THE PROTECTION OF ANGELS

The NKJV Bible mentions the word angel or angels 280 times. 105 times in the Old Testament and 175 times in the New Testament. According to Herbert Lockyer, “In both the Old and New Testaments the root for angel means messenger. The Hebrew word mal’akh in the Old Testaments and angelos in the New Testament means simply messenger whether human or divine…both terms…tell us what angels do rather than who they are.” [i]

According to Christ in these verses the role of angels is to protect God’s children. In fact, Jesus tells us that the ministry of angels is one of the reasons and motives why we do not despise and make light of any Christian. Simply, if God cares enough to protect his children by sending angels, they must be important to him.

The angels were made by Jesus Christ, God the Son himself, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:15-16). It is obvious that Christ knows about angels because he created them and he teaches about their role in our lives here on earth.

God in His Providence has given us his servants to be our servants. Paul asks, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). The angels worship God, “Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.” (Ps. 148:2). In the book of Revelation, in heaven called the city of the living God, there are an innumerable company of angels, myriads of angels who number ten thousand times ten thousand, who do not rest shouting worship day and night (Rev 4:8; 5:11; Heb 12:22; Deut. 33:2). There are so many angels you could not count them. Don’t worry about the multitudes of people going in the wrong direction and their influence over our lives! They are pathetically outnumbered by God and his angels and they minister to you, and serve you. You are not alone.

In addition to this, angels are powerful, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.” (Psa. 103:20).  There was an angel that blocked the entrance to Eden with some form of omnidirectional sword. (Gen. 3:24). Seeing angels terrified Gideon (Judges 6:22) David, “was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.” (1 Chr. 21:30). The angels at the resurrection of Christ frightened the women there (Matt 28:5). Just one angel can destroy a mighty army. In 2 Kings 19:35-36 one angel destroyed 85,000 soldiers and another time 70,000 (2 Samuel 24:15-16). So, the little pictures of angels who look baby cherubs fluttering around is cute but not biblical.

There are three words we notice in Heb 1:14: “ministering” and “spirits” and “salvation” This word “ministering” is where we get the idea of liturgy. Liturgy is formalistic religious worship. The root of its meaning is to help and serve others. It is God’s will that they serve the people of God.  Such is the kingdom of God. The angels no matter how glorious must be servant of all and least of all.

Angels have to give an account as ministering spirits before God and in Job it says twice, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.” (Job 1:6; 2:1). This verse directly relates to what Jesus said, “angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 18:10).  The angels are responsible to reflect our Heavenly Father’s loving specific care, protection and attention. Let me illustrate this. Not everyone can be close to the President, only his cabinet and a few other people. The angels have special access to God and give account to Him about us and for us. They have been given custody and care for God’s little ones and are responsible for them, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Psa. 91:11).

They are spirits. The angels have no physical bodies. They do not have human limitations. This works for our benefit. The Psalms and the book of Hebrews speak of God, “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” (Heb 1:7; Psa. 104:4). Angelic wind and fire. They are invisible and powerful like WIND. They have FIRE, great energy they do not become tired. They are EFFICIENT. They achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. They are PASSIONATE, they love what they do and serve God with strong passion and desire to please him and help us.  Such is the kingdom of God. They are created beings-spirits who were made for one purpose: to serve and to give God glory and to serve and give us help.

“For those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Jesus tell us with this ministry of angels in view, “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matt. 18:15). The most powerful and highest-ranking angels are employed in the humble office of looking after God’s little ones- the heirs of salvation. They aid us in our journey to heaven. The people of God are up for an inheritance WHICH IS salvation.

The angels are concerned about people’s spiritual welfare. Christ says, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10). This recalls what we read today, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”  This promise Jesus gives is concerning his children. Those souls are claimed by the Father and HIS faithful Son Jesus and the angels go out to find and rescue them.

The angels are called his hosts. God is called “the Lord of hosts” or Lord Sabaoth.  The Psalmist says, “Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure.” (Psa. 103:21). In the birth of Christ, the angels are called the “Heavenly host.” (Luke 2:13) standing on God’s right and left hand (1 Kings 22:19).  

Lord of hosts or Sabaoth has a double meaning.  First it means, the Lord of hosts is the God of the angelic armies. This relates precisely to what Jesus said in gathering lost sheep. He gathers his angels to battle FOR his people. “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psa. 34:7). Christ directly intervenes in these little ones lives to SECURE his own victory and INSURE the salvation of his people. They are, “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5).

Second the Lord of hosts means God who gathers his sheep. He is the God who brings together his people for salvation and worship. Later on, as God wills, we will see Christ again in Matthew 18:20 when our Lord says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” They gather in the name of Lord Sabaoth the Lord of hosts, the God of the myriads of angels and multitudes of saved sheep, the people of God. One day the Lord of hosts will, “send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matt 24:31). Then Christ, Lord Sabaoth will send out those holy ministering angels like wind and fire, “they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire.” (Matt 13:41-42).

Our only hope is in Christ who is Lord of Hosts. In Gen. 28:10-16 When Jacob dreamed, he saw a, “ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” The immediate context is Jacob later known as Israel, is on the run from his brother Edom. He finds a place called Luz and he uses a rock for a pillow and he goes to sleep. He has a dream where the angelic hosts set up a security check on Jacob whom God had blessed and with whom he made covenant. One angel would come down check on him and go back up the ladder and check in before the face of his heavenly Father, another one would come back down check on him and go back up as see the face of his heavenly Father and check in. Then the Lord stood at the top of the Ladder and said that he would bless Jacob and his descendants.  Delightful.

What a thought for the child of God who has heavens body guard assigned to them by the Lord Sabaoth, “He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4).

Then Jacob woke up excited and renamed the city of Luz as Bethel which means the house of God…the gate of heaven!  (Gen 28:17).  It is interesting because years ago the disobedient people built the tower of Babel to make their own way to God and to achieve their salvation. They called that place the Gate of God. But God called it confusion. Father, Son and Holy Spirit put a stop to that.

God in Christ show us God makes the ladder, that ladder is Christ. I recall a scripture in the New Testament Jesus said to Nathaniel a Son of Israel in whom there was no guile in John 1:51: “And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

Christ is that ladder! Like a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, Christ bridges the gap between Heaven and Earth. The shadow of Jacobs ladder finds its reality in Jesus-WHO presents himself as the true ladder who left heaven to come to earth! As Jacob saw in a dream the reconciliation of Heaven and Earth, Jesus brought this reconciliation between God and man as he reconciles the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them and Jesus speaks from the top of the ladder of the Cross and says, “You are forgiven!” “It is finished!” 

Jesus is our Bethel, the Gateway, the dwelling of God, the door of the sheep (John 10:9).  If anyone goes by that Gateway they will be saved from God’s wrath and punishment and have abundant eternal life. A life of God’s generosity to the underserving not rewards for the deserving. Even for us, wandering straying sheep he says as the Ladder and the Gateway, “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”


[i] All the Angels in the Bible Herbert Lockyer chapter 1 the Spiritual Bodies of Angels, pg. 3. © 1995 Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.

THE JESUS CEREAL

IMG_4824.JPGSome theology is like reading the side of a cereal box. When I was a kid I was probably eating cereal that I would be lectured on today for putting me in a diabetic coma. I loved the sound of the cereal pouring into the bowl and then adding the milk. Then I would read the front and back of the box cover. But on the side, there was a series of unpronounceable words and list of vitamins and minerals. I never focused on that.
 
When I first came to Christ I had the assurance of salvation. I knew my sins were forgiven. I was baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit. I had a joy and peace and I was hungry for more of God. I guess that box of cereal could be called Jesus Alone Cereal (I know he is the bread of life but please bear with my analogy).
 
Then I met the people who must be related to the Einsteins who are responsible for the side of the cereal box, theologically speaking, and they had other cereals. They did not mind me eating my Jesus cereal but they told me I needed other cereals because Jesus Alone Cereal was not enough.
 
They told me I was not saved based solely on what Jesus had done on the Cross, but I needed to endure to the end. Others kept telling me I was saying the wrong words or had to pray a certain way or I did not have enough faith. Then some said I still had generational curses, even telling me I had demons. Then some told me I was baptized wrong and that the Trinity was not in the Bible. Some told me I needed to make a long list of my sins and confess them or I would be lost. Others were telling me that if Jesus was not Lord of all or he was not Lord at all. Then they told me we were doing church all wrong, worship needed to be more culturally relevant and it was hard to find any Jesus Cereal at church.
 
I ended up having more guilt and shame than before I was a Christian. In fact, it seemed that they discontinued my favorite Jesus Cereal. I could not find it anymore. I was starving, sad and confused.
 
Then I met with men who did understand those big words but knew that being fed Jesus alone Cereal was important. They introduced me to the Reformation Cereal Company and they told me that they had recovered the recipe for the gospel. I did not believe it until I sat down with two of their main CEO’s a German guy named Martin and another man from France, John. They poured out a bowl and added some milk and IT WAS! There it WAS! It was the Jesus Cereal.
 
The Gospel is all about Jesus. He is the bread and water of life. His blood and his flesh, his wonderful work on Calvary and his resurrection give life and feed our souls continually. Forget the world’s religion that has infested and confused many churches with their “do this and do that” theology and their big words.  Believe the gospel. Listen to God the Father when he says, “This is my beloved Son, HEAR HIM!”
 
 
(c) 2018 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney feel free to share but give credit where credit is due.

INJURED BY ADAM, BEATEN BY MOSES, SAVED BY CHRIST.

In the book Pilgrim’s Progress Mr. Christian found a friend in his travels a man called Mr. Faithful. They were talking about some of the challenges in their journey.

Mr. Faithful began to tell of an experience he had at Difficulty Hill when he met an very old man named, Adam the first. Adam lived in the town called “Deceit” and was wondering where Mr. Faithful was headed. While they talk Adam offers him a permanent position in his company out of no where. Faithful was wondering what about the wages, job and staff at Adam Incorporated. Adam tells him that all his employees were his children said that he was actually looking for an heir to take things over.  He also tell him he has three daughters that Mr. Faithful could marry Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life (1 John 2:16).

Faithful was tempted by the offer until he saw written on Adam’s forehead but looking in his forehead, as I talked with him, I saw there written, “Put off the old man with his deeds.” The truth was that Adam was just flattering him and if he would get there he would sell Mr. Faithful for a slave.  Mr. Faithful declined his offer and Adam was angry and started yelling at him because he would not come near the door of his house. he Adam told him that he would dispatch someone to make his life miserable. As he turned around Adam grabbed him with such strength he thought his arm was almost torn off and he yelled in pain, “O wretched man.” Rom. 7:24.  So I went on the road up the hill.

Now, when he had got above half-way up, Mr. Faithful looked behind him, and saw one coming , swift as the wind caught up with him. He knocked him down and he was dazed. When he recovered from the punch he asked the man why he hit him.  The man said because of his secret desire to go with Adam. Then he hit him again and knocked him out.  When he regained consciousness he begged him to show mercy but he said, “I do not know how to show mercy and he knocked him down again.”  He would have killed him but another man came by and told him to stop. He did not know that man at first until he perceived the holes in his hands and in his side. Then he concluded that the man was Christ. So he went up the hill. Christian said, “That man that overtook you was Moses. He spares none; he does not know how to show mercy to those that break God’s law.

Do you understand the meaning of this story? The law of Moses cannot save you. It can only expose the rottenness of your sinful thoughts, words and actions. It will condemn destroy and kill you. It is a law, “without mercy.” (Heb. 10:28). Only Christ can save you. It is his death on the Cross, the blood he poured out and the witness of the wounds in his hands, feet and side that can save you. He says STOP to the justice of God you deserved because he took your sins, the hell you deserved, the wrath you incurred upon himself. He rose from the dead to declare you as righteous and sits enthroned as proof that your sins are forgiven (Heb. 1:1-3). Believe his words and trust his promises!

©2018 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney all rights reserved. You may share this article but please give credit where credit is due.

Prayer of a Theologian

ds2-image-12

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.

Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on you.
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness, but with you there is light.
I am lonely, but you do not leave me.
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help.
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you patience.
I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me.
Restore me to liberty, and enable me so to live now that I may answer before you and before humanity.
Lord, whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred for his faith during Nazi Germany)

Meditation of Psalm 51: The Church of My Heart

799018111.jpgMerciful God, Faithful and True, keep your reputation unstained by recreating a new heart and clean spirit in me. 

Blot out, send away my sin debt, wash away my wrongdoings that you no longer remember my disobedience.  imagesI acknowledge my sin, I was born a sinner and you are the one I have wronged. All I can offer is my broken heart which is crushed to powder. 

 

Deliver me from my guilt for there is nothing I can give, no sacrifice I can make, no prayer I can pray, no confession I can utter that would be acceptable.cry-out-to-god

Let a continual fire of Your Holy Spirit burn out sin, the hammer of Your Word pummel out evil in my life. In the deepest inner recesses of my being implant truth in place of lies and wisdom that resists temptation so I may always be your faithful servant and obedient child.

080171bb9489bb542eec8ec243fac41c.jpgRestore the joy of serving You in all the broken parts of my life. Let me praise, honor and hear the laughter of salvation that enjoys worship all around.  

Open my mouth in order that I may sing your praise loudly of your forgiveness.  Restore the walls of the city of my heart, rebuild the altar in the church of my soul so I may worship you in a way in which you are pleased.  RGH09611.jpg

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Amen.

GOD GETS IN YOUR FACE

3_creation“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) is the most radical statement ever made.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic but it just seems some days like the world is so untouched by God’s goodness. It seems like any kind of goodness which makes the news in its essence makes it rare. When I read the book of Genesis I see God look over his finished work and say “this is good, very good.” “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1). Satan does not own anything in this world. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Tim 4:4-5).

This is not to say that God has left some scant details about himself like a billion piececreation 2.jpg puzzle leaving us that were trying to figure things out although for some people it may seem that way. But God is evident. He is seen. When you read a very familiar passage such as Psalm 19 case such a wonderful display of God, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Ps 19:1-3). Creation can be seen bursting with song, loud, bright clear and powerful.

god-creating-creatures-by-r.jpgClearly, it means there is a God. God confronts us face to face, challenges, dares and even threatens people with his existence. Even more drastic, it means that you and I cannot escape God, “You are all around me-in front of me and in back of me. You lay your hand on me.” (Psalm 139:5GW). If you don’t want him around-he’s there anyway-he’s not going anywhere. He is always there and always will be there for all our lives and when we are dead and gone.  God will always be God. You are eventually going to have to confront the whole “God” issue, now or later.

“First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we do not get the sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option, not God on the weekends. God at the center and circumference; God first and last. God, God, God.” –The Old Testament Books of Moses © 2001 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Genesis is God giving our lives significance and meaning. God made the world where everything and everyone is created with an intention and design. He does not work impersonally from space, but he is in operation in the here and now. No matter how good or bad anyone is, we continue to be a part of his project-the Adam Project so there is no place to drop out.”

©2016 Stephen S. Gibney, don’t plagiarize-give us the credit and God the glory. 

THE SECRET LIFE OF REVEREND MITTY

“Here comes the dreamer!” (Gen. 37:19). mitty

I can relate in a way to the fictional character Walter Mitty. I was wondering what it would be like if he was cast as a pastor rather than a negative asset manager. He zones out many times thinking of adventures, and exploits. So do I. My imagination can run away with me. I just think about things. I used to be a full time Pastor and I loved doing it. I still dream about it and imagine preaching to different congregations all over the world, meeting Christians everywhere. Preaching for me is simply being in the mix where God is see him actively healing, delivering and saving people. 

I imagine some days I am Elijah, covered with hair. I can speak loud as God speaks through me.  I am confront an evil King Ahab and tell him it is not going to rain for years until he and the backslidden nation repent. I am a fugitive and the manhunt is on for this brazen prophet. I can see the ravens bring me meat as I lodge hidden by the last river in the land. I get to fight in prayer in the battle of the gods and see Yahweh bring lightning down out of a clear sky to vindicate his honor. Rain is coming. I fall to my knees and see a small cloud. Rain is coming. I am praying and the heavy droplets touch my skin. rain has COME and I feel my body filled with strength as I outrun Ahab’s chariot all the way to his palace.

Word of God to Pastor Steve. Word of God to Pastor Steve. Take your call seriously and put your armor on! Word of God to Pastor Steve. Preaching scripture, praying hard, step up to the Pulpit and may God’s love be with you.

Some days, I see myself as David prophesying to the enemies of God, standing toe to toe with the widowmaker Goliath. I sense the presence of God fills my body. I see my arm catapult a large stone and feel it leaving the sling and watch it hit the forehead of the giant. I can hear the gasps of the stalemate armies and the whole valley is silent with awe as the giant falls to the ground with a thud and without a thought I run over to him and pick up his huge sword and feel the heavy weight as I lift it and shear off his blaspheming head. Then I lift up that head by it hair, hold it up and shout in this gruesome victory and the army of Israel and shouts with me starts running after the Philistines.

Word of God to Pastor Steve. Word of God to Pastor Steve. Take your call seriously and put your armor on! Word of God to Pastor Steve. Preaching scripture, praying hard, step up to the Pulpit and may God’s love be with you.

Sometimes, I imagine I am Ezekiel transported to a valley of dry bones. It a desert graveyard with no graves. It is quiet, thirsty and barren. God talks to me, he asks me if these bones can come back to life. He tells me to speak to the bones with His Words and I can hear the bones begin to rattle and come together like metal to magnets and thunder as they form skeletons. I can see their hearts, lungs, and vital organs grow inside them and then sewn together with veins and arteries; sinew and muscle and then their ears and noses grow and eyes form in their sockets and hair on their heads. God tells me to talk to the wind and tell it to come from every direction and fill these slain soldiers with air. I speak God words again and I can hear them all at once breathe in, it sounds like one loud breath. They all stand up, dressed with armor and weapons.

Word of God to Pastor Steve. Word of God to Pastor Steve. Take your call seriously and put your armor on! Word of God to Pastor Steve. Preaching scripture, praying hard, step up to the Pulpit and may God’s love be with you.

I have looked all over the Christian world, doctrines, churches and denomination. I discover have the Quintessence of life in my Bible. It is Christ. An undeveloped picture of my life becoming developed into his image. The making of a brave Christian man. 

© 2016 Stephen S. Gibney all rights reserved.

THE 1 John 1:9 CONTROVERSY 5: STAYING ON THE SAME PAGE

same-page.png“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you.” John has a message from Jesus and he does not want his readers to miss what he is saying. In fact, he uses excessively longer phrases and more words to emphasize the meaning of his teaching when he could have simply used shorter phrases and fewer words. For example, he could have simply said, “God is light.” or he could have said, “There is no darkness in God.” It is as though John is saying, “This is what I mean and this is what I don’t mean.” He wants all Christians who read this to be on the same page. 

What is this message? God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” 

John teaches that God is light. He uses the term “the light” (v.7) later but that has another meaning. In this verse it refers to God’s nature and essence as light. This is not physical light, but spiritual light that spreads everywhere and invades everything. His essence is truth, purity, holiness. In him there is no darkness at all. John emphasizes that there is not one bit of darkness in God. James says “There is never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency.” in God. (James 1:17 Phillips). God is untouched by the darkness of sin and He is “absolutely perfect…there is nothing in him …which would dim or mar the pure splendor of his character.” (Barnes). 

With this is mind, the Apostle takes another sharp turn in his teaching and He puts truth and lies; light and darkness; obedience and sin; deception and honesty; reality and fantasy; saying and walking side by side. John says that the talk and action of some of the people does not match up to God’s standard of fellowship, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not do the truth.”  (v.6). These are very strong words. He calls these people liars and says they are not practicing Christians. People have no fellowship with God if they practice sin. They are living a lie. Truth is not just sterile doctrinal beliefs that you can distance yourself from. Truth is all about how you behave and act. God is in his nature is light and not in any way dark and what he says is light and not in any way dark. So in this passage the word truth means acting lawfully and walking in darkness is living in deception and disobedient behavior.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”   Walking in the light of God means that we are drawing closer to God.We act and live in that light. His word and truth are like light that exposes our errors and deception has nowhere to hide. We welcome that because he cleanses us and purifies us continually from all sins. Now John again wants to make sure we are staying on the same page by showing our fellowship with God and one another is by these two things: walking the light of God and his cleansing holiness by the blood of Jesus.

Then John takes another turn and says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (v. 8)  The Bible teaches here that people who deny indwelling sin and do not admit their wrongdoing have gone so far off course they are believing their own lies. They claim to know the truth but they are deceived. Saying one can reach a place where they never sin after they are saved is a terrible error. Saying that we can live without confessing our sins or be disobedient is also a soul damning teaching. John say these type of people have deluded themselves to the point their hearts are evacuated of truth.

The Apostle turns again in this winding passage, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (v.9). We MUST freely admit we have sinned,  God says we MUST consent to this truth. Notice HE is faithful and just it says. As the Amplifies comments, “he is true to His own nature and promises.” The ISV says that “he might forgive us and might cleanse us of our sins.” As we must pray to receive an answer to prayer we must confess our sins to be forgiven. Christ forgave us on the cross, but we still must ask his forgiveness as proof that the truth is in us and that he is loyal and consistent in all his ways.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (v.10). The dangers of misrepresenting Christ and his teaching should always be on our mind. He says if we do not say what he says about sin we are saying God is falsifying his Word and misrepresenting Himself. In effect, we call God a liar. Unthinkable! This failure also shows exposes that the Word is not in us if we say such things. It used the word “truth” in verse six but here it says “word.” This is a person who insists they know “the Word” and refuse to own up to their sin nature and their acts of sin. We are actually destitute of God’s life-giving Word if we refuse to, humbly welcome the word of truth that will blossom like the seed of salvation planted in your souls.” (James 1:20Voice).

“John condemns the man who claims that he is so far advanced in knowledge and in the spiritual life that sin for him has ceased to matter; he condemns the man who evades the responsibility for his sin or who holds that sin has no effect upon him; he condemns the man who has never even realized that he is a sinner. The essence of the Christian life is first to realize our sin; and then to go to God for that forgiveness which can wipe out the past and for that cleansing which can make the future new.” (Barclay).

© 2016 Stephen S. Gibney, if you quote it, gives us some credit and God the glory.

THE FIRST JOHN 1:9 CONTROVERSY 4: READING THE MAIL THE RIGHT WAY

1_john_title.jpgIn 1 John 1:9 who confesses their sin? Who is God faithful and just to forgive their sin?  Who is the “we” and “us” in 1 John 1: 9? This may seem a unusual question to ask but if a letter, email or text was sent to you from someone else and you read it thinking it was for you, when it was not, it could change everything. If you thought it was from one person and it was from another, that also would make a huge difference. That is why we should distinguish the author from the recipient. The Apostle John is the writer who represents Christ, his fellow apostles and the church that Jesus started. He is an original follower of Jesus, and his very close friend (John 13:22-24).  

He begins the first five verses of chapter one with the pronouns “we” and “us.” John the Apostle refers exclusively to the testimony of the life of Christ that he and the other Apostles had witnessed (v. 1-3). He speaks of Jesus Christ whom they have seen, heard and touched (v. 1-2). They were the people who knew Christ more personally than any of us because they saw him physically. They saw everything that Jesus did and heard everything that he said and he gave them the power of the Spirit so they could give perfect evidence to defend his claims (John 14:28; 15:26-27; 16:13-15).

John was one of those Apostles who was directly commissioned by Christ to carry the gospel message to the entire world (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15). The Apostles were made responsible by Christ to communicate their testimony about Him to the Christians of their day and now we read their writings.  Thus, the biblical Christ is the only real Christ. The purpose for his writings according to John was so that people in his day and in ours may have the joyful fellowship which they had with Christ and his Father (v. 3-4). Got it? We were those people that believed in Christ through their word (John 17:20) which are found in the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  

That is how we identify who Apostle John is talking to, those to whom the letter is addressed. It identifies the pronoun “you” as the people to whom the Apostle declared the true God. The word “you” has a double reference to those who are outsiders and need to come inside the circle of fellowship and the insiders of that circle of Christian fellowship who need to have their memories refreshed about the truth found in Christ (see 1 Cor 5:12). Clearly this shows that without the Bible, without the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New Testament you cannot know Christ who is the center and circumference of them all (Eph. 2:20). 

Now in verses five through ten we see the details of their message about God.  These are truths all Christians believe.  In these verses the “we” and “us” become a reference to the teachers and their students. It refers to “all of us.” So the whole circle of fellowship of insiders is made clear. While the application of truth regards insiders and outsiders the Apostles are addressing those who are already inside the circle of Christian fellowship.

Another case for the fact that John expected people who were already Christians to confess their sins to God.

See the next article in this series.

©2016 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

GOD’S UNSPEAKABLE GIFT 

“Thanks be unto God for his *unspeakable gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15).

People can only give when they see God as generous. If a preacher proclaims God as stingy with his time, mercy and grace people’s giving of themselves will dry up as well.

*Unspeakable (anekdiēgētō) is only used here in the whole New Testament and it means that the gift of Christ is incapable of being adequately expressed, unutterable and ineffable. Christ is the Gift who is so celestial and sacred he is beyond words. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

It is higher than the mind can conceive; higher than language can express…Man had no claim on God. He could not compel him to provide a plan of salvation; and the whole arrangement – the selection of the Savior, the sending him into the world, and all the benefits resulting from his work, are all an undeserved gift to man. (Barnes).

“Our thankfulness should be shown by highly prizing and valuing this gift; by laying the whole stress of our salvation on Christ…” (Gill)

Here is a short synopsis by Alexander MacLaren

There is one blazing sun which shines out in the midst all the galaxies which fill the heavens. There is one gift of God which is beyond all others and only deserves the designation of “unspeakable.” The gift of Christ attracts all other divine gifts after it. “How should He not with Him also freely give us all things.” The expression here “unspeakable” is what I wish chiefly to fix upon now. It means literally that which cannot be fully declared. Language fails because thought fails.

Unspeakable Love 

The love is the cause of the gift and the gift is the expression of the love. John’s Gospel says that the Son which is in the bosom of the Father has declared Him. Paul here uses a related word for “unspeakable” which might be rendered, “that which cannot be fully declared.”  The declaration of the Father is that He declared the undeclarable…language fails when it is applied to the expression of human emotion…with lowly condescension He uses all sweet images drawn from earthly relationships, to help us in understanding His love—the love of father, mother, husband, wife, brother, friend, and after…<yet> all are exhausted…

Unspeakable Sacrifice 

When Paul in the Epistle to the Romans says, “He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all” he is…quoting, the divine words to Abraham, “Seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me” <This> permits us to parallel what God did when He sent His Son with what Abraham did when, with wrung heart…he bound and laid Isaac on the altar and stretched forth his hand with the knife in it to slay him. Such a representation contradicts the vulgar conceptions of a passionless, self-sufficing, icy deity… All through His life Christ was in contact with evil, and for Him the contact was like that of a naked hand pressed upon hot iron. The sins and woes of the world made His path through it like that of bare feet on sharp rocks. If He had never died it would still have been true that, “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” On the Cross, He completed pouring out his love which had continued pouring throughout His life and “poured out His soul unto death” as He had been pouring it out all through His life. We have no measure by which we can estimate the inevitable sufferings in such a world as ours of such a spirit as Christ’s…Should it not call forth from us floods of praise and thanks to God for His unspeakable gift?

Unspeakable Results 

In Christ are hid, “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” When God gave us Him, He gave us a storehouse in which is contained treasures of truth which can never be fully comprehended, and which, even if comprehended, can never be exhausted. The mystery of the Divine Name revealed in Jesus, the mystery of His person, are themes on which the Christian world has been nourished ever since, and which are as full of food, not for the understanding only, but far more for the heart and the will, to-day as ever they were. The world may think that it has left the teaching of Jesus behind, but in reality the teaching is far ahead…and the Gospel is the guide of the race, and each generation gathers something more from it…each of Christ’s scholars finds about gift, and in the measure of his faithfulness to what he has found makes ever new discoveries in the unsearchable riches of Christ. After all have fed full there still remain abundant baskets full to be taken up.

Conclusion 

No single soul, and no multitude of souls, can exhaust Jesus; neither our individual experiences, nor the experiences of a believing world can fully realize the endless wealth laid up in Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega of all our speech, the first letter and the last of our alphabet, between which lie all the rest. Who has ever spoken adequately and in full correspondence with reality what it is to have God’s pardoning love flowing in upon the soul? Many singers have sung sweet psalms and hymns and spiritual songs on which generations of devout souls have fed, but none of them has spoken the deepest blessedness of a Christian life, or the calm raptures of communion with God. For us the only recompense that we can make for the unspeakable gift is to receive it with “thanks unto God” and the yielding up of our hearts to Him. God pours this love upon us freely…it is unspeakable in the depths of its source, in the manner of its manifestation, in the glory of its issues. It is like some great stream, rising in the trackless mountains, broad and deep, and leading on to a sunlit ocean…

 

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