Monthly Archives: December 2013

#050 – PAUL’S FINAL WORDS TO COLOSSE

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PAUL’S FINAL WORDS TO COLOSSE

Col. 4:15-18 “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.”

We will begin this mediation by looking at Paul’s,

SALUTATION TO THE BRETHREN AT LAODICEA

He says, “salute the brethren which are in Laodicea.” This city is only twelve miles from Colossae. There were several Churches in this area. Paul had never been to Colosse but he had spent time in Ephesus. Laodicea was also in the area and he knows Christians or knows of them there. So he says, “salute the brethren which are in Laodicea.” Paul Loved God’s people wherever he found them regardless if he had personally met them. There was a battle for the minds going on in his day as it is in ours. He makes personal contact with these Christians even though he may not mention them by name. To know Paul and to know he knows who you are, and where you are, and the kinds of spiritual problems you are facing, puts iron in your spiritual legs to stand for the truth without wavering. It is a blessing to see how broad Paul’s vision is and how interested he is in all Christians. If we do not watch it we live and die in a very small world and resist someone telling us that there are Christians in other places who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. If they do not agree with us (there must be agreement on the plan of salvation) on what we consider an important point of the faith, we often go so far as to say, “Well, I’m not for sure, if they do not agree on this (whatever it is), that they are really saved.” I am not saying that we should associate with or endorse doctrinal error in another. This letter we are studying has urged Christians in this local church to take a stand and not allow anyone to put them under law. Paul says, “enjoy your freedom in Christ. You are not under the law. Don’t let anyone judge you in meat, or drink of respect of a holyday, etc.” Now if the Colossians took a stand on this, and I believe they did after receiving this instructive epistle, they would no doubt offend those who were trying to lead them astray. Paul does not judge all these who are wrong as being unsaved. So there is a Scriptural separation within the family of God. But it never justifies us treating a disagreeing brother/sister as an unsaved person.

One of the problems I have seen among Christians is the demand they make on others, once they see a particular truth (no matter what it is), especially in the area of separation. It may have taken the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ twenty years to bring us to the place where we were willing to accept what God had been saying all along. But once we see it, we do not want to give the other brother five minutes to make up his mind! If he hesitates, we bash him with our clandestine theology and question whether he is even saved. We say to our selves, “If he were spiritual he would discern this truth.” But when we stand up in church and give our pious testimony we go back twenty or thirty years before we embraced that idea and we leave the impression that we were saved all that time without standing for what we believe right now. Paul said, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea.” Amen, Paul! Then he says,

SALUTE NYMPHAS

We do not know who Nymphas was. Bishop Hadley Moule says he was “the leading Christian there.” He also has a footnote in his commentary that says, “We may fairly assume that he was the Philemon of Laodicea.” Lockyer says of him, “A believer of Laodicea or Colosse to whom Paul sent a loving greeting. He was an influential person whose house was used as a meeting place for Christians.”

John Gill says, “ And Nymphas; which some, unskillful in the Greek language, have taken for a woman; whereas it is the name of a man, as the following words show; and is a contraction of Nymphios, or Nymphidios, or Nymphodoros.”

Someone else has suggested that he was the son of Philemon. The reason that I have quoted several good scholars is to show that where the Bible makes a statement without an explanation there are many speculations. We will just have to learn from what it does not say. There are things that we believe without a need for explanation. No matter how much we would like to go further with a statement of Scripture, it is better left where it is. The next statement of Paul is important:

SALUTE THE CHURCH IN HIS HOUSE

The word “church” translates “ekklesia” and this word is a compound word made up of two words, “ek” which means, “out of” and “kaleo” which means, “to call, to utter a loud voice.” When you put these words together it means, “a called out assembly.” It is used in Acts (Acts 19:32, 41) to describe a town meeting and it is called an assembly. It came to be used in the New Testament of “an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting.” The entomology of the word makes it necessary, if we believe in verbal inspiration, to say that a New Testament  “ekklesia” can always meet to assemble. In the case of our text it met in Nymphas’ house, i.e., at a definite location.

Our Church burned on January 8, 1978 on a Sunday morning. It was a cold windy day. The winds were blowing that morning at about 40 miles an hour. A heater in the attic of our church is where the fire began. I had gone to my office about 4:30 a.m. that Sunday morning to study and pray. The first I knew of the fire was when the fire department showed up at Church knocking the doors down. We had built offices on the church and the heating system was separate from the main system and it was the same for the electric wiring in the offices. So the scent of the fire did not come into my office and the electricity did not go off when it did in the rest of the building. I heard a commotion in the building and went out to discover smoke all over the place and firemen everywhere. I went back into my office and put on my overcoat, picked up a tape recorder, my bible, and a set of KJV tapes I used to listen to the Bible. I thought, “this fire will never make it to my office.” Well, it did. There were no fire walls in the attic and the 40 mile an hour wind, once the fire broke through to the outside, served as a wind tunnel and went wild. I lost 23 years of accumulated books, and all my sermon outlines, most of which could not be replaced. I’m trying my best to get your sympathy!!! It was a total loss. But it did not burn the new sign with the marquee that stood in front of the building. I put these words on the sign the next day, “The Church did not burn, just the building.” The Lord blessed miraculously and we were able to rebuild for the insurance and reenter the building on July 4th of that year. The week before we entered the new building I changed the sign to read, “The Church that did not burn will meet again here this Sunday.”

I said a lot to say this. And it is important. A New Testament Church can meet in a locality. It can meet in its own building. It can meet in a home. It can meet out in the forest like many Christians did in Russia during the days when it was unlawful to meet and worship. The church is local and it is not invisible. I know that not everyone will agree with that. But I believe it is a sound doctrine based on the etymology and use of the word in the New Testament. You say, “What about in heaven?” Well, first of all, that is not now. Second, what about it? Will it be assembled and visible then? I’m going to leave it right there. Next Paul says,

CIRCULATE THE EPISTLES

Paul says, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” The words “is read” translate “anaginosko” and means, “to distinguish between, to recognize, to know accurately, to acknowledge, to read.” It is an aorist tense verb which is referring to the event of reading with understanding or to read until you know accurately.” When that event is completed, “cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans.” The word “cause” translates “poieo” and means, “to make, to carry out, to execute.” It is an imperative verb which is a command that expresses urgency. I believe that Paul recognized that what he wrote was the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13) and it was needed in all the churches that they might know God’s will on the subjects dealt with.

We have all the books of the Bible brought together in one volume. I use only the KJV and the text from which it is translated. The reason I do this is that I do not believe that a translation of Scripture can be better than the text from which it is translated. If you have a faulty text, you have a faulty translation. I believe that the Greek texts used to ATTEMPT TO CORRECT the King James Bible are full of errors. Now don’t write and try to correct me on this, it is too late to save me on this subject. I have studied the manuscript evidence and am thoroughly convinced that this is the right position. There are many good books out there that have thoroughly dealt with this issue if you are interested. Which Bible? and True or False? are both books written By David Otis Fuller and can be obtained in most local book stores. I do not endorse all the books written on the KJV. Some are written in the wrong spirit and intellectually dishonest. Next Paul makes,

AN EXHORTATION TO ARCHIPPUS

John Gill says this name was common among the Greeks. He suggests that Archippus was co-pastor with Epaphras who was in Rome with Paul at the time of the writing. Others suggest that he was the first Bishop of Laodicea. This is based on speculation and tradition. What we know is that Paul said, “say to Archippus that he take heed to the ministry . . .” The words, “take heed” translate “poieo” and mean, “to make, to carry out, to execute, to see, discern, of the bodily eye.” It is a present active imperative verb. The present tense means to keep on watching the flock with the eye, and I am saying this to you as a command, because it is urgent in the light of the Gnostics who are trying to infiltrate the Church there with their heresy. The urgency of Paul in this may indicate that Archippus is intimidated by the Gnostics. They were brilliant in knowledge. You see, brilliant men can be wrong. They need to come out of the intellectual philosophical clouds they have created to live in, and accept the simple truths of the Bible. We must not be intimidated by so-called scholarship when it is against the plain teaching of the Word of God.

The words “ministry which thou hast in the Lord” speak of a call of God to the ministry. God calls preachers. You say, “Preacher, how do you know that you are called?” My answer is that you will know it. The words “thou hast received” translates “paralambano” and means, “to accept or acknowledge one to be such as he professes to be.” It is an aorist active indicative verb. This means that at a point of time in the past (aorist tense) that Archippus had voluntarily responded (active voice) to God’s call to the ministry.

Paul adds, “that thou fulfill it.” The word “fulfill” translates “pleroo” and means, “to fill to the full.” It means to run the race, to finish the course, and to complete the job leaving nothing out that should have been done. Paul gives personal testimony to the fact that he practiced what he preached in this passage in  2 Timothy 4:7 where he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” A preacher may not do all he sets out to do in his ministerial life. The reason being, he may have wanted to do some things God didn’t call him to do. But he can do what God calls him to do and be faithful until the end. God’s power and gifts are given with the call. No one can say, I didn’t finish what God wanted me to do because He didn’t give me the wisdom and power to do it. If God tells you to fly, He’ll give you wings. Amen! Paul is saying to Archippus, “God called you, you acknowledged the call, and committed yourself to it, now do it.” Then,

PAUL GIVES HIS PERSONAL AUTOGRAPH

He says, “The salutation by the hand of me Paul.” In commenting on this Bishop Hadley Moule says, “Then at last the Apostle takes the pen from the hand of his amanuensis, to add the accustomed autograph (cp. Rom. 16:22; 2 Thess. 3:17) at the close, the token of affection and the guarantee of authenticity.”

There are no personal autographs of the original Scriptures or any signatures of Paul. All we have are copies of originals. But we do have the promise of the preservation of the Word of God. Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Maybe the reason that God did not allow the originals to remain is because we have a tendency to worship the LETTER, even THE TRANSLATION. Then Paul says,

REMEMBER MY BONDS

Bishop Moule continues, “As he does so (lifts his hand to personally sign the epistle) the long chain which fastens him to the warder makes itself felt and heard; and with this comes up to his soul all that it means, the afflictions of the Gospel, the glory of being the suffering witness to his Lord; and the Colossians shall remember it too, and help him in it with their prayers.”

I have suffered so little for the gospel. When I come to a passage like this and realize the cost in suffering by those who got this Bible to me, I want to bow and kiss their feet as I thank the Lord who called and empowered them to do it. Then finally, Paul says,

GRACE BE TO YOU

This is really an appropriate way to end this book. It is all about grace. Guy King says about this final word, “One word remains, to round off his Kind Regards—a word that, as a matter of fact, holds the secret spring of all hope of Full Salvation—‘Grace be with you’. Almost all of Paul’s letters begin and end with it—Romans just ends with it. Is Hebrews by him? Anyway, it bears his ending, this ‘Grace.’” – Guy King in Crossing The Border, An Expositional Study of Colossians.

Grace is one of the greatest words in all the Bible. It is also one of the most abused and misinterpreted words. I praise the Lord for the day I began to understand grace as a Teacher in addition to the means by which I was saved. There were many years as a fundamental Baptist that I did not trust grace as a teacher of holiness. I thought that grace needed the help of law. I thank the Lord that my view of grace has changed to complete trust in her (Grace, that beautiful lady) as the only teacher of holiness that produces a humble holiness and not a self-righteous arrogant one. I will end this meditation with the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:1, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ

Bro. White

#049 – ALWAYS TRIUMPHANT

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ALWAYS TRIUMPHANT

2 Cor. 2:14 “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

The Pulpit Commentary calls this a sudden outburst of thanksgiving. I think Paul saw things that others around him did not see. God was constantly pulling back the veil and giving him glimpses of glory. It was with him as John said, “. . . A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27).  Remember these words, “Now thanks be unto God” as we move along in this meditation. God is to be thanked in everything because there is absolutely nothing in which we are not triumphant according to our text.

Now, it does not always seem so. Paul is going to give a list of things beginning in Second Corinthians eleven twenty-four that does not SEEM       like triumph. But because he uses the word ALWAYS in our text this must also be included in the sudden outburst of praise. What is Paul saying in this verse? I heard a sermon that caused me to do some research on this verse that I will share with you.

The word “always” (pantote) means “at all times, always, ever.” The use of this word means that nothing is excluded. Paul says in 1 Thess. 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Then he says, “causeth us to triumph.” This is the translation of “thriambeuo” which means “to triumph, to celebrate a triumph.” It is from the root word meaning a hymn sung in festal processions in honour of the god Bacchus. The Pulpit Commentary says of “causeth us to triumph,” “rather, who leadeth us in triumph” and uses Colossians chapter two verse fifteen as a proof text: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” The word “triumphing over” translate this same word. This means that at the cross Jesus over came Satan and his kingdom and made a public display of it. Our text is describing a part of that public display.

This concept comes from the celebration of victory of the leader of an army over its foes. This is also described in the Pulpit Commentary and I quote: “A Roman triumph, to which the apostle refers in this passage, was the most magnificent of early pageants. The conqueror, in whose honor it was given, was an illustrious commander, who had defeated an enemy or gained a province. The route traversed by the triumphal procession lay through Rome to the Capitol itself. The spectators who feasted their eyes upon the sight were the vast population of the city.” Others describe this procession as one where the captives were chained to the chariot of the conquering general as he proceeded along the route of the victory celebration showing them as the trophies of the victory.

The Pulpit Commentary says Paul, “rejoiced to be exhibited by God as a trophy in the triumphal procession of Christ . . . The only victory of which he could boast was to have been utterly vanquished by God and taken prisoner ‘in Christ.’”

I have no doubt but what this is what Paul had in mind. He saw himself and us as trophies of Christ’s victory on the cross. Can you get this picture in your mind? Christ is the conquering general. He is in the chariot traveling the procession route and chained behind his chariot are those of us who have been taken captive from his victory over the kingdom of Satan. And we are displayed as the objects of his victory. We are being led along in the train of his triumph. As one put it, we are chained in the chains of his Lordship.

Wherever his Lordship leads us, we are simply following in the train of his celebration victory. It does not always seem like victory. It did not seem like victory when he died on the cross. But Colossians chapter two and verses fourteen and fifteen say, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” I know it did not seem like a victory when Paul was locked in a prison in Rome but he wrote to the Church at Philippi: “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;  And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” There is no indication in these words of anything but victory.

The world looks at us and they both hate us and feel sorry for us. The world feels about us like we do a person who has been brainwashed by a cult and in the process has been alienated from ones own family. Families have hired expensive psychologist to help try to rescue their sons and daughters from a cult. The world sees us as a cult. They feel sorry for us. They feel we have been brainwashed. And the truth of the matter is that we have been conquered by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are led away from the world chained to his chariot. He has convinced us to: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). We are trophies of his grace.

Have you noticed how the news media, which is the voice of the world and its views, makes one feel sorry for those who are in public and open violation of the Word of God and has a difficult time saying anything good at all about a Christian who is chained by the chains of his Lordship to walk in front of an abortion clinic?

Jesus taught his disciples that the world would hate them: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (John 15:18-21).

The next time we feel sorry for ourselves because we have been rejected by our families, scorned by those we thought were our friends and completely ridiculed by the world, let us ask ourselves if we are where we are because we being led in the train of his triumph and chained to his chariot in the chains of his Lordship? If so, let us rejoice that we are put on display as having been conquered by him. Paul said that we are always triumphant in his triumph. Let us chant the chant of victory and gladly be seen as trophies of his victory. Let me say it one more time. Where ever we are we are led there in the chains of his Lordship and therefore triumphant.

The Lord bless you.

In Christ
Bro. White

#048 – Christian Joy

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CHRISTIAN JOY

Gal. 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”

I want us to consider the emotion of joy in the Christian life in this meditation. Adam was created  in the image of God and as a result was in God’s likeness as he was originally created. This likeness was marred through sin in the garden and as a result there are only faint traces of that likeness remaining. Sin has affected the total man. Since emotion is a part of the man God created, it has been degraded so that there is little resemblance left. Salvation restores true joy to redeemed man. But it comes as a fruit of the Spirit not a work of the flesh.

The word “But” is a conjunction. It connects and shows contrast here to the “works of the flesh.” The works of the flesh originate in the fallen nature of man. The “fruit of the Spirit” originates in God and is the result of a healthy relationship between redeemed man and the Lord. Fruit is the result of a healthy plant doing what it does naturally. All I can do to help in the process is to see to the plant and keep it healthy. In the case of the fruit of the Spirit it is a matter of “Walking in the Spirit” as is brought out in verse 16 of Galatians 5.

Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy.” The attributes of God only tell us what God is like. Tozer says, “Christian Theology teaches that God in His essential nature is both inscrutable and ineffable. This by simple definition means that He is incapable of being searched into or understood, and that He cannot tell forth or utter what He is. This inability lies not in God but in the limitations of our creature hood.” Tozer also says, “Now the Bible teaches that there is something in God which is like emotion. He experiences something which is like our love, something that is like our grief, that is like our joy.” The joy as a fruit of the Spirit is not the result of Christian entertainment. This seems to be the idea of most Christians today. Tozer says, “One of the very greatest calamities which sin has brought upon us is the debasement of our normal emotions. We laugh at things which are not funny; we find pleasure in acts which are beneath our human dignity; and we rejoice in objects which should have no place in our affections.” I wonder what Tozer or any of the old divines would say if they lived today. There is a CD out now called The Best of Christian Comedy. This is entertainment at its best but it is not the “fruit of the Spirit.”

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Verses like this serve to form our rational picture of what God is like. God feels something like our joy and what he feels makes him act very much as we would in a similar situation, i.e., he rejoices over his loved ones with joy and singing.

We find in Hebrews 12:2 that he speaks of the “joy that was set before him . . .” He says in the Parable of the Ninety and Nine “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:4). The Bible says there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents. It also tells us that Jesus sung a hymn with the disciples at the Last Supper.

The joy which is the fruit of the Spirit is not the Holy Spirit stimulating the flesh. It is not natural. It originates in God and is the out working of his inwrought grace. It is the result of a relationship with God. The joy that is the fruit of the Spirit will produce joy in the life over things that are in harmony with or like God.

The same verse that speaks of “the joy that was set before him” also says that he “despised the shame” (Heb. 12:2). So the joy of Jesus was not affected by the shame and suffering of the cross. Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison, and yet in the midst of the disruption of their lives and the pain of undeserved punishment the Bible says, “At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25). This was supernatural joy. There was nothing natural about it. They were not telling jokes to one another to get their minds off their suffering.

Paul, several years later is back in prison, he writes to those in Philippi and says in chapter one and verse four: “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” This is a fruit of the Spirit. The circumstances of prison had not affected his joy.

Then in chapter four and verse four he says, “Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.” The word “rejoice” is from the same root word as the word “joy” in Galatians 5:22. It is a present active imperative verb. The present tense means that Paul is speaking to them about a continuing attitude. The active voice means they must make a choice. The imperative mood is the mood of volition and command. Can you command a person to rejoice? It is not a command like a preacher stepping to the pulpit in a church and demanding that everybody laugh. But if the fruit of the Spirit is joy, it will be on display in the life of the believer who is “walking in the Spirit.”

If Satan attacks the believer in order to stop the joy, he can never be successful by changing his circumstances. You see Christian joy is not the result of good circumstances. It is supernatural. Paul and Silas rejoiced in prison. Jesus had joy as he faced the cross though he despised the shame. If Satan gets our joy, he will do it by breaking our fellowship with God. When fellowship is broken (not relationship) then the fruit disappears or dries up on the vine.

So the way to get joy restored is to come before God for cleansing. The way to get right with God is the confession of the wrong that broke the fellowship and being cleansed of it in the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9). The one who seeks joy won’t get it. The one who gets right with God will. It is a fruit of the Spirit.

What Nehemiah said is still true: Neh. 8:10: “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

The Christian world is hungry for joy. But they want compromising preachers in the pulpit. This robs them of the opportunity of joy that is the fruit of the Spirit. Sin must be dealt with to have God’s joy. God’s way of bringing people to repentance is straight preaching. So instead of repentance they continue in sin, and to hide the absence of the “fruit of the Spirit,” they resort to Christian entertainment and back scratching and ear tickling messages. They come to church sad but leave “feeling better about themselves” and “entertained” but totally bankrupt Spiritually.

May the Lord bless you.

In Christ

Bro. White

#047 – EPAPHRAS

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EPAPHRAS
Col. 4:12-13 ”Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”

EPAPHRAS, THE MAN WITH A PASSIONATE HEART FOR THE COLOSSIANS

Paul says in verse 12, “Epaphras, who is one of you.” This identifies him with the Church in Colosse. He is believed to be the founder of the Church there. It is strongly implied in chapter 1:7 where Paul says of him that he is “for you a faithful minister of Christ.” What Paul says of him in verses 12-13 is consistent with a pastor’s heart for his people.

The words “a servant of Christ” describes a voluntary volitional act of submission of a believer to the Lordship of Christ. No one is ever pushed into the Kingdom of God. One enters by an act of faith in the truth of God concerning the death of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world. Not every Christian, or even every preacher, is a servant of Jesus Christ. Some are servants of their own lusts and their own opinions. There are some things about a servant that will help us understand the phrase “a servant of Christ.” The following is true of a servant in a literal sense and to a voluntary servant of Christ in a spiritual sense:

1.            A servant is one owned by another; 1 Cor.  +6:19-20.
2.            A servant is one who is not free to choose what he does. His master assigns him his tasks.
3.            A servant does not furnish what he uses to do his work. Those things are provided by the Master.
4.            The servant does not provide his clothes and food. The master does that.
5.            The servant does not work for his own interest. His labor is for the benefit of his master.
6.            The servant is not free. He is in bondage to his master.
7.            The servant is not subject to anyone’s judgment but his master’s. Gal.  +1:10.

EPAPHRAS IS A MAN WITH A SERVANT’S HEART

Epaphras is “a servant of Christ.” Then Paul says to the Colossians that Epaphras, “saluteth you.” This is the translation of a word that was used for greetings on the streets or when one entered a home. Paul says, “Epaphras asked me to greet you for him.” Then he says that Epaphras is “always labouring fervently for you in prayers.” The word “always” means “at all times.” This was his habit. The Colossian Church was very blessed to have someone who was constantly praying for them. Then Paul describes his prayers with the words “labouring fervently.” This is the translation of “agonizomai” and means “to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games, to contend with adversaries, to fight.” I wonder if a person were called on to pray in a public service, and how he prayed could be described by this Greek word, if he would not be ushered out of the church. You can tell by the way Paul expresses how Epaphras prays that he is impressed! And approves! I was a man’s pastor for several years. I loved to hear him pray. There was a tone of sincerity about the way he prayed that made me know that he was not just praying because he was called on to do it. It was coming from the very depths of his soul.

Paul says Epaphras is praying that two things will happen in your lives. This is brought out in the words, “that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” “That” starts a purpose clause, i.e., this is the thrust of his prayers. This is what he is praying for. Let’s notice,

1.  The words “ye may stand ” translate “histemi” and means, “to cause or make to stand. This word is used to describe one standing in the presence of others, or in the midst, before judges, before members of the Sanhedrin, etc. It refers to a fixed position” It is an aorist active subjunctive verb. The aorist tense is referring to a point of time. Here it is taking a snap shot of their whole lives and means that he is praying that in any and every situation in life, no matter where they are, or before whom they stand, that God will enable them to maintain a fixed position relative to their faith. Then the subjunctive mood is the potential mood. This means that standing is possible but it must not be taken for granted. This man knew the difficulty of standing against a majority and paying the price. The word “perfect” translates “teleios” and means, “brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, maturity.” What is the Lord’s goal for the Christian?  1 Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” The goal is to remain faithful through trials until we meet Him either by death or in the rapture.

Unger in his dictionary of the Bible says that, “The Martyrologies make Epaphras to have been the first bishop of Colossae and to have suffered martyrdom there.” We must not take for granted that we will be able to stand when occasion arises just because we are Christians. We need to pray for ourselves and one another that we will be in a fixed position unmovable when the trial comes. I believe many failures take place because the Christian thinks he can get by without spending time in prayer. Prayer strengthens and when trial comes we have the strength to remain in a fixed position. Epaphras believes this, so he labors fervently in prayers for them.

2.  Next, Epaphras prays that they will stand “complete in all the will of God.” The word “complete” translates “pleroo” and means, “to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full.”  This word is probably used to describe one that is perfectly assured and without doubt of the whole will of God. It is a perfect passive participle. The perfect tense is completed action in the past, that completed action having present results. The passive voice means that the subject is acted upon and they are the subjects of this prayer. I take it that these saints at Colossae had been given God’s revelation that covered all His will at least up to that point in time. And because they had been exposed to the teaching of Scripture in the past that they would be caused by that teaching (the teaching would act on them) to be fully assured of the whole will of God and be able to testify to it.

That is some prayer. This man had confidence that their exposure to the Word was sufficient to equip them to stand, and God in answer to prayer was able to enable them to stand. Praise God and the Lamb forever!!!

Then Paul says, “For I bear him record.” This translates “martureo” and means, “to be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm what one has seen or heard or experienced something, or that he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration.” The present tense suggest that Paul continued to witness that this man’s manner of life was zealously spent in the Colossian’s behalf. The word “zeal” means, “excitement of mind, fervor of spirit.” Epaphras was dedicated to a love for and an interest in the Colossians that was expressed in a burning zeal.

Then Paul adds, “and them that are in Laodicea and them in Hierapolis.” John Gill says these are, “cities in Phrygia, which lay near to Colosse, the one being situated by the river Lycus, and the other by the Maeander; here were many believers, for whom Epaphras had a like zeal and affections as for the Colossians, and to whom very likely he had been useful, either in conversion or edification, or both.”

Epaphras was a man with a compassionate heart and burning zeal for a group of Christians in a local Church. Only eternity will reveal the good this great man did for these Christians. Prayer is warfare with Satan and his organized kingdom of evil. He can be resisted in this manner. If you think prayer will not make a difference, just look around you at the dead formal church services where the members do not know what they believe. There is a general lack of the kind of prayer that is spoken of here. Satan has won in many cases. May the Lord help us to turn this around.

In Christ

Bro. White

#046 – The Assembeling of the Saints

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THE ASSEMBLING OF THE SAINTS

Heb 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Some strange things are taking place today. Churches are leaving off the night services to deal with the lack of attendance. Our text deals with this problem. Even a cow knows when feeding time comes. Our text says, “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is.” Evidently the early church was falling into this error and this text is a warning against it.
The words “as the manner of some is” lets us know some were electing not to come to all the services. There is a two fold problem here. First some individuals were falling by the wayside. They had lost interest. Second it is possible that the preacher was not prepared to feed the flock. Pastors can become weary in the work of the Lord and it shows in the preparation of their messages.
Acts 2:46-47, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Now your church may not have daily services but it has Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening services. It is not unusual for a fundamental church to have a large crowd on Sunday morning and just a handful of people on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening.
Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Do you see the day approaching? Then be obedient to the Lord in this matter.
In Christ
Bro. White

#045 – Blessed Forgivness

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BLESSED FORGIVENESS
Psa 32:1

Morning Meditation 11/26/2013
Psalms 32:1,”Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
THE PROVISION OF FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. This is a Psalm that sets forth the blessedness of forgiveness. It is blessed because of the price that was paid to obtain it. Jesus paid the price. There is no forgiveness apart from the cross. This means that all the religions of the world will live and die without the forgiveness of their sins.
Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
FORGIVENESS IS OBTAINABLE
There is a universal call to salvation. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. If man is not saved it is his fault. The Bible says that man is without excuse (Rom 1:20). Jesus was crucified between two thieves. At the beginning of the crucifixion both thieves railed on Jesus mocking Him. But in the end one of the thieves changed his mind. Luke 23:42-43, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Sin cannot keep you from forgiveness. The thief on the cross prayed a simple prayer and Jesus responded with the words “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” John emphasizes the same truth: 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Millions have been saved simply by calling on the name of the Lord. Psalms 32, “…Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
May the Lord bless you with His infinite forgiveness.
In Christ
Bro. White

#044 – Its Christmas

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ITS CHRISTMAS
Luke 2:6-7, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
HIS BIRTH WAS SPECTACULAR
1. A first-born son was spectacular in itself; There was the privilege of the first-born. He had the privilege of the birthright. There was a special consecration to God of the first-born. There was the authority over others; there was the family priesthood. There was the double inheritance. Christ is said to be the first-born among many brethren.
2. The angel made His birth spectacular; God uses angels as messengers. This angel had a good message; Luke 2:8-10, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The angel of the Lord brought a message of great joy.
3. The Jews had been waiting for centuries for the coming of their Messiah. He came at an unexpected time and in an unexpected way. So the scholars had to be bypassed. This is always the way it is with the “wisdom of this world.” God does not depend on the “wisdom of this world” in the fulfillment of His will. They had it all figured out but their figures were wrong.
4. He was born in a stable; he would be welcomed by humble shepherds. The elite of the day stood back and questioned the authenticity of His coming.
5. The angel’s words: Luke 2:11-14, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The angel of the Lord brought a message of peace and good will to men. One of the first things the angel said was, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. . .” I don’t know how much the shepherds under stood of the coming of Christ but this is a clear indication that this child is the Messiah. But the scholars who could have understood from Scripture were not there to greet Him.
6. The shepherds acknowledged the Great Shepherd. The shepherds heard the angels sing; Luke 2:13-15, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”
7. The shepherd’s response was immediate; “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”
8. Luke 2:16-20, “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”
THE BIRTH OF JESUS WAS ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE WISE
1.    These wise men came from the East. They were evidently students of the Scriptures and had come to the conclusion that it was time for Christ to be born. It could be that they had had an angelic messenger to tell them. They certainly had an angel to guide them to the very house where Jesus was.
2.    The wise men came to the place. Matthew 2:9-10, “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”
3.    The birth of Jesus was attacked by (Herod) Satan; Matthew 2:13-18, “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.  When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.  Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,  In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”
4.    Jesus was out-right rejected by population in general and the leaders in particular from His birth to his death. The greatest rejection was His nation; John 1:11-12, “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:”
5.    The great truth is that “. . .as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” This goes for Jew and Gentile. Have you received Him? Celebrating His birthday is not equivalent to receiving Him as your Saviour. He came to save sinners. Are you a sinner? If so His hands are outstretched to you: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” There is no rest like the rest of salvation.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.
In Christ
Bro. White

#043 – The Night Before Christmas

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THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Luke 2:7 “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
THE PROVIDENTIAL GUIDANCE
The Roman government played a part in the providential guidance of the Lord.
Luke 2:1-5, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria)  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David)  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”
Providential guidance is where God moves people to be and do what He wants without their even knowing it. God is Sovereign and He is capable of doing this. Just when this taxation took place. But here a heathen emperor fulfilled prophecy.
1. This taxation would require every Jew to return to his birth place for the purpose of taxation.
2. The place of Joseph’s birth was in Bethlehem.
3. This is the place where prophecy said that Jesus would be born; Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Over seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the place of His birth was foretold by the prophet Micah.
4. God is able to make things happen according to His will without violating the will of man.
THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR HIM IN THE INN
Luke 2:7, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
1. The night before Christmas, there was no room for them in   the Inn. The crowded conditions may have been due to the   migration of the Jews for the purpose of taxation.
2. Spiritually speaking we are told in John 1:11-12, “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:” There is something prophetic about this rejection at the Inn.
3. The place of His birth was of the most humble situation imaginable. His birth, the hiding of His glory, teaches us true humility.
When He was born he was laid in a manger where livestock were fed. He left the throne of God to be born in a stable. His lowly birth speaks of His great humility. This humility would follow him all the way to the cross.
Philippians 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
1. Jesus told His disciples before His crucifixion that death for Him was a choice and that at any moment He could be saved from the cross by force: Matthew 26:53, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?”
2. Death for Christ was a choice. It was the only way He could save us from our sins and defeat Satan once and for all.
3. No man has ever been loved like God loves us. John 3:16, “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.”
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS GOD’S GREATEST GIFT SAID YES
Did Jesus have to be born? No more than He had to die. He could have just evaporated into another dimension and gone back to the Father. As a babe in His mother’s womb He anticipated the purpose for which He would be born. He never had a second thought about His birth and His death on the Cross. That had been settled before the world was created.
The night before Christmas the world did not have a clue what was happening. The world was sound asleep but Mary was in travail in child birth. The Saviour of the world, even the Creator of the world, was anticipating His birth. But the long awaited travail in child birth gripped Mary and Genesis 3:15 suddenly came on the scene for fulfillment.
May the Lord give us a proper appreciation of the celebration of Christmas. Jesus introduction into this world for the purpose of salvation is the real reason for the suffering of His birth.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.
In Christ
Bro. White

#042 – The Birth of John the Baptist

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THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Luke 1:36-37
“And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS NECESSARY
The birth of John the Baptist is a necessary part of the Christmas story. John was the forerunner of Christ. He was six months our Lord’s senior and was sent by God to prepare the way of the Lord.
John 1:19-23, “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?  And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.  And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.  Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?  He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”
Isaiah prophesied of him in: Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
John the Baptist was to be a lonely prophet. Actually the last of the Old Testament prophets. This is brought out in Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
John exalted the Lord even when he was in the womb of his mother: Luke 1:39-41, “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;  And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.  And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:”
ELISABETH BELIEVED THE WORD OF THE LORD
Luke 1:45, “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Elizabeth was barren. The Lord promised her a son and she believed. Verse 37 says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” This is the God we serve. When He makes a promise absolutely nothing can keep it from being fulfilled. Like Abraham and Sarah, God gave strength to conceive seed and Elizabeth was pregnant with a son called John. He was to be a special child. He was to introduce Jesus to Israel. John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Then again in John 1:35-36, “Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!”
John 1:30-34, “This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.  And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.  And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.  And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.  And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
God the Father introduced Jesus to John the Baptist. God told him, “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he with baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. John saw this and said, “I saw a bare record this is the Son of God.”
There is a world of difference between the birth of these two. John was conceived in his father and mother’s old age. They were past the age to have children, but nothing is impossible with God and Zachariah and Elizabeth believed God. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost and was virgin born without an old Sin nature.
John the Baptist started rejoicing in the Lord while still in the womb of his mother. It had been 4000 years since the promise of seed in which the arch enemy of the human race would be defeated. The time had arrived and John was to have a part in this process. Let the unbeliever say that life does not begin at conception. Here we have john the Baptist rejoicing in the womb of his mother over the coming of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.
In Christ
Bro. White

#041 – The Virgin Birth of Chirst

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THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST
Isa 7:14; Matt 1:22-23

Morning Meditation 6/23/2013
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Matthew 1:22-23, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
We have here the prophesy of Isaiah and the New Testament commentary of this prophecy.
Why was the virgin birth necessary? Man is by nature a sinner and as such could not be the sinless Lamb to take away the sin of the world. Man inherits his sin nature by natural birth. Romans 5:12 brings this out, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Sin is passed down hereditarily. Man inherits an old sin nature. Psalms 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
The virgin birth was necessary for Christ to be sinless in His birth in order for Him to be sinless in His life. He had to be sinless in His life in order to be the sinless substitute for the sins of the world.
Jesus claimed to be sinless in His life. John 8:45-46, “And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.  Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?”
The Bible declares Him to be sinless. 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” Hebrews 4:15, “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.” Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Jesus always did the will of God; John 8:29, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.”
Can any human being make this claim? The answer to that question is absolutely not. Jesus came to redeem us and in order to do that He had to offer Himself as the sinless Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
Belief in the virgin birth is necessary to salvation. If Jesus were not born of virgin He could not have been the Saviour of the world. He died to save us. He is our substitute.
Romans 3:21-26, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.
In Christ
Bro. White

#040 – Saved by His Life

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SAVED BY HIS LIFE

Rom. 5:10 “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

There is a book written by Major Ian Thomas on the “Saving Life of Christ.” I recommend it. It is printed by Zondervan and if you get the Clarion Classics addition it has combined two volumes written by Major Thomas, the other being, “The Mystery of Godliness.” Every Christian should have both these books.

I first obtained “The Saving Life of Christ” in about 1960 or 1961. I had never read anything that so enlightened me. The truth he sets forth in such simple language based on the clear teaching of the Scriptures thrilled me. I was at the time in a theological crisis over the truth of the filling of the Holy Spirit. I was taught the truth about the Holy Spirit in my home church and the school I went to. Thank the Lord for the good teaching I had there. But no school can teach you how to be filled and stay filled with the Holy Spirit. It just does not happen in school. Oh, they teach Pneumatology. And the doctrine needs to be taught. The filling of the Holy Spirit must be based on a clear understanding of Scripture. Otherwise you have what we have today, utter confusion, most of which has no Scriptural foundation whatsoever.

So when I read what Ian Thomas had to say about the resurrected Christ living in me and that faith is what relates what he is in me to every situation in life, I wept for joy and said this is it! This is the explanation I have been looking for. It is Scriptural all the way. He said the way you appropriated what he is in his resurrection life in you was to be a simple faith relationship. It is not a matter of praying for his incoming. If I have been reconciled to God by his death, I have also been regenerated by his Holy Spirit. If I have been regenerated by his Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit has taken up his abode in me by virtue of that act. You do not pray for someone to come in who is already in! Just imagine that you came to see me. You enter my home and for the next hour I keep saying “would you please come in and have a seat.” You would think that was a little odd! And after a while, you would become uncomfortable. How do you think the Holy Spirit feels when he has been in our lives since the New Birth, whenever that was, and we continue to beg him to come in? So by faith one is to simply thank him for the truth of his indwelling and begin by faith to relate everything to his resurrection presence within.

When I discovered that truth, I just simply got on my knees and thanked the Lord that he was there and had been there all the time. I can’t explain the joy I had when I did that. I was walking on the clouds. I was so filled with energy I had to go somewhere. I’ve even forgotten where I was going. It may have been to make a hospital call. As I drove my car down the road a little old lady, God bless her, drove out in front of me and was driving about ten miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone. I discovered that what I had experienced just ten minutes ago was not as simple as I thought! If that little old lady could have known what I was thinking she would probably have responded by pulling her car over to the side of the road and let me by out of fear for her life!! And I had just been “filled with the Holy Spirit!”

It is amazing what God allows to happen in our circumstances to let us know we have not arrived! I went back home like a whipped pup. I read what Ian Thomas said again and tried again. Something like that happened again. I put the book on the shelf and it stayed there for several years. I would see that book and want to take it down and read it again. But my disappointment was so great that I couldn’t bear to do it. I was not disappointed in the book. It was not the book’s fault! I just thought there was something wrong with me that put the truth he was proclaiming out of my reach. And I was right. There was something wrong with me. And I was wrong. It was not out of my reach.

My mistake was that I had not yet learned that the filling of the Holy Spirit does not change the flesh (John 6:63). I had believed the devil’s lie that the filling of the Holy Spirit made the flesh acceptable. Now when you believe that, you try to educate the flesh to act right. And I must say, with all honest Christians, it is a futile attempt. I continually sought the Holy Spirit to do away with the evil thoughts, evil tendencies and make the flesh obey God. I just couldn’t talk him in to doing that. But for years I never quit trying.

Then there is the problem of settling down and accepting the Old Sin Nature as something that one can’t control, so quit trying. Just keep it in check enough to be respectable. Romans seven was a real encouragement to me. I said, if Paul had such a struggle, then maybe I’m not too far off base. The Lord will finally deliver in the end!!! And that end was the rapture or resurrection to me.

But what about holiness now. What about godly living now. Now you have to understand, I was a fundamentalist. I still haven’t been to a movie in years (but for a different reason now). I didn’t smoke. My hair was short, off the collar and above the ears! I told women how to dress. I’m telling you I was a fundamentalist. But something kept eating at me. I preached all this and many of those to whom I preached practiced it. And as I watched their lives and mine, I realized that there were those in my congregation who did some of those things I preached against, that were more Spiritual than those of us who didn’t. I began to realize that the filling of the Holy Spirit was not God’s reward for our faithfulness but his gift to our weakness.

Oh how many times I have preached, “If you want God’s power, you will have to straighten out your life.” I would shout from the pulpit, “God will not fill a dirty vessel.” The Lord began to deal with me about that. I said, If a Christian can straighten out his life without the Holy Spirit (remember you are praying for his fullness and his power to come upon you), then there is power in the flesh too at least live good enough to be filled and stay filled with the Holy Spirit. I knew this was not true Biblically. This does not harmonize with the fact that man is so depraved by nature that absolutely nothing good can originate in the flesh that pleases God (Rom. 7:18).

In desperation I got Ian Thomas’ book back off the shelf. I also read the book “The Calvary Road” by Roy Hession. I learned the truth that I was reconciled to God by Christ’s death on the cross and that he was raised again to live his resurrection life in me. And that resurrection life would only save me from the present dominion of sin as I trusted him with every situation with which I was confronted. Finally I sat down in him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). The attempts of self improvement stopped. I experienced freedom in that truth. I was back now driving down the road and I was ready for the little old lady this time! I discovered that all my striving for holiness I had in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). I discovered that you cannot be more right with God than the blood makes you. And as I walked in the Spirit and things arose that was about to cause the loss altitude, I simply confessed it as sin and was cleansed by the precious blood of Christ on the spot. Well, it has been different since that day. You ask, “Why did it take you so long?” For one thing, I wanted to do it myself. I only ask for help when I have exhausted every avenue of self help. God simply let me wear myself out. When I was completely exhausted and there was nothing left to try, I was ready to listen and believe. The day I did that something happened I can’t explain. If I did then you would try to get my experience instead of Jesus. Jesus is salvation and the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Col. 2:10).

Well, I started this meditation to explain Romans 5:10. As I began to write, it turned into a personal testimony.

May God bless you.

In Christ
Bro. White

#039 – Christian Liberty

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CHRISTIAN LIBERTY
Col. 2:16 17″Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”

We must keep in mind that Paul is writing to save the Christians in Colosse from the teachings of the Gnostics. Everything that is mentioned in this passage is aimed to save their Christian liberty from the bondage of Mosaic rules. The law had its place and was important as a Schoolmaster to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24). But once they had come to Christ the purpose of these things ended. The Gnostics believed in a ridged asceticism and used the law as an authority to impose this teaching on their followers. There are two important points in these two verses that I want us to consider. First . . .

THE JUDGMENT TO BE REFUSED
Paul says, “Let no man therefore judge you . . .” The words “Let, judge” translate one word, “krino,” and mean, “to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose, decree.” It is a present active imperative verb. The false teachers were making a difference in a believer who followed their teaching that is described in these verses and those who did not. What difference were they making? They were “separating” those who did not obey their teaching from those who did. They were putting down (to put asunder) those who did not conform to their teaching. They were picking out, selecting and decreeing that those who did not adhere to their ridged asceticism were not GOOD CHRISTIANS if they refused their teaching. All the statements I am giving you here are according to the definition of the word, “krino”. It is a present tense verb which means that Paul is not warning them against a possible future confrontation with this false teaching, but something that was going on at the present time. Paul is not shadowboxing. He is aiming at a real target.

This verb is also in the imperative mood. There are three things about the imperative mood. First, it is a command. Second, it expresses urgency. Third, it is the mood of volition, i.e., one must make a choice to obey the command or to ignore it. His apostolic office and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit are the authority behind this command. The urgency is that if they do not act immediately, the leaven of false doctrine may do them in before they really know what has happened. I have seen people who followed false teaching so far that it was not likely that they would ever be free from the error or its effects. Nothing is impossible. Grace can save a person whether saved or unsaved from the error of false teaching. But it does not happen often. Paul saw how urgent it was for them to break away immediately. This imperative mood is also one of volition. Paul did not impose his views upon those to whom he ministered. He taught with authority and with the Holy Spirit to empower. But in the final analysis people have to take the truth given to them and make a decision. The Christian life is a life of choices. We need to ask ourselves, are we making the right choices?

The words “Let no man” mean that if it is your brother or sister or mother or father or someone you consider God called but has become poisoned with false teaching, you are not to yield to their teaching. Paul is saying, “let no man,” whoever he might be. The word “therefore” brings up as ground for his argument what Paul has said in verse 14 about Christ nailing the “handwriting of ordinances” to the cross. They are no longer valid for Christian holiness. Holiness of life comes through the Lordship of Christ ruling from within through the Person of the Holy Spirit, not written rules. Some people cannot see the difference. I’m sorry if you can’t see it but there is a difference.

Paul says, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” These are all things that were practiced by the Jews in obedience to the law or the tradition of their fathers. Paul says that they are not to allow anyone to take them to task or make them feel wrong and disobedient if they do not follow such practices. They are not to allow anyone to forbid food or drink on ceremonial grounds.

The words “which are” are a present indicative verb. Even though the law was nailed to the cross, the message it gave in the things mentioned here are still valid as long as they are used properly. The words, “a shadow of things to come,” translate a present active participle from the word “mello” meaning, “to intend, have in mind.” These things have something in mind. The word “shadow” describes what happens when an object blocks the light. The shadow is a dim outline of the object. First, we saw the judgment that was to be refused, now second, we come to . . .

THE POINT THAT THE JUDGES MISSED
Paul says, “but the body is of Christ.” The shadow has no substance, but the Reality which cast the shadow is His, in fact Himself, in His redeeming work and glory. The Linguistic Key says, “This would mean that the OT ritual observances were dim outlines of the NT redemptive truths.” They continue to be dim outlines and Christ is the Body of which these dim outlines are about. So why occupy yourselves with the shadow when you have the Body (Christ) in view?

John Gill comments, “The body, or sum and substance of these shadows, is Christ; he gave rise unto them, he existed before them, as the body is before the shadow; not only as God, as the Son of God, but as Mediator, whom these shadows regarded as such, and as such he cast them; and he is the end of them, the fulfilling end of them; they have all their accomplishment in him: and he is the body of spiritual and heavenly things; the substantial things and doctrines of the Gospel are all of Christ, they all come by him; all the truths, blessings, and promises of grace; are from him and by him, and he himself the sum of them all” (John Gill in Online Bible).

Man is so prone to miss the message and occupy himself with the means that is used to bring that message. This principle is taught in 2 Cor. 3:6 where Paul says, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Our leanings toward idolatry are at the root of giving the ordinances credit for salvation, or the church the means of salvation, or Bibliolatry, i.e., the worship of the Bible instead of its Author. Jesus is the object of worship. If you have eternal life it is because of Him (1 Tim. 1:16). Do you need forgiveness of sin? Come to Him (Luke 15:18). Do you need to be cleared from guilt? Come to Him. He will be your righteousness (Phil 2:9). Are you weak? Come to Him. His grace will be sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). Are you having a terrible time with temptation? Come to Him, and you will find a sympathizing High Priest who will be touched with the feeling of your infirmity (Heb. 4:15 16). Have you sinned? Come to Him; He is your Advocate the Father (1 John 2:1). Do you vacillate where you are, up one day and down the next? Come to Christ; He never changes (Heb. 13:8). Do you trust in Him but doubt your final destiny. Trust His promise, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). Jesus is the One to be Worshiped. It is to Him that all glory is to be given as Ephesians 3:21 says, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

The Christian has liberty in Christ. When anyone judges us in the manner revealed in these verses, we are to reject their judgment. We should not recognize their authority because they have none. They miss the whole point and are going in the wrong direction. Let’s use our liberty in Christ to glorify Him in a life of holiness where He is living out His life through us as yielded children.

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ,

Bro. Earl White

#038 – Dressing the New Man

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DRESSING THE NEW MAN
Col. 3:12-14 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

The last of the garments is love. If there is a degree of importance in the eight garments (the number of the new birth) listed, it would be this one. Love is so misunderstood today. The fact that this word is used so much indicates its importance. However, it is misused a lot also. I hope through a careful examination of its meaning and use that I will understand it better and my readers will as I share this truth with you.

The words “And above all these things” stresses the importance of “charity.” 1 Cor. 13:13 says, “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Love is above all the others and without love the others will not function correctly.

The word “charity” translates “agape” and means, “brotherly love, affection, good will, benevolence.” This is one word where the lexicons leave you helplessly frustrated. If anything the definition just given (Strongs) diminishes love more than defines it. Kittel says this: “In his demand for love Jesus took up previous sayings: Love God; love neighbor, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But he did so in a startlingly exclusive and unconditional way. The Love of God means total commitment and total trust (Matt. 5:29-30; 6:24). In particular, it involves a renunciation of mammon and of vainglory (Matt. 6:24b, 30). It also calls for resistance to persecution, which is a fiery test of the loyalty of love (Matt. 10:17; 5:10). “

“Charity” in the Bible is not what we use that word to describe today. I just went through a check line in a grocery store a few minutes ago. The young lady at the check out stand ask me if I wanted to give to the community food chest. I asked her if she was required to ask all customers this question when they came through the line? She said, “Yes sir.” It did not seem to bother her at all that I said no. Then I looked down and there was another sign in a obvious place asking for a charitable gift. The whole point is that it has become a business to collect as well as an uncaring act of giving.

The word “Charity” describes love that gives. I used to say that it was an unemotional love. I have decided that that is incorrect. Charity is a love that gives, is calculated, committed and stirred emotionally because of the need of another. Emotion is not all that is involved. In fact it is probably not even the main point of love. But you cannot exclude emotion from the definition.

Now let’s let Paul tell us what love is. Paul tells what this kind of love (agape translated Charity) is and does in 1 Corinthians 13. He says, “Charity suffereth long.” The words “suffereth long” translates the same Greek word as is used in our Colossian passage to describe a garment to be put on. There is no Christian life without suffering. Even if you are in the best of health, and live in an affluent society such as ours, as a Christian you enter into the sufferings of Christ for others who stand in great need of salvation. Our souls must constantly weep in suffering compassion for those who are moving in total darkness toward the abyss. So we are to put on as a garment, a love that is evident to others, as we suffer with them in whatever pain or plight they are in.

Paul says, “Charity (I’m going to stay with the KJV on the word) is kind.” This translates “chresteuomai” and means, “to show one’s self mild, to be kind.” It is a present indicative verb. The present tense means that kindness flows constantly out of the person. This is the kind of person that is kind every time you get around him. He is a person that you would like to be like. You say, “I am not a kind person.” But Jesus is. And He wants to incarnate Himself into your life so that He is seen instead of you. We are to put on “charity” and charity is kind. So kindness is one of the seen qualities of love.

Paul says, “Charity envieth not.” The word envy translates “zeloo” and means, “to burn with zeal, hatred or bitterness.” A person who loves does not hate or will not tolerate bitterness in his life toward another. I have heard on more than one occasion a Christian get in the pulpit of a church and in a patriotic spirit say some very cutting remarks about the Japanese in World War 2, when a humble and godly Japanese Christian was sitting in the audience. This probably wasn’t even known to the speaker. The love of our passage does not make racial distinctions and does not boil with bitterness toward former enemies.

Paul says, “Charity vaunteth not itself.” The words “vaunteth not” translate “perpereuomai” and means, “it does not boast or make a self display, it does not employ rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively.” Love takes the low place and exalts the other. Love is not a politician who is constantly boasting of his qualifications. Love that does not make a self display is to be worn as a garment.

I will not go through the whole list in this meditation, but I have given enough to challenge you to continue to examine Paul’s definition of love.

Paul says, “Put on charity which is the bond of perfectness.” The word “bond” translates “sundesmos” and means, “that which binds together, a band, bond. It is used of ligaments by which the members of the human body are united together.” The word “perfectness” translates “teleiotes” and means according to Kittel, “achievement, fulfillment, success, goal, maturity.” It is like saying love is the end to which the Lord is moving us. To have the seven articles of clothing listed in this passage, and then add charity as the eighth, is to reach the goal, to finally arrive at maturity.

A Summary of the Doctrine of Love

1. Love is an attribute of God; 1 John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:16 “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

2. Love is the motive for God giving His Son to die to save man; John 3:16 says, “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.”

3. Jesus loved us enough the lay down His life for us; John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

4. Brotherly love is the mark of a Christian; John 13:35 says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

5. Brotherly love is evidence that one is saved; 1 John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”

6. Jesus instructed His disciples to continue in His love; John 15:9 says, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”

7. Obedience is a sign that one has real love for the Lord; John 15:10 says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”

8. The love of God is shed abroad in the heart of every true believer; Romans 5:5 says, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

9. Nothing can separate the true Christian from the love of God; Romans 8:35-39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

10. The love of God constrains the believer to evangelize others; 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:”

The believer is to “put on,” as the elect of God, the eight garments listed here. These garments are provisions that God has made for us. The garments are there. We do not have to create them ourselves. These are garments that the Lord has provided for us. But we have to make a choice to wear them. And even though they fit, they are not always easy to wear. They make us look different from the world. We should decide once for all for the glory of God to wear the garments that identify us with Christ Jesus our Lord.

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ

Bro. White

#037 – Dressing the New Man

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DRESSING THE NEW MAN

Col. 3:12-14  “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

THE GARMENT OF LONGSUFFERING
The word “longsuffering” translate “makrothumia” and means, “patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs.” It means, “resignation” to endure a situation with people or things. Kittel defines it as “desperate acceptance.” He even uses the word “procrastination” in association with the definition. This means one just puts off responding to mistreatment. John Gill comments: “Whereby a person patiently bears the evil words and actions of others, and is not easily provoked to wrath by them, but puts up with injuries, and sits down contented with the ill usage he meets with.”

This is a garment to put on and therefore something that is not hard to see in the life of a Christian. I have seen children misbehave and show disrespect for parents who would endure the suffering that this disobedient child brought into their lives. I have often said, “How long will this parent suffer before they take action to do something about this?” This longsuffering is unreasonable to others as they observe it in the life of a Christian. But it is a fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians +5:22 where this same word is found.

We need to keep in mind that Paul is not addressing unsaved people and giving them a condition to salvation. He is speaking to believers about dressing the new man in the uniform of the Christian. It is difficult to suffer through situations. The word “thumos” is a part of the compound word for “longsuffering” and means, “passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again.” This kind of emotion under control is what “longsuffering” means. This word describes the attitude that keeps the Christian from reacting incorrectly to bad situations.

The next garment Paul mentions is,

THE GARMENT OF FORBEARANCE
The words “forbearing one another” describe one Christian’s attitude toward another. The word translates “anechomai” and means, “to hold up, to hold one’s self erect and firm, to sustain, to bear, to endure.” It is a present middle participle. The present tense is continuous action in the present. The middle voice is where the subject acts and personally benefits as the result of the action. This is a promise. One is always helped by doing what the Lord says. One might say, “But that other Christian is mistreating me and doing me wrong, and it’s not right.” You may be one-hundred percent right. But how does Jesus tell you to respond to that Christian? Who are you going to obey? Your emotions or the Lord? The Christian life is acting and reacting according to the Lordship of Christ. This is a garment to be worn that can easily be seen. Are you getting the idea of the difficulty of the Christian life apart from His indwelling a power? It is not only difficult, it is impossible. If you operate under the Lordship of Christ there will be a willingness to suffer for righteousness sake (1 Pet. 3:14). Then next we are to put on,

THE GARMENT OF FORGIVENESS
Paul says, “and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” There is no way for people to live together without getting on each others nerves. Being a Christian does not do away with our old sin nature and its reasoning and emotion. The word “forgiveness” translates “charizomai” and means, “to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to, gratify, to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent, to grant forgiveness, to pardon”

You will notice it says “one another.” Paul says, “Don’t think you are always going to be the right one. There will be times you will need forgiveness as well as to give forgiveness.” We cannot function in the church without this need. Have you been offended? Has the brother asked your forgiveness? If so, have you given it, or have you punished that person a little, and held him off at arms length just to show him? Have you noticed how much the NATURAL MAN wants to make the OTHER MAN crawl a little when he finally admits he is wrong?

The words “have a quarrel against any” identifies the problem. The words “if any man” is a third class condition. Paul is not addressing a problem that exists. He is saying, “If any man, it may or it may not happen, but if it does.” The word “quarrel” translates “momphe” and means, “blame, to have a complaint against anyone.” This means that some brother or sister in the faith has done something that you place blame upon him for doing it and you make an argument against that person. Paul says, “If you have a quarrel against any,”

This is the way to deal with it, “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Jesus is the model for forgiveness. Now how did Jesus forgive? You say, “He forgives unconditionally.” We hear a lot of talk about unconditional forgiveness today. This is not what the Bible teaches. If so, then Jesus has forgiven the whole world of all their sins without them even repenting and asking for it. Now THINK before you take issue with what I am saying. Jesus stands ready to forgive and has made provision for the forgiveness of every living sinner on the face of the earth. He is also ready to forgive the sinning saint and restore him to fellowship. But does God save the sinner without his repentance and faith (Acts 20:21)? If so, that is teaching universal salvation and that is heresy. Does God forgive the sinning backslidden saint without his repentance and confession (1 John 1:9)? If so, there is no such thing as backsliding and one cannot lose fellowship and walk in darkness as First John teaches. He would be forgiven at the moment of sin and would not need to repent and ask forgiveness. For someone to come along and use this passage to teach unconditional forgiveness is to twist this Scripture to fit his own private opinion.

What does this teach? It teaches, first, that we should be ready to forgive and not go about fomenting and in bitterness over a wrong done to us. Second, it teaches that we should be ready on the spot to forgive the person who asks our forgiveness. We should not have to say, “give me twenty-four hours to think about it.” For Jesus sake and in obedience to His Lordship in this verse, we should say without a second though, “My brother/sister, you are forgiven. It is in the past never to be considered again.” This is how the Lord forgives us.

It is wrong for the believer to be in bitterness over a wrong done him. It is wrong to take the matter in our own hands to get even for the wrong done. Paul says in Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” The Christian should trust the Lord to settle the wrong in the other if he never asks forgiveness. It is not ours as His children to hold grudges. Neither is it right for someone to say you are to treat that person who obviously did wrong as though he did no wrong without asking for forgiveness. I have had people do me and the Lord’s work wrong. I continue to love the people who did it. Am I going to trust them and work with them in a close relationship? Not at all. Until they see that what they did is wrong, they will do it again. I’m not going to let it happen again if I can help it. Again, I would be disobedient and wrong if I did not stand ready to forgive and completely and unconditionally restore the person who asks.

There are those who teach that to forgive as Christ forgives is to forgive without qualifications. They are being intellectually dishonest with the Word of God. You do not need to counsel a young lady who has been saved by God’s grace to forgive a father who molested her as a little girl without genuine repentance and a request for forgiveness on his part. She should relinquish her attitude of revenge and release him to the Lord. But it is not wrong for her to avoid being around him in private or allow her children to be in his presence alone. ARE YOU READING THESE LINES? That person has been so damaged by this awful sin to tell them that they are to forgive without the person asking for forgiveness is further damage that persons walk with the Lord. You are asking a person to trust another who has not changed his mind about the wrong he did. Let’s not be saying the Bible is saying what it is NOT saying.

I thought I would get to the last garment in the meditation but I will wait until next time.

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ

Bro. White

#036 – Put on the New Man

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PUT ON THE NEW MAN

Col. 3:10-11 “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

Let us look first at,

THE NEW MAN’S EXISTENCE
Paul identifies a “new man.” The word translates “neos” and means, “one recently born,” in contrast to the “old man” in verse 9. This is definitely talking about the new birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Conception and birth is the beginning of life for the Adamic man. This is also true of the Christian. One does not become a Christian until conception and birth takes place. Peter said in his first Epistle chapter one and verse 23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” The new man is begotten through the Word and born of the Spirit. He becomes a new man in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). Here we have a man who existed before as an “old man” who is no longer an “old man” but a “new man” and it happened by the creative power of God.

Paul says, “And have put on” and this translates “enduo” and means, “to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self.” It is an aorist middle participle. The aorist tense means it has already taken place. The middle voice means that the subject (the Colossian Christians) acts and participates in the result of the action. This took place when they responded in faith the gospel of Christ. Every Christian has “put on” the new man in this sense. Paul is not crediting them with being the cause of the existence of the new man. God “created” the new man as we are told in this verse. He is acknowledging something that has already taken place so that he can tell them some things about it. So now he tells them of,

THE NEW MAN’S SUPPORT
Paul says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him . . .” The words, “is renewed” translates “anakainoo” and means, “to cause to grow up, to make new, to be changed into a new kind of life as opposed to the former corrupt state.” The creation of the new life takes place at the point of salvation and Paul is saying here that the new life created continues to get support from the One who brought it into being. It is a present passive participle. The present tense represents continuous action in the present. The Lord never ceases to work in the present tense of the believer’s life. He may be backslidden and away from the fellowship of his Saviour, but He is never abandoned by the Lord. He is either developing His child in a positive way through the normal process of daily growth, or chastening him in love to correct an inappropriate course, that he might be cleansed and restored (Heb. 11:6-11).

Paul brings this same truth out in Phil. 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” This is the “good work” of salvation. The words “will perform” translate “epiteleo” and mean, “to bring to an end, to accomplish it, to perfect it, to execute it, to complete it.” It is a future active indicative verb. This means that God has the future in mind in His present work in the believer and He is saying that He finishes what He starts. God personally supports the new man forever. Next Paul speaks of,

THE NEW MAN’S LIKENESS
The words “renewed in knowledge after the image” describe both the likeness and the way it is accomplished.  The word “image” translates “eikon” and means, “an image, figure, likeness, the image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses.” This creation is a restored image that Adam lost when he sinned against God in the Garden Temptation. Ephesians 4:24 says, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” You will notice that the new man of this verse is CREATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUE HOLINESS. He does not become that way by growth but by CREATION. The believer’s body is inhabited by a new man that was created right at the point of the new birth.

The renewal of our text is speaking of the growth of the Christian. The “knowledge” is the believer’s positive and believing response to the Word of God. The Word of God is so important to the growth of the Christian. It is the way God is transforming the new man in Christ into the likeness of Christ in an experiential way here on this earth. The process is described in Ephesians 4:11-16. God gives gifted men to the church (vs 11) for the purpose of developing the new Christian (vs 12) into the likeness of Christ (vs 13). When a Christian gets upset with a church and quits, he is making a mistake. He does not only set himself up as a judge of a blood-bought institution (Acts 20:28) but he cuts himself off from God’s ordained way for his own personal development. Next Paul declares,

THE NEW MAN’S ORIENTATION TOWARD OTHERS
Paul says in verse 11, “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” This verse is not talking about how it will be when we get to heaven. He is speaking about how it is here to the new man in Christ Jesus. The words “Where there is” translates “eni” and is a contraction for the third person singular present indicative.” It means, “is in, is among, has place, is present.” This means that there is no place in Christ for the distinctions that are made between races and social status. One will never get the world to change. In fact one of the signs of the last days that Jesus gave is that “nation shall rise against nation (Matt. 24:7). The word “nation” translates “ethnos” from which we get our word ethnic. It is race against race. Racial strife is not only found in the U.S. It is global, i.e, Bosnia, Serbia and all over Africa. It is a sin that believers in a New Testament Church take a different position than the Word of God. I was totally blind on this subject for years. I have no criticism for those who do not agree with me. I have been there. I personally confessed it as a sin and God forgave me and has graciously given me a ministry with a multitude of different races.

The words “Christ is all” cover what the word “all” means. That is what Christ is. John Gill says, “he is “all” efficiently; he is the first cause of all things, the beginning of the creation of God, the author of the old, and of the new creation, of the regeneration of his people, and of their whole salvation: he is all comprehensively; has all the fulness of the Godhead, all the perfections of deity in him; he is possessed of all spiritual blessings for his people; and has all the promises of the covenant of grace in his hands for them; yea, all fulness of grace dwells in him, in order to be communicated to them: and he is all communicatively; he is their light and life, their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, their food and clothing, their strength and riches, their joy, peace, and comfort, who gives them grace here, and glory hereafter.”

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown in their commentary say, “Christ is all—Christ absorbs in Himself all distinctions, being to all alike, everything that they need for justification, sanctification, and glorification(1Cor. 1:30 3:21 23 Gal. 2:20).

The words “and in all” means that He is in each and every. Paul says in Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” The words “have not” is a present active indicative with the negative. It is saying that if you are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit you are not saved. Jesus in the Person of the Holy Spirit indwells every believer without racial distinction or social standing. Paul takes the lowest sinner he could write about when he used the word “Scythian.” This is described by Gill: “The Scythians were, of all people, the most barbarous and unpolished, and were in great disdain by others, therefore the apostle mentions them, as being within the reach of the powerful and efficacious grace of God; nor were the fierceness of their dispositions, and the impoliteness of their manners, any bar unto it.” (John Gill in the Online Bible).

The grace of God is able to save all no matter what. The problem is not with grace. It is with the depraved will of satisfied sinners who enjoy and boast of their disbelief in God and Christ and will pay for it through all eternity. May God help them to change their minds before it is too late.

Paul has identified the truth of the new man and some things about his attitude and growth. In the verses to follow He will tell us how to dress the new man.

May God bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ
Bro. White

#035 – Undressing the Old Man

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UNDRESSING THE OLD MAN

Col. 3:8 9 “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”

The believer is saved by grace alone. The preparation for salvation by grace is the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8 11). The proper response to the conviction of sin is enlightenment concerning God’s displeasure with our sin and our agreement with Him. Repentance is where we come to agree with God even when what He says is against us. Our agreement with God means that we have changed our minds (repentance) and are ready to cast ourselves upon His mercy for forgiveness (Luke 18:13). As we do this, we find that God has provided a means by which he can and will forgive us completely. This is called GRACE and it is available because the just penalty of the law against sin has been paid for by Christ on the cross.

We also find ourselves completely freed from the penalty of sin and discover that in the person of Christ, we died in His death to sin and were raised in His resurrection to life eternal. Not only is this true, but we also discover that we are alive with Him right now on the throne in heaven (Eph. 2:5 6; Col. 3:1).  Yes, we live in two places at once (John 3:13)! And the one is as real as the other. Only faith can rest in and enjoy this truth. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. That is a shelter from all storms and out of the reach of Satan altogether. At times, God allows Satan to attack us in our earthly life, but he is never allowed to touch our life with Christ on the throne. Amen! The grace of God that saves us on the spot for eternity, now teaches us (Titus 2:11 15) to direct our affection to things above, to count ourselves dead (mortify) to the former life style identified by the words, “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness.”

Grace now goes further and goes beyond those outward sins that have to do with things that hardly anyone will argue with, and instructs us to take off some things that will defile and will cause the bride to look like she has just cleaned up on the outside but has retained the dress she wore when she was prostituted to Satan and the world. Grace says there are some garments that you must take off. We will look at those garments in this meditation.

First we must take off anger.  The word “now” translates “nun” and means,  “now at this very moment.” When did Paul say this and at what point of time in the lives of those he is addressing? It was after salvation. They are members  in good standing of the Church in Colosse. Godly living comes after the experience of salvation. Before salvation all a person needs to hear is the gospel: Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:1 2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came  not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of  God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” There is only one message that an unsaved man needs to hear, i.e., “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Now that one has been saved, he needs to go on in the new life and learn how His NEW LORD wants him to dress. The words “ye…put off” translate “apotithemi” and mean, “to put off or aside and wear no longer.” The verb is an aorist middle imperative. The aorist tense means to immediately and permanently put these garments aside to wear no more. The middle voice is where the subject acts and participates in the result of the action. They must make this decision whereby they will be helped. The imperative mood is a command that expresses urgency. It is urgent that NOW, not after while, that the old garments of the prostitute be worn no more by the Bride of Christ! The word “anger” translates “orge” and means, “up surging,” and according to Kittel, “comes to be used for an impulsive nature.” So anger would indicate an impulsive nature in a person that would be described in our common use as “a person with a short fuse.” The Christian needs to unclothe himself of the natural trait of anger and not make the lame excuse, “I was just born like this and I can’t help it.” Paul says by inspiration of God “Put off…anger.” If you don’t, you are a sinning Christian and need to repent and get His forgiveness. You will be the loser if you don’t obey the Lord. Anger is the root cause of a lot of other wrong actions.

Do you get the picture? It is not the changing of the garments that saves. You can be sure of one thing. The woman caught in the act of adultery in John chapter eight went straight home and changed her garments! She had just escaped the penalty of the law because she had met GRACE! Anger is no longer a garment that is acceptable for the Bride to wear.

You ask, “How can a Christian keep from expressing anger?” First, admit it is wrong, at least in most cases. You start getting right by confessing it is wrong. You see, you will deal more quickly, as a Christian, with things that you really believe are wrong. When you allow your emotions to dwell too long in an area, like the things that bother you, things get out of control. Is it possible to be angry without committing sin? Paul says in Ephesians 4:26,  “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Just be careful that you don’t use this verse to justify KEEPING THIS GARMENT, so in case you want to wear it again, and act like you did before you were saved, it will be handy.  Ouch!

Then next, Paul says to put off “wrath.” The word “wrath” translates “thumos” and “denotes violent movement (of air, water, the ground etc.),” —Kittel; in other words, in the case of wind, a tornado, or in the case of water, the dam brakes, or in the case of the ground, an earthquake takes place. It is not easy to define the difference between anger and wrath by looking at a dictionary. They are related but not identical twins!  I will venture to say that anger might be expressed in words and wrath expressed in a violent action. However, don’t hold me to this. Paul says that this garment has to go. It is not acceptable behavior in the life of the Christian.

Then next, Paul says to put off, “malice.” The word “malice” translates “kakia” and means, “malignity, malice, ill will, desire to injure.” This represents an attitude of the life of the depraved nature being worked out towards others. There are persons who could be classified as “malignant.” They are poison and will poison others when they get around them. I have seen these characters in the Church over my nearly 60 years of preaching. Some of them go from church to church, and when they come, the poor preacher thinks his church is growing. It takes a little time for him to see that this is a malignant person and he infects the body, and it sometime results in a church split, or, as a friend of mine calls it, “a sluff off!” I think that eases the pain a little, rather than to admit that his church has had a full grown split! You say, “Preacher, is a person like that saved?” I don’t know. Only God knows. I will tell you one thing. If he is, he is wearing the wrong clothes. Paul says to put off malice.

Then next, he says to put off, “blasphemy.” The word “blasphemy” translates “blasphemia” and means, “to slander, detraction, speech injurious to another’s good name.” The reason we call cursing blasphemy, is that it is using God’s holy name to express frustrations and anger. This is brought out in Exodus 20:7, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” The Jews would not pronounce the name of God, represented by the English spelling LORD in all caps and GOD in all caps in our KJV. The Jews held this name for God in such awe that they were afraid that the very mispronunciation of the name would be violating this commandment. Therefore, the right pronunciation of the name LORD is not known today. The original Hebrew language did not have vowels. It was a language of tetragrammatons. This is a language without vowels. Every word had to be memorized along with its sound. The word’s pronunciation would be lost if it were not continued in active use. This is the way the correct pronunciation of the word LORD was lost. Paul said that it is not appropriate for the Christian to “blaspheme” and therefore, it must be taken off as a worn out garment and discarded, never to be used again. The bride who loves her husband does not use disrespectful words when referring to HIM.

Then next Paul says to put off “filthy communication out of your mouth.” The words “filthy communication” translate “aischrologia” and mean, “foul speaking, low and obscene speech.” This kind of speech would include filthy jokes and the kind of speech that you would not expect from a holy person. This was evidently a practice in those early days, and Paul is teaching that the kind of speech that is totally acceptable to the world is off limits for the Christian. Corrupt speech grieves the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer (Eph. 4:29 30). Paul tells us to put off filthy communications like a garment that we put off, never intending to wear again. It is not appropriate speech for the Christian.

Then finally in this disrobing instruction Paul says, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man and his deeds.” The word “lie” translates “pseudomai” and means, “to lie, to speak deliberate falsehoods, to deceive one by a lie.” This is a present middle imperative verb. The present tense with the negative means to stop something that is in progress. The middle voice means that it is a benefit to the one who stops lying by an act of personal choice. The imperative mood is a command that expresses urgency. This is no light matter. They were evidently doing this, and Paul says it must come to a stop. It is evident on them, like a garment that identified them with the world, and it is to be taken off to be worn no more.

The words “seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” is given as a reason. The words “seeing that ye have put off” translate one word “apekduomai” which means, “wholly put off from one’s self, and denotes separation from what is put off, to wholly strip off for one’s self (for one’s own advantage).” It is an aorist middle participle. The aorist tense goes back to the salvation experience where we, through being placed into Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), became identified with all that He has done and is doing for us. It is not just the “old man,” however, it is also “with his deeds.” The old man is the root from which the seven things mentioned in this meditation grow. It is not just the sin of Adam for which Jesus died, but also for all those evil works that come from that wicked root. And once we are saved by His marvelous grace, we are to act, to put away from us all the garments worn by him.

John says in 1 John 2:1 2,  “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” There will be times we sin and will need forgiveness. When we do, we must confess and be honest with God and ourselves and be restored to full fellowship (1 John 1:9). But for believers, we no longer wear the garments of sin. The Christian dresses differently. In our next meditation we will look at the new garments for the new man in Christ.

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ,

Bro. White

#034 – What About the Former Life?

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WHAT ABOUT THE FORMER LIFE NOW THAT WE ARE IN CHRIST?

Col. 3:5-7 “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.”

We have just discussed our throne life in Christ. We are risen with Christ and are instructed to seek those things which are above. We are to devote our affections to heavenly things. We have been informed that we are dead already and our life is hidden with Christ in God. We are assured that when He appears at His return that we will appear with him. But what about the reality of now? All that we have just said is true and it is to influence our present lives on this earth in a practical way. But what about that part of us that did not change when we were saved? We can’t say they are not real. They are only too real. Sometimes I wish that I could take my FLESH or MEMBERS as it is called here to the Lord and say, “Lord, would you fix this part of me too? It’s not working right. I’ve tried to train it Lord, but it won’t mind. Would you please do something to it to make it mind?” The Lord just simply says, “No, I won’t fix it. I won’t save it. What I will do is to make you a new body but you will have to wait until the resurrection or the rapture to get it.” But you say, “Lord, what will I do in the meantime?” The Lord says, “I told you in Colossians 3:5 what to do. Go to work on it. I will help you.”

One of the things that is very clear to me in the New Testament is that I am not the man I used to be, but I am living in the same body. Something is happening in this body that is no longer me (Rom. 7:17,20). What can I do about it? Let’s look at what Paul says,

THE MORTIFICATION OF THE MEMBERS

Paul says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth . . .” The word “mortify” translates “nekroo” and means, “to make dead, to put to death, slay.” It is an aorist active imperative verb. The aorist tense suggest sudden and once-for-all action. I am not suggesting that the evil inclination can be put away so that it will not return. However, one can adopt an attitude of mortification toward the members that are used of sin to defile the Christian. I am living in that body as a “new man” and Christ is living in the new man. So the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Lord enables me to have something to say about what goes on in the body. He says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon earth.” The verb “mortify” is also imperative mood. This is a command that expresses urgency. The first four verses of the chapter identifies our new position in Christ. It also identifies our new Commander. We are under His Lordship and now through the inspiration of the Scriptures He gives a command and this command expresses urgency.

Why is it so urgent for us to obey this command. If the members are allowed to function under the control of the old sin nature, what will happen will neutralize any witness that we give of the saving grace of God. The flesh is not changed and its desires have not changed. The habits that we had before we were saved do not go away easily. While we are not saved by quitting these things, they are not the things that please the Lord and we begin to move as believers to rid ourselves of those things that displease Him.

The words “which are upon the earth” are put in contrast to the heavenly life described in verses 1-4. There is a right attitude to have toward our throne life. Then there are proper actions that we are to take as Christians toward our earthly lives. Paul is describing proper conduct for believers. Next he names,

THE MEMBERS TO MORTIFY

The word “fornication” translates “porneia” and means according to Strong’s in Online Bible, “illicit sexual intercourse, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.” The word “fornication” can cover the whole family of sexual sins. Some try to limit its meaning to “sex before marriage” but I believe this word covers the whole family of sexual sins. The word “fornication” in 1 Cor. 5 covers the unmarried man who was fornicating with his step mother. Both were covered by this word. The Bible is clear when it identifies this sin as one of the difficulties that saved people have to deal with. 1 Thess. 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” Why the need to warn against this sin? It was common then and it is now. It is not acceptable behavior for the Christian. Paul says “Mortify” it.

The word “uncleanness” translates “akatharsia” and means in a moral sense, “the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living. It is used of impure motives.” It is hard to pin this word down to one meaning. It would include all suggestive language and improper conduct a man or woman has toward the other. This is not the way Christ wants His bride to conduct herself. Paul says “Mortify” it.

The words “inordinate affection” translate “pathos” and mean, “a feeling which the mind suffers, an affliction of the mind, emotion, passion.” Kittel says, “The basic meaning of this root word is to experience something that comes from outside.” This could mean the uncontrolled lust one has because of what he views. This could include any view of the opposite sex dressed (or not dressed at all) inappropriately. Paul says “Mortify it.”

The word “evil” translated “kakos” and means, “of a bad nature.” The word “concupiscence” translates “epithumia” and means “desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.” The old sin nature has a depraved desire and it is seen in the constant pouring forth of vulgar talk about sex. Paul says “Mortify” it.

The word “covetousness” translates “pleonexia” and means, “a greedy desire to have more.” The word “is” is a present tense verb and the word “idolatry” translates “eidololatreia” and means, “the worship of false gods.” Paul says “a greedy desire to always be wanting more is the worship of a false god (idolatry). Paul says “Mortify” it.

GOD’S WRATH IS AGAINST SUCH THINGS

Verse 6 says, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” The word “wrath” translates “orge” and means, “anger, the natural disposition, temper, character.” The things listed here are against the very being of God. God doesn’t just act holy, He is holy. This is the reason sin must incense Him to wrath because it is against who He is. The word “cometh” is a present tense verb and means that it is moving toward the offender at the present time. God’s wrath is closing in at the present time on the children of disobedience.

THE PAST TENSE OF THE BELIEVER’S LIFE

Paul says, “In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.” When Paul listed the sins in verse 5 he knew he was writing to some who did these things before they were saved. The words “ye walked” is aorist tense verb suggesting that it is over. People who are saved have a past that is left behind. Even the thief on the cross began to argue against the thief that he was agreeing with at the beginning of the crucifixion. When one repents of his sins (and no one can be saved without it) he talk and walks differently. You will see a change in his life.

The words “ye lived” is an imperfect tense and the imperfect tense represents continuous action in the past without any indication of it ending. Paul said you didn’t only take some steps in this way of life, it is the way you continually lived.

Is there a past tense to your life that can be explained like this, i.e., this is what I used to do? I don’t do it any more. I understand that this would not be quite as noticeable in children who are converted at an early age. And too much emphasis can be put on the time and place (though there has to be one). One can clearly see the difference in the way a yielded Christian thinks and acts from the unsaved people around him.

Thank the Lord we died with him to this old life and we are seated with Him in the heavenlies now. We have already been delivered from future condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Now we are free and have the power of His Presence to “mortify” our members that are upon the earth that He might be seen in us.

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ

Bro. White

#033 – THE ILLUMINATION OF THE SPIRIT

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THE ILLUMINATION OF THE SPIRIT

John 3:27 “John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”

If you wonder how much John understood about the Messiah he preached you will have to read John 1:25-36. Other passages give us a glimpse of what he believed and preached but this passage is a confession of John’s faith. It could not be clearer. Not only did John make a great explanation of his faith in Christ but he made a statement in verse 27 that explains the absence of any depth to spiritual understanding in our day. After we look at this verse, I want to share with you several things that A.W. Tozer says about this truth.

This statement of John comes about as a result of  a question that arose among John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying (verse 25). This is the reason for the words, “John answered and said . . .” So this confession of Christ was John’s answer to the question about purifying. The purifying here is a reference to his baptizing which was symbolic. We are cleansed by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and our faith in him is our entrance into eternal life (verse 36). Unbelief leaves the sinner where he was born, i.e., under the wrath of God. It is not the rejection of Christ that causes one to be under the wrath of God. Jesus came to a condemned race whose destiny was eternal death to provide a way out. The message of the gospel does not condemn the world. It is good news to those already condemned on death row (3:18).

John says, “A man can receive nothing except it were given him from heaven.” They were trying to get a question about purifying answered. And John looks at them and makes this statement. I can just hear one of John’s disciples say, “John, just make it simple. Just give us a simple rational answer to our question. We are rational beings and we can understand human speech. Just tell us what this baptism is about.” And John says, “A man can receive nothing except it were given him from heaven.” Can you see the puzzled looks on the disciple’s faces? John is saying, “I’m going to give you God’s answer to your question. But you are not going to understand it unless God opens your heart to it’s understanding.” Then John proceeds to tell them about Christ and about his message, his anointing, about how the Father has given all things into his hands and how much the Father loves him and how faith in him is the means to obtaining eternal life. Does this sound like a direct answer to why John baptized with water? Only if God reveals to you that baptism speaks of the fact that Jesus came to die on a cross, be buried and raised again the third day which is the sum and substance of the gospel and this is the means of cleansing for the believer and all of this is pictured in baptism.

Tozer said in his comments on this verse, “Man by reason cannot know God; he can only know about God. Through the light of reason certain important facts about God may be discovered. ‘Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse’” (Rom. 1:19-20). Then he says, “Through the light of nature man’s moral reason may be enlightened, but the deeper mysteries of God remain hidden to him until he has received illumination from above.”

Again Tozer says, “The inability of human reason as an organ of divine knowledge arises not from its own weakness but from its unfittedness for the task by its own nature.”

Tozer says, “The doctrine of the inability of the human mind and the need for divine illumination is so fully developed in the New Testament that it is nothing short of astonishing that we should have gone so far astray about the whole thing. Fundamentalism has stood aloof from the Liberal in self-conscious superiority and has on its own part fallen into error, the error of textualism, which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Ghost. Everywhere among Conservatives we find persons who are Bible-taught but not Spirit-taught . . . There is no truth apart from the Spirit . . . For a man to understand revealed truth requires an act of God equal to the original act which inspired the text . . . the textualism of our times is based upon the same premise as the old-line rationalism, that is, the belief that the human mind is the supreme authority in the judgment of truth. Or otherwise stated, it is confidence in the ability of the human mind to do that which the Bible declares it was never created to do and consequently is wholly incapable of doing. Philosophical rationalism is honest enough to reject the Bible flatly. Theological rationalism rejects it while pretending to accept it and in so doing puts out its own eyes . . . The inward kernel of truth has the same configuration as the outward shell. The mind can grasp the shell but only the Spirit of God can lay hold of the internal essence.”

Tozer claimed that fundamentalism was slowly dying because of what he called “this mortal error.” He says, “Those overtones of religious delight which accompany truth when the Spirit illuminates it are all but missing from the Church today.”

John said, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” Then, John went on to speak a Spirit given message concerning Christ. But he says that what I am about to say must also come as a Divine illumination if you are to understand. When there is Divine illumination on the Word of revelation there is the experience of God. We have emphasized the understanding intellectually of the revelation (God’s Word) to the neglect of illumination. The educated preacher is uneasy around an “unlearned and ignorant man” (Acts 4:13), on whom is the evident power of God. He has to explain his own absence of power by becoming critical of the “ignorant man’s” lack of formal studies represented by degrees. Then the “ignorant man” in response to his lack of degrees, must criticize the learned man’s education and bring attention to his powerlessness. So the “unlearned and ignorant man” gives up his power because of his critical spirit and the “man of degrees” lives on in his deadness because he refuses to face the fact that he has overemphasized the “revelation” and copped out on the “illumination.”

People are dying in Churches because they have a message without illumination. There is no experience of God. Vance Havner said, “We are as straight as a gun barrel doctrinally and as empty as a gun barrel spiritually. I believe he is right. I am not accusing anyone in this meditation. I’m just trying to draw attention to truth that I need to practice and share it with others who may also need it.

May the Lord bless each of you.

In Christ
Bro. White

#032 – Onesimus

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ONESIMUS

Col. 4:9 “With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”

Tychicus was commissioned by Paul to deliver this epistle to the Colossians. He was accompanied by Onesimus who was a runaway slave from Colosse to Rome and with this epistle he bears a private letter to Philemon, his owner. So Onesimus is returning to his owner to reenter the household of his master but he does it with an epistle from Paul that explains his conversion. As we study the life of Onesimus let’s notice the following:

THE MASTER OF ONESIMUS

This master’s name is Philemon. He owned Onesimus. He is an offended businessman. It is believed that Onesimus not only ran away from Philemon but also robbed him in the process (Encyclopedia of the Bible by Walter A Ewell). Philemon is a saved man converted under the ministry of Paul (Philemon 1:19). But Onesimus was not a saved slave when he left. Therefore this Christian business man would not look at it the same way as if Onesimus had been a Christian. And Onesimus did not look at it like he did after he became a Christian! Philemon had a RIGHT by law over Onesimus even after his conversion. Becoming a Christian does not free us from our legal obligations. Next we see,

THE DEPARTURE OF ONESIMUS

The Scofield Bible says in the introduction to the book of Philemon: “Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, a Christian of Colosse, had robbed his master and fled to Rome.” His departure was not like the departure of the prodigal son. The prodigal departed with the reluctant permission of his father. Onesimus robbed his master and “bolted” as Guy King says in his book on Colossians. There is no indication of what he robbed his master of. But that he robbed him is universally accepted.

Stealing is another word for robbery. It was a common practice in those days as much as it is now. Many missionaries have testified to me that the nationals where they minister believe that they are doing nothing wrong if what they take is what they need. Especially if you have more that one of the items that they take! After all, a lady doesn’t need two earrings that are exactly alike! Or, a spare tire that you are not using!

Paul had to instruct Christians in this matter.  Paul says in Ephesians 4:28, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” The Ephesians past is recognized in the word “stole.” The conversion of the Ephesians is seen in the instructions, “steal no more.” The life style of the Christian is seen in the words, “but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

Onesimus was a man with a past. But it is good to be able to report,

THE CONVERSION OF ONESIMUS

Now how this took place, I am not for sure. He made it to Rome. Somehow he learned that Paul was a prisoner in this place. He may have met Paul when he was in the home of Philemon. On the other hand, someone may have found him and brought him to Paul who then led him to Christ. All we know for sure is that Onesimus became a new man in Christ. Man does not become a Christian gradually. Jesus is confrontational. One must face his sins. He must face his destiny. Onesimus did this. He no doubt was burdened by the weight of sin. He was a runaway slave and the law was not on his side. He was not only a runaway, he was a thief. And as we look back, he had to be under conviction. Because no man can come to Christ without it. Onesimus could run away from Philemon but he could not run away from God. God was on his trail. Do you remember Jonah? He discovered that God was in the OTHER DIRECTION ALSO.

I am not for sure how it took place. But the good part to this story is that it did take place. Onesimus was in the presence of Paul. He told Paul his story and Paul told him of Christ. He told him he would have to repent of his sins and trust Jesus to forgive him. Onesimus must have said, “But what about my past? What will I do about it?” Paul must have said, “First, let Jesus take care of your past. He will forgive you. For now, don’t worry about Philemon. You have sinned against God before you have Philemon. God is more important. Get it right with Him.” Onesimus must have asked, “How do I do that?” Paul must have said, “Pray right now and confess to Him that you have sinned against Him and tell Him that you are receiving Jesus as your personal Saviour. Ask Him to forgive you and when you do, believe that He is faithful to forgive.” I believe Onesimus did pray. He did repent of his sins and asked the Lord to forgive him.” Now we have,

THE NEW ONESIMUS

Not only was his destiny changed but his attitude toward authority changed. After his prayer, I believe that he felt the burden of sin depart. I think he must have said, “I have never felt this way before. I know what I did is history and it can’t be undone. But I no longer feel the way if felt about this just before I prayed. Brother Paul, I can’t explain this wonderful feeling.” Suddenly, it dawned on him that he had called Paul brother! He looked at Paul to see if Paul approved. And Paul said, “Onesimus, you are my brother now. We are in the same family together. We are equals in Christ.” I think Paul’s remark just about did Onesimus in. I read the biography of John Jasper who was converted as a slave in Richmond Virginia while working in a busy tobacco factory. It happened at a table as he stemmed tobacco. He shouted to the glory of God and it was heard all over the place! When the overseer heard it, he came in with a whip in his hand and asked him what was going on? He explained in his own way that he had just been saved. The foreman told him to go back to work or suffer the consequences of the whip. He did but it wasn’t long before his owner who had heard the outbreak in the factory called John in to talk to him personally. John said, “Mr. Sam asked me what just happened out in the factory.” John said, “When he asked me his voice was soft like and it seemed to have a little song in it which played into my soul like an angel’s harp.” I asked him, “Mr. Sam, have I ever given you any trouble?”

John said, “He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘no John, you never did.’ Then I began crying and said to him, ‘Mr. Sam, ever since the fourth of July I’ve been crying after the Lord. And just now, out there at the table, God took my sins away and set my feet on a rock. I didn’t mean to make no noise, Mr. Sam, but before I knew it the fires broke out in my soul and I just let go one shout to the glory of my Saviour.”

John continues his story: “Mr. Sam was sitting there with his eyes toward the floor and with a quiver in his voice he said very slow, ‘John, I believe that way myself. I love the Saviour that you have just found and want to tell you that I am not complaining about the noise that you just made.’”

“Then Mr. Sam did a thing that nearly made me drop to the floor. He got up out of his chair and walked over to me and gave me his hand and said, ‘John, I wish you mighty well. Your Saviour is mine, and we are brother’s in the Lord now.’ When he said that I turned around and put my arm against the wall and put my fist in my mouth to keep from shouting again!”

“Then as Mr. Sam’s face was raining tears he said, ‘John you needn’t work no more today. I give you a holiday. After you get through telling your story in the factory here, go up to your house and tell your mother. Then go around to your neighbors and tell them. Then go everywhere you want and tell them the good news. It will do you good and it will do them good and will honor your Lord and Saviour.’” And John Jasper took wings and flew for the Saviour until the day of his death. (The biography from which this story is taken is called Rapsody in Black by Richard Ellsworth Day).

I think something like that happened to Onesimus. He was a new man and he was not about to keep it a secret. Next we see,

THE RECOMMENDATION OF PAUL

Paul tells Onesimus that the right thing to do is to go back to Philemon and make things right. Now that advice is received positively by Onesimus which is an indication that a real change has taken place and he has humbled himself under a new authority. I think Onesimus may have said, “Bro. Paul, you know I have been on the run for a long time. I have been dreading the thought of getting caught. Now what you are saying to me seems the very thing I should do. It is a strange feeling that I have, but it is good, and it is right. I will go back.”

Paul says, “I won your master to the Lord just like I have won you. Philemon, your master, recognizes the same authority that you now recognize. I would like to go back with you but as you can see my chains, that is impossible. But I will go with you with a letter. I will ask Philemon to receive you and we will trust the Lord to work in his heart and we will honor his decision.” Next we see,

THE RETURN OF ONESIMUS

How many of us would have returned after a successful escape? Especially, if you were a slave and you were asked to return to your master, from whom you had robbed, and had no way of paying the debt. We know this was true because of what Paul says to Philemon in Philemon 1:18, “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account.” Onesimus couldn’t pay. So Paul assumes the responsibility for the debt. This is real life illustration of the grace of God. We had robbed God of His glory and could not pay. Jesus found us and forgave us and sent us with a letter of recommendation to the Father with His request, “Put Earl White’s debt on my account!” Well, Amen!!! Someone hold my mules!

This return speaks of two important things. First, it is a manifestation of the submission of the new convert to the new authority. For a person to claim salvation and then turn around and begin to argue with the authority of the Scriptures is an indication that he did not understand what he was doing when he professed to know Christ. We are not saved, because we departed from God’s authority, and acted independently of Him. Salvation is a return to the authority of the throne! Second, it is an act of faith. Onesimus faced one of the greatest tasks of his life. Go back and face a man who had the power of life and death. He trusted what Paul said (equal to the Word of God; 1 Thess. 2:13) and committed himself to the Lord who was able to work in Philemon’s heart to be merciful to him. Onesimus knew that Paul’s advice was right. He acted in faith and did what was right with a willingness to suffer the consequences of right doing. Then we see,

THE RESTORATION OF ONESIMUS

First, the restoration was spiritual. Every man that is saved is restored to an eternal relationship with God. What Adam lost we recover in Christ and much more. Adam was created as an eternal being with the possibility of a fall. We are recreated in Christ with His eternal life without the possibility of a fall.

I believe Onesimus was also restored to his manhood. There is something about slavery that robs one of his manhood. He is less than a beast. God did not create man to be a slave. Slavery is what has happened to man as a result of the fall. I can’t prove this, but I believe that Philemon no longer looked at Onesimus as a slave. If Onesimus remained with him, and worked for him, he was no longer looked upon as a slave, but as “a faithful and beloved brother” in the Lord. That is GRACE. Grace does not only save but it restores.

What a great lesson we have learned from this humble and genuinely converted brother. I want to sit down and let him fill me in on the rest of the story when I get to heaven. Until then I will wait in faith.

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ

Bro. White

#031 – Demas the Man Who Quit

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DEMAS, THE MAN WHO QUIT
Col. 4:14 “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.”

Demas still has honorable mention in our text. But Paul does not go beyond honorable mention. I want to quote Guy King here. He says in his book Crossing The Border, a devotional commentary: “This is the last man in Paul’s group photograph taken in Rome. He is, to mix the metaphor, the fly in the ointment. You will notice that he is the only one about whom the apostle has not one word to say. I wonder if there is any reason for that? In the private letter to Philemon he is called ‘my fellow-laborer’, —but here, nothing at all. Do you think that he was already beginning to show signs of cooling off, which ended in that tragic sentence about him that Paul wrote in his very last letter—‘Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.’ (2 Tim. 4:10).”

I heard a preacher say years ago that a Christian is like a Model T Ford car. It always starts missing before it takes completely out. Well, for those of you who are not old enough to know anything about a T Model, it just means there are always symptoms that become evident in the life of a Christian before he quits church and goes back to the world. Listen, most people who quit church over some very small thing usually were looking for an excuse and this seems to them to be a good one. They were gone before they left! Just in case someone reads this, and is using your computer for Church, and you are using some phony excuse like, “the preacher hurt my feelings,” let me give you a verse of Scripture:  Ephesians 3:21 says, “Unto him be glory in the church (talking about the local Church) by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (The parentheses mine to help in understanding). Now that’s Bible. Shut your silly mouth, get the chip off your shoulder, and go back to Church!!! And let me add, deal with the real issue, confess it and get forgiveness, and get back in fellowship with the Lord. That may cause a computer crash, but it is the truth and some people need to hear it. I don’t say it in any thing but love. I love the people who will read these meditations. I pray for you daily. You say, “preacher, you don’t know me and that is impossible.” God does and the Holy Spirit intercedes for me and makes up for my lack of knowledge (Rom. 8:26-27).

I believe Demas was a saved man and was used of God. But he, like the Children of Israel when they left Egypt, Egypt did not leave them. Many wanted to go back.  Numbers 11:5 says, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick.” Look this passage up and read the context. These people were tired of what God had to offer, and began to complain. They were not willing to go through the wilderness to get to Canaan. The Christian life sounds great and easy to many who accept the gospel, but when the going gets rough between Egypt (this world) and Canaan (the life of victory in Christ), they cop out and go back to the world. The last thing we know about Demas is that HE QUIT. Paul says, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica . . .”  Did he ever come back? Did he ever get it right with the Lord? I do not know. I do know that the last thing the Holy Spirit has to say about him in the written Word of God is that he quit. When you depart this life, if you go by reason of physical death, do you want on your tombstone, “He was a Christian but he/she quit.” I certainly do not.

I heard a story a good while ago about a man who survived the Jamestown flood many years ago. The man went around everywhere giving his testimony of how God had delivered him. He was being blessed by the attention this was getting him as he told his story. Well, he died and went to heaven. When he got there he told the person in charge that he wanted him to give his testimony up there about how God had delivered him from death during the Jamestown flood. The person in charge kept putting him off. But he just kept pestering him about it. And finally he said, “Ok. You can give your testimony of how God delivered you from the Jamestown flood. But just remember this. Noah is in the audience!” If you quit serving the Lord over something that is so silly that it would be embarrassing to mention it, just remember at the Judgment seat of Christ before which all Christians will stand, the One on the seat will have the scars of the cross on Him. Thank God He didn’t quit until He finished the job. Hebrews 1:3 says of Christ, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.

In Christ

Bro. White