Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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This blog is meant to encourage you to do the good works, which were prepared beforehand for those who are saved by grace through faith.  It was for these good works that the Lord created us.

As the Scripture says:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:8-10)

Resting from Work Keeping Sundays Holy Christian Sabbath is Sunday, not Saturday
The Lord's Day Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II Famous Christian Sabbath Observers
Sabbath Period The Origin of the Sabbath Righteous Deeds and White Robes
 Doing What is Right Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice The Law Established Through Faith
Law of Love in the New Testament Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Why Paul Lived Like a Jew Among the Jews
Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Obedience by the Spirit
The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Costly Grace
Partaking of the Divine Nature House of Idleness God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He?
Faith Works! The Spirit's Law of Life The Spirit of the Law
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? Righteousness by Faith not Law The Ebb and Flow of Ministry for the Lord
Compelled by Love   God's Idea of Work What Then Must We Observe
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully The Sale of Christian Music and Art -- A Robbers' Den? Remember the Eternal Law of God
All Our Deeds Are Known to the Lord Practicing Your Righteousness The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun
The Ways of Life Followers of the Way Judging with Righteous Judgment
Holding Fast the Faithful WordWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisThe Conditional Security of the Believer
No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works Wesley's Sunday Sabbath Keeping Running from God
Spiritual Do-It-Yourself

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The Good Samaritan by Dan Burr of Dan Burr Illustration copyright 2013 used by permission.

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Spiritual Do-It-Yourself

Dear brethren in the faith,

I want to write to you today about something that we don't hear much about these days, in my opinion. I certainly believe in preaching about what God and His Son Jesus Christ have done and continue to do for us, which is of paramount importance, and if you know me, then you know that I do preach that message.  For example, you will find articles of mine like Christ Alone, By Grace Alone, By Faith Alone, Righteousness By Faith Not Law, No Flesh Will Be Justified By WorksElection and Predestination, Keeping Power of GodYou Must Be Born Again, God Forgives and Forgets, Who Intercedes for Us?, and The Witness of the Spirit.

However, today I want to talk to you about the things that God will not do for you, but which you must do yourself with the help of the Holy Spirit. I have written many articles on this topic, such as Faith Works!, because this is what the Word teaches and emphasizes to us as believers. So rather than rewrite all those articles, I would like to be concise and simply give you some examples. Some of the things God will not do for you include the following: repenting for your sin, Seeking the Lord, being Crucified with Christ, being water baptizedLiving a Life Worthy of the LordKeeping a Good ConscienceAvoiding Becoming a Corrupted ChristianWalking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness, Holy Living in a Perverted WorldKeeping Oneself from Being Polluted by the WorldOvercoming the World, living a life of Separation from the WorldAvoiding Worldly WorshipPleasing the Lord, Being a Witness for Christ, giving offerings, TithingFasting, humbling yourself beneath God's mighty hand, Having a Servant's Heart, Keeping the Marriage Bed Holy, doing everything For the Glory of God AloneLoving Deeply, Abiding in ChristPracticing the Presence of the Lord, Walking in the Light of His PresenceReading the Bible, listening to the Word, praying and claiming His Promises, putting on The Wardrobe of the Saints, which includes the full armor of God; battling in Spiritual Warfare, resisting the devil, Inquiring of the Lord, maintaining Unbroken Communion with GodListening to JesusStanding in the Gap, working out your Salvation with Fear and Tremblingobeying the LordDoing What is Rightdoing everything the Lord has commandedHolding Fast the Faithful WordPracticing Your Righteousness, helping those who are weak, looking after orphans and widows, Pressing on Toward the GoalStriving to Enter the Kingdom of GodWalking in the Perfect Will of GodAiming for PerfectionLeading a Blameless LifeWearing Garments of Godliness, being Led by the Spirit, Doing Everything with Love, with Thanks, in the Name of Jesus, and as Unto the LordPraising the LordLaying on of HandsResting from Work, Keeping Sundays Holy, and Entering God's Rest. Remember that faith without deeds is useless (Js 2:26).

We should also understand that even some of the things that God does for us are not entirely without our involvement. We must still pray to receive His wonderful gifts of salvation, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit and The Baptism with Fire. On the other hand, even the things that He will not do for us, we cannot do without Him. For we must always remember that we can do nothing without Him, as Jesus said, "apart from Me you can do nothing." (Jn 15:5b, NIV). We need His help in all we do, so Do-It-Yourself is somewhat of a misnomer. We are not independent of God, but rather completely dependent upon Him. We put no confidence in the flesh, but our confidence is in the Lord.

I hope this has encouraged you in your walk with God to take an active role in it. He still loves you, but His standard for heaven is high. Be sure you don't miss heaven for anything.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, "Faith Works" image courtesy Media Machine. The Do It Yourself and Faith Works images are used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Conditional Security of the Believer, If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words, the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Running from God

There are some wonderful lessons of mercy, grace, and compassion to learn from Jonah and his experience when God sent Him to proclaim His message to the lost. Let's take a look and observe how God responded in each situation, and His sovereign control over everything as He sends and appoints whomever and whatever He pleases.

The Lord Sent Jonah
The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." (Jon 1:1-2)

Here God appointed or ordained Jonah to go forth when He sent him to Nineveh. However, Jonah ran away from the Lord and fled from His presence. Just as He appointed Jonah, He also appointed some other things. Let’s take a look at what those were.

The Lord Sent a Great Wind
The first thing the Lord did in response to Jonah running from Him was to send a great wind. “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jon 1:4, NIV). In fact the word for “sent” in this verse may also be translated “hurled” to indicate the mighty force with which the Lord sent it.

God opposes the proud, and He was opposing Jonah, who was acting in a selfish, strong-willed, rebellious manner.

Because of the storm, the sailors called on their gods and the captain ordered Jonah to get up from his sleep in the hold of the ship and call on his God. The sailors also cast lots to determine who was the cause of this storm and the lot fell to Jonah. When they asked him about it, he admitted he was to blame and once again said that he was running from the Lord, just as he had already told them. When they asked what they should do to calm the storm, he advised them to throw him into the sea, which they did. As soon as they threw him overboard, the sea grew calm.

The Lord Appointed a Fish
The next thing the Lord did was to appoint a fish to swallow Jonah. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NASB)

The word “appointed” comes from the Hebrew word “manah,” which is used four times in the book of Jonah, meaning “sent” or “appointed.” The NET Bible translates the word as “sent”. “The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NET).

While Jonah did not obey God when he was sent, the fish obeyed God when it was sent. It swallowed Jonah.

The Lord Commanded the Fish
The next thing that happened was that Jonah prayed from inside the belly of the great fish. He cried out to God and the Lord heard him. The Lord’s response to Jonah’s prayer was to give him a second chance, so He commanded the fish to disgorge him. “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” (Jon 2:10)
Once the fish had vomited Jonah onto dry land, God sent him a second time to Nineveh.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."
(Jon 3:1-2)

In obedience to God, Jonah arose and began his first of three days walk through the city with the message, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." (3:4). The people responded well to the message and repented sincerely. “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jon 3:5). In fact, when the king heard the message, he ordered all of his citizens to repent.

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish." (Jon 3:6-9)

That moved the heart of God, who saw their repentance and relented from sending the calamity He had intended to send upon the people of Nineveh.

The Lord’s decision not to send destruction on Nineveh really displeased Jonah. In fact, it made him angry (4:1).

He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jon 4:2)

The Lord Appointed a Plant
He decided to go east of the city, set up a shelter, and watch to see what God would do. Perhaps he hoped that God would still destroy them, since Jonah complained to Him about it. “So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.” (Jon 4:6)

The next thing God did was He appointed that plant to grow up to rescue Jonah from his misery. He did it because He knew Jonah was very hot and this would make him extremely happy. But He didn’t do it just for the sake of making Jonah happy. He did it to teach him a lesson.

God was concerned about all the people in Nineveh, because if they did not repent He would have to destroy them. However, Jonah was concerned about himself and his own comfort level.

The Lord Appointed a Worm
Afterward God sent a worm. “But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.” (Jon 4:7)

The worm obeyed God and attacked the plant that God had appointed. Just because God has appointed something doesn’t mean it will last forever, because He can appoint it to be destroyed. By appointing the worm to attack and destroy the plant, God was removing the shade that the plant provided, which brought relief to Jonah’s discomfort. He wanted Jonah to see that just as the plant had been important to Jonah, the people were even more important to God. He wanted Jonah to feel the concern that He had for the people of Nineveh.

The Lord Appointed a Scorching East Wind
Finally, after God destroyed the plant he had appointed, He appointed a scorching wind. “When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life.’" (Jon 4:8)

Through this object lesson, God taught Jonah about His love and compassion for people. “Then God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to death.’ Then the LORD said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?’” (Jon 4:9-11)

God loved and cared for those people of Nineveh, whom He created, far more than Jonah cared for the plant for which he did not work and which he did not cause to grow. God even loved the animals and did not take pleasure in having to destroy them either. He showed Jonah that it is right for Him to have compassion like that, which is why Jonah should have obeyed the first time, when God initially sent him.

Putting it All Together
It doesn’t pay to run from what God has told you to do. The same way He sends His people and appoints them to do a work for Him, He also sends and appoints everything else as He sees fit. He does whatever He pleases. He is sovereign and is ultimately in control of everything. He's a big God. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Rom 11:36). No wisdom, no insight, no plan can succeed against the Lord (Pr 21:30). When He appoints someone or something, nothing can stop Him.

The Lord sent Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh and warn them of the coming destruction that He was going to send upon their city. When the prophet disobeyed and ran from the presence of the Lord, God sent a wind, then a fish, then a plant, then a worm, and finally He sent a scorching wind. See how the elements all do His bidding! The wind obeyed God, the fish obeyed Him, the plant obeyed Him, the worm obeyed Him, but Jonah didn’t – at least not initially. But God gave him a second chance and then he finally did obey when he was sent. When he finally did, many people were saved from destruction as a result. The one thing God changed His mind about, and did not send  as He initially planned to do, was the destruction upon Nineveh.

Jonah taught us that God is a God of mercy and compassion. He is the God of second chances. Just as He gave Jonah a second chance, He also gave the people of Nineveh a second chance, too. He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. He loves people and is more concerned about the salvation of many than He is about our own personal comfort.

If you have been running from what God told you to do, now is the time to repent, turn back to Him, ask for His forgiveness, and obey Him. If you sincerely humble yourself before Him, He may give you a second chance. Likewise, if you have been living in sin, away from God, living for your own self, repent and turn to God through Jesus Christ, who died for you on the cross. He loves you and wants to save you. In fact, He has already gone to great lengths to save you, but you must repent and turn to Him to be saved, or else you, too, will perish.

Attribution noticeScripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, as well as the NET Bible, where noted. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend 
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of GodSins That Will Keep You From HeavenPleasing the LordLiving a Life Worthy of the LordDrifting AwayThe Straight and Narrow PathAsk for the Ancient PathsRighteous Deeds and White RobesPracticing Your RighteousnessHoly Living in a Perverted WorldDoing What is RightYour Rewards Are Based on Your PracticeIs Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?Faith Works!The Judgment Seat of ChristThe Obedience of FaithThe Difference Between a Disciple and a BelieverRemember the Eternal Law of GodPurge the Evil from Among YouJames Agboola Revelation of Heaven and HellThe Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to GodElection and PredestinationKeeping Power of God, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?


“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wesley's Sunday Sabbath Keeping

John Wesley
Since the earliest days of the church, immediately following the resurrection, the Church has been meeting for worship on the first day of the week (Joh 20:19; Ac 20:7-8; 1 Cor 16:2), and the apostles recognized the first day of the week as the Lord's Day. For example, the apostle John wrote, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev 1:10), which is a reference to his worship on the first day of the week. Although some who believe in Saturday sabbath teach that the expression used in this verse refers to the seventh day, that view contradicts the evidence from early Christian writers that wrote in the days immediately following the apostles. Dr. Stephen Flick has written an article containing quotes from those writers, called Sunday Worship or the Lord’s Day in the Early Christianityproving that "the Lord's Day" was always synonymous with the first day of the week.

As I mentioned in my previous article, Famous Christian Sabbath Observers, John Wesley was a famous preacher who kept the Christian Sabbath. I read a comment made by a reader of one of his sermons posted online about the Sabbath, in which the reader wondered why the Methodists worship on Sunday, since their founder Wesley was a Sabbath keeper. The reason is that he believed Sunday was the Sabbath day of the New Covenant, and it is clearly evident throughout his journals that he kept the Lord's Day holy. This can easily be proven by doing a search on the word "Sunday" in his journals posted online.

One of John Wesley's favorite Bible commentators was Matthew Henry (October 18, 1662 – June 20, 1714), who was a Nonconformist minister and author, born in Wales but spending much of his life in England. Incidentally, Henry happens to be my favorite Bible commentator, as well. John Wesley was a great preacher, teacher, evangelist and the founder of Methodism. He was born June 17, 1703 in Epworth, England. In his own commentary of the Bible, John Wesley's Explanatory Notes, he often quoted Henry without using quotes or crediting Henry. He shared many of the same views as Henry, just as I do. So my beliefs are very much in harmony with both of these men. For the sake of today's topic, let's look particularly at the commentaries of these two men on the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8, in order to understand what they believed about the sabbath. The Scripture says:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who [a]stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." (Ex 20:8-12).

Matthew Henry John Wesley
The fourth commandment concerns the time of worship. God is to be served and honoured daily, but one day in seven is to be particularly dedicated to his honour and spent in his service. The fourth commandment concerns the time of worship; God is to be served and honoured daily; but one day in seven is to be particularly dedicated to his honour, and spent in his service.
It is taken for granted that the sabbath was instituted before; we read of God's blessing and sanctifying a seventh day from the beginning (Gen_2:3), so that this was not the enacting of a new law, but the reviving of an old law. It is taken for granted that the sabbath was instituted before. We read of God's blessing and sanctifying a seventh day from the beginning, Gen_2:3, so that this was not the enacting of a new law, but the reviving of an old law.
They are told what is the day they must religiously observe - a seventh, after six days' labour; whether this was the seventh by computation from the first seventh, or from the day of their coming out of Egypt, or both, is not certain:  They are told what is the day, they must observe, a seventh after six days labour, whether this was the seventh by computation from the first seventh, or from the day of their coming out of Egypt, or both, is not certain. 
How it must be observed. First, As a day of rest; they were to do no manner of work on this day in their callings or worldly business.  How it must be observed; As a day of rest; they were to do no manner of work on this day, in their worldly business. 
As a holy day, set apart to the honour of the holy God, and to be spent in holy exercises. God, by blessing it, had made it holy; they, by solemnly blessing him, must keep it holy, and not alienate it to any other purpose than that for which the difference between it and other days was instituted. As a holy day, set apart to the honour of the holy God, and to be spent in holy exercises. God, by his blessing it, had made it holy; they, by solemn blessing him, must keep it holy, and not alienate it to any other purpose than that for which the difference between it and other days was instituted.
Who must observe it: Thou, and thy son, and thy daughter; the wife is not mentioned, because she is supposed to be one with the husband and present with him, and, if he sanctify the sabbath, it is taken for granted that she will join with him; but the rest of the family are specified. Children and servants must keep the sabbath, according to their age and capacity: in this, as in other instances of religion, it is expected that masters of families should take care, not only to serve the Lord themselves, but that their houses also should serve him, at least that it may not be through their neglect if they do not, Jos_24:15.
Even the proselyted strangers must observe a difference between this day and other days, which, if it laid some restraint upon them then, yet proved a happy indication of God's gracious purpose, in process of time, to bring the Gentiles into the church, that they might share in the benefit of sabbaths. Compare Isa_56:6, Isa_56:7. Even the proselyted strangers must observe a difference between this day and other days, which, if it laid some restraint upon them then, yet proved a happy indication of God's gracious design, to bring the Gentiles into the church.
God takes notice of what we do, particularly what we do on sabbath days, though we should be where we are strangers. By the sanctification of the sabbath, the Jews declared that they worshipped the God that made the world, and so distinguished themselves from all other nations, who worshipped gods which they themselves made.
A particular memorandum put upon this duty: Remember it. It is intimated that the sabbath was instituted and observed before; but in their bondage in Egypt they had lost their computation, or were restrained by their task-masters, or, through a great degeneracy and indifference in religion, they had let fall the observance of it, and therefore it was requisite they should be reminded of it. A late pious Writer seems to prove, That the sabbath was changed, when Israel came out of Egypt; which change continued till our Lord rose again: But that then the Original Sabbath was restored. And he makes it highly probable, at least, That the sabbath we observe, is the seventh day from the creation.
Note, Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect. It also intimates that we are both apt to forget it and concerned to remember it. Some think it denotes the preparation we are to make for the sabbath; we must think of it before it comes, that, when it does come, we may keep it holy, and do the duty of it.
The reasons of this command. [1.] We have time enough for ourselves in those six days, on the seventh day let us serve God; and time enough to tire ourselves, on the seventh it will be a kindness to us to be obliged to rest.
This is God's day: it is the sabbath of the Lord thy God, not only instituted by him, but consecrated to him. It is sacrilege to alienate it; the sanctification of it is a debt.[3.] It is designed for a memorial of the creation of the world, and therefore to be observed to the glory of the Creator, as an engagement upon ourselves to serve him and an encouragement to us to trust in him who made heaven and earth. By the sanctification of the sabbath, the Jews declared that they worshipped the God that made the world, and so distinguished themselves from all other nations, who worshipped gods which they themselves made.
God has given us an example of rest, after six days' work: he rested the seventh day, took a complacency in himself, and rejoiced in the work of his hand, to teach us, on that day, to take a complacency in him, and to give him the glory of his works, Psa_92:4. God has given us an example of rest after six days work; he rested the seventh day - Took a complacency in himself, and rejoiced in the work of his hand, to teach us on that day, to take a complacency in him, and to give him the glory of his works.
The sabbath began in the finishing of the work of creation, so will the everlasting sabbath in the finishing of the work of providence and redemption; and we observe the weekly sabbath in expectation of that, as well as in remembrance of the former, in both conforming ourselves to him we worship. The sabbath begun in the finishing of the work of creation; so will the everlasting sabbath in the finishing of the work of providence and redemption; and we observe the weekly sabbath in expectation of that, as well as in remembrance of the former, in both conforming ourselves to him we worship.
He has himself blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it. He has put an honour upon it by setting it apart for himself; it is the holy of the Lord and honourable: and he has put blessings into it, which he has encouraged us to expect from him in the religious observance of that day. It is the day which the Lord hath made, He hath himself blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it. He hath put an honour upon it; it is holy to the Lord, and honourable; and he hath put blessings into it which he hath encouraged us to expect from him in the religious observation of that day.
let not us do what we can to unmake it. He has blessed, honoured, and sanctified it,
Let not us profane it, dishonour it, and level that with common time which God's blessing has thus dignified and distinguished. Let us not profane, dishonour, and level that with common time, which God's blessing hath thus dignified and distinguished.

As you can see, their views were very similar, if not identical. John Wesley practically copied and pasted everything Henry had to say about this topic.

Matthew Henry
I would like to draw particular attention to one comment that John Wesley made here. He said, "A late pious Writer seems to prove, That the sabbath was changed, when Israel came out of Egypt; which change continued till our Lord rose again: But that then the Original Sabbath was restored. And he makes it highly probable, at least, That the sabbath we observe, is the seventh day from the creation." Wesley believed that the sabbath we observe on Sunday is the true seventh day from creation, if you were to compute the day back to the original week of creation. He mentions a "late pious Writer" as his reason for believing this. Since we know who his favorite Bible commentator was, and since his views on the sabbath were essentially identical to Henry's, we can assume that he was referring here to Henry.

In Henry's commentary, he stated: "A particular memorandum put upon this duty: Remember it. It is intimated that the sabbath was instituted and observed before; but in their bondage in Egypt they had lost their computation, or were restrained by their task-masters, or, through a great degeneracy and indifference in religion, they had let fall the observance of it, and therefore it was requisite they should be reminded of it."

Henry was saying that God commanded the Israelites to remember the sabbath, which implied that the sabbath already existed from the beginning, and had been observed at some point prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments. He cited three possible reasons why the Jews needed to be commanded to remember the sabbath. One possible reason was that while they were slaves in Egypt, they lost track of which day the sabbath occurred. Another possibility is that their task masters prevented them from keeping it holy. A third possibility is that they degenerated spiritually or became indifferent, and simply stopped observing it. It seems certain that one of these three would have happened, and that is why Wesley says that this "pious Writer seems to prove that the sabbath was changed when Israel came out of Egypt."

The day on which the Jews observed the sabbath remained the same from the time of their wilderness wanderings until the time of Christ, although it was not the seventh day from the Creation. But then at our Lord's resurrection, which according to their calendar at that time was on the first day of the week, the original Sabbath was restored. At that point, God knew exactly which day the true sabbath should be kept, based on the computation of weeks dating back to the Creation. Wesley said that Henry made it very probable that now the sabbath we observe on Sundays is the actual seventh day from the creation. I believe this is very possible. In fact, it is quite probable, and is perhaps the best explanation I have ever heard. 

I also believe that God might have simply changed it so that instead of giving God the last day of the week, we now give Him the first day of the week in worship. Instead of resting after we have worked for six days, we rest on the first day before we begin our work week, as a reminder that now our whole life must be spent in a state of rest and trust in Him. It is also a reminder that we are not returning to observing the Law of Moses, or becoming Jewish, and by resting on the first day, it sets us apart. Likewise, since God created light on the first day of the week, we remember that Jesus is the Light. We are reminded to walk in the light as He is in the light. Just as He rose again from the dead on the first day of the week, we celebrate His resurrection on that day. We are reminded that if we have died with Christ, we will also live with Him (Ro 6:8).

In all likelihood, the explanation I have just given and the ones Henry gave are both correct. Not only was God restoring the original sabbath when Christ rose again, but He was also making all things new (Rev 21:5). This would be consistent with other things that God instituted with the New Covenant. Not only did He give us a New Covenant, (Jer 31:31; Heb 8:8; Mt 26:28; Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25), but He has also given us new wine, which flows from the Father in heaven by the Spirit (Mt 9:17). He also gave us a new life (Rom 6:4) and a new self (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24). 

Likewise, when Jesus instituted the New Covenant at the Last Supper, which took place on the Last Passover (Mt 26:17-20), He did not use lamb's meat as the emblem of his body. He used bread and wine, which was new symbolism. The bread represents his body, not lamb's meat, because He is the Lamb of God (Joh 1:29; Rev 6:16;17:14; 21:27; 22:3). Otherwise we would have to slaughter a lamb every time we celebrate the Lord's Supper, and He has not called us to return to animal sacrifices. He sacrificed His body once for all as the final sacrifice (Heb 7:27; 10:10,12). We now have a better sacrifice. When Jesus fulfilled the Passover, He changed it and gave us the Lord's Supper as a new ceremony instead, and said that whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim His death until He comes (1 Cor 11:26). 

Moreover, instead of circumcision, we now have water baptism as the ceremony for those who decide to follow Jesus and become His disciples. Instead of this ceremony being done as a baby, eight days after birth, it is now done to newborn believers. "All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:3-4).

Similarly, just as Jesus fulfilled the Passover and gave us a New Covenant with new elements, as well as water baptism to replace circumcision, so too, when He rose again, He gave us a new sabbath day of worship -- the Lord's Day. Since He is the Lord of the Sabbath, He has the authority to do this (Mt 12:8; Mk 2:28). Old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). While we must obey God's commandments, we do so according to the Spirit, rather than the letter. "We serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (Rom 7:6). Let this be an encouragement to us all to keep Sundays holy, just as Wesley, Henry, the first Christians, and the apostles did.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this message, you may also be interested in the other posts on this blog, available through the Home page, especially Resting from Work , Keeping Sundays Holy -- Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part IIFamous Christian Sabbath Observers, and Christian Sabbath is Sunday, not Saturday. I also recommend reading David Wilkerson's message, Honoring the Sabbathwhich I discovered after writing this article, as well as Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, in which she saw a man of God in hell for relying on His obedience to the Law to save him. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, December 2, 2016

No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works

Let's remember what the apostle Paul said in his epistle to the Romans that no flesh will be made righteous by the works of the law. He said:

"By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:20)

Matthew Henry explained it like this: "Man, in his depraved state, under the power of such corruption, could never, by any works of his own, gain acceptance with God; but it must be resolved purely into the free grace of God, given through Jesus Christ to all true believers that receive it as a free gift."

He says that we are not "the judaizing Christians, who would needs join Christ and Moses together - owning Christ for the Messiah, and yet too fondly retaining the law, keeping up the ceremonies of it, and imposing it upon the Gentile converts."

According to Paul, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (Rom 3:28). He also said, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1).

Nevertheless, Paul concluded this passage by saying, "Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Rom 3:31)

Matthew Henry concluded with his own paraphrase of Romans 3:31: "...'though we do say that the law will not justify us, yet we do not therefore say that it was given in vain, or is of no use to us; no, we establish the right use of the law, and secure its standing, by fixing it on the right basis. The law is still of use to convince us of what is past, and to direct us for the future; though we cannot be saved by it as a covenant, yet we own it, and submit to it, as a rule in the hand of the Mediator, subordinate to the law of grace; and so are so far from overthrowing that we establish the law.' Let those consider this who deny the obligation of the moral law on believers."

According to Henry, we do not say the law will justify us. However, we don't teach that the law is of no use to us. We affirm the right use of the law on its correct basis. We submit to it as a rule in the hand of Christ, which is subordinate to the law of grace. It's still of use to convince us of what is past and direct us for the future. However, we cannot be saved by it as a covenant.

John Wesley paraphrased Romans 3:31 like this: "We establish the law - Both the authority, purity, and the end of it; by defending that which the law attests; by pointing out Christ, the end of it; and by showing how it may be fulfilled in its purity."

According to Wesley, Paul was saying that we establish the authority of the law. We also establish its purity. And we establish the end of the law, which is Christ. We do all of this by showing how it may be fulfilled in its purity.

We know that Paul did not teach us to disregard or violate the law, because he said, "For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified." (Rom 2:13). It is the doers of the law who will be justified.

Henry commented on this by saying, "The Jews prided themselves very much in the law; but, to confirm what he had said, the apostle shows (Rom_2:13) that their having, and hearing, and knowing the law, would not justify them, but their doing it. The Jewish doctors bolstered up their followers with an opinion that all that were Jews, how bad soever they lived, should have a place in the world to come. This the apostle here opposes: it was a great privilege that they had the law, but not a saving privilege, unless they lived up to the law they had, which it is certain the Jews did not, and therefore they had need of a righteousness wherein to appear before God. We may apply it to the gospel: it is not hearing, but doing that will save us, Joh_13:17; Jam_1:22." We must be doers of the Word and not merely hearers.

As James said, "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (Jas 2:24). Therefore, we do not teach that men should break the law or ignore the law, but that they should be doers of it, even though we know that no man will be justified by observing it. We establish the law and our moral obligation to it. However, you can never gain acceptance from God by any works of your own. You can only be accepted by the free grace of God, given through Jesus Christ to all true believers that receive it as a free gift. And we certainly don't seek to misuse the law by being so fond of it that we retain its rituals and ceremonies and impose them on Gentile Christians. We are not seeking to join Christ and Moses together.

If you have been trying to gain acceptance from God by the works of the law or simply by your own good works, please repent of your futile efforts. You need to come to God by grace through faith in Christ. He will confer upon you the very righteousness of God. And then as a disciple of Christ, you will be forgiven, accepted by God in Christ, set free from the power of sin to do what is right. Then you will be empowered to be a true doer of the law, not as a covenant, but as the rule of Christ that is subordinate to the law of grace.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. The calligraphy and artwork by my daughter, Charity V. Lacroix, available at A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Never Trust in Your Own Good Works, The Conditional Security of the Believer, Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenDrifting Away, Is Obedience Optional?, The Apostasy Parables, Obedience by the Spirit, The Obedience of Faith, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Straight and Narrow Path, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pleasing the Lord, The Burning Ones, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Ask for the Ancient PathsLiving a Life Worthy of the Lord, Keeping a Good Conscience, Separation from the World, Having a Servant's Heart, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Doing What is RightThe Ways of Life, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Mark of the Beast (666), and Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets. You can find more of my articles related to Seeking the Lord on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org