Proper Preparation for Your Parting from This World
The Bible holds a sobering truth of which no one can dispute and according to the Word of God a date no one is going to miss. There is an appointed time for each person on this earth, a date known by God of which is sure to come. The Bible says, “Just as people are destined to die once and then face judgement…” (Hebrews 9:27) It has been well said, “There will always be taxes and death.” You may figure out how to cheat on taxes, you will not miss being pushed into the river of physical death. Prepared or not – death is sure to come, it is best to be prepared physically and spiritually. As we look at the truths found Hebrews 9:27, we must grasp the solemn facts: 1.) Mankind has an appointed date. 2.) Mankind will only die once. 3.) They will face judgement.
People have a tendency to look at death as an end, according to Scripture it is the entrance into eternity, forever in hell or heaven. The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches there will be a day “people go to their eternal homes while mourners go about the streets.” (Ecclesiastes 12:5) Jesus teaches of eternal life and eternal hell. (Matthew 25:46)
Death is the entrance, like a doorway is an entrance into the place mankind will stay forever. With physical death being the experience to eternity, it is imperative we make Destination Preparations.
Make time to focus on the truths in this series of teachings. Christians can enjoy Holy Spirit revelation as they meditate upon Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever, believes in Me, though he dies [physically], yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Watch for these articles: Mankind Has an Appointment, It Cost to Bury Someone. Mankind Will Only Die Once, Mankind Will Face Judgement, Victory Over Death, You Must Be Born Again and Our Last Testimonial. The truths in these articles will set your spiritual hearts in good order for eternity. These articles can enable Christians to fulfill their call to “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) to those blinded by the world view and the lies of the devil.
Mankind has an Appointed Date
Mankind has an appointed date with physical death. Physical death is a curse given to all mankind because Adam, the first man failed in the first dispensation of mankind, which was obedience to God’s spoken word. The Genesis account says, “for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:18) Another Old Testament passage of Scripture says, “All go to the same place, all come from dust and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20) There is a New Testament Scripture, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men…” (Romans 5:12)
In proper preparation of life, Proverbs 6:6 gives wise advise, “Go to the ant… consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares…” Just like taxes cost, the preparing our bodies for burial and expenses left behind will cost our families a lot. Just as the ant has foresight to prepare her food for the months to come, without anyone but her Creator moving her, wise people start as soon as possible, preparing physically, financially and spiritually for their date with physical death. Ignoring or denying what our Creator has informed us about physical death will not prevent or delay the date He has destined for us all. The Psalmist asked this question, “What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?” (Psalm 89:84) “Sheol” (שְׁאֹל šeʾōl) is a noun meaning the world of the dead, the grave.
A Biblical answer holds a truth about the psalmist question. Hosea writes for the Lord, “I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from death.” (Hosea 13:14) All human flesh will be called forth from the grave, either the resurrection of Christians or the resurrection of those who died without Christ as Savior and Lord. The Book of Daniel tells us, “…those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2) The Bible says Jesus was made lower than the angles so He may taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9) His victory over death, being raised from the grave, by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11) shows His authority over death. Christians put their trust in Him and they will join in the resurrection of those who died in Christ. Mankind has an appointed time to physically die, and their flesh will be resurrected from the grave. Which resurrection are you prepared for, the resurrection of Christians or the resurrection of those who have not surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.
It Cost to Bury Someone / Christian Burial Oversight
After Jesus gave Himself unto death for the sins of mankind, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus laid Jesus in the tomb. In preparation for Jesus’ body, they placed Him in an empty tomb, one owned by Joseph. (Matthew 27:59-60) They wrapped His body with strips of linen mixed with myrrh and aloes, an amount of seventy-five pounds in weight in accordance to the Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-40) Just as the servants of the Lord made sure Jesus got a proper burial, we must do our duty in burying our loved ones in accordance of the times we live in.
The amount paid by Nicodemus represents a very costly burial and we should be willing to help bury our loved ones. The Biblical text written by the beloved John indicates there was little time for Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea to go a purchase the spices or the linens. Therefore, everything was purchased before Jesus death on the Cross. Christians must make preparations financially, especially in making arrangements so God fearing people can oversee their funeral services in a way which glorify the Lord.
It is a blessing to have those who have a reverent fear of the Lord make the arrangements for your funeral. Servants of the Lord who have been faithful in the Lord’s work should enjoy having others who are faithful in the Lord’s work have the influential part of their life celebration service. Let us read of what God did for Jesus, “Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus. …He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.” (John 19:38-19) The Bible says, Mary Magdalene and Salome bought spices and perfumes so they might anoint Jesus’ body. (Mark 16:1, Luke 23:55) Nicodemus was given instructions by Jesus on what it means to be born again if they want to enjoy eternal life with Christ now, and in heaven. Joseph of Arimathea, was said to be rich (Matt 27:57), an important member of the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50) who apparently was both a good and righteous person (Luke 23:50) and one who lived with the expectation of God fulfilling the promise of the coming of the kingdom (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51). Beyond these descriptions he was also said to be a disciple of Jesus…” (Matthew 27:57) According to Scripture, if you are a Christian, let the children of God have the key influences over your life celebration.
We are bound by regulations and law to bury our families, loved ones, especially those faithful in the Lord’s work in accordance to the customs of our day. If possible, it is a powerful statement to the community to have those who know the truths of salvation and are followers of Christ be in charge of testimony at the child of God’s life celebration service.
Let the Holy Spirit touch your heart with these questions: Are you prepared for your physical death? Are the proper arrangements in order?
Your Obituary and Last Testimonial
Physical death will come and Christians do not have to let the world view dictate what their life celebration message should be. In Luke we read of a passage of Scripture which lays out the importance of the Gospel being proclaimed above burying the dead. We read, “And Jesus said… ‘Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60) We need the professionals to assist in preparing our love one’s carcass for burial, they protect our community from the devastation which can come if the deceased are not prepared properly for burial.
Many scholars translate Luke 9:60 figuratively, “Let those who are spiritually dead take care of their own dead.” Frances, R.T. says, “This is a description of those outside the disciple-group as lacking spiritual life, “Let them bury the dead.” Christians have a command from Christ to make sure Jesus Christ is glorified in their life celebration services. It cannot be expressed enough, let those who have mature Christian character help you with your obituary and last testimonial. It is imperative your obituary include: First, make a statement which states they have through repentance trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. (John 1:12; 20:31; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 20:21) Second, they had exercised their Holy Spirit gifts through sacrificial love for the good of Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ and for the good of mankind. (1 Corinthians 12-14:3) Thirdly, they make the way for people to become a disciple of Christ. (Matthew 28:19)
Let those in charge of your life celebration testimony know: You know and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. What your Holy Spirit gifts are and how you sacrificially used them for the good of the Lord and all of mankind. Share with them your part in the Great Commission. Let people know your favorite Scripture and Christian music. Who you are married to (if that be your status)? People want to know who your children, grand-children and great-children are, along with your family members. Be sure to mention family members who have passed on. Share your hobbies, your poems, movies and secular music preferences. People enjoy knowing your community service, clubs and which memorial to support. Leave a final message by informing people what you want them to know and learn from God.
Is your obituary and last testimonial ready and good order, if you should pass on today?
Mankind Will Die Once Then Face Judgement
The Book of Hebrews says, “people are destined to die once.” The appointment of God for mankind is to die once (ἅπαξ hápax). All relationships on this earth severed, no longer to be a wife or husband. The influential role of parent, friendship and all acquaintances on this earth will be no more. The high road is to put your best foot forward now, once you are gone, there will be nothing you can add. Death is leaving this world to enter the world of eternal blessings or eternal anguish. There is no changing your destination once you enter the realm of the physically dead. It is either a huge comfort for those who die in Christ or a matter of eternal terror for the wicked, those who die with their sins still holding them in bondage. The Bible says, “The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.” (Ezekiel 18:20b)
The “righteous” (צַדִּיק ṣaddiyq) here are the people of God who in conduct and character hunger to be conformed to God’s Holy standards. The “wicked” (רָשָׁע rāšāʿ) here are people who pursue their own evil desires although they live among righteous people. The final authority of God’s written Word over-rides all writings, all the world view points and false teachings. Any teaching that gives mankind a second chance or the opportunity to be interceded for by any other means other than turning to and trusting in Christ before physical death is false.
After the physical death of mankind “[they must face] judgement.” “Judgement” (κρίσις krísis), meaning having to face the verdict of guilt. At the White Throne Judgement seat of God there will be no slick lawyer to defend their case. God will hand out judgement. There is another judgement for Christians. It is referred to as the Judgement seat of Christ or the reward seat. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” The Judgement Seat of Christ is a time in the future when there will be the divine evaluation of the faithfulness of those who have used their Holy Spirit gifts, the things the Lord has given them and their opportunities to serve God, Jesus Christ and mankind. This is the time when there will be the giving or withholding of rewards.
Faith, trust and faithful service to Jesus Christ insures eternal blessings and rewards at the Judgement seat of Christ. To reject the price Jesus paid on the Cross for the sins of the world leads to an appearance at the White Throne Judgement. Make proper preparations for time destined for all of mankind.
Victory Over Death
The Bible says, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) These passages talk about the day when Christians will get a resurrected body and will have a body which will live forever. There is another passage of Scripture which gives the hope of being with the Lord when our bodies pass into physical death. The Apostle Paul in writing about “Awaiting the New Body” wrote, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) The certainty of physical death being defeated is by having faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
There are some passages of Scriptures which should be read at the grave side service of the true born again Christians. The Apostle Paul writes, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
The Bible says we are living letters, know and read of all men. Everyone can tell who really believes the Lord’s teachings and who does not.
The Lord’s victory over death includes spiritual death. Until people become born again in Christ they are spiritually dead, even though they are physically alive. Colossians 2:13 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.”
The Lord’s victory over spiritual death enables Christians to walk in step with the Holy Spirit as He enlightens them to the truths of God’s Word, which enables them to determine and live out God’s will for them. You can enjoy the Lord’s victory over spiritual death now, so you may make preparations to enjoy His victory over physical death for the children of God.
You Must Be Born Again
In preparation for victory over spiritual and physical death, we must be spiritually born again. Jesus taught Nicodemus, who was a spiritual leader of the Lord’s time, one should examine themselves so they can determine their final destination. “Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. …you must be born again.” (John 3:3;7b) This truth completely changes how we live, which eventually leads us to our permanent destination. Therefore, it is imperative we have a Biblical understanding on being born again. The Bible tells us to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course you fail the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) The Biblical truth on born again is, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Born “again” (ἄνωθεν ánōthen) “being from God, from above. Meaning it only comes from God.”
Until you are born-again, you are spiritually dead. You may even attend church, use church language, and hang out with professing Christians. But unless you are born-again it is like dressing a corpse in clean, fresh clothing. God alone can give physical life when you are born, and God alone can give spiritual life to you in what Jesus calls being born-again.
When God supernaturally gives you a heart of flesh and puts His Spirit in you, you become sensitive and alive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Only then are you able to determine and do the will of God. Once the Holy Spirit of God has entered your spiritual heart to implant the life of Christ within you, you will never be the same! Guaranteed!
Is your spiritual heart hungry to know the will of God for you? Are you hungry to know God’s truth while being exposed to a world view and the lies of the devil? Is there a prompting of the Holy Spirit moving you to seek God’s truths? Does the Holy Spirit confirm in you that you are a child of God? Make preparation for you final destination.
Grasping God as Our Father
In this teaching we are going to look at the Biblical accounts of the term “Abba, Father” – taking time to enjoy God as our Father in Heaven.
In Mark we read of Jesus praying, “‘Abba, Father’ ‘…everything is possible for you. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Mark 14:36) The writer of the Book of Galatians tells us, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” – (Galatians 4:6) The Book of Romans, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:14-17)
This Father’s Day let us grasp the privilege of being given the right to call the God of heaven, “Abba Father.” (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) The passages we have just read. 1.) Show Jesus’ dependence on His Father, thus teaching us of the necessity of being totally dependent on God’s will in our lives. 2.) Our privilege and enablement to cry out to God, Abba Father is a revelation of the Holy Spirit of Christ. 3.) Our privilege of calling God, Abba Father is through the Spirit of adoption, becoming an heir of God and co-heir with Christ.
The Word Abba
The term Abba is a Chaldee word expressing warm affection with an assured confidence. (Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely) Abba is the Aramaic word for Father, spoken along with the Greek term Father (πατήρ patḗr) expresses Jesus’ dependence on God, His Father as He faced the suffering of the crucifixion. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Mk 14:36). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)
Abba, Father used in any of the Biblical text is used in reference to a solemn responsible, adult address to a Father who is in heaven reflecting intimacy and affection. (Hardin, L. T. (2016). Prayer. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.)
When a child is afflicted, suffering the consequences of bad choices and is in the need of provision they cannot provide, he or she cries out to their father with a confidence, in a solemn responsible adult address fully dependent, knowing and trusting that their father will be there. Pennie and I are in agreement, it is our hope and prayer, our children know they can come home, whenever they are in need, no matter what circumstances they may find themselves in.
Understanding God as Abba Father opens our hearts to trust in God, no matter what circumstance our sinful nature has put us in, no matter what worldly view has led us to live by and no matter what lie of the devil we have believed. God wants us to know – we can come to Him.
Jesus use of the term Abba Father affirms His intimate relationship with His Father. (Moo, D. J. (1994). Romans. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st ce)
Thus, Jesus acknowledging, “…all things are possible for you…” along with the plea for His mercy, “…Remove this cup from Me…” Jesus is about the feel the pain of all the sins of the world, He is about to give up His life for the sins of all mankind. He trusted in His Father’s mercy and grace. Yet, He submits to His Father’s will, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” It must be understood, the Scriptures teach us His Father gave Him victory over sin and death, Jesus rose from the grave to be seated at the right of His Father and intercedes for you and I. (Mark 16:9; Romans 8:34)
Holy Spirit Cries, Abba Father
The writer of the Book of Galatians tells us, “God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Galatians 4:6) Just as God sent His Son into the world, so He sends the Holy Spirit of His Son into the spiritual heart of people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord. (George, T. (1994). Galatians (Vol. 30, p. 306). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
According to the whole council of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit of Christ is sent by both God and Jesus. (John 15:26) Jesus said the Holy Spirit will guide His disciples in “…all truth.” (John 16:13) The writer of the Book of Romans tells us, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:9-11)
The Holy Spirit, whom led and empowered Jesus in His human life, is the Person of influence in the life-principles of the child of God. (Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 4, p. 137). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.)
There is a life principle which should intrigue us Galatians 4:6, a truth being a revelation more than an enablement. In Romans 8, we read of the Holy Spirit moving and enabling us to cry out, “Abba Father.” In Galatians, could it be it as it says, “God sent His Spirit [of Christ] into our hearts Who calls out, Abba Father.”
In Matthew 16 we read of Jesus asking His disciples, “But who do you say that I am? Peter’s revelation was, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Grasps what Jesus said, “Blessed are you… for this is not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17) Touching God’s heart first comes with receiving revelation of who He and His Son is, then praise and public acclamation. This Father’s Day, why not invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate into our spiritual hearts the truth, God is Abba Father.
Abba Father Trough Adoption
The writer of the Book of Romans tells Christians they, “…have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”
In Roman law, through adoption all previous relationships are severed. The new father exercises authority over the new son, and the new son enters into the privileges and responsibilities of the natural son. (Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 182). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
The child of God’s relationship with his old nature should be done away with. The influence of his past which held him in slavery to his sinful nature, the world view and the lies of the devil now served.
Being an heir to Kingdom authority has its privileges and there are responsibilities in his life in Christ. The privileges of being an heir of God and co-heir with Christ are: Being a child of God (John 1:12); having access to God (Romans 5:2); being the temple of the Holy Spirit of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19); being a vital part of the Body of Christ exercising Spiritual gifts for the church and all mankind (1 Corinthians 12:13); blessed with all spiritual blessings consisting of protection, provision and guidance (Ephesians 1:13); along with having a permanent place in heaven. (1 Peter 1:3-4; Evans, W., & Coder, S. M. (1974). (The great doctrines of the Bible (Enl. ed., p. 317). Chicago: Moody Press.
The responsibility of being an heir of God and co-heir with Christ are: The privilege of sharing Jesus’ life brings the responsibility of producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Colossians 1:10) God calling us sons gives us the privilege of knowing His will brings the responsibility of obeying His Word. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 354). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.) The privilege of having Holy Spirit gifts brings the responsibility of exercising those gifts through sacrificial love. The privilege of teaching the Word of God brings the responsibility of studying to show oneself approved to God.
Jesus gives an evaluation to check our hearts with: “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I am from God…” (John 8:42) In His giving the promise of the Holy Spirit, Who reveals to us and enables us to cry Abba Father, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) When the Lord was asked, “…how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” (John 14:22) “Jesus answered…, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’” (John 14:23-24)
Resting in the Comfort of His Mercy
Resting in the comfort of His mercy has a solid foundation in Hebrews 4:14-16, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Here are truths which show us the character of God being revealed to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is able to perfectly know mankind and perfectly reveal to us His Father’s mercy which enables us to rest in the mercy of God.
Genuine faith in God’s mercy is established and fed by knowing key words found in the writer of the Book of Hebrews which lays down the truth – Jesus is the final High Priest who stands before the Throne of God, interceding for us. (Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 7:25) There are three key words which need to be understood, which can help us rest on God’s mercy.
- Confession (ὁμολογία homología) means to agree with, have an allegiance to, and acknowledge Christ as the final High Priest. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” The confession which enables us to rest in God’s mercy comes from Holy Spirit illumination of the truths of the written Word of God. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 417). New York:; Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
- The beloved John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” After agreeing with God on what sin is, through repentance, receiving Christ as Savior and Lord we have forgiveness and a purifying from the bondage of sin which held us captive. The drunkard no longer bound to drink, the sexually immoral no longer living a life of sexual impurity. The adulterer no longer bound by their life of adultery. All the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19) is broken and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) is now able be manifested in the life of a Christian.
The truth is new life in Christ, the old sinful nature is gone and the new nature under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit takes control. (2 Corinthians 5:17) There is now hope, faith and genuine love.
- Sympathize (συμπαθέω sumpathéō) meaning to be compassionate. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Jesus is able to share our feelings in the sense He completely understands and feels in His heart the anguish of temptations, afflictions and trials. (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 293). New York: United Bible Societies.) Hebrews 2:17-18 says, “For this reason He [Jesus] had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus sympathizing is beyond, I feel bad for someone, but rather it moves Him to want to help, empower and comfort our souls.
- If we see a person who is overcome with a sin we have a tendency to feel bad for them, hoping they can find some help. Some feel, well you are getting what you deserve. The sympathy from the Lord goes beyond feeling bad to actually supernaturally helping the person overcome. There are many testimonies of people you have enjoyed the Lords forgiveness and empowerment to be overcomers. Beating alcoholism, no longer being a thief or a liar. There are people who were once untrusted employees, now being loyal, productive people.
- Confidence (παρρησία parrēsía) meaning to be bold in asking the Lord for help, knowing He will intercede. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Hebrews 10:35 says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
- When people are confident God forgives the repentant, enables the humble and empowers the faithful, doors of opportunity opened so they may know they are in the will of God.
The Apostle Peter boldly proclaimed his loyalty to the Lord, (Matthew 26:33) yet before the rooster crowed, Peter denied the Lord 3 times. (Matthew 26:69-79) In John 21 we read of Jesus reinstating Peter back into the work of the Lord. He became a great Apostle used of God powerfully. God’s mercy and grace is again enjoyed by Saul, who was the persecutor of the early church of Christ. After becoming a loyal disciple of Christ, Saul’s name was changed to the Apostle Paul, used of God as a great preacher, teacher and apostle. (1Timothy 2:7) In Scripture, there are many who have been sinners saved by grace and then used of God.
There are those in modern times, people loving and living in their sin who God expressed His grace and mercy upon. There is the story of the great Hymn, “Amazing Grace.” It was written by John Newton, however, what you may not know – he was more than a slave trader. His willful disregard for all that is right and holy led him into a life plagued with despair, dangers at sea, abuse, public floggings, destitution, depression, near drownings and miraculous escapes. Although many of these life conflicts opened his eyes a little – he would return to his life controlled by sin.
There was one storm so violent – John chose to get right with God. Two years after his conversion, God made the way for John to marry his high school sweet-heart. He spent fourteen years studying for the ministry. He later became a pastor publishing a Hymnal which held 281 of his own work.
Another man who learned to rest on God’s grace and mercy is comedian Jeff Alan. While his life was being destroyed by alcohol and drugs, he tried a 12 step program. It was not until he was filing for bankruptcy, nearly losing his career, wife and family he opened himself to God’s grace and mercy through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Jeff, a man who was a bitter and spiteful, is now a joyful man who loves his wife, people and serving the Lord. He shares the Lord’s message through humor all over the world with most of his speaking engagements being sold out. He is a man who can share the truth about God’s grace, mercy and ever-present help in time of great need.
The message for the servants of the Lord to get outside the church walls is God’s mercy is available through repentance looking to Jesus Christ as Lord. There is a sure hope of God’s mercy, through Christ.
Grasping God’s New Year’s Revelation
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Another translation says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint but blessed is he who keeps the law.” This translation tells us, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18)
Make time to seek out the truths to two words: 1.) “Prophetic Vision” (חָזוֹן ḥāzôn) means “divine communication from God to His people, which are to be communicated to others and if disregarded leads to certain doom.” (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 325). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers; Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (p. 269). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.) 2.) “Law (תּוֹרָה tôrāh),” in Proverbs 29:18 is a noun meaning instructions from God regarding the general way of living which pleases Him. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 1220). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Holladay, W. L., & Köhler, L. (2000). A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (p. 388). Leiden: Brill.)
God’s revelation for us all year is to carefully digest well-spoken or well-written slogans for inspiration because they may only intrigue the human flesh, are birthed from the world view which could be a lie from the devil. The best resolution is to be able to say, “…we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) This is accomplished by praying, “What do you desire of me this year Lord?”
His New Year Revelation for You this Year Is
1.) “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8) This is not a light New Year’s resolutions made with a half-hearted approach, it is a command. Repentance is a changed life turning from that which is sinful to all that is pleasing to the Lord. Repentance is not feeling sorry for something you have done. God’s revelation is, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:7) Repentance is ceasing to commit the same sins and seeking the power of God to overcome the sins which hold you in bondage.
2.) Mature in your walk with the Lord. The Bible says you are to be, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3) The author of the Book of Hebrews tells us, “..solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14) Christians who feed upon the Word of God are skilled in living for the Lord in ways that cause others to consider their relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayerfully consider studying God’s Word seriously for your New Year’s resolution.
3.) Spiritually feed on the Word of God. Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) People can become so focused on meeting physical needs they forget there is food for the soul which needs to be fed as well. This passage of Scripture reveals the truth, God’s Word of promise, protection and direction is for every part of our lives. Every key need in life has truths which can be discovered in God’s Word, but it must be sought out like our need for physical food. Like our body’s nourishment is met by preparing food to eat, our souls are only fed when we prepare to read, study and allow the Holy Spirit to give us revelation of God’s truths. For the best result of physical nourishment, we should eat several times daily, we need to make time to fill our minds the Word of God daily, meditate on it throughout the day and ask Him to enable us to live out what has been revealed to us. When Jesus was dealing with Satan’s attacks, He did not use miraculous powers to reject Satan’s lures. He used the same resource which is available to us every day, the written Word of God.
Praying the Lord, through His Word and revelation through the Holy Spirit will make your vision clear this year as you seek Him with all “your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Will you make it your resolution to seek God’s truths to live by this year? Will you diligently search the Word of God for a heart check?
Who Do You Partner With
The word of God holds a simple truth in the midst of Scripture which can protect us from life’s trap and snares. It seems like as long as the internet is the key tool used to communicate and there is world-wide awareness of tragic events, there will be that continued threat of ministries and outreaches taking advantage of people who have generous hearts. The King James Bible holds a simple truth which is a solid guide to follow, “know those who labor among you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) To “know” (aida) generally means to know instinctively, to have intimate or close relationship with or have knowledge of the work someone is doing for the Lord. (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)
This brief passage of Scripture is in the midst of several brief exhortations. Each one is quite capable of standing on its own, just like many of the Apostle Paul’s instructions and benedictions of which holds truths for all who read them. (Martin, D. M. (1995). 1, 2 Thessalonians (Vol. 33, p. 170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Although the context deals with how people are to respect and esteem those who are over them “in the Lord,” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) the King James Bible uses, “to know” (aida) is a key truth to focus on.
If you look at this passage of Scripture in the other translations, it could appear we are simply to show respect and esteem “those who work hard, care for us in the Lord and admonish us” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) just because someone holds a position in the church structure. Not knowing the application of this one key truth which is wonderfully interpreted by the King James Bible, “to know” (aida) has opened the door to people holding religious position who are not appointed by the Lord nor do they have the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Thus, people have been sexually assaulted, the spiritually blind lead the blind and the innocent have been scammed out of their hard-earned money.
All mature outreaches which deserve your prayers, participation and financial support will be upfront with their vision, their call and be fully accountable. We see this truth in the Biblical account of Peter’s work with the Lord.
The Biblical accounts of the Apostle Peter’s outreach lays out the foundational truths to “[knowing]” those who labor among us. The Bible says, “The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the Word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him… Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened… When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God.” (Acts 11:1-4, 18)
A successful outreach of any kind begins with a desire to be a “devout” person, one who wants to please God. (Acts 10:1-2) A “devout” (eusebes) person is respectful to God and the things regarding to worship and honoring Him. (Complete Word Study of the Bible; Vines Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words; Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament) A successful outreach that meets the needs of others and brings praise to the Lord must be birthed from a heart that is “God-fearing” (phobeo) meaning to have a reverential obedience toward God. (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon)
In determining what work for the Lord, you participate in begins with determining if the outreach is center around pleasing God and pointing the people you help to the Lord’s blessing and intervening for them. This is the foundation for receiving revelation from God. Cornelius and the Apostle Peter were God-fearing and devout servants of the Lord, thus God gave them the same revelation. (Acts 10:1-22)
Ministries or outreaches must be clear in their vision, and they must be able to substantiate their work. (Acts 10:23-48) A ministry worth your participation and financial support must have witnesses who are known to be able to give a trustworthy account. (Act 10:45; 11:12) The Bible says, “…these six brothers were with me.” (Acts 11:12) These brothers were Christians who were able to determine what a real work of God was. It should be noted that Peter took double the number of witness needed to substantiate a testimony. (1 Timothy 5:19) No doubt Peter expected trouble and criticism – he wisely and correctly did what it took to get people to accept, understand and prove his work was genuine.
When you are considering participating in a work which helps those who have needs, consider learning from a quality ministry which can walk you through the process of determining a genuine work. Make sure you partner with ministries or outreaches which look for overseers who will hold them accountable as Peter was in his work with the Lord.