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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Faith...Physical Dimension...Ch.11.pt.1..Ministers Called by God

Note:
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scroll down past this chapter...
to the first page of the book
which will follow after a brief
personal message.












"The thief cometh not,
but for to steal, and to kill,
and to destroy:
I am come
that they might have life,
and 
that they might have it
more abundantly."
Jesus Christ - John 10:10

     The thief comes to take away all that is valuable ... to destroy life and all that is good.

     But Jesus came to abundantly give life ... to provide all that is good and beneficial

... with the primary purpose of infusing us with abundant life through the power and wisdom of His Word.

     The life He desires to impart was not limited to eternal life ... but includes our earthly life as well ... maintaining life in the whole person:
... spirit ... body ... mind ... and emotions

... while at the same time ... we can see Jesus ... in John 3 ... speaking to Nicodemus verifying the existence of two dimensions ... spiritual and physical

... and finding the Apostle Paul also writing in the New Testament ... (1 Timothy) ... addressing this topic ... honoring Jesus' desire to value life ... providing abundant life

(1) through our relationship with Him
... and ...
(2by calling the members of His Body to minister to the needs of others.

     After focusing on the spiritual dimension ... the next logical step ... is to view Jesus' spiritual body of believers in the physical realm

... assembling His people ... those redeemed by His Blood ... into one worldwide body ... physically on earth ... those who would come to be known ... not by denomination ... but wherever located ... simply as 

... "the Church."

     So our Heavenly Father begins building His earthly Church ... a physical assembly that does not require a physical building

... designing it for the purpose of manifesting His loving care and intended abundant life ... first of all ... to benefit His spiritual Body of believers presently dwelling physically on earth

... as well as commissioning His Church to reach a lost and dying world with His Gospel of  salvation

... in this way ... addressing both physical ... as well as spiritual needs by equipping ... and ... assigning His Church for specific positions of ministry

... by first calling:

... Bishops ...
1
"This is a true saying,
If a man desire
the office of a bishop,
he desireth a good work.

     The office of bishop exemplified ... this genuinely humble responsibility ... in the truest sense.

     Today references to the position of bishop can call up images of pompous religious authority in expensive flowing robes.

     But in the original Greek language ... the office of "bishop" [G1984] ... the Apostle Paul describes in His letter to Timothy ... was one of humble service

... lovingly caring for the spiritual ... as well as ... the lowly hands-on physical needs of the flock ... as a visitor for the purpose of determining if any assistance was needed ... especially in the case of the poor and sick.

     This help could involve spiritual encouragement

... as well as hands-on physical care

... requiring a great amount of wisdom regarding both spiritual matters ... as well as the specific type of physical nurturing required for bodily restoration

... because all healing in the Church ... like today ... was not instantaneous

... but more often involved a spiritual ... as well as physical process that could reveal some very important spiritual insights ... as well as physical benefits

(which will be addressed in greater detail in further chapters)

... benefits such as found in the example provided in the parable of the good Samaritan ... who knew exactly what was required to rescue ... restore ... and rebuild a human life ... and obediently ministered to those needs in very specific ways.

     Therefore ... this position of bishop required a very godly ... humble ... compassionate ... and wise man.

2
A bishop then
must be blameless,
the husband of one wife,
vigilant, sober,
of good behaviour,
given to hospitality,
apt to teach;

     Verse 2 ... begins the list of God's requirements that must be met ... if a man desired to serve God in this unique manner

... he must be highly qualified ... effectively able to share the love of Christ by physically ministering to fellow believers in need of physical restoration ... in addition to providing spiritual encouragement.

3
Not given to wine,
no striker,
not greedy of filthy lucre;
but patient, not a brawler,
not covetous;

     The use of wine and strong drink has no place in the life of one who desires a position in the Church of Jesus Christ

... for we are told in Proverbs 31 that wine works against developing vital wisdom required by one in authority ... especially those sitting in positions that carry the heavy responsibility of making decisions affecting the lives of others

... modern science now also verifying that alcohol (as well as any other type of drug) is able to affect the brain ... impairing judgment ... even days after ingestion.

     Neither should a man be considered for ministry if he makes decisions based on how financially profitable the decision will be ... instead of how valuable our Creator considers every human life to be.

     Likewise the position of bishop requires one who is loving ... patient ... and generous with his time and resources.

     Therefore ... even the way his own home functions ... should be considered:

4
One that ruleth well
his own house,
having his children
in subjection with all gravity;
5
(For if a man know not 
how
to rule his own house,
how shall he take care of
the church of God?)

6
Not a novice,
lest being lifted up with pride
he fall into the condemnation
of the devil.

     Bishops require the wisdom of the Word of God as it has been applied to life experiences ... it is not a position for "beginners" or new converts

... and would be a shameful thing to give such a demanding position to someone whose years on earth are less than ... the years some brethren have been Christians.

7
Moreover he must have
a good report of them
which are without;
lest he fall into reproach
and the snare of the devil.
- 1 Tim. 3:1-7

     Furthermore ... a bishop must have a history of living a godly life before unbelievers ... giving no reason to be disrespected because of sin or hypocrisy in his life.

     This does not mean that a bishop will be liked by all people.

     On the contrary ... "all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
(2 Tim.3:12)

... Deacons ...

8
"Likewise must the deacons
be grave, not doubletongued,
not given to much wine,
not greedy of filthy lucre;
9
Holding the mystery
of the faith
in a pure conscience."
-1 Tim.3:8

     Deacons are also called by God as servants, intercessors, and ministers to His people.

     According to this passage in the Greek ... it is the responsibility of deacons to prepare and serve food in addition to physically nurturing the sick.

     The office of Bishop ... as well as the office of deacon had to be similarly qualified ... with the outstanding character required for this important responsibility.

9
"Holding the mystery
of the faith
in a pure conscience.
10
And let these also
first be proved;
then let them use
the office of a deacon,
being found blameless.
11
Even so must their wives
be grave, not slanderers,
sober, faithful in all things.
12
Let the deacons be
the husbands of one wife,
ruling their children
and
their own houses well.
13
For they that have used
the office of a deacon well
purchase to themselves
a good degree,
and
great boldness in the faith
which is in Christ Jesus.
-1 Tim.3:9-13

     The Church labored over the task of calling deacons.   This office required a righteous life and pure conscience toward God ... and others.

   Deacons were the keepers of the "mystery of the faith" (v.9) ... as it was originally revealed in the Word of God ... therefore it was necessary to be tested and found blameless.

     Those holding offices in the Church must be honorable ... single-minded ... without split allegance

... committed to the preeminence of Jesus Christ ... and the Word of God ... in all things

... without worldly entanglements that would split complete dedication to the Lordship of Christ's exclusive Authority and the position to which they have been called

... residing "in the world" ... but not controlled by the world ... "not of the world" ... but serving Christ so He ... alone ... receives all the glory ... a glory that is not confused or defused ... by worldly associations.

"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
(2 Pet. 2:20)

"entangled"
[G1707]
= in weave .. (be woven into)
= be involved in

"Render therefore to all
their dues:
tribute to whom
tribute is due;
custom to whom custom;
fear to whom fear;
honour to whom honour."
-Rom.13:7

Ultimate "fear" and "honor" ... belong only to the Highest Authority ... the One who holds the keys to life and death ... and hell 

... providing much to consider ... regarding man's methods of attempting to heal today ... which in the past ... included an oath promising to "first do no harm." 

... Elders ...

      The position of "Elder" was not considered another office held in the Church.

     In the early Church  "Elder" [Greek #4245] referred to exactly that ... one who was older and therefore wiser and more experienced in addressing spiritual ... as well as ... physical illness.

     An Elder could be a bishop or deacon ... however ... a bishop or deacon could not always be considered an Elder

... unless he was a spiritually ... well-educated ... and an experienced older person.

     No doubt the Apostle Luke ... writer of the Gospel of Luke ... also functioned in the early Church as an elder because he was referred to as ... "beloved physician" ... indicating that his personal ministry to the Church ... also included hands-on ... and perhaps instruction ... in physical care.

     The next logical question is:

     "Where are the 'beloved physicians' in the church today?"

     If we are able to find any physicians ministering in the church today ... another question we could ask is: 

     "Are they practicing God's method of healing or the world's method?

... and ...

     "Does the term ... 'physician' ... describe their God-given calling... or ... their secular job?

      The early Church specifically followed Christ's will and example regarding the priorities of ministry ... therefore both preaching the Gospel ... as well as healing the sick were ... and are to be ... integral functions of the Church today.

Next Chapter ... 

"The Gift of
Spiritual and Physical
Healing
in the Church Today."

* * * * *
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● Click on the gift wrapped in gold 
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Friday, July 10, 2020

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Most Important End Time Mystery: "Mystery of the First Love Lost"





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 ...  covering it with a small mound of dirt on the side of the path ... and carefully placing 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 ... and He was telling me not to be afraid ... 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:

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,

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:

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.
-Rev.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 assured 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:

Nevertheless
I have somewhat
against thee,
because
thou hast
left thy first love.

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.
-Rev. 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 found in this mystery ... in end times.

     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

2011 by Kay Frances Graves.  All rights reserved.  Do not use this material in any manner without prior written consent of author. (Revised 12.7.19)
   











Introduction ...
   
      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 Cor. 2:6-8

     A mystery can be a novel, short story, play, or film ... built on a plot ... that involves an event ... that remains puzzlingly unsettle ... until the very end.

     This definition can also describe the greatest mystery ever told.

     Some think that mysteries are not biblical ... however ... the Scriptures we will be referencing ... all validate ... and/or ... use the very Word ... "mystery" to describe the topic we are addressing.

     This specific mystery ... is "thee" mystery ... God refers to in Revelation 2:4 as "the first love lost."



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;

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:

And
hast borne,
and
hast patience,
and
for my name's sake
hast laboured,
and
hast not fainted.

Nevertheless
I have somewhat
against thee,
because
thou hast
left thy first love.

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.
-Rev. 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 picture 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 ... and 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:

(1)..find the memory or remember what was lost

(2)..repent of disregarding it

(3)..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 has been lost ... so repentance can take place ... the 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 a real Christian can ... lose 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.

     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: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 ... from the pages of the Book of Revelation ... give us this final End Time warning ... if it was not vital to maintaining our relationship with our Lord and Saviour?

     If a church chooses to decide for itself which (even religious) works it wants to engage in ... instead of letting Christ lead in 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.

     However ... 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 the reason ... 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 reality 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 Word ... character ... and wisdom.

     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:

"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 Cor.2:7-8

     They did not care to know.

     Because they:

"loved the darkness rather than the light" because their deeds were evil."
-Jn.3:19

     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 ... fragmented word.

     Therefore even when they had a Jesus ... it was not the real Jesus they had.

     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."

     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 in 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.




                                  
                      

                                              

                                          Chapter 1
   ...The Mystery of His Will

"Having made known unto us
the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure
which he hath purposed in himself:


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: ..."

-Eph.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.

v.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.

v.2
And 
there went out fire
from the LORD,
and
devoured them, 
and
they died before the LORD.

v.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.

v.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.

v.5
So they went near,
and
carried them
in their coats
out of the camp;
as Moses had said.

-Lev.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.

     However ... 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.

     Very similar to a cult ... 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 the Word of God is twisted ... 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 us to understand that everything we have ... belongs to Him ... and He is perfectly able to supply all of our needs.

     God's method of building His Church ... has always been accomplished by sending His people out ... two by two ... forming many small Christian groups within small geographical areas.

     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.

     Nevertheless ... 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:

(1)..led by the Word of God and Holy Spirit

(2)..carried out by faith and the specifics of God's will.

     Caring for the basic needs of others ... whether spiritual or physical ... must first of all be personally provided to:

(1)..those in our own household

(2)..genuine believers

... and ... like the good Samaritan

(3)..those God unexpectedly places in our path of life.

     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 he cared for 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.

     Neither did Mr. Muller look for God to drop provisions out of the sky ... but petitioned God in prayer to 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 ... and through fellowship in the Word with other believers ... and those given the genuine gift and calling to teach.

     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 ... according to God's specific will ... and through the power of His Holy 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?

     The truth is ... man is incapable of even controlling himself.

     This is the reason 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 ... without sin ... staying aware of sin ... and repentant. 

     "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 ... from which of the trees they could eat.

     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 choice ... and 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 centered 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.

"Now therefore put away,
said he,
the strange gods
which are among you,
and
incline your heart
unto the LORD
God of Israel.
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 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 step in discovering the Mystery of the First Love Lost.

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