Saturday, December 1, 2018

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?
God's View of Public Bathing Is Secular Music for Christians? Ignorance is Not Bliss
In the Yolk of Christianity Songs of the Holy Fire Known by God
Modern Day Idols Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness
Escaping from Dead Religion Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire God's Amazing Plan for Your Life
Your Identity in Christ Having the Love of God in Your Heart Knowing the Lord
Following in His Steps Our God is an Awesome God! Hide and Seek with God
Belonging to the Lord No Turning Back David, A Man After God's Own Heart
Living on Earth as They Do in Heaven Chosen for Obedience The Ironies Between Jesus and Barabbas
Dedication to God Keep Your Lamp Burning The Holy Fire Series
The Active Nature of Faith

Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Seek My Face" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

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

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

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

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

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"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38


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

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Active Nature of Faith

The basic premise of this blog is that according to Scripture we should be actively Seeking the Lord, not passively identifying ourselves with Christ as Christians. Aside from the first article in this blog by that name, which I have just alluded to, I have written others like Taking Heaven by Force, Seeking Glory from GodCrying Out to God Loudly, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pressing on Toward the GoalBy Faith Alone, and Spiritual Do-It-Yourself, which all convey a similar message from the Word that we are to play an active role in our faith walk with God.

As James said, "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?...Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself...But someone may well say, 'You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works'...You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone...For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (Jas 2:14,17,18,24,26)

Word Study - Lambano
It is important is to understand the active nature of faith. This is plainly evident in the original languages the Scriptures were written in, especially in the selection and usage of verbs and adjectives. One of the most obvious and interesting examples of this in the Word of God is the use of the Greek verb lambáno, meaning "to take" or "to receive."

Definition
According to the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, lambano means "take in the hand, take hold of, take away, take up, take (into one's possession), make one's own, apprehend or comprehend (mentally or spiritually), grasp, remove with or without force, receive, accept, get, obtain, choose, or select."

According to Strongs dictionary, lambano means "to take...to get hold of, accept, be amazed, assay, attain, bring, catch, have, hold, obtain, receive, or take (away, up)."

Voice
The verb lambano is in the middle voice. In Greek there are three voices -- active, passive, and middle. In English we have only the active and passive voices, but in Greek there is also this middle voice, in which the subject (the person, place, or thing performing the action) not only acts, but he, she, or it somehow participates in the result of the action.

The Greek scholar A. T. Robertson has said:

The only difference between the active and middle voice is that the middle calls especial attention to the subjectIn the active voice the subject is merely acting; in the middle the subject is acting in relation to himself somehow.  What this precise relation is the middle does not say.  That must come out of the context or from the significance of the verb itself.

Deponent
The word lambano is known as a deponent verb. In the eighth chapter of Englishman's Greek, it states:

"A deponent verb is either passive or middle in form, but it is active in meaning.  In other words, the translation of the verb seems to have an active sense, but the form of the verb is either middle or passive.  The lexicon will often say whether a verb is deponent or not.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  The only safe way to determine the meaning of a middle verb is to look it up in the lexicon.  Remember, USAGE DETERMINES MEANING, and the key question is:  HOW WERE THESE VERBS USED BY THOSE WHO SPOKE AND WROTE THE LANGUAGE?"

Therefore, the key to remember about the verb lambano is that while it is in the middle form, it has an active meaning, in which the subject is acting in relation to itself.

Scriptural Examples
This verb lambano shows the active nature of faith, which I would like to highlight today in some key verses of Scripture. In these verses, I have underlined the English word used to translate the Greek word lambano.

Accept
To begin with, here are a couple more examples of the more passive translations of lambano, when the word "accept" is used:

"’Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.’” (Joh 3:11)

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.” (3Jn 1:7)

Receive
Although the English translators often use the word "receive" to translate lambano, that word seems to connote a more passive act than what I believe was intended by the originally inspired speaker or writer. I think our English words "receive" and "accept" are too weak and passive to properly convey the active sense of the word lambano. Even if I hand you a gift, you must reach out and take it in order to accept it, so you still play an active role in receiving. Therefore, I believe we should understand these verses where it is translated "receive" to have a more active meaning like "to take, to get hold of, to obtain, to attain, to catch, or to take away."

"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Mat 7:8; cf., Lk 11:10).

"And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Mat 21:22)

"Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." (Mar 11:24)

"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full." (Joh 16:24)

"and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." (1Jn 3:22)

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (Joh 1:12)

“So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”  (Joh. 6:21)

John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven." (Joh 3:27)

"In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;" (Mar 4:16)

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life." (Mat 19:29)

"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give." (Mat 10:8)

"For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace." (Joh 1:16)

"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." (Acts 10:43)

"To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." (Acts 26:18)

“But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Joh. 7:39)

“And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Joh. 20:22)

“‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’” (Ac. 1:8)

“‘Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.’” (Ac. 2:33)

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Ac. 2:38)

“Who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”(Ac. 8:15)

“Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.” (Ac. 8:17)

"Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" (Acts 10:47)

He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." (Acts 19:2)

"This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (Galatians 3:2)

"In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:14)

"In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)

"And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." (Romans 5:11)

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!'" (Romans 8:15)

"Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying." (1 Corinthians 14:5)

"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;" (1 Timothy 4:4)

"In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on." (Hebrews 7:8)

"And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes..." (Hebrews 7:9)

"For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:15)

"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins..." (Hebrews 10:26)

"I do not receive glory from men;” (Joh 5:41)

“‘How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?’ ” (Joh. 5:44)

"I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” (Joh 5:43)

"Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” (Joh 4:36)

"When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius.” (Mat 20:9)

"When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce.” (Mat 21:34)

"Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.” (Mat 25:16)

“For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,” (Jas 1:7)

“Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,” (Rev 14:9)

"‘And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’" (Rev 14:11)

“And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.” (Rev 19:20)

“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4)

“‘He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.’” (Joh. 12:48)

 “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.’”(Joh. 13:20)

“‘That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.’” (Joh. 14:17)

“‘For the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.’” (Joh. 17:8)

“When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.”  (Ac. 3:3)

“And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.” (Ac. 3:5)

Therefore, when we see the word "receive" in the verses above, I think we should understand it in a more active sense like "taking" in such a way that the subject is acting in relation to himself. As John Podmolik has stated, "In the same way by active faith we take the gift of the sanctifying Spirit - John 20:22, Acts 1:8, 2:38, 8:15, 10:47, 19:2, Rom 5:11, 8:15, we must also take mercy by faith - Heb 4:16 (see Mark 10:47-48, Luk 17:13)...we also take forgiveness of sins - Acts 10:43, 26:18, the reconciliation to God - Rom 5:11, also we take the anointing I John 2:27."

Seize
All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

“And a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.” (Luk 9:39)

Take
All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

“‘For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.’” (Joh. 10:17)

“‘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)

“‘He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.’”(Joh. 16:14)

"And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was." (Hebrews 5:4)

"I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you;" (2 Corinthians 11:8)

"And he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus..." (Acts 9:19)

"And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage." (Acts 28:15)

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’” (Mat 26:52)

“The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.’" (Mat 27:6)

"They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” (Mat 21:39)

“When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.’" (Mat 27:24)

“Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him.” (Joh. 19:1)

“They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.” (Mat 27:30)

“Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.” (Mat 27:48)

“Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” (Joh. 19:27)

“This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES." (Mat 8:17)

“And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,” (Mat 27:59)

“So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” (Joh. 19:40)

“And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.” (Mat 28:15)

Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,” (Mar 9:36)

"The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third.” (Mat 21:35)

"’However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.’" (Mat 17:27)

“'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev 3:11)

“And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” (Rev 5:7)

“When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev 5:8)

“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’” (Rev 5:9)

“Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, ‘Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.’” (Rev 10:8)

“I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.” (Rev 10:10)

“And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” (Rev 6:4)

“saying, ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.’” (Rev 11:17)

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Rev 22:17)

Catch
All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

“Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’" (Luk 5:5)

Picked Up
All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

"Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up?" (Mat 16:9)

Lay Hold of
"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." (Philippians 3:12)

Collect
 “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?’" (Mat 17:24)

“He said, ‘Yes’ And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?’” (Mat 17:25)

Overall the word lambano is used 255 times in the NASB version of the Bible, and that is just one example of a word that expresses the active nature of faith.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from Scripture, both from its explicit teachings and from the selection and usage of verbs, our faith in God must be living and active, because faith without works is dead. We must participate with the Lord in the process that He is carrying out. That means we must actively embrace Christ, and not just passively accept Him. Each of us must actively receive the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for himself or herself personally. We must actively take for ourselves the grace, mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness of sins that God has offered us in Christ. Everyone who receives Christ must receive the Holy Spirit, too. He wants all of us to be baptized, not only in water, but with the Holy Spirit, as well as with fire. No matter which of the promises of God we may consider, they are all "Yes" in Christ and we say the "Amen" to the glory of God. We must claim them for ourselves in order to activate them in our lives. We must not only believe, but speak and act, putting His Word into practice. I hope you will implement this message into every aspect of your own life, so that you might be victorious in the ongoing battle against darkness and make it into the kingdom of heaven at last.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Image may be subject to copyright, used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Seeking the Lord, Taking Heaven by Force, Seeking Glory from GodCrying Out to God Loudly, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pressing on Toward the Goal, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Faith Works, and Spiritual Do-It-Yourself, as well as Baptized with the Holy Spirit and Holy Fire Baptism. I also recommend By Faith Alone - Part I, By Faith Alone - Part II, and By Faith Alone - Part III. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and 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.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Holy Fire Series

Over the years, I have written several articles about the holy fire of God. In this post, I would like to provide links to this series of articles, so that you have them all in one place. I recommend reading one of them per day over a period of twelve days. The final post has a link to a five-book series called Baptized by Blazing Fire, by a pastor named Yong Doo Kim. Since it will take you more than a day to read through those five books, I have saved it as the best for last; I trust you will be edified by it, and you won't regret having read it.

Where there is no fire there is no light. Therefore, as the apostle Paul said, "Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire!" (1 Thes 5:19). Now here are the links to the posts in my Holy Fire Series:

Holy Fire Baptism
Songs of the Holy Fire
Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire
The Three Elijahs
The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Refiner's Fire
The Burning Ones
The Happy Hunters on Fire
Keeping Your Lamp Burning
Covenant Prayer
The Holy Fires of Hell
Baptized by Blazing Fire -- a Korean church's testimony

Attribution notice: Scripture taken from the Holy Bible New International Version, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Image may be subject to copyright, used per Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only.
 
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I also recommend reading my article Baptized with the Spirit. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as 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.

Keeping Your Lamp Burning

In the Law, the Lord gave Moses a specific command for the high priest Aaron that is still applicable to us today.

"The Lord said to Moses, 'Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light, so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord must be tended continually.'" (Lev 24:1-4, NIV).

The lamps were fueled with clear olive oil, which the Israelites were commanded to bring. Aaron their high priest was then required to tend the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually night and day. This is a lasting ordinance for all generations.

In the gospels, Jesus told the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. He said:

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (Mt 25:1-13, NIV).

The difference between the five wise virgins and the five foolish virgins was that the wise ones brought extra flasks full of oil, so that if the bridegroom was a long time in coming, their lamps would not go out. The foolish ones, however, did not prepare ahead so that they could be ready in case the bridegroom was a long time in coming. This one thing made a crucial difference in their lives. When the midnight cry rang out to notify the virgins that the bridegroom was coming, the foolish ones did not have enough oil to keep their lamps burning bright for him. When they asked the wise virgins for some of their oil, the wise ones told them that if they did so, there would not be enough oil for all of them, and they instructed the foolish ones to go to the merchants as they had done and buy some oil for themselves.

The wise ones were able to trim their lamps and keep them lit when the bridegroom came to meet them, and they were welcomed into the wedding with him. But then the door was shut, and when the foolish ones returned with their oil, they cried out to the Lord to open the door and let them in, but they were shut out of his presence, and he declared that he never knew them.

In this parable, the bridegroom represents our Lord Jesus and the virgins represent those who are waiting for His return. In other words, all the virgins are believers. The light of the lamps represents the light of Christ in the lives of every disciple, which is fueled by the Holy Spirit, Who is represented by the oil. The extra flasks full of oil represent being filled with the Holy Spirit. The act of buying that extra oil in advance represents readiness for Christ's return. This advance preparation requires a continual watching and waiting on the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit to fill you from head to toe and keep your lamp burning for Jesus, no matter what the cost. This is the anointing that each disciple must have, and we cannot give our anointing to someone else. Each one must seek the Lord for himself or herself to receive directly from the Holy Spirit.

What He taught us in this passage is that we must always keep watch and be ready for His soon return, because it could happen at any moment (1 Thes 5:2-4; 2 Pe 3:1-12; Rev 16:15; 22:12-20). We must be like the five wise virgins, and seek the Lord now before the Lord returns (Is 55:6-7), asking for the Holy Spirit to completely fill us and engulf us (Lk 11:13). Offer the Lord your extra flask and continually ask Him to fill it up (Eph 5:18), so that you may always keep your lamp burning bright for Him until He comes (Lk 12:35). For it is the Lord who keeps our lamps burning (Ps 18:28). Just as the Israelites had to bring the olive oil, we all must participate in obtaining the oil of the Spirit from the Lord. Just as Aaron as a priest had to tend the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually night and day, so too must we as priests of God tend to our own lamps continually to ensure they remain burning bright for Jesus (Lk 12:35). The many signs of the times point to the fact that Jesus is coming back right away, and no man knows the day or the hour (Mt 24:36; 25:13), so time is of the essence to act upon this word and to be sure you are ready.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB copyright the Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures where noted as NIV, taken from the Holy Bible New International Version, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Image may be subject to copyright, used per Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only.
 
Author's note: You are invited to read Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Refiner's Fire, Songs of the Holy Fire, Living Sacrifices in Consuming FireHoly Living in a Perverted World, Separation from the World, Aim for Perfection, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, and Called to be Blameless. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as 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 2, 2018

Dedication to God

People are often dedicated to something, such as their job, their children, their wives, their husbands, their public service, or even to sports. Soldiers are dedicated to their profession. They give themselves wholly or chiefly to these objects of their devotion. But the Scriptures teach us to be dedicated to the Lord.

The Firstborn Belongs to the Lord
The Scriptures say that the firstborn belongs to the Lord, including both the firstborn child as well as the firstborn animals.

"The Lord said to Moses, 'Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.'” (Ex 13:1-2, NIV).

Since the first fruits of every womb belong to the Lord, He requires that they be dedicated to Him.

Why should the firstborn belong to the Lord?

The Lord Always Gets the First Fruits
First of all, the firstborn belong to the Lord, because the Lord always gets the first fruits of everything. Just as tithing is required on our financial income, our crops, our livestock, and all our increase, and just as we give God the first day of each week and keep it holy to honor Him, we also give him the first fruits of the womb.

God Deserves Our Very Best
Secondly, the firstborn belong to the Lord, because God deserves our very best.

The apostle Paul wrote of Christ, "And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy." (Col 1:18). Another version says, "...that in everything He might have first place."

Matthew Henry states: "God, who is the first and best, should have the first and best, and to him we should resign that which is most dear to us, and most valuable. The firstborn were the joy and hope of their families. Therefore they shall be mine, says God. By this it will appear that we love God best (as we ought) if we are willing to part with that to him which we love best in this world."

Since the firstborn child is the very best, the Lord requires that we dedicate it to Him.

Dedicate That Which God Has Spared
Another reason behind dedicating the firstborn child to the Lord is that we should dedicate that which God has spared. Remember how in the Lord's judgment on Egypt, He had sent the death angel to kill the firstborn of every household in Egypt (Ex 11), but because of the blood of the lamb on the homes of the Israelites during Passover (Ex 12), He spared the firstborn children of every Israelite household. Likewise, when God has spared, rescued, or saved someone, it is fitting to dedicate that person to Him. Matthew Henry states: "That which is by special distinguishing mercy spared to us should be in a peculiar manner dedicated to God's honour."

Children Dedicated to the Lord Obligated to Serve Him
One example from Scripture of someone dedicating their child to the Lord is Hannah, who dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord while she was barren, before he was conceived.

"She made a vow and said, 'O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.'" (1Sa 1:11)

Later after the boy was born and weaned, she said, "For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD." (1Sa 1:27-28)

"Then Elkanah went to his home at Ramah. But the boy ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest." (1Sa 2:11)

My wife and I dedicated every one of our five children to the Lord when they were babies. They belonged to God in the first place, and we were simply giving them back to Him. In doing so, we were committing our children to Him. Matthew Henry states: "Parents have a right to dedicate their children to God, as living sacrifices and spiritual priests; and an obligation is thereby laid upon them to serve God faithfully all the days of their life." Whenever someone dedicates a child to the Lord, it should not be taken lightly, because God takes us at our word and expects us to follow through on what we have solemnly promised Him in His presence.

The Apostles Were Dedicated to the Lord's Service
In the gospels we discover that the apostles left everything and dedicated themselves to the Lord's service.

"And [Jesus] said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." (Mat 4:19-22)

Later on, He promised them great reward for leaving everything and dedicating their lives to Him.

"Peter began to say to Him, 'Behold, we have left everything and followed You.' Jesus said, 'Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.'" (Mar 10:28-30)

cf., Mat 19:27-29; Luke 18 28-30

The apostles remained steadfast in their dedication to the Lord, even after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Their devotion became apparent when it was challenged by the need to deliver food to the widows in the community. Scripture says, "So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables....But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.'" (Act 6:2,4). Being devoted in this way to prayer and the ministry of the Word is a great picture of dedication to God.

All Disciples of Christ Are Consecrated to the Lord
However, dedication is not just something we should do with our firstborn children, because all disciples of Christ are actually consecrated to the Lord.

All Those in Christ are Considered Firstborn
Since Christ is the firstborn and His disciples are in Him, then in essence all those in Christ are considered firstborn. Matthew Henry puts it this way: "It is the church of the firstborn that is sanctified to God, Heb 12:23. Christ is the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29), and, by virtue of their union with him, all that are born again, and born from above, are accounted as firstborn. There is an excellency of dignity and power belonging to them; and, if children, then heirs."

We are Called to Holiness and Separated unto God 
Indeed dedication is not only for certain followers of Christ, but we are all called to holiness and separation unto God. For Paul wrote, "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (1 Thes 4:7, NIV). Since we are called to live a holy life, and holiness is being set apart for God or consecrated to Him, then we are all called to a life of devotion to Him. Peter wrote, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;" (1 Pet 1:15, NIV)

We Are to Live for the Lord, Not Ourselves
Moreover, we are all supposed to live for the Lord, not ourselves. Paul wrote, "And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2Co 5:15)

You Are Not Your Own
Scripture teaches that your life is not your own. Paul said, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1Co 6:19-20)

Offer Your Body as a Living Sacrifice to God
We as followers of Christ are supposed to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. Paul said, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Rom 12:1). As we know, any sacrifice that was laid upon the altar under the Law was left there until it was fully consumed. A sacrifice was not taken back by the one offering it, so when we offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, they are dedicated to Him.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from the Word of God dedication -- also known as devotion or consecration -- is an important aspect of our worship of God and service to Him. The first fruits of the womb belong to the Lord, so He expects us to dedicate the firstborn to Him, and that is what we should do. For He deserves our very best. Parents also have the right to dedicate not only their firstborn, but all of their children to the Lord, if they wish, which in turn obligates those children to faithfully serve the Lord.

The devotion of the apostles to the Word of God and prayer demonstrated their devotion to the Lord, which is an example for all of us who are called to be ministers of the New Covenant. Then we in turn become examples for every disciple of Christ we touch to also live a life of sincere and pure devotion to the Lord. For we are all called to live a holy life that is separated to God. Since we are all in Christ the firstborn, we are all coheirs with Him, sharing in all the rights and privileges that this affords, as if we, too, were the firstborn. But with that status comes the responsibility to live a life of holiness and separation to God, to live our lives for the Lord and not for ourselves, and to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, since our lives are not our own. Let it be a reminder to us all of the life of dedication to God, to which we have been called.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB copyright the Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures where noted as NIV, taken from the Holy Bible New International Version, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Dedication to God image by Charity V. Lacroix, from A Brush with Life.
 
Author's note: You are invited to read Holy Living in a Perverted World, Separation from the World, The Straight and Narrow Path, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Aim for PerfectionGodly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Tattoos and Body Piercing, Keeping Your Body Pure and HolyAlcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, and Called to be Blameless. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as 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, October 26, 2018

The Ironies Between Jesus and Barabbas

There are some interesting ironies found in the passage about Jesus and Barabbas that are not apparent in most modern English translations of the Bible. Let's begin by looking at the passage of Scripture that recounts what happened during the passion of the Christ when He stood before Pontius Pilate the Roman governor.

"At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?'" (Mat 27:16-17, NASB)

Most modern translations simply call this other prisoner Barabbas. However, the NET Bible says that his name is Jesus Barabbas:

"So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?'” (Mat 27:16-17 NET).

Textual and Literary Considerations
The name Barabbas is clearly a type of surname rather than a given name. It is simply "bar-Abbas," meaning "son of Abba" or literally "son of the father." Many Jewish people are referred to in this manner, such as Peter, whose original name was Simon bar-Jonah, meaning Simon son of Jonah or John. However, a few Greek manuscripts provide the given name for Barabbas, which was Jesus. The NET Bible explains:

"Although the external evidence for the inclusion of 'Jesus' before 'Barabbas' (in vv. 16 and 17) is rather sparse, being restricted virtually to the Caesarean text (Θ Ë1 700* pc sys), the omission of the Lord’s name in apposition to 'Barabbas' is such a strongly motivated reading that it can hardly be original. There is no good explanation for a scribe unintentionally adding ᾿Ιησοῦν (Ihsoun) before Βαραββᾶν (Barabban), especially since Barabbas is mentioned first in each verse (thus dittography is ruled out). Further, the addition of τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν (ton legomenon Criston, 'who is called Christ') to ᾿Ιησοῦν in v. 17 makes better sense if Barabbas is also called 'Jesus' (otherwise, a mere 'Jesus' would have been a sufficient appellation to distinguish the two)."

What the NET Bible is saying is that there is not much literary evidence to prove that the given name for Barabbas was Jesus, but the omission of this given name Jesus by scribes of other manuscripts, when referring to Barabbas, would most likely be due to a strong personal motivation on the part of the scribe, so as not to use the blessed name of Jesus for anyone but the Lord. Therefore, we should not assume that such manuscript copies which omit the given name of Barabbas reflect the way it was written in the original manuscript.

Moreover, the NET Bible points out that we lack any good explanation for a scribe to unintentionally add the name Jesus before Barabbas, so we can rule out of any kind typographical error, which lends credence to the manuscripts that include the full name Jesus Barabbas. The order of the names also helps to rule out any unintentional repetition on the scribe's part of writing "Jesus" twice, which would be called dittography (i.e., unintentionally writing a ditto, which is a duplicate or an item that is repeated).

Furthermore, the NET Bible explains that it makes better sense for Pilate to add the words "who is called Christ" when identifying "Jesus" in v. 17, if Barabbas is also called "Jesus." If Barabbas were not called "Jesus," then Pilate could have simply called the Lord "Jesus" without any need to add that He was called the Christ, in order to distinguish the two men.

Bruce Terry supposes:

"The name 'Jesus' before 'Barabbas' in verses 16 and 17 is in brackets in the UBS text. Although the name 'Jesus Barabbas' is found in only a few manuscripts, it is more likely to be original, because copyists would have been likely to have omitted the name 'Jesus' from before 'Barabbas' out of reverence, and there is no reason for it to have been added."

Just as the NET Bible pointed out, Terry here also believes that it would be reasonable to expect a scribe to omit the name "Jesus" before "Barabbas" out of reverence for that name, and that there is no plausible reason for anyone to add it to Barabbas if it were not his actual name.

Similarities
Here are some things that Jesus and Barabbas had in common:

They were both named Jesus or Yeshua in Hebrew. They were both the son of a father, also known as Abba, so in essence they were both "bar-Abbas." They both lived in Palestine during the same period, and were both located in the same place that day. They were both Jewish prisoners in custody of Pilate, and both being presented to the Jews for a decision as to which one to release. Therefore they were both eligible for a pardon by the governor on that particular day, according to the custom at Passover.

Isn't it amazing how the Lord Jesus identifies with sinful man?

Differences
Now here are some of the difference between the two:

Jesus Barabbas was a murder and had taken part in an insurrection, which is a violent uprising against an authority or government, which in this case was the Roman government. So he was a violent criminal and a rebel. He was a mere sinful human being just like his father Abbas.

On the other hand, Jesus who is called Christ was an innocent man (Mt 27:26-28). The apostle Peter said, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” (1 Pet 2:22, NIV). The apostle Paul said, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV). He was a peaceful man who came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Luke 19:28-40). He was the Son of God, the Son of the Father Almighty, whom He called Abba (Mk 14:36, 61-62; Joh 1:1-14; 6:38,58; 10:30-33; 12:45; Rom 9:5; Col 1:1-19; 2:9; Tit 2:13). For more on this see my article, Is Jesus God?

Jesus Barabbas was an insurrectionist, but Jesus Christ was a resurrectionist. Jesus Barabbas was a murderer, but Jesus Christ is a life giver. Jesus Barabbas was from below, Jesus Christ is from above; Jesus Barabbas was of this world, Jesus Christ is not of this world (Joh 8:23). Jesus Barabbas was released and allowed to live even though he was guilty, but Jesus Christ was condemned to die even though He was innocent. Jesus Barabbas had defied authority, but Jesus Christ was under the Father's authority, and was being framed as a guilty man by the religious authorities. Jesus Barabbas upset the civil authorities because of his wrongdoing, but Jesus Christ upset the religious authorities because of His righteousness.

Historical Background
It helps to provide some historical context to all of this. We recall that Pilate's wife had suffered greatly in a dream, in which it was revealed to her that Jesus was an innocent man, so she sent a message to her husband while he was on the judgment seat that day to warn him to "have nothing to do with that innocent man" (Mt 27:19). We add to that the fact that when Pilate had questioned the Lord, he learned from Jesus that He was a King, though not of this world (Mt 27:11). Pilate, of course, knew that Barabbas was a murderer who had taken part in an insurrection (Mk 15:7).

Most everyone in Jerusalem at that time probably knew this also, since Barabbas was a "notorious" prisoner, meaning he was famous or well-known (Mt 27:16). We also know that it was the custom every year at the Passover feast for Pilate to release one Jewish prisoner selected by the Jews to be set free (Mt 27:15; Mk 15:6; Joh 18:39), which was sort of a political favor given as a holiday gift to them to keep the peace. Pilate knew that it was out of envy that they turned Jesus over to him (Mt 27:18), rather than because of any crime that Jesus had committed. He even asked them what crime Jesus had committed (Mt 27:23), which was an attempt on his part to emphasize that the Lord was not guilty of anything. In response to that question, the people could not even cite one single crime, but simply shouted, "Crucify Him!"

At that point, Pilate was becoming increasingly worried about a potential riot by the Jews (Mt 27:24). Although he tried to convince the crowd to release Jesus Christ, he could see that he was getting nowhere trying to do so, but that an uproar was starting, so he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. In order to please the crowd and avert a riot, Pilate did what was politically expedient and released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified, knowing that He was innocent, and publicly declared himself instead to be innocent in the matter (Mt 27:24, 26).

Which Jesus Do You Want?
So when Pilate gave the Jews a choice of which prisoner they wanted him to release, he presented to them their options by essentially asking the crowd, "Which one do you want me to release to you? Jesus son of Abbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" Ironically they had a choice between two Jewish men named Jesus, one who was son of Abbas or son of the father, and the other who was called Christ. Pilate was essentially asking whether they wanted him to release the Jesus who was a dangerous criminal or the Jesus who was called the "anointed one" (or Messiah).

He would have had no valid reason to execute Jesus an innocent man (especially after his interview with Jesus, and his wife's warning), or to release Barabbas a guilty murderer and insurrectionist. Therefore, it seems that the way Pilate presented the two choices to the crowd was intended to give them an offer they could not refuse, which was to release Jesus. After all, why would they want to have a dangerous murderer on the loose, walking the streets again?

In response, at the prompting of their chief priests and elders, the people selected one Jesus for another Jesus, one man in place of another. This is the spirit of antichrist that Barabbas represents (1 Joh 4:3).

"But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 'Which of the two do you want me to release to you?' asked the governor. 'Barabbas,' they answered. 'What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?' Pilate asked. They all answered, 'Crucify him!'” (Mt 27:20-22, NIV).

They exchanged a murderer and insurrectionist for an innocent man who died in his place. This decision has some very interesting implications. It shows us that the Jewish crowd preferred a murderer to their own Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. Although they didn't realize what they were doing (Lk 23:24), they still made that decision.

This is the same decision that the crowds have made throughout the centuries and still make today. When people are presented with the claims of Christ and the opportunity to believe in and follow Him, the majority would rather have a murderer. And among those who do claim to be Christians and followers of Christ, most of them are also compromised, too. They would rather have another Jesus, one who is worldly and condones their sin, than the true Jesus who is the Christ. That's because men love darkness rather than light (Joh 3:19), for narrow is the way that leads to life and few find it (Mat 7:13-14).

Few churches these days are following the true Jesus, in my opinion. Instead most of them are worshiping another Jesus. They may love their Jesus -- even passionately, and think they are following the true Jesus, but they are not. Their pastors present to them another Jesus that is more convenient for them to love and worship, one who is easier for them to follow. This Jesus doesn't confront them or require them to leave their life of sin, but allows them to continue to harbor it in their hearts and lives.

How can this be? Can there be more than one Jesus? Of course there is! The devil was a murderer from the beginning; he is a liar and the father of lies (Joh 8:44). He is an impostor and seeks to counterfeit all that is true and genuine. Even the Scripture tells us that "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14, NIV). Moreover, the apostle Paul warned the Corinthians, "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough" (2 Cor 11:4, NIV). This means there are those who preach a different Jesus. He's an alternative Jesus (antichrist) -- one who is more accepted by the crowds. They preach a different gospel than the true authentic one of the Bible.

Identifying with Barabbas and Jesus
We as sinners who have come to know the Lord can identify with both Jesus Barabbas and Jesus Christ. We identify with Barabbas in that we realize we too are sinners who are guilty in the sight of God, and who deserve nothing but death. Barabbas is a picture of each one of us. We identify with him, because in a sense he represents all of us who deserved death and yet were set free, because Jesus Christ died in our place.

We identify with Jesus Christ, because though He was innocent He took our place on the cross, just as He did for Barabbas. He represented us in His death on the cross. He bore our sins and was treated with shame and disgrace. He was put to a cruel death that should have been our fate. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him (Is 53:5).

Putting it All Together
In light of what I have just presented to you, we can confidently say that both Barabbas and Christ shared the same name: Jesus. And just as there were two different men called Jesus presented to the crowd on that fateful day two thousand years ago, we are presented with different Jesuses today. One Jesus is an impostor, a murderer, who is worldly and defies authority, and who does the will of his father the devil. That Jesus did not die on the cross for you or me. He is a sinful, wicked being.

The other Jesus is the true Jesus. He is the real One who hung on the cross as an innocent man, who died in the place of sinners like you and me. He went to the cross and gave His life as our perfect substitute, so that we could go free from prison and live. He paid our penalty for sin in full, and purchased our redemption in order to give us the free gift of eternal life.

The true Jesus is not worldly. He confronts sin and preaches against it, calling us to repentance. He requires His disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him. He requires obedience to His commands and submission to God the Father's will. He calls us to a life of love, not hatred, murder, and rebellion. He requires that we put His words into practice and not merely be hearers of the Word but doers.

If you don't know Him, then I will ask you this question: Which Jesus do you choose to follow? And if you already claim to be a Christian, then I will ask you another question: Which Jesus are you following? Which one are you seeking? Is it a different Jesus, who in some ways seems uncannily similar to the true Jesus, but who is actually an impostor? Or are you seeking and following the true Jesus, who is called Christ? Are you following the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible and the true gospel? If so, then let this be an encouragement to you that you have made the right choice. If not, then let this be a warning to repent and follow the true Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Other Scriptures from the NET Bible. Image may be subject to copyright, used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Aim for Perfection, Called to Be BlamelessWalking in the Perfect Will of God, Crucified with Christ, What Jesus Did Not Do on the Cross, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, The Obedience of Faith, Restored Truth, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Pleasing the Lord, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Is Tithing Required for Christians?, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Having a Servant's Heart, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Divorce -- Three Divine Revelations, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Separation from the World, Confrontational Evangelism, and Is Jesus God?. My daughter has also written a lovely poem called Cross Bearing. Also find more of my articles on the Home page of this blog. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

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

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

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