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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Read Here. . .NOW. . .Most Important Mystery of End Times

From the Book of Revelation. . .


Mystery
of
The First Love Lost


 
Excerpts:

“Perhaps the greatest characteristic of this mystery is that scholars, for the most part, believe they have already identified the first love lost. Therefore, it is hidden in the assumption that it is not lost at all. They presume that the love that is lost is referring to the believer’s love for Jesus. But this is only part of the mystery.”

“The significance of this divine mystery could seriously alter the way the average person perceives the Bible. But, it remains beyond the reach of most people today so they are destined to miss out on the ultimate mystery of all time.”

“The enemies of God made a serious mistake by underestimating the mystery and failed to see the value of this pearl of great price. They were not interested. They did not have time to pay attention to details and clues. They had places to go, people to see, religion to spread, money to make, empires to build, and nests to feather. So they tripped over the mystery, which was hidden right in plain sight—and still failed to see it.”


"They had a vision before them, but it was the wrong vision.  They had a faith, but it was a counterfeit faith.  They had the Word of God, but it was a manipulated and fragmented Word.  Therefore even when they had a Jesus, it was not the real Jesus they had."

“Thank God, like every good mystery, everything will be revealed in the end. According to the signs of the times, we are getting very close to the end right now. Would you like to see where you will appear in the picture when all of the pieces of this eternal puzzle come together?--If so, pick up your magnifying glass and join me in discovering the amazing Mystery of the First Love Lost.“
 
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Preface


2011 by Kay Frances Graves.  All rights reserved.  Do not use this material in any manner without prior written consent of author.

(Scripture is from the KJV, unless otherwise indicated.  Bold words, underlining, and brackets are added by the author for emphasis.)

 

Preface

I was just seven years old when God first made Himself known to me.  My younger sister and I came across a multicolored bird, feathered in a variegation of deep iridescent emerald, ruby-red and blues.  It was lying dead on the path in the West Virginia woods where we played every day.  I had never seen a bird like this before nor have I ever seen one since.
       After poking the poor creature with a little stick and determining that it was really dead, we decided to give it a proper burial.  We covered it with a small mound of dirt on the side of the path and carefully placed wild violets around the circumference of the tiny grave.
       Donna and I had been to the movies often enough to know that a prayer comes after the burial.  So we knelt down before the grave, bowed our heads, and called on God.  But I did not know what to say to God about this beautiful lifeless little bird.
       Questions about life and death began spinning in my mind.
       Suddenly the light went out in the woods.
       A dark cloud covered the sun and a strong, piercing wind funneled down the path, almost blowing us away.  The friendly adventurous woods we loved so much became a cold, dark, and very frightening place to be.
       My prayer and thoughts about life and death had been interrupted.  Where was God now?
       Shivering from the frigid wind blowing through my light cotton dress, I looked upward through the tree tops toward heaven searching for Him.
       At that very moment, the woods became still, I saw the sun peek out from behind the dark cloud, illuminating the spot we were standing on, warming and comforting our little bodies.
       This time a different type of chill shook me to my core.  Somehow I knew God was right there in the woods with us.  He was telling me not to be afraid and assuring my troubled heart and mind that He would be with me always.
       I took my sister's hand and we ran back to our little cabin.  Through excitement and tears, I proclaimed to my mother that I had seen God.  She told me not to be so upset.  She said that I had quite an imagination, that I should just forget about it, stop crying, and go out and play.
       But I could not forget it.
       Twenty years later, after I became a Christian and read the Book of Revelation for the first time, I was shaken to my core again, after all those years when I read:

(16)And he had in his right hand seven stars:
and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword:
and his countenance
was as the sun
shineth in his strength,
(17) And when I saw him,
I fell at his feet as dead.
And he laid his right hand upon me,
saying unto me,
Fear not; I am the first and the last:
(18) I am he that liveth, and was dead;
and, behold, I am alive for evermore,
Amen;
and have the keys
of hell and of death.
-Revelation 1:16-18
 
       To this day, this passage in Revelation still gives me goose bumps every time I read it.  the similarity to my childhood experience in the woods in West Virginia that day could not be overlooked.
       The description regarding what the writer of this passage in the Book of Revelation saw and heard made me realize that God wanted me to know that He held the answers to my question-filled prayer about death.  God had, indeed, assured me that He was alive and eternal and that He had been, and always would be, with me.
       However, the rest of the Book of Revelation remained rather foggy for the next 30 years.  Then one day I came across another passage in Revelation that took on a whole new significance:
 
Blessed is he that readeth,
and they that hear
the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things
which are written therein:
for the time is at hand.
-Revelation 1:3
 
       I was missing this blessing by not reading the Book of Revelation as often as the other books of the Bible.  I guess I had been avoiding it because I found it rather difficult to understand.
       This verse was telling me that I would be blessed by reading, hearing, and keeping [from #2334 in the Greek, meaning to attend to carefully, guard, and observe] the things that were contained in what was written.
       Did it matter to God whether I understood what I was reading or not? 
       Yes. . .and No.
       No, because the verse said that the blessing would come from reading and hearing the words.  God was saying, "Just read it."
       But the answer was also, "Yes," since God certainly wanted me to understand what I was reading so I could preserve and observe it.
       It was only logical then that God would have to eventually give me an understanding of the words, if I was going to be able to observe something that I could not at the moment comprehend.
       In other words, God was telling me that this Book, like the rest of the Books of the Bible, had to be read by faith believing that God Himself would impart its meaning to me.
       I went to a dollar store and bought a CD of the audio version of the Book of Revelation and every night when I went to bed, I played the CD and every morning when I woke, I played it again.  After several months, God prompted me to move my Bible study to the computer.  First I typed out the passage and then prayed that God would give me something from it.
       When I became anxious that I might not understand what was written, God asured me that I did not need to know everything perfectly.  He led me to search for what He wanted to give me at that moment and not worry about understanding everything else.  God reminded me that His Word has many levels of understanding and the Word interprets the Word through the Holy Spirit that resides both in my heart and in His written Word.  In this way He would assemble the building blocks of the Word and begin revealing what He wanted me to know.
       My computer study soon brought me to Revelation 2:4-5 and the serious warning Jesus gave about something He had against the church of Ephesus:
 
(4) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee,
because thou hast left thy first love.
(5) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,
and repent and do the first works;
or else I will come unto thee quickly,
and will remove thy candlestick
out of his place,
except thou repent.
-Revelation 2:4-5
 
       I asked Him to reveal exactly what it means to "have left your first love."
       Over the course of the next year, God showed me that I already knew what it meant.  I just had to remember and identify it.  Now He wanted me to help others identify it too, because without knowing, remembering, repenting, and returning to the first love and first works, no one will be able to endure to the end.
       The Book of Revelation is specifically designed to "reveal" vital information in end times.  While I admit that I do not completely understand the entire Book of Revelation, I am grateful that He has given me this important piece of the puzzle to share.  So be it.  This is my mission.  Thanks be to God!
 
Kay Frances Graves
January, 2011
(Scroll Down to Read Introduction)
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Introduction

Introduction
(6) Howbeit we speak wisdom
among them that are perfect:
yet not the wisdom of this world,
nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God
in a mystery,
even the hidden wisdom,
which God ordained
before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes
of this world knew:
for had they known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
-1 Corinthians 2:6-8
 
       A mystery can be a novel, short story, play, or film whose plot involves an event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the very end.  This definition can also describe the greatest mystery ever told.  This is the mystery God refers to in Revelation 2:4 as "the first love lost."
 
(1) Unto the angel
of the church of Ephesus write;
These things saith
he that holdeth
the seven stars in his right hand,
who walketh in the midst
of the seven golden candlesticks;
(2) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience,
and how thou canst not bear them which are evil:
and thou hast tried them
which say they are apostles,
and are not,
and hast found them liars:
(3) And hast borne, and hast patience,
and for my name's sake
hast laboured,
and hast not fainted.
(4) Nevertheless
I have somewhat against thee,
because thou hast left thy first love.
(5) Remember therefore
from whence thou art fallen,
and repent,
and do the first works;
or else I will come unto thee quickly,
and will remove thy candlestick
out of his place,
except thou repent.
-Revelation 2:1-5
 
       In the King James Version, verse 4 actually reads, "...left thy first love" not "lost thy first love."  Nevertheless, in the original language, the word "left" provides a pictrue of abandoning, disregarding, and discarding.  However, it is also true that whatever we ignore usually goes away.  Therefore, when something has been disregarded and ignored, it is lost.
       Whatever has been discarded is also lost in the sense that it has been forgotten or is missing from the memory bank.
       Jesus commands churches to remember what it was that was abandoned and lost.  In order to avoid being removed from their perceived relationship with Christ, churches must find the memory or remember what was lost, repent of disregarding it, and do the first works.
       This passage begins with Jesus telling the church that all of their impressive good works do not qualify.  The passage ends with Jesus commanding the church to repent and do the first works.  Apparently these first works are required works that will qualify the church's relationship with Christ.
       How can any works qualify our relationship with Christ when we are not saved by works, but through faith alone?
       "...For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
       Is the Word of God contradicting itself or are we getting closer to the mystery?
       In Revelation 1:20, we are told that the candlesticks are the seven churches and representative of all churches that call upon the name of Christ.
       If we do not unravel this mystery and remember exactly what it is that we have lost, so we can repent, our candlestick will be removed out of His place.  Symbolically it is the position (or the relationship the church has with God) that will be removed.
       Am I saying that if I am a real Christian I can, personally, lose my salvation?  No.  The candlestick represents the specific church of Ephesus and all churches that fit this profile.  This verse clearly states that it is the church that can be removed from its relationship and position in Christ.
       The true Church is not a worldly corporate organization created by men.  We have the world's "church" [manmade organization] and Christ's "Church" [true body of believers].  While members that make up false churches marked for removal will be removed, true believers who make up the true Church and Body of Christ will follow Him and not be found in these worldly churches
       Everyone who reads the Book of Revelation is being warned to examine the characteristics of the churches that are marked for removal and either be instrumental in their repentance or avoid them, lest they become guilty by association and also removed.  If we truly belong to Christ, He will lead us to do this because we have the promise in John, Chapter 10, that none of His (true) sheep will be lost.
       It is often said that true believers can be found in every church and every denomination.  Can't we assimilate into any church that calls itself "christian" and still be a Christian?
       No, we cannot do whatever we want.  
       Our church affiliation should not be based on geographic location, as in "attend your local church," or on our historical family affiliation, as in "it was good enough for my parents, so I guess it is good enough for me." We are to follow Christ like the sheep follow the shepherd.  If we are truly His sheep, we will follow Him and His Word in everything, including our church affiliation.
       Why would the Spirit of God warn us about this, if it was not important?
       If a church desires to decide for itself which (even religious) works it wants to engage in, instead of letting Christ lead them into the works He specifically wants them to do, why would a true follower of Jesus Christ join in their disobedience and idolatry (placing their own will above God's will)?
       How can we know if the works that are being done are really led by Christ?
       First of all we need to accept what Christ is telling us.  He is saying that some good works are not acceptable.  This will surprise many people no doubt, especially those who believe that Christianity is based on a system of our good works balancing out our bad deeds.  This idea of trying to balance evil with good comes from ancient pagan beliefs, not Christianity.
       We will know if a church is engaged in true Spirit-led works if our own works and theirs are coming out of the real "first works," which He has declared to be the priority.
       Are we saved by these first works?
       No, but without the first works we are not saved.  Herein we will discover the mystery.
       Perhaps the greatest characteristic of this mystery is that scholars believe for the most part that they have already identified the first love lost.  Therefore, it is hidden in the assumption that it is not lost at all.  They presume that the love lost is referring to the believer's love for Jesus.  But this is only part of the mystery.  God knows all things.  He knew that we would not even see the need to identify what was lost.  This is why He is commanding us to remember.
        I will say no more and risk revealing the mystery prematurely.
       The significance of this divine mystery could seriously alter the way the average person perceives the Bible.  But, it remains beyond the reach of most people today.  Therefore many are destined to miss out on the ultimate mystery of all time.  God Himself tells us that very few will have "eyes to see and ears to hear."  However, Mystery of the First Love Lost needs to be written for the few who do not yet realize that they have been given the capacity to receive these amazing secrets of God.
       How do we know if we are among the few who will understand this mystery?
       The truth is, if we are called to be among the few, we cannot miss it.  We will begin to discover the mystery when we are confronted by it and it will not let us go.  The detective in us will not rest until every rock is overturned, every clue is examined, and every piece of the puzzle is collected.
       Searching for the answer to the mystery will become a labor of love.  We will experience a sense of urgency and excitement with each step that brings us closer to discovering this "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world, for our glory."  (1 Corinthians 2:7)
       This is not a glory that makes us gods or equal to God, but is the glory, or adornment, we receive through our relationship with Christ as His bride.  It is the result of basking in the light of His glorious character and wisdom, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun.
       This wisdom is so powerful, that if the enemies of God had known about it, they would not have crucified Christ--and this is the point.  They did not care to know.  They "loved the darkness rather than the light" because their deeds were evil.  They were presumptuous and preoccupied with going their own way.  Therefore they went down the wrong path.
       They had a vision before them, but it was the wrong vision.  They had a faith, but it was a counterfeit faith.  They had the Word of God, but it was a manipulated and fragmented Word.  Therefore even when they had a Jesus, it was not the real Jesus they had.
       The enemies of God made a serious mistake by underestimating the mystery and failed to see the value of this pearl of great price.  They were not interested.  They did not have time to pay attention to details and clues.  They had places to go, people to see, religion to spread, money to make, empires to build, and nests to feather.  So they tripped over the mystery, which had been hidden right in plain sight--and still failed to see it.
       The aspects and clues to the mystery of the first love lost are mysteries themselves.  Therefore, we are actually pursuing a mystery buried within many mysteries.  Thank God, like every good mystery, everything will be revealed in the end.
       According to the signs of the times, we are getting very close to the end right now.
       Would you like to see where you will appear in the picture when all of the pieces of this eternal puzzle come together?
       If so, pick up your magnifying glass and join me in discovering the amazing Mystery of the First Love Lost.
        


Mystery of His Will - Chapter 1

The Mystery of His Will
 
 
(9) Having made known unto us
the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure
which he hath purposed in himself:
(10) That in the dispensation
of the fulness of times
he might gather together in one
all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven,
and which are on earth;
even in him:
-Ephesians 1:9-10
 
       One very important foundational mystery is the mystery of His will.  If we can learn more about the will and nature of God, perhaps we can discover just what the mystery of the first love lost involves.
       Then there are God's time frames to consider.  The time frame on earth is limited.  The time frame in heaven is actually an oxymoron, because our concept of time ceases to exist in the heavenly realm which is infinite.  Nevertheless, we are told that the fulfillment of both of these times will be evident one day soon when time, as we know it on earth, will merge into infinity.  When this happens, all things in Christ will be perfectly harmonized and unified in Him.
 
(1) And Nadab and Abihu,
the sons of Aaron,
took either of them his censer,
and put fire therein, and put incense thereon,
and offered strange fire
before the LORD,
which he commanded them not.
(2) And there went out fire from the LORD,
and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
(3) Then Moses said unto Aaron,
This is that the LORD spake, saying,
I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me,
and before all the people I will be glorified.
And Aaron held his peace.
(4) And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan,
the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron,
and said unto them,
Come near,
carry your brethren
from before the sanctuary out of the camp.
(5) So they went near,
and carried them in their coats
out of the camp;
as Moses had said.
-Leviticus 10:1-5
 
       A popular leader of a prominent mega church on television recently interpreted the above words to mean that these sons of Aaron were incinerated by God because they did not wait for the "spiritual authority," namely their father Aaron, to conduct this offering to God.
       The church leader was teaching his followers that the death of Nadab and Abihu was a result of their usurping Aaron's position of authority.  But this is only a half truth.  Perhaps if the sons of Aaron had waited for their father, the offering would have been carried out properly by him and they would not have experienced the awful consequences.
       But is man's spiritual authority really God's intended primary focus in this passage?
       If I remember correctly, the speaker's message was entitled something like, "Spiritual Authority."  Not titled anything like "Obedience to the Will of God."  In his presentation it was evident that he was exalting the power of the office and position of the religious leaders instead of patterning his message after the details of the Scripture that actually focus on the preeminence of God in all things.
       In spite of the lessons provided by Scripture and Christian history, many churches still continue to be obsessed with their own perceived authority, the issue of submission, and church hierarchy today.
       Is it really true that God wants to incinerate those who do not submit to religious leaders or others in positions of authority?
       A common earmark of false teachers is their use of fear and guilt to acquire and control followers.  These religious "authorities" claim to know what is best for everyone in their midst, thereby seducing them to entrust their spiritual life as well as their money and sometimes even their physical life to them.
       False teachers misinterpret the above passage and many other Scriptures, attempting to make them support the idea that God's judgment is upon us if we do not honor their hierarical system and pay the tithes required to expand their ministries so they can build bigger and bigger churches.
       In this way they twist the Word of God teaching that the favor and blessing of God can somehow be purchased with money.  But He has clearly shown us that this is definitely not His intention.  God wants to teach us that everything we have belongs to Him and He is perfectly able to supply all of our needs.
       God's principles of giving are not about trying to put something into God's bank account so that He will put more into our bank account.  When we give of what He has entrusted to us, it should be in faith knowing that our tithes and offerings will not diminish our financial resources because God has said that He is committed to continually providing all that we need beyond measure.  The problem we have is with yielding what we think we need to what God has determined that we really need.
       In order to profit, false religion has always tried to confuse the real priorities God has outlined in His Word.  Tithes and offerings, like every other action God leads us to take, must be carried out by faith and the specifics of His will.
       Caring for the needs of others, whether spiritual or physical, must first of all be personally provided to those in our own household and sphere as God brings these needs to our attention.  Not every work God calls us to must be carried out through the hierarchy of some organization or church.  True believers are the Church.
       An excellent example of this can be found in the autobiography of George Muller, an evangelist, missionary, and director of several orphan homes in Bristol, England during the 1800s.  He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, including the orphans in his homes.  George Muller never asked one person for money (or anything else) to support the work he did, but all of the needs of the thousands of children he cared for was a direct result of prayer and His dedication to the Word of God.  Mr. Muller let God, Himself, put it upon the hearts of others to support his ministry as God personally directed them.
       God has not appointed any "under shepherds."  Jesus, Himself, warned about this and told us that there is and always will be only "One Shepherd," which is Jesus Christ and "one flock" made up of all true believers in Christ.
       This fact can be found in John 10:16 and many other places in the Scriptures.  Yes, leaders are appointed by God for ministry in the Church, but God's method of leadership is not anything like the modern corporate hierarchy, patterned after the world's system of power and control, that we see in most churches today.
       Now who is really guilty of trying to usurp God's position of Authority?
       God's plan of redemption is based on our relationship with Him alone, made possible through the death of His only Son.  But also through His life--remember Jesus is not dead.  He is no longer on the cross.  He rose from the grave and is very much alive today.
       Actually He is more a part of our lives right now than when He walked the earth in the flesh.  We do not need some hireling to rule over us and interpret the Word of God for us.  The living Spirit of God is perfectly capable of teaching us these truths Himself through His Word.
       God never told us to entrust our spiritual lives to any earthly person.  On the contrary, we are exhorted often in the Scriptures to take personal responsibility for our own eternal life and live out our life through the power of God's Spirit.
       God's plan has always reflected His will and what is best for us.  It is not about what we want or about us and our "delegated power of authority," it is about God and what He requires of us.
       Real Christianity does not focus on getting power.  Authority means responsibility and servanthood.  God gives us the power to follow Him, not the power to control others.
       How many children and how many wives long to have their fathers and husbands lovingly lead them and encourage their family in the Word of God, instead of lecturing them on why they are endowed from above with the power to rule over them?
       Where is the error in focus?  Where is the error in priorities?  Where is the preeminence of Christ?
       Unless they are Jesus Christ, they do not have the power to control anyone.  The truth is that man is incapable of even controlling himself.  This is why we must all submit to Christ as our Ruler.  Leaders are called to be the chief servants of others--not the chief rulers or controllers of others.
       King David, "a man after God's own heart," understood this.  David's practice of leadership through servanthood won the hearts of those he led.  His men loved him so much that, on one occasion, they were even willing to risk their own lives just to get him a drink of water.  (See 2 Samuel 23:15-16.)
       Even though Christ possessed ownership by right of Creator, He also demonstrated His right to rule by serving others, when He laid down His life for us and provided what we need to enter the Kingdom of God.
       What then was the real reason Nadab and Abihu died?
       Nadab, (his name meaning "willful or liberal") along with his brother, Abihu, dared to worship and serve God in their own way, instead of in the prescribed manner God had appointed.
       God was so offended that He sent a fire from heaven to "devour" them.
       This was a precise type of fire designed to exclusively consume only their bodies and not their clothing, further emphasizing and illustrating the importance God places on detailed specifics.  We are told that what was left of them, probably just their ashes was carried away out of the camp in the very coats they were wearing.
       God further emphasizes in this passage that it is His will to be sanctified and glorified before the people in the specific manner He has prescribed.  "Sanctified" speaks of something greatly respected because it is pure and holy.  The word, "glorified," denotes honoring God because of His preeminence (exclusive authority).
       This is not the first time lack of concern and disrespect for the detailed will of God has been mentioned in the Bible.  It began with Adam and Eve in the garden when they made excuses for not following God's will regarding which of the trees they could eat from.
       When Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, brought their offerings before God, we are given an example of disrespect for specifics again.  While Abel honored the will of God by bringing an animal sacrifice which symbolized redemption through the blood, Cain wanted to offer something that came from his own efforts.
       His self-centered heart was not in harmony with God's redemptive plan.  Like his parents, Cain also disregarded God's detailed instructions and stubbornly decided to do it his own way.
       How do we discover the mystery of God's will then?
       The mystery of God's will is revealed in the details.  Our relationship with God must, first of all, be centereed on the specific details of His will and what He requires of us, as opposed to being centered on our own will.
       If we truly belong to Him, we will wrap our spirit, body, mind, and emotions around His will because we understand that He loves us and is the only One qualified to be God because He is the only One who created us and really knows what is best for us.
       Anything less is idolatry--the basic sin from which all other sins originate.
 
(23) Now therefore put away, said he,
the strange gods which are among you,
and incline your heart
unto the LORD God of Israel.
(24) And the people said unto Joshua,
The LORD our God
will we serve,
and his voice will we obey.
-Joshua 24: 23-24
 
       Do you see how the mystery of the will of God provides a clue to the mystery of the first love lost?
       If not, perhaps you will eventually, as we continue to examine the evidence.
       We must be patient.  This is only the first piece of the puzzle.



Mystery of Christ - Chapter 2

The Mystery of Christ

(3) How that by revelation
he made known unto me
the mystery;
(as I wrote afore in few words,
(4) Whereby, when ye read,
ye may understand my knowledge
in the mystery of Christ
(5) Which in other ages
was not made known unto the sons of men,
as it is now revealed
unto his holy apostles and prophets
by the Spirit;)
-Ephesians 3:3-5
 
       The Mystery of the First Love Lost also relates to the mystery of Christ.  God revealed the mystery to Paul and Paul shared this knowledge with the Ephesians through his writings.
       Another important clue to note is that the mystery is now being revealed by the Spirit of God.
       However, do not jump to conclusions.  Before we can really grasp what Paul is telling us, we must understand how the Spirit really functions.  If we are patient, the information we need will be provided in due time.
       Take care.  This is where the mystery can slip right through our fingers if we do not wait until we have all of the pieces of the puzzle.
 
Unto me,
who am less than the least of all saints,
is this grace given,
that I should preach among the Gentiles
the unsearchable riches of Christ;
-Ephesians 3:8
 
       Paul considers himself to be the least of all the believers.  But God specializes in using the weak and humble things of the world.
       Paul was called to complete the written Word through his writings and thereby declare this mystery to God's people so they could know the riches of eternal life that reside in the mystery of Christ.
 
(1) For I would that ye knew
what great conflict I have for you,
and for them of Laodicea,
and for as many
as have not seen my face in the flesh;
(2) That their hearts might be comforted,
being knit together in love,
and unto all riches
of the full assurance of understanding,
to the acknowledgement of
the mystery of God, and of the Father,
and of Christ;
(3) In whom
[God, the Father, and Christ]
are hid
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
-Colossians 2:1-3
 
       Paul's words are designed to span the boundaries of time and are written not only for the Colossians, but for all true believers, whether we have seen Paul in the flesh or not.
       Paul's purpose is to bring unity and comfort to believers as they realize the value of their mutual position in Christ.  He wants them all to experience complete assurance as they understand and acknowledge the mystery of God the Father and Jesus Christ because all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge have been hidden in them.
       Since everything believers need to know about God the Father and Jesus Christ is hidden in God the Father and Jesus Christ, the mystery of Christ is discovered through contemplating and submitting to His preeminence in all things.
       Paul recognizes that his mission and focus of ministry is to fulfil the Word of God, or complete our understanding regarding where all true wisdom and knowledge really come from.
 
(25) Whereof I am made a minister,
according to the dispensation of God
which is given to me for you,
to fulfil the word of God;
(26) Even the mystery
which hath been hid from ages
and from generations,
but now is made manifest to his saints:
(27) To whom God would make known
what is the riches of the glory
of this mystery
among the Gentiles;
which is Christ in you,
the hope of glory
(28) Whom we preach,
warning every man,
and teaching every man in all wisdom;
that we may present every man
perfect in Christ Jesus:
-Colossians 1:25-27
 
       God has given Paul the important mission, through this mystery, to reveal just how valuable our relationship with Christ really is.
       But there is something else God intends to accomplish.  He has also ordained this mystery to play a vital part in perfecting every true believer in Christ.
 

Mystery of Fellowship - Wisdom of God - Ch.3-Pt.1

The Mystery of Fellowship
and
The Wisdom of God

(9) And to make all men see
what is the fellowship of
[or association to]
the mystery,
which from the beginning of the world
hath been hid in God,
who created all things
by Jesus Christ:
(10) To the intent
that now
unto the principalities and powers
in heavenly places
might be known by the church
the manifold
[variegated, complex]
wisdom of God.
-Ephesians 3:9-10
 
       Even though Paul feels unqualified to preach about Christ, he knows that God is going to use him to define the fellowship of the mystery and reveal the manifold wisdom of God to the Church.
       We will eventually see how the Mystery of Fellowship and the Mystery of the First Love Lost both relate in some way to fellowship or to an association of some sort (#2842 in the Greek).
       In this case it is God's desire to have all men see the asociation or connection that the mystery has with the wisdom of God.  When we see this connection, we will then be better equipped to identify and understand both mysteries.
       This fellowship or association is a secret that has been hidden in God since the beginning of the world, when He created all things by Jesus Christ.  We are now privileged to be living in these end times when God intends to reveal the mystery, making this complex (manifold #G4183) wisdom of God known to all true believers.
 
(41) Then they
that gladly received his word
were baptized:
and the same day
there were added unto them
about three thousand souls
[people - followers].
(42) And they continued steadfastly
in the apostles' doctrine
and fellowship,
and in breaking of bread,
and in prayers.
-Acts 2:41-42
 
       Acts 2:41-42 describes true believers.  They became believers when they embraced the Word of God and then continued steadfastly, or adhered to it, as the word, "steadfastly," comes from the Greek #4314.
       In other words, once those who were called by the Father received the Word of God, they stuck like glue to the doctrine (or interpretation of the Word) Christ had personally handed down to the apostles.  As a result they experienced true "fellowship," the same fellowship (close association #G2842) that connects the mystery to the wisdom of God.
       Why is it so important to mention this type of fellowship and how it has an identical connection to the mystery?
       The definition of genuine fellowship in this passage in Acts, is telling us that wherever true believers gather, we will witness true fellowship.
       It is our responsibility to be able to accurately identify the churches that are marked for removal by Christ and to either be instrumental in their repentance or avoid being guilty by association.
       The type of fellowship one believer has with another believer will identiy true believers and help us correctly discern the condition of the church and whether it is marked for removal.  This ability to discern will be given to us by the Spirit of God through our own fellowship, or our own mutual association, with the wisdom of God.
       It is this association with the wisdom of God that reveals whether our relationship with God is genuine.  This relationship is not determined by accomplishment or ecstatic spiritual experiences, but depends on whether our heart is in harmony with the Word of God.
       In this way even the new Christian who is just beginning to receive the wisdom of God can participate in true fellowship with other believers.
       It is very possible that our association with the mystery of fellowship may not be clear to the reader yet.  Remember we were warned that the wisdom God wants to reveal is "manifold" meaning complex.  Therefore we may not be able to identify the specific connection fellowship has with the wisdom of God until all of the pieces of the puzzle come together. 
       While each piece of the Word of God is simple to understand, we need to assemble all of the pieces in order to be able to see the entire picture. 

Mystery of Fellowship - The Foundation - Ch.3-Pt.2

The Foundation of True Fellowship

(9) God is faithful,
by whom ye were called
unto the fellowship
of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
(10) Now I beseech you, brethren,
by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that ye all speak the same thing,
and that there be no divisions among you;
but that ye be perfectly joined together
in the same mind and in the same judgment,
(11) For it hath been declared unto me
of you, my brethren,
by them which are of the house of Chloe,
that there are contentions among you.
-1 Corinthians 1:9-11
 
       Paul is sounding the alarm.  Something is seriously wrong in the Corinthian Church.  There are divisions and contentions among the members.  He encourages them to come to an agreement.
       Because Paul exhorts members of the Corithian Church not to let divisions exist among them, should we presume like the world and so many churches today, that divisions are wrong?  Or should we conclude that divisions are a valuable means to alert us, when doctrinal error creeps into the body of believers, so doctrine can be corrected and genuine unity maintained?
 
(18) For first of all,
when ye come together in the church,
I hear that there be divisions among you;
and I partly believe it.
(19) For there must be
also heresies among you,
that they which are approved
may be made manifest among you.
-1 Corinthians 11:18-19
 
       Paul is teaching that division in the church is God's means of separating truth from error so the true doctrines of Christ may become evident and plainly recognized.  If it were not for the light of Truth, we would never realize that we are living in spiritual darkness.
       (We will discover more regarding this in future chapters.)
 
(19) What say I then?
that the idol
is any thing,
or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols
is anything?
(20) But I say,
that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice,
they sacrifice to devils,
and not to God:
and I would not that ye should have
fellowship with devils.
 
(21) Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord,
and the cup of devils:
ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table,
and of the table of devils.
(22) Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?
are we stronger than he?
-1 Corinthians 10:19-22
 
       When we do not follow God's specifics regarding our worship and service to Him, we become guilty of idolatry.  It does not matter whether we are bowing down to a statue made with human hands or trying to establish our own will above God's will.  Both are considered idolatry and bring us into fellowship, (association) with devils, whether we are aware of it or not.
       Through the idolatry of our own good works we become partners in crime, with the devil and are assisting him in his destructive plans, instead of living in harmony with God's plan for abundant and eternal life.
       Please note that I did not say "living in harmony with others."  On the contrary, when we live in harmony with God's plan, He has told us that it is more likely that we will be out of harmony with others and suffering persecution as a result of it.
       "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."  (2 Timothy 3:12)
 
(1) Paul and Timotheus,
the servants of Jesus Christ,
to all the saints in Christ Jesus
which are at Philippi,
with the bishops and deacons:
(2) Grace be unto you, and peace,
from God our Father,
and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
(3) I thank my God
upon every remembrance of you,
(4) Always in every prayer of mine for you all
making request with joy,
(5) For your fellowship
in the gospel
from the first day until now;
-Philippians 1:1-5
 
       Paul and Timotheus are writing to the Church in Philippi and describing the foundation for true fellowship among believers.  They are referring to this specific type of association as their "fellowship in the Gospel."
       To discover what true fellowship is, it is also helpful to understand what it is not.
       Is the "fellowship" in this verse a type of exclusive socialization established by the church and granted to members who profess to believe the Gospel and the church's specifically sanctioned doctrines, sacraments, and/or traditions?
       Or is true fellowship not socialization at all, but a unique interaction established on something more important than a church or any religious group?
       Could it be possible that true fellowship depends exclusively on the Gospel itself--the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
 
(4) And did all drink the same spiritual drink:
for they drank of that spiritual Rock
that followed them:
and that Rock
was Christ.
-1 Corinthians 10:4
 
(18) And I say also unto thee,
That thou art Peter,
[Peter=#G4074=a stone=soul hard=unyielding]
and upon this rock
[#G4073=large solid rock,
Jesus Himself=firm strength of soul]
I will build my church;
and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it.
-Matthew 16:18
 
       There is a slight, yet very significant difference in the two types of rock mentioned in the above verses.  The true Rock of our salvation is Jesus Christ.  Then there is the smaller rock or stone that is Peter.
       Peter is a tough, hard-headed fisherman, yet he would deny Christ three times by yielding to fear and peer pressure.  Jesus knew this so in their initial meeting, He wanted Peter to know that He would not expect him to do something he was not equipped to do.  The Church of Jesus Christ was not going to be built on the efforts of a mere man, but on the superior strength of Christ Himself, the Solid Rock.
       The Church which is made up of the fellowship of true believers cannot have any other foundation but Christ.  Therefore the real Church of Jesus Christ cannot be built with human hands or independent good works.  Christ is the Creator and Leader of His Church which is His true Bride.  She loves Jesus as her Husband and is committed to following Him and His specific will alone.
       Because the true Church is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ Himself, fellowship in the Word of God definitely involves much more than socialization.  There is nothing wrong with socialization, but let us put socialization in its rightful place on our list of priorities.  We would be more accurate if we brought back the phrase, "church social," than to mislabel social interaction in the church as "fellowship."
       If you have ever attended church or are currently attending a church, think about what your church fellowship looks like.
       Certainly when we get together with other Christians, we need to be concerned about what is happening in their lives.  But does "How are you doing?" refer to wanting to know all about the sports activities the kids are involved in or what color you decided to paint your living room? 
       Or should the question really refer to how your life has been recently affected by the Word of God or how it relates to the Gospel of Jesus Christ today?
       If someone actually desired to engage in this type of real fellowship, they might be required to get permission from church authorities before speaking on the topic of what Christ is actually doing in their life today.
       It may not be "pc" (politically correct) or in this case, "cc" (church correct) to freely fellowship in the Word of God without some sort of control through special training or a "discipleship program" provided by the church or denominational headquarters to insure that new members understand the boundaries of acceptable speech and conduct in their church.
       While fellowship during a time set aside for socialization should be encouraged, a time set aside for fellowship should not turn into a social session.  This was the real purpose of Paul's warning to the spiritually immature church at Corinth.
       Most churches today do not have a clue regarding what true fellowship is.  Unfortunately, the majority of church members associate fellowship with catching up on the latest news in the hallways of the church after the service, sitting around the fire pit in the back yard swapping stories, exchanging political views or sports scores, meeting for coffee, breakfast, lunch, or supper, attending church pot luck, musical events, remodeling projects, and quilt-making clubs.
       Whew!  There are only 24 hours in a day!  Maybe it is time to take another look at our priorities.  Or should I say, "the priorities God has really given us." 
       While the exchange of information, social interaction, and entertainment are all necessary functions among believers, these activities must be conducted as such and not deemed "fellowship."  Fellowship has been designated by the Word of God to occupy an exclusive position and priority above socialization and entertainment.
       What would happen if a true believer came into your church and attempted to actually fellowship "in the Word of God?"
 
If there be therefore
any consolation in Christ,
if any comfort of love,
if any fellowship of the Spirit,
if any bowels and mercies,
-Philippians 2:1
 
       Genuine fellowship is a fellowship of the Spirit via the Word of God.  This gives us a picture of the Spirit of Christ right in our midst as we interact with one another.  When Christ and His Word are not present in the conversation, the conversation ceases to be true fellowship.
 
Fulfil ye my joy,
that ye be likeminded,
having the same love,
being of one accord,
of one mind.
-Philippians 2:2
 
       When Christ and His Word are present in the conversation, believers will be in unity and harmony in their thinking.  They will be communicating through the same type of love.  Perhaps this is referring to the first love lost.  I did not say that fellowship is the first love lost, but that the type of love lost is the same type of love missing from true fellowship.
       The point is, when the first love was lost, real fellowship was also lost.
 
I John, who also am your brother,
and companion in tribulation,
and in the kingdom
and patience of Jesus Christ,
was in the isle that is called Patmos,
for the word of God,
and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
-Revelation 1:9
 
       John speaks of this fellowship also as "companionship in tribulation."  True believers share something else in common.  That is tribulation and their similar testimonies regarding their relationship with Christ.  Tribulation (#G2347=pressure, oppression, and affliction) comes from the world, the flesh, and the devil. 
       When we are members of the Kingdom, all true believers will suffer similar circumstances and tribulation because we are all holding fast to the same truths of the Kingdom.
       Yes, when we remember what was lost, repent, and do the first works, we will also find true fellowship and genuine unity among believers.
 
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Simple Gospel of John - Ch. 1:1-28

Who Is Jesus?

(1) In the beginning
was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

(2) The same [Word],
was in the begining with God.

(3) All things were made by him
[the Word],
and without him
was not anything made that was made

(4) In him [the Word] was life;
and the life [the Word]
was the light of men.

(Word = Life) (Life = Word)
(Life = Light) (Light = Life)

Therefore, "Word," "Life," and "Light" are all equal, according to Euclid's Law (of physics--i.e. God's established law of the universe): "things that are equal to same thing, are also equal to each other."


(5) And the light [Word]
shineth in darkness;
and the darkness
comprehended it not.

"comprehend" = [Greek #2638 in Strong's Concordance]

  1. to lay hold of
  2. in a good sense, of Christ by his holy power and influence laying hold
  3. of the human mind and will, in order to prompt and govern it
  4. to understand, perceive, learn, comprehend
(6) There was a man sent from God,
whose name was John [the Baptist]

(7) The same came for a witness,
to bear witness of the Light,
that all men
through him [the Light/Word/Jesus]
might believe.

(8) He [John the Baptist] was not that Light,
but was sent
to bear witness of
[announce/identify]
that Light.

(9) That was the true Light
[Word of God/Jesus],
which lighteth
[gives physical and spiritual life to]
every man
that cometh into the world.

(10) He was in the world,
and the world was made by him
[Jesus/Word of God]
and the world knew him not.

See v.5--"the darkness comprehended not," now in v. 10 we see that "the world knew him not." 

Many people today are searching for "the light," but they do not realize the simple truth that the Light of the One True God is the Word of God--the Living Word, Jesus Christ and the written Word, the Holy Bible.

In the Book of Psalms 119:105, we are told: "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." 

From this we can conclude that except for those who believed who Jesus Christ really was and received Him, the rest of mankind continued to live in spiritual darkness and did not realize who He was or the significance of His existence.

When Jesus arrives on the planet, immediately the dichotomy between good and evil, spiritual darkness and spiritual light is manifested. 

(11) He came unto his own,
and his own received him not.

(12) But as many as received him,
to them gave he power
[spiritual ability]
to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name:


The ones who received Jesus and accepted who He really was were those He had given the spiritual ability/power to become the sons of God.

His "name" is the key.  What is the function (totality) of a person's name?

Doesn't His Name reveal who He really is?

In other words, those who were given the power to see and accept who Jesus really was were given the ability to enter into the family of God.

Jesus = [Greek #2424] and [Hebrew #3091]
Have same meaning:  Jesus - "Jehovah is salvation"

(13) Which were born,
not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man,
[Not a physical birth]
but of God.


Here God begins to emphasize the difference between physical life and spiritual life and how man is to enter into a spiritual relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is defined here also as the Light, the Life, and the Word.

Only His people will be able to understand and receive the True Light (Jesus Christ), the Life, and Word. . .while others will not be able to understand it and will therefore remain in spiritual darkness.

(14) And the Word was made flesh
[became the man, Jesus]
and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory
as of the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace [merciful loving kindness]
and truth [only what is true/absolute fact/reality],

"glory" = [Greek #1391]

  1. opinion, judgment, view
  2. opinion, estimate, whether good or bad concerning someone
  3. in NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honor and glory
  4. splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace
  5. a thing belonging to God--kingly majesty which belongs to him as supreme ruler
  6. majesty in the sense of the absolute perfection of the deity
  7. a thing belonging to Christ--the kingly majesty of the Messiah
  8. the absolutely perfect inward or personal excellency of
  9. a most glorious condition, most exalted state
(15) John bare witness of him,
and cried, saying,
This was he of whom I spake,
He that cometh after me
is preferred before me;
for he was before me
[Gen.1:1--He was at creation doing the creating],

(16) And of his fulness
have all we received,
and grace for grace.

(17) For the law
was given by Moses,
but grace and truth
[merciful loving kindness
and absulute fact/reality--v.14]
came by Jesus Christ.

(18) No man hath seen God
at any time,
the only begotten Son,
which is in the bosom of the Father,
he hath declared him.


Just a thought:

What could John have been symbolizing and what example could he have been giving when he put his head on the bosom of Christ during the last supper?

Perhaps John was not only showing his affection for his Lord and Savior, but could it be possible that John was also declaring who Jesus really was, just as Jesus declared who God was when He resided in the "bosom of the Father," as we are told here in verse 18?

(19) And this is the record of John,
when the Jews
sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem
to ask him,
Who art thou?

(20) And he confessed,
and denied not;
but confessed,
I am not the Christ.

(21) And they asked him,
What then?
Art thou Elias?
And he saith, I am not.
Art thou that prophet?
And he answered, No.

The priests and Levites reveal their contentious attitude by asking John the Baptist the same question after he had already told them that he was not Elias.
(22) Then said they unto him,
Who art thou?
that we may give an answer
to them that sent us.
What sayest thou of thyself?

This was a threat as well as a question.  They were letting John the Baptist know that superior worldly/religious authorities were investigating John.  They were not there to merely satisfy their own curiosity.

(23) He said, I am the voice
of one crying in the wilderness,
Make straight the way of the Lord,
as said the prophet Esaias
[referring to the prophecy in the Word of God].

(24) And they which were sent
were of the Pharisees.

(25) And they asked him, and said unto him,
Why baptizest thou then,
if thou be not that Christ,
nor Elias, neither that prophet?

(26) John answered them, saying,
I baptize with water;
[John baptizes with water but...]
but there standeth one among you,
whom ye know not;

(27) He it is,
who coming after me
is preferred before me,
whose shoe's latchet
I am not worthy to unloose.

(28) These things were done
in Bethabara beyond Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

**Why Did Jesus Come?***
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