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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Stand Firm in Heavenly Adoption

A Study in First John

Hope Ellen Rapson

“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist---he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this what he promised us---even eternal life.” (1 John 2: 22-24)

The Apostle John lived long enough to see “antichrists” coming into the church. By this time the other ten faithful disciples of Christ had been martyred for sharing the true nature and Gospel of Jesus. 

Today, these pastors, teachers, and leaders, discredit or totally deny the truth that Jesus was God in flesh providing through His death a sacrifice for the forgiveness of mankind, and through His resurrection opening up the gates of eternal life; they are called “apostates.” 

Apostates deceive their followers with lies that take the heart of Christianity - that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ - out of churches. As did the antichrists of John’s day, they use the trappings of religion to perpetuate their own ideas and ambitions. At the heart of their teachings and lifestyles is a denial that Jesus is “God in Flesh” and "Risen Lord".

A Doctor of Divinity once said, “It does not matter whether or not you believe in the resurrection of Jesus; Christianity is about kindness, nothing else.” 

That is an eviscerated Gospel. Jesus clearly stated, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, He that believes in me shall live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26). 

Jesus also said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).

He is the beloved Son of God who was given “that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”(John 2:16) 

The disciples died and suffered for their eyewitness proclamation: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1: 14)

Confessing Christians sometimes have doubts. They sometimes fail in obedience to Jesus Christ. We are frail beings. We falter in our Christian walk and witness. However, that does not mean we are apostates; an apostate never recognizes Jesus as God in the flesh and the Risen Lord.

The faltering Christian still knows in the depths of their being that they are “born again.” How? Because when a person is “born again,” the Holy Spirit takes up residence within that person and anoints them as an adopted son or daughter of God. (John 1:12-13) 

The Holy Spirit prompts them to repent, and convicts them of their need to walk with the living Lord. Regardless of their struggles, they can and be restored and trust Jesus Christ again as their Savior and Lord.

John admonishes believers: “As for you, this anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you, but as his anointing teaches you about all things, and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit---just as it has taught you, remain in Him. And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears, we may be confident and unashamed before Him at his coming.” (1 John 2: 27-28).

The second proof that one is born again is a firm belief that Jesus Christ is exactly who He said He is.

Related reading: The First Proof That One is Born Again

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Bible Blurb: Weary and Worn?

You say: "Lord, I'm so weary."

God says: "I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "I can't find a way forward."

God says: "I will direct your steps." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "It's not worth the effort."

God says: "It will be worth it." (Romans 8:28)

Related reading: But God!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Dimensions of Prayer


Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)

Prayer has many dimensions. Prayers are offered in corporate worship. Corporate worship joins the individual to the saints in heaven and to the Body of Christ on earth. The initial prayers prepare the people to "receive the King of all things, who comes escorted by unseen armies of angels" (The Cherubic Hymn).

Another dimension of prayer is what happens in private. Private prayers are often deeply personal. They come from the heart. Sometimes the heart is broken. God loves to comfort the broken heart. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

Prayer often involves asking for something we want or feel we need. If we are fortunate, God will give us what is best for us. We should make requests for ourselves in humility, as Jesus Himself submitted to the will of the Father when He asked to have the cup of sorrow removed, and then said, "Nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done" (Luke 22:42).

Philippians 4:6-7 states: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

We are to pray, supplicate and give thanks to God. This is a way of life for the Christian. We are told "in everything" to make our requests known to God.

Note also that we are admonished to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. A life of Christ-centered prayer protects us from dark thoughts. Grant, that being ever protected by Thy power, to Thee we may ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages."

Personal prayer and corporate prayer in worship are aspects of the Christian's life. We are not meant to be alone! We gather to hear the Gospel that feeds us. Some ancient liturgical prayers include these words: "May we be accounted worthy to hear thy holy Gospel." We gather to sing praises. We gather to receive Communion, another way in which God feeds us.

Some prayers are intercessions for others. We are urged to pray for others because others are aided by our prayers. "How great is the daring, O Lord, of that man who fears not to plead for an man, a mortal for a mortal, ashes for ashes, before thee, our Lord and Master!" (Gregorian Sacramentary)

We pray for others in private and in times of corporate worship. "Look thou thyself O Master, according to thy tenderness of heart, on us and on this holy house; and deal with us, and those who pray with us, in the riches of thy mercies and thy compassions" (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).

Finally, the Apostle Paul reminds us to give thanks. We are to thank God for the innumerable mercies He has shown us, especially for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ. We are to acknowledge with grateful hearts the ways God is working in our lives and in the lives of those for whom we pray.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

INDEX of Topics

Current as of 20 September 2020

Why Sincere Muslims Should Learn About Jesus
Looking for the True God?
A Latent Stumbling Block
Contending for the Faith (Latent Stumbling Block, Part II)
A Historic Battle (Latent Stumbling Block, Part III)
Satanic Strategies (Latent Stumbling Block, Part IV)
Defining Orthodoxy (Latent Stumbling Block, Part V)
The Spiritual Battle (Latent Stumbling Block, Part VI)
Principles Determining Interpretation (Latent Stumbling Block, Part VII)
The Creation of the Universe (Latent Stumbling block, Part VIII)
My Response to a Muslim Scholar
Another Response to Islam
Further Thoughts on Creation Issues
The Glory of Belonging
The Science-Faith Question
President Lincoln's Faith
A.W. Tozer on Pursuing God

Human Intelligence and Divine Judgement
Divine Authority as a Gift
A Special Meeting in Galilee

On Holy Baptism and Discipleship
Psalm 23: Identification through Baptism
Progressively Exchanging Life

Bible Blurb (Brief biblical insights.)
Are You Anxious?
Weary and Worn?
Probability and Reliability
The Bible's Author
Specific Details of Jesus' Last Week
Mini Bible
The Bible is a Library

Bible Study
Formed and Informed by the Bible
A Clarifying Search of the Scriptures
The Living Word Transforms Lives
The Gospel for Seekers
Two Powerful Words: "I Believe"
Melchizedek: A Type of Christ
The Incarnation of the Son of God
Conforming the Mind to Scripture
The New Testament: What Authority Without the Inspiration Doctrine?
Christ's Triumphal Resurrection: Victory over Death
The Second Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: Redemption!
The Third Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: A New People
The Fourth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: An Entirely New Self-concept
The Fifth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: God's Power for Living
The Sixth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: A New Glorified Body
The Seventh Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Eighth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Breath of God: Why Study Greek?
The Veracity of the Holy Bible
Meditation of Luke 22: Glory
Meditation on His Glory, Part II

Animal Pranks on the Ark
Adam's Bad Dream
How Will You Be Known?
Genesis is Spelled With a G
On the Lighter Side
Noah's Dog
Call it a day!

A Discipling Church Speaks Truth
Reflections on the Church #1
Reflections on the Church #2
Reflections on the Church #3
A True Conversion

Nature's Witness for God
God's Glory and Power Seen in Nature
Further Thoughts on Creationism
Creation of the Universe: Examining the Biblical Evidence

Preparing to Lead and Teach
Confirm His Calling
The Goal of Discipleship
Becoming a Fruitful Disciple
Passionate, Patient and Faithful
Commissioned Involves Giving Account
Thomas à Kempis on Discipleship
Discipleship Before Church Growth
Are You in the Fold?
Merton, Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard on Discipleship
Pastors Need to Disciple and Honor Vocations
The Importance of Teaching for Discipleship
The Importance of Follow-up in Making Disciples
What is the Context of Biblical Discipleship?
All Need to Repent
Forgiveness: Against Easy Believeism
Repentance Unto Life
All Need to Repent
Billy Graham on Discipleship
C.S. Lewis on Discipleship
Oswald Chambers on Discipleship
John Stott on Discipleship
Evelyn Underhill on Discipleship
Charles H. Spurgeon on Discipleship
Dwight L. Moody on Discipleship
Survey of the Fundamentals of Discipleship
Making Disciples: What Christian Students Need to Know
How to Build a Disciple-Making Church
Building a Disciple-Making Church
Discipleship and Church Mission Statements
C.S. Lewis Was a Thoroughly Converted Person
Larry Osborne: Thoughts on Discipleship
Who am I in Christ?
Living the Gospel, Part I
Living the Gospel, Part II
Forgiveness and Restoration (Part I)
Forgiveness Must Bring Forth Fruit (Part II)
Forgiveness is Not Enough! (Part III)
The Costs and Benefits of Christian Discipleship
Discipleship is Not Refurbished Religious Education
Discipleship Comes By Listening
Taking Your Spiritual Temperature
Are First Commandments Neglected?

Distinctive Discipleship blog
Launching a Blog About Discipleship
One Year Anniversary! Thanks for reading, folks.

Hallelujah! Christ is Risen
An Easter Blessing
Resurrection Day Approaches

The Dangers of Emotional Compulsion
The Christian and Emotions

But God!

Pearls Before Swine
Discipling With Authority
The Great Commission is Our Mission
The Great Commission and Things Unwritten
The Great Commission - Part III
The Great Commission - Part IV
Partnering with the Lord
Bringing Christ to our Neighbors
You Shall Be Fishers of Men

Our Common Confession
Before a Different Gospel
Overcoming By Faith
How Faith Overcomes - Part I
How Faith Overcomes - Part II
How Faith Overcomes - Part III
How Faith Overcomes - Part IV
How Faith Overcomes - Part V
How Faith Overcomes - Part VI
Faith Overcomes Antichrists - Part VII
How Faith Overcomes - Part VIII
How Faith Overcomes - Part IX
Obedience of Faith, Part I
Obedience of Faith, Part II
Obedience of Faith , Part III

First John
First John on Marks of a Christian
Understanding the Mystery of God
God's Power and Divinity Are Evident
Love Priorities
Greater Than Unconditional Love

Jesus Christ/Messiah
The First Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Second Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Third Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Fourth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Fifth Triumph
The Sixth Triumph
The Seventh Triumph
The Eight Triumph
Before the Throne of God

Praying Hebrews 1:1
Praying Hebrews: He shall be to me a Son
Praying Hebrews: He shall be heir of all things
Praying Hebrews 2:9-11
Praying Hebrews 2:14-17
Praying Hebrews 3: The Builder and the Building
Praying Hebrews 3: Jesus Our Great High Priest
Praying Hebrews 3:6-19
Praying Hebrews 4:1-3
Praying Hebrews: The Disciple's Perfect Priest
Praying Hebrews: The Design of Discipleship
Praying Hebrews 6: God is Faithful

Holidays/Feasts and Fasts
Let All the Angels Adore Him!
Christmas: Merry Christmas to Adam's Race (a poem)
Merry Christmas to All US Residents
A Blessed Nativity Feast
Divine Opportunities in the New Year
New Year's Day: A.W. Tozer
Salt the New Year!
Prayer for the New Year
Presidents' Day: President Abraham Lincoln's Faith
St. Patrick's Day: Remember an Obedient Servant of the Lord
Fourth of July: Prayer for the Nation

Lundwall, Edward F., Jr.
About Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
Why I Volunteered
Celebration and a Prayer Request
In Memory of Marionette Lundwall
Ed Turns 90 Today!
About Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
The Breath of God: Why study Greek?
The Disciple's Cross: Progressively Exchanging Life
Book 1: Growth of the Faithful (Acceptance of Foundational Precepts)
Book 2: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Contentment)
Book 3: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Development)
Book 4: Grown of the Faithful (Principles of Endurance)
Book 5: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Expression)
Book 6: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Ministry)

Part I: Christian Marriage
Part II: Married Love
Part III: The Many Facets Of Christian Married Love
Part IV: Living in Harmony
Part V: Loving for a Lifetime
Part VI: Married Life: Continued Harmony

Military Service
Military Service in Vietnam: Why Volunteer?
Walking With Christ Through Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
When the Mortars Fell
Mercy in the Midst
On Mercy and the Number 13
Letter to a Christian Service Person in Desert Storm

Palm Sunday
A Blessed Palm Sunday!

Political and Social Witness
Overcoming Violence in the Land
A Call to Salt

The Dimensions of Prayer
Pray for Those Sickened by Coronavirus
The Prayers of Peter Marshall
Prayer as a Spiritual Lifeline
The Lt's Godly Prayer
George Washington's Prayer
Prayers Not Answered? Why?
Unanswered Prayer, Part I
Unanswered Prayer, Part II
Unanswered Prayer, Part III
Unanswered Prayer, Part IV

The Priesthood
Jesus our Great High Priest
God as Male Priest
Thoughts on the Priesthood

The Psalms
Praying the Psalms
Introduction to Praying the Psalms
Praying Psalm 1: The Way of the Righteous
Praying Psalm 2: Kiss the Son
Praying Psalm 3: God is My Shield
Praying Psalm 4: Let Me be Approved of Thee, O God
Praying Psalm 5: Renew a Right Spirit Within Me
Praying Psalm 6: When Weeping Leads to Victory
Praying Psalm 7: The Basis of Boldness
Praying Psalm 8: Worship in Admiration and Humility
Praying Psalm 9: Hope for the Oppressed
Praying Psalm 10: Deliverance from the Wicked
Praying Psalm 11: The Foundation of Life
Praying Psalm 12: Lamenting the Lack of Godliness
Praying Psalm 13: Faith's Triumph
Praying Psalm 14: Remembering We Are Sinners
Praying Psalm 15: Fellowship With God
Praying Psalm 16: God-Pleasing Godliness
Praying Psalm 17: Progression Sanctification
Praying Psalm 18: God's Power to Deliver
Praying Psalm 19: Witness for Worship
Praying Psalm 20: Personal and National Revival
Praying Psalm 21: Worship and Thanksgiving
Praying Psalm 22: The Hope of Christ - The Prophetic Vision
Praying Psalm 23: Daily Living with the Good Shepherd
Praying Psalm 24: Inspired by Creation, we worship the Creator
Praying Psalm 25: Lifting Up One's Soul
Praying Psalm 26: God's Affirmation of the Accused
Praying Psalm 27: Waiting on the Lord
Praying Psalm 28: Desperately Seeking in Prayer
Praying Psalm 29: God's Power and Glory Seen in Nature
Praying Psalm 30: A Disciple's Heart Desire
Praying Psalm 31: Humbly Waiting on the Lord
Praying Psalm 32: The Beatitude of the Redeemed
Praying Psalm 33: A National Prayer for Revival
Praying Psalm 34: God Redeems
Praying Psalm 35: Friends and Foes
Praying Psalm 36: Finding Holiness in God's Presence
Praying Psalm 37: Trusting the Lord
Praying Psalm 38: The Suffering Sinner
Praying Psalm 39: The Discouraged Disciple
Praying Psalm 40: The Sustained Servant
Praying Psalm 41: The Sick Servant
Praying Psalm 42: The Dry Disciple
Praying Psalm 43: The Questioning Disciple
Praying Psalm 44: A Dependent Disciple
Praying Psalm 45: A Disciple in Love
Praying Psalm 46: The Disciple's Refuge
Praying Psalm 47: The King's Disciple
Psalm 48: The Disciple's Stronghold
Psalm 49: My God and My Redeemer

The Resurrection
The Goal of Discipleship
The Many Triumphs of Christ's Resurrection
Hallelujah! Christ is Risen


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Comprehending the Mystery of God

God by definition is unchanging, uncreated, and beyond the ability of humans to fully comprehend. The Bible presents the mystery of God by use of metaphors and analogies. In Psalm 18, God is described as a rock, a shield and a fortress (see also 2 Samuel 22). Psalm 84 uses the Sun as a symbol for the High God.

Wings are often used to illustrate God's care and protection. In Deuteronomy 32:9-12 eagle's wings describe how God carried His people through the wilderness: 
"As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings, So the Lord alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him."
When Boaz met Ruth for the first time he encouraged her by saying, "The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge" (Ruth 2:12).

The Bible also uses descriptive names for God. El Elyon means God Most High and is associated with royal shrines and temples constructed at high elevations. These are sometimes referred to as "Sun temples" by anthropologists. Among Abraham's ancestors the Sun was the emblem of the Creator and to this day Jews perform the Sun blessing. The Birkat Hachama (ברכת החמה, "Blessing of the Sun") is recited when the sun completes its cycle every 28 years on a Tuesday at sundown.

God is described as the Groom whose bride is faithless Israel in Hosea.

God is described as the Shepherd who watches over his flock.

The idea that God has a son is found in the Old and New Testaments, but is especially prevalent in the New Testament. Consider Proverbs 30:4:
Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in His hands? Who has bound up the waters in His cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is the name of His Son--surely you know!

The son of God is described in ancient Horite Hebrew tests as having a "red clock."

Trinitarian correspondences between the beliefs of the ancient Nilotes and the Mesopotamians have also been noted. Judaism later suppressed this understanding of God Father, God Son, and God Spirit.

God is so far beyond human comprehension that many images, metaphors and analogies are needed to help us begin to grasp God's nature. Thankfully, Jesus Messiah came into the world - "God of God... very God of very God"-  so that we might know the Father through the Son. As Jesus explained to Phillip, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

The Apostle Paul insists that there is no rational reason to claim ignorance of God. God has been busy revealing His nature from the beginning! "Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-21).

Monday, September 7, 2020

Preparing to Lead and Teach

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

The Christian worker should have a frame of reference for understanding what is involved in the growth of a believer. I believe that the Bible provides that. Consider how Galilean fishermen came to preach and teach with such authority. After his conversion, Paul withdrew from the world for three years to gain a deeper understanding of the Gospel. To become a reproductive member of the Body of Christ one needs spiritual authority. That is not achieved overnight.

Other necessary developments are identified in Scripture. Word, Prayer, and Fellowship are life building relationships that ground the believer. The Christian who would teach must be well grounded in the Bible. He or she must be quick to pray and eager to form fellowship bonds with other believers.

Having this grounding, the Christian should be active in some Ministry. Ministry can build character and strengthen one's faith. Ministry, Character and Faith are life building exercises that edify the individual and have lasting benefits for others. 

Finally, the one who would lead and teach must have spiritual authority. This does not come from within oneself. It is the fruit of being in harmony with God.

These seven areas in the process of becoming a mature Christian should be observed by all who wish to teach and disciple others. This is in accordance with the Apostle Paul's instructions to Timothy: "..what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2)

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Condition of Spiritual Deafness


Healing of the Deaf Man, 9th century Fresco, Church of St. John, Müstair, Switzerland.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31–37)

Speaking of the time of deliverance by Messiah, the Prophet Isaiah says, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." (Isaiah 35:5)

Mark was the only Evangelist to record the miracle of the healing of the deaf and mute man. He stresses that Jesus Messiah was not seeking fame and fortune. He was not seeking glory. He wanted to protect the man who had been brought to him for healing, and he wanted the miracle kept quiet.

Jesus healed the man privately as an act of compassion. "Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue." (Mark 7:33-36) 

The people were astonished and said concerning Jesus: "He does all things well; he makes both the deaf to hear, and the mute to speak." (Mark 7:37)

Today this miracle is discounted as Christian propaganda. Skepticism extends beyond the possibility of miracles to the very idea that Messiah has come in the flesh. We live in a time of extreme unbelief. Is it any wonder that few see the miracles that do happen? We see what we expect to see. We hear what we want to hear. The effect is that we become spiritually deaf, mute and blind. If we are lucky, some friends might care enough to bring us to Jesus. That in itself would be a miracle!

Those who hate Jesus attempt to portray Him as a bully, a tyrant, a pervert, a narcissist, a bigot, a demagogue or a rabble-rouser. The account of the healing of the deaf and mute man presents a different picture and it is the account of eye witnesses. 

There is bondage in holding to lies. There is true freedom in embracing the truth. Pilate asked Jesus "Quid est veritas?" (What is truth?) Jesus replied, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice." (John 18:37).

Imagine the astonishment of the man who was healed when he first heard the voice of Jesus Messiah! Can you also hear His voice?