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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Gospel for Everyone

There are some people that believe that the Gospel message is only for the Israelites. The they use passages from the Bible that appear support their view such as: 

"And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils."
Mark 1:38+39

"But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Matthew 15:24

"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, 'Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into [any] city of the Samaritans enter ye not:  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.'"
Mark 10:5-8

If this be so, then why did the Apostles appear to stray from their original commission? What made them change?  Well before we get into all of the reasons why the focus changed from bringing the Gospel to Israel to bringing the Gospel to the rest of the world.  Let is focus upon the verses shared in this article that appear to espouse this Gospel for the Israel only view.  The above verses were stated by Christ in the earliest part of his ministry.  The reason why Jesus was so focus on getting the Gospel out to only the people of Israel  was to fulfill God's promise to Israel. God's purpose was to keep the promises he made through the mouths of the prophets to Israel.  That He would have a son (Isaiah 9:6; 1 Samuel ), that son would be born of a virgin (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14), that son would be God's anointed servant ( ), That servant would die for the sins of the people (Isaiah 53:5; Psalms 22).  It keeping his promises to Israel God sent Gabriel to a virgin named Mary who told her about her selection and the soon to be born child's name. 

"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name [was] Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, [thou that art] highly favoured, the Lord [is] with thee: blessed [art] thou among women. And when she saw [him], she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Luke 1:26-35

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:18-21

Now this does not prove that Jesus and the Gospel that he preached was for everyone, for we have also read in the previous passages that Jesus will save HIS PEOPLE from their sins.  So the next question is: Who is Jesus' people? If we take a natural view, we will notice that Jesus was born as a Jew, raised as a Nazarene by Jewish parents and lived most of his youth in Nazareth.  So His People biologically and geographically speaking are the Jewish people, the people of Israel.  It would appear that the people who make the claim that Jesus died to save His fellow Jews only are correct. That is, if you only consider the verses that they use.  For Jesus himself before he left this earth, gave specific instructions to his disciples  to preach the Gospel message to all nations teaching them and making disciples.  (Mark 16:15; Mathew 28:18; Luke 24:46+47) Why the switch from preaching to Israel alone to preaching to the entire world?  It is because the Gospel was not fully accepted by the by the people of Israel that the message of salvation, the Gospel came to the nations.  

"He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
John 1:11-13

Some people have said that this passage is a later explanation of what occurred between Jesus, the Christ and His people for the Jews are still His People and God's plan of salvation is designed exclusively for them.  Yes it is true that the people of Israel are still Jesus' people in many respects, but not everyone in God's sight is not of Israel.  The Apostle Paul explains:

"... For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son."   Romans 9:6-9

and

"Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.....That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.......For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:6-9, 14, 26-29

Jesus himself also stated that He had "sheep" that were not of this fold. (John 10:16)  Which only at first glance appear to mean that he knew of other Jews living outside of the Land of Israel that had not yet had a chance to hear the Gospel message.  That is until he says the following to the inquiring Jewish religious leadership:

"And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.'" John 10:23-28

So what Jesus said here is that just because they did not hear his call to be saved, they are not his sheep.  Here is the point, Jesus separated those who would hear and accept the Gospel from those who would not.  Those who did accept the Gospel was called "His Sheep", those who did not remain lost by the consequence of their own choice to not believe the Gospel. (John 3:16-21) It did not matter if they were of Jewish decent or not. Why did Jesus do this? Because the religious leadership and many of the people did not believe who  Jesus said he was.   He gave them the evidence and they still did not believe.  Jesus found many people that were not of Israel that believed in who he was (Matthew 15:22-28; Luke 7:2-10) So what we see is Jesus outlining three critical things that make a believer in God, His Sheep regardless of their ethnicity.  They are the following:

a) His Sheep, hears His voice
b) He has intimate knowledge of them and they have intimate knowledge of Him
c)  His Sheep follow his guidance 

Let us examine each of these qualifications:

a) His Sheep, hears His voice

How can anyone hear the voice of Jesus now that He has returned to the Father in Heaven?  When anyone reads, studies or recites any of His words that was recorded in the Gospel record they are hearing Jesus' voice. 

b) He has intimate knowledge of them and they have intimate knowledge of Him

How can anyone have an intimate knowledge of someone that has left this life? This is crucial for believers to understand, you can not be a follower of Christ without having a personal relationship with Christ.  How can someone have a personal relationship with Christ?  By getting born again, but we will get to that a little later.

c) His Sheep follow His guidance

How can one follow His guidance, since he is not with us physically?  Jesus did not leave us comfortless, he sent the Holy Spirit to assist us and guide us into all truth, to bear witness of Jesus, the Christ and empower us to live this new life in God.  He also gave us His word, the Bible so that if we lose our way, we can always come back and get on the right path.  So studying the Bible and understanding the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is imperative to walking in the guidance of Christ. 

This answers the question: Who can be one of His Sheep?  Anyone that hears his voice, accepts the Gospel message and follows His guidance.  This fulfills the prophecy that reads:

"... I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to [them which were] not my people, Thou [art] my people; and they shall say, [Thou art] my God."  Hosea 2:23

For who is these that had not obtained mercy? Those who once were not God's people.  God proclaiming through the prophet the selection of  a people of faith  from among the nations, a people who will believe in Him.  (Romans 9:26)

So how does God do this? He sends Jesus to keep the promises He made through the prophets to save Israel, but most of Israel refuses to accept the Gospel.  So God through Christ and His Apostles begin to preach to those who would hear and accept the Gospel of Salvation. Does this mean that that Israel can not be saved? By no means, the same salvation that was provided by Christ for all, also includes an open invitation to all Jews everywhere also to receive it.  Which brings us back to the question:  How can I receive this salvation provided by Christ?  The answer: By Being born again:

"...But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12+13

But How do you get born of God? Someone had the same question and asked Jesus to answer it, this is what He said to him:

 "'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus saith unto him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?'  Jesus answered, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again...And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'" John 3:3-7, 14-16

From what Jesus had said getting born again is as easy as believing that he died for your sins.  Jesus corellated the lifting up of the Son of Man, that is God's man, to Moses lifting up the Serpent on a pole.  Jesus was appealing to Nicodemus knowledge of the sojournings of Israel in the wilderness when God was punishing the people for their unbelief, the people pleaded to Moses and God provided a solution that those who chose to repent and believe in God could be saved from wrath of God. (Numbers 21:4-9 ) God instructed Moses to make a brass serpent and lift it up upon a pole. That whosoever repented from their unbelief looked upon it they were healed. In very much the same way Jesus was to be lifted up upon the cross so that whosoever chooses to believe and repented of their sins can be saved.   How do one get saved?  The Apostle Paul explains the saving process further.

"...if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:9-13

It is upon the open confession of faith in the death and resurrection of Christ and an acknowledgement of His Lordship by a repented heart that saves a person from their sins. How does one do that?  All a person has to do is recite the following prayer with all his heart:

Dear heavenly Father, In Jesus' name come you now as a repented sinner, I confess all my sinfulness to you and ask you to forgive me for Jesus' sake.  I now believe that You sent Jesus to die for my sins according Your promises in the Bible.  I Also believe that You raised Jesus from the dead according to Your promises in the Bible. I therefore, invite Your Holy Spirit to live inside of me and ask You to make me Your Child.  I promise to strive to live Holy everyday with Your Help. I thank you Lord for saving me.  

That is it! You are now a Child of God! I welcome you to the Family of God in Christ. The next thing you need to do is find a Bible Believing Church and Learn all you can about Jesus.

Now for those of you who did not choose to say the suggested prayer.  I have a warning for you.  Just like those who chose not to believe in the wilderness were subject to the wrath of God for their unbelief.  You too are under the same wrath for not choosing to believe the Gospel of God's Salvation through Jesus, the Christ.  For the Bible states:

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36

Now why would you think that God would spare you in your unbelief, if he did not spare them that did not believe that sojourned in the wilderness with Moses, but died before seeing all that God had promised them?   God is no respecter of persons, in the matter of the acceptance of His salvation, He plays no favorites.  Who would want the wrath of God abiding with him for the rest of his natural life?  When the people of Israel saw the wrath of God, some of them quickly repented.  The others died in their unbelief.    If you are one of those who believe that there is nothing beyond the grave then listen on the testimony of a man recited by Jesus who thought the same thing.

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Luke 16:19-31

As I said this was a testimony, not a parable.  If Jesus was teaching a parable He would state the the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is like a or end with so it is in the Kingdom of Heaven or His Father.   There is no reference to the Kingdom of God or Heaven as a comparison to this testimony.  Because Jesus is God, he can recite the testimony of people who have died and their vain requests of God while in hell.    The point is that this testimony recited by Jesus proves that  the grave is not the end of it all, it is just the beginning.  Hell is not a place of comfort, there is not going to be a party there.  For Hell was not created for you dear reader.  Jesus says that hell was created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41) , so if a soul would venture to go there, because of their unbelief of the Gospel of Salvation provided by God through Jesus, the Christ, they would be tortured by the demons of Satan himself for making such a judgment error.  

The choice is yours.












Monday, August 20, 2012

Support Your Local Pastor

One of the many reasons that Pastors these days have to work is that they are not getting the financial support they are suppose to get from the people of God that they are ministering to. Some people really believe that they are paying for just the livelihood of the Pastor, not for the Gospel to be preached because they believe the Gospel comes without a cost..  Some other people believe that Pastors do nothing worthy of getting support, because they see the Pastor of a particular church driving the best cars, living in the best homes and eating food that for the most part, in the view of the non-supporter, that Pastor did not pay for. Their thought is, well why don't he get a real job, like the rest of us and keep the Gospel free?  Or the sentiment is, Paul, the Apostle worked as a tent maker and preached the Gospel, why can't the Pastor of churches do the same instead of charging us for the message the he preaches?  The fact of the matter is that if the Pastor or Preacher desires to work in order to support his family and the Ministry, he has the scriptural right to do so, but that is not what God desired or designed.   God's plan of support of the Man of God who he has sent to minister the Gospel to your church community is that the Man of God is supported by the people of God.  Let us Go to the word, shall we?

In the Book of Numbers Chapter 18 versed 20 to 24, God instructed Arron the selected High Priest that he has no inheritance among the people of Israel. It goes on to say that neither does the Levites have any inheritance among the people of Israel.  What was their inheritance?  Their inheritance was God himself, therefore whatsoever tithes God received of the people, the Levites also received.  After which they had done so the Levites were instructed to tithe the tithes that they received of the people to the Lord and his house (Numbers 18:26).   This is the principle that I stated before that Gods people must support Gods man,  but those of us who believe that this principle is not applicable to us today because of the belief that Jesus took away the Law and now we live by God's grace, we do not have to look far to find that even before the Law was ratified the principle that God people must support God's man selected to minister to them.  In Genesis 14:18-20 we find that Abraham gave tithes to the man of God in his day.  This occurred before there was ever a law given to the people of Israel, for Israel was not even born when Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek.  Because Abraham gave tithes, not under any commandment, but by faith under the promise of blessing, we too must give support of God's  man by faith and not under any compulsion for we too are under the Abrahamic blessing by faith in Christ. The point is the principle is still God's people must support God's man is still in effect because the Bible stipulates that the Law which appeared 430 years after the Abrahamic promise can not put out of legal effect or disannul the promise that was made by God to him.                         (Galatians 3:15-18)

Well somebody will say that Jesus did not receive tithes when he walked the earth with his disciples, nor did he command people to give to God tithes.  Well yes he did, recall the the time when the religious leadership tried to ensnare Jesus in his words and asked him whether or not should they pay tribute to Caesar or give to God? How did Jesus answer them?  He said, "Give unto Caesar what the things that is Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17-21) Jesus did not oppose people giving to God what is His. Among the things that are His, the tithe offering is one of them.(Leviticus 27:30,32) The fact of the matter is that Jesus did not oppose the people tithing at all.  He opposed the way the conducted the tithing process, like it was a money making venture,. (Matthew 21:12-14,23:23+24) squeezing every coin out of it for themselves. It is true  that there is no record that Jesus did not receive tithes, but he did have a treasurer because he constantly was supported by God's people,which echoes the principle I mentioned before, God's people must support God's man.  Why did Jesus not receive tithes when he was among us?Jesus could not receive tithes while he walked upon the earth because he had not died yet and the old law of tithing was still in effect.  Remember Jesus came to fulfill, or satisfy the Law, not to destroy it, so while he was on this earth he could not receive tithes.

Furthermore, the Old Law gave power and authority to the priestly order in his day to determine sin and pronounce God's per-scripted judgement upon it. Understanding that God himself set up this order of priesthood, while the Law still had legal power Jesus could do nothing, while he was alive on this earth, that would offend it. All He could do is satisfy its righteous demands, which required His death. For sin gave the Law the power of judging it and exposing it.  As long sin is found, God must judge it, for he is Holy. God did so through the legal sacrificial system that God set up from the beginning of human existence,(Genesis 3:21,4:3-5,8:20-22) but mankind is frail and prone to sin. (Hebrews 8:8)  Therefore, finding the fault in mankind,  God had to do something to save mankind from the penalty of sin, which is eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.  God sacrificed a part of Himself, he sent Jesus, His only begotten Son to save mankind from their sins and ultimately from the condemnation of the Law. (Galatians 3:13; Romans 8:1-4).  When Jesus satisfied the righteous demands of the Old Law, by shedding his own blood, he put a legal end to it. What people do not understand that God through Jesus set up a New Law which fulfills or satisfies the Old Law. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) That Law is the Law of Christ (Romans 8:1+2) His shed blood satisfied the righteous demands of the Old Law of God and also ratified forever the all the promises of God made to mankind. (1Corinthians 1:20).

When Jesus arose from the dead and entered into the true Holiness of Hollies, in the presence of the Father, God, He went showing Himself that all has been fulfilled as He has spoken concerning the redemption of mankind.  Jesus took his rightful place at the right hand of God, the Father interceding for us as a High priest over our profession of faith in Him and our confession of faith concerning things in this world.  So what does this have to do with supporting our local Pastors?  Before Jesus went to be with the Father, God, He instructed and called men to continue the Preaching of the Gospel to all men.  Anointing them with power of the Holy Spirit, they preached.  That tradition of preaching is continued today through our local Pastors, under that same anointing. Just as Jesus and His Apostles, even the Apostle Paul received support for the preaching of the Gospel, so should the Local Pastors ( Luke 10:1-12,17-24; John 13:29; 1 Corinthians 9:14). That God's people support God's man.  Point of clarification: When Jesus told his disciples to not carry a money purse or script of money on them when preaching the Gospel, it was not because he did not want them to receive  money, He was protecting them from depending upon money to corrupt the power He had given them. (Acts 8:9-20)

It is only in these recent times that people believe that Pastors should themselves pay for the Gospel to be preached and not, in their minds, force the people to pay anything.  Please understand that No offering is to be given under compulsion, but by faith in the one who has provided all good things to us.(2 Corinthians 9:6) To give as though it was a bill, or a tax is to dishonor the principle upon which the first tithe was given.  Which was by faith in the Goodness of God and to praise God for his goodness toward us.  It is only in these recent times that Churches have to pay for buildings to be constructed, and pay people to do it.  It is only in these recent times that giving an offering to the man of God is an option.  It is only in these recent times that people expect  God to change what he has written, to suit their own appetites.  Well God does not change, His word does not change and his principle that God's man is supported by God's people has not changed.  So what shall we do? We need to repent, and support our local Pastors that are preaching the Gospel, because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us and the commission he gave to us.  Nothing more nothing less.

How do I do that, when I don't have a church home?  Find a local Pastor and support him, church membership is not required to support the Man of God.  The Widow of Zerephath was down to her last meal, but there came a Man of God to her and instructed her sacrifice a piece of the meal to him first. This woman was not an Israelite, that means that she was not privileged to receive the blessing of the covenant, but she did what the Man of God instructed her to do.  God, blessed her for her obedience and provided for her throughout the famine.  This is what can happen if the people of God support the man of God, whether they are a church member or not, that is preaching the word of God.  (Luke 4:25-27; 1 Kings 17:8-16). In short, you don't have to be a Israelite to receive the blessing of God.  All you have to do is support God's man, that is preaching the Gospel. All you have is comply with the Biblical principle that God's man is supported by God's people.  The Local Pastor is God's Man in these days sent to preach the Gospel to God's people.

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