Continuing to reflect on the importance of faithful Christians anchoring God’s Word in our hearts as the Lord led me to begin to instruct about in the two-part post beginning August 18, 2019, Lined Up Behind Jesus and followed up by last week’s, Loving The Word Of Truth, both under the category, Instruction, I am thoroughly sobered to consider how over the top foolish it truly is to neglect God’s Word at this late hour. Not only is the Word of truth instruction, comfort, hope and life among other things to us that study and practice it, but also through its many uniquely God provided prophecies of these and days still to come, it is light illuminating the times and future.1
At any hour it is foolish to neglect God’s Word! But it is to be especially lacking in discernment, intimate knowledge and the fear of God to do so now for whatever reasons. Indeed, the faithful Christian’s ability to spiritually develop, be fruitful, avoid being deceived or falling away in these latter days depends on knowing God and His Word! Peter, one of the eyewitness apostles of Christ, wrote to first century Christians in his second New Testament letter: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” He goes on to stress how important such knowledge is to God’s end that they (and we) share in “the divine nature,” (2 Peter 1:1-4, NKJV).
Furthermore, Peter’s instruction to “add to” what they were gaining for eternal benefit from the knowledge of God and Christ (to include more knowledge), leads to his sober warning about the consequences of failing to do this (2 Peter 1:5-11, NKJV). Already surrounded by devouring wolves of falsehood, Peter is reminding Christians then living in what he and other New Testament writers quoting the Old called “the last days” (Genesis 49:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; 2 Peter 3:3, NKJV) of “the present truth” (and us too, clearly in the latter of such days nearly 2,000 years later). As well, he wanted to leave them what would be a written reminder we by God’s grace have (2 Peter 1:12-15, NKJV).2
Peter adds his reminder of the present truth not composed of “cunningly devised fables,” but the eyewitness experience of he and other apostles with both Christ’s “majesty” and the Father’s glorious voice from Heaven to the already preserved “prophetic word” of God that fulfilled in what they had seen and heard, “confirmed” its accuracy. This being so, the apostle insists his readers “do well to heed” the prophetic Word “as a light that shines in a dark place” giving illuminating understanding of God’s will and workings concerning Christ to their unknowing hearts until all is fulfilled; knowing by faith how Bible prophecy has come about from God (2 Peter 1:16-21, NKJV).
Plainly from the foregoing taught by the apostle Peter, God wants Christians to have not only a grasp of the propositional truths of His Word, but at least a working general knowledge and understanding of Bible prophecy particularly as it relates to Christ (Luke 24:25-27, 44-48). God is going somewhere with His Word of truth and Christ is it! For this reason, church pastors that shun teaching or even discussing Bible prophecy as part of instructing God’s people are sinning against Him and hurting them.3 This is especially disastrous in these darkening latter days since the light of prophecy Peter speaks of shining in our hearts is a surpassingly great help to our persevering faith.
Truly, it is near impossible to avoid ever saying anything about prophecy since all propositional biblical truth coalesces with and is properly fulfilled in God’s prophetic Word!4 As with the historical and narrative forms of Scripture, God’s prophetic Word when encountered is to be objectively read, interpreted and understood as the One who gave it leads!5 Yes, men over the centuries have given a stunning array of interpretations to the many symbols and symbolic expressions of Bible prophecy.6 But the objective, straightforward approach led to the Jews, for example, expecting the coming of the Lord Jesus at a certain time from Daniel’s prophetic writings (Daniel 9:20-25). Also, their religious leaders even in unbelief spoke of where He would be born from Micah 5:2 (Matthew 2:1-6).
Moreover, the Lord Jesus certainly had Daniel’s prophecy in mind when He warned of events that would transpire after His departure and into a final end time period. As Daniel foretold and the Lord gave more specific details, launched by Caesar Nero and finished by Vespasian, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in A.D. 70. The Jewish people were scattered in the overflowing display of Roman military might. “The war” ultimately between God and Satan would continue and “wrath” follow the Jews wherever they went until the end (Daniel 9:26; Matthew 24:1-2, 6-7a; Luke 21:20-24, NKJV). Back in the land since 1948, God prepares Israel for the events of the final week of seventy prophetic weeks He gave Daniel by the angel, Gabriel, counting down to His end (Daniel 9:27).
It is at the midpoint of this final week kept from coming by God until He is ready that the Lord Jesus makes direct reference to Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:27. He warns any that understand the prophecy and live in Israel at the time the “abomination of desolation” in the Temple (this clearly asserts a Jewish Temple is to be built--Ezekiel 40-43:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8) is fulfilled to “flee” because “great tribulation” follows (Matthew 24:15-21, NKJV). Please note in this brief, but powerful example how the ancients and the Lord Jesus Himself not only took Bible prophecy seriously, but also objectively read and literally understood it. It is imperative that we do the same in these latter days so that we will walk in the light of knowledge and not the darkness of ignorance.7 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 Read the May 5, 2019 post, Out Of Step With The Times?, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
2 Not only does Peter know he’s going to die (no rapture for him), but how, because the Lord told him in advance (John 21:18-19). Interestingly, both Peter in the pas-
sage cited (vs. 13-14) and Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 describe their mortal bodies as a tent, that is, a temporary dwelling. Something that is temporary is not meant
to be permanent as Paul makes clear in 2 Corinthians 5:1 when he speaks of “our earthly house, this tent” being “destroyed,” but receiving “a building from God” which
is permanent by virtue of being “eternal” (NKJV). As different as a tent is in form and quality from a building, so, after the metamorphosis to immortality, our bodies
Paul also writes about in 1 Corinthians 15:49-53.
3 See the April 30, 2017 post, God, His Prophets and Word, under the category, Glory To God!
4 A perfect example of this is the declaration by Moses, “The Lord will judge His people,” (Deuteronomy 32:36a, NKJV). Not only had Israel been issued this truth pro-
positionally, but heard it repeatedly as warnings in prophecies and experienced it in fulfillment. For this reason, the apostles and other New Testament writers also
prophetically warn professed Christians the propositional truth God judges His people has not changed (1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 Peter 4:17-18).
5 How could we not be humble enough to recognize that since “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” so, prophecy as part of it is best interpreted with the guid-
ance of Him who gave it as Peter would surely agree (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21, NKJV)?
6 The safest ground to stand on for interpreting prophetic symbols in the Bible is to use another of the sound principles of interpretation: Scripture interprets Scripture.
Typically, a symbol in the Bible is interpreted at first use or thereafter and used consistently throughout. Download the free document, Seven Principles Of Bible Inter-
pretation, in the Strong Man Store.
7 Every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Christ is challenged in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics to operate in the knowl-
edge of God’s prophetic Word. Get a print copy or digital download of the book at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com
and Apple (digital only). You can also get a print copy of the book in the Strong Man Store.
For Mary, the mother of her now, deceased Son, the hour was very distant and disconnected from the joyful events surrounding His birth as “Savior...Christ the Lord” attended to by angels (Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-20, NKJV) and infancy when Gentile religious men from the East amidst the stars of light He created followed “His (unique) star” to visit the family and worship Him (Genesis 1:3-5, 14-19; Matthew 1:18-2:2, NKJV). This is the condensed time period we Christians celebrate as Christmas! Mary’s soul was pierced just as Simeon had prophesied to her on the occasion of her baby Boy’s presentation and circumcision at the Temple in Jerusalem in accord with the Law (Luke 2:21-35).
The rest of that terrible day through the Sabbath Mary and all of those who knew Jesus of Nazareth mourned for Him in great bewilderment at the tragedy that had befallen Him; He who was and should have been according to the prophecies of Scripture and Him, their light of hope (Numbers 24:10-19; Isaiah 9:1-7; John 12:42-50)! But He was gone, the glory of His light apparently overcome by the darkness. Why had God forsaken His own Son? The darkness of ignorance and despair was equally deep. Determined to give their Teacher’s body a more thorough preparation, the women disciples who had been watching everything came to the tomb on the third day after His burial.
The four Gospels vary in their details about what happened next with the women.3 According to Luke, to their astonishment “they found the stone rolled away from the tomb” and after going in, “did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Stunned and confused about what they were seeing, suddenly two angels in male form appeared to and asked them the question of this mortal age: ‘“Why do you seek the living among the dead?’” They followed their question with an equally amazing declaration: ‘“He is not here, but is risen!’” The angels then charged the women to remember the words of Christ foretelling His resurrection and they did (Luke 9:18-22, 24:1-8, NKJV).
All of the Gospels agree the women went to go tell the Lord’s eleven disciples what they had seen and been told by angels and the risen Lord Himself; their devotion richly rewarded with the distinction of being the first to see Him alive from the dead. Coming to the men as they still “mourned and wept,” their first reaction was not to believe. Peter and John however, on second impulse leapt to their feet and ran to the empty tomb to see for themselves (Matthew 28:7-10; Mark 16:7-11; Luke 24:9-12; John 20:1-18, NKJV). Meantime, the Lord appeared to two dejected male disciples not of the eleven traveling from Jerusalem who were kept from initially recognizing Him (Luke 24:13-16).4
After inquiring about their conversation concerning His suffering, crucifixion, lost hope He was Israel’s Redeemer and news from the women, the risen Lord rebuked their slowness to believe all of what it was written the prophets spoke. Then, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them” everything about Himself and what had just happened as He later did the eleven who He also restored (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:17-47; John 21:1-19, NKJV).5 Witnesses of all that was fulfilled, the Lord commissioned the eleven to go tell it after being empowered by the Holy Spirit then, ascended to Heaven (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:48-53; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:4-11).
Having added Matthias to their number to replace Judas (Acts 1:12-26), the twelve apostles and those gathered with them waited for the Holy Spirit to arrive. He came ten days after the Lord’s ascension on the Jewish Day of Pentecost and mightily filled everyone in the room where they were assembled causing them to praise God in human languages they had not previously learned; Peter stepping up to give biblical explanation of what was taking place and to preach the Gospel (Acts 2:1-39). On that day the Church of Jesus Christ was born with the apostles overseeing her (Acts 2:40-47). As for Peter and the other apostles, I write about the miraculous transformation the Holy Spirit wrought in them and wills for us in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics.6
With the Lord’s instruction and help they still fled, hid or escaped harm from persecution to live to boldly testify and preach another day and never denied Him or abandoned the faith--James being the first one martyred in His cause (Matthew 10:23; Acts 4:1-31, 5:12-42, 8:1-3, 12:1-19). It is Peter that teaches us to submit to unjust suffering trusting ourselves to God following the example of Christ he witnessed (1 Peter 2:18-25, 3:13-17); a teaching corruptly used by professed Christian American slave owners to compel the submission of my forefathers to their wretched institution of slavery and its evil abuses.7 In step with the apostle Paul, Peter also informs us the Lord’s light of hope never stopped shining at His death, but illuminated Hades (Acts 2:27; Ephesians 4:7-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22).
Therefore, let us in the darkness of these latter days be encouraged as we look to Christ our example and ever shining light of hope (Hebrews 6:9-20; 1 Peter 1:3-5)! As He taught, we are not only blessed to suffer for His cause in the Gospel and God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:10-12), but filled with His light we are also “the light of the world” exposing the darkness as faithful witnesses (Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:8-14, NKJV). Suffering as He, we are glorified with Him having also overcome the darkness (Romans 8:14-25, 31-39)! Departing this life, we live and our light continues to shine in Heaven (Revelation 7:9-17)! And just as Christ fulfilled the prophecies of His first coming, so with His star portending it, His return with us (Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; Jude 14-15).8
(This was my final post for 2020. Lord willing, my next post will appear Sunday evening, January 3, 2021. Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year filled with all the light of hope our risen, living Savior, Jesus Christ the Son of God imparts to the faithful among our readers waiting for Him!)
3 Detail variances do not discredit the whole resurrection account, but actually add authenticity to it since to this very hour witnesses of the same event will provide de-
tails that differ. One angel of the Lord or two does not change the fact the women found the tomb of Jesus empty as all four Gospels report!
4 In the same supernatural way these disciples were kept from recognizing the Lord, the twelve and all were kept from fully understanding what He was specifically
telling them about the suffering and death He would endure followed by His resurrection (Luke 9:43-45, 18:31-34). Hence, not understanding Christ was in part di-
vinely imposed to keep them from getting in the way as even beforehand, Peter shows he would have done (Matthew 16:21-23).
5 No doubt among the prophets, the Lord did not omit Isaiah 53! Also, please take note of the Lord’s straightforward, objective interpretation and application of God’s
Word as it is written. If He, the living Word as our example in everything handles the Bible this way, then, ought we not to do the same (John 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:15)?
6 A print copy or digital download of the book published by the Publishing Division of Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. with fresh editing in 2019 for greater
clarity and updated web addresses in the footnotes is available at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digi-
tal only). You can also purchase a print copy in the Strong Man Store. Too, leaders can teach, disciple and equip through The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group
Study and The Great Woman Of God Women’s Group Study also in the Strong Man Store.
7 Folk of the same mind contrary to what Christ taught, commanded Peter on the day of His arrest and Peter’s teaching tied to this footnote also codified the right of
citizens to keep weapons and use them to violently defend themselves against perceived hostiles in the nation’s Constitution (Matthew 5:38-48, 15:1-9, 26:51-52).
The faithful in the Holy Spirit obey God’s Word before that of men even if it involves rights granted (Joshua 24:15; Matthew 6:24; Acts 4:19, 5:29)! Thus, obeying and
imitating Christ in major part, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led mostly professed Christian black Americans in the Holy Spirit to practice non-violent resistance with their
persecutors during his portion of the black Civil Rights Movement and won the day by the grace of God and to His glory! As Christ declared to Peter, they will die by
manmade weapons that take them up to violently resist the darkness. Surely, God will not honor any professed Christian that defies this teaching either. Too, God’s
judgment will bring an end to the practice of corrupting and setting aside His Word to further one’s own ends that has now, mushroomed out of control within profess-
ing Christianity (1 Peter 4:12-19)!
8 As I write in The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, Christ’s suffering brought about salvation for the world and great reward to Him; our suffering is a tangible wit-
ness of the power of God’s salvation and Kingdom to the world and brings eternal blessing and reward to us too (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 4:20)!
As the Lord leads me to instruct in the two-part post beginning August 18, 2019, Lined Up Behind Jesus, under the category, Instruction, to avoid being deceived in these latter days professed Christians that would be faithful must anchor God’s Word as it is written in our hearts! The only way to anchor God’s Word in our hearts is to purposely internalize it through regular study and practice. Study and practice will not be regular if we do not zealously love the Word as the truth with an intentional desire to apply and obey it even with many failures (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:14-17; James 3:2a).
How does a man get to the point of willingness to regularly study and practice the Word of truth? A hunger and thirst for God and His Word is actualized in every truly born again new follower of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. It manifests for some more quickly than others depending on the depth of surrender at spiritual birth (Acts 2:36-42; 1 Peter 1:22-2:3).1 Purposely making time to study God’s written Word is typically not the issue for hungry and thirsty newborns in Christ. It is how to get enough milk! Those that press to fruitfulness in understanding and practice despite Satan’s effort to take the Word, tribulations and worldly cares have developed a love for it (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).
Loving God’s Word is the motivational key for both anchoring it in our hearts and deliberately practicing it through obedience. One major reason sold out, faithful Christians come to love God’s Word is because it “is truth” as the Lord Jesus asserts in His prayer to the Father (John 17:17, NKJV). God’s Word is truth that we not only can rationally appreciate because it is perfectly sound, righteous and just, but also experience since it is spiritually alive having originated with God (John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12). We want more of, desire to go deeper in as well as practice the Word causing us to spiritually mature because the Word of truth we love is alive in us and so good!2
Indeed, just as in our Holy Spirit fired love we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Mark 12:28-30; Romans 5:5), so, we love the Word of truth written that in the awesome mysteries of God is embodied by God the Word from eternity (John 1:1); Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord who spoke God’s final Word to the world when He came to us from Heaven in first century Israel (John 1:14-18; Hebrews 1:1-4)! As a result of loving God and everything about God, we love the Word of truth that flows naturally from God--the Person and Source of the Word, Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and honor forever (John 14:6)!
For after He completed His work to save us from our sins by dying on the cross and being buried, He was raised from the dead on the third day following. Among the first disciples to encounter and recognize Him in Luke’s account specifically declared to each other how their hearts burned with what could have only been the same spiritual fire we enjoy as “He opened the Scriptures” to them (Luke 24:28-35, NKJV). He spent forty days on earth teaching and preparing His apostles for His return to Heaven. Then, upon giving final instructions to them, He ascended into Heaven where He, the eternal Word, has been seated again at His Father’s right hand (Acts 1:1-11, 2:32-35)!
In the love we have for Christ, the living Word of truth and all that is written from Him and of Him in the Bible, faithful Christians are ready to stand firm whatever the cost against demonically inspired deceit and falsehood and testify to the most prominent of officials as have all of the saints through all time. Many professed Christians have a misinformed tendency to arrogantly believe we are the only ones that know something about Holy Spirit fired love for God and His Word. Not so, and the writer of Psalm 119 is a classic example of an Old Testament saint--to include Spirit empowered king David (1 Samuel 16:13)--that enjoyed this experience with the living God! This saint wondrously writes in Psalm 119:41-48 with the heart of one that intimately knows and loves God and His Word!
He waited like we do now for the fullness of God’s mercies in salvation to come according to His written Word (vs. 41). He like many of us are was persecuted for his faith and needed to trust God’s Word for a right answer to his persecutors (vs. 42). He sought God’s help as we must also to keep the “word of truth” in his mouth because it was his hope; his eternal preoccupation and source of blessing (vs. 43-44, NKJV). He like us was free in and ready to witness to kings boldly standing on the Word (vs. 45-46; John 8:31-32). Lastly, he delighted himself in and loved God’s commandments; lifting his hands in praise for them and meditating on God’s edicts (vs. 47-48).3 Is that you?4 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 Read my February 17, 2019 post, Surrendering All To Jesus, under the category, Glory To God! I am one of those whose hunger and thirst for God and His Word
took some time to kick into high gear--22 months after I prayed to receive Christ--because of still trying to cling to my sinful ways of living. But after my total surren-
der to the Lord, I have sought Him and the Word of truth has been my food daily for which my soul yearns throughout the day (Psalms 63:1-8, 119:17-20)!
2 Sadly, the opposite is true for professed Christians that are not inclined to go deeper in the Word and become “dull of hearing;” remaining spiritually immature babes
that still nurse on “milk” and not the “solid food” of the Word. God expects every follower of Christ to grow and mature in the faith made possible only through the
regular intentional study and practice of the Word (Hebrews 5, NKJV). Otherwise, those that purposely remain spiritually immature are easy marks for the deceiver
(Proverbs 14:15; Romans 16:17-20), risk becoming “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” and open themselves up to the possibility of falling away with no re-
course (Hebrews 3:12-13, 6:1-6, 10:26-31, NKJV). Read my December 4, 2016 post, Now Is The Day Of Salvation, under the category, Call To Repent.
3 Even though the Lord Jesus Christ purposely sends us out to preach the Gospel and witness Him helped by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:16-20), we are to still make
purposeful preparation for the task through study to possess knowledge of the Word we love the Holy Spirit can readily bring to our mouths to speak as He wills.
4 It is certainly the heart of every faithful Christian as aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Jesus Christ I write about in my book, The Strong
Man Of God: Back To Basics. Get a print copy or digital download of the book at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com
and Apple (digital only). You can also get a print copy of the book in the Strong Man Store.
It was a most powerful moment in the narrative of the Son of God’s mortal journey to that day; a moment of fight, flight or forfeit the first two options for Him and His eleven disciples. Hours earlier He had already forewarned His disciples they would all “be made to stumble (fall away) because of” Him as with Him, they were all about to experience the fulfillment of just over a 500 year-old Bible prophecy He quoted to them (Matthew 26:31-32, NKJV). They heard His words and the prophecy loud and clear. As a result, Peter in the full splendor of his natural manhood and earnest devotion immediately locked in on the possibility he would desert Christ and denied it (Matthew 26:33).
In the face of Peter’s heartfelt, testosterone driven confidence, the Lord gave him his own personal prophecy about what his actions would be. Again, Peter denied any such thing would happen with him (never mind, it was God in the flesh telling him so) and the other disciples asserted the same for themselves also; all missing the Lord’s prophecy of His resurrection in the process (Matthew 26:34-35). It was after His time in prayer alone that the moment of the Lord’s betrayal and arrest came (Luke 22:47-48; John 18:1-9). True to their loyalty, the eleven all seeing what was happening and coming next queried the Lord for His command to draw swords to fight (Luke 22:49).
Perhaps anxious to prove just how deadly serious he had been hours before, Peter sprung into action ahead of any word from the Lord and struck a blow to the head of the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear (Luke 22:50; John 18:10). All four Gospels record this part of the event; three, the response of the Lord Jesus to Peter directly and all of the disciples indirectly which are telling. He commands Peter to put his sword back in its place admonishing “for all who take the sword will perish by the sword,” (Matthew 26:52; John 18:11, NKJV). Having already proven He alone could have fought weaponless, the Lord further instructs Peter His Father had His back too (Matthew 26:53).
While healing the severed ear of the high priest’s servant, the Lord Jesus also commanded Peter and all of His disciples to “Permit even this” (His arrest and all that would follow) because it was fulfilling God’s foreordained plan written in Scripture (Matthew 26:54; Luke 22:51, NKJV). This truth according to Matthew, He also asserted to those that were arresting Him, Luke adding very importantly for us in this post: “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” “Then,” as He had prophesied to them, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled,” (Matthew 26:55-56; Luke 22:52-53, NKJV); there being no fight and surrender to certain harm completely out of the question.
As the Lord leads, I write this post to the glory of God and for our encouragement in follow up to last week’s sober word from Bible prophecy and current events concerning the intensifying persecution of Christians abroad and at home.1 In that post, I also quoted Luke 22:53 to answer why persecution is intensifying and here to stay until the Lord returns. Truly, as the permitted hour for the world of fallen humanity that included those who were religious, but without God and the kingdom of darkness that governs it came upon our Lord Jesus Christ, so, as He repeatedly warned, it has come and comes upon those of us who faithfully follow Him (Matthew 10:24-25; John 13:16, 15:20).
Indeed, the persecution of Christians is not new. What is different about now, though, is that the widening scope and intensity in the earth is a prophetic sign we have come into the latter weeks of the final spiritual trimester of pregnancy before the manifest birth of God’s Kingdom on earth. This is Satan and the world’s last hooray and they will make the most of it; suffering the birth pains God brings on them in judgment and inflicting the same to the extent they can on Jews and Christians as His elect (Matthew 10:16-23; Revelation 12:7-17). Not what you signed up for when you decided to become a Christian? Then, you did not take the terms Christ plainly lays out for all that will follow Him as a disciple seriously or fear has gripped you (Luke 9:18-26, 57-62, 12:49-53, 14:25-35).
You would not be alone dealing with fear in the face of harm since it is a part of our natural design as human beings. In the natural, Peter and the other disciples fled the scene when they saw that the Lord’s plan was not to fight. In fairness to them, though He had been telling them He was about to suffer at the hands of Israel’s religious leaders and Roman authorities representing the Gentiles, His disciples had not understood why this hour of darkness had to come. His cause at that moment was not yet one for them to die for. But even as they watched His suffering from afar, He was still teaching and modeling for them His way as God’s Son, the Messiah; still shining as the “light of the world” and hope in darkness to those of us who believe on Him (John 8:12, 9:1-5, NKJV).
1 See the November 29, 2020 post, Persecution Of American Christians Intensifying, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
Because Jesus Christ and His message are an offense to a hostile world, His faithful preachers have suffered as He from the 1st century (John 10:31-39, 19:1-22; Acts 4:1-3, 5:17-32, 7:51-8:3, 12:1-4, 26:1-29). Suffering in some measure up to and including death for His Word as absolutely spiritually, morally and ethically true is the lot of God’s appointed faithful preachers who would rather suffer than compromise or corrupt God’s Word as it is written (John 15:18-16:4; 1 Corinthians 15:29-34)! Indeed, willingness to endure even severe persecution for the Word preached is one of the sharp differences between faithful preachers and those that are not in Christian history.
Faithful preachers of the Word of God beginning with the Gospel have themselves first been brought to salvation and spiritual regeneration by it! They intimately know and love the indwelling Person of the Word, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14-18), the Holy Spirit and Father with all submission and obedience (John 14:15-24). As a result, they also love and keep God’s written Word (Psalm 119). Their obedience includes confessing and repenting from their sins as they occur so they might continue to enjoy unbroken fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-10). The apostle Paul was greatly humbled by the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy to save him and all sinners. His faithful and diligent service to God as His appointed preacher was a manifest token of eternal gratitude (1 Corinthians 15:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:12-17).
It is out of such a spirit of humility and gratitude for personal salvation that the apostle Paul exemplifies and is God’s enduring template for the zeal and service He expects from all of us as aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Christ and His appointed preachers. His faithful service as a preacher of the Gospel is one reason he is so passionately direct about God’s authorized declaration of destruction for the one who preaches another gospel other than the one God has given (Galatians 1:6-9). The other reason is his question of whether he (and by implication all Christian preachers) are preaching to persuade and please men or God (Galatians 1:10)?
If it is true with God and men that one appointed is to serve to please the one who appointed him as surely it is, then Paul and us after him appointed by God to preach His Word in the Gospel and otherwise are to please Him with the mind of Christ to the point of even considering ourselves His slaves in all faithfulness (Philippians 2:5-8). And right here is where the wheels have come off for many genuinely God appointed preachers throughout history to this very hour. For to their disgrace through any number of motives not the least of them being men rather than God pleasers, many Christian preachers have willfully compromised and corrupted God’s Word in all falsehood and deceit.
A perfect example of this in action is the not so subtle satanically inspired transformation of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday into a day of good works in this 21st century. No accident or product of natural progressive community evolution, it has come about as the polite, but purposeful effort of secular individuals and morally tolerant professing Christians and preachers to separate King from the offense of his spiritual roots as a Christian preacher of biblical morality; the ground on which he stood to call white America to do right by its black and other disenfranchised citizens. While King did preach service to humanity, he did so explaining the biblical motives of Christians to serve and his own in stepping up to help his people and others hurt by America’s failure to live up to its ostensible Christian heritage as he did in a message he preached two months before being assassinated.1
To morph the totality of Dr. King’s biblically rooted cause and message into only a day of do good works in the community is to white wash over the deeply oppressive and blatant evil of American racism he challenged as an appointed preacher of God. No, King and his preaching in the matter of Civil Rights for black Americans cannot be successfully surgically removed from its biblical moral underpinning anymore than the preaching of John the Baptist who rebuked Herod for his adultery and other evils or the Lord Jesus who preached against the hypocrisy of Israel’s religious leaders (Luke 3:15-20; 11:37-54), Martin Luther who called the Catholic Church to reform its corrupt practices or Europe and America’s abolitionists who advocated slavery’s end.
Not so subtle either in this King Day service emphasis is the growing wider effort to spin “real” Christianity into a salvation by works which is very plainly not taught in the Bible (Romans 3:21-4:4; Ephesians 2:8-10). Yet, many preachers have embraced this false gospel of works undergirding the King Day and other assorted heretical doctrines applauded by the world. Moreover, a great number of preachers even trample on God’s Word in rejection after preaching it by leading the people to disobey it in practice seeking to please them rather than God. This latter thing is especially prevalent among preaching pastors in the tradition minded churches of manmade Christianity the religion in spite of God’s rejection of such folly (Mark 7:1-23; Luke 6:46-49; James 1:21-25, 4:17). The guilty should immediately repent!
While I could wish too with some of his godly black American preaching contemporaries such as Rev. Howard O. Jones that Dr. King and other preachers around him had preached the Gospel as intensely as the biblically rooted moral imperatives of the Civil Rights Movement,2 nevertheless, faithful preachers in these latter days understand we must do so with the “whole counsel of God” as was done by our example, Paul, in the 1st century (Acts 20:17-27, NKJV). And like him too, we must be ready in what is shaping up to be the closing opportunity to publicly preach unfettered in the West to suffer for it to the end, not being ashamed of Christ, the Gospel about Him or the whole counsel of God in His Word (Matthew 10:16-39; Mark 8:34-38; Romans 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 1:8-12); in the power of the Holy Spirit, pleasing God in preaching to lost and wavering souls so that many may be saved (Jude 20-25). The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
1 Dr. King preached a message entitled, The Drum Major Instinct at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 4, 1968 in which his text and content regarding serving hu-
manity was taken from Mark 10:35-45. The sermon can be heard as a sound recording and easily found for purchase online.
2 Howard O. Jones, For This Time (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), 59-61.
What the disciples of Jesus Christ saw beginning that dark morning of His arrest and thereafter, so deeply impacted their lives they were never the same again. Though Peter and traditionally the apostle John as “the other disciple” had initially scattered with their companions, they showed up at the home of “Annas,” “the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year” “to see the end,” (Matthew 26:57-58; John 18:12-16, NKJV). It was at this point that Peter makes the first of three denials of knowing Him as the Lord prophesied “before the rooster crows” which he afterward “bitterly” regrets (Matthew 26:34, 69-75; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:17-18, 25-27, NKJV).
I cannot begin to connect with the depths of Peter’s personal pain at that hour especially the heart rending occurrence of the Lord looking him straight in the face at his third denial. I can however, relate to having failed the Lord many times over the years. It is here that I can also appreciate doctrinally and personally the Lord’s words of encouragement to Peter in the face of his impending failure saying to him: “...I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren,” (Luke 22:31-32,NKJV). Peter’s personal faith in Christ and who He was would and did not fail that day--Peter did in his natural, fallen state as a man!
How eternally unfathomably fortunate Peter was that day and all of us who have believed in Christ since that for the cause of our natural, fallen condition as sinners, sin guilt and sins He surrendered to those that would press for His death so, we can return to Him; that is, repent and be forgiven--oh, the joy of the Lord’s forgiveness for sin (Psalms 30, 32)! Peter in the fallen natural and spiritual ignorance; as a not yet Spirit-filled, born again man in the spiritual know denied knowing or being a follower of his Lord to save himself from certain harm and obtained forgiveness for this sin because his faith (trust, confidence) in Him as God’s Son, the Messiah did not fail as He had prayed.
The forgiveness Peter and the other disciples received for not believing Scripture or Christ’s words and spiritual ignorance is granted to all the lost who repent and believe the Gospel (John 5:45-47; 1 Timothy 1:12-17)! Judas’ betrayal is a unique case (Matthew 26:14-16, 19-25, 27:3-10; John 17:12; Acts 1:15-26). Clearly, the warnings of the Lord and later New Testament writers including Peter about the eternal consequences of denying and falling away from Him speak most directly to disciples coming after His suffering, the Holy Spirit and the new spiritual birth (Matthew 10:32-33, 12:31-32; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 12:8-12; Hebrews 3, 6:4-8, 10:26-31; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 2:22-23).2
It is important to note that while Peter witnessed the first round of the Lord’s interrogation at and before his departure from the home of Annas, John apparently stayed and followed the events leading to His crucifixion since he was known to Caiaphas. With Sanhedrin members and disciples Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, he would have been close in to observe the Lord’s foretold trials before this Council, Pilate and Herod. All present would have seen His disfigurement in the aftermath of beatings and scourging; his physical weakness on the walk to crucifixion requiring help and during which He prophesied to grieving women (Luke 22:63-23:31, 50-51; John 3:1, 7:45-52).
When the death processional came to Calvary the Lord was nailed to His cross as were two criminals. He spoke to His Father on behalf of those responsible for His suffering as all that unfolded fulfilled prophecy exactly as it is written. He also brought one of the criminals crucified with Him who had repented into the Kingdom. Meanwhile, possibly to mirror the spiritual darkness that already shrouded what was taking place; it became physically dark from noon until His death three hours later as the light of the sun was kept from shining on the scene. While “all His acquaintances” and women disciples from Galilee had watched from a distance, John and His mother drew near His cross where He addressed them, then, His Father again before dying (Luke 23:32-49; John 19:25-30, NKJV).
At the moment of His death with the darkened land also uncontrollably convulsing, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” providing a monumental sign and clue as to why all of this was permitted by God and had to take place; the Roman centurion and his men on the scene guarding the Lord observing how He died and the events attending to His death in fear crying out in unison: ‘“Truly, this was the Son of God,’” (Exodus 26:31-34; Leviticus 16:2-3; Isaiah 59:1-2; Matthew 27:51-52a, 54, NKJV)! Those who pressed for His death, however, still refused to believe this and sought to ensure His light was put out forever even as fellow Sanhedrin members Joseph and Nicodemus saw to His burial; women followers watching (Matthew 27:57-66; John 19:31-42).
2 Thus, for this cause no professed born again Christian should believe they in unbelief can be forgiven for denying the Lord to save themselves from consequence in per-
secution or apostasy (Romans 14:23b; James 4:17)! Men are free to voluntarily walk away from the Lord in unbelief though, no evil spirit or mortal predator can “snatch”
those clinging to Him by faith out of His or His Father’s protective care (John 6:60-71, 10:22-30, NKJV). Obviously, false professors of the faith that publicly forsake it
and Christ were never saved to begin with (1 John 2:18-19). Salvation then, inures to those professed Christians that stand firm to the end in faith, love and obedience
to God’s written Word (Matthew 10:21-22, 24:13; Mark 13:12-13; Ephesians 5:1-7; Hebrews 10:32-39; Revelation 12:10-11, 14:9-13). Read the two-part post beginning
April 6, 2014, The Faith That Saves, under the category, The Faith.
The Lord has led me to re-post a 2012 blog today as a wrap up word of instruction to follow up the four types of arguments against His program for man presented in this month’s 2011 Commentary Series. This instruction speaks plainly of what the heart and stance of the aspiring strong man of God in the image of Christ should be as it concerns correctly interpreting, applying and standing on the already written Word of God. As with everything God wants us to be and do, our Lord Jesus Christ set the example! Indeed, right from the beginning of His ministry when He was tested in the wilderness He provided the needed example and set the standard for us.
In replying to the temptation of Satan to use His own power to satisfy His hunger in acting independent of the Father, our great Champion and Hero, Jesus Christ quoted from and stood on Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘“It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”’” (Matthew 4:1-4, NKJV). Please note our Lord did not preface His statement with “I think, I feel or I believe.” Some smart aleck will immediately declare, “Well, we are not Jesus.” This is true. However, He purposely conducted Himself as our example to follow in the humility of a disciple and power of the Holy Spirit (John 13:12-17; 1 Peter 2:21). It is to the extent that we foolishly do not do this today that professing Western Christianity and so many of our churches are in a mess!
Our mess is made worse by those who arrogantly insist on reading into Scripture what they want as purposeful revisionists to justify their evil theologies and deeds. Such persons will not escape destruction for this (2 Peter 2:1-3, 3:14-16). Truly, our omniscient and infinitely wise God has given us the special revelation of His Word to look to and live (John 6:63)! Jesus, the living Word and Son of God constantly directed His friends and foes alike back to the already written Word of God. In all of His teaching He quoted it directly, illuminated it or illustrated and applied its truths by use of parable for example. We are to do no less; answering all of life’s issues with what God’s Word says!
Originally Posted April 29, 2012
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV). I have lost count of the number of times I have had to direct professing Christians back to what the Word of God actually says to correct bad thinking and doctrine. While it is tempting for all of us to believe at any given moment that we have such intelligence, knowledge and wisdom to think and utter profound things, when it comes to the things of God, none of us are that brilliant. The only safe place to be as it concerns the things of God is in His Word as a devoted, eternal learner re-saying only what He has already said!
How many doctrinal squabbles, compromised churches, sects, denominations and even cults calling themselves Christian would go away if “I think, I feel, I believe” were not allowed as a preface when speaking of the things of God, but only, “This is what the Word of God says”? Indeed, the “profane and idle babblings” that made their way into the 1st century churches and which the apostle Paul gives his godly counsel about how to combat in 2 Timothy 2:15 quoted above are legion today. And why? Because we have fewer students of God’s Word seeking to be approved of by Him in understanding it and instead have those who use the Word corruptly to hold up their own (and other men’s) fleshy thinking that ruins rather than builds up the hearers (2 Timothy 2:14, 16-18).
In my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, we teach men that a very important component of aspiring to be one is studying, internalizing and living out God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit! We are to be diligent--exerting persevering, painstaking effort--in studying and seeking God to know and understand His Word. When we are convinced by God that we have His Word right, then we proceed to teach others in humility what He has said from what is already written. When I have spiritual questions, I want to know first, what does the Word say, not what Dr. whoever said? If I am taught and approved of by God in His Word, then I will never be ashamed from getting it wrong and worse, ruining souls for which I will have to give an account (James 3:1).
Do you feel inadequate to “rightly divide the word of truth?” Excellent! You are just the person God is seeking to teach His Word (Proverbs 1:1-7; John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14). The first step in approaching Bible study for any purpose is the humility to seek God in prayer for a proper understanding. After all, the Bible is God’s Word. Who best to interpret it to and help you understand it than God (Luke 24:45; 2 Peter 1:20-21)? Additionally, there are some fairly common principles of Bible interpretation such as paying attention to the context of verses you are studying you can learn from books on the subject. This and other principles demand your diligence to apply as God requires so that combined with His help, your study is fruitful and your biblically drawn doctrine meets His approval.1
1 As the Lord led many years ago as a pastor, I outlined seven commonly taught principles of Bible interpretation in a one page document from the excellent non-sectarian
book, Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul. Although I would have you get the book, I have provided my Bible Interpretation Document as a free download in our Strong
Man Store as a help to any reader interested in doing Bible interpretation as it is commonly taught in biblically grounded seminaries. There is a right way to interpret and
apply Scripture. Go to https://www.thestrongmanofgod.org/Strong-Man-Store to get your free Bible Interpretation Document download.
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