Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Letter from Hell

Some of you may have seen the Chick Tract called The Letter with a similar theme to the video below:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sneak Preview: Christ Died 4U

Our latest podcast presents seven minutes of wisdom entitled “Christ Died For You.” The core scripture for this teaching is Romans 5:6-10:

While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly. Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [resurrection] life.

What does this scripture mean to you?  What should it mean?  Listen to this seven-minute podcast to find out!  This podcast is available by clicking the icon below (or, right-click to download the MP3).

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Word About the Gifts of the Spirit

We begin with this foreword:

The word of God is the Tree of Life; and this Tree of Life is in the church today in the person of the Holy Spirit. He was given to the church on the Day of Pentecost to complete the divine order of the church of our Lord. His work is to glorify Christ, the Living Word of God and the Corner Stone of the church; to convict men of sin and to reconcile them unto God through His chosen vessels; to teach truth; to intercede for the saints with groanings too deep for words; to give strength; to aid and comfort---to manifest the attributes of our Heavenly Father in the Body of Christ; and to give gifts to men for the edifying of the same Body. Therefore there is nothing of more importance in the church than the doctrine of the influences and special gifts of the Holy Spirit. These doctrines should be received and regarded with the utmost respect.

From our studies we have learned that there was division in the church at Corinth; they were not of one mind and one accord. Usually at the root of division are a people of exaggerated self-importance---ego; and its first cousin, arrogance, most often accompanies this ego. Where such people are seated in the congregation or in the pulpit there is division; and division brings with it many, many other problems. After addressing the problems of quarrels, immorality, and the error in their communion services and etc. the Apostle Paul begins to address the abuse of the gifts of the Spirit. He had no doubt been consulted in regard to them by some of the members of the church at Corinth, and probably various questions had been proposed, which he now proceeded to answer.

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.”

____________________(1st Corinthians 12:1 NASU)

The whole discussion here shows that he refers to the various endowments, gifts, or graces that had supposedly been bestowed in different degrees on the members of the church at Corinth ---including the distinctions in graces, and in degrees of office and rank, which had been made in the church in general, as well as the extraordinary endowments of the gift of tongues which was presumed to have been bestowed upon many (1st Corinthians 14).

We use the words “supposedly” and “presumed” because of the abuses. Among carnal minded members of the church the gifts had become a status symbol. Therefore many were claiming to have that which they had not received. No doubt there were many that their gifts were genuine. But the abuses had caused many to stumble.

Therefore the subject is of so much importance that it demands particular attention and special care. The Apostle Paul states that he would not have them ignorant (KJV) in regard to the nature of those special gifts of the Spirit; he instructs them on the attitude with which they should be received; and of the rules to which they who are thus favored should be subjected; and the feelings and views which should be cherished in all the members of the church in regard to them.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.”

____________________(1st Corinthians 12:4 NASU)

There are different endowments conferred on the members of the Body of Christ. Produced by the same Spirit---the Holy Spirit of God. The reason he refers to these various endowments is evidently to show those whom he addressed, that since they are all produced by the same Holy Spirit, have all the same divine origin, and are all intended to serve some important purpose and goal in the Body of Christ, the church, that therefore, none are to be despised; nor is a man to regard himself as elevated to a lofty position that would authorized him to treat another with contempt. The Spirit of God has divided and conferred those gifts according to His sovereign will; and His arrangements should be regarded with submission, and the favors of these gifts, which He confers, should be received with thankfulness and a willingness to serve.

“And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.”

____________________(1st Corinthians 12:5 NASU)

The phrase “varieties ministries” properly denotes that there are different positions of service that are to be regarded with special respect in the ministries that Christ has appointed. Those ministries are specified in 1st Corinthians 12:9-10,28.

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

____________________(1st Corinthians 12:9-10,28)

The statement “and the same Lord” refers to the Lord Jesus, by whom these various orders of ministers were appointed, and under whose control they are. The reason for this statement is to show that all these offices had their appointment from Him; and that since all were His appointment, and all were necessary, no one should be proud and think of himself as being in an elevated station; and no one should be depressed, or feel degraded because he has been designated to, what seems to be to the carnal minded, a more lowly office. All who have been endowed with special gifts of the Spirit should feel honored to be chosen of the Lord, but at the same time they should view themselves as humble servants of the people, for that is their calling.

“There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.”

____________________(1st Corinthians 12:6 NASU)

There are different operations on the mind and heart, and different powers given to man, in building up the Body of Christ. Or it may be, possibly, that the Apostle Paul refers to the works of God mainly for “illustration,” and by the word “effects” means the works that God has performed in creation. His works are various. They are not all alike, though they come from the same power. The sun, the moon, the stars, the earth are different; the trees of the forest, the animal wild life, the birds of the air, the inhabitants of the sea are different; the flowers, and shrubs, and herbs are different from each other; yet, as much they may vary, they are formed by the same hand; are the productions of the same God, are to be regarded as proofs of the same wisdom and power. The same variety or multiplicity should be expected in the people of His church; and we should expect that the endowments would be various also.

As stated before, the same God produces all these operations. They should not, therefore, be undervalued or despised; nor should anyone be unduly elated, or pride himself on what has been conferred on him; in other words, they definitely should not be viewed as a status symbol.

God’s work is seen everywhere. It is seen in the delicate insect’s wing the same as in the mighty limbs of the elephant; it is seen in the lowly violet the same as in the loftiest tree of the forest. All God’s children therefore, should regard themselves as under God’s direction, and should submit to His arrangements. If God’s people regard their endowments as gifts from Him they will be thankful for them, and they will not be inclined to despise or attempt to look down upon others who have been placed in, what seems to be to some, a more humble position in the church.

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

____________________(1st Corinthians 12:7 NASU)

The word “manifestation” means properly that which makes manifest, conspicuous, or plain; that which illustrates, or makes any thing seen or known. Thus, conduct manifests the condition or state of the inner man; and the actions are a manifestation, or “showing forth” of the inner character and feelings. The idea the Apostle confers upon the reader here is, that there is given to God’s children, such gifts, endowments, or graces as shall “manifest’ or “make known” the work and nature of the Holy Spirit’s operations on the mind and heart; through such endowments the Spirit makes known the attributes of God to the peoples who have eyes to see and ears to hear (Galatians 5:22-23). All that He produces in the mind and heart is a manifestation of His character and work, in the same way as the works of God in the visible creation are a manifestation of His perfections.

The Apostle is speaking only of those who are the church of the Living God, and His declaration should be confined to them alone. Whatever may be true of the Holy Spirit’s work on the hearts and minds of peoples of the world, this statement should be confined wholly to God’s children, the Spirit of God gives to each child of His such graces and endowments as He pleases; that He distributes His gifts to all, not equally, but in a manner which He shall choose; and that the purpose of this is, that all that belong to Christ should use His endowments for the common good of the Body of Christ.

James C Sanford

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Oneness Principle

In the letter to the Ephesians we read,

----“for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church .”

(Ephesians 5:29-32 NASU)
Although the great principles of the relationship between husband and wife are discussed beginning in Ephesians 5:22, the Apostle Paul says he is speaking of the relationship between Christ and the church---His flesh and blood body in the earth.   In verse 31 the Apostle refers to Genesis 2:24 when he quotes that “the two shall become ONE FLESH.”  Here you have, in the natural, two distinct, separate, individual entities and, yet, God says they are not two---but ONE. This is the “oneness principle,” not just one spirit, but also– “one flesh,” joined in union by the word of God.

The Apostle reiterates this principle in 1st Corinthians 6:15-17, when he says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?”   Naturally the members of Christ body are also partakers of His righteousness.   And he also asks, “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her?” And again, naturally, the one “who joins himself to a harlot” is one with her sins.   Again the Apostle quotes from Genesis 2:24, “For He says, the two will become one flesh.”   The “harlot” here is a type of sinfulness or worldliness.   Then it must be that the one who clings to the sins of the world is also one with the world.   And in verse 17, “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”   Here the Apostle seems to emphasize that the one who is one in the flesh with Yeshua is also one spirit with Him.  

Our Lord’s cross was a circumcision of the unclean flesh of mankind. He took on our sins on the cross, put them to death in His body and soul, was buried and then raised up cleansed of the sins of man. This is referred to as a baptism into death and a resurrection unto life.

Abraham’s wife Sarah is a type of the church.   Sarah, being a woman, could not be circumcised in the same manner as her husband Abraham.   But such a circumcision for her was not necessary; because of her love and faith toward her husband she had left her former life behind and became submissive and obedient to her husband. Thus she was one with her husband (Genesis 2:24) and therefore, his circumcision became her circumcision, which is seen as a circumcision of the heart (1st Peter 3:5-6), and so she was included in the covenant God had made with her husband Abraham.

The bride of Christ is the church.   And like Sarah, the church cannot be circumcised in the same manner as her Lord.   In other words, she cannot go back in time and be crucified with Christ.   But such a crucifixion is not necessary; because the church loves her Husband, she leaves her former life behind and is submissive and obedient to her Lord.   And according to the marriage principle of oneness, through faith in the word of God, she is one flesh with Yeshua. Therefore His cross experience---that is, His circumcision becomes her circumcision; His death, burial and resurrection becomes His bride’s death, burial and resurrection---His covenant with God the Father becomes His bride’s covenant also.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

(2nd Corinthians 5:17 NASU)

The phrase “if anyone is in Christ,” simply means to be united to Christ by faith in Him; He gives the example---to be in Him as the branch is in the vine---that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it (John 15:2).   To be in Christ is a loving, affectionate and close union; and all our joy, peace and support is from Him. All our strength is derived from Him; and we partake of His fullness, and share in His love and glory, as the branch partakes of the strength and vigor of the parent vine.

The word “creature” denotes that which has been created.   Thus, he that is a “new creature” is a new creation.   Therefore if any man is in Christ God has wrought such a change in them as to make it proper to say of them that they are new creatures.

It is vain for a man to profess a union to Yeshua in the spirit and the flesh, while he continues to willfully sin.   Such a person is unchanged in his heart and life for he is still dead in his transgression; for he that is in Christ, having Christ dwelling in his heart by faith, by the works of God is a new creature; his old sin nature is dead: he died a child of Satan, he is raised up with Christ a child of God; he was a slave of sin, and his works were death; now he is made free from sin, and being led of the Spirit, bears fruit unto holiness; processing eternal life. He was before full of pride and wrath; he is now meek and humble. Not knowing God, he formerly loved the world and lived for this world; he now has God for his portion, and he no longer looks at things which are seen, but at the unseen treasures of the spirit. Therefore, old things are passed away. Thus he is not merely mended, but he is newly made; by the powerful word of God light has come; formerly, all was of darkness, and as a result, was in chaotic disorder; now, there is a new creation, which God Himself owns as His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), and which he can look on and pronounce---“very good.”


James C Sanford

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Pain of the Cross

We saw this great cartoon at the Spirituality Guru blog and thought we would pass it along. It really touched us as we contemplate the deep message.

Check it out...

Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross
Cartoon: Carrying the Cross

As the old folks used to say when I was a tyke: No Cross, No Crown.