Saturday, November 24, 2012

Should You Fear the Lord?

Today I would like to talk about the fear of God.  Like the topic of holiness, very few are preaching about this.  But it must be preached, because it’s in the Bible, and Jesus taught it.

First, I want to show you the Scriptures about the fear of the Lord.  Some of them I will just quote, because they are self-explanatory, and others I will comment on along the way.  Then I will discuss the difference between fear and respect, and wrap up with a conclusion of what all these Scriptures teach us.  Hopefully that will help "tie it all together" for you at the end. Let’s get into the Word now!

The Fear of the Lord
"But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God."
(Exo 9:30)

'So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God. (Lev 25:17)

"Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'
(Deu 4:10)

so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. (Deu 6:2)

"You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.” (Deu 6:13)

"So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.” (Deu 6:24)

"Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” (Deu 8:6)

"Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deu 10:12)

"You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.” (Deu 10:20)

"You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” (Deu 13:4)

"You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.” (Deu 14:23)

"It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,” (Deu 17:19)

"If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God,” (Deu 28:58)

"Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.” (Deu 31:12)

"Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess." (Deu 31:13)

“that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever." (Jos 4:24)

"Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. (Jos 24:14)

"If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God.” (1Sa 12:14)

"Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (1Sa 12:24)

“At the beginning of their living there, they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them which killed some of them.” (2Ki 17:25)

“So one of the priests whom they had carried away into exile from Samaria came and lived at Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.” (2Ki 17:28)

“To this day they do according to the earlier customs: they do not fear the LORD, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances or the law, or the commandments which the LORD commanded the sons of Jacob, whom He named Israel;” (2Ki 17:34)

"But the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down, and to Him you shall sacrifice.” (2Ki 17:36)

"But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies." (2Ki 17:39)

"Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe." (2Ch 19:7)

Then he charged them saying, "Thus you shall do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and wholeheartedly.” (2Ch 19:9)

Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1:9)

"And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'" (Job 28:28)

In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; (Psa 15:4)

“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.” (Psa 19:9)

You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. (Psa 22:23)

The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. (Psa 25:14)

“Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” (Psa 33:8)

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,” (Psa 33:18)

“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.” (Psa 34:7)

O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.
(Psa 34:9)

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
(Psa 34:11)

For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD. Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes. (Psa 36:1)

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. (Psa 86:11)

So the nations will fear the name of the LORD And all the kings of the earth Your glory. (Psa 102:15)

Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psa 103:13)

"But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children." (Psa 103:17)

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever." (Psa 111:10)

"You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield." (Psa 115:11)

"He will bless those who fear the LORD, The small together with the great." (Psa 115:13)

"Oh let those who fear the LORD say, 'His lovingkindness is everlasting.'" (Psa 118:4)

"My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments."  (Ps 119:120)

"The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness." (Psa 147:11)

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Pro 1:7)

"Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD." (Pro 1:29)

"Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God." (Pro 2:5)

"Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil." (Pro 3:7)

"The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate." (Pro 8:13)

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."(Pro 9:10)

"The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened." (Pro 10:27)

He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, But he who is devious in his ways despises Him. (Pro 14:2)

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. (Pro 14:26)

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. (Pro 14:27)

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
(Pro 15:16)

The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility. (Pro 15:33)

By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. (Pro 16:6)

The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. (Pro 19:23)

The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches, honor and life. (Pro 22:4)

Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the LORD always. (Pro 23:17)

My son, fear the LORD and the king; Do not associate with those who are given to change, (Pro 24:21)

"It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.” (Isa 8:13)

Regarding the Lord Jesus, Isaiah prophesied: “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; (Isa 11:2-3)

And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the LORD is his treasure. (Isa 33:6)

So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream Which the wind of the LORD drives. (Isa 59:19)

"'Do you not fear Me?' declares the LORD. 'Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.'" (Jer 5:22)

'They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain in its season, Both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us The appointed weeks of the harvest." (Jer 5:24)

"Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the LORD and entreat the favor of the LORD, and the LORD changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them? But we are committing a great evil against ourselves." (Jer 26:19)

Jonah said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land." (Jon 1:9)

The voice of the LORD will call to the city-- And it is sound wisdom to fear Your name: "Hear, O tribe. Who has appointed its time? (Mic 6:9)

"Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3:5)

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. (Mal 3:16)

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (Act 9:31)

The apostle Paul said, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.” (2Co 5:11)

And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters." (Rev 14:6-7)

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; (1Pe 1:17)

"Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED." (Rev 15:4)

Jesus taught His disciples to fear the Lord. He said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mat 10:28)

He used the word fear twice in this sentence.  In both instances it is the same Greek word “phobeo” in the Bible.  Phobeo means to frighten, that is, to be alarmed; to be in awe of, that is, revere: be sore afraid, fear (exceedingly), and to reverence.  This is where our English word phobia comes from. 

Even if you don’t look up the definition of this Greek word, it is obvious by what Jesus said that He used the word “fear” with the same meaning in both instances in this sentence.  So when you think about what it means to fear someone who can kill your body, that it the same kind of fear we are to have of God, and to a much greater degree.  We are not to fear any man, but we are to fear God.

Respect
Many people think that fearing God is just respecting Him, but that’s something different. The word for respect in Greek is not “phobeo.”  The word for respect is “entrepo,” which means in a good sense, to respect; or in a bad one, to confound: - regard, (give) reverence, shame.

In the parable of the vineyard owner, Jesus used this word for respect.  Speaking of the vineyard owner, He said, "He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' (Mar 12:6).  In this parable, the vineyard owner represents God the Father, and the vineyard owner’s son represents Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The father in this parable said, “They will respect my son.”  This is the word “entrepo” which means to show respect or give reverence.

Jesus used this word for respect at other times as well.  For example, He used it to describe the unjust judge in another parable, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man…For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,” (Luk 18:2,4). Interestingly here, Jesus quoted the unjust judge in this parable using both the word “fear” and the word “respect” in the same sentence.  When the judge said he did not fear God, fear was expressed by the Greek word “phobeo” that we defined above.  However, the word for “respect” is entrepo.  These are two different things.

In Luke’s record of his journey to Rome with Paul, and their stay on the island of Malta, he said of the islanders, “They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.” (Act 28:10).  Again, when you respect someone, that is different from fear.

Peter taught servants to respect their masters, which applies to the proper attitude of employees toward their employers and bosses. “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” (1Pe 2:18).  We should respect such men, but not fear them.

Although fear and respect are two different things, the Lord expects to receive both respect and fear from us. " 'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name.'” (Mal 1:6a)

Blessings for The One Who Fears the Lord 
There are many blessings for the one who fears the Lord.

"Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose...The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant." (Psa 25:12-14)

Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments. (Psa 112:1)

How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. (Psa 128:1)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. (Pro 31:30)

Putting it All Together
Fear and respect are two different things.  We should respect God, and we should respect others, such as employers and bosses.  But we should not fear men.  The only One we should ever fear is God. And that is actual fear, just as the definition of the word implies.

Our Lord Jesus taught His disciples, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mat 10:28).

There is no place in Scripture that redefines the word "fear" to mean "respect." And Scripture never teaches us not to fear the Lord. Rather, it always teaches us to fear the Lord, and that is not restricted to the days of the Old Covenant.  It’s ungodly not to fear the Lord.

The Bible says we must be taught to fear the Lord, and it is something that must be learned. The fear of the Lord is something good! Do you fear God? If not, you should. This is not a fear of running TO Him, but it does include a fear of what would happen if you run AWAY from Him.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. By the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.  One reason we have so much apostasy in the Church today is that people have lost the fear of the Lord.

Everyone wants to stay young and live longer. Many want to have riches and honor.  Well, I've got the solution. The fear of the LORD prolongs life. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life. The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches, honor and life.

The Lord will draw near for judgment and be a witness against those who don’t fear Him. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. The eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him. The Lord is the help and shield of those who fear Him. The LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. He will bless those who fear the LORD. The LORD favors those who fear Him. The lovingkindness of the LORD is always on those who fear Him. For to those who fear Him there is no want.

The Church of Christ throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria feared the Lord. The apostle Paul and his team feared the Lord. They didn't say, "We don't need to fear the Lord any more, because we're under grace." Jesus had the spirit of the fear of the Lord upon Him, and He delights in the fear of the Lord. Do you?

After publishing this blog, I discovered the following video that underscores the need to fear the Lord.  Please take a few moments to watch it.



If you are away from God, then it's time to return to Him.  If you do not know Him, then it's time to come to Him and give your life to Him.  Both of these require deep repentance and faith in Christ.

Another video I recommend is Revival Hymn Redux (video)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the following other ones:

Salvation with Fear and Trembling
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Covenant Prayer
Is Obedience Optional?
Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
Drifting Away
The Law of Christ
Baptized by Blazing Fire
Dare to Believe

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: The Side of the Cross.

“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968, 1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pressing on Toward the Goal

In Philippians, Paul wrote of his desire to attain to the resurrection of the dead.  He said, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Phi 3:12).  The word for “press on” is diōkō. It is a prolonged (and causative) form of a primary verb (to flee); to pursue (literally or figuratively); by implication to persecute: - ensue, follow (after), given to, (suffer) persecute (-ion), press toward.

The photo to the left shows two young men pursuing the goal with intensity.  It's a great picture of how our race should be as disciples.  Paul had a goal and his goal was to lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of him.  This is not some passive act, as some would like us to think. Paul pursued it with vigor!

The Paul says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Phi 3:13).  The word for “reaching forward” is epekteinomai. Middle voice to stretch (oneself) forward upon: - reach forth. Paul was stretching himself forward, bearing upon the goal of perfection.  

Stretching yourself forward, reaching forward, and pursuing vigorously are strong words connoting deep emotion and effort.  The photo below of Jonathan Harper is a great picture of reaching forward with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Paul's words in this passage express vehement concern.  He talks as though it is possible to miss it.

Jonathan Harper – Carroll H.S.
Like Paul, we must never think we have already become perfect.  We must never become complacent, as though we’ve already reached our goal. 

We must be fitted for heaven through constant repentance and thankfulness, which comes through perseverance, holding to our faith in Christ to the end. We must constantly pursue holiness (Heb 12:14). We must seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33), which is found only in Christ. Paul wanted to be found in Him not having his own righteousness, but the righteousness that comes by faith from God. It’s very important to keep our eye on the goal of heaven, the goal of perfection, the goal of becoming as Christ. But we must always remember that our goal can only ever be attained in Christ, and must come to us through His hand, since He purchased it for us. We reach heaven only by way of Christ. The only way to get to heaven is through Christ and Christ alone.

In this passage, Paul expresses his deep desire to gain Christ, "and [that I] may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith," (Phi 3:9).  Like Paul, we should not seek a legalistic righteousness of our own that comes from the Law.  Paul had already attained that in his lifetime.  He said that as for legalistic righteousness, he was found blameless (3:6).  But now he counted all of that as rubbish. 

That's how we need to view it.  We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ.  Our goal is not to work for a righteousness that comes from the Law.  Rather, we want the very righteousness of God Himself. This kind of righteousness is perfect and it comes only by faith in Christ.

So let's pray as Paul did, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phi 3:10-11).  Many people want to know the power of Christ, but few want to know the fellowship of His sufferings or to be made like Him in His death.  Paul wanted it all, and God granted his desire!

Paul wanted to know Christ this way for one purpose.  It was in order that he may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  The Greek word here is exanastasis, which means rising up and out of the dead.  It's referring to the physical resurrection of the dead, which will happen very soon.

Let me encourage you today to press on toward the goal. Forget what's behind, whether they are successes or failures, whether good or bad.  Reach forward with everything that is in you.  Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Seek the face of the Lord Jesus with this kind of intensity -- with all your heart.  Give Him what is due His name.

Make it your goal to really know Christ intimately -- to have complete and total union with Him.  Cry out, "Lord, I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead!" Pursue Him, Who is worthy, at all costs. This is how you may attain to the imminent and glorious resurrection of the dead.  Don't miss it for anything in the world!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Is Obedience Optional?  I also suggest my daughter's poem, Finishing Strong.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Photo credit: Photos used with permission by Indiana Runner.
Reference: Matthew Henry commentary 

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 16, 2012

Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross?

Today I would like to address two passages of Scripture that have been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. They come from the apostle Paul's "twin epistles" to the Colossians and the Ephesians.  Since these two epistles are so similar, they can be used to help interpret each other, much the same as we often use the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) to clarify passages within each other.

Abolishing the Enmity
The first passage is this: "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity." (Eph 2:14-16)

This passage is used by some people to teach that Jesus abolished the Law of commandments.  It is understandable how they could arrive at such a conclusion by reading into the text what they already believe, not considering the broader context of the passage, and simply using a modern English translation without checking the original grammar. So in order to avoid making the same mistake, let's do each of these carefully.

Grammar:
Let's investigate the grammar behind the expression "the law of commandments contained in ordinances," which in Greek is "ton nomon tōn entolōn en dogmasin" (τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν").

Upon examination of the original grammar in these verses, we learn that the expression "Law of commandments" comes from the Greek words nomos and entole.  Nomos is the word commonly used to refer to the Law, sometimes generally and also to a specific aspect of the Law.  It sometimes refers to the law written on our hearts (e.g., Rom 2:15; Heb 10:16).  It can also sometimes refer generally to a principle (e.g., Rom 7:21), such as the law of faith (e.g., Rom 3:27), or the law of sin (e.g., Rom 7:25). So we should make a note to self here to be careful we don't assume that this word here refers to the entire Law of Moses.

Next we discover that the Greek word "entole" means "commandments", and can also mean "an injunction, authoritative prescription, or precept".  So we can now see where this English expression "the Law of commandments" was derived from.  But as we will see in a moment, there are other ways to translate this.

We also learn that the word "ordinances" comes from the Greek word "dogma" which means "a civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical decree or ordinance". Keep in mind that an ordinance is a rite or ceremony, such as circumcision or baptism.

So based on this brief study, we find that it's possible to translate this Greek expression, "ton nomon tōn entolōn en dogmasin" ("τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν") other ways besides saying, "the law of commandments contained in ordinances."

For example, we could translate it to say "the principle of commandments in ceremonial precepts"or "the regulation of precepts in ceremonial rites." That's enough for grammar study for now.  Let's go next to the context!

Context:
In the context, this passage states that Jesus abolished something in His flesh.  Specifically what He abolished or rendered inoperative and inactive was the enmity. It was the opposition or hatred that was rendered inactive!  So now we need to determine what hatred or opposition this is referring to.

For this we have to read the context before and after this phrase.  First we'll look at what comes before it.  Paul said, "Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called 'Uncircumcision' by the so-called 'Circumcision,' which is performed in the flesh by human hands-- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall," (Eph 2:11-14)

This passage was written to Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by those who are the so-called "Circumcision." The Jews considered Gentiles to be uncircumcised dogs.  The Gentiles were on the outside looking in. The reason for this is that the ceremonial rites contained in the Law required Jewish males to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth, and the Gentiles did not do this. Paul wrote about their terrible plight before Christ saved them.  The Gentiles were a class of unclean people, who were not allowed to enter the temple.  They were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel.  They were strangers to the covenants of promises.  They were far off from God and in the world without Him, therefore, they had no hope.

After showing them and all of us Gentiles our hopeless situation apart from Christ, Paul tells the good news of what Christ has done for us.  Now we have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ, who is our Peace.  He made the two groups one -- Jews and Gentiles, the Circumcision and Uncircumcision.  He broke down the barrier or dividing wall that kept these two groups separate.

Now let's shift to the context that comes after the expression we are examining.  Paul said "so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity." (Eph 2:15-16).  This settles all question about the meaning of the passage.  It's about Christ reconciling Jew and Gentile to God in one Body -- the Body of Christ.  How did He do this?  He did it through the cross.  By Christ's death on the cross, He put to death the enmity that was between these two groups of people, and between them and God.  All enmity between these parties was put to death there!

Interpretation
So we can easily interpret this passage correctly to mean: You Gentiles were in a terrible situation until Christ saved you.  You were considered unclean dogs -- the Uncircumcision.  You had no access to God's covenants of promise that the Circumcision group enjoyed.  You were separated from God, from the Jews, and without any hope.  But now that Jesus our peace has died on the cross for us, He made both groups into one!  Now that He has broken down the barrier of the dividing wall, you are no longer separated from God or His family. Our Lord did this in His own flesh on the cross, by rendering inoperative the opposition that existed between you and God and between Jews and Gentiles.  This enmity existed because of "the principle of commandments in ceremonial precepts." It was due to "the regulation of precepts in ceremonial rites," such as the rite of circumcision and the exclusion of Gentiles from all Jewish rituals.  Now that the enmity is out of the way, and those ceremonial rites are fulfilled in Christ, the two groups -- Jews and Gentiles -- are one new man in the Body of Christ.  That's right! On the cross, in His Body, Christ put to death that opposition.

Obviously this passage is not about Jesus abolishing the Law.  For Paul taught from the Law in his same epistle to the Ephesians (6:1-3), as well as his epistle to the Corinthians (14:34). In fact, Jesus Himself said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Mat 5:17).  Therefore, Jesus fulfilled all the ceremonial rites for us, and in His body abolished the enmity that existed for uncircumcised Gentiles.  Now let's compare this with the corresponding verses in the second passage from the twin epistle, Paul's letter to the Colossians.

He Canceled Out the Certificate of Debt
The second passage is this: "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Col 2:13-14)

Again, there are some who use this passage to teach that the Law of the Lord was nailed to the cross at Calvary.  We'll see in a moment that this is not correct.

Grammar:
First let's study the original words in the expression, "having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us," from the Greek "exaleipsas to kath' hēmōn cheirographon tois dogmasin ho ēn hypenantion hēmin" ("ἐξαλείψας τὸ καθ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον δόγμασιν ὃ ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡμῖν").

The expression "certificate of debt" comes from a Greek word cheirographon, which literally means "a handwritten, legal certificate of debt".  This is not referring to the Law of God, but rather the debt we as sinners owed to God as a result of the judgments against us in the Law.

Again we find the word "ordinances" which comes from the Greek word "dogma."  You will recall from our study above that it means "a civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical decree or ordinance, such as the rite or ceremony of circumcision".

Context:
In the context, this passage states that Jesus cancelled something by nailing it to the cross.  Specifically what He cancelled was the certificate of debt. It was the certificate of debt that was cancelled!  So now we need to determine what certificate of debt this is referring to.

In the preceding verse, Paul tells us when Christ cancelled this certificate of debt.  It was cancelled "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions," (Col 2:13).  So once again this passage is about Gentiles, who were uncircumcised in their flesh and dead in sin.  Christ found us in this condition and made us alive together with Him.  At that time He forgave us all our transgressions.

In the verses before this, Paul states: "and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;" (Col 2:11).  So again, just like in the Ephesians passage, here he was emphasizing the fact that they as Gentiles were uncircumcised when Jesus found them. And He circumcised their hearts with a circumcision made without hands.  This is the only circumcision that counts now.

Interpretation:
Therefore, we can easily interpret this passage like this: You Gentiles were uncircumcised, but Jesus circumcised your heart without using His hands.  You had transgressed God's righteous Law, and there were many judgments against you as a result.  You were so dead, but then Jesus came and made you alive!  When He cancelled the certificate of debt, he cancelled the punishment or judgment due to us, which separated us from God; He forgave all our transgressions.   This certificate of debt consisted of ordinances, or ceremonial laws and decrees. 

It was the certificate of debt that Jesus cancelled, that consisted of its ceremonial laws and decrees that were against us.  He did not cancel the Law, because we've already mentioned that He said He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Mt 5:17).  He also warned us about the serious consequences of annulling even one of the least of the commandments (Mt 5:19).  This passage is about those of us who were Gentiles, who were at enmity with these ceremonial laws and decrees, due to not being physically circumcised.  Now that the certificate of debt is cancelled, and its ceremonial decrees no longer stand against us, we may come near to God with a full assurance of faith.

Justification By Faith, Not the Works of the Law
Here I would just like to list some important Scriptures, regarding our means of justification before God.  I am not suggesting we seek to be justified by the works of the Law.

"For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified." (Rom 2:13)

A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Gal 2:16)

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." (Gal 3:11)

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

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (Rom 3:28)

Putting it All Together
It should come as no surprise that the epistles of Paul are incorrectly understood, because that has been happening since the first century when they were written.  For the apostle Peter said, "As also in all [Paul's] letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Pe 3:16).  He said that Paul's writings have been distorted, along with the rest of the Scriptures, by people who are untaught and unstable. The word "untaught" comes from a Greek word that means unlearned or ignorant. That's why it's important to study to show yourself approved, and to learn to rightly divide the Word of truth.  Likewise, it is just as important to be stable in all your ways.

From these two passages (in Ephesians and Colossians) we learn that God's Law (in terms of His commandments) was not cancelled.  Neither was it abolished or nailed to the cross.

Rather, the enmity was abolished, or rendered inoperative.  All that was against us as uncircumcised Gentiles, which was contained in the ceremonial rites of the Law, is no longer in force to be used against usPut differently, the Mosaic Law as a covenant or system of worship is now obsolete (Heb 8:13).  This is only possible, because Christ fulfilled all the ceremonial rites of the Law at the cross; through His work there, He provided a circumcision of the heart for us that satisfies God's righteous requirements.  He has made a new covenant with His holy people.

As uncircumcised Gentiles, dead in transgressions, we owed a debt we could not pay.  Due to our transgression of God's righteous Law, there were penalties and judgments standing against us.  And now that He paid that debt, which He didn't owe, he nailed the certificate of that debt to the cross.  This action on His part has obliterated, erased, and wiped out all our debt to God for our sin!

As Paul said to the Ephesians, "He came and preached peace to you who were far away (Gentiles), and preached peace to those who were near (Jews); for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father." (Eph 2:17-18).

Finally, you cannot rely on your obedience to the Law to save you, because it is only by grace that you are saved through faith (Eph 2:8-10).  We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ.  Always remember that we can do nothing apart from the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5), and if you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love (Jn 15:10).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV version. "I Love You" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the following, which provide helpful clarification, as well as application:

Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?
The Law of Christ
Law of Love in the New Testament
Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell
Is Obedience Optional?
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The New Covenant
Resting from Work
Obedience by the Spirit  

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Happy Hunters on Fire

Charles and Frances Hunter
Charles and Frances Hunter, the Happy Hunters, were known around the world as the most anointed and energetic healing evangelists during their generation.  They ministered in 49 nations around the world.  In one service they saw 100 people get out of wheelchairs!  They had an incredible anointing for healing and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. 

On October 16, 1984, the Happy Hunters ministered at a church in Rotterdam, Holland, called Kom en Zie.  On the final day of the conference, they ministered the baptism with fire.  Here are some excerpts:

Charles said that the baptism with fire “burns sin out of people’s lives…Only the holy will see God.  Jesus said He would be back for a Bride without spot or blemish…God is again sending fire upon the earth. Many scores of times in the past two years, God has sent fire in.  When people begin to say, ‘I want to be perfect like Jesus is. I want to be crucified with Christ. I want to live a holy life.  I want only to please Jesus.  When people come to do that, many times God has let the people see fire in the spirit realm.” 

He went on to cite some examples from Hawaii.  He said, “On the island of Maui, a woman ran forward and said, ‘I’m frightened!’  So they asked, ‘Why are you frightened?’  She replied, ‘Laying over the whole audience there is an orange flame of fire about two inches thick!’ God sent His fire down to burn the sin out of people’s lives.”

He continued, “On the island of Oahu, in a church, the glory cloud came in…it looks like smoke, and fills the room.”  The smoke was up in the balcony, and the Lord told Charles that He was healing the people in the balcony first.  So Charles began to point to the people in the balcony and command healing upon them.  Afterward some people said that they could see lightning come out of his hands when he did that.  He said that this was fire of God.  Frances then read from Habakkuk, “His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power.” (Hab 3:4)

She said, “There are many who speak in tongues, but do not have any fire in them.”

Charles said, “In a congregation in Florida, when we asked Jesus to baptize everyone with fire, we saw that there was an angel for each person.”  He said that the angels each had a wire of fire that was screwed into each person’s head.  Jesus told Charles that He was “electrocuting everybody and burning out self.”

Charles said, “The baptism of fire sends fire through every part of your body.  It gives you a love for God and a hatred for evil like you never have before.”  After he imparted the baptism of fire to the congregation in Rotterdam, he said, “God said, ‘I am a consuming fire.’ And because God lives in you, expect fire to come forth from within you.  If you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, then not only will you have power, you will have fire to burn the sin out of people.” 

Then he said that while they were all singing in the Spirit and he prayed for the Lord to baptize them with fire, he saw little flames coming off their fingertips, and something like “raindrops” of fire coming down upon them.  Frances said she felt like her whole body was on fire.

Putting it All Together
In these last days right before the Lord returns, He is baptizing His people with fire once again.  Let me encourage you to pray, "I want to be perfect like Jesus is. I want to be crucified with Christ. I want to live a holy life.  I want only to please Jesus." Pray, “No matter what it takes, Lord, I need the baptism of fire. Just do it."  Then expect Him to do it!

Attribution notice: Scripture quotation taken from the NASB.

Author's note If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my post called The Burning Ones, as well as my other posts called Holy Fire Baptism, Songs of the Holy Fire, and The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer. You can access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master. Now I'd like to ask a very important question.
___________________________________________________


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

The Burning Ones

On May 20, 2012, I wrote a blog about being Baptized with Fire. Later I found an excellent teaching on YouTube about the baptism with fire by a man I didn’t know.  All I knew about him was that he was from something called the Academy of Light, because he didn’t say his name in the video. But I thought his teaching was so good that I added the YouTube video of his teaching to my blog on the Baptism with Fire.

Later in October 2012, I was attending a conference in Sheffield, England at the Bushfire Basecamp church.  On the brochure for the conference, they were also advertising another upcoming conference with a man named Neville Johnson.  Someone invited me to attend that conference, so I looked up his name on the Internet.  I discovered that he was with the Academy of Light, and that sounded familiar to me. Upon further research, I discovered that this is the same man from the Academy of Light in Australia, who produced the video I had seen on the baptism with fire.

Neville Johnson
The Lord made a way for me to go to the Neville Johnson conference for only about a quarter of the cost! So I prayed about it and spoke with my wife. We both felt that I should go to the conference.

At the conference, which was called “The Burning Ones,” Neville said that he left England in 1974, and this is his first time back since then.  A couple months ago in his lounge room in Australia, the Lord walked in the door at 5:00AM. He had a torch in hand and said, “Nevelle, I want you to take this torch to England as a symbol of what God’s going to do. He’s going to light a fire.” Then He handed him the torch.

Neville's grandfather was a preacher in the Welsh revival, which Rees Howells was a part of.  He said to us at the conference that many of the old foundations have been eroded, such things as holiness and the baptism of fire. The early Pentecostal had a baptism of fire that came with the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  But the charismatic movement, as good as it was, did not have the baptism of fire.

When a person is baptized in fire, there is an absolute change in their life. The old is burned right out. We’re living among a demonized generation. They need a baptism of Holy Spirit and fire to get the demons out. The seraphims are coming. The name ‘seraphim’ means ‘spirits of burning.’ The demons can’t stand the Holy fire. God’s going to restore holiness back to the church.

On the second evening of the conference, Neville spoke about the baptism with fire. Here are my notes from that evening meeting on November 2, 2012.

Moses said, “Show me your glory.” What is the glory?

God will come and transform us completely. He told Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before you.”

Every desire and every emotion in you radiates a light and sound. You are always transmitting. It’s the same with the Lord. All of the goodness and glory that comes from Him emanates from Him in the form of brilliant light.

The Lord came to Neville two years ago. “Tell My people, the seraphim are coming. Get ready, the seraphim are coming.”

On July 1, 2007, he was caught up in a vision and saw the Lord picking up sticks and putting them in piles. The Lord said, “You want to help Me?” So Neville helped Him. Then the Lord blew on it and it burst into flames. Then he got a satellite-level view of the earth and saw the fires breaking out on the earth, and fires were coming out on the earth, and the fires were coming together (merging). There was very little smoke.

Then he was back at ground level. People were in the fire, worshipping. Their faces changed. Neville asked, “Lord, what is this?”

The Lord replied, “The seraphim are coming. I’m going to baptize my people in fire. And when I’m done with them they will be completely new creations. They will arise and go forth across the land. I will do this. I’m about to start cleaning up my church and cleaning up My people.”

“What are the seraphim?” Instantly he was in heaven and saw these huge creatures enveloped in fire. They stood before the throne. They gave off a sound like a blowtorch. The Lord said again, “Tell my people the seraphim are coming.” Our God is a consuming fire and He consumes the dross in our lives.

All that happened to the three Hebrews in the fire was that their bondages came off. Likewise, our shackles (strongholds) are going to come off.  We lack the baptism of fire.

If you want to be changed, say, “Lord, I want it. Let the fire come.”  When it’s over, He will have a vessel that He can fully inhabit. If you want to hear Neville's testimony of being baptized with fire, you can listen to it here.




We are followers of Jesus. He was baptized in water. He was baptized in the Spirit. And then on the Mountain of Transfiguration, that was the baptism of fire.

When Neville saw the people come out of the fire in the vision, they were glowing. They were totally changed. There was a purity about them which he could not describe. They were vessels that the Lord could fully inhabit.

The Lord is coming to His people (in His people) before He comes for His people.

The Lord said, “Not only are the seraphims coming but the cherubims are coming, because it is a time of favor for the UK.” The Lord was very serious.

There’s coming a war in Israel that will trigger a new move of God in the church.

Stay open to God. Harden not your hearts. Ten spies came back with the wrong report.

Pray, “No matter what it takes, Lord, I need the baptism of fire. Just do it."

Don’t tell me it’s not worth trying for! Don’t tell me it’s not worth dying for! I will give my all for the Lord!

Cherubim are carriers of the glory of God. During worship at the conference in Sheffield, he was caught up and saw myriads of angels in the heavenlies being prepared to invade this nation (UK). He heard what they were being told.

Neville told us about Ed Miller, who was a missionary to Argentina.  If one person got saved, they were having revival.  It was hard ground. So one day he quit doing the normal traditional missionary thing. Instead he just sought the Lord for several months.

When God suddenly came in response to prayer. From that day on everything changed. A million ultimately came to Christ. Royalty from surrounding nations came to Argentina.

It doesn’t take a lot of people to start a fire. “Seek Me while I may be found. Call upon Me while I am near.”

March 28, 2008. Neville was praying and he was transported to a beach. There was a little mist on the water and a boat slowly coming into land. It was a sailboat. A man holding a rudder steered it right up onto the beach. The man said, “You want to come fishing?” The man had a refined face but it was rugged. It had an otherworldly glow. He agreed, pushed the boat off, and jumped in over to the side the water was teaming with fish. The man threw the net over and pulled it into the boat full.

The man looked at him and said, “My name is Peter.” With that he threw the net out again and it was filled. As soon as the fish hit the deck, they became people. He thought the boat would sink. But Peter said, “Look at the boat.” It had gotten bigger. It became the size of a cruise liner. The Lord told him, “On Peter’s first fishing trip the net broke. But on the second one, the net did not break. So it is in your day…The net will not break.”

Peter said, “The great cloud of witnesses are watching this generation with great joy. What the early church began, the end time church will complete it. Your generation will overcome death. You will accomplish in one generation what hundreds of generations have longed to see. The end is now in sight. The finishing line is now in view. What began at Pentecost will finish in your day in Tabernacles.

The very words of Peter shook him. Peter looked at the people and said to Neville, “See how the boat has grown? The seed of the early martyrs will blossom in (Neville’s) generation. We have been waiting to see this day.”

Peter looked at Neville and said, “Tell the Christian leaders of your day that if they seek to profit from this harvest and build their kingdom from it, they will be destroyed. This harvest is holy. This is precious. If you cause any to stumble, you will be destroyed. Your Purity of heart is required to gather in the harvest. It is the Lord’s harvest not your harvest. The Lord has waited for his harvest.” He quoted from James about the farmer who waits for the harvest.

Peter said, “Don’t be impetuous like me. “Be moved and led by the Spirit. Follow the Lord of the harvest. True sons are led by the Spirit.”

We must determine not to do anything or to harm the harvest in any way.

Peter ended by saying, “The time is short.” And Neville was back in his lounge room.

In China the little children got the holy fire of God and they were running around with buckets of water trying to put out the fire on each other. There were caught up to heaven and saw the Great Tribulation.

The children will grow rapidly. The Lord is accelerating the growth. You will train them.

If you become love, God will give you the power to love. Be conformed into His image. Consecrate yourself. Then the fire will purge and cleanse you.

When he went to America recently his wife told him he would be given a watch. When he walked into the church his watch stopped. So he went to the pastor’s secretary and asked if she could go out and buy him a cheap watch to use. Just then the pastor walked in and said the Lord told him to give him a watch. He presented the gift to him.  When he opened it he found a Rolex watch! He later took it to a jeweler and it was valued at $10-12K.

The watch is a Mariner’s watch for divers, rated for depths up to 2,000 feet. The Lord said to him, “It’s time to go deeper.”

When he finished speaking, he imparted the anointing to us to fulfill our destiny.

On the following night, he said, “God wants to pour out His Spirit first upon His people to restore all those years the cankerworm was eaten. After that He will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.”

He read from Joel 2, “So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before.” (Joe 2:23)

"It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joe 2:28-29)

He then explained that the former rain is the fire of God, which will restore you. And after that will come the latter rain on all flesh (worldwide). There will be two outpourings, first upon God’s people, then upon the unsaved, which will be the main harvest. Raising the dead will become so common. There will be wonders in heaven and earth.

Neville is right that we've lost that element the early Church had: "I will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." And God is now going to restore that. This is how the Lord is cleaning up His Church and get us ready to reap the final harvest.  God is going to restore holiness back to the Church!  He will have His Bride without spot or wrinkle.

Pray, “No matter what it takes, Lord, I need the baptism of fire. Just do it." Cry out for it with all your heart and expect Him to do it.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note If you enjoyed this post, you may also like my other post called Holy Fire Baptism, Songs of the Holy Fire, The Happy Hunters on Fire, and The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." "Revival" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.  Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

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

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

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

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

Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?

If you listen to the preaching in many churches, you might conclude that some Scriptures had been deleted or erased, namely the ones referring to the commandments of God. There is no mention made of God's commandments either from the pulpit or in the fellowship of the saints.  This is really strange, since we know that there are over 60 verses in the New Testament containing the word "commandment." And I can assure you that none of these verses have been deleted or erased.

The word commandment in the New Testament Scriptures comes from the Greek word entole, which means "injunction," that is, "an authoritative prescription: - commandment, precept."  I would like to prove that the commandments of God are very basic to Christianity.

Below I simply list Scriptures where this Greek word "entole" is used in the New Testament, so that you can see for yourself what the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles said about keeping God’s commandments.  Notice that we are not to follow men’s traditions or the commandments of men who have departed from the truth.  But keeping the Lord’s commandments has always, and still is, considered pleasing to God.  

In order to call out the Greek word entole in the following Scriptures, I have underlined the words commandment and commandments.  In some cases, I have also underlined other words for emphasis. Don't miss the explanations for each of the illustrations and the conclusion at the end.

Jesus said, "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:19).  You definitely don't want to be included among those who annul any of God's commandments!

And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (Mat 15:3)

And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." (Mat 19:17)

One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."  (Mat 22:35-40)

"Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." (Mar 7:8)

He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. (Mar 7:9)

But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. (Mar 10:5)

"You know the commandments, 'DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'" (Mar 10:19)

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" (Mar 12:28)

They [Zacharias and Elizabeth] were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. (Luk 1:6)

Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (Luk 23:56)

"No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." (Joh 10:18)

"For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. "I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."  (Joh 12:49-50)

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (Joh 13:34)

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (Joh 14:15)

"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (Joh 14:21)

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (Joh 15:10)

"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. (Joh 15:12)

But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. (Rom 7:8-13)



In the illustration above, sinful man is pictured under the Law of God.  The law is depicted here as two gavels over man's head.  It is something external that is put upon him. Due to the weakness of the sinful nature, man under the Law can only produce sin, which ultimately brings about death.  For this reason, it is called the law of sin and death when an unregenerate man tries to keep the law.

For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (Rom 13:9)

but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; (Rom 16:26)

Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. (1Co 7:19)

If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. (1Co 14:37).  He said this in the context of referring to the law (1 Cor 14:34)!

Paul said of our Lord Jesus, "...by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, (Eph 2:15).  Some people think this means Jesus abolished the Law or the commandments.  However, Jesus Himself said that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.  So it clearly means  something different.  The difference is that Paul meant Jesus abolished the enmity between Jew and Gentile, which is found in the ordinances (ceremonial dogmas or decrees) of the Law, so that both Jew and Gentile could become one new man in Christ, and be at peace in Him. For a complete explanation of this verse, see "Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross?"

Even Paul admonishes children to obey the fifth commandment to "HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise)" (Eph 6:2; cf., Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16).

"(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?" (Col 2:22) We are not to follow man-made commandments.

"For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus." (1Th 4:2)

"...that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (1Ti 6:14)

but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, (Tit 1:3)

not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. (Tit 1:14)

And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest's office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. (Heb 7:5)

And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK." For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.  (Heb 7:15-19)

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, (Heb 9:19)

For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. (2Pe 2:21)

that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. (2Pe 3:2)

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; (1Jo 2:3-4)

Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. (1Jo 2:7-8)

In the illustration above, the two tablets are turned inward, forming a heart shape. The Law of God is depicted as being written upon the heart, according to the New Covenant promise spoken by the prophet Jeremiah and repeated by the apostle Paul.    He wrote: "The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 'This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.' Then he adds: 'Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.'”

and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1Jo 3:22-24)

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1Jo 4:21)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. (1Jo 5:2-3)


In the illustration above, the disciple of Christ is depicted under Christ's Lordship. He is in the Kingdom of God under the reign of King Jesus Christ with the Law written upon his heart and mind.  This is what it means to be under the law of Christ. The law is now internal, and he wants to do it!  By the power of the Holy Spirit, he brings forth lots of good fruit. The sum of these fruit is love for God and others.  But this fulfills the Law, it upholds the Law, and produces righteousness, holiness, peace and joy.  Ultimately it produces life.  For this reason, it is called the law of the Spirit of Life.

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. (2Jo 1:4-6)

So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Rev 12:17)

Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Rev 14:12)

Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mat 28:19-20). The word "commanded" comes from the Greek verb "entellomai," from which the noun "entole" (commandment) is derived.

All Scripture is Profitable
You know that blank page in the middle of your Bible, right before the Gospel of Matthew, that says simply "New Testament"?  That page was not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Man made that! In the early church, what we now refer to as the "Old Testament" were the only Scriptures they had to read or preach from. The writings of the apostles were still emerging in the first century, and had not yet been formed into a collective unit. Although we have changed to a new covenant, we have not removed any Scriptures.  The Holy Spirit inspired some additional books of the Bible from Matthew to Revelation, but this doesn't mean the previously written Scriptures have been deleted. They are still inspired and relevant.  The apostle Paul wrote, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2Ti 3:16-17)

The terms New Testament and Old Testament have limited usefulness.  They are useful to refer to a range of Scriptures, such as Genesis to Malachi or Matthew to Revelation.  But beyond that they can actually cause confusion.  I think it would have been better to call one part of the Bible the BC (Before Christ) Scriptures, and the other part AD (Anno Domini, meaning "Year of Our Lord").  All we really want to do is refer to the books written before Christ or after Christ.

However, the terms "New Testament Scriptures" and "Old Testament Scriptures" are misnomers.  "Testament" means "covenant," so when we call the AD Scriptures the "New Testament," we may lead people to believe that these are the only Scriptures applicable to the New Covenant; or that these are the only Scriptures that refer to the New Covenant; or that they are the only Scriptures relevant to the New Covenant life of the believer.  Yet none of these notions are true. There are many references to the New Testament in the BC Scriptures.  Likewise, when we call the BC Scriptures the "Old Testament," we promote the false idea that the BC Scriptures were only applicable or relevant to the Old Covenant people; or that they are the only Scriptures that refer to the Old Covenant.  Such notions could not be farther from the truth, and the terms "New Testament" and "Old Testament" were never used by Jesus or His apostles to refer to divisions of the Bible.

The practice of inserting a page in our Bible, or a division title in the table of contents, to section off the so-called "New Testament" is a man-made tradition, and so is the practice of using the terms "Old Testament" Bible and "New Testament" Bible.  Jesus rebuked the religious people of His day for making void the Word of God by adhering to man-made traditions.  Yet the same could be said of Christians today for keeping to these man-made traditions.  Don't let these traditions of men cause you to nullify the Word of God. We need to repent of this, and return to the Lord, embracing the whole body of Scripture as God's Word.

Putting it All Together
It's clear that the Lord Jesus and His apostles taught us to keep God's commandments.  The New Testament is full of references to this.  And if you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love (Jn 15:10).

There is a big difference between being under the law and being under Christ with the law written on your heart!  One is external and the other is internal. Nobody can be justified in God's sight by doing the works of the Law, because we are justified by faith in Christ.  We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ. Therefore, do not rely on your obedience to the Law to save you, because it is only by grace that you are saved through faith (Eph 2:8-10).  

This is NOT about keeping ceremonial or ritual laws, such as circumcision.  That was settled by the apostles of the first century church long ago, who ruled that no follower of Christ is required to be circumcised. But the letter they wrote to the Gentile believers about this matter, while exempting them from circumcision, did require some things that are specifically stated in the Law: "that they abstain from" 1) "things contaminated by idols" and 2) "from fornication" and 3) "from what is strangled," and 4) "from blood."

Do you think the apostles were creating four new commandments to replace the Ten Commandments?  No, they were simply calling out some very specific things forbidden by the Law of Moses, which the Gentiles must abstain from.  The apostles used the Law to determine what to write to the Gentile believers under the New Covenant. They assumed that the Gentiles would have access to a synagogue in any city of the world that they may live in, so that they could learn the basics of the Ten Commandments. Their words were: "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (Act 15:21)

The Ten Commandments and the commandments of the New Testament Scriptures are all summed up by these two commands: "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND." and "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."  This is the heart of God in all the commandments, and it's only possible by living a life crucified to self, trusting in Jesus, and walking in the Spirit.  Always remember that we can do nothing apart from the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5).

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the following:

The Law of Christ
Law of Love in the New Testament
Is Obedience Optional?
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The New Covenant
Faith Works!
The Spirit's Law of Life
Obedience by the Spirit
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully    
What Then Must We Observe?

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

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Photo Credit: Tender Graces blog by Kathryn Magendie.

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

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

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.