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The Greek language was created by God for the recording of the New Testament. I am not a Greek scholar, by any means. However, I have learned that the Greek is a much more dynamic language than our Americanized English.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all called to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (1Corinthians 4:1-2). Logically, our first step will be to search out the mysteries we have been given to steward – as treasures in a field. This is to our benefit.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

Here are a couple of examples for your encouragement (to search) and edification:

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

Many translations of this verse end with “that we should do them”. This is a mistranslation. God did not create us to do good works. That is His job. Our responsibility is to walk in them – as vessels and instruments of righteousness. In light of this (no pun intended), the mystery of Matthew 5:16 becomes revelation.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Jesus’ command is not for us to do good works. It is to let our light shine, so that the Father will be glorified. That light is the very life of Jesus (John 1:4) – the perfect representation of the Father.

Example 2 – Set or Make

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Many translations encourage us that “the truth shall set you free”. In this context, the difference between “make” and “set” is enormous. “Set” is an event; “make”, a process. Jesus said, “I will make you…”. He is the Truth.

Additionally, the mental image is much different. A bird can be set free… and recaptured. You cannot unmake a cake – or a disciple.

Searching out the mysteries of God is one of the most rewarding adventures of the Christian life. It is finding that which has been entrusted to us by our Maker. Once found, it can then be shared – for His pleasure and glory.

So, pass on what you have learned here. Be a faithful steward.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

As stewards of the mysteries of God, we are invited to search out the Scriptures for the “matters” that God has hidden there. The purpose of this article is to share a hidden mystery (or two) and to encourage you to do your own searching.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

Generally, there are three types of Bible translations. There are thought-for-thought translations; where the translators have taken a verse or passage and translated what they believe to be the thought of the writer. This includes a few of the more popular modern translations: NIV, REB and The Message.

There is also what are called word-for-word translations. Included in this group are the KJV, NKJV, and NASB. These translations are considered more reliable than thought-for-thought translations because they avoid much of the latter’s inherent human interpretation.

To improve readability, word-for-word translations include the rearrangement of sentence structure. This accommodation introduces a very small opportunity for mistranslation. However, as we will soon discover, small mistakes (e.g., the exclusion of a “the”) can make for some very BIG differences. Read the rest of this entry »

I fear that we have engineered our Christian lives to the point that we are impervious to God’s discipline. We have come to understand that chastening, rebuke and scourging are negative aspects of our relationship with God. Some (or, is it many?) are suggesting that our loving Father would never do such a thing.

Scripture has much the opposite to say.

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If  you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Hebrews 12:5-8

Most of us need a renewing of our minds in this matter; a repentance. The truth will make us free – to receive God’s discipline, knowing His love is behind it. Otherwise, we risk missing the lesson and wasting the pain. Some have even become bitter with God, simply because no one taught them about the discipline of His love.

It is important to recognize that, unlike our natural children, we do not grow out from under the heavenly Father’s discipline. As the children of God, we must expect – and even desire – His chastening and rebuke. Would not His scourging be, therefore, avoided?

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will  ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:5-8

Most of my life, I have understood the fruit of the vine to be the good works we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). Recently, someone suggested that it is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). I am sure that both are true, as well as the interpretation I most recently heard.

Before I go there, I would like to recognize that an “either/or” perspective on Scripture limits our understanding. It also has a way of dividing the Body of Christ. I cannot tell you how many times a “both/and” approach has precipitated the Holy Spirit’s revelation and encouragement.

Now, let me direct your attention to the passage above. Read it carefully – particularly verses five and seven. Branches that bear fruit are those that abide in Christ. Those branches that thus abide, ask what they desire, and it is done for them. The fruit of the vine are the answers to our prayers.

Furthermore, we now understand that the measure of our abiding in Christ is answered prayer; and the fruit we bear are the answers to prayer that glorify the Father (v. 8). This leads us to two very important revelations. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Having learned that the Scriptures speak extensively of believers disqualifying themselves (Part 1); and,
  • Having learned that salvation is a process that must be completed to be effectual (Part 2); and,
  • Having explored the inseparable relationship of grace, faith and works (also, Part 2);
  • We now search out the deeper meaning of several passages that speak to disqualification. These include burying our talents, rejecting holiness (and thus rejecting God), failing to endure to the end, desiring to save one’s life, and choosing something other than the sacrificial life.
  • Finally, we recognize that appropriate fear is a blessed motivator in our pursuing salvation, God has promised to provide all that we need to make our election sure.

Introduction

A Storm is ComingIn Part 1 of this series, we learned that Jesus, Peter, and Paul encouraged us to avoid becoming disqualified in our salvation; even going so far as to clearly describe the conditions that lead to that disqualification. We also recognized that God does not disqualify us (He desires that all be saved). We disqualify ourselves.

Understandably, this raised a number of issues; primarily with those that hold to a “once saved, always saved” theology, and those concerned that I was supporting a works based salvation. Part 2 has been offered to address these two issues. The first – of which I respectfully disagree – is better understood in light of salvation as a process, and the timing of God – and Jesus’ – judgment.

The second objection gave opportunity to briefly discuss the relationship of grace, faith and works. In a nutshell, neither can be understood with the others. Recent theological error has been introduced by our attempts to analytically separate and teach them.

Here in the third part, we will look at a few of the more obvious passages that speak to the potential for our disqualification. As you read each passage, I encourage you to trust the Holy Spirit with your mind; to renew it as necessary. As you read my limited commentary, keep in mind that the passage must mean something – even if it is not what I think it means. Read the rest of this entry »

  • The matter of disqualification can be both contentious and revelatory. This article attempts to leverage the latter as a means (and hope) of mitigating the former.
  • Essential to the matter of disqualification is the recognition that salvation is a process; and faith is a function of the heart.
  • In spiritual matters, separating complex things into their component parts, as a method for understanding the whole, simply does not work as we would like. It is impossible to understand the principles of grace, faith and works apart from one another.
  • Our faith does not save us any more than our works. Only God’s grace can do that. Effectual faith – also a gift of God; perfected by the grace of works – appropriates the grace that saves.
  • Eventually, judgment will come. Those caught with their talent buried in the ground, their branch without fruit, or any other of the disqualifying conditions, will be rejected.
  • “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Jesus Christ (Luke 13:24)

Introduction

A Storm is ComingAs a follow-up to The Peril of Disqualification, I would like to address a couple of objections that have been raised about our being disqualified from our salvation. In part three, I will flesh out a few of the more significant disqualifying conditions.

Recognizing salvation as a process is an essential context for understanding what follows. Therefore, I encourage you to take a moment and read the foundation article on that subject. You will discover that which comes to those that endure to the end (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13).

A second essential matter is the vessel and instrument, so to speak, of faith in a born again person. It is with the heart that man believes (Mark 11:23; Romans 10:10). Most in the church would agree that belief is more than mental assent to the truth of Scripture.

However, I fear many have been emotionally charmed by the notion of salvation – even wondering at the beauty of it – without appropriating its birth in their heart. A helpful analogy is that of the man that admires the painting of a wondrous landscape, without ever traveling to experience its grandeur in person. Read the rest of this entry »

A Storm is Coming

I am convinced that most every sane person would want to know that they are – if only potentially – in peril. Therefore, I am offering the following for your consideration.

I encourage you to judge this seriously; not just, “Do I believe it?” but, “What am I to do with it?”

I am afraid that many will dismiss this altogether: that “believers” are in peril of disqualification. It is much easier to accept the notion that God would not allow such a thing. However, that is not what the Scriptures tell us.

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. Romans 11:22

It is difficult to consider both the goodness and severity of God, when His severity has not been adequately explained. Church leaders are hesitant to teach the severity of God when the guy down the street has a more palatable message.

The problem, of course, is the truth doesn’t change with the lack of its teaching. There are conditions that will result in our being cut off; or, as Paul warns the Corinthians, “disqualified”.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1Corinthians 9:27

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 2Corinthians 13:5

Paul took the steps necessary to ensure he would not become disqualified; and he encouraged the same for those under his care. That is my heart for all that will read this article – that you would prayerfully consider the referenced passages. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach, and possibly convict, you. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowOne of the coolest things about searching the Scriptures is finding passages that expand and/or connect some bit of truth that has been previously discovered. For your encouragement, I offer two examples. First, we have two very familiar passages:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 2:12

Most of you know that one of my favorite Greek words is metamorphoō; translated in these verses as “transformed”. The fact that metamorphoō is only used three times in the New Testament is enough to suggest that these passages are connected in their meaning. For example, transformation includes the renewal of our minds, and the Holy Spirit plays a part in that transformation. (BTW: The third use will blow your mind. I will let you search it out on your own.)

For now, take a look at this connecting passage:

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him… Colossians 3:10

Beholding the image of Him (His glory) we are renewed in knowledge (in our minds). How cool is that? Renewal of our minds and our transformation; both connected by our beholding Him. It begs the question, “How do we behold Him?” Read the rest of this entry »

Old Watch MechanismEvery follower of Jesus Christ has been saved by grace, through faith, to walk in good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). God intends to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him (2Chronicles 9:16). The empowering grace of God is available to those that will faithfully walk in the good works prepared for them. Don’t miss this: We are talking about the supernatural power and resources of heaven, manifested in our midst. For this, we were created!

Search out this matter out with a surrendered heart, and you will discover what good works means for you specifically, in this season of your life. You will also come to understand what it means for the Body of Christ and your spheres of influence. In the end, you will find yourself better prepared to walk in the supernatural grace of God.

In Part 1 of this series, we learned that the “good” of good works is far more important that the “works” themselves. Here in Part 2, we will begin searching out the Scriptures that describe good works and the challenges we face in our attempts to walk in them. This will set the stage for Part 3, where we will explore God’s ultimate provision and intention for them.

As we survey the following passages, ask the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (our teachers) to reveal the truth of each one for this season of your life. Listen for the word that will become faith for your journey. Allow the truth to do the work necessary to make you free.

For this article, I have made a particular effort to keep my commentary to a minimum; that the word of God would dominate your attention. Use the short comment after each passage to direct your mind toward the main point; but keep your focus on the power of God’s word in the passage. Remember, these passages may not mean what I think they mean, but they must mean something. You find the meaning in them.

The Bible’s Description of Good Works

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Works will not save us. However, we were created for good works – to walk in them. NOTE: Many translations suggest that we are to do the good works. This is a mistranslation of the Greek word peripateō. Keep this in mind as we explore further. Read the rest of this entry »

Old Watch MechanismEvery man, woman and child was created by God to walk in “good works” (Ephesians 2:10). It follows then, that every authority established by God for His people has a God-given opportunity to lead His people into those good works. That responsibility includes hearing the voice of God; for God does not empower works that are not in His will.

Those that find the will of God, in good works, walk in the empowering grace of God – the supernatural ability and resources of the kingdom of heaven. They experience God-glorifying work (Matthew 5:16); and the “more than” works of John 14:12. Signs and wonders will bear witness to the gospel of His grace (Acts 14:3) in the good works of God’s will.

This is the normal Christian life; for every child of God, and for those called to lead them. It is a tragedy that so many have chosen to settle for less; the opposite of Jesus’ promise. Why has this happened to so many in the church? Perhaps they do not understand the mystery of good works. Perhaps they have not been encouraged to walk in this promise of God. Perhaps they have not been equipped for the adventure.

The purpose of this series of articles is to encourage, edify and equip Marketplace Leaders (and those in their spheres of influence) to search out, discover and walk in such an adventure. Let’s start with the basics. Read the rest of this entry »

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