6Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isa 6:)
Abraham bided his time in the Chaldees saying: "Send me!"
Noah sat in his boat and said: "Send me."
Jonah stood on the beach watching whales and said: "Send me."
Paul rode to Damascus praying to the Lord: "Send me!"
Of course not.
Moses tried every way he could to get out of being sent.
Abraham had no idea what God had planned for him because no such precedence had ever been set.
There is no record of Noah volunteering to spend 110 years building a boat in which to take care of all those animals.
Jonah clearly did all he could to avoid doing that which God ordered him to do.
Paul was warring against Jesus and all His followers when he was called. He even had to ask: "Who are you?"
I see no record of Job volunteering to be a target of Satan.
John the Baptist was chosen for his particular job long before he was born.
Mary did not ask for the responsibility of being mother to the Messiah.
In fact, the only record of anyone saying "Send me" is Isaiah, and he was a primary prophet of the Messiah. It appears that just about everyone else said rather: "Why me!?"
Where does the concept of "Free Will come from? I am not being facetious, I really don't know. All through the Bible I see examples of the lack of Free Will. And in my own life I see what appears to be a series of my own judgment, most all of them being wrong; but I also see how I was being guided like a sheep in a loading pen.
Where I have ended up, though it is now where I want to be, is not even close to where I was directing my life toward.
We like to serve ourselves. There's a sense of satisfaction that comes from making our own decisions and doing that which we please. Buffets are popular for that very reason.
Food is not the only area in our life we like to pick and choose. We like to pick our own clothing, and choose our own careers and forms of entertainment.
In the past, and still in many parts of the world people are not given these choices. They wear what they have been provided, and eat what they can find. And if they are lucky enough to have a roof over their head, they are thankful.
It seems to be a trait of mankind that the less he has, the more thankful he is for that little he has.
And the converse is true as well; the more a person has, the more they expect and demand; and the less they appreciate the abundance they have.
Our modern society has created in each of us a desire for more, that is those of us fortunate enough to be living at a time and place where great abundance and little thankfulness abounds; and where high expectations allow us to demand more while feeling less fulfilled.
The more we have, the more we want, and the less we appreciate. This is the rule of the world. And, unfortunately, becoming more and more the rule of the churches.
We are invited into churches today where we expect to be entertained and served. We search for that church which will provide us the best entertainment and the best selection of goodies at the lowest cost to ourselves.
And so many of the churches are ready and anxious to supply that desire. In fact, many churches are built for just such a purpose, to serve the public that which they desire.
Businesses under the banner and protection of the church.
Is this what Jesus had in mind when He sacrificed Himself on the cross? Is it for our pleasure and self-satisfaction He built His Church.
In the best of churches I hear sermons expounding the benefits and the blessings Christians can expect. I hear the promises God has made that He must keep if we say the right things in the right combinations. I see what might be construed as promises made to Israel and the dedicated Apostles twisted to apply to the couch-potato Christian without the "If" even mentioned.
Christians by the thousands (more accurately, the millions) attend church or watch church on TV with the expectation of garnering the rewards promised by God.
When I apply for a job, I expect to have to work for my pay. I understand that my being accepted as an employee is not for my benefit, but for my employer's. Unless I was especially skilled or had a grand reputation that would benefit a firm, I would not apply for a job by asking what they could do for me, but rather telling what I can do for them, and why they should hire me and not one of the hundred others applying for the job.
Should I apply at a college, again I know I must fulfill certain requirements, and should I fail to do so, I will lose my position at that college.
If I am a part of a family, whether a father, a mother or a child; in order for my family to function I must do more than my part and give up many of my own pleasures and ambitions so that others in the family might have theirs met.
When I joined the Army I understood that they would not be at my beck and call, but I must be at theirs. As a soldier I surrendered my right to wear what I want, to eat what I preferred, to express my opinion, or to go and do where and what I please. When I was told to go, I went - right at that moment, not an hour later.
If I was told to dig a 6 foot hole, then put a cigarette butt in it and fill the hole back up - I dug.
When I was told to scrub the floor of the latrine with a toothbrush at 2am in the morning - I scrubbed.
If I was told to jump into the back of a truck and head into battle - I jumped.
I was no longer my own, but theirs. My life, my time, my purpose in life became that of the Army's.
I had but two choices left of my own, and they were attitudinal, not functional. I could either chose to obey from my heart, or to internally rebel.
Rebellion in my heart meant misery and dissatisfaction. It meant a life of arguments and punishment for disobedience. And it meant a life held back from taking advantage of its full potential.
Obedience from the heart, on the other hand, meant joy in my individual, though insignificant accomplishments. It meant being a part of a much bigger picture and purpose than serving myself would have meant. And it meant being seen favorably in the eyes of my superiors, therefore given the better details and earlier promotions.
Each of us are made up of certain components. Like our makeup of DNA and molecules, we are all the same. Our differences are not in our makeup, but in the arrangement of components.
Attitudes are a part of our makeup that we all have in common with one another. We all have them. And we all have the same ones. We have no choice as to which attitude to have - we all have all of them.
Since our choice is not whether to have one attitude or another, it would appear as if we are who we are and therefore can do nothing about it.
This is not so.
As an example, there are many people born left handed. And in the Bible the left handed people were often the more skillful in their endeavors. But in our modern society, being left handed is considered a detriment. So many children born left handed are taught to use their right hand instead. This is not a problem, but a benefit. Now that person can make a choice to either use their right or their left hand. Right handed people do not have such a choice unless they also make the effort to learn to use both hands.
When I taught fencing, as a right handed person, I spent an equal amount of time practicing to fence left handed and bought equipment accordingly. This not only allowed me to teach a left handed person to fence more efficiently, but when I fenced a left hander, I was not stymied by their advantage.
We go through life without choice, because we do not exercise what choices are presented to us. If we have a choice to do something the easy way or the hard; or the self-satisfying or the self-disciplining; or the self-exalting or the self-abasing - we naturally choose that which is easier, quicker, cost the least, and satisfies the most. We choose that which pleases us even if the other that does not satisfy is the more efficient and more beneficial of the two.
We all have the same traits and attitudes. What makes the difference between one person and another is the trait or attitude one chooses to concentrate on and direct themself toward. One who concentrates on anger will be miserable, hard to live with, and very likely will have a short, unfulfilled life. While one who concentrates on joy will have a pleasant, productive, possibly long life filled with friends and accomplishments.
It is the same with self-discipline. One who takes the hard but productive route will be more confident, healthier in mind and body, and accomplish much. While those who take the easy way will lack confidence, will likely fail in their endeavors, and live an unhealthy life and a short one.
The world tries hard to sell us the "easy life" saying it will be self-satisfying and fulfilling. We know that is a lie, but we strive to believe it anyway because it appeals to a part of our nature that wants the best for ourselves.
And while we strive for the "good life" that we so abundantly "deserve," we look at those who sacrifice themselves for others, doing without so that others can have just the bare basics - and we marvel at their giving nature and their joy.
Yet we just don't learn.
In the same way we can direct our attention to one attitude or another, we can direct our efforts toward one direction or another. If we direct our efforts and or interests toward the carnal, that is ourselves and our own welfare, we will grow more and more like the world and suffer the same destruction as the world.
On the other hand, if we concentrate on the Spiritual (the Holy Spirit, not the spiritual the world seeks after), if we have in fact received the Holy Spirit, then we well find ourself becoming more and more Spiritual, and as such, more and more like Christ.
Warning. If you direct yourself toward carnal interests, whether it be yourself, some rock star, even witchcraft and demons your fanaticism will be accepted and very likely be applauded by the world.
But if you direct yourself toward Jesus and the Spiritual, be prepared to experience insult and ostracizing by the world. The more like Christ you become, the more you will endure His reaction by the world.
And not the world only, but by the church. And this is not just a modern phenomenon. The Christian Martyrs of old had to endure chastisement and even death by the established church when they chose to follow God's Word rather than the dictates of the church. Note, it was not the World who killed the Martyrs.
God wants Fanaticism. God demands fanaticism. Jesus said we are either for Him or against Him. He will not accept "Luke-warm" Christianity. If a person is not all the way "In the Spirit," then they are still of the world.
A stalk of wheat that does not come to a head and bear fruit is not part of the harvest but rather just a blade of grass that is to be burned and returned to earth. It is not taken "into the Barn."
In Luke Chapter 16 there is an oft misunderstood parable about a servant who was dishonest, yet commended by Jesus. It is taught that this man was never really a servant, even though the Scriptures clearly state that he was a servant. And as a servant, supposedly serving the Lord, he was in fact serving himself. In fact, it could very easily be Judas who Jesus was referring to as far as that servant's nature is concerned. Judas is another good example showing that not all those who follow Jesus and take part in His ministry - even to casting out demons and healing the sick, are going to make it to the end, therefore Heaven.
The servant was commended by his master, not for his works, but for his cleverness in taking care of himself in difficulty. I believe the message is that if you are going to be part of this world, even though you are living the life of a "Christian," you might as well take full advantage of this world because it is all you will get. You will be destroyed along with the world and all its "works."
If you are going to live your own life, then live it for all it's worth. It's all you get.
If you Love the Lord, and want to serve Him, than abandon your life here on earth and live for the Lord for all you are worth, and you will be doing so into Eternity.
But keep in mind, though rewards are to be given, anyone working for rewards, even Eternal life, is not serving the Lord but their own belly. This is one big problem with all the churches - they try to appeal to our selfish desires, what we can get out of it; like healings, and happiness, and Eternal life.
A soldier does not run into enemy fire to save a fallen soldier in effort to receive a ribbon or a pat on the back. He does it because it is in his nature and he could do nothing else but risk his life.
And just such an attitude is what God is looking for in His soldiers, and will not receive those who have not fully submitted themselves to Him, and had the seed of the Holy Spirit planted in his or her heart.
A great soldier, or anyone else, is not so from birth, but rather from great self-sacrifice and dedication. Jesus said we should "Count the Cost," before we joined His Army. Isn't that what we would do before joining an earthly army or job or school? Why should we expect less for joining God?
Understanding the true purposes of God for mankind and His creation makes clear the Scriptures. Whereas the doctrines of man as taught in the churches confuse and keeps us from truly believing in the Bible, therefore in God, because things just don't make sense.
And part of that understanding comes from the realization that we are placed here on this earth to give, and not to get; and we are to serve, and not to be served. And we are to be thankful for all we receive - even those things we fear and wish to avoid.
The Apostles gave thanks in prison.
And Jesus gave thanks to God on His way to the cross.
LITTLE FISH IN A BIG POND
"I tell you. When I was in college I was a big man. I was a football hero, President of my Senior class. Yep, I was the tops."
"College is small potatoes. Why, when I was in my middle ages I was a CEO for a big multimillion dollar firm raking in the big bucks."
"So what. I got both of you beat. When I was in the war I was an Ace pilot and brought down 15 Jap planes in just one mission. The war might've been lost if it weren't for me."
"That's nothing. You're all just kindergardeners in comparison to me. I was President of the United States for four years. Try and top that! How about you, son, you've been sitting there mighty quiet. Have you got anything to say for yourself?"
"Me? No. Not like you fellas. I'm just a little fish in a big pond. I'm a Christian."
Everyone strives for the top. We all want to be the Captain of the team, the President of our class, the talent show winner. No one joins the race with the intent of being the last to come in.
Our goal is to be the "Big Fish" that others look up to and are intimidated by. We don't like to think of ourselves as the little fish that is left to the wayside or walked on.
The first grader is a big man in his class - then he goes to the second grade and has to start all over again.
The top man in High School is a nothing in College. A college graduate is very likely to be a nothing when he or she enters the business world. And the top man in the top College is very likely to be a nothing when he enters the Army as a buck private.
People try to rise to the top. This is natural. We want to see as many people as we can beneath us so we can look more favorably on ourselves. In order to do this, to stay on top, many people remain in their own little pond rather than risk being looked down on by someone above them in a larger pond. These people live in a stagnate world with no higher aspiration than to be big enough to fill their own shoes.
There are others who are not so self-defeated. They do not mind being a small fish in a large pond. These people are the ones who are not noticed, who are in the shadows of productivity. And they are the ones who create the machinery that the Big Fish like to ride upon.
The Military is a good example. Those men and women who are fighting the battle for freedom, though they may never be known by name, and very possibly never return home from their tour of duty, they are the ones who this big pond of ours is all about.
Big fish who seek to serve themselves are a dime a dozen. Small fish willing to sacrifice themselves are as rare as silver.
The Military is a very big pond indeed. And it serves a great purpose. This Nation is another very large pond which serves an important function in this world's affairs. But as big as these are, there is yet a bigger pond with even littler fish who strive to remain little, and to stay unknown.
For thousands of years man, no matter what God did to try and make His expectations known to us, could not get it right. Everyone who was in a position to preach God's Word tried to be the big fish in their own little pond.
So Jesus came to our little pond and exhibited exactly what He expects of us. When something is not clear in the Word, all we have to do is look at Jesus' example and the meaning should be made crystal clear.
But it isn't.
We, that is man, in effort to keep doing what we are doing and still feel that we are doing God's will, have taken Jesus and put Him in a separate box, that is made Him something beyond our comprehension and attainment, so therefore no longer an example.
Jesus expected us to do just that, so He commissioned 12 regular small fish to follow after Him, prove their fallibility, then to go out into this pond called earth and demonstrate Jesus to the people.
Again we make a box in which to place these Apostles to keep them separate from us and our expectations of ourselves.
But Jesus was not through yet. Every now and then He would raise up a person who lived the life Jesus expects of us, and like Jesus and the Apostles, they lost their life in the effort.
Again we make a box in order to keep these "Saints" from mixing up our image of what a Christian should be so we can continue to sleep.
And we do love to sleep.
But every once in a while God shakes us up a bit in order to keep us from falling too far into apathy. We call these shakings "Awakenings," where many great miracles and teachings are exhibited. And those who awaken, tune themselves to that which God has to say.
In time even the alert become apathetic and wish to go back to sleep - especially those of the next generation who had not taken part in the Awakening.
We don't learn. No matter how many times, nor how many ways God shows us what we are to do in order to fulfill His will for us, we turn back to our beds and nod off.
And it appears that God has stopped His efforts to awaken the church, and is allowing it to sleep, and to fall into deep slumber. And along with that slumber to dream dreams of self-exaltation and comfort with rich rewards coming for their lack of effort.
When the church has reached its deepest point of sleep, called the Great Apostasy, Jesus will return with a great shout and mighty wrath which to pour on this self-serving church that thinks it is beyond reproach. And only His True Church, who has stayed awake with their lamps lit (the Holy Spirit as their guide), watching in anticipation of their Master's return, will be shielded from the wrath to come.
Big Fish will be consumed. Self-serving sharks will be obliterated. The Big Pond will pass away.
Only the little fishes who have not bloated themselves with the fat of the land will be able to pass through the net and escape the doom that is to come.
NO WORK ALLOWED
Hanging on the door of many churches is a sign which reads: "Grace, not Works," or "Grace Alone," or if you prefer the Latin "Sola Gratia." The meanings are all the same. What they mean is you don't have to do anything to get to Heaven. The intent is that Jesus did it all on the cross, that sin is obliterated for the "Believer" (and some churches interpret that to mean for unbelievers as well). I wish I knew what they are talking about. I get lost at that door when I read these other signs posted on their walls.
This is interesting. I see another sign on this wall that says I've got to be baptized in order to be saved. Hmmm. Change clothes and be drowned. Sounds like work to me.
Here's an interesting one. It appears as if they expect me to get up on Sunday mornings and attend church. Don't they know that's the day all the good ball games and movies are on?
Look at that, every Sunday they pass around a big dish people put money in. Ten percent of all they make. And they want theirs off the top, not after taxes. I don't know about them, but I got to work for all that money!
Here's a sign that says I'm supposed to love my neighbor. Do they know that my neighbor is a bumb that everybody hates? Love him? They have to be joking. This not having to work for salvation is getting to look like a whole lot of work if you ask me.
Here's another sign. I wonder what it says?
"Obey your parents, and your boss, and the Government officials."
Don't they know what kind of orders my folks give me? And my mother-in law! Come on now!
Let's look at another sign.
I Read here that I have to Repent. Repent? That sounds like they want me to stop doing everything I like to do and start doing what God wants me to do. That sounds like a lot of work to me. In fact, it sounds just like what I was told to do when I joined the Army. And even more than that, it's what they said I had to do when they slammed those steel bars behind me.
Here's another sign. Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him. Follow Him? To the cross? That means He wants us to suffer and die doesn't it?
This "Not Working" stuff is getting to be a lot of work. I can see why so many other denominations are so work conscious, there's a whole lot less work involved than this not working stuff.
Over here's a little story about a rich guy who asks Jesus what he has to do to get to Heaven. It says here the guy did all the things he's supposed to do and wondered if there was anything else. How could there be, I says? The guy's done it all it appears to me. But no. Jesus tells him he's got to sell all he's got and come and follow Him. Now if that don't beat all? If that isn't work, I sure don't know what work is.
Here's a sign that says I should read my Bible and "prove" these things that they are saying. But when I read the Bible I come across a kazillion things I've got to do in order to be saved. And I read that if I don't do them I'm just the same as all those unbelievers who are doomed to hell.
And another thing I read is that we are to receive the Holy Spirit and follow His leading, that He will lead me to Jesus.
I don't see any signs on these walls telling me that. But it sure does sound important.
Here's a piece of Scripture where Jesus is saying that this Holy Spirit will guide us to Truth and understanding of the Bible. I don't see that on any of these walls either. I can see the why for that. I've got the notion this Holy Spirit will be telling me to ignore all these signs on the walls, especially the "Grace Only" sign on the door, and just follow Him.
To tell you the truth, I am mighty glad I didn't have this "Grace only" thing preached at me growing up. I'm confused enough without adding this mess to my confusion.
TEN VIRGINS WITH FIVE LIGHTS
1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Mat 25:)
This parable has been quoted many times. But in my mind it has not been explained. It is as if preachers want to leave an impression of understanding it without committing themselves to any given interpretation.
Of course the main thrust of this parable is that we should be prepared at all times for the return of Jesus. But after this has been expressed, we are left in the dark for further meaning.
I believe there is more to it than just being prepared - a lot more. Let's take a look and see what we can learn, and maybe what "prepared" is.
To begin with we have ten virgins. Ten seems to indicate totality, or as I understand it to mean, trial. As evidence of this I present Joseph's ten brothers who sold him into slavery; Jacob saying to his father-in-law that he had changed Jacob's wages ten times; and in Revelation where Jesus said: "Ye shall have tribulation ten days."
Then we have two sets of five. Two represents witness, in that with two or three witnesses a thing will be established. Five represents grace and sufficiency (plenty). Joseph gave his younger brother five times the portion of food the others received; there were five thousand fed with five loaves of bread and the woman at the well had five husbands (and that surely is plenty).
These women are virgins, waiting for the Bridegroom. The lamp represents the Church, which means you and me, who are to be lights unto the world; and the oil is the Holy Spirit which is to burn Perpetually. In the Temple and the Tabernacle (or "tent" which we are to be, housing the Shekinah Glory which is the Holy Spirit) is the candlestick (lamp) that is to forever burn with perpetual oil of purist quality. Always burn, perpetual, not go out, Holy Spirit.
Five of the virgins were "wise" and made sure their lamps were at the ready. Their lamps had the Holy Spirit. They made sure of this.
The five foolish virgins apparently had oil in their lamp to begin with, but allowed their lights to go out. Although they were still virgins, that is not corrupted by the world, and still in the church and waiting for the Lord (expecting the rewards), they were no longer fully led by the Spirit of God. I think of the parable of the sower and the seeds where the recipients of the Word have a good start but fall away with their heart but not their actions (works only without the Spirit). "Backsliders." Not out of the church, just having lost their drive and their "first love." (Rev 2:4; Mat Ch: 13)
The foolish virgins, when they asked for oil, were advised to go buy oil for themselves. It was midnight, so where could they buy oil? Besides, the oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit - how and where does one go to buy the Holy Spirit?
14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:)
Who is the one to "Buy" from? I suspect it is God, and more specifically Jesus. But what of the Holy Spirit? Does God provide the Holy Spirit for purchase?
9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:)
It appears that God does provide the Holy Spirit. And to "purchase," all we have to do is Ask!
In my mind all is explained except for one thing: why wouldn't the Lord let the five foolish virgins in? I mean, they were virgins; they must have repented, especially if they had at one time "purchased" the Holy Spirit; they had Grace that comes with repentance; they were waiting and watching along with the wise virgins. Could anything else be expected of them? Let's see if there is another parable that might help explain.
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Mat 7:)
Here we have the wise and the foolish again. And what is the difference between the wise and the foolish in this parable? Is it the listening? The hearing? No. Both listened and heard, just like all the virgins had lamps, were waiting, and were "virgins." The difference is in the doing of the word. As I understand the English language, "doing" is a work word, that is, it requires an action. But I could be wrong. In English class being wrong might get me a bad grade. I wonder what being wrong will get you in Jesus' class?
Another similarity in the two parables, besides the consequences, is the cry of "Lord, Lord." If both of these groups have made Jesus their "Lord," then what is wrong? They are certainly doing all their church says to do, and more! What else is Jesus expecting from His people that will allow them to enter the Pearly Gates?
46And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:)
Do the things that Jesus says? But Jesus is using that work word "do" again. It gets rather confusing, doesn't it? To remain a faithful obedient member of a church one must go against that which is taught in the Bible.
[ I had firmly intended to leave my viewpoint out of this section and just study what the parable of the virgins has to tell us. But I don't see how I can do that and not talk about the need for the Holy Spirit and works. In fact I don't see how anyone can do any thing regarding the Bible without running into that conflict.]
and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
What a fine specimen of a Christian this person must be. To look upon him or her we would think we were beholding one of the Apostles themselves. How can these people who can perform miracles in Jesus' Name not be saved? And if they can't be saved, who can?
As I read the Scriptures, it is not our works that save us, no matter how wonderful they may be. Our best works are as filthy rags to the Lord (Isa 64:6). There is nothing we can do to impress God. In fact, to be in favor with God we must recognize that our best makes us nothing but unworthy servants.
9Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:)
In our own minds we are to be a nothing. And if we are nothing, then Jesus can use us and make us into something valuable. But that value is not what we do, but what He does through us. As an illustration of this He uses a grape vine and its branches.
1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:)
We cannot produce fruit by ourselves, no matter how "wonderful our works" may be.
Along with this passage of Scripture is the admonition to "Abide." Jesus used the word several times in this very short passage. He must have considered it important. And usually in Scripture when something is repeated it indicates that what is spoken of is a problem that we should stay alert to.
In the Greek the word Abide means to: "Continue, Endure, Stand." Now I know this does not sit well with "Assurance" and the "Can't lose your Salvation" doctrine of the churches. I'm sorry about that, but I didn't say this, Jesus did.
As the branch didn't remain on the Vine, and the Seed sprung up on the Rock, and the stalk of corn never came to a head, and the foolish man's house was built on sand (false doctrine); so the foolish virgins did not continue following the leading of the Holy Spirit. And like the house built on sand instead of the Rock of the Word, they fell, "and great was the fall of it."
Jesus is the Rock, and He is also the Word. We must build our Doctrine (teachings) upon the Bible and that which we are instructed to do by the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are One. And along with that One is the Rock of the Word. And to understand the Word, we must be on the Rock, and led by the Holy Spirit who is our Guide. If we slide off the Rock, and stray from the leading of the Holy Spirit we will fall into the quicksand of false doctrine that is running rampant in the churches.
And we must stand or fall by our own choices. That is "Free Will."
44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. (Mat 24:45)
48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 24:)
Here are two more parables warning us to be ready. The first in particular speaks of being in charge of "Jesus' Household." Did you know you were in charge of a household? Does He mean this house I live in? It's just an old trailer. I don't think he cares about that. Besides, when Jesus walked this earth He had no house of His own.
Maybe Jesus was referring to a husband and wife and their children, that would constitute a "household," would it not? Well, that would leave me out because I never had a family.
Let's look a little farther.
1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2Cor 5:)
1Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. 4For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. 5And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. 7Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: (Heb 3:)
We are the "house" that we are to be the householder of! And did you notice how many times the word house was used? Will you ever be able to read "house" again in the same way when you read the Bible?
And did you notice the words "Hold Fast," and "To the End?" Now try to find in the Bible "once saved, always saved."
Again, notice how many times the Bible uses the word "if" that seems to slip off the side of so many preacher's tongue.
Along with the word House, the word Tabernacle is used as a synonym. And elsewhere we (that is the Spirit led Christian) are called the Temple of God. I won't go into that here, it is a study unto itself. But I will whet your appetite.
Notice the phrase "we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." In John 14:2 Jesus says "I go and prepare a place for you." And in that same verse He says: "In My Father's house are many mansions." Mansions, or dwelling places, or ahem - Houses, if you will.
Are you getting excited? I sure am. I find the Word of God thrilling once I have climbed over the walls of doctrine.
Now, since you have followed me this far (or should I say the Holy Spirit, since I don't know where it is we're being led to), take a look at Chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation and see if you don't fall off the edge of your chair.
When studying Scripture, notice how one parable runs into another, blending and melding as if they are all portions of one another and of a whole. When not divided by the walls of Doctrine, the Word of God is easy to understand and melds like the ingredients of a cake. But when trying to prove doctrine, the parables, as well as the rest of scripture must be twisted and fragmented with big holes left here and there with the word "still a mystery" penciled in.
Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and He will lead you to the Truth of Scripture. But if we try to understand with our carnal minds, we will make a mess of it.
And when you follow the Holy Spirit's leading, there is no way you (or I) can possibly take credit for the understanding.
For example. This was to be a short "filler" piece to round out the page and give it some length. But the Spirit led me from one verse to another until this has become a long study (which I would have placed under the heading Fantasies, Fables and Traditions).
What I am pointing out here I had no idea of when I started. It all unfolds to me as I write. So I write constantly so I can learn.
The Word of God is as a lamp to our feet. It only shows the next step before us. If we don't step into that light, then the next step will remain in darkness. Or if we veer from the light, we will walk in darkness but believe we are still in the light. And if we stray far enough, we will then believe that we are the light, and not remember Who began us on our journey in the first place.
And here again we have the condition of the five foolish virgins.
As humans, even humans in the Church of Christ, that is the Body of Christ by which Jesus now serves this world, we are nothing but dust. When Jesus Himself was here in these walking balls of clay He referred to himself as but a worm (Psalm 22:6). But as tabernacles led by God, that is by the Holy Spirit (like the Hebrews were led by the Shekinah Glory in the wilderness), we are valuable to the Lord, as long as we remember to remain a worm in our own eyes. A foot soldier who thinks he is a General is worse than no soldier at all.
Will we always be worms? Is there ever a time we can expect a little praise for our efforts? Is there nothing about ourselves that we may look on with favor?
Not if we favor ourselves or consider ourselves of value. As soon as we do this we no longer glorify the Lord, but ourselves. But if we remain in the Spirit, without ego, to the end, then we will hear the Lord say:
17And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. (Luke 19:17)
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