 2 June 29, 2014
LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS June 10, 2014
PRAYER on July 27, 2014
WRITTEN INDELIBLY IN BLOOD August 27, 2014
PAUL’S CALENDAR – TODAY…THAT DAY August 25, 2014
OUR BODY, HIS TEMPLE August 14, 2014
ARE YOU ENTANGLED? September 19, 2014
THE BIBLE AND ILLUMINATION October 17, 2014
THE REFINER’S FIRE November 10, 2014
IMMANUEL, EMMANUEL (GOD WITH US)-Pt 2 December 16, 2014
LORD, GIVE US UNDIVIDED HEARTS (Psalm 86:11) – Integrity (see note) is derived from “integer” (a whole number as opposed to a fraction) and speaks of the quality of being undivided. O, to be men and women of integrity, lights shining in the midst of the darkness in such a way that the world might see our undivided hearts and this would bring glory to our Father Who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16, cf Php 2:15).
A great prayer in 2015 would be to pray (daily) David’s words…
“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth.
UNITE MY HEART to fear Your Name.”
The NIV has “Give me an UNDIVIDED HEART.” Pastor Ray Pritchard paraphrases it “Put me together, Lord, because right now my life is scattered in a thousand directions!” (The Undivided Heart)
An UNDIVIDED HEART, O Lord,
Is what we need each day,
For we are prone to compromise
And wander from Your way.
-D De Haan
The men of the tribe of Zebulon “helped David with an UNDIVIDED HEART” (literally “without a double heart” = undivided loyalty) (1Chr 12:33) They were “all in,” of one heart, all the time, nothing held back.
Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 86:11 said “Having taught me ONE WAY, give me ONE HEART to walk therein, for too often I feel ‘a heart and a heart’ (In Ps 12:2 “double heart” in Hebrew literally = “a heart and a heart”), two natures contending, two principles struggling for sovereignty (Gal 5:17). Our minds are apt to be divided between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred rivulets. Our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord Alone. A man of DIVIDED HEART is weak (cf Jas 1:5-8), the man of one object is the man. God Who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by His uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom (Pr 9:10, Job 28:28), therefore should we be undividedly given up to it, heart, and soul (cf Mk 12:29-31).”
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
(Play Fernando Ortega’s vocal)
May we all be motivated by the Spirit (Php 2:13) to imitate men like Paul (1Cor 11:1,Heb 6:11-12) who said “this ONE THING I do. forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:13-14)
And remember that “the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2Chr 16:9)
Lord, by Your amazing grace and enabled by the power of Your Spirit, give us undivided hearts to fear Your Name, in the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names (Php 2:9-11). Amen
Listen to Rich Mullins great song “My One Thing” that speaks of an UNDIVIDED HEART
Click the link to read a convicting, practical message by Ray Pritchard on “THE UNDIVIDED HEART”
SEE RELATED TOPICS:
MAY WE LIVE WISELY IN 2015: REDEEMING THE TIME, “THE TIME OF OUR LIFE” – Before reading on, pause and make a list of the things you value most in life. Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc are at the top of your list. But did you list “TIME?” Ephesians 5:15-16 has been called the Bible’s key to “Time Management,” but might be more aptly called the key to “Life Management!” In these passages Paul commands all believers “Therefore (because we have been awakened from spiritual stupor and spiritual death and have the light of Christ – Eph 5:14) BE CAREFUL (a command to continually take heed, be alert, be vigilant, to discern with Spirit enabled vision) how you walk, not as unwise men (“fools”), but as wise, REDEEMING THE TIME (making the most of every opportunity) because (explains why we must redeem the time) the days are evil (Corollary: The evil of our day should motivate us to redeem the time each day).” (Eph 5:16) If we are continually filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18), He will enable us to be on “high alert” for spiritual opportunities which we can seize before they are gone. What opportunities are passing before us today? How will we respond? Will we even see them? We don’t want to be like agnostic Mark Twain who said “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” As followers of Christ may we imitate Paul’s example and live as if every minute counts—because it does! (Read 1Cor 11:1, Heb 6:12) It takes only a moment in time to be kind, but that moment will bear fruit that lasts throughout eternity. Indeed, as Wiersbe reminds us “No good deed done for the glory of Jesus Christ will ever be forgotten before God. No loving word spoken in Jesus’ Name will ever be wasted. If we don’t see the harvest in this life, we’ll see it when we stand before the Lord. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ will have its just reward” and hear “Well done!” (Mt 10:42; 25:31-46)
Some lives are darkened by want and care;
The lack of sympathy brings despair;
Seek out such souls and their burdens share,
Redeeming the precious time.
Adoniram Judson a famous missionary to Burma wrote that “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity and the same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever. Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny (Read 1Ti 4:7-8, Rev 22:12). How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days that are past (Read what Paul did with his regret-Php 3:13-14). The future is in our power (when we are in His hand). Let us, then, each morning, (enabled by God’s Spirit) resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly (forever) marked.” Like Adoniram Judson we need to embrace an eternal perspective in this temporal world. Too often we number our years and not our days. However we live one day at a time, and so we should instead number our days that we might make them count for eternity. “So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12)
A day is full of many hours just waiting for your using;
and there are many ways to spend them,
so be careful in your choosing.
A farmer’s clock ran amuck one morning and struck seventeen. The man of the house jumped up and ran all over the place, saying, “Get up, it’s later than it ever has been before!” It is later than it ever has been by God’s eternal timepiece. It is later than you think! Don’t vacillate! Don’t hesitate! Don’t procrastinate! Time is loaned to us and, as stewards of Christ, we must use it wisely. Let us each redeem the golden moments of opportunity while we still can! We do “not know what our life will be like tomorrow. We are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144:4) “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.” (Ps 90:9, 10) As Spurgeon (who went home at age 59) said “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour!” He even reduced our lives to four words “Sown, groan, blown, gone!” Dear Father, in light of the fact that our life is but a vapor and the “night is almost gone and the day is at hand,” (Ro 13:12) by Your Spirit grant us the desire and power to obey Jesus’ command to “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” remembering that “where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.” Amen (Mt 6:20-21)
The grain stands white in the harvest field
And rich the fruitage which it will yield.
Step in today and the sickle wield,
Redeeming the precious time.
Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel awoke one morning and read his own obituary in the local newspaper. It read, “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man.” It was Alfred’s older brother who had died; a newspaper reporter had bungled the epitaph. But that account had a tremendous impact on Nobel, who decided he wanted to be remembered for something different. As a result, he initiated the Nobel Prize to reward individuals who foster peace. He said,“Every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one.” Alexander Graham Bell said that “When one door closes, another one opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” In Christ and enabled by His Spirit, we are given a golden opportunity to see those divinely opened doors and pass into the inheritance beyond, even “writing” a new “eternal epitaph!” As Larry Moyer said “Decide now what you want written on your tombstone, then live your life backward from there.” Stated another way, instead of counting your days, make your days count! In fact, we should live every day as if it might be our last, for one of these days we will be right!
The Lord soon comes, His own to take,
And of their stewardship reckoning make;
Blest will he be, that for Jesus’ sake,
Has ever redeemed the time!
The word OPPORTUNITY is derived from the Latin “ob portu.” In ancient times before modern harbors, ships had to wait for the timing of the tide before they could make it safely to port. Thus “OB PORTU,” described the ship waiting “FOR PORT,” ready to seize the crucial moment when it could ride the tide into safe harbor. The captain knew that if he missed the passing tide, the ship would have to wait for another tide to come in. God gives each of us many “ob portu’s”, but we must be spiritually wise and Spirit filled in order to see and seize them. As Charles Swindoll said “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities (ob portu’s) brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Joseph Parker described “a king of Sicily who was called “The Lingerer,” not because he stayed till opportunity came, but because he stayed till opportunity was lost. There is a time to wait and a time to act. Overlong waiting means loss of chance!” Shakespeare’s famous line from Julius Caesar conveys the same thought: “There is a tide in the affairs of men (an “ob portu”), Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat; And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.” History tells us of Hannibal that when he could have taken Rome he would not, and when he would he could not! Hannibal missed the “opportune time,” the brief “window of opportunity,” even as believers can if we lose our eternal perspective!
John Broadus said “Opportunity is like a fleet horse that pauses for a moment at one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridors of time. That opportunity is gone forever.”
Now is the only time we own
To do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow;
For the clock may then be still!
Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone forever. Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point (cf kairos). Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.” D. L. Moody recalls an incident in his ministry that brought him great distress because he failed to redeem the time. “On the night when the courthouse bell of Chicago was sounding an alarm of fire, my sermon was upon ‘What Shall I Do with Jesus?’ I said to the audience, ‘I want you to decide this question by next Sunday.’ What a mistake! That night I saw the glare of flames, and knew that Chicago was doomed. I never saw that audience again!” Redeem the time!
Lost souls are hastening down to doom
Without a ray to dispel the gloom
Give them the Gospel, their path illume,
Redeeming the precious time.
Jonathan Edwards America’s greatest theologian understood Paul’s charge to “redeem the time” and so as a young man wrote “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.” The 16th-century reformer Philip Melanchthon kept a record of every wasted moment and took his list to God in confession at the end of each day. Little wonder that God used him in such mighty ways. Like these great saints before us, we too should spend time wisely, by investing in eternity!
Time that is past you can never recall,
Of time to come, you are not sure at all;
Only the present is now in your power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.
Noah Webster said that opportunity is the convergence of a favorable juncture of circumstances, but in God’s universe the convergence of circumstances is not left to “chance” or “fate” but is under His providential control, so let us pray daily for God’s Spirit to open the eyes of our heart” (Eph 1:18) to recognize and seize the fleeting opportunities God gives us. Most of us are familiar with Garage Sales – if the ad says the sale begins at 8AM, you can be sure there will be “redeemers” on site thirty minutes early, lest they miss the best opportunities which go fast! As J H Jowett says “in all these purchasings everything goes to the early buyer. To be first in the market must be our constant aim. Let us regard every moment as precious treasure, and before the enemy of our souls can lay his hand upon it, let us be up and buy it for the Lord.” Indeed, may we be as determined as shoppers eager for temporal trinkets, making the most of every opportunity to purchase timeless treasures!
The time is short!
If thou wouldst work for God it must be now;
If thou wouldst win the garland for thy brow,
Redeem the time.
With His reward He comes; He tarries not; His day is near;
When men least look for Him, will He be here;
Prepare for Him!”
John Piper reiterates the truth that the “OPPORTUNITY of a lifetime” may “never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents (Mt 10:16). Understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17). These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!” In other words, the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again. We are a vigilant people at war with unbelief and evil. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me. Surely God means for our minutes on earth to count for something significant. Paul said, “In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Php 2:16). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:58). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15).
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To say just when the hands will stop;
At late, or early hour.
As we have seen the idea of KAIROS is not “clock time” but what one writer calls “kingdom opportunities” those openings for ministry that often come at inconvenient times – a friend who wants to talk, a child with a problem, the chance to lend a hand to someone in need. Paul is encouraging us to keep our lives uncluttered so that we are prepared to respond when the need arises—lest the fleeting kingdom opportunities, which are “the best,” be squeezed out by “the good” in our busy schedules. Think back on your last 24 hours – were there some “kingdom opportunities” you saw (or see now in retrospect) and which you rushed past because you were “too busy”? Are we so task oriented that we miss the “kingdom tasks” God gives us the privilege to experience? May His Spirit give us all “kingdom vision”! Amen
The good we do is never lost,
Each kindly act takes root,
And every bit of love we sow
In time will bear rich fruit.
Beloved, it is too late to redeem the time that has passed but not the time that is passing. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. And when our time on this earth is over, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” to give an account to the One Who gave us the priceless gift of TIME (2Cor 5:10). May God grant us His amazing grace that we might make the most of the rest of our time on earth, knowing that one day soon we will enter into the “rest of our life” in Christ. Amen
Now may we all take a moment, to prayerfully ponder the days God has numbered for each of us, as we listen to the soul stirring words of Robin Mark’s song
When It’s All Been Said and Done
There is just one thing that matters.
Did I do my best to live for Truth?
Did I live my life for You?
When It’s All Been Said and Done
All my treasures will mean nothing.
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward,
Will stand the test of time.