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We have come to the end of our statement of faith, and I thought I would share it with you here. There is a lot of scripture here, and I probably could break it into bite-size pieces and use if for all of next week. But I am just going to give it to you here and now. For those of you who love to read – here you go. For those of you who like it short and sweet – there will be other posts on other days. [smile] Here is the last element in my home church’s statement of faith.

We believe in the bodily resurrection of the believers and the unbelievers, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting punishment of the lost.  John 5:28-29; Revelation 20: 10-15

I like to break things down into bite size pieces, using questions and answers help me process. So here are my five questions:

Is everyone resurrected?
What kind of body does man get in the resurrection?
How is our eternal destiny determined?
What is ‘everlasting blessedness?’
What is 'everlasting punishment?'

Here goes:

Is everyone resurrected?

Let’s start with a simple question. Is the resurrection limited to only those in a covenant relationship with Jesus, or will all men live eternally?

John 5:28-29 NASB - "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 NASB - But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. ... But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,

It appears from most of the scripture we are going to look at today, that one of the first things that will happen after the resurrection of the dead is a time of judgment, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time talking about that today, but first a few details about your new body.

What kind of body does man get in the resurrection?

When Christ rose from the dead, he had a body of flesh and bone, but there were a few things that we can observe about His body that give us clues to the nature of resurrected flesh. He could be touched and held

John 20:17 NASB - Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"

John 20:27 NASB - Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."

Though the text does not say that He ate with them, He made breakfast on the beach. There is much talk of a wedding feast in heaven, so I am hoping we will be able to eat in our resurrected body.

John 21:13-14 NASB - Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.

Though much will be similar, much will be different. Jesus shows up in locked rooms.

John 20:26 NASB -  And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.

The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is about resurrection from start to finish. First Paul talks about the resurrection of Jesus, then about what our resurrection will look like. Let’s take a look at that second part.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58  - NASB - But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O  DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

How is our eternal destiny determined?

There is much said about the judgment we will face on the last day. Some speak of the following as two different judgments – one for believers and one for unbelievers. I am not sure that is a required understanding. Paul speaks of a day when believers will be judged, at what is often called the ‘bema seat.’ The Greek word ‘bema’ simply means judgment seat or tribunal. Because the passage from Revelation below speaks of a great white throne, some make this out to be two different judgments, but I don’t see the necessity. I see in the Revelation account all men standing before the Lord.

Revelation 20:10-15 NASB - And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

It could certainly be true that these following accounts of the judgment of believers are after they are sent from the above judgment. Either way, it is important to understand that all men will be judged, and what we do in this life matters for eternity.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11 NASB - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NASB - Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

What is ‘everlasting blessedness?’

There is not a huge amount in the Bible about what comes after this life. You hear all kinds of theories and ideas. At funerals people say things in order to comfort the grieving that have no real basis in biblical teaching.

Here are some things that are not true about life after death.

People become angels.
We will be doing nothing but going to church.
We will have wings and play harps (ok – I guess that is the same as the angel one)
We will spend the first 100 years sleeping then …
I am going to ask God about …

Here is a smattering of what the Bible teaches about life after the first death.

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NASB - Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

This tells me we will not be sitting on clouds strumming harps.

Revelation 21:1-4 NASB - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

John 14:2-4 NASB - "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. "And you know the way where I am going."

Ephesians 2:4-7 NASB - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

What is everlasting punishment?

The fact is that Jesus referred to hell more than he did to heaven. Jesus spoke much about the kingdom of heaven, but the kingdom of heaven is not our future, but our present. We are now part of the kingdom of God, if we worship Jesus as Lord. Hell is a concept that might be hard to grasp in this day of tolerance, but Jesus spoke about it, not as an idle threat, but as a real fact. Some of His descriptions are fairly vivid.

Matthew 18:8 NASB - "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.

Matthew 25:41, 46 NASB - "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; ... "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

It is significant to note that this word eternal is the same Greek word in both places, and is the same word as you find in John 3:16 for eternal or everlasting life.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB - These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

2 Peter 2:4 NASB - For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

Revelation 19:20 NASB - And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

Revelation 20:10, 14-15 NASB - And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ... Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:5-8 NASB - And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

This is a pretty sobering topic. As we look at the fact that we will follow Christ in the resurrection we also find that every man woman and child who walks this earth will one day stand before God. This is actually one of the most important things we can teach our children as they grow up. We need to teach them that they will one day give an account of their life. Not that we should teach them to live in fear.

There is no fear in love. What I mean by that, is as we walk in covenant with the Lord Jesus, and as we live our lives guided by His precepts and teachings, we have a confidence that comes from relationship. A healthy marriage is not based on suspicion and fear. I know that I know that I know that my wife loves me. I don’t suspect her of undermining me at every turn. I know she is on my side, and wants my best, and she knows the same about me. As we live in relationship with Christ, we know that He want our best, that He is on our side, and that He is not inspecting our every move, looking for a chance to inflict us with some disease or calamity. If you life in communion with Christ, you can face judgment knowing that He is the one who stands beside you as your lawyer, your advocate before the Father.

1 John 2:1 NASB - My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

And finally we know this:

Jude 24-25 NASB - Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jesus has the ability to present us to the Father without fault. There is no more comforting thing in the Bible than this when we study the judgment of the world. I pray this helps establish you in the word, and gives you at least some basic understanding of what is to come. I believe God intends for us to live in the present, but gives us these glimpses, not so we can spend our lives in speculation, but that we would not be hopeless like those who do not know Him.

Ben Nelson

 

Blessing as you follow Him.

Ben

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Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

The last thing I want to bring out here is the imperative that first shows up in John 13, right after Jesus washed the disciples feet. He tells them:

John 13:34 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

This phrase ‘one another’ as applied to the church shows up 39 times in 36 verses in the New Testament. I have included the full listing here. Twice in the last week, I have sat with a group of believers and read these aloud. I would recommend that you do the same. You can do it alone, but I think it is striking as you hear others read them as well.

Clearly the 25 times that love in mentioned in these verses is inescapable, but you will be surprised by what other “one anothers” you see repeated.

Don’t miss this wealth of godly treasure.

John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

James 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

1 Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

2 John 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

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OK, how could we possibly obey even a portion of these 39 instructions if we are not sharing our lives with others?

I am not talking about going to Church on Sunday either. I am talking about living in community. Getting together with others. Sharing life, hopes, dreams, fears, successes and failures.

Each of us in Christ need to be in relationship with others who are walking out their faith. Sometimes pulling them along, and sometimes being dragged forward ourselves. No Christian has arrived at the place where he or she no longer needs the body. Christian life does not work the way it is supposed to when we walk alone.

Believe me, I have messed this up more than once in my life. Many of you reading this can probably point out specific times you have seem me do it. I have allowed rigid doctrines or personal preferences or even hurts or slights to separate me from people God was using to speak into my life.

Which one or ones jumped off the page for you today?

Ben NelsonWalk in love today!

Ben

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Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

I am so glad you asked! For your three "WHY"s I will give you three outstanding purposes the Church serves, both in the life of the believer and in the plans of God. Here they are in no particular order.

Equipping the Saints

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:11-16

Here we have a description of the gifts of Christ. This “He” points specifically to Jesus rather than to the Holy Spirit, which is interesting in itself. The Spiritual gifts as detailed in other passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Romans 12:6-8 manifest in activities that the Spirit empowered Christian might “do,” whereas these gifts in Ephesians 4 speak more of a positional gifting.

I take the time to mention this, because the evangelist mentioned above certainly does evangelism, but moreover, his roll in the body of Christ is to equip others to do the work of evangelism. The Pastor not only shepherds the flock, but trains others and gives them the tools they need to walk out the life of a sheep.

God assembles local bodies and gives gifts to these bodies for our equipping.

Check out the language here –
equipping the saints for the work of service
attain to the unity of the faith
attain to … knowledge of the Son of God
attain to … a mature man
grow up in all aspects into Him
growth of the body
building itself in love

This is one of the main reasons we join together with other believers. These people are in part a fulfillment of His precious and magnificent promises which help us to become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that our lusts bring to the table.

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

House of Prayer

When Jesus dumped the tables of the moneychangers in the temple, and drove out those who were buying and selling, he said:

And He began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN." Mark 11:17 NASB

When He spoke of the physical temple, it was a type of the true temple of God – His people. This is another function of the body of Christ. We are to pray for one another, and pray for those not yet in Christ, the world, and the coming of the kingdom on Earth as in Heaven.

Mission

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 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." - Matthew 28:18-20

This passage is often called the Great Commission. We have looked at what the Church does within its own doors, but the great work of the Church is the mission Christ gave us. When the scripture says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” the ‘Go’ here is better understood ‘as you go’ or ‘as you carry on with your activities.’ The real command in the commission is ‘make disciples.’

Sometimes we Christians get our rolls reversed. Jesus told us that He would ‘build the Church.’ His instruction to us is to ‘make disciples.’ Notice He does not tell us to make converts. Rather we are to make disciples. A disciple is a learner under discipline, a student, a follower. Paul said imitate me as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

In summary, the purpose of this One True Church comes down to this, that all men might know Him and be conformed to His image. [Tweet This]

We equip those in Christ to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers (whom we have equipped)
We go into the harvest and make followers
We equip those followers to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest...

Well – you get the idea.

Thanks so much for coming.

Ben NelsonI hope these studies on the Church are an encouragement to you.

See you again soon.

Ben

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Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

Ordinances of the Church

An ordinance of the Church would be some practice that Jesus himself told His followers to continue. Here are Jesus’ instructions:

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." - Luke 22:19

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 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." - Matthew 28:18-20

And we see that in the book of Acts the early Church followed this pattern:

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. - Acts 2:41-42

There is another institution which Christ demonstrated to the disciples, and told them to carry forward, but the church as a rule does not practice this with the same regularity, though it is a beautiful picture of what it means to be in Christ.

You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. - John 13:13-15

Both baptism and communion are clear pictures of Christ’s death.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:3-4

Communion demonstrates our partaking in His body and blood, becoming one with Him, as he prayed in John 17.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. - John 17:20-21

Foot washing demonstrates that as Christ laid down His life for us, we are to lay down our lives, our rights and privilege for the body of Christ.

Ben NelsonThanks again for stopping in.

Walk in light today!

Ben

Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

Body

There are a number of metaphors for the Church in the Bible. One of Paul’s favorites was the Body of Christ.

He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. - Colossians 1:18

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  -  Ephesians 1:22-23

The thing that is so beautiful about this metaphor is that it explains how Christians can be so different from one another. We can be as different as an eyeball and an elbow. God has created us each with talents, and given gifts to each of us, and put us under the leadership (headship) of Christ, with the intention that we would be ‘Christ’ to this world. Jesus was in one place at one time. He probably never traveled more than a couple hundred miles in His earthly life, but now His body, doing His business is all over the globe.

We always look at this next verse as being about the individual believer, but notice that the pronouns here are all we. I understand that we can mean each of us individuals, but by the same token, as each of us are designed specifically for a purpose, so as we are fitted together, we as the body are able to walk in the works that were prepared beforehand for us to do.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 NASB

As the Body of Christ we are the physical, tangible presence of God in people’s lives. You may be the only Christ your coworker ever sees. [Tweet this] They may never darken the door of a church, but they sit with you at lunch every day.

You are a part of the whole, and your part is critical for the Body to function. To reverse that thought, without you, the body is dysfunctional. A body with an eye that is not looking is dysfunctional. A body with a kidney that has stopped filtering its blood is dysfunctional. What are you called and gifted for?

Temple

Another metaphor for the Church, which can also refer to an individual Christian, is the temple.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.- Ephesians 2:19-22

I love this picture of the Father fitting us together. I read a novel once, which included a detailed explanation of how the old master craftsmen used to build rock walls and buildings without mortar. They would survey an array of stones, and carefully select just the right pieces, fitting them together, so that as a unit they would support one another. Each stone depends on the other stones it touches to give it support. Standing alone, the stone is not much to look at, and really provides little in the way of function. But assembled they are beautiful and functional.

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 2:4-5 NASB

We are the temple of the living God.

Lord help me be what you have created me, designed me, and gifted me to be today. Fit me into my place.

Ben Nelson

Thanks for stopping in – tomorrow we will look take a peek at the ordinances of the Church.

Shine today!

Ben

 

 

2

Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

Today I want to begin talking about the True Church. Here is a line from my Church's statement of faith:

We believe that the true Church is the Body of Jesus Christ and consists of all believers in Him. Colossians 1:18; I Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:22-23

What is the Church?

Dictionary.com has 17 entries for the word church, 17 various uses for this simple word, so let’s be clear about what the Bible means when it speaks of the Church.

When Christ says: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”  (Matthew 16:18 NASB) what ‘church’ is He talking about?

This word church in the New Testament, or in the Greek ekklēsia, has as its core meaning “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.”[i] So the word is not referring to a structure or building, but rather the people the Father has called out, chosen, who have responded to His call in faith. Church refers to all those who have called upon the name of the Lord, those who are in relationship with Him.

This is apparent when you hear His amazing prayer in John 17.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. - John 17:20-21 NASB

You see, Jesus’ request to the Father, just hours before His crucifixion, is that those who believe in Him through the Word passed on by His followers would be one – as ‘one’ as Jesus and the Father are ‘one’ – and that this ‘oneness’ would be a proof to the world that Jesus was sent from the Father.

For me this defines church.

There is only one Church. It’s not the Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Seventh day, Mennonite, Plymouth, Baptist, Lutheran, AOG, Pentecostal, Bible or Non-denominational. The one true Church is the born again, blood bought, Spirit indwelt believers in Jesus Christ. [Tweet this]

There are a number of metaphors that the New Testament uses to explain the Church. Tomorrow we will look at the Church as the Body of Christ

Ben NelsonDon’t miss it.

See you then,

Ben


[i] "Greek Lexicon :: G1577 (NASB)." Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 11 Mar, 2014. .

4

In our Foundations class we were talking about the resurrection of Jesus and the some of the important things that transpired at that time.

It is important to understand that Jesus’ resurrection was a physical fact. His resurrection was not a just a spiritual reality. He rose from the grave as flesh and bone. He was not a ghost or ‘spirit-only’ being after His death, but actually conquered physical death.

The resurrection is documented in all four gospels, (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20 and 21.) We are going to look at some interesting ideas that stem from the account in John’s gospel.

First let’s notice this interchange with Mary.

Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" - John 20:17 NASB

As we have said often, the price for our sin was the pure blood of Jesus. This blood was shed on the cross, but coming out of the tomb, Jesus says to Mary, I have not yet ascended. To understand what was going on here, let’s look to Ephesians 4.

Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) - Ephesians 4:8-10 NASB

This passage is a description in somewhat cryptic language of what Jesus did during those three days in the grave.

Jesus teaches that the righteous dead, before His sacrifice on the cross, would live in a place referred to as Abraham’s bosom, or paradise. He tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. We will not read that here, but you can take a look at your leisure.

In the period of time when Jesus is in the tomb, we understand from this scripture that he descends to this place- this ‘Abraham’s bosom’ and leads those waiting there to heaven, where He would present His blood, the atonement for their sin, and there they would be with the Lord.

So while Jesus’ body is in the tomb, He is in Abraham’s bosom preaching deliverance to the captives. Upon His resurrection – I believe (and for the record, this is by no means doctrine I would ever break fellowship for. I would ask you to read here with grace) Jesus was headed directly to the Fathers throne to present His blood, and to lead the faithful dead to heaven.

This is what was going on in these odd verses in Matthew 27.

The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. - Matthew 27:52-53 NASB

It is as if Jesus was heading to heaven with all these men and women of God, and Mary caught Him. This gives us a glimpse of His priority for relationship. He was willing to delay this whole procession, and leave the faithful dead wandering around Jerusalem while He paused to comfort Mary. Finally Jesus says to her – Don’t cling to me, I must go to the Father. She lets Him go and the procession proceeds.

So what happens when He goes to heaven to present His blood?

I believe we get a glimpse of that in Revelation Chapter 5. John looked in on a massive ceremony of some sort.

And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. - Revelation 5:6 NASB

In verse 6 we see that He was a lamb having been slain – one translations reads ‘bearing the fresh marks of slaughter’ which makes me wonder if this is not the very moment when Jesus presents His blood to the Father. Whether this was before He went to Galilee, or after His ascension I can’t say for sure. But I do believe this is what we are seeing here.

That’s enough to digest for one day.

If this is too far out there for you to follow – don’t fret – just skip it and come back next time. This is just one of those ideas that swims around in my head from time to time.

Ben NelsonBless you today as you follow the RISEN LORD Jesus!

Come again soon.

Ben

20

question-mark

Ok – so I know that I am stepping into controversial territory here. As you can see from my home church’s statement of faith, those who formed this church and wrote this document clearly are in the 'once saved always saved' camp.

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

It would be fair to say there are good solid passionate Christians on both sides of this issue.

I could (and have) argued this from scripture on both sides of this issue.

There are scriptures that sound a lot like you could walk away from faith, like this:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. - Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB

Right on the other hand there are passages like this from Romans 8 that make it seem incomprehensible that anything could ever break a relationship forged by God Himself.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39 NASB

I have known people who have been “Christians” for decades and later renounced Christ. So did they know Christ, or were they faking, or deceived into thinking they were something they were not.

Were they play acting all along, and finally just decided it was not worth playing games.

Here’s the thing. I think the problem is not with the Gospel, and the ability of God to hold onto Christians.

I think the problem is with our gospel and the fact that we are substituting lists of things to think (creeds) for relationship. We are convincing people of facts about Jesus, and they get passionate about this information, but eventually when someone comes along with better information, or a better argument, or more charisma, they finally give up and drop the argument.

Isn't that in effect what happened with Israel time and time again? At the outset God wanted a relationship with people, but the people He chose sent Moses, and said - you talk to God for us, and tell us what He wants us to do. That is the pagan approach to a deity. What He, God, wanted them to do is talk to Him and walk with Him. Over and over in Jeremiah and Ezekiel particularly God says, 'then they will be my people and I will be their God.' (Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 11:20; 14:11; 37:23; 37:27)

I am not persuaded that someone who has genuinely received a new heart from the Lord, one who has gotten a heart of flesh, with the law of love written deep within could ever renounce that. I don't see how anyone into whom the Lord God almighty has breathed the breath of life, could turn their back.

We are not good at making disciples (learners under discipline) but we do OK with making converts.

Converts can be converted, disciples are ruined for life. [Tweet This]

I understand that the Bible is ambiguous in this area, and I am ok with that – in fact – I might be a tad ambiguous here too, just to keep it fair.

My plan for life and my advise to you:
Keep your relationship with the Lord real and current. Stay in His word, and obey what He tells you. Listen for His voice, and keep His Word.

Jesus only did what he saw the Father do, and only said what He heard the Father say, and that obedience served Him well. The disciple is not above His master, so you and I need to walk like Jesus.

The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. - 1 John 2:4-6 NASB

There is grave danger in the "Once saved, always saved" attitude as I learned when I went to share the gospel with a young man who I knew to be a womanizer at the time. He was living a loose life and boldly so. When I asked him about his faith, he told me he was a Christian. He had asked Jesus into his heart as a young boy, and was counting on that "prayer" to get him into heaven.

I told him the story of Nineveh, the city that repented and was 'saved' in the book of Jonah, only to be condemned in the book of Nahum without even the briefest opportunity for repentance. They had repented of their repentance. In Jonah, they repented out of fear, but they never believed, put their faith and trust in the God of Israel.

The only secure place is in the vine. If you will abide in the vine, in Jesus, and let Him abide in you, you will do well and your salvation is secure.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Abiding in the vine,

Ben

6

three_crosses_on_kreuzberg_mountain_bavaria_germany

We are looking at this entry in my church home’s statement of faith.

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

There are 5 words in this faith statement, which are more important than any of the definitions and questions we have been studying. They are:

“Lord Jesus Christ as Savior”

The most important thing to understand about salvation is the WHO of it.

It’s fine to understand all these doctrines and ideas, but Jesus actually answers all my questions.

Jesus – His name means Salvation.
Jesus – He is the Grace – the gift of God.
Jesus – He is the author and object of our faith.
We may be saved from sin, but we are saved to Jesus.
It is Jesus who promised never to leave me or forsake me.

Our Savior is given the title, Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s break that down.

First and foremost we must recognize Jesus as Lord. It is no mistake that Jesus is called Lord and Savior, not Savior and Lord. The church over the centuries has often turned this around to it own detriment.

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:18 NASB

Skye Jethani, [who is among other things the Executive Editor of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal and one of the co-hosts of a great podcast, The Phil Vischer Podcast] says the gospel in its simplest form is ‘Jesus is Lord.’

As I have said many times before, there are many forms and stages our relationship with Jesus progresses through, but we must first come to Jesus as servants. When we are called to Him, we must respond with a resounding ‘YES LORD’ in our hearts.

In fact, that might just be the best practical definition of faith. Faith is a life that said ‘yes Lord' to Jesus. [Tweet This]

Kim Josephson, who led me to faith, often proclaims, “You must make Jesus, your Master, your Lord, your King, your Boss.”

Next we see His name, Jesus, means Salvation.

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. - Matthew 1:21 NASB

God has exalted Jesus to the highest place, and set His name, Jesus, above every name that is named.

… God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11 NASB

which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, - Ephesians 1:20-22 NASB

Finally, He bears the title Christ. (No, Christ was not Mary and Joseph’s last name.) Christ means anointed one. It would be the Greek word used to refer to the Jew’s Messiah. When the woman at the well saw that Jesus was looking directly into her heart she ran through the city calling:

Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? - John 4:29 NKJV

So you see, when we say Lord Jesus Christ, we have said a mouthful.

Jesus is Lord – is He yours?
Jesus is Savior – is He yours?
Jesus is Christ – is He yours?

Will you bow your knee to this King of King and Lord of Lords?

It is the only path to Salvation – sozo.

He is the Grace of God.

A life long YES to Him is the only saving faith.

Ben NelsonThanks much for stopping in today.

See you again tomorrow.

Ben

If you missed the beginning of this series you can catch up here:

Salvation

From what do we need saving?

Grace and Faith

8

[No, I'm not talking about the two lovely ladies in my home Church, Grace M. and Faith G.]

We have been looking at this entry from my church home’s statement of faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

We have been working through some questions to investigate this statement. You can look back at where we have been thus far here and here. The meat of this statement can be separated into three main topics.

1)    Salvation is a free gift, not earned or deserved.
2)    Salvation comes through faith.
3)    Salvation is secure.

Check this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

This well-known verse states that I can’t save myself. Clearly, I need a Savior.

Today, let’s take some time here and define terms.

Grace

The simplest definition I know for grace is Jesus. Perhaps you have heard the acrostic definition: G.R.A.C.E - God's riches at Christ's expense.

Grace is God’s favor expressed toward one who doesn't deserve it. To be clear here, when I say God’s favor, I am talking about that sozo we detailed on Monday. It is the abundant life Jesus promised. The grace of God is a life, saved, healed, delivered, and free, culminating in an eternity in the arms of the one who created you and loves your soul. We may or may not experience all of it here and now, but I keep pressing into that full life.

Lest I get in trouble here – there is another side of a life filled with grace. The above description is a description of the inner life of grace. From the outside, it might just look like all hell broke loose and was aimed directly at you. Paul describes his grace filled life a couple of times, and if I didn’t know what was on his insides, I would pass on abundant life, thank you very much.

It is in fact grace that gave him the ability to face that which God put before him, and grace that supplied him with the ‘equipment’ he needed to face it.

And when there is failing, or falling, or missing the mark in life, it is grace on all sides keeping us secure.

I can’t earn grace by good works.
I can’t buy grace through sacrifice.
I can’t win grace through perseverance.
I can only access grace by faith.

What is faith and how do I ‘get me some?’

Faith

To investigate faith, let’s first head to the Bible:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ... And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. - Hebrews 11:1, 6 NASB

The above two verses come from Hebrews 11. [I might need to expand my top 10 list because this one is on it for sure.] Hebrews 11 marches right through the History of faith, reminding us of those who have gone before us, and how they responded to God’s call on their life.

From these verses I understand that faith is a knowing that God exists and is involved in the lives of men and women. He wants to be sought and rewards seekers. Remember Jesus simple instructions in the Sermon on the Mount? – Ask, Seek, Knock – [Matthew 7:7] That’s what faith looks like.

We can see faith in the calling of Matthew the tax collector in Luke 5:27-28. He was at work one day, and up walks Jesus and says, “Follow Me,” and Matthew just left it all there and followed.

Faith is demonstrated when there are:

A Call
Belief
Obedience

We can see it even more clearly depicted in Peter’s water-walking experience in Matthew 14:28-29.

At the outset Peter lacked faith. So Peter asks Jesus to call him. Jesus did – “Come!” Then Peter headed right out toward Jesus.

Peter asked for a call.
Jesus called Peter to come.
Peter believed he could.
Peter obeyed the call of Jesus.

Throughout  Hebrews 11, God’s great hall of faith, you see men and women who responded to the call of God on their life.

You may have noticed that I am combining belief and obedience to come up with faith. Many would tell you that believing the right ‘religious facts’ is all that God requires. That is, in fact, one of the most dangerous things about a course like ‘Foundations.’ Folks begin to think that because they believe the right facts about God, the right creed, they are in a good place.

In our class on the second birth we talked at length about fact that Jesus’ call was to confess, repent and believe. Am I now mixing in works – obedience – with these first three?

Works of righteousness do us no good. As a matter of fact, obedience to the law for the sake of achieving some sort of ‘worthiness’ can only end in death.

Believing alone, and by that I mean having the right ideas about religion, does us no good, and again can only end in death.

Faith, saving faith, must have the three elements we see above, a call, belief, and obedience.

Since “without faith it is impossible to please God” (from Hebrews 11:6) I want to take you to one more passage to demonstrate this pattern.

Romans 10, where last time we looked at TNT – (Romans 10:9-10) actually takes us through this same process of call, believe, obey. Check it out:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

... for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" - Romans 10:9, 13-15 NASB

You see – there must be preaching of the word, in order for people to hear the Savior call out to them – ‘Come and follow Me’ – so that they can believe and ‘Call upon the name of the Lord.’

Next we must understand that faith is not something we manufacture, it is a gift from God given to every man.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. - Romans 12:3 NASB

Faith is a gift from God, which is given in the hearing of His word spoken to man’s heart.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17 NASB

It’s interesting to me that the Greek word for ‘word’ is not ‘logos’ but ‘rhema’ – not written word but spoken word. We must hear the voice of Jesus calling across the water, like Peter did – ‘Come.’

Are you ready to get out of the boat? C’mon – let’s go for a walk!

Thanks for coming by today.

Ben NelsonPerhaps next time I will actually get to question three.

Until then, I remain,

Your brother Ben

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