What Ireland Now Celebrates…culture of Death

 

The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.(Deuteronomy 28:56-57)

But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.  Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.  For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?( Luke 23:28-31)

 

nintchdbpict000409048226It is grieving to see crowds of Irish woman shouting victoriously over the removal of what were once Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws.

What is it that they think they are celebrating?

  • Some form of woman’s “liberation”. As in America, and the rest of the western world, seductive slogans such as ” My Body,My Choice…” promise women liberty and sexual autonomy.
  • Woman’s Equality With Men. Since Women now have full power and choice as to whether or not they would bear children, they will supposedly now attain full equality with men to earn wages, enter any career and rise to the top, and be anything they want to be
  • Improved  marriages, by relieving the stress of pregnancy and of having too many children in a family.
  • Less Poverty and illegitimacy. No more “unwanted children”, every child will be a “Wanted child”,
  • Women will gain new respect in society as the dark ages of the “barefoot and pregnant” wife pass away into the brave new world of autonomy and mutual respect between male and female.
  • Less child abuse, if every child is now a “Wanted child”, it stands to reason that abortion will eliminate child abuse in Ireland.

But like any bargain the Devil strikes, these are dark and empty promises, and easily disproven by the experiences of the last fifty years in the West.

  • The Apostle Peter warned of false teachers who “Promise Liberty, although they themselves are slaves of corruption”. Abortion doesn’t liberate women, it debases them deeply. In fact the act of abortion itself destroys that which is uniquely womanly about women, ie nurturing and caring, motherliness.

As abortion becomes more commonplace, general respect for women plunges in any formerly Judeo/Christian society. No fault divorce laws, hyper sexualization of women, girls and even children, and the acceptance of homosexuality are all deep forms of contempt for women.

What is a woman and what makes a woman special? Abortion is a total denial of the sanctity of life and of the sanctity of the womb in particular. This is what Irish women are wildly celebrating now.

  • Abortion encourages a lax attitude about sex, divorcing it from fruitfulness in the minds of those who accept it, which has many unforeseen consequences. It was “the Pill”first and then abortion which gave us the disastrous “sexual revolution”, which has all but destroyed romance and love in the west.
  • If sexuality has no relationship with fruitfulness, neither does it have any lasting consequences. Sexual “partners are interchangeable, and there is no unique compliment between man and woman, thus our modern gender confused societies.

When people develop a casual and lax idea about sex, it is invariably women who pay the highest personal price. Virtually every “easy divorce” plunges the woman and any children with her into poverty. The singular reason for poverty in America is single motherhood.

When an abortion supporting man impregnates a consenting woman, and doesn’t want to take care of either the woman or the baby, He can rationalize that He doesn’t have to because she could just as easy get an abortion and solve the problem. He can leave her, with less conscience, because femnism has given him an out.

  • Every child a wanted Child? No more unwanted children since abortion?  It turns out, it doesn’t work that way. Once the idea becomes acceptable that one can kill a child in the womb,  the value of all children plunges, as witnessed by our dangerous, confusing, modern world of human trafficking, child pornography, and the hyper sexualization of children, the deliberate loss of innocence.                                     The post abortion world is vastly different for children than the world we grew up in the baby boom years. One cannot safely allow a child to  go to a public restroom, without fearing for abuse or even abduction.

Irish women, Listen to Patricia Heaton , of feminists for Life and the co star of the popular series “Everybody Loves Raymond” explain how abortion has made the lot of women so much worse than before it was introduced;

Does Roe v. Wade Really Help Women?
The BROKEN PROMISES of Legalized Abortion

1. More choices for women in crisis?
The right to “choose” abortion has become the right to “coerce” women into abortion. Studies show that aborted women are twice as likely to be the victims of homicide and domestic violence – confirming the coersion surrounding abortion.

2. More power for women?
Legalized abortion has facilitated the sexual exploitation of women – making women into objects to be used instead of persons to be loved.

3. An answer to sexual abuse?
Women victimized by the violence of rape or incest have expressed feeling further violated by abortion. Women who have chosen keep or adopt out their children report experiencing healing and love, rather than more pain.

4. No more women and children in poverty?
The number of women and children in poverty, and the number of abused children has both increased steadily since 1973.

5. Abortion liberates women?
Abortion is destroying women. A 30-year medical review shows that women who underwent abortion were 3-6 times more likely to commit suicide. Mother and child are a sacred unity, and a woman’s knowledge that she caused the death of her own child naturally leads to deep psychological disturbance. Women who need help in healing after abortion can contact Rachel’s Vineyard to find reconciliation and peace.

“Every 36 seconds in America a woman lays her body down forced to choose abortion out of a lack of practical resources and emotional support. Abortion is a reflection that society has failed women.”

Patricia Heaton
Emmy Award Winner – Everybody Love Raymond
Feminists for Life Honorary Chair

These Irish women have no idea of the miseries coming upon the entire nation as a result of this compact with Moloch!

When a woman commits an abortion, there are always two deaths, the death of the baby, and the spiritual death of the Mother. It is not natural to kill your own child or to use abortion as birth control.

It has coarsened an entire class of women in America, a whole generation of women have lost the very idea of what it even means to be a woman, as evidenced in the vulgar, foul mouthed, hate fueled “Womens March” on Washington, composed of women and children bearing filthy language bearing signs, wearing obscene hats and shouting obscenities in the streets!

Obviously this referendum against the sanctity of life is an expression of Ireland’s rejection of the Judeo/Christian God, accelerated by heinous scandals of sexual abuse of young wards of the state in Catholic run foster homes.

These women celebrate freedom, but freedom from what? Freedom from marriage? Freedom from compassion and from their nature as nurturers? Are they free now from conscience? Do they think this liberates them from fruitfulness and dignity?

 

 

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What Shall This Man Do? …the call to pastor

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.  Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?  Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? (John 21:15-21)

The scene is after the resurrection of Jesus, by the Sea of Galilee. The Disciples had gone back to what they were doing before Jesus had called them. Among them was Peter, who had deeply and vehemently denied Jesus.

The resurrected Jesus had already met with the disciples at least once, having told Mary,

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.(Mark 16:7)

Jesus had singled out Peter, because Peter needed to hear that Jesus had called him by name. Peter had been so sure he would never deny Jesus even if all of the other disciples did. Now He wasn’t as sure of himself as he had been. He had collapsed in the day of trial, and disowned his LORD.

Jesus had a charcoal fire going, reminiscent of the charcoal fire Peter had warmed himself on the night he denied Christ. He then asks of Peter,

“Peter, Do You Agape Me more than these?” In other words, ‘Do you love me to the highest degree , and do you still think you love me more than the rest of the disciples? ‘

Peter answers this way, “Yes LORD you know that I Phileo You”…in short, You Know my heart, and you know that the best I can say now is that I am fond of you, and that I no longer compare myself favorably to my brethren.

This occurred three times, but on the third time, Jesus only asked Peter if He was fond of Jesus, and Peter was grieved, and exclaimed, “Lord You Know All Things!”… .

Peter thought He knew himself, but the arrest and trial of Jesus revealed to Peter something about Peter. He may have had good intentions but he collapsed in the time of trial. Peter was shocked and surprised at his own cowardice and weakness,  but Jesus wasn’t shocked at all.

He already knew what was in Peter, but still he called Him to be a Shepherd. This may have been what the apostle John was referring to when in his epistle he said,

“Bretheren, if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things...” (I John 3:20)

After each of the questions Jesus’ answers with a pastoral call,

If You Love Me, feed (bosco) my lambs,…bosco means to feed

if you love me, feed (Poimein) my little sheep,…poimein means to shepherd

If you love me, feed (Bosco) my sheep… .

Knowing full well who Peter was, in all of his flaws and weaknesses, and knowing that Peter could only say he was fond of Jesus at this point, Jesus called Peter to be a Pastor (Poimen) of his flock. He was to lead, guide, feed, and protect the lambs, little sheep and the mature sheep of God’s flock.

This is what it means to be a Pastor and an Elder, and Overseer. Jesus, the true Pastor,  bought people with His  own blood and appointed men to watch over them, and feed them. Sheep are to be led, not driven, and they need nourishment which is true.

The example is the good Shepherd, the LORD Jesus Christ, the true Shepherd and bishop of our souls. See how he led the flock in the days of his flesh, feeding them (Teaching the Word) constantly, binding up their wounds and confronting the wolves and hirelings who only sought power band trampled on God’s heritage without regard?Imitate Him, Shepherds!

That is what it means to be a leader in the church of God. There are many obsessed with church government in a quasi political way; they seek power and position, and especially to be able to corral in Pastors and bring them under their authority. None of this has anything to do with the welfare of the sheep, who need the Word of God, and protection from wolves.

We believe in a plurality of elders, but unashamedly acknowledge that within that plurality, there will always either be a leader or de facto there will evolve a leader among the elders. There is nothing wrong with this although I have heard many decry it cynically as a “One man show”.

Obviously in a healthy church, the business of the Kingdom is no “show” and furthermore, the fact that there is a visible leader within a plurality of elders, doesn’t indicate that such a leader is autocratic, “doing his own thing”. Behind a gifted preacher or sent out ambassador of any healthy church is a board of elders He is accountable to, and of course the accountability of all of us is really to the Word of God.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.  Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!'” (21:18-19, NASB)

Peter was told that He would one day give the ultimate witness to Christ, He would lay down his life in martyrdom, in the discharge of his duties as a Shepherd. He would go willingly where He normally would have never gone, and He would also be crucified (Stretch out your hands) as His final witness to Christ.

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?  Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?  Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.( John 21:20-22)

Having heard his own calling, and of his ultimate martyrdom, Peter was curious about John’s future and fate as a fellow disciple. “What shall this man do? .

When it comes to various forms  and principles of church government, there are many spiritual busy-bodies doing what Peter did; concerning themselves with the ministries of others, seeking to delegitimize them based on inferences in scripture about how it ought to be done, and in some cases , they have even shown a willingness to try to split churches based on such differences.

There are many valid expressions of church government; Plurality of Eldership, Rule by overseers, or by an overseer, or even congregational style. What matters is, are the Lord’s Lambs being fed, protected and guided properly? Are the Sheep being ministered to? Is there a setting provided for organized worship, teaching and LORDS Supper?

Would it be ethical to destroy a church because you no longer agree with the church Government? To call the members and undermine the leadership, whether they be singular or plural?

What shall this man do…?

The short answer Jesus gave to Peter should suffice here, “…What is that to you? Just follow me!…” .

 

 

 

 

 

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Jesus Alone Is The Head Of The Church…but He delegates authority to men

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,(Ephesians 1:22)

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (Ephesians 5:23)

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.1 Corinthians 11:3)
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.(Collossians 1:18)

Scripture is very clear about the fact that there is one head of the church…the LORD Jesus Christ. He is the source, the sole authority, His is the final Word on any subject, To be conformed to His Image is the goal of every expression of the church,  there can be no doubt, His is the pre-eminence.

It is a gross distortion for any church to set up any man as “the Vicar of Christ” , the church is not to be man-centered, and it is possible that men can enter into the church and subvert the place of Christ in the people’s hearts. That is one of the definitions of a cult…when a man takes the place in the church of the Head, who is Christ.

The Apostle John gives an example, Diotrophes,

I wrote unto the Church, but Diotrephes which loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore if I come, I will call to your remembrance his deeds which he doeth, prattling against us with malicious words, and not therewith content, neither he himself receiveth the brethren, but forbideth them that would, and thrusteth them out of the Church. ( 3 John 9-10)

Diotrophes displayed an unChristian spirit, first of all, in that He loved the Pre-eminence. In other words, He regarded himself as “First” among the Saints, and the Chief Believer. He put his own word and desires above even the Apostles, and would kick people out of the church for the crime of  accepting the teaching of the Apostles and citing the Apostles as authoritative.

The teaching of the Apostles is the only authoritative source of instruction for the church, other than the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. The church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets and no Pastor, Elder, Prophet, Apostle or Evangelist has any right whatsoever to supersede them.

The mark of whether or not a ministry is even of God, has to do with whether or not they will ‘hear the Apostles”;

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.( I John 4:6)

Having said that, it is also true that Jesus ordained for the church principles of government, which grant to men delegated authority for the edification of the Church. Jesus is not personally going to exercise church discipline in a given situation, He has authorized Elders and leaders to do so. Paul set Titus in Crete and Timothy in the church of Ephesus to “set things in order”,

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,  Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:( I Timothy 1:3-5)

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: Titus 1:3)

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; (1 Timothy 1:3-4 )

My point is that within the church there are authoritative positions, ordained  for the purpose of order and edification. All Christians are equal and there is a priesthood of every believer, but there is also a God ordained ministry, gifted and delegated with authority to carry out their labor of love and mercy.

Titus and Timothy were not to be overbearing, but neither were they to be timid. They were appointed to ordain elders, and command certain to cease and desist from their false doctrines, and to see to it that there was public reading of scripture, correction of the erring in doctrine. All of these tasks require the use of authority. The church is not a democracy, there are officers in the church with responsibilities, which is the flip side of authority.

Even within Eldership, there are different functions and tasks; there are Elders who administrate primarily, and there are teaching Elders,

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.( I Timothy 5:11) 

The Church is to be led by a variety of gifts and ministries each having the responsibility and authority according to their gifting. Obviously the prime model of leadership is to set an example, but there are times when Authority is exercised,

These things command and teach.  Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.(Ephesians 4:11-12)

It looks like Timothy was expected to wield God given authority,  to command and teach… while at the same time live a life of an example…  . The delegated authority has limits, which extend to the level of responsibility, no one is allowed to be a dictator or autocrat in the house of God. It extends to the standard of teaching and conduct within the church, and to the regulation of the ordinances , etc..

My point is that within the church there are legitimate cases where individuals wield delegated authority within the scope of their calling. This is neither autocratic or inappropriate, as long as it is done in the context of a properly functioning local church.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts on Church Government…

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. ( I Peter 5:1-4) 

I am a Pastor. By that I mean, my life’s calling has been to ‘feed the flock of God’, by disseminating the Word of God. I am constantly amazed at my good fortune in being able to do so, I would never have been able to imagine my life.

From the time of my conversion, I knew to prepare myself for ministry, and submerged myself in the Word of God. My wife and I particularly baptized ourself in the teachings of 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus in the early years of our marriage. We didn’t know what the LORD had for us, we just followed our interest and for the first two years of our marriage, our interest was the biblical make-up of the Church.

We had always had Bible Studies, which were blessed and successful. One day our Pastor asked us to go and serve in a country church 30 miles away, until they found a full time Pastor. We did so with joy, holding Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon services at the little church on the edge of Anamosa, Iowa.

When the idea came to us to start a church in our home, we consulted our Pastor who verified the calling, he only asked us to be careful not to be a schismatic, avoiding splitting the church he pastored, to which we carefully agreed.

I believe that the Bible teaches various principles of church Government, such as “Presbyterian” (elder ruled), “Episcopalian”, (rule by Overseers) and an argument can even be made for ‘congregational style’ rule, of which the title makes obvious the meaning. The Scriptures do not spell it out, as to which one is the proper form, they give only general principles to apply.*

Peter tells us that He was an Elder, among Elders, to whom He addresses in his Epistle.

Our local church, Believers In Grace Fellowship, has always functioned on a combination of Episcopalian and Presbyterian leadership.**  By that I mean we have a group of Elders, tested men who meet the qualifications and share the burden for the flock of God, and the protection of that flock from wolves without and schismatics or heretics within.

I am an Elder within the circle of Elders, however I am also an overseer, or ‘Bishop’ as described in scripture. I have certain executive powers. There are very few times where such powers are ever exercised, and my inspiration in the use of such power is Paul who said that He used his Powers for the use of edifying and not tearing down.

For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: (2 Corinthians 10:8)

All true Authority is just the flip side of responsibility. I was used to pioneer the church,,(A lot of people helped of course, and prayed and sweated), I will one day answer for the church. If there is anything that comes along to hurt the church, or to disrupt the peace and fellowship of the church, or to distort the teaching of the church, I have never hesitated to use my authority as a Shepherd of God’s flock to guard it.

The reason I have been thinking about these subjects is because Schismatics have launched an attack on the legitimacy of our church’s polity (Government), and particularly my leadership .  For more than thirty years there was no problem with our Presbyterian/Episcopalian oversight.

Virtually everything we do , we have done in counsel with the board of Elders, but it has always been understood, that we work best with an Executive function. For example I don’t want to hold a vote on whether we buy office supplies. On some occasions there was a need for an instant action, rebuking a heretic, stopping someone we didnt know ‘t a service from praying for people, asking someone to step down from a position for excessive anger and unforgiveness.

When Jesus addressed the seven churches in Revelation, He addressed them via one person. To the Angel of the church in Ephesus, Laodicea etc… . He made on man responsible and answerable for what was going on in each church. The man represented the church, but He was addressed singularly and called out or commended for what was happening there. I have no doubt each church had Elders and deacons, but it was to the Angel of the church, that Jesus made his remarks.

We believe we are all accountable to the Word of God, myself, the Elders and the whole congregation.

I am not autocratic, I have accountability to elders, I answer to the Word of God, and have to explain myself and my actions as anyone else does.

One good thing about schismatics is that they force you to examine things you normally take for granted, such as church government. I am open to any thoughts on the subject…

 

  • Francis Schaeffer helped me much in His book, THE CHURCH AT THE END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, When he outlined what He thought to be the 7 essential norms of church, the form so to speak.

1)Local congregations are to exist and should be made up of Christians. .

2) Congregations ought to meet in a special way on the first day of the week.

3) The church should have elders who have a responsibility to shepherd the flock of God.

4)  There should  be deacons responsible for the community of the church in the area of material things.

5) These elders and deacons should be qualified in accordance with the Pauline standards set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.

6)   The church must engage in church discipline.

7)  a vital mark of the church is the administration of two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

** Not to be confused with the denominations of the same name. Presbyterian comes from the Greek Word, “Presbuteros” which means “Elder”.

Episcopaliam comes from the Greek Compound Word, Epi- Scopas, “Over- Seer”.

 

 

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The Only Approved Garments…wedding parables pt 14

 

 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:  And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.  But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.  

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:1-14)

In this wedding parable, several previous themes converge. The Kingdom (Rule) of God will be like a wedding feast. The Son of the KING will be married at the culmination of history.

Again, as in Luke 14, there are several close friends of the King that were invited and had RSVPed.  Being so close, they assumed they would all be there, and that everyone there would be as they were. But when it came time to attend, “they made light of it”. They had wanted to go, and assumed they would be there, but not with all of their being. It was just another feast to them, they had feasted before, they allowed trivial things to keep them from it.

There are also those who were so hardened between the time of the invitation, and the feast, that they actually mistreated the servants of the King(Evangelists and witnesses) , beating some, stoning others, and eventually even slaying some of them.

The King was furious and sent his armies to them and burnt their city. (This is a reference to what would happen to the original friends of the KING, the recipients of the original invitation). The Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and scattered the Jews from one end of heaven to the other, eradicating the Jewish state for two millennia!).

The same response is occurring in a different way now, as the church goes apostate, deny ingChrist is countless ways. They don’t believe in the feast, and have their own agendas for the church which they are carrying out. God will judge the apostate church as He judged Israel.

The next part of the parable is familiar also, for the invitation is taken out to the poor, the lame , the deformed and sin distorted, miserable sons of Adam, on every crack and crevice. It is the good news ! “The King would have you to his feast! You are being summonsed to something wonderful! A life without fear, pain or sin, with the Creator in heaven.”

But there is a condition. The love of the King isn’t unconditional. Only those who are willing to put on the garments provided by the King himself, will be allowed to enter the feast.

Garments are a prophetic symbol for Righteousness, or salvation. In the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve first knew good and evil by experience, they realized that now they were naked, and they felt shame for the first time. the first couple made outfits out of fig leaves, and clothed themselves to seek to address the shame.

When the Most High came to them, He made them strip themselves of their garments, and put on bloody skins of an animal he slew. Thus he indicated that the answer to the problem of sin, shame and alienation from God, would not be addressed by works (Fig Leaves), but by substitution of Life, poured out blood in place of the guilty party. Not by the blood could man now enter into God’s Holy presence.

Isaiah takes up the wedding theme again, in line with Jesus’ parable,

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.(Isaiah 61:10)

The Gospel tells us that “By the Works of the flesh shall no man be justified before God…”. We must allow God to clothe us with the garment He has ordained for the wedding feast. Salvation is the reception of a garment. It is the casting off of our own filthy rags, and the donning of the beautiful “Garment of salvation” that Jesus purchased with his own blood. We sing in church, “He is all my Righteousness, I stand complete in Him and I worship Him…”.

Isaiah again is helpful, in his sermon in chapter 64,

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

The King walked through the feasts, among the guests he had invited. There were not many wise, or noble according to the standards of this world. He saw the wretched and ruined, the spotted and stained, but all divested of their own filthy garments, and sitting there in beautiful clean garments, thoroughly enjoying every bite of the King’s food, and every song, every Word of the King, even the sight of the King himself!

This wasn’t just another feast to any of them, they could hardly believe their good fortune! Grace was and is amazing to them!

But among them stood a man in his own garment. What was he doing here? How did he get in?  What was he saying by refusing the King’s garment?

He was declaring to one and all, ” I have my own clothes, and they are good enough as far as I am concerned! I get it that these wretches around me ruined their lives and messed their clothes spotting and staining them!,But such is not the case with me… I am fine as I am,I need no new clothes!”.

The church in it’s present state, is a foretaste of the coming feast. We have ‘the powers of the Age to come” in part, and participate in the appetizer, the LORD’s Supper. But at present there sit among us, those who in their hearts do not believe that they are sinners. They have never been broken and stripped of their own self righteousness before God, and tremblingly clothed in the Righteousness of Jesus.

It is to these that the KING shall soon say, “How did you get in here?”, and who will be cast out into outer darkness, expelled from the wedding feast and from all that is good, and true and beautiful.

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Virgins, Wise or Foolish? …wedding parables pt 13

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.  Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.  Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.   (Matthew 25:1-13)

In this wedding parable,  it is the bridesmaids which serve as the metaphoric warning. We are to see ourselves as these bridesmaids, invited to the wedding as a group, (The church).   All had been invited to participate in the wedding, all took lamps and went out to await the arrival of the groom.

Each individual in the bridal party,  had a Lamp, which was a pole which suspended a cup or well of oil with a wick attached to it. But it turns out that each was responsible for their own supply of oil, in case the Lamp ran out before the arrival of the groom. the house they were waiting in would have been illuminated, so we can assume that none of the pole lamps would have been burning in the house.

The hour waxed late. The Sun went down, the bridesmaids all grew tired and even slept. (There is no hint of condemnation in this parable for sleeping, all slept).

The groom comes from afar. All we can know for sure is that He is coming, for his Word is sure. We know not the time. In those days among the Jews, the Groom and his friends would come when everything was ready, to receive the Bride, and to take her to his Father’s house for the ceremony. The Bridesmaids would accompany the Bride with torches to meet the groom.

Suddenly at midnight,(In the darkest hour), the cry goes out, “The Bridegroom comes…go out to meet Him!” There is a flurry of activity as the Virgins hustle and bustle to trim their lamps, load them with fresh oil, adjust the wicks and light them.

This is where the crisis occurs; five of the Virgins assumed there would be a supply of oil provided for them,  therefore they made absolutely no provision. Could they borrow or buy some from the other Virgins?  Unfortunately not! The supply of oil was not transferable at that moment, they would have to go out into the village to try to buy some fro the venders, but who would be vending at midnight ?

The Events of the wedding are now accelerating, things are happening fast and five virgins are in danger of being excluded from the wedding party.

I have performed about 200 weddings and have almost never started on time. Who ever heard of a wedding that was so precise, that if you came late , the door was shut and you were denied entrance? Who could Imagine a Bridesmaid realizing she forgot her flowers, so she rushed home to retrieve them, but when she arrived at the church, the door was shut and she was denied entrance?

But this wedding we are called to is like no other…it is the marriage supper of the Lamb, the ground of all true joy, hope and happiness! When it happens, only those prepared will be able to enter.

The problem is the gap between the invitation and the actual event. If the wedding had commenced immediately after the invitation, there would be no problem whatsoever. But there is a long delay, which becomes a test for all involved.

Compounding the problem, is the sudden onrush of events which occur , one on top of another, when the time for the wedding actually commences. Things go from slow and dull to hectic and frantic, just like that! You are either ready or you aren’t!

To be Foolish in this parable means to be “Heedless”. To be wise is to look ahead and to make provision. There are many who have heard about Bible Prophecy and are mildly interested but they have never allowed that interest to really turn them to God and to seeking light in all areas of life.

What is readiness? It is the accumulation of oil. We are told in the Proverbs, “The Spirit of man is the Lamp of the LORD…”. But a Lamp is just an empty vessel without oil.

40 years ago a number of us in my generation heard the gospel message, with an emphasis on the second coming of Jesus.  Many, many people came to the LORD, and entered into church life, looking constantly to the clouds, because we just knew, Jesus was coming back at any time. I was a little disappointed that Jesus didn’t come back in 1988 (fortieth anniversary of the State of Israel), and was amazed that the year 2000 came and went without the rapture.

We all had our poles at the ready, with their cups and wicks and our matches ready to light them, when the Word would come down from on high. But we also married, had children, bought strollers and high chairs, and braces, and houses. We went through a number of churches and spiritual fads, got into political  things too.

So many fell asleep to the message of the second coming, and to many the whole “born again thing” was like a phase of life, it seemed almost foolish, so some fell away. Others continued on in church, but the churches themselves seemed to take people through a series of spiritual fads, political activism, false doctrines, false prophets, money preachers and so many other trivialities.

The result? Spiritual emptiness, apostasy, ad in some cases spiritual death.

What does it mean to have oil? Others have spent these forty some years seeking God in spite of the ‘churchianity mess’, not forsaking the growth in knowledge and grace, not allowing prayer and the reality of Go to diminish no matter what it takes. They have hungered for Light, Truth and the knowledge of God and have spent the time growing in it. Oil is Truth and Light. Proverbs 23:23, says “Buy the Truth and Sell it not, and with all your getting get Wisdom, for it is the principle thing”.

Christ comes in the night. It is your individual responsibility to seek Truth and to fill your life with it, seek out preachers who have Light, insight and loving reverence for scripture, get out of churches which allow false prophecy and which have departed from the Word,  this is what the accumulation of Oil looks like.

Jesus is coming soon, and there are a lot of people who merely have a long pole with a well on it, they have no accumulated oil, revelation and Light from God. Daniel tells s that only the Righteous will understand in the last days.

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.  (Daniel 12:10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You Ready?…wedding parables pt 12

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.  Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:1-13)

The setting for this wedding parable is Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 on the events of the second coming and the end of the Age. The parable is an extension of the teaching, which happens to be the most complete version of Jesus’ teaching on the end times.

Jesus warned us to make sure we are ready, alert and waiting for his coming, even if it comes at a late hour. The LORD comes to us as a thief in the night.

 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 24:42-44)

He warns the church further of the implications of denying the Imminency of the LORD’s return, which has a very definite spiritual and moral implication.

 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;  And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  ( Matthew 24:48-51)

Notice that he calls it “evil” to say, “My LORD delays his coming”.  Christians are to be in a state of constant preparedness, and to make sure their discipleship is current and ongoing. In the epistle to the Hebrews chapter 10,  we are told, “Not to forsake the assembling of ourselves as the habit of some, especially as we see the day draw near…”. James tells us, “The Judge is even at the door”. Hebrews 10 again, also exhorts us, “For Yet a little while, He that is coming shall come and shall not delay…”.

The very definition of true conversion and repentance, according to the Apostle Paul, involves expecting the LORD to return, and longing for it,

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.( I Thessalonians 1:9-10)

Paul encourages us again in Titus to keep steadfast on the “Blessed Hope” , which is the appearing of our Savior,

“Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).

We are hurtling towards the time of the Marriage feast of the Lamb, which is the hope and joy of the church, and has been down through the centuries. Persecuted Christians have longed for it, as have all of those who have forsaken the rotting vainglory of this present world. We long for the appearing of the Savior, the Epiphany of the LORD of Glory, even the apocalypse of the Redeemer from Heaven. Soon the God of Peace shall crush Satan under our feet! Maranatha!

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