Here is the truth about sin, and how God’s grace through saving faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ is given by God, to those who understand and obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…
Romans 5:12… Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (NKJV)
Most people believe sin began in the Garden of Eden, but it didn’t. Sin began when God’s top angel Lucifer, decided to flex his power, and wanted to become equal to God…Isaiah 14:12-14…
Sin, by its very nature, is born into every human being, since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, to the serpent’s (Satan’s) temptations. This natural sin nature is part of everyone’s natural make-up, from the time they are young children, until the time that they pass on from this life.
That 3 year old, who is told NOby their parents, goes right ahead and disobeys their parents at the first chance they get. This rebellion against their parents turns into rebellion against God, as a child grows older. God hates sin, because it is independent rebellion against God; and will devastate the lives of everyone that remains living in sin…in bondage to Satan and the ways of the world…1 John 2:15-16…
The sad truth about sin, is that it blinds the unbeliever…
2 Corinthians 4:4… whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (NKJV) (More about “the light of the gospel” of our Lord Jesus Christ, later)
Satan is the father of sin (John 8:44), and a master of disguise. The Apostle Paul warns us about false prophets, and Satan himself, in...
2 Corinthians 11:12-14… For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder!For Satan himself transforms himself into anangel of light. (NKJV)
Thank goodness God sent His Son Jesus Christ, born to the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18)…who’s shed blood on the cross at Calvary, will cleanse the sins of those who are first drawn in by God…
John 6:44… No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (NKJV)
Upon understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the sins of the unbeliever will be replaced with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9…&…2 Corinthians 5:21)…as God’s free gift of grace, through saving faith alone in Jesus Christ, fills the heart, mind, and soul of the new redeemed child of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9… For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)
There is nothing an unbeliever can do on their own merit. No amount of good works done in the name of the Lord, can cleanse away sins. All of our own righteousness is absolutely worthless…Isaiah 64:6… Jesus warns those who falsely believe that their good works done in the name of the Lord (like going to church every week), will forgive sins…when Jesus warns those around Him (and us) about this, in.
Matthew 7:21-23… “Not everyonewho says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And thenI will declare to them, ‘Ineverknew you;departfrom Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (NKJV)
Having one’s lifetime of sins forgiven, is pure grace given to the unredeemed sinner by God. God’s grace is given by God to those who seek Jesus Christ to become their personal Lord and Savior, through a personal one on One relationship, that is established between the unredeemed sinner and Jesus Christ.
This is accomplished through saving faith alone in Jesus Christ, through obedience to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, when the sinner realizes they can in no way save themselves, and turns to the Lord to receive God’s grace… (More about obeying the Gospel of Christ later)
So why should you desire to become a redeemed child of God ?? Very simply, to be in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit by God, to be supernaturally empowered to defeat Satan’s temptations, and our own carnal fleshly desires constantly urging us to sin… 1 John 2:15-16…
The Holy Spirit living with-in the “born again” Christian, has been given to them by God to guide and direct EVERY facet of the redeemed child of God’s life… It is the Holy Spirit that helps the Christian grow and mature the fruit of the Spirit, which the Apostle Paul pens, in…
Galatians 5:22-23… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
Look at this list of attributes the Holy Spirit will empower you with !!
Love, Joy, and Peace, are the most important of these 9 fruit of the Spirit…
How would you like to have a supernatural love that surpasses your mortal knowledge (Ephesians 3:19)… A love empowered by the Holy Spirit that will enable you to love even someone screaming in your face, as Jesus tells us to do, in…Matthew 5:43-44…
And how about having a supernatural joy that enables you to go through life’s most difficult trial, and still be able to find joy… The Apostle James tells us about this joy, in…James 1:2-4…
And wouldn’t you like to have a supernatural peace that will allow you to look upon your own death…knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you will be face to face with Jesus in heaven, the instant you breath your last breath here on earth !! (2 Corinthians 5:8)
This supernatural peace surpasses our mortal understanding, as the Apostle Paul pens, in…
Philippians 4:6-7…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God,whichsurpassesallunderstanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.(NKJV)
All of these God given blessings will be given to you by God, if you understand and obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… How is this done ?? You must pray to God, with what some call “the sinners prayer”, that should go something like this…
“Father I am sorry for my lifetime of sins… I believe with ALL my heart, that Your Son Jesus suffered and died on the cross, shedding His blood to cleanse away all of my sins… I believe that Jesus was buried, and rose again in 3 days… I repent and turn from my sins with godly sorrow and a repentant heart…seeking Jesus Christ to come into my heart to direct my life… Father, hear my plea to receive Your grace… Grant me eternal life with You… Fill me with the Holy Spirit…and I thank You and praise You in Jesus’ most precious name…Amen”
I can only tell you from my own personal experience…that I made this prayer seeking salvation several times, before God graced me with salvation. It’s not the prayer that saves us; it is a changed heart that is regenerated by God Himself… God knows our heart, and He will only grant saving grace to those who seek Jesus with ALL of their heart, mind soul, and strength…
God finally graced me with salvation when I prayed with true godly sorrow and a repentant heart…and I absolutely knew beyond any doubt, that I was just then a redeemed child of God…(Romans 8-16) It is God’s decision, and God’s perfect timing, to grace someone with eternal life with Him in heaven.
Failure to obey the Gospel of Christ before you die will result in eternal separation from God, and you will forever forfeit your place in heaven…
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9…in flaming fire takingvengeance on those who do not know God, and on thosewho do not obeythe gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished witheverlastingdestruction from the presence of the Lordand from the glory of His power, (NKJV)
All Christians who are Walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), should absolutely, positively know for sure, that they are indeed a redeemed child of God. The Apostle Paul tells us this, in…
Romans 8:15-16… For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that wearechildren of God,(NKJV)
There should be no doubts for the Spirit filled Christian about where they will be headed upon their death. No wondering if they are good enough to get into heaven. Because none of us are good enough…
Romans 3:23… forallhave sinned andfall shortof the glory of God, (NKJV)
The power of the Holy Spirit can and will conquer sin, by those who without question, have placed their lives in the hands of the Lord. The Apostle James says this best, when he penned this, in…
James 4:7-8… Thereforesubmitto God. Resist the devil and he willfleefrom you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.(NKJV)
My friends, these blessings of spiritual fruit are totally indescribable, and have to be experienced to be believed !!
For those who have been graced with salvation…we must do our best to remain walking in the Spirit… We see this penned by the Apostle Paul, in…
Galatians 5:16… I say then:Walk in the Spirit, and you shallnotfulfill the lust of the flesh. (NKJV)
We as Christians can only remain filled with the Holy Spirit (as the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:18-20), if we live in obedience to God’s will and God’s ways… Any unconfessed sin will leave us in a state of broken (or at least hindered) fellowship with God…
To become righteous again in God’s eyes (from a practical standpoint, because we are always positionally righteous before God), we must confess our sins before the Lord…repent of them…and turn from them… We see this very clearly, as penned by the Apostle John, in…
1John1:9… Ifweconfessoursins,Heisfaithfulandjustto forgiveus oursins and tocleanseus fromallunrighteousness. (NKJV)
Living for the Lord, with the Holy Spirit in total charge of your life, is a blessing that I pray everyone will come to experience…
Heavenly Father, Your Word is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…Hebrews 4:12-13… I pray Lord, that You would draw to Yourself those that don’t yet know You as their personal Lord and Savior…John 6:44… And that the truth from Your Word through obedience to the Gospel of Your Son Jesus Christ, would set them free from Satan’s chains of bondage to sin and shame…John 8:32… I pray for this fullness of Christ in all of our lives, in Jesus’ most precious name and for His sake…Amen…
Blessings in Christ, bruce r. mills
(Message me here, or send me an e-mail @ email@example.com with any questions)
P.S. For those who still believe they can earn their own way into heaven, listen to John Piper’s audio on… “Can My Good Works Outweigh My Bad?
Nearly 20 years ago, I strolled into the music building at Cal Poly. I was in between classes, looking forward to some light conversation with some of the music majors and minors that I knew from choir. As I settled myself into an open seat, I realized that I had unwittingly wandered into the midst of a heated discussion on homosexuality. A few days earlier, someone painted the Cal Poly ‘P’ on the hillside in rainbow colors for Gay Pride week. The following day, someone painted it white. It was repainted yet again, only to reappear, bright white, the following morning. It would have been funny if it had been rival fraternities or something innocuous, but the aftermath was anything but humorous.
I was totally unprepared, not only for the situation, but for the angry arguments, most of which were pro-homosexuality. In the late 20th century and early 2000s, most contended homosexuality was a lifestyle choice. Only a select few considered it something one was “born with.” Further inflaming the conversation was whether or not religious people were right in their contention that the Bible condemned the practice. I sat mutely, listening attentively to how the arguments were articulated. Mainly, the arguments were emotional and anecdotal. I wanted so badly to speak up, but I was at a complete loss as to how I ought to state my position without further entrenching people into the opposite side. I let fear win that day—fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of making it worse.
I learned some valuable lessons during my years at Cal Poly, because this was only one of many such discussions:
The best discussions are had in very small groups (2-4 people), particularly with people you know personally. If they know you and have some sort of relationship with you, they will be less likely to slap you with the hate label.
Keep your emotions in check, or you will simply look like a child throwing a temper tantrum.
If people don’t believe in the value of the Bible, don’t use bible verses unless they actually want to know what the Bible says.
Establish terms and, if you can, a few agreed-upon premises or you will simply be talking past each other rather than reasoning with one another.
Most importantly, treat the other person with dignity (even if they don’t deserve it). Do not belittle them, assassinate their character, or treat them like a nasty cockroach. It is the argument you want to attack, not the individual.
Note: Since social media came after my college education, it was not until after college that I reached the conclusion that social media is not the best venue for discussion. Keyboard ninjas are everywhere, careless about feelings and often crude in their attacks. It is also challenging (but not impossible) to convey a respectful tone in a heated discussion. If you’re going to do it, be careful! You will have to read and re-read your post, honestly evaluating the tone in which it is written.
Before we can have quality discussions on issues such as homosexuality, transgenderism, fornication, abortion, or any other controversial topic, we must guide our children in learning these critical foundations. As we teach our children how to face these arguments, we must drive home the pivotal importance of our attitude and bearing. The first foundation we must lay is the foundation of love.
During Jesus time on earth, He explained that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. “On these two commandments,” he said, “depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22.34-40) The accounts of Jesus in the gospels show us a teacher who always spoke the truth with love and boldness.
Sometimes speaking the truth with love involved using harsh terms (like, “woe to you Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!”) because so many were led astray by false teaching.
Sometimes teaching the truth with love meant asking hard questions.
Sometimes teaching the truth with love required Jesus to tell people they were lacking in something.
More often than not, teaching the truth with love was more painful for Jesus than for those being taught because they rejected Him and His teaching. If you have ever loved anyone, you know that love can be painful, particularly when the beloved chooses poorly. It doesn’t mean we cease to love them, but we are going to ache for them.
What is Love?
The definition of love is pretty messed up these days. Many in our 21st century believe love demands unconditional approval of another person’s choices, regardless of how harmful those choices are to themselves or others. Love is often employed as noun—a powerful feeling. When our culture uses to it as a verb, it is essentially defined as “being nice.”
Love is so much more than warm fuzzies or viral videos of kindness.
Here are a few ways the Bible defines love:
“[Love] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
1 Corinthians 13is often referred to as “The Love Chapter” and is known even by non-believers. How often do we recite the patience, kindness, and endurance of love, while overlooking the bit about how “it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, bur rejoices in the truth”? The world tells us that if we conclude that someone’s actions are dangerous or wrong (gasp!), we are being judgmental (at best) and hateful (at worst). This misconception needs to be corrected. Blanket approval of the beloved’s choices is not love.
Love seeks the highest good of the one loved. We cannot rejoice in their actions if those actions will hurt others or themselves. As children of God, we know that even if they suffer no obvious “damage” in this life, there will be eternal consequences in the next. If we watch mutely as they continue down a path of self-destruction, are we showing real love? If we speak up and try to stop them, it is not hateful but loving! People are going to make bad choices in spite of our attempts to help, but we must make every effort to do so.
Imagine, if you will, a large group of people stranded in the South Pacific. You’ve been sent in as part of a rescue team. The water is warm and calm, the breeze is refreshing, and the islands look nearer than they really are. The people, while waiting for help, have discovered that they can see some of the beautiful fish swimming beneath the surface. Rather than panicking over their situation, they are starting to enjoy themselves. As you navigate your boat into the group of people, you extend your hand to someone near you. “Get in the boat,” you cry, “Sharks will come—and soon! We’ve got to get out of here now!” For a moment, they look concerned, but since they haven’t seen in any sharks, they think you’re exaggerating.
“I’m fine,” they reply carelessly, “I haven’t seen any sharks, just a few schools of fish. I’ll swim to shore when I’m ready. This water is great right now! Besides, I’m rather enjoying myself. Go help somebody else.”
You tell them how far the islands are, and they laugh. “You’re going to drown from exhaustion or die of dehydration!” you warn, but they wave you away impatiently. “You’re exaggerating!” they drawl, “I’ll get there when I’m ready.”
You offer your hand to others, sometimes tossing out the life preserver to those at a greater distance. Much to your relief, someone finally takes you seriously. A few more people join you in the boat, but most think they have plenty of time and disregard your warnings. They are relishing this little bit of adventure. You realize you can’t stay out on the water much longer because some of the people in your boat are bleeding and will endanger everyone in the boat if you don’t get them to shore. You catch a glimpse of the sharks gliding stealthily beneath the unwitting swimmers. You shout a warning again, but—as nobody has been eaten yet—they mock your over-zealousness. Just as you reach the safety of the island, you hear distant screams. Oh why wouldn’t they listen?? Why wouldn’t they get in the boat?!
As you engage people in discussions, think of yourself as part of God’s rescue team. God is the one who does the saving, but it’s our job to extend our hands and His life-preserving truth. Do not lose heart—most prefer to swim in warm, shark-infested waters. Do not lose focus—we do this out of love for God and love for them.
The following lyrics will, I hope be an encouragement to you as you seek to share God’s truth with others. I’ve attached a link to the song as well.
Are we teaching the truth in love?
Telling it like it is?
While holding pure motives
And showing that we care
Are we teaching the truth in love?
A man came to my Jesus
Telling all that he had done
To fulfill the good commandments
He knew every single one
But Jesus said there’s something
That indeed he did lack
Yes the savior told the truth
He didn’t hold the message back
(Because) He was teaching the truth in love
Telling it like it is
While holding pure motives
And showing that He cared
He was teaching the truth in love.
A woman caught in evil and without an alibi
The truth, so very obvious, made no attempt to lie
With all the foes against her how she felt so all alone
Until Jesus asked the people who would throw the first stone
Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how we are to share With our Master’s words of confidence, directly, do we dare? Should we water down the message? Should we tell them only parts? Will they see Him in our message? Will they see Him in our hearts?
Elihu Anderson is a California refugee currently thriving on the West Texas plains. She is the founder of elihuscorner.com and is a contributor to Kirk Cameron’s website TheCourage.com. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she is sipping on some iced homemade chai and enjoying time with a good friend. Come by and say hi at elihuscorner.com or visit me on Facebook.com/elihuscorner View all posts by Elihu
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
It is altogether fitting that the text shifts from warning against falling away, to the piercing power of the Word of God, to our Great High Priest Jesus, for our author has been warning and encouraging his readers to hang on to their faith through a time of great trial lest they should perish. Think about it: They were being told to endure a really horrible time in history, Christians were being burned alive for fun and amusement, and the author is telling the people to endure that rather than turn their backs on God: Yikes!
There is a huge difference between unbelief, turning our backs on God and making an error or committing a sin. The error part, the sin part is not a problem, for we have a great High Priest. Since Jesus, our “big brother” has ascended into heaven where He is our high priest who makes intercession for us with God, we must, and we can hold onto our faith. Jesus, who makes intercession for us with God, has endured every temptation; He knows what it’s like to be a weak human, so He will understand and intercede for us.
Do you see how encouraging this must have been for those brothers and sisters who first heard it? Isn’t it pretty encouraging for us now? Do I hear an “Amen”?
With this in mind, the next step is to approach the throne of grace with confidence. Why? Because we know who our High Priest is, there is nothing to fear… We can remain in our faith and seek forgiveness when we fall short; there is no need to give up and turn our backs on God, thinking that our case is hopeless, for Jesus is in our corner.
I am writing to those who are tired and exhausted in serving the church. I am writing this to encourage you to continue to serve God at church, and to do so by the grace of God.
Sometimes serving in the church it can feel that the gates of hell is pressing unto the church. And sometimes that is true.
Certainly Jesus recognized this reality. As He described it in His own words:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Yet did you catch what Jesus said? “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That’s right, in regards to Christ’s church He will not allow Hell to prevail against it.
Of course sometimes Christ moves the church elsewhere outside an apostatizing body of people. Yet for those involved with teaching and preaching, discipling, ministering and serving with sound doctrines the church is always under the pressure of Satan from outside worldly influences upon the members, false teachings, or members’ love for God growing cold, worldliness, sins, etc.
It can be easy to be discouraged.
Sometimes it feels everything depends upon us. Or at least humanly speaking.
Yet Matthew 16:18 gives us hope.
Again “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
But did you catch what Jesus said before that? Jesus said “I will build my church.”
He will build His church.
Christ will build His church.
Part of that involves Christ giving spiritual gifts to the members of His church to build His church.
Yet when God uses members of the church to build the Church it is Christ who builds His church.
What an incredible truth.
What an incredible truth to meditate upon.
What an incredible truth that should move you to serve all out in the church.
What an incredible truth that should also make you not trust in yourself or your strength or your self-confidence; rather it should move you to trust in Christ for strength!
Have you gone to Him to pray for that strength?
Then go all out knowing Christ is working in His church! And count it a joy to thank God that He is using you!
If Christ is building His church through you that means we should also serve faithfully according to His blueprint in the Scriptures but also through sound doctrines from the teaching of Scripture.
Finally after all that you have done, at the end of Sunday you can go to God to pray for His grace with your shortcoming and also knowing that ultimately it is Christ who will build His church and not ultimately you. How liberating! How liberating it is this truth that frees us to go all-out serving God, liberating us from fear that immobilizes us when we think we are doing everything all alone.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,”Hebrews 4:15, 16.
Paul used a double negative in this passage which canceled itself and made the statement a positive. We have a High Priest which can be touched with the feeling of our trials because, as a human, He went through the same temptations, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life. Just as with Adam and Eve, Satan tempted Jesus in the flesh and He overcame. He used the Scriptures to fight Satan and send him packing. Jesus promises us the same power to overcome the temptations of Satan and his minions. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Some believe that Jesus could have sinned but He did not, thus earning the right to be the perfect sacrifice. This belief is heresy. Jesus was God, and God cannot sin. He was already the Savior before the foundation of the world. Rather, He was able to overcome in the flesh making Him the High Priest and Mediator who understands our trials in the flesh first hand. He also understands God’s perfect point of view which makes Him the perfect mediator between man and God. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6).
THOUGHT: Therefore, through Jesus, we have the right to come before the Judge and ask mercy when we have sinned and grace to make it through hard times and trials.
Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them (NIV).
Flooded path — photo by David Kitz
Reflection Up to this point Psalm 78has cataloged a long list of Israel’s transgressions. They have been a stubborn and rebellious people who have been unfaithful to the LORD. They have been unfaithful despite His mercy and the miracles He has performed on their behalf. Now this final portion of the psalm represents a turning point in the history of the nation.
Once again, the LORD intervened in the affairs of Israel. He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.
God chose a man; He chose a leader. Often the LORD chooses the most unlikely candidates for leadership. He did not go to the palace; He went to the sheep pen. He overlooked Jonathan, the courageous royal son of Saul, and instead He called out David, the youngest son of Jesse—aman after God’s own heart.
What does God consider when He looks for a leader? When selecting the next king, the prophet Samuel was told, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart”(1 Samuel 16:7). The LORD is not looking for physical strength or a handsome face, but he is looking for integrity of heart.
That should give hope to every one of us. I cannot change my stature or significantly alter my appearance, but through repentance and faith I can change the condition of my heart.
Response: LORD God, I want a heart of integrity—a heart that is pleasing to you. Help me to become an instrument that you will use for your good purpose in this strife-torn world. Amen.
Your Turn: Can we change our hearts or is that God’s job? What role do we play?
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”Matthew 18:30
That, right there, is one of the most misapplied verses in all of Scripture. Only, “Judge not,” likely get turned around to mean something it doesn’t really mean more often. Almost without fail it is used to give credibility to some person’s desire to avoid serving with a local body of believers. As in, “I don’t need a church, because where two or three…blah, blah, blah.” I actually had a guy tell me once that he, his dog and the trees in the woods he liked to go to constituted the necessary two or three.
The point here is not to defend the many good reasons we ought to all gather with a local body of believers regularly; that is an entirely different subject and post. In fact, this verse actually has NOTHING to do with church, or the nature of church as an institution. Nothing at all.
In fact, if one considers that verse in those terms, it’s placement makes absolutely no sense at all. Just before it appears, we were talking about church discipline; just after we are talking about forgiveness. Why would that be in the middle all by itself? Answer…it’s NOT stuck in the middle all by itself! It belongs in and concludes the previous passage on church discipline.
Friends, this verse has serious implications in relation to church discipline. There are certainly many gray areas, and we ought not to be legalistic about those. On the other hand, there are things that are NOT gray. Jesus expects His churches to be composed of those striving to become holy as He is, and He expects us to hold one another accountable for our actions and help each other through a process of repentance and restoration when there is sin in the camp.
So, in this context, the words, “in my name,” mean under His authority and the authority of His Word. When we do that, He promises to be there with us. Of course, the flip side is the opposite is also true. If we gather and are not submitting to His authority and His Word, then frankly He won’t be with us. That’s a scary thought. If we, in our local assemblies refuse to submit to His authority by dealing with sin in the camp and working towards repentance and restoration then we may, in fact, cease to be a New Testament church. As He warned some of the churches in the Book of Revelation, He may come and take our candlestick.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
The blessings of today would be rich if all of us were filled with the Holy Spirit. It would be impossible to overestimate the consequences of this sacred filling of the soul. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace, and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit’s gracious presence.
As sacred oil, He anoints the head of the believer, setting him apart to the priesthood of saints and giving him grace to execute his office properly.
As the only truly purifying water He cleanses us from the power of sin and sets us apart to holiness, enabling us to desire and then to do what pleases the Lord.
As the light, He revealed Himself to us in our darkness, and now He reveals the Lord Jesus to us and in us and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by His pure celestial ray, we are no longer in darkness but light in the Lord.
As fire, He purges us from dross and sets our consecrated nature ablaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice unto God.
As heavenly dew, He removes our barrenness and fertilizes our lives. How we long for Him to come upon us from above at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet beginning to the day.
As the dove, with wings of peaceful love He broods over His Church and over the souls of believers, and as a Comforter He dispels the cares and doubts that spoil the peace of His beloved. He descends upon the chosen as He did upon Christ at His baptism and bears witness to their sonship by working in them a filial spirit by which they cry, “Abba, Father.”
As the wind, He brings the breath of life to men; blowing where He wills, He performs the quickening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained.
Would to God that we might feel His presence this day and every day.