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Monday, October 24, 2016

The Central Command and Christ's Authority

Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

The central command of the Lord Jesus to the Church involves discipleship. He said “...therefore, (you are commanded) disciple all the nations, . . .”

The verb “disciple” or “make disciples of” is the verbal action around which the rest of the Great Commission revolves. The rest are either participles or a part of subordinate clauses, reflecting actions in respect to this command. Because of this, the verb necessarily receives our full attention. The Lord Jesus commands that his disciples make disciples. We are to reproduce ourselves, or more exactly, He is to reproduce His own through our Spirit-inspired obedience. This is the labor of each and every Christian and it is done with all His divine authority in Heaven and on Earth.

This verb "disciple" is in the imperative. The imperative mood is why I have used the clause “(you are commanded)” in parenthesis. Attitude often determines how people respond to instructions. Many will not take instructions seriously unless the degree of emphasis and authority is felt strongly. Some may treat this command as an “ought to, when I get around to it” but the command to disciple comes with His complete authority over all things in Heaven and on Earth.

This is one of the four instances in which the imperative mood is used in the post resurrection instructions that our Lord gave for the ongoing conduct of the Church. The obedient, mature Christian does not have an option to neglect the command if he wants to respect Christ's authority The immature believer likewise is to develop a lifestyle of discipleship according to the standards of New Testament discipleship (John 8:31–36).

The Greek aorist tense lends to the imperative mood the idea that the process of making disciples is “to be undertaken at once.” This adds urgency. With the present tense, the idea of urgency is missing. However, by using the aorist with the imperative along with Christ’s assertion of all authority, there is much greater force than in the naval command: “Now hear this, I, the President, your Commander-in-Chief, COMMAND YOU FULL SPEED AHEAD!” Obedience to His command also brings about a very certain end, for Christ has the victory in all things, so we need not fear going forward in His authority.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Forgiveness Precedes Regeneration

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Regeneration defined

Regeneration or being born again is a process of becoming the sons of God in character. This starts with the gift of forgiveness that gives a conditional reconciliation with God. This must be maintained by avoiding sin, confession for forgiveness when sin recurs, and continuing exposure to the ministry of the Word. As progressive understanding transforms the carnal soul to possess the new soul Christ promises (Luke 9:23-25) as one’s disciple’s cross functions regeneration is experienced (2 Peter :19).

The Epistle of First John speaks of the evidence in a believer’s life of spiritual rebirth:

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; 1 John 5:13 that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

Characteristics of Regeneration
1. Believes the Gospel enough to ask for forgiveness
(1 John 1:1-9; 5:5-12).
2. Keeps clean by confessing and forsaking sin
(1 John 1:0; 2:1, 2)
3. Keeps Christ’s Commandments
(1 John 2:3-8; 3:19-26; 5:2, 3, 14-21).
4. Loves fellow Christians
(1 John 2:9-11; 3:10-18; 4:7-21).
5. Lives an overcoming life
(1 John 2:12-14; 3:3-10).
6. Does not love the world culture
(1 John 2:15-17; 5:4, 5).
7. Is aware of and rejects false teachers
(1 John 2:18-26; 4:1-6).
8. The expectation of Christ’s return refines and transforms (1 John 2:27-3:3).

Regeneration enables us to overcome by the Lord through a faith union with Him to death to sin (Rom 6:11) and a faith perspective of being resurrected with Him (Rom 6:13).

As the Apostle Paul testified: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20).

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33).

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23; compare 2 Peter 1:4).

Regeneration is real only when it changes the way we think and feel! (Compare 2 Cor 10:4, 5).

A thoughtful review of the process of regeneration is sufficient to recognize that forgiveness does precede being born again (regeneration).  Consider the following Scripture passages:

The Old Testament

In Ezek 33:13: “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”

However, concerning Solomon, God promised:
“He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” (2 Sam 7:13-15).

The difference: in Ezekiel conditional righteousness is possessed, but must be maintained! But Solomon was given the status as God’s son.

The New Testament

In the New Testament, receiving Christ by faith accords only “power (or right) to become the sons of God, . .”
(John 1:12).

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21).

To be successful one must make himself Christ’s possession:
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 10:32, 33).

“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:26-28).

“... the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” (2 Tim 2:19).

Initial Forgiveness Can Be Lost

Instances where initial forgiveness and cleansing was experienced, but lost by not letting God’s Word and the Holy Spirit change their natures by regeneration.

This is taught i Jesus' parable of the Sower (Matt 13:18-23). The rocky soil believer (received Christ’s Word) initially, but later fell away. The fact that he initially rejoiced shows that he had faith to think he possessed at least forgiveness. Assurance of reality is only seen by the fruit the Word was allowed to produce in a believer’s life.

Difficulties work both ways, in the shallow believer, difficulties can create enough trauma to give up one’s faith, but one who holds onto the Word fruit is produced: “. . . it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Heb 12:11).

And: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (Greek: complete) and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4).
This is what happens when the Lord’s challenge to new believers becomes a way of life (John 8:31-35 compare Lk 9:23-25).

In 2 Peter 2:22, Peter describes false prophets and deceiving teachers, who from the context had initial faith of cleansing from sin, i.e., forgiveness, but have forsaken the hope they had as the Apostle says: “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

The point is that their nature had not been changed even though they had the condition of initial forgiveness. That is, they returned to their sin because They have not been over come, yielded to the Lord: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16).

Or: Faith reckoned themselves to be in union with Christ in His death to sin and resurrected to be God’s servants. (Rom 6:11, 13).

The solution is to exchange one’s soul life by living the Disciple’s Cross (Luke 9:23-25) again as the Apostle did: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20).

A person can loose their initial forgiveness according to Hebrews 6:4-6: “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 (“a” there is no “the” in the Greek) 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.” (NASU).

If there is NO WAY that people who have initial forgiveness can fall away, because they have not yet been born again, the warning against falling away is meaningless: “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Heb 3:14).

Speaking to the Corinthian Church members, the Apostle Paul asks whether they are “in" the faith: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor 13:5).

Saturday, October 15, 2016

STEM Education for Christian Schools

Alice C. Linsley

Here is a blog with loads of good information for students to learn about famous Christians who have made major contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

This serves as a resource for homeschooling Christian student and for Christian schools. Well-informed Christians are better able to defend the Faith and to disciple others.

Related reading: Christian Schools and STEM Education; King's Ridge Christian School Hosts STEM Event; Valley Christian School Committed to STEM Education

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Distinctive Disciple’s Desire

We are thankful for Ed's service to God and Country.

Edward F. Lundwall. Jr.

Praying Hebrews 6:1-3:

“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:1-3)

Oh, Lord, how I thank you for your exhortation for believers can go on to maturity in their faith and the practice of that faith. You, not only urge us, but you provide for us through your instruction book, the Holy Bible, the ways our minds can be filled with your thoughts and our souls can be transformed by your Holy Spirit. Your purpose is clear: You desire us to know You through the Person and saving work of Christ Jesus, and in doing so become more like Him reflecting your glory.

I praise You that the basic of your gospel revelation MUST occupy my thoughts as a seeking and overcoming sinner, because this elementary phase bring me to truly committed conversion faith. However, I know that this is not your ultimate end. Much more lays ahead to bring me to maturity in my relationship with you. That is only the nursing, toddler stage of my life of faith; I need to learn to walk, talk, learn, and grow as your adopted child. Thank you, Lord that through every circumstance Your Spirit tries to apply this revelation to change my soul into Christ’s likeness (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). I know it is wrong and self-depriving for the believer to stay in a spiritually baby state. Beyond the nursery wall, there is the great outdoors of Your palace, workshops, treasure houses and Your Kingdom Empire. This Kingdom is where spiritual battles are to be won, liberating Satan’s captives, bringing many children into Your Glorious Kingdom. Even though one can hardly describe the blessedness of first knowing Christ. how wondrous is being translated from the power of darkness into Your Son’s Kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13), changing our approach to You from: “God have mercy!” or “God, I’m going my own way!” to “Father, what would You have me to do?” As glorious as this beginning of new life in Christ is, You God have many wonderful things for me to experience that are beyond imagination and have granted me the rest of eternity to know and experience them (Ephesians 2:7).
Lord God, I am so blessed at age 86 by your loving desire to change my thinking and living so that I might more fully understand the greatness of what you have done for me in Christ. I am truly grateful for having experience through my many years the complete adequacy of Christ, and glimpsing the panorama of your loving heart for both me and others. The joy and satisfaction of walking in Christ as my Savior by faith instills in me a sense of walking in Heaven’s palaces here on earth. I thank You for the ability of resting in Christ that gives me a peace that indeed passes all understanding.

I praise You that this rest in Christ’s sufficiency liberates me from self-righteous works, but transforms good works into acts of love and gratitude towards Your person through Your Son. Lord, help me to heed Your exhortation to go on to maturity that I may appreciate Your treasures and fruitful life from You (John 15:1-8). Continue to help me do what I do in Your Name to glorify You, Jesus, and Your Word to men as well as all the principalities in the Heavens (Ephesian 3:10), and grant that I might impart this orientation to other disciples. even through this blog, as You give me in the power of Your Spirit and Word (Hebrews 13:20, 21). Give me the discernment not to teach beyond what my hearers will receive through Your work in them and after I have challenged them, let me rest in you as you change their hearts…step by step, gathering your growing, maturing children into your loving embrace.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Facing Challenges

Facing Challenges

“I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears…Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” -Psalm 34: 4, 19 (ESV).

Consider some thoughts in acrostic-form on Facing Challenges. We all have challenges day by day. How we face and work through them defines who we are and how we face life.

Following God does not preclude problems.
Around us all the time are mountains high
Calling us to exercise our best intentions,
Inviting us to trust Him and fully rely
Night and day upon His strength and wisdom,
Going on by faith and not by sight.

Calling on Him in all circumstances
Has all the characteristics of seeking light
Amidst the darkness that surrounds our way.
Looking for His help always available,
Leaving our burdens at His feet we press on,
Engaging in prayer and gaining strength anew.
Nothing should distract us from the goals
God leads us to see and strive toward gladly,
Ever mindful to give Him glory in our souls,
Secure whatever comes of weal or woes.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for challenges and problems. They strengthen us and help us rely on Your power to overcome. May we seek You daily and know the blessings of deliverance from fears and cowering. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

-Ethelene Dyer Jones 08.17.2016