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  • Romans Chapter 15

    Romans Chapter 15

    Introduction

    In chapter 14 we studied a remarkable and fine discussion of the nature of an aspect of Christian love. In other words the differences of “opinion” not of doctrine, that can arise and by such believers will be divided into various opinions regarding non specific doctrinal issues, However, if the rules which are laid down in chapter 14 are followed, the contentions and altercations and strife among Christians would certainly diminish and often even cease.

    If the rules exposed in the chapter are applied to the controversies about rites, and forms, and festivals and foods then peace will be preserved.

    Amid all such differences, the great question is, whether there is true love for the Lord Jesus. If there is, the apostle teaches us that we have no right to judge a brother or despise him or contend harshly with him regarding those non doctrinal issues . Our object should be to promote peace to aid our brothers and sister in their efforts to become holy and to seek to build them up in faith.

    As we also mentioned before as a side that it is the pastors’ duty to help believers to achieve spiritual growth and maturity, this is indeed the call of the pastors/elders. If a believer that is not a pastor or elder cannot properly help another believer it is better not to even try to teach or correct so as not to risk to offend and or injure them.

    In addition and conclusion of chapter 14 we have to reiterate that conviction is the assurance that one’s standard is right. Without a right basis for judgment the believer may be convicted of sin by his own conscience where no sin is really present. It is highly important that a believer provide the correct standard for his own conscience and that he help, if possibly done correctly, his fellow believers to have this standard also. We must shun anything that prevents a fellow believer from getting a correct standard and anything that separates a fellow believer from fellowship with Christ.

    We must also make sure that we never offend a brother and sister through our stronger faith and our liberty, we must therefore choose to abstain from practicing our liberty for the sake of our weaker brothers and sisters, this is how we demonstrate our love for them. Obviously, this means when we are in their presence, otherwise we are free to practice our liberty in Christ.

    Chapter 15 opens up continuing in the same context. In verses one and two Paul continues to exhort us not to use our stronger faith and liberty if it can offend the weaker brothers and sisters and he continues to exhort us to only do things that edify the body of Christ and help others grow in the faith.

    After this Paul gives us a lesson in the importance if the sufficiency and truthfulness of Scripture, which in his days was Old Testamentary Scripture, this is a very important and valuable lesson we must learn in the church even today. Verse 4.

    He goes on by continuing to exhort us to accept each other in brotherly love and respect for the glory of God, verses 5-7.

    In verses 8 to 21 Paul attaches the communion of the relationship with God through the promises of the Old Testament and how they are fulfilled in and through Christ for the Gentile church.

    In verses 22 to the end of the chapter we find various exhortations and discourses Paul makes in closing this chapter.

    Romans Chapter 15

    Romans 15:1-2 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

    Again Paul makes the point to exhort believers that are strong in their faith and have very strong convictions in their consciences that the standards they believe through faith are just, right and permissible to bear with the scruples of the weaker brothers. The word scruples means:

    a feeling of doubt or hesitation with regard to the morality or propriety of a course of action.

    As we mentioned before in chapter 14 these doubts a weaker brother or sister may have is in relation to non doctrinal issues. Therefore, if a believer has doubts regarding the propriety or morality of foods, drinks or days these are considered by Paul as being weaker in their faith and we who know and are absolutely convinced that we have liberty to eat, drink or celebrate or not celebrate days to the Lord.

    We who have the stronger conviction that we have the liberty to partake and practice such things have to in every way lovingly and patiently bear with the doubts and the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters. This subject was extensively explained in the previous chapter, Paul is making sure that the church thoroughly understands this.

    Once again Paul exhorts us to make sure that all that we do in the church is for the edification of others and not to simply please ourselves.

    This is a recurring theme in Paul’s writings and even Peter does exhort us to do so.
    It is important at this point to understand that in the church we must only do what edifies others and not ourselves. We must think of others above ourselves and above our own needs.

    Paul is very precise in mentioning this subject in Philippians 2 and in 1 Corinthians 12-13-14.

    In fact the Philippians 2 passage is in essence a parallel passage of these first few verses of Romans chapter 15.

    The exhortation in Romans 15 is a much simpler and shorter version of Philippians 2:1-11 but it basically means the same exact thing.

    Let’s look at the parallels in the two passages, first of all let me remind us all again that we are commanded to love one another as Christ loved us. This obviously means sacrificially and placing the good of our other brothers and sisters ahead of our own. This absolutely does not mean that we ought to ever neglect our good or our health, both physical and spiritual. In fact we know that the greatest commandment says:

    Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30’And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

    The importance of this passage is that complete devotion, faithfulness and obedience to God is proof of loving God and loving our brothers and sisters as Christ loves us is imperative as well, but look at what Jesus says here to love other believers as ourselves. Therefore even though we are to place the good of others above our own this last part of the passage means that we do not do such a thing by neglecting our own. We should not ever neglect our own physical, emotional and spiritual good either because then that would not be loving them as we should love ourselves. On the other hand what Jesus is also saying is that as we would want to be loved and treated so we should love and treat others.

    In fact, He had said this as well:

    Matthew 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    We clearly see that the so called golden rule is indeed such, it is exactly part of the greatest commandment and it does signify that when we love others as we would want to be loved and do to others as we would want done to us we are indeed on the way to fulfilling the Law of God.

    Anyway, having said this let’s now look at the parallels we find in the two passages Romans 15:2-6 and Philippians 2:1-11.

    Romans 15:2-6 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Philippians 2:1-11 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Romans 15:5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,

    Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

    Romans 15:2 says: Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

    Philippians 2:3-4 is very much more detailed but it actually signifies the same thing, we are to love others as we want to be loved and do to them as we would want them to do to us.

    This is explained as Paul states in verses 3and4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

    We must exercise love in the church by concentrating in helping others’ edification, help them to be built up in their faith and to reach the unity of the faith the complete stature of Christ and our most holy faith and love of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-16; Jude 20-21.

    Paul then, in both passages commands us to be like Christ and to have His same mind:

    Romans 15:5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,

    Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

    In addition Paul says:

    Romans 15:3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

    Whereas in Philippians 2 he says:

    Philippians 2:6-8 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

    These two passages are basically identical in content, let’s go on, Paul concludes the Romans passage by saying:

    Romans 15:6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Paul also concludes Philippians 2 by saying this:

    Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    As we clearly see we as disciples of Jesus Christ and children of God, and as Paul says, must have the same mind and attitude as Jesus had, we also must as Jesus did think of others above ourselves and to care for others for the love of God as Jesus did, obeying the Father and placing the Father’s will above His human weaknesses and desires. Jesus loved the Father and obeyed Him and thus loved us by obeying going to the cross. Because He did this, the result is obviously the redemption of God’s elect, our salvation, those who placed their faith in Him and Him only for our salvation. However, Paul in Philippians 2:9-11 says that because Jesus humbled Himself and became our servant by obeying the Father by going to the cross, because of this the Father highly exalted Him by making Him Lord, see also Acts 2:36. Jesus is now exalted above all, Colossians 1:15-18. Because of all that Jesus did and because Jesus is Lord, this is done all, not only to save the elect but also and actually foremost to bring glory to the Father. Which, as it may be astounding and shocking to many Christians, is also the end result of our salvation. In fact our salvation and subsequent Christian life is designed primarily to bring glory to God. In fact that is exactly what Paul is also concluding in Romans 15:6 as he says that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    When we, like Jesus, humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand God will also exalt us:

    1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,

    Just a side note on this last passage, Peter says, if we humble ourselves, if we become obedient to God’s will like Jesus did, God will exalt us, but He will exalt us in due time not in our time or the time we expect He should.

    Our goal as Christians is to do everything to bring glory to God. One very important issue delineated in Romans 15:6 is, as Paul puts it also in Philippians 2: 2-4, we should be of one accord and one mind and this is in doctrine and behavior in the church. As Jesus was of one mind and one accord with the Father, as Jesus accepted the Fathers will and fulfilled it faithfully, He did it humbling Himself and not considering Himself equal to God, and He is, rather became the Father’s and our servant and went to the cross being concerned with the Father’s will and the well being and salvation of the elect above His own life. Doing this Jesus was elevated by the Father to be Lord over all but doing this Jesus has glorified and will glorify the Father. We like Him therefore must also be of one accord and one mind with God, His word and with each other. This is why it is so important, essential, imperative that pastors/elders would work diligently and hard to bring every believer to that point, see Ephesians 4:11-16. This is or should be the main job of the pastor/elder. Unfortunately today pastors/elders are doing all sorts of things but neglecting their main God given call.

    We also will end up living in such a way that in reality does not glorify God if we are not behaving and thinking as God wants us to and how He does think, see Romans 12:2; and if we are not in one accord and of one mind with God and with each other we will have a very hard time glorifying God.

    The glory of God is and ought to be the primary objective of the believers as it was the primary objective of Christ. Our salvation in reality is a by product of the Son glorifying the Father and God did it not only and exlusively out of love for us, although He did, He did it to bring glory to His name.

    Scripture is clear regarding this concept:

    Romans 9:21-23 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

    In Ephesians 1 when Paul describes the blessing of our salvation he also clearly shows that God did it to bring glory to Himself in saving us. Paul mentions the glory of God as the main reason for saving us and he mentions it three times:

    Ephesians 1:3-14 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

    From way back in the Old Testamentary days we see that indeed God is very jealous about Him getting the glory due to Him:

    Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another,

    Isaiah 43:7 Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

    Isaiah 48:11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.

    God is so jealous about His glory that He becomes seriously angered if His creation, namely mankind, and especially His people do not give it to Him.

    Malachi 2:1-2 And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name,” Says the LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart.

    In Romans 1 even Paul explains this issue when he says:

    Romans 1:18-25 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    As we see God takes His glory very seriously and so should we so even we like Jesus ought to have the same sentiment and have the same mind and we should help each other to grow in Christ-likeness and help edify one another and nothing else and all this for God’s glory.

    In fact in the Philippians 2 passage Paul commands us this:

    Philippians 2:2-3 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

    As we see Paul says not to do anything through strife and vainglory. The key word here is vainglory. Anything we do that is not for God’s glory is vain glory. We ought to glorify God, not ourselves, not our works, only God.

    This is also a very practical and essential way we demonstrate love to God and for each other. Therefore, to conclude this first section of Romans 15,we ought not to allow our freedom in Christ and our stronger faith become a stumbling block and a way to sin for our brothers and sisters who do not feel they have neither the freedom or the strong faith we know we have. Instead we ought to be like Jesus who placed the good of others above His, we ought to be like the Son of God who placed God’s will and our good above all else and by doing so, when and if we do such ourselves, if we live to serve others and help them only grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Doing this, as Jesus did we will glorify God together as Jesus also glorifies God by His obedience and faithfulness and love for God and us.

    We are to be the same as our Lord is, we are to be imitators of Christ:

    Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

    We ought to walk as He walked:

    1 John 2:5-6 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

    Let me now take a step back to look at verse four because I intentionally left it out before.

    Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

    This is a very important statement for us today. We know that there are a lot of controversies regarding the validity and application of the Old Testamentary Scriptures for the church.

    We must therefore look at what Paul and the other Apostles taught regarding the validity of Old Testamentary Scriptures before we actually look at the rest of this passage.

    It is evident from the Apostles’ writings that they revered Old Testamentary Scriptures as the Word of God and that they considered them valid for the church. At this point let me say something that needs to be said, not all rules and commandments in the Old Testament are valid for the church. There are specific rules and commandments that were valid only for Israel the nation and not for the Gentile church.

    That the church was not bound to observe the law of Moses in many ways is evident by the argument that the Jerusalem church council had regarding this very subject and their subsequent letter sent to the Gentile church.

    Acts 15:1-3 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

    Acts 15:5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

    Acts 15:6-21 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” 12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
    16’After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.’ 18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

    It becomes very clear from this episode that the Law of Moses was given to Israel and not the Gentiles. However, many parts of Old Testamentary Scripture are indeed valid as all Old Testamentary Scripture is not simply the Law of Moses, the Old Testamentary Scripture is God’s word and as we know or ought to know is all a witness to the person of Christ but it also contains many principles and precepts that are indeed valid for the church.

    Having said this and hopefully correctly understood this, let’s see what Paul says about Scripture:

    2 Timothy 3:14-17 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    This passage is very important to understand properly, first of all in this specific passage Paul, speaking to Timothy is praising the power and the divine origin of the Word of God, Paul is also claiming that all Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and it is all profitable for teaching, for reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness in order that believers be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    I want us to pay close attention to one particular. In Paul’s days what was mainly considered Scripture?

    Obviously the Old Testamentary Scriptures! In fact, Paul in this particular passage tells Timothy this:

    2 Timothy 3:14-15 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    Here Paul is definitely mentioning to Timothy Old Testamentary Scriptures here in these two verses.

    Yet later on when Paul mentions all Scripture is inspired by God he means all Scripture, Old and New Testamentary.

    Yet, we understand rather clearly that Scripture, all of it, is God’s word and all of it is profitable for the believer.

    We can learn that even the precepts and principles and episodes of Old Testamentary believers’ lives are all profitable and in many cases even binding for the New Testament believer, because it’s still God’s word. It is up to us to be able to rightly divide the word of truth to know exactly what is applicable and what is not from the Old Testamentary Scriptures.

    In fact, even Peter says the same thing as Paul says in:

    2 Peter 1:19-21 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

    Here Peter make it a point to specify the superior nature of the prophecy of Scripture and that is because the prophetic Scripture speaks and testifies of Jesus Christ, see Revelation 19:10.

    In any event all Scripture is inspired by God and it all has importance and proper application, it is the pastor/elder’s responsibility to rightly divide the word of God as even Paul tells Timothy:

    2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth

    Paul tell us an almost identical thing as he says in Romans 15:4 in

    1 Corinthians 10:6-11 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

    As we see, Paul even here claims that the Old Testamentary Scriptures were written also for us so that the things written therein have become examples for us so that we do not commit the same sins the Old Testament people of God committed. Paul says that those things happened to them and are examples and were written as admonition for us who live in the last days preceding Christ’s return.

    In fact, Paul also says this:

    1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

    This passage in the context in which it is found is also a warning for the Gentile church, Paul is teaching us that the things the Jews did are written for our admonition so that we do not repeat the same mistakes, in this context we must understand the last two verses seen that the Gentile church, the New Testament believer should not be spiritually prideful in thinking that we are better than the Old Testament people of God. In fact, Paul is warning us that all the temptations they had and all the sins they committed are all common to man. In other words all men, Jews and Gentiles struggle with the same temptations and are able to commit the same sins. In fact, that is exactly why Paul is writing these things to the church, to admonish us and warn us not to think more highly of ourselves than we should;

    This is indeed the meaning of this passage. Most times I hear Christians use this part of this passage, verses 12-13 to just simply apply it to our temptations and struggles and to warn us not to think too highly of ourselves, yet they only apply this truth in part. They often, most of the time do not teach it or interpret it in exactly the context it is found. In fact, I have heard many, too many Christians that make statements similar to this one:

    “ If I lived in the Old Testament times and saw all the miracles, signs and wonders God did, if I saw the pillar of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night, if I saw the Red Sea parting, if I lived in those days I would not have sinned as they did, I would have not been unbelieving as they were!”

    These types of statements are exactly what Paul is warning us against when he says not to be so sure that we stand because that’s when we actually will fall.

    Indeed any of us, even if we lived then and saw all the signs and wonders they saw, could still have the same behavior and demeanor they had. Paul warns us exactly about this and he tells us that we are prone and vulnerable to the same temptations as they were.

    The sad thing is that the many Christians that make those statements today, those who state that they would not be like the Jewish people, that claim they love God and believe God and would not make the same mistakes and commit the same sins as the Jews did are actually often being prideful and in those occasions they are actually in great danger of actually committing the same sins as the Jews committed.

    I see that many of these Christians actually seek the miracles, signs and wonders in order to actually believe God’s power and in order, they say, to make their faith stronger.

    Yet the word of God for the New Testament believers, clearly states that we live by faith not by sight. Living by sight was indeed the Jew’s problem, they never wanted to live simply by faith in God’s promises. They always sought signs and wonders and sadly today a big chunk of the church does the same thing and for these very reasons these so called believers are more prone to fall in the same sins as the Hebrews of old. .

    Signs and wonders and miracles hardly ever help people believe in God’s word. They end up believing in the miracles and the signs and wonders but when they instead need to believe God’s word they end up failing. The New Testament is filled with passages that prove this point, let’s take a look at some.

    John 2:23-25 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

    This is a very eye opening passage and perhaps not understood by many. This passage actually teaches us that people can have a type of faith that does not save or actually help a person believe in God and His word. In fact this is not faith at all, not the faith God seeks us to have. The motive as to why we seek God is essential. God cannot be sought because He is a miracle worker that can provide simply for our physical and earthly needs. God is not a genie in a lamp that has to be summoned to provide for earthly needs. This was indeed the Jews’ problem. This is exactly why in this passage it says that although they seemingly believed in Jesus they actually did not have the faith God wanted them to have. It says that they believed because they saw the signs which He did. Jesus did not accept their so called belief, they only believed in Him for what He could give them in a physical and earthly sense.

    This type of so called faith is not acceptable to God and unfortunately, many Christians today, may even have started to believe God for the right reasons and with the right motives but then their faith changes into a warped type of faith where the signs miracles and wonders’ search takes the place of having faith in God, in His word and His promises.

    This always was the Jews’ problem, until God provided miracles, signs and wonders they would believe God’s power and provisions but they were not willing to do so if and when they simply had to believe in God’s word. We this exemplified in many passages but one of the most famous and clear one is found through out the Jews’ forty years in the wilderness. In fact the episode that had them wander in the wilderness for forty years was exactly one that proved their lack of faith in God’s promises.

    God promised them they would conquer the land He promised them and yet they feared the inhabitants of that land instead of believing God’s promise. They actually already saw God’s power on display through signs and wonders. The plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and the complete destruction of the Egyptian army. The water from the rock and the manna from heaven and many other things and yet, when they came to the point where they had to simply believe God and His power and obey God and go conquer the land God promised them, they failed their test of faith,
    see Numbers 13:26-33; Numbers 14:1-38.

    This is what many Christians do when they put too much stock in the search of signs and wonders instead of believing and obeying God’s word.

    In fact, Jesus in another episode makes the Jews aware of their lack of faith even though they had seemingly believed in Him after He fed the multitudes and wanted to make Him king by force, see John 6:1-15.

    The next day when they went to seek Him and found Him on the other side of the lake, He told them this:

    John 6:25-27 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

    We clearly understand from Jesus’ answer that even in this case they wanted to make Him king but not because they revered Him as the true Messiah and Lord but because they saw in Him a way to be provided for physically but not spiritually.

    The motivation and the object of their faith was wrong and so it is for many Christians today. Today many declare Jesus as Lord, but what they really look for is what God can give them here and now in this world, carnal things instead of spiritual blessings and even more, that He is the Lord and we should serve Him not Him us by giving us our wishes.

    This is not faith in God’s promises, this is not seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first, Matthew 6:33, but seeking after things of this earth and not things of eternal value. This is walking by sight and not by faith.

    Instead the word of God actually says the opposite as we can see:

    2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

    Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

    Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    Even though the next verse talks about faith in the context of salvation and believing the Gospel, yet it has a very good principle regarding faith and it’s growth and strengthening.

    Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    As I said contextually this passage does not speak to faith’s growth yet it signals a very important thing, if we want our faith to grow and improve, grow and strengthen we must subject ourselves to the knowledge of God through His word. God’s word is an essential part of helping pour faith grow and not seeking signs, miracles and wonders rather trust God and His promises contained in His word.

    Only God’s word is sure, faithful and true and in fact that is His name, the word of God and faithful and true,

    Revelation 19:11-13 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

    Placing trust in signs and wonders is very detrimental to the growth of our faith. It’s knowing God and believing Him as He reveals Himself in His word that is the right thing to do. Only that is walking by faith.

    Jesus actually warned us of the risks we can encounter when we trust in signs and wonders instead of solely trusting in His word.

    Let’s remember that signs and wonders though are not always evidence of God’s power. Experiences can be deceitful and false but God’s word is sure and true.

    There are many warnings in the Scriptures about the dangers there are in seeking signs and wonders rather than God’s word.

    Even as far back as in Deuteronomy 13 God warns His people:

    Deuteronomy 13:1-4 If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’–which you have not known–‘and let us serve them,’ 3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

    It is very clear that God warns that the signs the false prophet performed actually came true. Therefore, the factor of deception is yes, also found in the sign, but above all it is in the false prophetic word. The problem is the following, the signs and wonders can be duplicated and made by demons and Satan and not always by God, so that the sign or wonder seems to happen by the power of God. However the words of the prophet are those to which one must really pay close attention. As we see, the prophet is falsely prophesying making his words pass as the word of God and he encourages the people of God to actually abandon obedience to the real written word of God and instead follow a false god. Which in the end is Satan. In today’s world, the same incite people to follow a false image of the true living God and of Christ or another spirit other than the Holy Spirit. In this passage the dangers are precisely the dreams and the signs and we should never seek these in order to be able to hear God speak to us and thinking He will do so through them. Today in reality God speaks only through His written word.

    Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

    Some today may continue to insist that this passage does not eliminate the fact that God still speaks through dreams or by direct revelations and prophecy. But this passage when it is seen together with other passages does eliminate that God still speaks through these ways. The passage says that God in the past spoke in various ways to the fathers and prophets yet in these last days has spoken tu us by His Son. This does not mean that Jesus spoke to us only during the time He lived on earth, rather that He also spoke through His Spirit by inspiration and having God’s word written down by the Apostles and prophets in the New Testamentary Scriptures. ( Ephesians 2:20-21)

    The writers of the NT Scriptures were given what to write by Jesus Himself as He stated He would do in:

    John 16:12-15 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

    It is very clear that the Hebrew one passage is clearly in line with this one, Jesus not only spoke verbally to us during His life on earth but He continued to speak by His Spirit and His Spirit inspired to write down all that Jesus wanted to tell them and wat He wanted them to record for the church through out the ages. It is clear that we cannot go beyond what is written in Scripture. God no longer speaks except through His written word in spite of all they may say.

    God is not weaker or less powerful if He chose to speak to His children only through His word illuminated by His Spirit. The reason why a lot of Christians prefer to hear false prophecies and count on signs and wonders and dreams is becuse they actually are spiritually lazy and do not want to do the hard work of trying to know God and hear Him by diligently seeking Him and His word in His written word. In addition they prefer walking by sight rather than by faith.

    The book of Revelation is the last and complete revelation of God’s prophecy for the church there is nothing else to add that hasn’t been said. Since prophetically it is the complete and last book to be written the book itself warns of the dangers to add anything to God’s word, that actually means that all and any so called prophetic revelation or word given after the closing of the canon of Scripture are false and do not come from God.

    Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    Jesus also warned us in Matthew 7 about the false prophets, that they would do signs and wonders in His name but that these did not even belong to Him, He did not know them, He calls them workers of iniquity, those who practice lawlessness.

    Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    This passage actually confirms the passage we read earlier in Deuteronomy 13. We must notice that the main context in Matthew 7:15-23 is about false prophets who come deceiving people being ravening wolves in sheep clothing and passing for ministers of righteousness and Jesus makes a reference to the same is stating that in the day of judgment these will say to Him that they indeed prophesied in His name, they actually even cast out demons and did many wonders in His name and yet He casts them out and tells them that He never knew them. He never denies their works in the sense that they did do what they said they did and yet they were not works done by God, they were false prophecies, false demon casting, false signs and wonders.

    Even Paul warned about such deceivers, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

    Paul also warned us this way: Acts 20:29-32 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
    Jesus also warned us about the risks of deception in the last days as well, and trust me He is absolutely correct because as we get closer and closer to the Lord’s return the false prophecies and the false signs and wonders are increasing more and more and that they would be very powerful deceptions.

    Matthew 24:24-25 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

    Think about this for a moment, could it be that God decided not to prophesy and preform signs and wonders anylonger after the Apostolic age because He did not want to allow His people to be confusing His with the false ones in the last days? I think that is one way God can truly show that these do not come from Him at all, if He isn’t doing this anylonger, then the ones that are being done can easily be dismissed as false.

    We had to make this trek to study that the Jews had a very serious problem in either believing and even obeying God’s word and that they instead always sought God’s blessings in the form of material and physical goods and healing and were interested in always seeing God’s miracles signs and wonders but were never very interested in hearing and obeying God’s word. We have also seen that God, Jesus and both, Old Testament and New Testament writers instead place a great deal of emphasis and importance on the word of God and hearing and obeying God by it and through it. We also had to emphasize the same things and finally bring us to the final observation regarding this short but very important verse

    For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

    Things were written for us today so that we may learn from God’s word, even Old Testament Scriptures, learn what pleases and displeases God, learn what to do and what not to do by looking at the history of God’s ancient people.

    Now here comes the encouraging part, we can also, through the Scriptures, we receive patience and comfort and have enduring hope, which in Biblical terms is actually certainty in believing God’s word and knowing of His almighty power as it is vividly described for us in the Scriptures themselves.

    There was one incident in the Gospels where the Sadducees came to Jesus to try and trick Him, keep in mind that the Sadducees did not believe in the supernatural, in other words they did not believe in the resurrection nor did they believe in angels, in addition they believed that only the Torah, the Pentateuch, the first five books of OT Scripture were the word of God. The following is the account of the incident and I want us to pay very close attention to Jesus’ response:

    Mark 12:18-27 Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also. 23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.” 24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

    Jesus addresses their biblical ignorance and also debunks their erroneous beliefs. In this passage Jesus definitely accuses their Scriptural ignorance as He says:

    24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

    Jesus accuses them so not know the very Scriptures they believed to be God’s word and the by product of their Scriptural ignorance was their ignorance regarding God’s power. Jesus actually meets them on their own turf as we see that at the end of the passage when He mentions the incident of Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush, see Exodus 3:1-6. Jesus is therefore meeting them in the Pentateuch which they claimed was God’s only word and even there He is able to show them their ignorance. Indeed if they really knew the very word they claimed to believe and know then they would have known that both the resurrection and angels were real as in the very same Scriptures they claimed to believe there were plenty of evidence that these facts were indeed true. Jesus also personally declares the reality of both the resurrection and angels when He says:

    25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

    At the end of the passage Jesus doubles down and tells them again:

    you are therefore greatly mistaken.

    The point of this is to say that God’s word is sufficient for us to know God and His power and that even if we do not experience great miracles, signs and wonders it does not at all negate God’s almighty power. We should therefore believe in His Almighty power by faith and not seek to see it in the form of signs, miracles, wonders or healing.

    The point even in Jesus days was that as it had been usual through out the history of God’s people, they sought after signs, miracles and wonders but always did not believe nor obey His word. Their attitude was always what can God do for me but never what can we do to be faithful, obey and serve God. This is sadly the poor spiritual condition of a huge chunk of the church today.

    We should know God is Almighty and that He can do the impossible, but my question is this, is it enough for us to know He is and leave it up to Him to display His power and providence in the way He desires to do so and stop demanding He do it how se want Him to do it.

    Jesus condemned such a generation as the one He was dealing with when He said this:

    Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.

    Luke 11:29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

    He calls that generation wicked, adulterous and evil and Jesus also called that generation faithless for the same reason:

    Mark 9:18-19 your disciples, that they should cast him out, but they could not.” 19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?

    This is exactly why both here in Romans 15 as in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul brings up these points regarding the things that were previously written.

    Through them we receive, could receive I should say if we are really determined to make God’s word our very lifeline, admonition, comfort, instruction, perseverance and hope.

    Scripture is sufficient for everything we need in our Christian life as Paul clearly says it is:

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    As we should know God and His word are sufficient for any and all believers to live, to grow and to be thoroughly equipped for everything we must know and do, if indeed we take God at His word, literally putting into practice what the word itself says, knowing God as He is revealed in His word ought to give us confidence, comfort, patience and hope. If we do not have all that God’s word says and promises let us remember that it is our fault and not God’s fault.

    Now I would like to take a look at the first part of verse 5:

    Romans 15:5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus

    We have seen already that God desires that we are like minded toward one another according to Christ Jesus, this is a very important issue in the church, essential actually.

    What I want to focus on is the attributes of God herein described. Paul calls God the God of patience and comfort. In addition we have already studied that God desires that we receive endurance, patience or even perseverance and comfort through His word. Now Paul shows us that indeed, God is also a God of patience and comfort. These are two of His attributes, God is patient and gives patience and endurance to His children and God also gives aid through comfort. In fact, the Holy Spirit, who we know, or I hope we do know is God, is also called comforter or helper, He who comes to bring aid to God’s children.

    Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth but He also calls Him the comforter, helper!

    John 14:15-17 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

    The title helper in reference to the Holy Spirit is the main title given to Him by Jesus besides calling Him Spirit of truth.

    Although, the word here is translated helper, the Greek word used is: parakletos

    This word besides helper means advocate and comforter. In fact, without doing a long in depth study of the person of the Holy Spirit it suffices to say that the Holy Spirit is indeed sent to live in us to be all of these things for us. The Holy Spirit is God who helps us, God who comforts us and God who advocates in our behalf.

    Let’s take a quick look at how He is described in Scripture in doing all of this.

    We have seen that God gives us endurance and comfort through His word, however without the help, here we go, without the help of the Holy Spirit we cannot receive understanding of God’s word.

    The Holy Spirit in reality is the One who inspired all of God’s word to be written, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

    The Holy Spirit is the One who gives us the understanding of God’s word:

    1 John 2:20-27 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us–eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

    The anointing John mentions here is indeed the Holy Spirit, as we should know oil, or in this case anointing, unction, is the presence of God’s Spirit.

    This anointing is in the context of the Holy Spirit giving understanding of God’s word, see also:

    1 Corinthians 2:10-16 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    The Holy Spirit is also our advocate, He stands in for us when we need Him to do so, this is evidently seen particularly in two passages:

    Luke 12:11-12 Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

    Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

    So we see that the Holy Spirit advocates for us in two special ways, one He teaches us, today by knowing and using God’s written word, how we ought to speak and respond.

    The second way He advocates for us is before God’s throne, by interceding for us when we have difficulty praying. He takes from God and places that burden in our heart and even if and when we can’t verbalize our prayers He takes that burden and brings it back to God in our behalf. Therefore God’s Spirit is involved while we are involved as well, we are weak but He is strong. He also aids us in teaching us how to pray in God’s will through God’s word.

    Therefore, the Holy Spirit illumines us by giving us knowledge of God’s word and God’s will, He teaches us how to speak and respond according to God’s will and His word, He advocates for us befor God’s throne in intercession for us and He also is our comforter.

    Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

    He comforts us though in the same way Paul explained previously, by leading us in the comfort of the Scriptures.

    It is a misconception to think that God has to give us aid and comfort apart and without God’s word. It is also a misconception to think that the Holy Spirit comforts us apart from the comfort He leads us into through God’s word.

    Scripture comforts us, God comforts us but always and through His word and not usually apart from it.

    Psalms 119:49-50 Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope. 50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.

    Psalms 119:76-77 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant. 77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight.

    Psalms 119:81-82 My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word. My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

    1 Corinthians 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

    Let me specify as I have several times in the past, the level or type of prophetic or prophecy that was practiced in the beginning stages of the foundation of the church, in other words in the Apostolic days was different from what we call the prophetic word today. Today, as we specified many times we have the completed word of God, called the Bible which contains the entire and completed prophetic word for the church. So, today when we read for example 1 Corinthians 14:3 or any and all passages referring to prophecy or prophetic word, we must understand that we are only talking about what is now contained in the pages of the written word. When we think about the chronology of how the word of God was given and subsequently written we clearly see that God set a certain pattern in how He gave revelation. He gave it in a systematic and gradual way nevertheless at a certain point that revelation became a body of completed revelation and it became as we know Scripture. This happened with the body of Old Testamentary revelation as well as the New.

    We must be aware, if we are not, that the central theme of all revelation and prophecy is the Lord Jesus Christ. All Biblical revelation revolves around the person of God and Jesus Christ. Old Testament Scripture reveals God and Jesus, not entirely, but mostly in a Messianic way and also mostly to reveal the first coming of the Lord Jesus even though it also contains a lot of prophetic revelation concerning His Second Advent as well.

    Nevertheless the New Testament works the same way the Old Testamentary prophetic word and revelation works. It still speaks of Jesus but this time it does it concentrating on the events of His life, His death and Resurrection but also on the birth of the church and subsequently the completion of all prophetic and revelatory information needed regarding the future of the world all with the Lord at center stage, it speaks of the Lord coming again to establish God’s Kingdom on earth, to destroy His enemies, to raise the dead in Christ, to transform the living Christians as well, to unify the remnant of Judah and Israel and readmit a unified Israel in the New Covenant. It speaks of fulfilling all the promises God made to Israel and reestablishing the land and Kingdom to Israel and Jesus becoming the King of Israel and the ruler of the nations for 1000 years subsequently it reveals the final judgment of the living and the dead and the eternal state.

    Therefore, as we see all the body of prophecy and revelation necessary for the church was already provided by God and embodied in the pages of Scripture, both Old and New Testament.

    For these reasons we must heed the very stern warning we find written in the book of Revelation, which isn’t called that by chance by the way. Where we find this written:

    Revelation 22:18-20 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

    It is more than evident being that the book of Revelation is the entire and complete body of revelation or of prophecy and it’s the last that nothing should be added to it nor anything ought to be subtracted from it. It is a very dangerous and also grievous thing to do with God’s word especially when it’s the last and complete body of revelation and prophecy there is. There is no need to add anything to it and it’s very sinful to do so. It’s actually damning to do so. Therefore I think we can be pretty sure
    that we can safely claim that any and all persons who today claim to give direct revelation from God are in very grave danger. We really cannot justify or protect this kind of behavior in the church today.

    We surely are not called to stone false prophets anymore but it still remains a grave thing and God sees it as damning. I do not understand why many in the church still defend this practice even when God’s word strictly prohibits doing it.

    Therefore, in Paul’s day and briefly afterwords the direct prophetic word was indeed still a viable practice in the church and even then it had to undergo strict scrutiny by the church to make sure it was in perfect agreement with Apostolic doctrine. This is actually what is stated in:

    1 Corinthians 14:31-32 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

    However, since today we have the completed body of prophecy written for the church within the pages of Scripture we do not need direct revelatory words from God. Anything we need to know that God wanted to tell us is found written in the Bible. It’s indeed much more convenient for believers to seek after and listen to so called prophetic words because it’s much less demanding and challenging than reading and studying God’s word. It’s basically become a shortcut for Christians in order to avoid having to go about it the harder way.

    God calls believers to study to show themselves approved to God and not to be ashamed, knowing how to rightly divide God’s word.

    2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    God wants us to be diligent in studying God’s word not trusting and listening to so called prophetic words rather than seeking God’s written word in order to get the revelation and information God desires us to have.

    This is why it’s important for us today to understand these things, that when we see these passages which say we should receive instruction and encouragement from prophecy it means that we are to find instruction and encouragement by God’s written word and those people who today have a divine call to preach and teach God’s written word.

    These also can be and are today’s prophets, not the ones who speak by the so-called direct revelation they say comes from God. The prophetic ministry of the church never ended it just changed slightly from decreeing God’s word by direct revelation to decreeing God’s word and prophetic message through the already revealed and complete written word of God.

    Having said this and hopefully, we can all understand that God’s instruction and comfort comes through the reading and studying of His written word and the preaching and teaching of His written word.

    God comforts us also through His providential mercy and kindness given to us and by His deliverance as well:

    Isaiah 12:1 And in that day you will say: “O LORD, I will praise You; Though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.

    2 Corinthians 1:3-11 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

    When God delivers us from difficulties He brings comfort to us, but let’s remember that it is very important to know that God brings comfort to us even and especially in the midst of trials,even when He does not immediately deliver us, He still comforts us throughout the trials.

    He does so by bringing to our remembrance His word and His promises and in those we find comfort, in addition His Spirit also helps us by fortifying us in this process.

    The other way God delivers His providential comfort is also through the comfort He provides through our deliverance so that we can also provide comfort to other believers through the witness and testimony of our own experiences.

    God also uses His guidance and His correction to give us comfort. It does not seem possible that God’s discipline that can be harsh and even severe at times could bring us comfort but it does.

    Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

    Knowing that we belong to God, that we are His sheep and He is our shepherd gives us comfort while we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, even though we are corrected and disciplined by our shepherd this actually gives us comfort. This verse in fact comes after David says this:

    Psalms 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

    David realizes that God is all he needs in his life and as long as God takes care of Him even though He walks in this dark and evil world and always in the shadow of death he does not need to fear evil because God is with him and God protects, guides and corrects him,this shows love and care by the way. Even the author of Hebrews claims that God’s correction and discipline brings comfort to us.

    Hebrews 12:5-13 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

    God’s discipline is designed to cause pain in our flesh but this is done only to bring forth lasting comfort. God does this by bringing to work in us the peaceable fruit of His righteousness. We therefore become strengthened in and through this process and our paths are made straight in such a way that what is lame, in other words what is not right in us may be made right so that we in this we receive healing. All this is in perfect harmony and agreement with Psalms 23:1-4.

    Therefore, knowing God as He reveals Himself in His word, knowing His attributes gives us great comfort.

    Let’s see if this is true:

    Knowing God as being Sovereign over all, comforts us because we know He is in control of everything and nothing is hidden from Him, Knowing that He will work all things according to His will
    Ephesians 1:3-14, which always works all things for the good for His children and this gives us great comfort Romans 8:28.

    Knowing God as being Almighty, all powerful, comforts us because we know that nothing and no one can overpower Him and that all things are possible for Him and nothing is impossible for Him.

    Knowing God as being Omniscient, in other words as the One who knows everything and knows all things always, from eternity past to forever, this gives us comfort. How could it not give us comfort to trust God who knows everything?

    Knowing God as being Merciful comforts us because we know that He gives us what we do not deserve as a result of our sins and He instead blesses giving what we do not deserve, salvation from eternal wrath.

    Knowing God as our Savior comforts us because we know He loves us and He will save us to the end and not destine us to endure His wrath.

    Knowing God as our Shepherd, as we said before, comforts us because He provides for us, He guides and restores us, corrects and protects us. Psalms 23:1-6

    Knowing God as being Faithful and True comforts us because we know He will always keep His promises and He will always make us know what is true and therefore we can count on His word, we can therefore see why His word brings us comfort as well.
    Knowing God as being Omnipresent comforts us because we know He is always near us and He is always with us and He never leaves us nor forsakes us and that being such allows Him to always be where He needs to be when He needs to be and when we need Him to be.

    Knowing God as Just and Righteous comforts us because we can count on His perfect justice and knowing that everything He decides to do it right always when He judges and when He punishes it’s always right. This comforts us because of these facts we should always know that no one will get away with anything. May times we are discouraged because we do not see all this manifesting immediately or at least not quick enough from our standpoint. However, knowing God this way we can be comforted and rest assured that He will always do what is right even if it’s not within our time table.

    Knowing God is immutable comforts us because we know have stability in all He does and declares in His word. This is a fount of comfort for us because we can always know and be sure that what God says never changes and that He never changes and this stabilizes our thoughts and decisions and gives us better knowledge of God’s will. God does not want us to be in doubt or to be confused because having doubts and being confused destroys comfort. How can we have comfort in things that constantly change? In reality if God changed, His word would become obsolete or at the very least we would need a constant flow of new revelation.

    In fact this is a very big problem in the church today, which is being swept over by a constant flow of new (fake) revelation and we have been constantly hearing for decades now, that God is doing new things. All this brings deception and a false sense of hope and comfort.

    Real comfort comes from knowing God as He is, that God instead never changes, what was sin 5000 years ago is also sin today, what He wanted done or not done in the church 2000 plus years ago is what He wants in the church today.

    Knowing that God is impartial comforts us because we know that He loves all His children the in same way, that there is no favoritism with Him. He blesses us all for the same reasons and He corrects us all for the same reasons, this gives comfort to us in blessing and in correction alike because we know that no matter what we are all loved and blessed and corrected for the same reasons and in the same way. God is also impartial in His judgment and punishment of sin. Outside of Jesus Christ any person will be judged the same way for their sin, there will be no favoritism, there will be no plea bargaining with God.

    Knowing that God is patient or better long suffering gives us comfort because we know that we can count on Him for our entire life, as long as we live He suffers long with our inconsistencies, our errors, our character even our sins and continues to love us through it all. This is a very difficult thing for believers to practice in their own life toward others and yet this is fruit of the Spirit.

    As we clearly see He is the God of comfort because in His entire person we have a constant flow of comfort for our life.

    Receiving help, strength, wisdom, discernment, instruction, correction, provision, mercy and love in all of its fullness as we have seen gives us comfort.

    God indeed is the God of all comfort and He has come into our lives in the person of the Holy Spirit who is our helper, our comforter and the One who give us hope and comfort through His word which is also illuminated by His Spirit in us.

    Romans 15:7-12 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.” 10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” 11 And again: “Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!” 12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

    Paul continues now in the same vain he started and ended chapter 14 and with which he opened chapter 15.

    Because of all that Paul taught us until now, we ought to therefore receive one another just as Christ received us to the glory of God. What does Paul mean here? What does he mean we ought to receive on another as Christ received us?

    It is interesting to notice that the remainder of the passage after Paul says this gives us a different take as to what Paul most likely meant when he made this statement.

    It becomes obvious when we first think about what Paul is saying in order to determine what it means that Jesus accepted us, we think of it as to when we were yet sinners. Romans 5 is clear in mentioning that God commanded His love in Christ’s obedience toward us, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

    Romans 5:6-11 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God commands His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

    Therefore, because of all this, we know that God accepted to save us and receive us as sinners, yet we must understand that if we indeed believe the correct doctrine of sovereign election we also must understand that our acceptance in Christ does not exclusively remain embedded only in our sinfulness.

    Instead, believing that we have been accepted and saved as sinners we also know that we have been regenerated in other words made anew, Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21.

    Therefore, yes, we have been accepted as sinners, however, at the same time we are not allowed to remain in a state of rebellious and unadulterated sinful nature. Yes, it is true we sadly and unfortunately continue to be sinful, howbeit not in the same way we were before.

    We have extensively studied this context and subject when we studied Romans chapter 7 and subsequently we have also often mentioned this context and subject, therefore we will not belabor the point here.

    Suffices to say that as Paul eloquently explained in Romans 6, we are under grace and no longer have a sinful nature as our old man has been crucified with Christ and it died with Christ. Christ took it out of the way! See Romans 6:1-7.

    Yes, God indeed accepted us as sinners, but He did not leave us in that natural sinful condition but instead made us into new spiritual creatures in Christ even if, as I said we are still prone to sin and we still do. Our spiritual condition however is different from what it was before, we were saved and regenerated.

    We know that we ought not to justify our sinfulness ever! Even and especially now! Yet, God accepts us in Christ even in another way, How? He accepts us regardless any human status we may hold.

    I believe this is the actual meaning or intent Paul has when he writes that we ought to receive one another as Christ received us. The following language Paul uses creates the context and the explanation upon which we need to focus.

    It is obvious that man’s sinfulness is the reason why God had to create the plan of salvation as He did create. It was rendered very clear and evident in Romans 3 how the equalizer of mankind before God is, as Paul explained there, sinfulness.

    In fact in chapter 3 of Romans he says:

    Romans 3:9-20 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    Clearly we see that the context is the equal status of the Gentiles and the Jews before God based on their sinful nature, the very fact which Paul later mentions in:

    Romans 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

    Verse 23, is the verse that is the great equalizer, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    All, Jews and Gentiles, those who had and knew the law of God and those who did not, all are guilty before God, verse 19 and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, verse 23.

    All, Jews and Gentiles alike are now accepted in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles are guilty and fall short of God’s glory, all people in the entire world will be and are accepted in the same way, by faith in Jesus Christ and trusting only in His work of redemption.

    Not trusting in trying to self righteously obey God’s law, not abiding by religious rituals, not by being Jewish or not for a Gentile person to have to become a Jew before they can obtain salvation, even through faith in Christ, as many Jews believed at that time.

    What I believe Paul is stating here is to accept each other as Christ accepted us in that very sense,what sense? The sense Jesus gave to Nicodemus as a Jew when He told him these things:

    John 3:14-19 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    Jesus is clearly explaining to Nicodemus, not only simply a Jewish man but a teacher of Israel. Jesus basically is teaching Nicodemus that an individual must be born again from above and that this is a supernatural event that generates in God and is brought about by the Holy Spirit, see John 3:1-8.

    Jesus also challenges Nicodemus as a teacher of Israel, when Nicodemus is puzzled by what Jesus tells him regarding the spiritual new birth. It is obvious that Jesus when He makes reference to this He asks Nicodemus:

    John 3:10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?

    Jesus is implying that Nicodemus should have known that what Jesus was talking about was in relation to the new birth of Israel and its admission into the New Covenant in Christ as described in:

    Ezekiel 36:25-28 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

    This is exactly what Jesus is referring to when He was talking to Nicodemus, but Jesus goes beyond this episode prophesied in Ezekiel and He states that anyone, not just a Jew, anyone in the world, would believe in Him, they would not perish but have everlasting life.

    Jesus stipulates that He must be lifted up, He indicates His death on the cross so that whoever believes in Him will receive eternal life and would not be eternally condemned. Because God so loved the world, not only Israel, not only the Jews, God sent Jesus into the world, to save the elect of the whole world not to condemn the world, in other words people other than Jews.

    Therefore, the issue of the spiritual birth that Jesus is talking about is not only related to the rebirth of Israel and Judah but to the rebirth of every person, anywhere in the world upon which the Spirit of God rests by calling them to believe in Christ and then by giving them the faith to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and therefore become born again from above.

    Therefore, God in Christ has accepted all people, with any and all cultural differences, all people regardless of their country of origin, regardless of their status or sex. In fact when Paul writes the following passage he is making this very point:

    Galatians 3:26-29 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    And also he says it in:

    Colossians 3:9-11 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
    These two passages encapsulate exactly, I believe, what Paul is referring to when he states that we ought to receive one another as we were received in Christ.

    These two passages must also be carefully weighed in the context in which they are written and not as many interpret them to mean. Let me say it in the briefest way I can, these passages do not at all allow women to rule and teach and have positions of authority in the church as this passage is erroneously interpreted by many.

    This passage in no way shape or form is implying that being a female in Christ gives a Christian woman the same right as it gives to called Christian males to govern and teach in the church. This passage does not speak of governing roles and positions in the church.

    We know, or should know, that the Word of God never contradicts itself, therefore if any passage we find in it prohibits women to teach (1 Timothy 2:12) and if the word of God in its language and the church in its history from its birth show us that only males, men, rule and teach in the church then we need to live in obedience to God’s word and His will. We cannot ever attempt try and usurp the authority of God’s word by misinterpreting its meaning and allowing it to fit our wants and our whims.

    Let’s remember that the word of God transcends time and culture and its commandments are never suggestions or advice. It is the believer and the church that must submit to God’s word and not God’s word that must be made to submit to cultural changes and requirements.

    Feminism cannot demand in the church what it demands in society, feminism or anyone else for that matter, should not be allowed to twist the meaning of Scripture in order to force the church to oblige to its demands. The church should not bend to the demands of feminism and disobey and compromise God’s word.

    Anyway, what I believe Paul is saying here in Romans 15: 7 regarding us receiving one another as Christ received us, is the same context, as he also showed us in the aforementioned passages.

    In fact, the entire context of chapter 14 speaks to this very fact, in other words, we should accept each other regardless of our cultural and alimentary differences and do it without condemnation and without judgment.
    Cultural differences, such as foods, drinks, celebration of days or no celebration, unless these in some way openly violate God’s word, ought not become points of contention in the church.

    We should not allow ourselves to judge harshly one another or use our knowledge and liberty in Christ to be a stumbling block or anything that makes others sin.

    Paul makes a distinction in the following verses when he explains that God accepted the Gentiles as well as the Jews regardless of their cultural differences and not only because of the great human equalizer known as sin, regardless of the cultural and societal differences that exist between Jews and Gentiles.

    God in Christ saves us as we all are, sinners, with all our cultural and societal differences, He accepts us regardless our status in life, regardless our sexes (male or female). While God saves us and forgives us all our sins, past, present and future He still does not tolerate sin or for that matter simply accepts sin in our life.

    Just because God forgives our sins does not mean that He tolerates or accepts sin in our life, He forgives them but we will still often suffer the consequences of practicing them, of course this is in this life and in our flesh. God’s discipline for our rebellion and sinfulness can often be severe even as believers.

    So when God’s word tells us to accept one another it does not mean that we ought to ignore and tolerate sin on our own life or in the church for that matter.

    Therefore, Paul is saying that we also ought to do as God did and does, accept each other in the same way He does, not ignoring and tolerating sinfulness yet tolerating and accepting each other in things that are not sinful, those things that are simply cultural or alimentary.

    As God accepted the Gentiles on the same level as the Jews, we ought to accept each other, in other words in Christ and because of Him we are all accepted the same way by God the Father.

    This is why he mentions the following verses:

    8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.” 10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” 11 And again: “Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!” 12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

    The things that Paul is now saying are indeed the very things that even the Law and the prophets declared about Jesus.

    One passage that really brings this into evidence is this:

    Isaiah 52:13-15 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men; 15 So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, And what they had not heard they shall consider.

    This is the prelude passage to Isaiah 53 and we know that in the Jewish religion Jews even today really deny that these two passages, this one and Isaiah 53 speak of Jesus Christ. They interpret these passages to mean it referred to Israel. However, it is impossible for this to be true.

    This is definitely a very clear prophecy regarding Jesus. Indeed He did deal prudently and indeed He is exalted and extolled and is indeed very high.

    This is exactly fulfilled by Jesus and rendered evident by New Testament writings.

    The most famous one is found written in:

    Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    However there are others as well:

    Acts 2:32-35 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ‘

    As we see in this last passage especially Peter uses a quotation taken from David’s Psalms 110:1.

    We clearly see the written here connections with Isaiah 52:13 and the confirmation of what David wrote.

    The servant in question written about in Isaiah 52 and 53 is not at all Israel it has to be Jesus.

    That I cannot be referred to Israel but as another person, namely Jesus, is clear also from the following language So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;

    It is evident, here they are talking about the face of a person and a human form, namely a man.

    It is the face and the form of a man they are talking about and this is consistent with the beating and flogging that Jesus received.

    Although it is not really revealed in Scriptural writings we can scientifically and historically know that the type of beating and flogging Jesus suffered is indeed consistent with the words used in Isaiah 52:1.

    The Roman flogging was done with and instrument called the Flagrum which was designed to quickly remove the flesh from the body of a victim.
    The Romans would, according to custom, scourge a condemned criminal before he was put to death. The Roman scourge, also called the “flagrum” or “flagellum” was a short whip made of two or three leather (ox-hide) thongs or ropes connected to a handle as in the sketch above. The leather thongs were knotted with a number of small pieces of metal, usually zinc and iron, attached at various intervals. Scourging would quickly remove the skin. According to history the punishment of a slave was particularly dreadful. The leather was often knotted with bones, or with heavy indented pieces of bronze.

    Sometimes the Roman scourge also contained a hook at the end and was given the terrifying name “scorpion.” The criminal was made to stoop with his hands tied in front of them leaving entire back of the body exposed, the which would make deeper lashes from the shoulders to the waist and even beyond.

    According to Jewish law for example (discipline of the synagogue) the number of stripes was forty less one (Deuteronomy 25:3) and the rabbis reckoned 168 actions to be punished by scourging before the judges.

    Nevertheless, scourging at the hand of the Romans was a more severe form of punishment and there was no actual legal limit to the number of blows, as with the Jews. Deep lacerations, torn flesh, exposed muscles and excessive bleeding would leave the criminal “half-dead.” Death often was the result of this cruel form of punishment though it was necessary to keep the criminal alive to be brought to public execution on the cross. The Centurion in charge would order the “lictors” to halt the flogging when the criminal was near death.

    In fact in Isaiah 53:5 we find this written But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

    The Hebrew word for stripes here is chabbuwrah that in its intent does precisely indicate the stripes cause by a flogging.

    The language in this passage is very much indicative of the beating and flogging Jesus received as written in the Gospels. It is obvious the stripes in question here are indeed indicative of the Roman flogging.

    Let’s think about that for a moment, our forgiveness of sins, our punishment was taken up by Jesus and it began even before the actual death of Jesus. His death completed it, but the punishment He endured for us even before the cross was part of it.

    We clearly see that the servant in question mentioned in Isaiah is definitely Jesus and not Israel. In fact in Philippians 2 Jesus is said to have taken upon Himself the form of a servant.

    Philippians 2:7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

    Jesus Himself said that He came not to be served but to serve:

    Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

    Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

    As we see we have ample evidence that Jesus is the servant mentioned in Isaiah 52 and 53. Therefore Paul is exactly right when he says that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God,

    He is the servant of God and of man, He first came to serve in fact the circumcision, the Jews, Israel.

    He did even as Jesus Himself several times confirmed that He had come for the lost sheep of Israel.

    Matthew 15:21-24 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

    He came to serve the lost sheep of Israel and yet, in the way He came for them they rejected Him. This is written in:

    John 1:11-13 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    This bring us in fact to what Paul says that He came as a servant to God’s truth and this also was evident all throughout Jesus preaching and teaching.

    In fact, even John says this:

    John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

    Later John says this also:

    John 1:16-17 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

    Jesus Himself often confirmed that He had come to testify to God’s truth.

    John 8:40-47 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father–God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

    John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    Jesus came to bear witness to the truth and He is the truth.

    Jesus made this very declaration to Pilate:

    John 18:36-38 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

    Clearly Jesus was God’s and man’s servant come not only to give Himself a ransom for many but also to bear witness to the truth of God.

    This truth, Paul states, is the truth written in God’s word:

    Romans 15:8-9 to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:

    God made these promises to the fathers beginning with Abraham, see Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 22:18; The same promise was also made to Isaac, Genesis 26:4. Finally the same promise was made to Jacob, ie: Israel Genesis 28:13.

    Notice that God’s promise to the fathers of Israel contained two very important clauses. The first one is God’s declaration that through their seed all nations of the earth will be blessed. Let’s focus on the first important word, seed!

    Paul teaches us a very important truth regarding this term and such is written in:

    Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

    We clearly see that the promise was the promise of Israel’s Messiah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s Seed.

    Clearly Jesus in His flesh, in His body is Jewish, from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David. Therefore Jesus can say this to the Samaritan woman:

    John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    In this passage interestingly we see some very important things Jesus said. The first thing He says is that salvation is of the Jews. This fits perfectly with God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and it fits perfectly with what Jesus and Paul said. The seed of Abraham is Jesus and Jesus is a Jew and He is the savior and He is the truth and He came to bear witness to the truth of the promise made by God to the fathers.

    Jesus is confirming this in the discourse He made with the Samaritan woman furthermore telling her that He is the Messiah, the savior, God’s seed promised to the fathers.

    John 4:25-26 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

    The next thing about what God promises to the fathers was not only the one of the Seed, namely Jesus as Paul explains in Galatians but also that through the promised Seed all nations of the world would be blessed and indeed this is the second truth of what Paul is also saying here in Romans 15:8.

    Which is that God indeed promised to save the Gentiles through the Seed of Abraham, Jesus!

    Therefore the promise made to the fathers contained the promise of the Seed, Jesus and that through that Seed the Gentiles would glorify God for His mercy.

    We also have a very important passage, also written by Paul in his letter to the Romans in chapter 11 that confirms what Paul is also saying here.

    Romans 11:28-32 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

    As we see written here the rejection of Christ caused the Jews to become enemies but concerning the election, in other words the promises we have seen they are still beloved for the sake of the fathers, in other words the promises made by God to the fathers. When God promises something God delivers on that promise! The gifts and call God made to the fathers are irrevocable because God promised. A the Gentiles were disobedient to God now they have received mercy through Jesus Christ. Because of Israel’s temporary rejection of Jesus Christ the Gentiles have received mercy. God committed all, Jews and Gentiles to disobedience so that He can accept them both in Christ,

    In fact this is also the argument Paul is making in this section of Romans 15 where he states that we must be accepting of each other as God in Christ has accepted us and we did talk about what this really meant but also what he is saying now about the Gentiles glorifying God for His mercy.

    Therefore Jesus came and testified to God’s truth given to the fathers, the promises, the prophecies about Himself even as He claimed various times, especially after His resurrection.

    Luke 24:25-27 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

    Luke 24:44-45 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

    As we clearly see Jesus is making reference to the promises mad by God to the fathers and to which He obviously had come to bear witness.

    There are many, too many references to mention here all throughout the New Testamentary Scriptures that confirm this very fact, in other words, that the promises made by God to the fathers were all about Jesus. Even Paul says that all the promises of God are fulfilled in and through Christ

    2 Corinthians 1:18-20 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us–by me, Silvanus, and Timothy–was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

    So, yes, definitely all the promises God made to the fathers were really about Jesus Christ and all of them have fulfillment in and through Him only, even for Israel it will have to be like that.

    Israel will have to come into the New Covenant by accepting their Messiah and King Jesus Christ and they will at the moment of His return.

    Zechariah 12:10-11 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

    I would like to go back now to something that the Gospel of Luke mentioned in on of the passages we read before. I find it necessary touch on this subject because I believe that it is a subject greatly misunderstood in the church.

    Luke 24:45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

    We need to understand this concept very clearly, unless God through His Spirit opens our minds and hearts we cannot, and I repeat it, cannot understand God’s word and no one also cannot believe in God or God’s word.

    There are other passages that confirm this fact:

    Acts 16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

    As we see it is God through His Spirit and in the Luke passage Jesus Himself who did the same.

    Unless God opens the understanding and the heart no one and I mean, no one, can understand the Scriptures or believe in the Gospel on their own.

    It is clear also by what Paul says in:

    1 Corinthians 2: 12-16 We have now received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that comes from God, so that we could know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words that wisdom of man teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual ones. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, because for him they are madness; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges everything, yet he himself is not justly judged by anyone. 16 Why “who knew the mind of the Lord to teach him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    It is clear also by what Paul says in:

    Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    Yes, this is absolutely true, the Gospel is the only way and vehicle God has chosen for men to believe for salvation. The Holy Spirit gives the person spiritual life and then the understanding and faith to believe the Gospel message.

    However, this all occurs by the will and doing of the Father. In fact, Jesus tells Peter that very same thing in:

    Matthew 16:13-17 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

    This passage echoes perfectly what Jesus said in:

    John 6:44-46 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

    We must take all this and sum it up with what Jesus said in John 3 when He said this to Nicodemus:

    John 3:3-8 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    Many believers simply ignore all this and believe that it is they who choose God, they who believe in the gospel, they who understand the scriptures but never understand that only God and His Spirit are able to do all of that. In fact, what they don’t even understand is that if God hadn’t chosen them, unless the Spirit of God first gave them the spiritual life to allow them to believe in the gospel and repent of their sins, they would never have believed in first place.

    Matthew 7: 21-23 “Not all those who say to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day ‘Lord, Lord, we did not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name and did many wonders in your name? 23 “And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you; turn away from Me, you who practice illegality!

    They were bragging about their doing, even though they claimed to do it in the name of the Lord and even calling him Lord.

    Even though this is written and said in the context of false prophets, believers must follow the warning and check their motives and spiritual humility and make sure they don’t believe that we could have anything to do with anything that concerns our salvation.

    Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    Yes, this is absolutely true, the Gospel is the only way and vehicle God has chosen for men to believe for salvation. The Holy Spirit gives the person spiritual life and then the understanding and faith to believe the Gospel message.

    However, this all occurs by the will and doing of the Father. In fact, Jesus tells Peter that very same thing in:

    Matthew 16:13-17 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

    This passage echoes perfectly what Jesus said in:

    John 6:44-46 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

    We must take all this and sum it up with what Jesus said in John 3 when He said this to Nicodemus:

    John 3:3-8 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    We see how all three persons of the Trinity are all involved in our salvation. The Father, planned redemption and chose the elect, in addition it is He who teaches to go to Christ, it through His will that people receive faith but it’s Jesus who completed it and it’s God’s Spirit who applies redemption by regenerating the elect who hear the Gospel and receive spiritual life and the faith to believe in Jesus Christ, this is all God’s will, God’s plan, God’s doing, as we see, there is nothing we did on our own as we can clearly see.

    Any believer therefore, that insists that it was they who chose God, that they chose to believe in Christ, that it was their free will that they exercised in order to believe, these believers are at best deceived within themselves and at worse spiritually prideful and most often, both.

    It is a dangerous thing to stubbornly and pridefully continue to believe this way especially after they’ve been exposed to the only and true sound soteriolgy doctrine (doctrine of salvation), which is the doctrine of sovereign election known also as the doctrine of predestination, these believers are in spiritual trouble because they actually are beginning to believe in salvation by works, in other words their own free will, or better themselves are placed in the place of God, they actually steal the glory from God and that is a serious offense.

    It is clearly stipulated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1 that we can and should only glory in God regarding our salvation:

    1 Corinthians 1:18-31 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption– 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

    In the final analysis as we clearly see stated here, God chose the way (the Gospel message), He chose the ones He saves through it so that no flesh, no one can say they knew and believed God and the Gospel by their own understanding or doing, God did all this Himself so that no one can boast at all about what they did because they, we, have done nothing on our own, it was and is all God’s doing sot that no flesh can glory in His presence as Paul says it is of Him, God, that we are in Christ who became for us wisdom from God, He has become our righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so if and when we glory we can only glory in the Lord.

    We see that it’s not good when people boast of themselves before God.

    Acts 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

    This is the verse that places the final touch on the doctrine of election. There can be no debate and if there is then it is evident that a person is so steeped in their own spiritual pride that they will be in competition with the Pharisees and that is a dangerous place to be.

    In conclusion, yes, we believed in Jesus, yes, we repented of our sins, yes, we confessed Jesus as Lord, yes, we became obedient to the Gospel, all prerequisites for salvation, but we did it exclusively because God has made all this possible and it has nothing to do with our doing or even our free will alone, also because before receiving spiritual life our will was not free at all in order to make the right spiritual decisions. We need to be freed from our sinful nature and this is possible only through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and this is possible only when a person is predestined or chosen by God to believe.

    Therefore, when a person is elected to salvation, when they hear the Gospel, at the moment chosen by God, in fact a person can also hear the Gospel a hundred times but it is only at the right and chosen time by God that the Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner and frees him from his rebellious nature, thus endowed with a real free will, free to be able to make the right choices, God gives us faith to be able to believe in the Gospel message and to repent of our sins and believe and confess the Lord Jesus. This is the irresistible grace of God! It is irresistible precisely because whoever is predestined, just as the passage we read earlier says, ordained by God to eternal life believes in Jesus Christ. We can also resist it but not forever, in this case God wins because nobody can actually resist God, when God wants to do something, nothing and nobody can resist Him.

    It is indeed a sin of idolatry to believe that a human being can resist God, it is a sin of idolatry to believe that a human being’s free will can be stronger than God’s will and to believe that God is obliged to obey human choices is a real blasphemy.

    The scriptures fully deny that God obliges himself to not interfere with human choices. In fact, the Scriptures show us the opposite. Just because God seems to limit himself in certain cases does not mean that he cannot or does not intervene and violate human free will. When God permits something , He always does it in line with His perfect will, in other words God allows but God overrides human choices when He wants to complete His perfect will. There is no contradiction between what God allows and what God wants, because at the end of everything God always does what he wants and always brings His plans and designs to prefect completion. I said it, I say it and I will repeat it all e need to do is look at Joseph’s life to understand this concept. It is enough actually to see the life of Jesus to also see this and above all in that case the perfect will of God was perfectly intertwined with evil human will and bringing to fulfillment the perfect plan of God. In fact, to say that God cannot and does not use and override the wicked and rebellious will of men, which is free only to do things against God, is a Biblical contradiction, it means that who thinks this way does understand that God is sovereign and omnipotent and that no one can resist Him.

    Just to mention a passage that confirms this fact:

    Isaiah 43:10-13 “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen,
    That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior.
    12 I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And there was no foreign god among you;
    Therefore you are My witnesses,” Says the LORD, “that I am God. 13 Indeed before the day was, I am He; And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?”

    The answer is obviously, nobody can stand in the way of God’s work!

    So, if God has elected a person, ordained a person to eternal life, that person will doubtless believe, without if and without but. In fact, Paul clearly spoke of this concept in Romans 9: 11-24. Paul rightly says, who is it that can object to God’s decisions and choices? Nobody, in fact Paul says that a simple human being cannot afford to object to God’s decisions. We are nothing but the creation of God and we cannot afford the arrogance to object with what and how God does and decides to do the things that He wants to do.

    So having said all of this, we can now understand better, I hope, that Jesus came to be the witness of the truth of God for the Jews, to the promises made to them by God and for the Gentiles to be the One by whom God decided to glorify His name giving salvation to them too.

    So that we realize, as we have seen above, that all the nations of the world, people of all languages, even all dialects of the world, all the tribes in existence will have people elected to salvation which God will save by the preaching of the Gospel.

    Let us remember that only believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, only believing in Him, His life, His death and His resurrection and confessing Him as Lord who is part of believing in Him, only this brings people to slavery and only with this method God will save all these people.

    Scripture clearly shows us that this is indeed God’s will:

    Acts 4:10-12 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

    Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

    Revelation 7:9-11 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

    We have made here a sequence of steps that clearly outline the facts demonstrated in them, that is, that it is only believing in Jesus through the preached message of the Gospel, that is, the life, death, resurrection and Lordship of Jesus Christ which is the power of God for salvation of every person who believes, both Jews and Gentiles, and that this message of salvation must be preached all over the world to all the representatives of every people and tribe, which we clearly see, have all been redeemed and are present before God.

    In fact, the predestined number, established by God of Gentiles that is, of every people and tribe in the world must be completed before Jesus returns and saves the remnant of Israel as described in Romans 11: 25-26 which will again be one people and one nation, as was prophesied by Ezekiel in:

    Ezekiel 37:11-23 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.’ ” 15 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 16 “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 “Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. 18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’– 19 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.” ‘ 20 “And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21 Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.

    Chapters 36 and 37 of Ezekiel prophesy about the spiritual rebirth and salvation of the nation of Israel and their reunification and readmission to New Covenant at the coming of Jesus Christ.

    Thus God will bless Israel and all the nations, peoples and tribes of the world, before and after His coming and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. So that God’s promises to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will all be fulfilled in and by Jesus Christ.

    And in fact Paul now here in Romans 15 quotes prophetic passages from the Old Testament which refer to the salvation of the nations through Christ.

    Romans 15:9-12 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.” 10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” 11 And again: “Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!” 12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

    These prophecies concerning the salvation of the Gentile nations in Christ before and after His Second Coming are found in:

    Psalms 18:49 Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

    Deuteronomy 32:43 “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people;

    Psalms 117:1 Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!

    Isaiah 11:10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.”

    It is interesting to note the parallel regarding the origin of these passages and what Jesus also said, that is, that the Law, the prophets and the Psalms prophesied of Him not only in these passages but these passages are also proper representatives of the Law (Deuteronomy) of the Prophets (Isaiah) and finally of the Psalms.

    The promises of God in Christ to the fathers for the blessing of the world in Jesus Christ!

    Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    This is a beautiful benediction that Paul prays for the Roman believers but although it is beautifully and quite simply put we need to delve into it to open it up and draw out its full blessing.

    God is indeed the God of hope, He has been called with that title many times:

    Jeremiah 14:7-8 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, Do it for Your name’s sake; For our backslidings are many, We have sinned against You. 8 O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble,

    Even in the midst of our sinfulness and backsliding God is our hope, as we hope in His mercy, He still is our only Savior in time of trouble and there is no worse trouble we can be in than in our sinfulness.

    Our sins testify against us as they did against Israel, God does indeed show His mercy because He is merciful yet we need to understand that His ultimate goal is His glory and indeed many times we have seen this concept delineated for us in Scripture.

    Even David talking about God as His shepherd says:

    Psalms 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

    God restores our soul and leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He does it to bring glory and honor to Himself.

    God is jealous of His glory! Many say that He is only a capricious and perhaps narcissistic God who cares only about His glory, but the problem with this nonsense or better blasphemy, is that, God is the supreme ruler of the universe and the creator of everything, He has the right to be jealous of His glory because only He is worthy of it and no one else. If believers do not understand this fact then it becomes evident why there is so much irreverence and disrespect for God in the church.

    When believers have no respect for God, when believers do not live with only the goal of bringing glory to God then it is better understood why the church is in the state it is.

    Too many believers believe that God has saved them only because He loves them and this is partially true, that is, God loved us so that He wished to save us from our eternal sinfulness and perdition but in reality we are only the secondary objective of God’s salvation.

    Let me explain better, yes we are the recipients of God’s love and mercy, but we are also because God has an additional reason and this reason is His glory. God saved us because we were those who, because of the salvation given to us, brought glory to God forever.

    Paul explains this concept very well in:

    Romans 9:16-24 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

    God saves people to assign them to glory for His name sake and we are the product of salvation that brings glory to God forever, also we must understand well that it is in fact for the person and work of Jesus Christ who brings true glory to God. We alone, outside of Christ as Paul says come short of the glory of God.

    Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    Without Jesus people are without the glory of God because they are still in their sinful nature and in that we are precisely deprived of the glory of God. Jesus is in fact the glory of God and only in Him can we bring glory to God.

    God is worthy of glory because He is God, the creator, the savior, the Lord and as such He is worthy of honor, glory and thanksgiving.

    In fact, in Romans 1 Paul writes this:

    Romans 1:18-25 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    As is evident from this passage the judgment, the wrath of God is poured by God on men because after all the reason is clear, in verse 21 he says because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful then in verse 23 he says and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
    In verse 25 he says who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    So we clearly see that for the sinful nature of men God judges them and pours out his wrath on them because they want to bury, suppress the truth of God and in doing so despite having known God as creator they decided not to give Him glory or even thank Him, instead they exchanged His glory as the supreme creator of everything, they insult Him with their idolatry and contempt for His majesty.

    This is also why God judges humanity, because the creatures despise and insult the One who created them and who sustain them.

    This is why in heaven, in the presence of God, His creatures praise Him and give Him glory continuously.

    Revelation 4:8-11 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

    This is the passage that illuminates us the most about the glory that belongs to God and we see it very clearly exposed here.

    In the presence of God we find four living beings and this is their description:

    Revelation 4:6-7 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first livingelation creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

    As we see these living beings are representatives of the creation of God, we find here the wild beasts are represented in the lion, the domestic beasts in the calf, obviously the one with the face of man represents humanity and the fourth represents the birds.

    I recognize that in fact marine living beings are lacking representation and I cannot say much about this except this, that in chapter 5 of Revelation John describes what he sees and there we also find the representation of marine beings:

    Revelation 5:11-13 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

    Here every created being, angels, men, every creature in heaven, earth and sea give glory to God, the creator and Jesus Christ the savior saying:

    “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

    As we see God as the creator in chapter four and the savior, Jesus in chapter 5 and they are worthy:

    Revelation 5:12 “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

    As we see if every creature spends all their time giving glory and thanking and praising God and repeating never resting day and night that He is worthy of receiving such, then it is better understood that giving glory to God is indeed the supreme thing His creation must do. Especially His creation, created in Christ Jesus:

    Ephesians 2:9-10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    Even God Himself says:

    Isaiah 48:11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.

    Clearly, as we said before, God does things above all for His own sake, that is, to keep His own honor and he does not want His name to be profaned and for these things he says that He will not give His glory to anyone else because, as we have seen, only He is worthy of it.

    Idolatry is just that, giving glory to what and who has none. Humans are all sinners and as we have seen because of this they fall short of God’s glory. Idols, in other words, either other living creatures or any other created body is nothing but a creation of God and in fact as we have seen, all living creatures give glory to God not receive it. Creation or creatures are to give glory to God not receive it.

    Any other thing is nothing but a creation of man, idols are man created so called gods and are nothing, except that behind them are demons.

    This is what Paul says about this:

    1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. 18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

    Paul says that the idol in itself is nothing but an inanimate object yet, as he says, the idol represents a demon so that when a person worships an idol they are indeed worshiping demons. Clearly Paul says that in doing so provoke God to jealousy.

    As I said before, God is jealous of His glory because only He is worthy of receiving glory.

    All throughout the Old Testamentary Scriptures God condemned the practice of idolatry, once again because ion doing so His people worshiped demons and gave demons and Satan the glory instead of Him.

    Psalms 115:3-8 But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; 6 They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; 7 They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. 8 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.

    Jeremiah 10:14-16 Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; Every metalsmith is put to shame by an image; For his molded image is falsehood, And there is no breath in them. 15 They are futile, a work of errors; In the time of their punishment they shall perish.16 The Portion of Jacob is not like them, For He is the Maker of all things, And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; The LORD of hosts is His name.

    Jeremiah 2:5-9 Thus says the LORD: “What injustice have your fathers found in Me, That they have gone far from Me, Have followed idols, And have become idolaters? 6 Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and pits, Through a land of drought and the shadow of death,
    Through a land that no one crossed And where no one dwelt?’ 7 I brought you into a bountiful country, To eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land And made My heritage an abomination. 8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal,
    And walked after things that do not profit. 9 “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the LORD, “And against your children’s children I will bring charges.

    In this last passage we find that God has a real controversy with His people because they abandoned the sole and true worship of the One and true living God and gave it to idols, in other words, demons and Satan, giving them and not Him the glory that is due Him. We see that as they entered the land God gave them they disobeyed His law by serving and worshiping the idols of the people they should have instead destroyed. God tells Jeremiah that they made God’s heritage and abomination sand that the priests, the teachers of the Law of God and the rulers they all transgressed and they all did not know God, the prophet as well prophesied by Baal and walked after unprofitable idols. Because of all this God indicts His people, He brings charges of guilt against them.

    Idolatry is a real abomination to God!

    After this needed parenthesis we need to go back to the original text study, Paul blesses the Roman church and us as well with this beautiful benediction, the God of hope, God indeed is man’s only hope, unfortunately man places their hope and trust in the wrong people and things all the time.

    Only God can be man’s only hope, hope for salvation, hope for healing, hope of comfort, hope of glory.

    God is indeed what Psalm 46 says:

    Psalms 46:1-7 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. 6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

    As we see in the midst of the worse trouble, when all is falling apart around us, God is our only hope because He is Almighty God, He can do anything and nothing is impossible for Him. When we have God on our side He is our hope, our only hope.

    Everything else can fail but God never fails!

    The hope that we receive from God as we have seen in our study thus far comes from God’s word and by His providence in our life and by His Spirit in us, which as we already said He brings it through the same vehicles as we mentioned.

    Paul, prays and blesses the Roman church and by extension all the church through the ages who has enjoyed the blessings of God’s word, to receive God’s hope and comfort through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, so let me close with this other powerful benediction and doxology that we find in:

    Ephesians 3:19-21 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    May we know the love of Christ in all its fullness, we really need to know it, get to understand the real depth of God’s love for us in Christ. I feel that we all too often do not understand the great love God has had for us and that He has for us throughout all our lives as believers. We can understand it better by examining and meditating on Romans 8:28-39. There are many other passages in Scripture that do this, I find that this last one is the most beautiful and explanatory of them all. Of course, we ought to understand God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ, His life, His suffering, His death, and His resurrection. The cross is the greatest explanation of God’s love for us, see also Romans 5:1-11; Ephesians 2:1-10.

    Yes, the love of Christ passes all human knowledge, we need divine knowledge given through God’s Spirit and His word to understand the depth and immensity of God’s love for us.

    1 Corinthians 2:6-16 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    God’s Spirit allows us to understand the depth and magnitude of God’s love through the understanding of the spiritual truths we have in God’s word.

    Then Paul prays that we should be filled with the fullness of God. Wait a minute, are the Pentecostals right then, when they say that we must pray to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Well, they are right but they are also wrong.

    Without a long exposition of this topic, it suffices to say that they are right in the light of the word of God that does teach that being filled with the Holy Spirit is an experience that all believers can and will experience at various times in their Christian life.

    The very first time we are filled with the Holy Spirit is when we receive Him, in other words when God gifts us with His salvation through faith in Christ, in the Gospel message. Other times believers are filled with God’s Spirit is when they are called to operate in a ministerial capacity such as preaching, teaching and or performing their spiritual works in accordance with God’s will and His word and God’s call, see Acts 2:4; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 4:31; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9.

    However, God desires that we be filled with His Spirit always, yet unfortunately we aren’t.

    See what Paul says in:

    Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

    The verb used here by Paul where he says to be filled with the Spirit actually should be read like this:

    Keep on being filled; or be continuously filled with the Spirit.

    Where is the Pentecostals’ doctrine wrong then? They are wrong because they claim that the filling and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are basically the same thing and that they can be obtained even after years a person has believed in Christ and therefore been saved. At the same time they also claim as we do, in other words that the Holy Spirit fills the believers more than once, in fact many times. They are correct in the latter but not in the former. Or better, they are partially right but mostly wrong, so in the end they are wrong. They claim that the baptism and the filling is one because Acts 2:4 says it. It’s true it does, let’s not forget though that this is the time the Holy Spirit is sent and they are the first ones to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. They also claim though that the confirmation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes only if the speaking in other tongues is manifest. Yet we know that after Acts 19 there are no other episodes where we see this phenomenon.
    It is evident that many may have had the sign gift of speaking in tongues but not all had it. This is the evidence that this manifestation is not given to all believers but the baptism is as we will see later on. In fact, in the very chapter we will look at, 1 Corinthians 12 Paul makes sure that we know that we have been all baptized with one Spirit yet He manifests His gifts and ministries in different ways. Speaking in tongues is not given to all, 1 Corinthians 12:30.

    Because it has not been given to all but the baptism of the Spirit is, 1 Corinthians 12:13, therefore speaking in tongues cannot be and is not the confirmation that believers have been baptized in and by the Spirit.

    A believer can never obtain more of the Holy Spirit because He indwells the Christian’s life in all His fullness. But the Holy Spirit can and should get more of the believer; that is, He would exercise complete control of a life that is completely yielded to Him.

    We are all baptized by the Holy Spirit in Christ at the moment of our salvation this is confirmed in God’s word.

    The first passage that confirms this fact is found in :

    John 7:37-39 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

    It is clear, John claims that the Holy Spirit, according to Jesus would given to drink to all those who would believe in Him. John confirms this as he says the same thing in verse 39, John says the Spirit is received by all people who believe in Jesus. From the day of Pentecost forward the Holy Spirit would come to live and operate in all believers.

    Paul confirms this with an even stronger language in:

    1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

    Let’s make no mistake, we all have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, all have when they believed as John 7:37-39 says, all who believed are baptized into one body, Christ’s body, that’s the church by the way. We all have been made to drink into one Spirit as John says also. All this happened and happens to all who believe in Jesus without exceptions. It is a thing that happens at the moment of salvation to all who believe not a moment later, not after a day, not after a year or ten years.

    The Pentecostal doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is gravely flawed, it’s erroneous and false.

    Therefore what Paul mentions as the fullness of God in the Ephesian 3 passage is not, as I said, what the Pentecostals say it is, in other words the baptism of the or with the Holy Spirit. Rather it means what he also says in Ephesians 5:18 as we saw before, to be continuously filled with the Spirit.
    What does being continually filled with the Holy Spirit mean? How does a person do it? The Pentecostals say that it’s a special event that occurs when a person becomes fully consecrated to God. However, although this is true, it is not a unique event, in other words, it occurs or better it should not only occur often but always. A believer ought to be always in the process of being filled with the Holy Spirit. How? One may ask!

    When Paul said to be continually filled with God’s Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, he states that using the verb in an imperative mood. This indicates an order, a commandment. Paul is commanding us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.

    How can we be? We must yield, submit to the will of the Spirit of God which is actually being obedient to God and His word.

    Definitely, if we want to always be filled with God’s Spirit we must become obedient to His word. By the way, being filled means to be under the complete influence and authority of God’s Spirit.

    In fact, the words themselves Paul uses in Ephesians 5:18 express this idea as he says not to become under the influence of wine, in other words, intoxicated by wine and therefore under its control, Paul is comparing and saying that we ought to instead be under the complete influence and control of God’s Spirit.

    Like if we were intoxicated and controlled by obedience and worship to God. By the way, this passage does not mean, as many seem to think, that when we are under the control of God’s Spirit we ought to lose control of our faculties and act in a crazy or uncontrolled fashion as many, especially in the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements, behave.

    In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is self-control not loss of control. When people lose control in the church they are definitely not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. There are no contradictions between God’s Spirit’s behavior and His word. The two must always match up.

    Look at what God’s word says about this:

    Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. KJV, NKJV

    Look at how many other translations translate the last word sound mind, which by the way are all synonymous,

    2 Timothy 1:7 for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. RSV

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. NIV

    So, as we clearly see the Holy Spirit gives us power, love and self-control, a disciplined attitude and a sound mind.

    There is no room in our life when we are indeed controlled by God’s Spirit and His word for uncontrolled behavior. When we see so-called believers barking like dogs or laughing uncontrollably or running around the sanctuary, or writhing and falling down on the ground in a trance or shaking as having seizures, that is not the filling of God’s Spirit, that is not behaving under the control of the Holy Spirit. In fact, even when they insist in speaking in the so-called other tongues when these are not other human languages spoken in the world when they speak these all together in the assembly creating noise, confusion and chaos and no one can interpret what they say, these are in clear violation of God’s word found in 1 Corinthians 14.

    When people behave in this fashion, they may think and believe that they are under the influence of the Holy Spirit but they are not, they are, at the very best behaving carnally at the very worse some maybe even demon-possessed and obviously not saved. I would venture to say that perhaps the very first manifestations of these unseemly behaviors were demonic and later on they just became a habitual and psychological and carnal behavior, but it definitely is not the Holy Spirit.

    Then Paul says in the benediction part of the passage

    Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

    The Holy Spirit is the power that works in us, He is God at work in us and that works through us.

    God through His Spirit can do exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask in prayer or above all that we think He can do.

    So when Paul prays and blesses the church saying this

    Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    He prays as we saw that the God of hope fill us with joy and peace and abundance of the power of the Holy Spirit. We already saw that God is the God of hope, He is our only hope and as the Holy Spirit fills us with His power we receive joy and peace because these are fruit of the Holy Spirit.

    This is evident by what Scripture says about the Holy Spirit:

    Galatians 5:21-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

    As we see the Holy Spirit gives us the love, the joy, the peace and the power of God in our life.

    This is what Paul is praying for the church, that we should be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we always experience all these blessings. Yet, we can also achieve all this by getting hope and these things through the hope and comfort of Scripture.

    Romans 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

    Now Paul starts to change context from here on. Paul says that he is persuaded concerning them. Paul has often used such a word. From this we can see Paul’s spiritual confidence which is rooted in the promises, the word of God and the power and work of the Holy Spirit whom he mentioned earlier.

    Let’s take a look at when and why Paul used this word persuaded, and we will see that it is something that we also should become, becoming persuaded by the faithfulness and word of God.

    Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

    The word persuaded in Romans 8:38 and the word convinced in Philippians 1: 6 as we see are synonymous and in fact they are not only such in English but also in the original Greek, they have the same root, in Romans 8:38 the word is Pépeismai in Philippians it is pepoithoós. To be persuaded is in fact to be convinced.

    2 Timothy 1:5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

    In 2 Timothy Paul is writing to Timothy from the prison most likely known as the Mamertine prison or also known as the Tullian prison.

    This is most likely the last Epistle written by the Apostle Paul before his martyrdom and he writes it to encourage his dearest disciple Timothy. He writes to him because he has heard that Timothy is staggering in the fear caused by the Christian persecution that was being started in the Roman Empire and above all because it was happening to his mentor Paul. This is the period of the beginning of the Christian persecution which was launched by Nero.

    Paul is therefore writing to Timothy wanting to encourage him to not fear and serve God and this is indeed the context of the Epistle together with the instructions that Paul writes for the church and for Timothy.

    Paul begins by telling Timothy that he is convinced, persuaded that Timothy’s faith, while wavering for fear, was however genuine as that of his grandmother and mother and now present in Timothy.

    This makes us understand that all true believers can have periods and moments in which their faith, although true and genuine, can waver and prove weakened in some way.

    Fear is usually a catalyst that causes faith to waver. Paul is encouraging Timothy because he is persuaded that Timothy’s faith is true and genuine.

    In fact, he continues in a long encouragement in which he tells Timothy that fear does not come from God and God does not want us to be fearful, timid because fear blocks us from proceeding ahead in our divine call. In fact, God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a disciplined mind, 2 Timothy 1: 7.

    Then still in the vein of encouragement Paul writes this:

    2 Timothy 1:8-12 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

    As we see there was a risk that Timothy’s fear and timidity could cause him to be ashamed of Christ’s testimony and Paul’s captivity. Paul was undergoing this suffering and persecution for his own testimony and ministry of the Gospel, he was suffering for Christ and the cause of the Gospel.

    Thus Paul also exhorts Timothy to participate with him in the sufferings of Christ and for the Gospel and that he would be supported by the power of God. God who has saved us and called us with a holy vocation, not according to our works but according to His purpose and His grace given to us as we see written here when? Before the beginning of time, see also Ephesians 1: 3-14.

    This salvation and call has now been manifested and accomplished by Jesus Christ our Lord who destroyed death and gave us life and immortality through the Gospel. We see if we have faith in Jesus and realize that he chose us before the foundation of the world and called us through the message of the Gospel to inherit life and immortality and that it is He who chose us and called us to a holy vocation according to His purpose and His grace and that we are supported by the power of God; therefore we should not fear anything or anyone.

    For these reasons, Paul wrote Romans 8: 28-39 which is in many ways a fairly parallel passage to this one.

    For these reasons Paul uses again the word persuaded. Because of all these things, these spiritual truths, because of the call of God, as Paul says, because he was constituted a herald, an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles, for this reason he was willing to suffer these things, he was not ashamed of them because as he says, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

    As we see, it is Paul’s faith in God, that is, the fact that he knows the faithfulness of the One in whom he believed and Paul knows God in His attributes and believes in God in such a way. All this knowledge of the person of God and of His faithfulness has persuaded him that He, God is capable of keeping what Paul has entrusted Him until that day.

    Our faith, if well informed, persuades us of God’s faithfulness and persuades us that God’s promises are true and faithful.

    Yes, that’s right, faith must be well informed. I often hear believers say they have a blind faith. I understand what they are trying to say but having a blind faith is not actually a correct term to use.

    All we need to do is to see what the word of God itself says about faith and this verse is what they use to say that their faith is blind:

    Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    however, this verse does not say that faith is blind, rather it says the opposite, that is, that faith is the certainty of things that are hoped for, the demonstration of things that are not seen.

    In fact, faith sees and how it sees, it sees God in His attributes even though He is invisible to our human eyes, faith sees the promises of God as they are true and faithful, which means that having faith actually means seeing the final results of God’s promises and believing that they will happen even if we do not see their immediate fruits and results.

    However, faith must be informed by the word, by the promises and knowledge of God in His attributes and His faithfulness. So faith is by no means blind instead it must be based on the word and the person of God.

    This is why Jesus also said this:

    John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    This statement many believe means the same thing as entering the kingdom of God. It doesn’t mean this though. In fact, later on Jesus says this:

    John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    These two declarations do not mean the same thing, the first means seeing the kingdom of God and the second means precisely that entering or having access to enter into the kingdom of God. In fact, the first declaration, the one of seeing the Kingdom is preceded by Nicodemus’ assertion that he recognizes that Jesus is from God because of the miracles Jesus did:

    John 3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

    This fact is important to understand that in verse three, in fact, Jesus is saying that if a person is not born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, seeing precisely means the same thing of having the faith to understand how the kingdom of God works on earth, in other words as Hebrews 11: 1 says having faith to see and understand things that are not visible to the natural eye but only to the spiritual eye which precisely means having faith and which works only when there is the life of the Holy Spirit and the faith that only He can generate in us.

    One can therefore see the kingdom of God functioning in the world only if they see it by faith which in fact is also having an understanding of the word of God, His promises and His person.

    In fact, the word used in verse three of John three is idein from the verb eido which means to see in the literal but also figurative sense and can also mean to know in the perfect voice of the verb: therefore the meaning with which this word is used is this: to see and to be aware, consider, know, understand, perceive.

    So we see that it is the faith given to us by God that actually gives us the spiritual sight to see and understand the things of God as they are and must be. Obviously, this as I said before occurs if and when our faith is informed by the word of God.

    So faith sees and it is not blind. Having a blind faith would be as if we lived in complete darkness without knowing what to do, where to go and or without knowing in whom to believe. Instead it is not like that at all.

    We saw this in Paul’s previous statement to Timothy when he said this to him:

    I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

    This is not at all a declaration of a person who does not see, in fact it is the opposite. Paul sees the One in whom he has believed, has seen him operate in all his Christian experiences, he has seen and known Him in the pages of Scripture therefore, Paul’s faith is not blind at all.

    So the old saying seeing is believing is completely contrary to the biblical principle of faith which is believing is seeing.

    When we do not understand what is happening around us it is not that we must practice the so-called blind faith, in fact we must certainly trust in God and entrust ourselves to Him, but we understand, or we should understand what the word of God tells us and therefore we must as he has also called Paul to do previously in the chapter:

    Romans 15:4 for whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

    We can clearly see that it is knowing God and His word that gives us perseverance, consolation and hope and therefore in these things we place our faith and confidence. As we see, faith is not blind at all. In fact, faith sees all right, it sees beyond our circumstances and instead sees the promises and the power and has confidence in the attributes and person of God as we see all this and preceive it by faith even if our human eyes cannot really see it before it happens.

    Paul’s persuasion came from the knowledge and understanding of the word and person of God in which Paul put his faith.

    Faith therefore persuades us, Paul is persuaded by the knowledge of the word and the person of God and the faithfulness of God that he has experienced in his life, and he is persuaded about them as well, in other words the believers in Rome, he is persuaded that they were full of goodness and filled with all knowledge and also capable of admonishing one another.

    Paul taught them many things in his letter and knows that they were born of the Spirit of God and that these qualities that he describes are present in them. Paul’s instructions in his Epistol have certainly added the knowledge he is praising them for.

    In addition as we said before he is persuaded that the believers in Rome are as he describes not so much because of their abilities but rather he is persuaded by the ability and power and faithfulness of God as he even told the Philippian believers as we also mentioned before:

    Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

    There is also a passage where Paul describes the love of God and says this:

    1 Corinthians 13:7 ( love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Without going into the depth of every aspect of this verse but I would like specifically to look at the words believes and hopes everything.

    The love that God wants us to practice believes everything, that is, believes everything that God says in His word, believes everything of the person of God and believes that these things are sufficient to be able to exercise and practice His love for others. The other word is hopes everything, this means that the love of God is rooted in faith which hopes in everything God says in His word and the certainty that it will happen. In fact, the word hope in the original Greek means certainty.

    This is important because as we see and understand we must be convinced about our brothers and sisters, in other words, as Paul said in Philippians 1: 6, that God will carry out His work in each of them and also in us. This means that we love others as God wants us to love them, that is, we need to have a love that is rooted in faith, a love that believes in the promises of God and therefore that has the certainty that as we said in fact is biblically translated into the word hope, certainty, hope in the promises of God and this must make us sure that God will certainly carry out His work in other believers and even in us even when we do not see the immediate results.

    This then, that is, the love of God as described above, should push us to always hope in others because God will finish His work in the elect and therefore we must never give up in the face of difficulties or the shortcomings of others. This is why we must not pass too extreme and severe judgments on other believers, but instead we must help each other to overcome everyone’s shortcomings and sins. It is obvious that we also see that the instructions, especially to the elders of the church, that is, the pastors, are also those of judging the actions of the believers, rebuking and reproaching and sometimes even disciplining the believers, but everything must be done only for reasons of remedy and not simply for judging others.

    Let us remember that all our actions in the church, all our behaviors, all ministries, all gifts and manifestations including reproofs and rebukes must be motivated by love for the purpose of building up the body of Christ, every chosen one, every disciple of Jesus Christ.
    That’s why we find many mentions of these things in the instructions for the church, especially the instructions given to church elders. We must be careful because it seems to me very evident that the rebuking and reproof instructions are given above all to the elders and not to all believers in general.

    It is true that in certain situations a more mature believer in the faith is certainly in a position of authority for having to take rebuke another believer who behaves incorrectly and sinfully, especially if they are young in the faith.

    But everything must be done in a way that is consistent with the instructions we find in the word of God. There are many, way too many believers in the church who hold the erroneous idea that they must be the ones to go around rebuking in the church and instead by doing it they sow confusion, resentments and they put pastors in great difficulty in properly governing the church. There is a way and a time to do everything but you have to do things as they are directed in the word of God and not as it seems right to us.

    It is always better to inform the elders about things that happen in the church, about sins committed and things that can appear sinful because at least it is known that these things can be addressed in the right way and without having the opportunity to do things that are sconvenient and harmful to others and also to themselves.

    Part of the duties of the elders, the shepherds is to rebuke and scold believers when necessary. If a believer instead has to confront another brother it is when they sin against them personally. The right process for doing this is written in:

    Matthew 18:15-18 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

    As we see, we never find written that any believer must go around to create a real ministry in the church to rebuke others especially if they do not sin directly against them and if they sin in other ways or against someone else.

    The responsibility for practicing Matthew 18: 15-17 rests on the offended brother or sister and then on the elders of the church.

    There are too many judgmental and arrogant believers who think that they have the divine authority to go around scolding and rebuking other believers as it seems right to them.

    This in fact reminds me of an episode that happened to me a number of years ago. We were at our freinds’s home a brother and sister together with a group of other Christians, in quotation marks, Pentecostal ones.

    The fact that they were Pentecostal makes the whole experience much more interesting and evident that these things happen predominantly in circles where and when there are Pentecostals. There is no doubt that believers in the Pentecostal movement are usually the most spiritually proud and arrogant.

    Think about how blasphemous this is! To say that the Holy Spirit is the One who allows them to behave in such unseemly ways and in full disobedience to the word of God is blasphemous!

    This is what they do all the time, they behave in disobedience to God’s word and then they say that it is the Holy Spirit who is doing it. By saying this actually they take away the possibility that others would object with what they do because hey, after all, it was the Holy Spirit and who would dare object to the manifestation and power of the Holy Spirit? If you do then they say you are blaspheming the Holy Spirit and that is a damning thing to do.

    This is what they say and do to justify their disobedience to God’s word and their bad behavior. I cannot see how blaming God for doing what is actually ungodly is a good thing and quite frankly if there is anyone who is blaspheming God it’s them.

    The Holy Spirit never would do anything in contradiction to God’s word as He is the One who inspired it to be written in the first place. The Holy Spirit always acts in perfect harmony and accord with God’s word and God’s required behavior and never in contradiction and opposition to it.

    So biblically speaking it was she who quenched the Spirit because she acted exactly in transgression to the word of God. And also according to the word of God as a woman she had no spiritual right to behave in that way.

    This is exactly the reason that the word of God says the following things:

    1 Timothy 2:11-12 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

    As we see Paul, by divine and apostolic authority says that the woman in the church is not allowed to teach, but not only. Paul says, not even to use authority over man and to stay and learn in silence. What this sister did instead was nothing more than using arrogance and spiritual pride and in fact she transgressed this very commandment of the word of God.

    In this case she not only usurped and used authority not conferred to her by God upon me, but she also violated the commandment to keep silent in the church.

    A case like the one described is exactly why Paul wrote that passage and even in another passage Paul says something else similar:

    1 Corinthians 14:33-35 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

    Also in this last passage it is necessary to understand the context very well. It is absolutely not forbidden for the woman in the church to speak, that is, always forbidden for any reason, in fact if this were the case, Paul would not have written this in 1 Corinthians 11:

    1 Corinthians 11:5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.

    As we clearly see, the woman can speak in the assembly in some circumstances, as we have seen there are conditions in the assembly of how to behave. Indeed, these conditions are also for men let alone if they are not for women.

    The context of women in the assembly is just what Paul mentioned in 1 Timothy 2 and part of that ordinance was given precisely to avoid the behavior I mentioned earlier in my experience with that sister. It is not right for any person to behave in that way and especially for a woman.

    So this is also the reason why Paul does not allow women to use authority over men, the first is that he orders women not to teach in the church because teaching is a task that carries authority because the word of God is authoritative. But as we see, Paul says that he does not allow the woman to teach that it is already something that brings with it authority but Paul does not say only this, afterwards he says that they cannot use authority over men, which obviously we see are two distinct things. So women cannot teach in the church as teachers nor can they have positions of authority in the church, at least not authority over men in the church. This fact completely eliminates any controversy that may exist today regarding the question of whether or not women can be pastors or teachers in the church. Obviously not!

    However, this subject does not only end there, Paul goes further and it is implied that women cannot speak to men in the assembly in a way that is not respectful or in an arrogant way, surely they cannot rebuke or scold men even for valid reasons. There must be a real right hierarchy in the assembly and this is not dictated by men but by God Himself. If women don’t like these rules, their problem is not with men but with God.

    In fact, if we read and study the word of God with honesty and humility and correctly, we also see that later in the 1 Timothy 2 passage Paul explains the underlined reason why God does not want women not to teach and use authority over men in the body of Christ.

    1 Timothy 2:11-14 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

    As we see the real reason is found described in verses 13 and 14. The woman cannot teach and hold authority over men because of the order that God established when he created man and woman. The order of God’s creation must be maintained in the body of Christ because it is the assembly of the born again, of the regenerated. Being regenerated means being brought back to the spiritual position man had before falling into sin. This is exactly the reason. God formed roles for man and woman when he created Adam and Eve and God warned Adam and Eve after they sinned that there would be a real battle between men and women in the future and this battle would be for the roles that God has given to man and woman.

    In other words, the woman would try to usurp the role of her husband and the husband would try to dominate the woman with strength and arrogance to hold the position of their God given role, God says all this in Genesis 3:16.

    Furthermore, Paul forbids the woman to teach and use authority over man because it was the woman who was seduced first and transgressed not only the commandment of God but also the husband’s also to whom God gave primary authority.

    So in the church we have to go back to behaving in the way God designed at the time of creation. In the society in which we live because of feminism, unfortunately we have deviated greatly from considering the roles that God has given to men and women and because of this, the church has unfortunately also adopted the worldly feminist philosophy and has perverted the word of God by distorting it in order to justify the adoption of feminism within it and thus they empower women to hold roles and positions that God does not allow them to have. This reason is also the reason why Christian women are often arrogant and disrespectful of husbands and men in general within the church.

    This bad attitude permeates every part of Christian church and family life. Christian women are often not conforming to God’s will and His word and that is really shameful and really against God’s will.

    I concede that it may not be easy for most Christian women to obey God in this because for most women who were not brought up in a Christian household and who have not frequented a solid church that teaches sound doctrine at least regarding this subject and context. Nevertheless, we must all submit to God’s will!

    We did make this parenthesis as it was important to do so. Getting back to the verse at hand, as we were saying Paul is persuaded by the faithfulness of God’s promises in His Word and the revelations of God’s Spirit given him that these Roman believers were full of goodness and filled with all knowledge and able even to admonish one another.

    Paul, as I even had mentioned before, they were full of goodness because God was working in them and even before in the same letter Paul had said this:

    Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

    This verse is much deeper than it appears but suffices to say that God does pour out His love in our hearts by His Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is:

    Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

    God comes with His Spirit to abide in us and He brings with Him love and as we see the fifth mentioned is goodness.

    Paul knows all this and he knows that the Holy Spirit abides in these believers but he and we also should know that we can quench the Spirit and not allow Him to be evident in our life, this ought not be so.

    If we submit control to the body, the flesh we will greatly hamper the action of the Holy Spirit in our life and His fruit will become less evident in us.

    In fact Paul warns about this in the Galatians passage:

    Galatians 5:16-17 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

    This is very much the same concept Paul brought up in Romans 7:15-19.

    Nevertheless the Roman believers were as all believers are, full of goodness and all knowledge.

    All believers have been given the Holy Spirit in order to be able to receive God’s knowledge.

    Every believer is given the same Spirit in His fullness, see: John 7:37-39; 1 Corinthians 12:13.

    Every believer has been given the same anointing, the same Spirit and therefore the same possibility for all believers to know and understand God’s word and His will. No one is exempt and all believers have the same possibility to know and understand God’s will and His word.

    1 Corinthians 2:9-16 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

    1 John 2:25-27 And this is the promise that He has promised us–eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

    As I said in our study of chapter 13 that the anointing is the Holy Spirit is in all and for all believers and we all are able to have the knowledge of God’s truth.

    What John is saying in the passages above is that every believer has the same Spirit that can give them the same understanding of God’s truth and His will. No believer is left out. The question remains then as many would ask why do many believers have very little understanding of God’s word and His will?

    Even thought we as believers have the same Holy Spirit that enables us to all have the same understanding of God’s word and will, yet to some God gives a greater understanding of it because God calls some to be pastors and teachers for the church:
    Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    This is what God does to encourage and help believers to know and understand His word because God knows that a lot of believers need encouragement and help in order to stay focused in God’s word, however, it’s not all the pastors and teachers’ ability and knowledge that works, it’s only by the Holy Spirit that any and all believers can understand God’s word and all believers have the same Spirit to help them do so. The understanding of God’s truth is possible for all believers, however, there can be obstacles to the understanding of God’s word even though we all have the same Spirit and the same ability to understand God’s word.

    It’s the obstacles that need to be taken out of the way, the pastors/elders are there first of all as the first line of defense against those obstacles. The main obstacle in the believers’ lives obviously is indeed false doctrines.

    When a believer stays under the teaching of false doctrines he or she ends up short-circuiting the Holy Spirit and the understanding of God’s word becomes muddied and confused in such a way that the lies are believed instead of the truth.

    One may ask how is it possible that a person can short circuit the power of the Holy Spirit and believe lies instead of the truth? If God is all-powerful and He is why would He allow His children to be deceived?

    God will always give warnings, the Holy Spirit will always give warnings when we hear something that is not lined up with the truth of God. However, it’s up to us to respond properly to these warnings. If and when a believer refuses to heed those warnings then, although God will not ever stop giving us warnings He will allow His children to go ahead with their own errors because He does hold us responsible and accountable for our actions and decisions.

    For example, God will always expose His children to the truth, through other believers and the availability of finding those who teach it. Often many believers will become exposed to the truth while they are under the teaching of false doctrines yet they continue to choose to believe the lies rather than the truth.

    It isn’t always true that believers respond to truth when they hear it. The Holy Spirit warns, other believers warn, God’s word through the Spirit within warns and yet the choice, in the end, resides in the person. God does not force His children to make decisions He will discipline and punish them for their disobedience and stubbornness to try and sway them to make the right choices, yet again He will allow us to go our own way.

    There are other various obstacles besides false doctrines that will impede the believer to fully understand God’s word and His will.

    The story always goes back to a famous passage to which we just cannot avoid to return. That passage is:

    Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

    As born again believers our flesh, our mortal human bodies still contain sinfulness,
    see Romans 7:15-25.

    The sinful desires that our bodies still contain are empowered by the mind which has in so many different degrees and amounts programmed by our prior owned sinful nature and by the ways of the world.

    The mind is the part of us that is essential for all functions, physical and spiritual. Our mind is the bridge between our flesh and our spirit. The Spirit of God communicates to us through our minds, it does not bypass them as many unfortunately teach and think. The mind is essential in comprehending God’s word and will. In a person that is unsaved, natural, carnal God cannot communicate His truth, or rather it cannot be comprehended because the spirit of that person is dead, it cannot respond to God and His will and truth. In a person who is born again and whose spirit is alive because it has been made alive and in whose life the old man, the sinful nature has been taken away, see Romans 6: 1-14.

    God’s Spirit, therefore, communicates with ours and in and through the mind we comprehend God’s truth. However, if we do not apply ourselves to keep our mind renewed we will create obstacles to the understanding of God’s truth and His will and because of this we will not be able to control our emotions, or rather our emotions will control us which in turn will affect our behavior in a negative way. In other words, we will still not obey God’s will but end up giving in to the desires of the flesh, our bodies, and therefore we also will have great difficulties in knowing and understanding God’s will and end up living in a carnal way rather than a spiritual one. In other words, we will not be controlled by the Spirit rather by the flesh.

    This is why it’s essential that we make our bodies submit to the Spirit of God, to God’s truth and His will but in order to do this we must, as we saw written in Romans 12:2 we must renew our minds because it is the only way we can be transformed in the image of Christ and achieve the mind of Christ which is the only way we can understand and therefore obey God’s will.

    Offering our bodies as living sacrifices, therefore, means to make our bodies submit to God’s will and His word, in other words being controlled by the Spirit and not by the flesh or better the desires of our bodies which still crave the sinful desires.

    Therefore it is impossible not to be conformed to the ways of the world unless we endeavor to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so as the word of God we can prove to ourselves what God’s will is and that it’s always good, perfect and yes acceptable. When we struggle to accept the will of God then it means that our minds aren’t renewed enough, at least not in that area in which is difficult for us to accept.
    The renewal of our minds therefore is essential in order for us to understand correctly God’s truth and submitting to God is also essential in order to do so. Therefore when we say that some believers have a hard time understanding God’s word it’s not that they do not have the Holy Spirit, it’s just that they are the ones that in some way, as we explained hamper the understanding of God’s truth, as we said,by ignoring God’s promptings and warnings, by allowing themselves to remain under the teaching of false doctrines, by becoming spiritually lazy and not undergoing the process of renewing our minds through prayerful and humble and disciplined study of Scripture.

    Not knowing how to study Scripture and learning how to study it and even reading it in an erroneous way allows Christians to remain in a state of error and not enable to understand God’s truth in the right way.

    In Scripture the warnings about false doctrines are so any that we can’t even mention them all. It seems to be a very important warning since it is given so often by Jesus and all the Apostles.

    There is a very important passage that we find that shows us that indeed we can in some way negatively affect the work of the Holy Spirit in our life, even the help He gives us to understand God’s truth.

    1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

    This passage is very important, as Paul says here to not quench the Spirit. What does quench the Spirit mean? The word quench in the original Greek means just that, to put out, to extinguish. It’s like saying when we are thirsty we drink something to quench our thirst. Quenching our thirst is putting it out by drinking to refresh something that is drying out or causing parching.

    So when Paul is saying this he is saying do not put out the fire of the Spirit which is the zeal that the Spirit places in us. Zeal is a burning desire.

    This was said about Jesus:

    John 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

    This Scripture is based on:

    Psalms 69:9 Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

    This was written about Jesus when He cleansed the temple. Jesus had a burning desire to do God’s will, that is the zeal we are talking about. In fact it says that the zeal of God’s Spirit had actually consumed Jesus. It ought to consume us as well. It is possible then to put out this desire that God places in us through the Holy Spirit and that is exactly what Paul is saying in the passage we read before. We can indeed put out the zeal of God or as Paul says quench the Spirit.

    Suffice it to remind us that since childhood Jesus had the zeal of God that motivated Him.

    We all know the story, Jesus goes with his parents and relatives in a group to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. At this point Jesus is twelve years old. The parents resume the journey to go home thinking that Jesus was with the other relatives in the caravan, but then they realize that Jesus was not in the party and they return to Jerusalem to look for him and this is where we are in the next passage:

    Luke 2:46-49 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

    As we have seen since twelve years of age as a little boy Jesus had the zeal of God in Him and desired the things of God more than anything else and the things of the Father more than other people, even His carnal parents. Obviously Jesus who perfectly obeyed God’s will and law honored and obeyed his earthly parents but He longed to do God’s will above all other people. In fact if you remember during His ministry as an adult He said this:

    Matthew 12:47-50 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” 48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

    In addition He also said:

    Matthew 10:34-37 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

    As we see, Jesus wants God’s zeal to consume us too. For us normal human beings, it is very possible to extinguish the desire, the zeal that God places in us through the Holy Spirit and it is exactly what Paul is saying in the passage we have read before. We can truly extinguish the zeal of God or as Paul says, extinguish, quench the Spirit.

    Paul explains also how we quench the Spirit.

    These are things we must do not to put out or extinguish the Spirit, Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

    If we despise God’s word if we despise the study, teaching, and reading of God’s word we will indeed quench the Spirit, as the Spirit is the author of Scripture.

    In Paul’s day, the Holy Spirit was the author of Scripture and also the author of prophecies.
    2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

    In much of the church, now a day sound doctrine is actually really despised. It may seem that this statement is cruel and harsh and some may not believe it’s true but sadly it is.

    The main reason why teaching sound Apostolic doctrine and even preaching the Gospel itself is avoided and considered a thing of the past is because of the so-called pragmatism ideology adopted by many pastors which are known as being “seeker-friendly” and this is all done, they say, for the sake of church growth.

    The problem with this theory is that they say that the church must become friendly to the people of the world and not confront their sins. According to them, the church must become a place where people find themselves in a friendly non-conflicting environment, a social environment with positive messages, an environment that definitely includes the ability to entertain the public in a pragmatic way, certainly adding to it a spiritual element and Christian but without in it elements that compare public sin or that at least make the idea of man’s sin to be less offensive or portray it as an error rather than rebellion against God.

    The other problem is the term given to this strategy which is in English precisely seeker-friendly, and which translated literally means that the church must be a friend of researchers, researchers of God, and of a positive Christian reality.

    The problem with this term is that it precludes the fact that people are in effect looking for God and that the church should be of help to these people.

    Yet, the word of God tells us that people never look for God, ever!

    Romans 3:10-18 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
    With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    As we clearly see the word of God fully denies the fact that people are busying themselves seeking God. So the church must not go in search of the so called seekers of God since they do not exist. God with His Spirit seeks the elect through the message of the preaching of the Gospel. There is no other way that God uses to attract the elect to Jesus. Any other human and carnal method is useless and is not blessed by God despite what people believe.

    For instance, concerning especially the large modern churches in which most times the pastors are smart individuals who even have Biblical distinct beliefs that they personally hold and in personal ways can even speak to them about doctrine when they are alone. These pastors read and even know the Bible pretty well and yet in their assemblies under their preaching and teachings, however, they rarely go beyond the most elementary issues, they appear not to be concerned that the congregants in the church differ on major doctrines, some of which are instead most significant. In these churches outside of weak expressions of the Gospel and some “how to’s” there isn’t much depth at all in preaching and teaching.

    The reality in the modern church is that pastors care more about being successful than they do about presenting the truth of God.

    They actually believe if they preach and teach the truth to their congregations, their churches will probably not be:

    “as successful and that the message would actually be boring and offensive and that in the end, people would leave to seek for churches that are as they say more entertaining”

    Hence losing members would mean losing money as well and that is unfortunately the main concern and measure of the church’s success today.

    Barna’s research backs up that the vast majority of pastors today believe that church success, the way the world determines success and not God, is more important than anything else, including preaching the truth.

    Where do these pastors receive their definition of “success?”

    Sadly, it comes from so-called pastors like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Joel Osteen, and many more. These megachurch salesmen have transformed how pastors think today. Other pastors read their books and others about how to create a “successful church” and then they attend so-called “successful church” seminars. These pastors then end up trying to imitate the tactics and strategies which these so-called pastors are teaching.

    A huge part of their advice definitely includes avoiding anything that is controversial in their teaching and preaching; they are encouraged to make the Gospel message and salvation as easy for unbelievers to receive as possible, and they are taught to create a church which perfect stress-free and entertaining environment for the so-called seekers.

    In much of the modern church sadly doctrine is considered even irrelevant and not important. The Apostles actually considered doctrine one of the most important and essential things in the assembly of God.

    The word doctrine is mentioned 33 times in the New Testament. By the way, it is very interesting to notice that the word doctrine means teaching. God only has one doctrine, one teaching, in the sense that it’s not a series, it does not differ. It is given in unity of thought and in a coherent manner. God’s word only has one meaning and one sense. In other words, God’s truth does not change, it does not bend, it is one and not many, Scripture has one interpretation, one meaning, and not several.

    It is so wrong to ask the question we have heard many times in Bible studies:

    “ what does this passage, or what does this verse mean to you?”

    It does not matter what a passage or a verse means to us or anyone else, what matters is what the passage or verse means to God and what is God telling us in His word.

    We must draw the meaning from Scripture and not come up with our own personal opinions about it.

    As I said before, the word doctrine is singular because it is one body of faith, one body of information, that all agrees with itself, it has unity of thought and of interpretation.

    In fact, when we see the word doctrines in the plural it is always given in a negative way and speaks of false doctrines and the doctrines, meaning the teachings of man. It’s in the plural because doctrines all differ and do not have unity of thought, they do not agree with each other, in the end most are human opinions and in the worse cases they are doctrines of Satan.

    Look at what the Bible says about doctrines in the plural:

    Mark 7:7-8 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men–

    Colossians 2:21-23 Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

    1 Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

    Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.

    God only has one doctrine, His truth, His opinion regarding everything. We should achieve the mind of Christ, and think like God. Look at what Jesus says about this:

    John 7:15-17 And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” 16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

    Even the doctrine of the Apostles is one doctrine and not a series of opinions or of teachings. It’s one doctrine, the doctrine of God, the same one Jesus mentioned that it wasn’t His own doctrine but the one of Him who sent Him, in other words God’s.

    Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

    As I mentioned the Apostles’ doctrine is God’s doctrine, it’s Jesus’ doctrine, look at what Jesus tells them the night He got arrested:

    John 16:12-15 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

    Jesus is talking about the sending of the Holy Spirit who would guide the Apostles into all truth, it would be the Holy Spirit who would take what God and Jesus would want them to know and also write down God’s doctrine for the church. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit would tell them things to come, that is what we know as prophecy. There are many prophetic passages in the New Testament and the biggest most complete and last prophecy of all times the book of Revelation.

    The Holy Spirit would take what God and Jesus had and declare it to them and us through the written word.

    So we see that prophecy, the doctrine of God which is as we have seen the doctrine of the Apostles is now a completed body of Scripture that we have written in the page of the New Testament.

    Today as well as then, we quench the Holy Spirit by despising prophecy that today we find written in the doctrine of the Scriptures of the New Testament.

    Teaching and preaching God’s doctrine, Jesus’ doctrine and the Apostles’ doctrine which is one doctrine, it’s one single body of truth:

    Jude 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

    The body of truth of the Christian faith is ads Jude says once for all delivered to the saints and the church is the pillar of God’s truth:

    1 Timothy 3:15 write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

    This is why if in the church pastors avoid the teaching and preaching of God’s truth they actually cease to be the pillar and ground of the truth and in no uncertain terms cease to be a church in the true sense of the word. It becomes more a social club or an entertainment center and a think positive seminar center.

    God gave His doctrine to the Apostles and they gave it to the rest of the church, through out all ages, the Gospel and God’s truth in His word as a sacred trust.

    2 Timothy 2:1-2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    Paul charges Timothy to preach and teach and charging him with the means to command the passing on of the importance of the doctrine he mentions to give as a charge and sacred trust to others.

    Paul commands Timothy, he does so calling God Himself as a witness to the charge he gives him:

    2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    This indeed is what a pastor/elder must do. This is his calling passed down from Paul to Timothy and as we have seen mentioned before to be passed on to other qualified men in the church as well.

    This is it, preach God’s word and must do it when it is popular and when it is not.

    This is exactly what we are talking about here, today pastors/elders neglect to preach God’s word in its fullness, they neglect to teach sound doctrine because they have been told it’s unpopular to do so. Therefore when they neglect to do this it is a dereliction of the call to be a pastor.

    The pastor/elder must through God’s word and with God’s truth convince people and you cannot convince someone if you aren’t teaching them God’s doctrine. What is there to convince them about and with what, if all they do is entertain people and give them simple messages of elementary faith and positive thinking?

    The pastor/elder is called to rebuke, how will they rebuke if they are told they cannot be controversial. Rebuking someone is based in controversy regarding their behavior according to the instructions of God’s doctrine.

    In fact today the very word rebuke in the church is considered controversial as much as doctrine is. Exhort, exhorting is a strong word as well, to exhort is to warn, admonish and encourage all wrapped up in one word. Then Paul says that a pastor/elder must do these things with longsuffering and teaching.

    Longsuffering is a term that denotes perseverance through suffering, great endurance and patience and this all coupled with the proper teaching of God’s word. I say the proper teaching of God’s word because as Paul mentions in a future, which is today by the way, people will no longer endure sound doctrine and here we are again full circle to the essential nature of doctrine.

    People today no longer endure sound doctrine and they do heap for themselves teachers, false ones and maybe some who are not even false ones but who have abdicated the charge, the same one Paul gave to Timothy which is for all pastors/elders.

    Many of these pastors even if they know sound doctrine refrain from preaching and teaching it and for this reason they neglect and ignore their mandate and assignment given them by God. So not only those who teach false doctrines but also those who are negligent in carrying out their ministry faithfully.

    As Paul said and today we can clearly witness as we are even discussing here, the fact is that doctrine today has become insufferable for most people. They indeed are doing what Paul said over 2000 years ago. Now that’s prophetic!

    People today do not want to endure sound doctrine they want teachers who tell them stories, fables, and not teach and preach the depth and power of God’s word.

    What is most disturbing to me is the fact that people who attend church today besides not being taught sound doctrine are also so reluctant to hear it. It disturbs me that so-called Christians are reluctant to sit under the teaching of sound Apostolic doctrine and they are more likely to hear watered-down versions of God’s word and the Gospel and actually prefer stories, fables as Paul prophesied in the letter he wrote to Timothy. How can a Christian not like, not desire even not crave the pure word of God?

    Look at what Peter wrote:

    1 Peter 2:1-3 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

    If one does not desire the pure milk of the word they are spiritually ill if not dead.

    In fact, Peter says in the last part of the passage, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

    Perhaps many in the visible church body have not tasted the grace of God. Perhaps many have just become, as we said before, part of the church only as a social platform or as a place to get positive thinking and self-help advice or to be entertained in a Christian setting. Sadly none of these things constitute being church, none of these things are conducive to salvation or actual transformation in Christ-likeness and they do not help people grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    In other words, because of the seeker-friendly pragmatic ideologies to attract people in attending churches and the too-easy nature of leading people down the road to so-called salvation many, too many people end up attending the church and not being truly born again, in other words, saved.

    This is another big reason why many people who attend church do not desire and crave the teaching and the study of sound doctrine. If a person is devoid of the Spirit of God they will not desire to receive true spiritual truths. They will however accept entertainment, they will accept a type of Christian teaching that is more of the type of positive thinking or self-help and self-improvement than a true message of faith and repentance and transformation in the image of Christ.

    Let’s face it it is less likely that people would accept the condemnation of sin in their life and that they would not accept the teaching of having Christ as Lord over every aspect of their life and that they would have to obey God’s commandments.

    These are realities that a lot of pastors/elders know very well and these are the reasons why they withhold the teaching and preaching of sound doctrine, they know that sound doctrine is not the tool that keeps people flowing into the church seats and keeps the money flowing into the coffers. Coffers that as I said many times before are not filled with money to actually expand the spread of the true Gospel and the true Christian growth of the people of God.

    The money that flows in the coffers of a lot, most churches today is spent for lavish salaries and benefits for full-time staff, to improve the building structure where the church meets, the making and producing of videos and books that almost never contain sound doctrinal teaching and when it does it is intertwined with teachings of the prosperity Gospel and really just mingle biblical principles with psychology and self-improvement and positive thinking.

    The only self-improvement we can obtain in the church is to repent of our sins and abandon them with God’s grace and power and through the renewal of our minds, the only self-improvement we can obtain in the church is to become born again of the Spirit of God and to sit under the doctrine of God and not the opinions of men disguised as biblical doctrine. The only positive thinking we need is the renewal of our mind and the changing of our carnal thinking into the mind of Christ whereby we can achieve the mind of God and begin to think like God thinks and achieve true spiritual growth and discernment.

    Pastor/elders today shy away from teaching sound Apostolic doctrine because they do not want it to be offensive they say because if they offend people they will stop going to church and perhaps go to another one that is not as “offensive”.

    As we said before, the reason they do not want to lose people is that they would lose money and they would lose the appearance of being successful simply and solely because of the size of the congregation.

    That is absolutely not how God measures the success of church growth or the success of a ministry. It’s not the numbers in themselves, the Apostles never, ever cared about the numbers of people who would respond to the message, they worried about delivering the true and unadulterated Gospel message and absolutely worried about the doctrine to be sound and true.

    It is true that the Bible in the book of Acts at a certain point mentions numbers

    Acts 2:41Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

    Acts 4:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

    Yet, in other instances it also says this:

    Acts 2:44-47 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

    As we see it mentioned a number twice but after these episodes the Apostles and the word of God no longer counted heads, yet it says the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. It says the Lord added to the church.

    This is and should be the base line of ministry, it’s the Lord that adds to the body of Christ, all that we should be concerned with is to preach the message of the Gospel and teaching the sound doctrine of Christ.

    The Apostles’ main emphasis in the church was indeed the importance of teaching and preaching sound doctrine and the elimination of false doctrines and they warned constantly about the dangers of false doctrines.

    Acts 6:2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

    Acts 20:26-32 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

    Romans 16:17-19 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

    Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    1 Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia–remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

    1 Timothy 4:13-16 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

    As we see here Paul exhorts Timothy to do things that are obviously essential for a pastor to do, the reading, the exhortation, and the teaching of the word of God.

    He also warns him not to overlook the gift that was in him. The gift was the ministry, the vocation, the call given to him by God. When the so-called pastor-elders do not do these things as commanded by the word of God they are neglecting the gift given them by God if, in fact, they have it. It is in fact debatable that many today are even called by God.

    Furthermore, Paul exhorts Timothy to meditate and dedicate himself entirely to them. These are not exhortations that indicate that reading, preaching, and teaching sound doctrine is not important as many mercenaries instead declare today.

    Dedicating oneself entirely denotes the fact that these things are the most important things a pastor-elder must do. Instead today they say that these things are not important at all, in fact, many will consider them almost useless or at least out of fashion.

    Furthermore, Paul exhorts Timothy to persevere in God’s doctrine not to abandon it as many do today.

    Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

    Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:

    Titus 2:7-8 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

    2 John 9-11 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

    It is more than clear that doctrine was extremely important to the Apostles and it should be as important to pastors/elders today. As we see doctrine in the modern church has sadly become irrelevant and pastors/elders today are more than reluctant to teach and preach sound doctrine.

    As we said before today the most important thing in the church is not to preserve and teach sound Apostolic doctrine rather it’s adding numbers to the congregation, increasing the congregation because that, according to them is the measure of success and also because the more people the more money comes into the church coffers.

    It all sounds like the modern church is becoming like God’s Temple back in Jesus’ days, temple He cleansed by throwing out the money changers and the animal sellers and accusing them of making God’s house a den of thieves. In addition, Jesus had also accused the Pharisees and the teachers and scribes of not teaching God’s commandments rather the doctrines of men. It seems that the parallels to the religious establishment in Jesus’ days to the modern church are astounding, to say the least.

    Therefore it is a dereliction of the call, duty, and charge of a pastor/elder not to teach and preach sound doctrine and the Gospel message. It is also as we said before how the Holy Spirit becomes quenched.

    Let’s look also another way that the Spirit of God can be quenched, put out,

    1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

    So far we have seen that despising prophecies or in our case today the sound doctrine of God quenches the Spirit but the connection to sound doctrine is also the call to test all things. Test all things, we are always to test first of all what we are being taught. We have to test that what we are being taught is indeed true and it is sound Apostolic doctrine. We have to keep the teachers of God’s word accountable to the truth, but how to do this if those who hear the teaching or sit under certain teachings are not zealous to test the validity of what is taught them?

    This is a great problem as well in today’s Christendom. Many believers today are relatively clueless regarding the truth of God and are very susceptible to believe lies and false doctrines. Why? Because to begin with they do not live a disciplined spiritual life in which they regularly read, study and meditate the word of God on their own.

    Many believers do not spend enough time in these practices and if and when they do they base their belief of what they read and study on whatever is being taught them in their assemblies and often they do so without ever questioning what they are taught as they place blind faith in what their teachers teach them.

    Even if and when they may question somethings they read or study when they ask their teachers and they give them the standard denominational doctrinal interpretation they quickly just fold and keep believing the lies and the erroneous doctrines.

    Let’s be honest though, the main reason why people stay under erroneous biblical teachings has many reasons and one big one is that most of these types of believers actually are comfortable continuing to believe the false doctrines rather than the truth because in reality the latter suit what they want to believe. It’s exactly why Paul prophesied this to Timothy:

    2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

    Paul says according to their own desires they heap up for themselves teachers, teachers that will tell them what they want to hear not what they need to hear. Paul says that because their ears will itch to hear things they like to hear not God’s unadulterated truth. That one Paul says they do not want to endure the truth of God or as Paul said do not endure sound doctrine.

    Paul says they would turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to fables. Let me make something very clear at this point the word used here is the Greek word muthos from which we derive our word myth.

    It is clear that today indeed many even in Christendom have turned away from sound doctrine and have turned to myths created by men. Think about how many of these myths exist today right in what we know as Christendom. We have many false religions today that mask themselves as Christianity. For example the most famous and large of them all The Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Catholic Church, The Seventh Day Adventists, the Church of Jesus Christ and of Latter-Day Saints known as the Mormon religion, Jehova’s Witnesses, The Church of Christ Scientist, The Church of Christ and yes even closer to the Evangelical church the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement. In fact, anything one must call movement is not a true church and does not ever teach sound doctrine.

    All these and even more we are not going to mention here are false religions who do have Jesus in them and considered Lord as well. Yet they contain actual myths and man-made stories that are propagated as the truth of God. These are the myths to which Paul is referring.

    Just because Paul uses the word myth may confuse us into thinking he is talking strictly of fables and stories such as Greek or Roman mythology are or what even Eastern religions today are, etc.

    However Paul is not, what he means is these fables will even have Jesus at the center of them but the truth of God will be corrupted and changed into man-made myths. ( Roman Catholic religion does this as well as other false types of Christianity)

    Paul actually explained and warned us that these so called myths would have a form of Godliness but that they would instead deny the power of real Godliness and he commanded us to turn away from these.

    In fact, he said that in the previous chapter right before he told Timothy people would turn away from the truth,

    2 Timothy 3:1-9 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

    Think about how many charlatans there are today that try to pass for evangelists, pastors, preachers, and even prophets and apostles which they like to call themselves, who actually fit the description Paul just gave in the previous passage. They name the name of Jesus and they actually attempt to preach and teach God’s word but always do it in an erroneous way. This happens because these particular people really do not know God’s truth and they are only doing what they do for money, as the Bible call is filthy lucre. They have a form of Godliness but they deny the Lord Jesus and His word and as Paul says they are disapproved concerning the faith.

    However, many false teachers are somehow planted within the assemblies of God not only in this capacity but many teach false doctrines even to a degree unknown to them. There are unfortunately some real believers that have been brought up in such denominations where they have adopted false doctrines and where they interpret God’s word in an erroneous way.

    Unfortunately, because they remained under the teaching of erroneous interpretation they remain deceived and while their salvation may even be genuine their knowledge of God and God’s word is wrong but they continued to be deceived and to deceive others.

    Paul warned the Corinthian church and by extension us today, about the acceptance of false doctrines and a false Gospel.

    2 Corinthians 11:1-4 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly–and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted–you may well put up with it!

    Today in many of these religions and movements mentioned before this that Paul mentioned has indeed occurred. The minds of many have been corrupted from the simplicity of the Gospel and indeed another Christ has been preached and presented and indeed they have received a different spirit and a different Gospel.

    For example, let’s take the modern movement closest to the true church, the Pentecostal movement. A different spirit was definitely introduced and accepted and because of this a different Gospel was preached and accepted as well and a bunch of erroneous interpretations better yet, false doctrines have come about through this movement. If there is another spirit other than the Holy Spirit then the biblical interpretations will also be wrong in those places.

    The same thing goes for the Roman Catholic Church and the other religions who still tout Jesus as Lord but deny His lordship through false doctrines.

    One cannot corrupt God’s word and then say Jesus is Lord because Jesus is the word of God,
    John 1:1-14 and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus who took from Him and made it known to us in Scripture, John 16:13-15.

    The person of the Holy Spirit is indeed dishonored and offended in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement as well as others. Yet in the Pentecostal movement, the Holy Spirit is greatly offended because they apply things to God’s Spirit that He does not do or say.

    This is a really dangerous thing to do and indeed it has deceived millions of people into believing in another Gospel and accepting another spirit. In order to uphold the presence of another spirit, they had to twist God’s word in such a way that they had to create a false doctrine that supports the erroneous spirit they accepted.

    This is why Paul exhorts us to test all things, we must test everything we are taught and John exhorts us to even test the spirits.

    1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    There is a subtle way the spirit that operates within the Pentecostal Movement is able to deceive many into thinking that he is the Holy Spirit. John in the next verse of the passage above says this:

    1 John 4:2-3 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

    The spirit of the Pentecostal Movement indeed seems not to deny that Jesus has come in the flesh so according to the standard given here it should be accepted as coming from God.

    Yet, the Scripture says this also:

    1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

    Look also at what Paul says :

    Galatians 1:6-10 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

    As we see, if there is a false Gospel and doctrine in a church that is very dangerous thing indeed. Paul does not seem to mince words about the consequences of preaching and teaching a false Gospel and false doctrines. It is something that a pastor/elder ought not to take lightly.

    This needs to be said as it is very important all around, in the passage we read before in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul says that no one can say Jesus is Lord if not by the Holy Spirit.

    The issue of declaring Jesus as Lord though is not at all a simple oral declaration.

    Even though the Pentecostal movement seems to believe that Jesus is Lord, at least so they claim, yet, the mental assent to this truth and the real assent from faith are different.

    It is possible to declare Jesus is Lord and give assent to the fact He is but also deny His Lordship by twisting God’s word.

    Anybody can say Jesus is Lord and not believe it wholeheartedly. In fact the dangers we are talking about, rather those Scripture warns us about are real and very insidious because the can be very subtle.

    This is why false doctrines are so dangerous and insidious, they do call down God’s judgment in most cases and in the case of real believers who sit under these false doctrines it causes God’s discipline. In addition false doctrines are very dangerous for who teaches them, more dangerous than those who simply are receiving the erroneous teachings.

    For believers who are under the influences of false doctrines, the same cause them to develop a weak faith, causes them not to be able to achieve the mind of Christ and therefore not to mature and grow spiritually in the proper way. In addition false doctrines dishonor God because they lie about Him and His person, they depict an erroneous image of God, of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit. These are actually blasphemies.

    As we see therefore one cannot simply believe in a Jesus but in Jesus, one cannot just accept any description of just any spirit but must know the real and true Holy Spirit as He is described to be in the word of God. The same is true about Jesus and the Father. So declaring Jesus as Lord is a lot more than just mouthing off that He is Lord.
    He indeed is Lord regardless what any one says or believes, that does not change, yet, it is a big deal for those who must hear the message of the Gospel for salvation as well as those who must hear the word of God for their edification and to know God in a personal but true way.

    This is why Jesus said that we must worship God in Spirit and in truth; John 4:23-24.

    The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of truth; John 14:17; John 15:26-27; John 16:13.

    The Holy Spirit as we clearly see is the Spirit of truth, because God is truth, John 1:14; John 14:6.

    God’s word is truth as well because God’s word is actually a person, the Lord Jesus Christ John 1:1 and therefore His word is truth John 17:17.

    According to the last verse mentioned the word of God which is truth is that which God uses through the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to know the truth of God and helps us through the process of sanctification rather or our spiritual transformation into Christ-likeness or our spiritual growth.

    John also in his writing mentions this:

    2 John 1-4 THE ELDER, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: 4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.

    Look that of which John warns us also in the same letter:

    2 John 7-11 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house

    This passage is very interesting because it teaches us that many would come to deceive and sow false doctrines regarding God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Specifically here John warns of the false doctrines that were being spread in those days, in other words, that Jesus actually had not come in the flesh but that He was really only a vision and a spirit without a real body. As we see this is a very deadly heresy to believe because believing in that type of Jesus could not save anyone. Jesus had to be a real man, made of real flesh in order to shed real blood and really die to take away our sins and He had to have a real body to be raised from the dead. Without all of this we could not have a real savior, He had to be human as well as divine.

    In fact the teaching of the Apostles strictly taught that Jesus indeed was a man and He indeed came in the flesh.

    There are many passages that confirm this, even beginning in the Old Testament beginning in
    Psalms 40:6-8 and echoed in:

    Hebrews 10:5-7 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

    If and when we examine the reference the author of Hebrews uses which is Psalm 40:6-8 we see that there is a problematic addition to the actual words of the Psalm which is a body hast thou prepared for me which is not in the Psalm. However we need to understand two very important things here, one is that it is not an error or an add on or corrupting the text of the original Hebrew Psalm. The second fact is that the author of Hebrews is most likely a Jewish Christian and he is writing to a predominantly Christian Jewish community and they would indeed understand why the author is writing something that is actually not directly written in the Psalm.

    In the original Hebrew language and in the way in which their language is to be understood that is how the author of Hebrews is expounding the text. In the Psalm there are two Hebrew figures of speech described that indeed indicate the presence of a body as described by the author of Hebrews.

    Psalms 40:6-8 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”

    The mentions in this passages of God opening the ears, the fact that He says behold I come and in verse 8 He says I delight to do your will and Your law is written in my heart are all an indication that as the author of Hebrews wrote a body was prepared. The ears, the actual act of coming, the will and the heart are indications of the existence of a physical body.

    In fact, He also says in the scroll of the book is written of me, Him who delights to do God’s will and in whose heart was written God’s law.

    This is indeed a reference to Jesus coming in bodily form yet not only these two passages, there are several in the New Testament:

    Romans 1:1-4 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

    We see that the Holy Scriptures had promised the coming of Jesus and indeed Paul says Jesus did come as prophesied born of the seed of David according to the flesh and we see that Paul also mentions that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    The reality of this passage is confirmed in the pages of every Gospel where the birth, genealogy, life and death and resurrection of Jesus are clearly recorded and witnessed.

    In addition Paul also writing to the church in Philippi says:

    Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

    As we see even here it is more than evident that Jesus came as a man, a real human being made of flesh, bones, blood just like all of us, yet without a sinful nature. Only a real human being can die, a vision, an apparition, a spirit cannot die, cannot shed blood and therefore cannot rise form the dead either. You see by saying that Jesus never came in the flesh one actually abolishes the entire integrity of the Gospel because it eliminates entirely who Jesus is and what He did.

    However, I think one of most famous passages we find in Scripture describing the coming of the Son of God in bodily, physical form is in:

    John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

    And the word became flesh and dwelt among us! This entire passage explains very clearly who Jesus is and that He indeed has come in the flesh. God clothed in human flesh!

    But the most powerful testimony is precisely the one of Jesus himself when, after His resurrection he said:

    Luke 24:36-43 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

    All this clearly is overwhelming and sufficient proof from which it is understood that Jesus is, yes God but also a real man, made of flesh and bones and as He himself says, not a spirit.

    As a manner of fact, besides being a false religion altogether, Islam is a religion that acknowledges Jesus only as a prophet but not as the only begotten Son of God and Lord and although not denying that He actually did come in the flesh they deny that He actually died on the cross and that the one on the cross was just an apparition, an image of Him dying. Even this denies His atoning death and His resurrection which would be annulling God’s entire work of redemption and indeed denies Jesus’ Lordship.

    Jesus is Lord also because He is a man who was raised from the dead. So anyone who denies any part of Jesus’ humanity is denying His work of redemption and denying His Lordship. The fact that they deny His Lordship is confirmed by the Scriptures that connect Jesus as man, not only as God. Jesus is Lord also because he is man and rose from the dead.

    Here are more passage that confirm these facts:

    Philippians 2:7-11 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Acts 2:29-36 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

    Acts 17:29-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

    Clearly, even in this last passage, Paul calls Jesus the man who God ordained to be the judge of humanity and has given assurance of His Lordship by raising Him from the dead.

    Jesus indeed was a man, He was God in the flesh and He came, lived and died and rose from the dead and God made Jesus Lord of all.

    Denying Jesus came in the flesh is completely dismantling the Gospel. Any other form of Jesus is not Jesus and it negates His atoning death and His resurrection and in the end His Lordship.

    In order for a person to be saved as Paul put it in Romans 10 must believe and confess two very important things:

    Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    These are essential things one must do as we clearly see, must confess Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead. If Jesus did not come in the flesh then one cannot believe and practice these two things and therefore one cannot be saved. One must confess Jesus is Lord but to do so one must also believe that God raised Him from the dead and if He did not come in the flesh neither of these two things can be done.

    As we clearly see Jesus’ Lordship comes because of His resurrection and His resurrection could only occur if He had a human body and really died.

    Therefore, Jesus had to have come in the flesh, as a man in order for all this to happen.

    We needed to say all this to specify what type of heresy was being promulgated in John’s days and also to underscore the danger of all other false doctrines and the consequences they cause for those who teach them as well as those who believe them.

    This is why Paul wants us to test all things, teachings, doctrine, spirits and this is a great responsibility we have.

    Look at some of the very serious, deadly and damning warnings we find in Scripture about the teaching of false doctrines in the church, and by the way, these are just a few because there are many more.

    2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

    2 Peter 3:14-17 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation–as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

    Jude 3-4 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

    We also have seen Paul wrote that anyone who teaches and preaches a false Gospel or as Peter said twist the Scriptures is accursed.

    Therefore it behooves us to test all teachings, all doctrines and spirits very carefully and those of us who teach must be even more diligent and careful as to what we teach, therefore we must be the ones who test all things even more thoroughly as the word of God says we are held to a higher standard and stricter judgment as to how we and what we teach.

    James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

    By the way, when Paul says test all things he means also all other things in our life, test everything we may want to do and in which we want to become involved against the word of God, test to see if things are sinful, if they are simply carnal or if they are edifying and spiritually useful.

    However, the bottom line about here is about quenching or putting out the zeal and manifestation of the Spirit, we have seen, we do so by despising doctrine and by not testing all things especially what is being taught us.

    Paul then says: 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

    If we do not hold to what is good and abstain from every form of evil we will indeed quench the Spirit in our life. This commandment is basically the same as saying we must obey God’s commandments, God’s word. Doing what is good according to God and abstaining from every form of evil is actually not committing sin, which is doing evil according to God.

    It is indeed true that if we do not obey God’s word and therefore do good and abstain from evil the Holy Spirit will not really manifest in His fullness in our life.

    There are two particular instances when the Holy Spirit fills us and manifests Himself in us with power.

    The first one is when He Himself wants to fill us to empower us to do God’s will by the use of our spiritual gifts and ministry. This, however, is contingent upon our behavior as well. In other words, we must be living in accordance with God’s will and be in a state of consecration to God.

    It is highly improbable that we can operate in the fullness of God’s Spirit if we are living in some type of open and rebellious sinful state.

    Let me give you an example, it is improbable that a pastor/elder or evangelist would be operating in the full power of the Spirit in their ministry, teaching and preaching if they were let’s say living in an adulterous situation or any other sinful lifestyle. This is also true about men and unfortunately women today who are in certain positions in the church but should not be because they are living in rebellion to God and His word.

    For example, the Bible says homosexuality (men and women as well) is a sin, actually, an abomination to God, see Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9.

    Yet today many churches and denominations as well as professing Christians disagree with the word of God and embrace the so-called lifestyle. Some of these men and even women today are being ordained as pastors and elders and in many cases, they lead entire homosexual congregations, however, in some cases they lead regular churches too.

    In some extreme cases, but no longer so much extreme today we have lesbians ordained pastors/elders in churches. In this case, we have a double transgression going on here, one they are lesbians which God condemns as sin and secondly they are women and even in this case according to the word of God cannot retain positions of pastors and teachers in the church, see 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

    This is a double transgression and a very serious one at that. So what is the point you may ask? The point is that in these people there is no power of the Holy Spirit that manifests through them and all they do and say is just human not supernatural. They may have a Christian theological education through Bible school, they may know how to frame a sermon and even teaching but there is no supernatural power in their ministry, there cannot be.

    They cannot be filled with God’s Spirit even because in most cases if not all these people are devoid of God’s Spirit, in other words, they aren’t even born again.

    In some other cases, we have women who are saved, born again that because of erroneous doctrinal beliefs and teachings within their churches they believe that they can be pastors/elders and be ordained to the governing ministry of the church. Let me make something very clear, God’s word prohibits this and therefore, in spite of what many think and believe any woman who holds such position in any church is in sin and God’s Spirit will not empower such people in the ministry. The Holy Spirit will never act against the will of God and obviously His word.

    However, just so you do not think I’m just ganging up on women which are gay or straight that want to retain the position of pastor, this is also true about men who minster as homosexuals and wants to retain that position, but not only, even a heterosexual man who lives in an adulterous condition will not be empowered by the Holy Spirit to minister.

    What we have here is the primary example of what it means to quench the Holy Spirit or how to put out the power of God’s Spirit. That is what it means to put out God’s Spirit, it means not to allow the Holy Spirit to operate in us as He would want to because He would not do so if and when a Christian is openly living in a sinful condition and lifestyle.

    The Holy Spirit gets quenched when any Christian does not operate and live in obedience to God’s word. Look at what the Bible tells us:

    Galatians 5:16-26 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

    This passage explains very well what we are studying regarding clinging to what is good and abstaining from every form of evil. In a nutshell, this means walking by the Spirit. The Spirit of God desires that we walk in obedience to God’s word. The Spirit of God leads us to walk in obedience to God’s word and so He teaches us in and through Scripture. Obedience to God is walking in the Spirit. Paul says here, to walk by the Spirit; walking by the Spirit is not fulfilling the lust of the flesh which is sinning. So obeying God both in doing good and not practicing evil is the same as walking in the Spirit.

    As Paul says, the two operate in a contrary way to one another. They wage war, battle against each other. The flesh wants to sin and God’s Spirit wants us to obey Him, do good according to God, and not sin. Paul says that this battle often, too often causes us not to do what we want to do, which is doing God’s will. According to the spiritual man within us, the regenerated part of us, the born again man we desire to do God’s will, but our human bodies (not nature, that one is dead, see Romans 6:6) still contain sin. Paul taught us very clearly about this problem within us and we find it written in
    Romans 7:15-25.

    If we obey the fleshly sinful desires we will not be walking in the Spirit and if we walk in the Spirit will be obeying God’s commandments and not the flesh. Who we obey will dominate us. This is actually a major reason why in our lives as believers we often struggle to see the fruit of the Spirit manifest in our lives. If we live in a carnal way it will be very difficult for the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in our lives.

    Paul gives us a list of what the works of the flesh are and these we should not obey, rather the fruit of the Spirit will become evident only when we are walking in obedience to God’s word. This is why we have difficulties at times to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our life.

    Let me give you some examples of why the fruit of the Spirit is often not evident in our life. Many believers erroneously think that the fruit of the Spirit in our life is something always automatically present and manifested.

    Although in some instances the Holy Spirit does produce His fruit in our life even when we do not otherwise do anything ourselves to manifest it, however the majority of the time, as Paul wrote in the Galatians 5 passage we must walk by the Spirit, meaning that we obey God’s word and do His will.

    If and when we do not as Paul says we will not do what we would want to do, in other words do God’s will and when we do not obey God the Holy Spirit will not manifest His fruit.

    Here are some practical examples let’s take the fruit listed and examine it. First of all let’s look at what Paul says in Ephesians 5.

    Paul says in Ephesians 5:17-21:

    And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

    To be filled with the Spirit is a commandment and in order to see the fruit of the Spirit manifest in our life we must be filled with the Spirit. There are instructions as to how we are and how we stayed filled with the Spirit and the more we do the more the fruit of the Spirit will evident.

    Here we see that speaking to each other in spiritual ways, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord will cause us to be filled with God’s Spirit, giving thanks to God for all things will keep us filled with the Spirit and here is the really hard part, submitting to one another in the fear of God. This last means that we should submit to God in obedience to Him first and foremost and in doing so we will do as He says and we will, therefore, love one another as He wants. In fact, that is exactly why Paul right after this mentions the Christian relationship between husband and wife and how it should be practiced, see Ephesians 5:22-33.

    A wife’s submission to her husband is not commanded based on whether or not the husband deserves it rather it is commanded as an act of submission to God on part of the wife. Loving God always comes first therefore if we love God we will obey Him regardless of what the other person does or does not do.

    A wife is not commanded to submit to her husband only if he loves her first or if he treats her the right way, rather because the woman loves God she is willing to do what God says she should do.

    However, same exact principle is supposed to be obeyed by the husband as well. The man loves God and God says to love the wife as Christ loves the church, therefore, the husband does not have to wait for the wife to respect him or submit to him, those are not the requirements God gives in His word. The husband must love the wife in any case as God commands because the husband submits to God first just like the wife has to do.

    If and when both, husband and wife, submit to one another in the fear of God then both will be doing what God wants and in that circumstance, the marriage will be as God desires it to be, but not only, when this occurs the fruit of the Spirit will be evident and it will manifest, in this case in a marriage like the one that God desires there will be love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

    As we see, the reasons as to why often the fruit of the Spirit is not evident as much is because we do not do what God says we should.

    Let’s take another example, let’s look at what Paul says in Philippians 4.

    Many believers say: “ I do not understand why I do not have the peace of God,” they say: “ I have the Holy Spirit and I have a hard time seeing the fruit of the Spirit in my life.”

    I just finished showing you before why this happens, because we do not do what God says we should do, that’s why!

    So why do we struggle to have God’s peace at times?

    In Philippians 4 Paul says this:

    Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

    As we see there are a set of instructions here which Paul gives to the Philippian church and obviously to us as well. This set of instructions is actually not suggestions rather they are strong exhortations and even commandments.

    Paul tells us twice we should rejoice in the Lord always. Let me be clear the verb rejoice here is given in the imperative mood. Meaning that it’s a commandment. Now once again may ask how can a person be commanded to express an emotion? Simple, because all of God’s emotions we find described as the fruit of the Spirit are possible to have almost exclusively when we obey God as we said before. There are times that God may give us joy when we don’t expect it but most of the time the emotions that come as the fruit of the Spirit are contingent on us obeying God’s word.

    Jesus said this, watch:

    John 15:9-12 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

    As we see here even Jesus is saying that if we want our joy to be full we must keep His commandments and thus we will abide in His love as Jesus did. These things He says to us so that His joy may remain in us and our joy may be full.

    Think about this for a moment, what Jesus is saying here. By obeying His commandments we abide in His love, and His joy, what is His joy? It’s actually the fruit of His Spirit in us, is it not? Yes, it is!

    When we obey God’s commandments we will be joyous as His Spirit will exhibit and manifest Himself in us.

    Therefore when Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always it’s like Jesus saying that His joy would remain in us and that it would be full when we obey God. The first thing then we can and should do if we want to rejoice is rejoicing in the Lord always and what a better way to rejoice than obey Him and look for His person, His attributes, and His power. When we look to God instead of our circumstances and we draw from Him what we need we will suddenly realize that we are rejoicing in Him, in other words, we have His joy in us. This is why we ought not to look at our circumstances as the cause of our happiness and joy but we should always look to God as our source of happiness and joy.

    After all even David understood this as he wrote:

    Psalms 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    Paul means that our rejoicing is contingent upon God and our obedience to God and that is clear from other passages that we have seen. The presence of God, you see we do not have to go far at all to be in God’s presence because He is present with us as He lives in us, Paul in fact says a very important thing next as he says:

    Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

    Gentleness or as other translations call it meekness, we should let our meekness known to all men. This is another fruit of God’s Spirit,

    Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

    Gentleness or meekness. What does it mean to be meek, gentle or humble? Jesus was meek, gentle, and humble, was Jesus a weak person? No! We know He was not! He was all but weak!

    Being gentle means not to be arrogant. Jesus was gentle because He was not arrogant. Being arrogant is rooted in pride and self-righteousness. The Pharisees were arrogant and self-righteous. Jesus was gentle because He was righteous and He was because He perfectly obeyed God’s commandments. He did not need to be prideful or arrogant.

    In fact, if we understand that our righteousness is from God and not from ourselves, if we understand that it is the merits and virtues of Jesus that make us righteous and that in fact we have never deserved nor obtained salvation by anything that we have done or can do, if and when we understand that it was only the work of redemption accomplished by Jesus that gave us a position of justice before God, if and when we understand all this we cannot, or rather, we should not be proud about ourselves and we shouldn’t be arrogant.

    This is why those who are Pharisaical and therfore proud of their works of righteousness are arrogant and not meek. If you notice, in fact, those who believe in the Arminian doctrine regarding their salvation are arrogant and proud, not all of them, but most of them are. In fact, as we look at those who are in the Pentecostal movement we realize that it is sadly so.

    The New Testament definition of meekness or humility is:

    An attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward men, springing from a recognition that God is in control. Although weakness and meekness may look similar, they are not the same. Weakness is due to negative circumstances, such as lack of strength or lack of courage. But meekness is due to a person’s conscious choice. It is strength and courage under control, coupled with kindness.

    You see this is exactly why the fruit of the Spirit gentleness is coupled, not by chance, to self-control. As we see being meek or gentle is a person’s conscious choice and it is strength and courage under control. Control, self-control is exactly what is intended.

    Jesus was strong and courageous but always self-controlled and kind. Jesus describes Himself as such:

    Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    Now Paul in Philippians 4 says that we ought to show our gentleness or meekness to all men, as Jesus did, and he says that the Lord is at hand. Indeed the Lord is at hand, God is nearer than He ever can be because His Spirit wells in us and I believe that this is Paul’s intention when he says this.

    Jesus also said this:

    John 14:15-18 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

    God’s nearness to us now is based upon the presence of the Holy Spirit, our helper who abides with us forever. Jesus says I will come to you, He did come in the person of the Holy Spirit and not only for them but also us.

    So when Paul says the Lord is at hand that’s exactly what he means, it is by the presence of His Spirit that He is always near us, He is in us so that He can never be far from us and He will never leave us nor forsake us, Hebrews 13:5-6.

    Paul after says this:

    Philippians 4:6-9 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

    Paul now uses another commandment in the imperative, he says not to be anxious about anything. This now is exactly the reason why many believers and sadly even us often cannot experience God’s peace.

    Once again, we know that peace is the fruit of the Spirit. In order to have God’s peace, the set of instructions is clear as it has been before. Let’s recap, to have joy in our life we must allow the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself and this happens when we rejoice in the Lord, His person, attributes, and His word not our circumstances. When we obey God we will have the fullness of joy.

    Then Paul says to let our gentleness (meekness) be known to everyone because God is near, He is in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. As we said, this also is the fruit of the Spirit.

    Now Paul begins to give us instructions as to how we can have God’s peace manifest in our life. Peace is also the fruit of the Spirit. God’s peace as joy and meekness or gentleness is not always automatic in our life.
    Sometimes it is but most often we have it only when we, as we said, obey God’s commandments.

    This is why we are studying all this because the point is that we often quench the Holy Spirit, in fact, the Holy Spirit is always quenched when we do not do what God says we should and that is exactly why often we do not manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our life.

    Again, now Paul instructs us as to how we obtain God’s peace, he says that we aren’t supposed to be anxious for any reason. This for many seems easier said than done and indeed it seems to be so, but that is not what God says in His word. So here we are again, we either believe what God says and do what He says or we will not, cannot have what He promises, not even the fruit of the Spirit in our life.

    God in His Holy Spirit has not given us the spirit of fear or anxiety which is also fear.

    The definition of Anxiety is: a feeling of worry, nervousness, unease, and fear typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

    Paul tells Timothy:

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

    The Holy Spirit gives us courage not fear, the spirit of fear is not from God. God gives us power and love and as we see written in the fruit of the Spirit, self-control, a disciplined and controlled mind.

    Mostly a mind which is controlled by God’s word, see Romans 12:2.

    One of the big enemies of peace is fear and anxiety. A person who is fearful and anxious about things seldom has peace even if they are believers. This is what we are talking here the lack of peace by default leaves the person in a state of fear and anxiety and vice versa.

    Jesus said this:

    John 14:25-28 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

    Even here there are significant things we must look at regarding having God’s peace. The first thing we notice that the Holy Spirit and Jesus also are mentioned and present in the same context as peace. It is the comfort of the Holy Spirit through the word of God that also produces peace in us or it should. Jesus also tells them and by default us also that He would give them and us His peace. Not the circumstantial peace worldly comforts can temporarily provide but the lasting and supernatural peace Jesus through His Spirit provides.

    Then after mentioning His peace, Jesus commands us to not let trouble and fear rule our hearts, and I would say even our minds as we see described in the Philippians 4:7 passage tells us.

    In that very same passage, Paul as I said before gives us the instructions as to how we eliminate anxiety and fear and how we obtain peace in our lives, and the answer as to why we often are lacking this peace is found in that very passage.

    As we see as Paul commands us not to be anxious for nothing, even Jesus several times refers to the lack of peace and the presence of fear and anxiety and He commands and exhorts us not to have fear and anxiety rule our hearts and minds.

    Faith as we said before many times is believing God’s word but not only assenting agreement in God’s word, that is a good starting point but if we just stop there we often will have problems because faith has two components when it works properly. The first component is agreeing with God’s word in our mind and the second component is actively obeying what that word says. In other words, doing what God says, we know this as obedience, and it is but obedience is faith in action.

    James confirms this fact when he says this:

    James 2:14-26 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    James is not in any way saying that a person is saved by faith and works as perhaps our Roman Catholic friends believe, what James is saying instead is that true faith is indeed a mental assent in believing God, but as I said that is the beginning point that must lead us to action, the action is obeying what we believe.

    In fact James also said this:

    James 1:22-25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

    Jesus many times referred to having fear and anxiety to a lack of faith or rather little faith a weak faith.

    Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

    Matthew 8:23-27 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

    Matthew 14:27-32 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

    Matthew 16:8-10 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?

    As we see the connection between little or weak faith and having fear and anxiety is always present.

    So because they are always linked, we clearly see that the link between the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, in this particular case peace, but also all others, is contingent upon us obeying the word of God, in other words putting our faith in action. That is when the Holy Spirit’s manifestation of His fruit becomes present in our life.

    God’s peace will not share a place in our hearts and minds if and when fear and anxiety are present. They will be present and the fruit if the Spirit will not be present when we do not do what God says in His word when we do not practice our faith.

    So Paul gives us the prescription to have God’s peace rule our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. In fact, as we have seen, Paul says to rejoice in the Lord always and we have seen that to have the fruit of the Spirit joy, we must rejoice in the Lord always, we need to obey God as we have seen doing God’s will produce joy in our lives and the joy of the Lord is our strength, Nehemiah 8:10. Then Paul said to let our humility, meekness, gentleness be known to all men, again this occurs when we obey God’s word and behave as He says we should, letting the word of God rule us.

    Then Paul commands us not to be anxious for any reason because actually being anxious not only eliminates peace in us but it also eliminates joy and gentleness from or life, because fear, anxiety, and worry coupled with weak faith and or disobedience to God’s word quench the Holy Spirit and therefore His fruit will not be evident and it will not manifest.

    The prescription to have the peace of God that passes all human understanding is to eliminate fear, anxiety and worry and how do we do that? By doing what God says, in other words,

    Philippians 4:5-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

    If we bring our burdens, worries, and fears to God in prayer and if we are thankful, grateful to God in all things then the fear, anxiety, and worry will dissipate and God will give us supernatural peace to rule our hearts (emotions) and our mind (thoughts). What Paul is really saying here is that the peace of God will build a fortress around our emotions and thoughts and keep them where they are supposed to be. They will not be invaded by worry, fear, and anxiety. That is the imagery that Paul wants us to have here.

    Therefore as we see, if and when we do what God instructs us to do in His in the word we will obtain the results God wants us to obtain in our life, better still we will obtain the fruit of the Spirit in us.

    Often I hear Christians say: “ I prayed, I begged God to take away my burden, my fears, my anxiety, my worries but they just keep coming back!”

    I will ask them if they thanked God as well. I will ask them if they generally thank God and are grateful to Him or if they always complain about their circumstances as well.

    If we are not thankful and grateful to God then the problem is that, even if we pray, make our requests known to God and make supplications to Him, we are actually not fully obeying the prescription Paul is giving here.
    As we know as it is in a real medicine’s composition, if an ingredient is left out the medicine will not work. If we leave out any part of what we are to do according to the word of God we will not receive the results we expect.

    Having faith in God means knowing His will and doing it. Many times we neglect to actually understand a lot of God’s will for us and for our life, therefore, neglecting to practice it.

    Being thankful and grateful to God is His will for us.

    1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.

    Here we are back in a verse we have been studying in the same type of context. It is clear that all this is linked together as we have been saying and this is all linked perfectly with Philippians 4 as Paul basically is saying the same thing in a briefer and less detailed way but the end result is the same.

    Even here, as in Philippians 4, Paul exhorts us, commands us to rejoice always. Even here Paul tell us to pray and adds without ceasing, he basically says the same in Philippians 4 and he tells us to be thankful as he does in Philippians 4, where he adds that all this is God’s will in Christ Jesus for us and then he exhorts us not to quench the Spirit. Interestingly enough this is exactly what we have been studying when we do not obey God’s will we quench the Spirit and if and when we do this, the fruit of the Spirit will be less evident or even not evident at all, as we have seen, God’s Spirit will not manifest in us when we are not walking in obedience to God.

    In the Philippan passage, Paul does not merely stop at praying and being thankful to get God’s peace to guard our hearts and minds in Christ we also must preserve the peace in our minds by doing what Paul says after which is, unfortunately, a much-neglected passage.

    Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

    We are to keep the peace in our minds and hearts that God places thereby doing what Paul says here, which is to meditate on such things as he describes, all the things he mentions, by the way, are not things that are in reality worldly rather things that will bring our thoughts to remain focused on God.

    The Bible, especially in the OT but not limited to it, says that we ought to meditate on God’s word and His person. Here are just some passages we can see that say that:

    Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1:1-2; Psalms 4:4; Psalms 63:6; Psalms 77:12; Psalms 119:15; Psalms 119:27; Psalms 119:48; Psalms 119:78; Psalms 119:148; Psalms 143:5; Psalms 145:5; Malachi 3:16;
    1 Timothy 4:15.

    In these passages we find the things God’s word tells us to meditate upon since there are many passages here, one can and should look them up to see what is is that the center of our meditation should be.

    I will list them here:

    God’s law, God’s word, God, God’s works, God’s precepts and His ways, God’s statutes, the splendor of His majesty, God’s name, and what we read in His word, what we hear and learn in exhortation and doctrine. Meditating on His works of creation, nature also.

    Because we do not follow the instructions Paul gives us in Philippians 4 we end up having fears and anxieties and of sadly many believers end up seeking help from psychiatrists and psychologists, often the latter not even being believers, often too many believers end up having to take medications to treat things that they wouldn’t have if they simply obeyed God’s instructions.

    Let me once again be specific regarding the use of certain medications for believers. I believe that in some specific cases and because of some physical, chemical, and hormonal imbalances in the brain some people may be required to take certain medications.

    I repeat the fact is that believers must have their conditions fully ascertained by pastors not only doctors to make sure that medications are essential and not just an excuse to just find a shortcut and to get mediated rather than being obedient to God and allow His Spirit and His word to have their way with us.

    We must, as Christians, make sure that it’s God’s word and His Spirit who control our lives and not medications because medication actually does not eliminate the fears and the anxieties people have but they just mask the problem. God wants to deliver us and set us free from these things and I am sure that He would rather we trust Him and allow Him to deliver us from our problems than rely on other things.

    As I said other times, we must be careful not to misunderstand the fact that in many cases we should not stop taking medications that are essential to our health. However, when it comes to our minds and emotions those must be controlled by God and His word. It is a great theme in Scripture.
    A healthy spiritual life is greatly aided by a mind under the control of God’s word and His Spirit.

    In God’s word, we see that although the mind must be under the control of the word of God the health of the body is described differently.

    There are a few passages that show us this. First of all, let us be clear, Luke the only New Testament together with Jude who as not an Apostle, was a physician. God’s word never mentions his profession as something that is not supported by God.

    In God’s word instead, we see that in certain cases the physical health of believers did not depend and does not depend on miraculous healing from God.

    In other words, we should always give glory to God and thank Him for our health and healing even if we received medical care or take medicine. We should thank God for doctors and medicine but we should always give God the glory.

    Prayer also is important, actually essential when we go through physical sickness. James 5:13-15.
    We also see that the Apostles never used their spiritual gift of healing on believers and there are a few passages that confirm this fact. In fact, the passage we mentioned before, James 5:13-15 shows us how we go about it in the church.

    Other passages also show us that spiritual supernatural gift of healing the Apostles had were not used on believers.

    For example:

    2 Timothy 4:19-20 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.

    Clearly Paul would not be so cruel and unloving that he would not use the power of the gift of healing on Trophimus.

    In addition, even with Timothy Paul says this about Timothy’s health problem:

    1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.

    Someone today may say that since back then they did not have medicines like they have today that this fact excuses the use of all medications today even the ones that are mind and emotion altering.

    I will say that at first, this may appear to be a valid argument and indeed it is true that they did not have those types of medicines then and that by the same argument then these medicines since they are medicines then we must accept them as such and therefore they should be acceptable to use today.

    Although it may seem an acceptable argument the more we understand God’s word and His principles we also should understand that in fact, this is not a valid point at all.

    In God’s word we see that there is a big difference between how we ought to biblically treat our bodies versus our minds and emotions.

    Anyway, this whole point just to say that our minds ought to always be engaged in meditating as Paul says in Philippians 4:8-9 on those things. If we want to have a healthy mind and if we need healing of our minds that is what we must do. That is indeed God’s prescription for a healthy mind and healthy spiritual life.

    We can try to argue about all this, I do not see why we should, yet I know many believers would indeed argue with this fact. However, when they do argue these points I hope you can clearly see that they aren’t arguing with me but with God’s word which clearly shows us instead how we should treat our minds and that if we want to have and keep the peace of God in us we need to do exactly what God’s word says we should do and we ought not to try to use human and artificial shortcuts, in fact, the issue is that those things will never be able to heal and to transform and renew our minds.
    As I had even said before God wants to deliver us and free us completely from things that hold us down and hold us back. God wants to set us free He does not want us to use things that just cover up our problems. God wants us to manifest His power through the fruit of His Spirit and not obtaining artificial man-made substitutes of His Spirit.

    In the end, though it is up to us to do the things that God says we should. Many times before, I mentioned that God most often when it comes to our sanctification or spiritual growth wants us to participate with Him in the process.

    In fact, most often God, even though He provides all the ways and all the tools needed for us to grow spiritually, desires that we do what He expects us to do in order to achieve the results He wants. Why? Because, even we should desire to obtain what He desires for us.
    In other words, He wants us to desire for ourselves what He desires for us, He wants us to learn what we must do and then He desires that we do it and if and when we do then He does His part in our life.

    Let me be clear when it comes to our salvation the action that brings us to faith is only God’s action. We cannot regenerate ourselves therefore we cannot have the necessary elements within us to respond properly to the call of the Gospel. We know this to be true as God’s word clearly tells us in so many ways that it is God who must enable us to believe in the Gospel. See the following passages:
    Matthew 16:16-17; John 3:1-8; John 6:37-70; Acts 13:48; Acts 16:14; Romans 9:11-24; 1 Corinthians 2:10-15, and also many more of these even within the Gospel itself. I would point out in particular
    Acts 13:48, Acts 16:14 and especially 1 Corinthians 2:14.

    While for our salvation we could have done nothing at all, that faith in Christ and repentance of our sins which are necessary to believe and be saved can only come from a regenerated person and the regeneration can only come from the Holy Spirit.

    However, sanctification happens in a person whose will has been restored to respond to God in a proper way, therefore all the commandments we find in Scripture given to the believers are all given with sanctification in mind, not salvation. We do what we do to grow and mature spiritually, to be transformed in the image of Christ not to be saved or to stay saved.

    Many other times I stated that God does not make us grow spiritually and does not deliver us from things instantly like with the waving of a magic wand. I wish He did all that just by us asking Him and Him just doing it. However, if you examine the passage we have been looking at in Philippians there certainly are a lot of things God expects us to do before we can have the peace that passes all understanding. If we do them, the final outcome will be as God’s word says, having His peace that passes all understanding.

    And indeed, look at how Paul concludes this subject in

    Philippians 4:9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

    You see, to have the peace of God, here indicated as the God of peace, we must, as Paul says do the things we learn and receive and hear and see in Paul, in his writings and life. The words he wrote previously obviously are some of the things we must do that Paul teaches us.

    Clearly we see that to manifest the fruit of the Spirit is not as automatic as we think it is.

    In the process of our spiritual growth and maturity depends mostly on us and how we obey God’s word.

    The manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit is almost entirely dependent on our obedience to God’s word.

    We went down this path for a while and we may have forgotten what we were actually studying. We said all this because we needed to learn why sometimes believers do not exhibit the love and goodness and do not have knowledge of God as Paul instead says about the Roman believers and which is true about all born again believers.

    Romans 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

    We have seen that the confidence Paul has concerning them ( and we ought to have about ourselves) is that we are full of goodness and knowledge when we live in obedience to God’s word. It is then that the Holy Spirit fills us and manifests His fruit in us. As we have seen the reason we too often are not filled with goodness and knowledge is because we are not walking in obedience to God and we are not developing the spiritual discipline to know God and His will through His word.

    Then Paul says that they are able to admonish one another as well. This is a very important aspect of Christian life and of church life. However we must qualify what it really means and how it must be practiced.

    There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Let us look first at what the word admonish means.

    The word in Greek is noutheteín and it literally means: to put in mind and by implication to warn, to caution and even to reprove.

    The actual root meaning is interesting, to put in mind. This means to place in the mind of someone, but to place what? God’s directions. A lot of Scripture has an admonishing nature, in other words, it warns us. It warns us of the dangers and consequences of disobedience to God, it warns us of the dangers of false doctrines and evil doers. It warns us of things to come. It has the connotation of putting the right sense into a mind.

    One very specific case of the use of this word is found in Acts 20:31.

    Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

    What did Paul admonish, warn them about?

    Acts 20:29-30 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

    No doubt, for three years Paul continued to, as the root of the word claims, place in their minds the information that men would come and try to pervert the Gospel and the Word of God.

    As we see Paul never ceased to admonish them, warn them day and night with tears that savage wolves would come into the church from without not sparing the flock of God and even from within men would rise up speaking false doctrines, perverting God’s truth and drawing away disciples after themselves.

    Most likely the men who rise from within to pervert God’s truth are a consequence of the wolves who came from without and brought with them heresies and perverting God’s word. Many will believe them and then rise up from within the assemblies and draw away others to become their disciples, not disciples of Christ but of them.

    This happens a lot especially today as many of the assemblies are too big to be supervised properly, therefore from within these some enter in bringing false doctrines, they befriend some weak gullible believers and then they begin teaching them perverted things and false doctrines.

    People who come and go in these huge assemblies cannot be properly vetted and checked and often have free range to find weak believers and draw disciples after themselves.

    This is exactly the thing of which that Paul was admonishing the Ephesian church and hopefully us today. Too many pastors/elders for the sake of numerical church growth especially because this is a false measure of church success and it is also a means of making money for many who espouse the doctrine of Balaam today known as the Prosperity Gospel.

    In fact, speaking of admonishing, the New Testament Scripture admonishes believers who are pastor-elders not to get into this ministry in order to earn money.

    1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

    The Apostles called this filthy lucre or wages of unrighteousness!

    2 Peter 2:15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

    Jude 10-11 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

    Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

    There is also another category of minsters which are very popular today. These are not vocational pastors or ministers who would work a job and still guide the body of Christ or who are supported by love offerings rather than fixed salaries. The unfortunate business of religion today makes these kinds of ministers. Ministers should be recompensed because of their faithfulness to the sound doctrine of God, their faithfulness to the people but only in obedience to God’s word and directions.

    Unfortunately in many assemblies today they hire ministers or even worse some, especially para-church ministers actually sell their services to churches. This ought never to be, I believe that is not the intentions God had regarding ministers making a living from the preaching and teaching of His word and their service to the flock of God.

    To give oneself to be hired to administer to believers what God has freely given believers as a gift is perverting the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    Look at what Peter said in Acts 8 to someone who not only wanted the power of the Holy Spirit no doubt to make financial gains with it but was also willing to buy the Holy Spirit in order to have His power.

    This was what Simon this Samaritan sorcerer did and who he was:

    Acts 8:9-11 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

    There are only two reasons why he, and many today still do this, to have power and manipulate people and at the same time to make money through their perversions.

    Look at what happens later to him:

    Acts 8:17-24 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” 24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”

    Undoubtedly, the same spirit that was in Simon is indeed in many ministers today. They want to use God for their own ends, they want to sell their gifts and talents to earn even abundantly, they want to be in power over people to control and manipulate them. They want recognition before men. These are all traits that should not exist in ministry. These people are called hirelings.

    This is what Jesus said about them:

    John 10:12-13 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

    This perhaps does not seem right in this context but it is. Indeed as we have seen what Peter said before,

    1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

    Pastor-elders must shepherd God’s flock as Jesus dis and would. Not by compulsion but willingly. Unfortunately, when one is hired for a set price as minister more often than not their service becomes under compulsion and not willingly, that this is speaking about money is evident by the next phrase, not for dishonest gain but eagerly. You see, if and when money becomes a factor in ministry then a minister often will serve under compulsion and will do it for money. Like Balaam was willing to bring a curse upon God’s people for money so these ministers whether they recognize it or not are also doing the same thing when money is involved, especially if the money is a lot. Pastors/elders must not be lords over the flock but must serve everyone with love and humility. Unfortunately, when money gets placed in the mix of ministry it becomes difficult to serve with humility and love, yet Peter says ministers ought to be examples to the flock.

    Even in the Old Testament God had a controversy with the shepherds for these very reasons, see Ezekiel 34:1-22.

    In the passage Jesus spoke in John 10 He says that the hireling sees the wolf and flees leaving the sheep at the mercy of the wolf.

    Today this still occurs because that is the hireling’s nature. Money is the object of their devotion not God and not His people. Even today this happens because the wolf which namely is the devil but also all of his servants and even his ideologies and false doctrines. So when a pastor is hired he also becomes vulnerable to be swayed by the desires and will of the people of the dictates of their denominations which often espouse worldly ideologies and introduce false doctrines. Even as we said before many megachurch pastors, but not only, pastors allow wolves in sheep clothing to come in the church and attack and harm the sheep of God and this is exactly what Jesus is saying.

    Running away is not only literally running away but also it means running away from the responsibility of protecting the sheep of God when the wolves come. Basically the money they receive becomes a form of being sold out so that the ministers end up doing the will of everyone except God.

    If some very big donors in the assemblies begin to push their ways and agenda in the church to have their way and in these circumstances, the pastor/elder compromises his God-given call and gives into the demands of the people rather than doing the will of God, it is as Jesus says, they have become a hireling willing to disobey God for the fear of man and because they actually have been bought for a price. This is just about being like Judas who betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver.

    When a pastor-elder does not want to preach and teach sound doctrine, because they are afraid to offend people and therefore lose people because the truth of God may offend them, then it is the same thing as being a hireling and running away in fear and letting the flock of God be attacked by the wolves. False doctrine even the lack of sound doctrine are ways with which the wolf comes in and has his way within the flock.

    Remember even Jesus said that the thief, the wolf, comes to steal, kill, and destroy!

    John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

    This is the nature and the modus operandi of the devil and anyone who serves him. This is not only what he does in the world although that is exactly what he is doing in the world.

    When someone asks if there is a God why is there so much evil in the world, one would do right to mention this passage. Not that they would actually believe it perhaps yet this is the reason.

    However, the devil is not sufficiently satisfied to do all this in the world, he wants to come inside the church and steal, kill, and destroy all that he possibly can.

    If pastors allow him to come in through worldly ideology and false doctrine then that is exactly what he will do. Once again, when the minister becomes a hireling he will see the wolf coming but instead of resisting and fighting him and protecting the sheep he cowardly runs away. In other words, he avoids protecting the sheep in the way God calls a shepherd to do. This dereliction of duty is true as if they literally ran away, how? Because they are running away from their God-given responsibility to protect God’s flock.

    That is why Paul was warning the Ephesians with tears day and night about these things.

    We should, therefore, admonish one another of the dangers that are real and alive and ready to attack the flock of God. Warning, admonishing each other with and in the word of God.

    There are many other types of admonishments and warning we ought to practice and God’s word tells us:

    1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

    2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

    Titus 2:3-5 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things– 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

    Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

    In fact, all the mentions are to be aware of and to fight false doctrines and false teachers in the church. Therefore, when apastor/elders do not make sound doctrine a priority and even go as far as ignore sound doctrine and in many cases even allow false teachings to be spread and remain within the body of Christ they are acting as hirelings who run away when the wolf comes and they are derelict of their responsibilities God has given them.

    A shepherd of God’s flock has the responsibility to feed the sheep of God, God’s teaching, sound doctrine, they have the responsibility to war the sheep of God of the dangers lurking around. It is the shepherds’ responsibility to protect the sheep of God’s flock and not to run away when they see the dangers coming and it is their responsibility to fight the devil and his ideologies and false teachings.

    So all believers but especially the pastors/elders in the body of Christ are able to admonish one another, the Roman believers had this ability and so do we or we should. It is a very important thing we should do or better must do.

    Romans 15:15-16 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

    Paul is saying now, besides the fact that believers can admonish one another he says that he has written them very boldly regarding some points. I would venture to say that from the very beginning of the Epistle Paul wrote them very boldly, very forcefully about some points. Let’s look at them quickly.

    Right in chapter one Paul speaks very boldly about God’s wrath upon people who reject Him
    Romans 1:18-32.

    In chapter two Paul spoke boldly about religious hypocrisy and the danger of it Romans 2.

    In Romans chapter three Paul speaks very, very boldly about the total depravity of man and the need for God’s salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone Romans 3.

    In chapter four Paul speaks boldly about faith and the impossibility of achieving salvation in any other way Romans 4.

    In chapter 5 Paul speaks boldly about mans’ deathly sinfulness and the greater power of redemption through God’s grace in Christ.

    In chapter 6 Paul speaks boldly about the freedom from sin’s power in a believer through the grace of God in Jesus Christ and speaks boldly about the fact that free from sins power we no can freely serve God in righteousness whereas before our redemption we could not do so, we could only be religious at best Romans 6.

    Paul speaks boldly about sin being still present within our bodies even after we have been regenerated and saved by faith in Christ and how the battle of sin against the spirit is alive and well in us but that the victory over this is indeed Jesus Christ, Romans 7.

    In chapter 8 Paul reiterates the complete and total victory over sin and death we have in Christ, and here opens up the first bold declaration that we have indeed been chosen and predestined by God and the permanence and security of our salvation, Romans 8.

    In Romans chapter 9 Paul begins speaking about God’s choices regarding Israel and after regarding His sovereign choice to have mercy upon whom He desires, therefore once again opening the door of sovereign election even in a greater and above way than he made in chapter 8. Romans 9:10-24 and he continues to speak of Israel’s relationship with God as he continues it in the next chapter.

    Paul in Romans 10 still speaking of Israel he speaks boldly regarding how salvation is obtained for all people but how necessary it is for the Gospel to be preached to Israel, showing them and us how God is not finished with the nation of Israel, Romans 10.

    Romans eleven is where Paul speaks very boldly about God’s relationship and plans for Israel’s salvation Romans 11.

    Romans chapter 12 is where Paul speaks boldly about the great need of believers not to be conformed to the ways of the world and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds Romans 12:1-2, and boldly tells believers how we ought to behave in the body of Christ, Romans 12: 3-12.

    Chapter 13 is a very bold writing of Paul explaining the proper relationship of believers and government, Romans 13:1-7. Paul writes boldly about how we should love one another Romans 13:8-10. Paul concludes the chapter by boldly writing how we should behave in the last days as we await the return of the Lord.

    In Chapter 14 Paul writes again boldly about not judging other believers about things that are not sinful and that have nothing to do with doctrinal issues regarding salvation, sanctification and the person and attributes of God Romans 14.

    And here we are now in chapter 15, where Paul claims that he has indeed written boldly regarding some points and we have seen them.

    He has boldly written them all these very important things and by doing such he asserted his Apostolic authority in the things he wrote. Nevertheless, his Apostolic authority was not self-imposed it came by God’s grace. Any spiritual gift, ministry, and office are part of the gift of God’s grace in the Holy Spirit.

    When we are regenerated and saved we are so by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ and through the preaching of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is also called God’s gift, see

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    To understand this better we must remember that God’s grace is unmerited favor and therefore salvation is a gift from God and since salvation is by the Holy Spirit’s action and power therefore the Holy Spirit is God’s gift of grace and all that the Holy Spirit gives to the believer and the body of Christ are all gifts of grace pertaining to salvation.

    For example when Paul writes this:

    Ephesians 4:7-13 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”
    9(Now this, “He ascended”–what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

    As we see Paul says that God by His grace, that is also what he is saying in the Romans 15 passage, by the grace of God God’s gift, the Holy Spirit, has given each of us a certain measure of God’s gift. This does not mean, as perhaps many Pentecostals would say that we only receive some of the Holy Spirit and that later on, we must receive the fullness of Him. That is not at all what this means. The Spirit is wholly present in every believer and with Him comes a measure of God’s gifts.

    The context of the entire passage here is clear, the measure, even as Paul clearly explains in 1 Corinthians 12, is the various manifestations of the gifts, ministries, and offices given to the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. These gifts and ministries are measured in the body of Christ as it seems good to God, see also 1 Corinthians 12: 7 and 1 Corinthians 12:11.

    Here, we see that the passage indeed refers to gifts of the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ. In fact, Paul writes that Jesus ascended back into heaven, sent the Holy Spirit, His gift to men, to believers, to the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the gift of God to His children and He comes manifesting in various and different ways. For example, the fruit of the Spirit, see Galatians 5:22-23, is for all believers. Spiritual gifts, ministries, and activities on the other hand vary and are given to believers as the Holy Spirit decides, see 1 Corinthians 12:5-11.

    Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:

    The ministers Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:11, in other words, Apostles, prophets, evangelists , pastors and teachers are God’s gifts of grace to the body of Christ for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry and the spiritual education and growth, in other words, the edification of the believers, so that all believers can reach the unity of the faith and the stature, conformity to Jesus Christ’s image.

    So we have seen all this to explain better what Paul is saying in Romans 15 when he states:

    Romans 15:15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God,

    The grace God gave Paul was not only in the form of redemption but since the Holy Spirit is He who redeems us and make us alive in Christ, with Him come the gifts and the ministries, all are a gift of God’s grace.

    Even in Ephesians 2 Paul describes this entire concept when He says:

    Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    Clearly, salvation is by God’s grace through faith and both are God’s gifts, however, even we after are saved are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    As we see, God’s grace provides salvation as it provides faith to believe and this is provided by the regeneration power of the Holy Spirit, all this is by God’s grace and then as we become God’s new creation in Christ we are endowed by the same Spirit and therefore by God’s grace to walk in God’s beforehand prepared good works.

    In order to walk in the good works of God, we must be properly equipped to do God’s will. The Holy Spirit therefore places in each of us His gifts and chooses by God’s will and therefore all by God’s grace the ministers and equips them as Ephesians 4 says, for the equipping of the saints for the ministry. They are the ones through which the body of Christ receives edification and training.

    You see the proper way other ministers are formed in the church according to God’s will is through the training of other believers so that the called ones themselves become ministers of the church. In addition they are to train all believers making them disciples of Christ teaching them all that the Lord has taught us through His word. This is the execution and fulfillment of the Great Commission, see Matthew 28:18-20.

    As we saw written in Ephesians 4 in Paul’s case, he was an Apostle called and chosen by God’s grace. Therefore Paul recognizes that His salvation, His gift and Apostolic call were all by God’s grace and His grace only.

    In many other places Paul wrote exactly that all he was and did was in Christ and only by God’s grace and power.

    Romans 1:5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,

    Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you,

    1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

    1 Corinthians 15:10-11 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

    Galatians 1:15-16; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:1-8.

    Clearly Paul tells us that his Apostolic call and authority were only by God’s grace.

    We also need to accept the fact that any and all gifts, calls, ministries we may have are all by God’s grace and therefore we, as with salvation, have absolutely nothing to with us but all to do with God’s grace and power.

    However, Paul never excludes the authority God gave him by His grace. As an Apostle in those days he had the ultimate God given authority. Paul was not shy to let the churches know and remind them about this fact. He also knew though, that with that authority came much responsibility and that he had to express that authority only when it was necessary and not exploit it to be lord over God’s people.

    In fact, that is prohibited by God’s word. Jesus Himself said this:

    Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

    Matthew 23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

    This is the road map for a minister of God. Not lords but servants. Now let’s qualify this aspect, just because a pastor is called to be a servant of all does not mean that he must do everything all the time for everybody regardless. This in fact is indeed a problem in many churches today.

    Many communities today have two extremes going on with their pastors, in one case some pastors rule like they are kings and the believers are their subjects. Sure that they, just like in a real kingdom build their little hierarchy and their close circle of favorites, yet they end up being like lords over most of the congregation and sadly most of the congregants go along with all this and even happily enable their pastors to rule them rather than serve them.

    The extreme in other churches is that the pastors do serve but end up being the ones that do everything and the congregants sit around watching as spectators and end they end up becoming the ones who lord over their pastors in essence making their pastors not only their servants but actually the pastors become their slaves. Often the people in this kind of set up start dictating to their how to run the church based upon their own desires and wants and sadly the pastors most often acquiesce to their demands.

    These two scenarios are not how a church is supposed to be led. In fact, both those cases denote a dysfunctional church government. Pastors/elders are called, yes to serve, yet to serve within the boundaries of what God’s word claims.

    We have seen it even before where Peter wrote:

    1 Peter 5:1-3 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

    Once again it’s worth looking at this passage. Peter says to shepherd the flock if God serving as overseers not by compulsion but willingly. There are some things we need to look in more detail. To Shepherd for example means several things.

    Let’s look at what it means to shepherd and oversee God’s flock.

    It is interesting that God compares believers with sheep and pastors with shepherds. Of course the great Shepherd is Jesus and we must be imitators of Jesus. As Jesus we must lead, feed, protect the sheep.

    This is indeed what a shepherd of the flock of God must do. As a real shepherd takes care of his sheep so pastors must take care of God’s flock.

    The very first thing we understand is that a shepherd provides good pasture for his sheep. It is the shepherd that knows and finds the best pastures for his sheep. God gives a great example of this in Psalm 23.

    David writes about God as his shepherd and he says:

    Psalms 23:1-2 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

    David says that God as his shepherd is his provider and that because of that he will never lack anything. He also says that God, the shepherd provides for him the best pasture to eat and the best refreshing water to drink.

    Pastors like God must provide spiritual food and spiritual refreshment for God’s sheep.

    What is the spiritual food and refreshing spiritual water that pastors provide for God’s sheep?
    It’s the teaching of God’s word. God’s word is the food for our souls and the refreshing water we need to survive and grow spiritually.

    Even Jesus told Peter three times to feed His sheep, His lambs:

    John 21:15-17 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

    How does the New Testament explain feeding God’s flock? As I said before we see that the pastor must provide the best spiritual pasture and spiritual refreshing water for God’s sheep.

    Feeding the flock is giving them instruction, admonishments, exhortations and encouragement needed.

    In fact, Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 speaking of God’s word says:

    1 Corinthians 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
    4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

    The word of God aptly taught speaks to edification, in other words, it builds up and makes one grow spiritually, it exhorts which can mean encouragement but also strong admonishment and it also speaks comfort.

    These things actually are the spiritual nourishment of the spiritual man.

    When it comes to the duty and responsibility of pastors in the church is to be the providers of sound doctrine which is the proper nourishment for the believer.

    We did mention beforehand that in many assemblies today the pastor is basically forced to do all kinds of things that aren’t even their duty and responsibility. Look at what the Apostles said about their duty and responsibility in:

    Acts 6:1-4 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

    It is more than evident that the main duty and responsibility of the pastors/elders in the body of Christ is to be in the ministry of the word and prayer. In fact, in the New Testament the duties and responsibility of pastors/elders are the teaching and preaching and the counseling from the word of God and prayer.

    Let’s look at what the word of God says about pastor/elders:

    The main qualifications to be an elder/pastor are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. These requirements are all behavioral and spiritual character traits except one, the one found in verse 2, able to teach.

    That is the only requirement that is not from character is teaching. That is actually the main duty and responsibility of the pastor/elder. Of course there are other responsibilities such as governing the church yet even that is always done in strict accordance to the word of God’s instructions.

    As pastors/elders or as God’s word calls them, shepherds, not only is their responsibility to feed God’s flock with God’s word, a shepherd also protects his sheep. Protects them from wild animals that could and would harm them, protects them from natural dangers they might find along the journey to the pasture. So a pastor/elder must protect God’s sheep along their life’s spiritual journey. Pastors/elders also must protect God’s sheep from their spiritual enemies and the dangers that come along the Christian’s life.

    The wild animals shepherds protect the sheep from, as even the Bible compares wild animals to God’s sheep spiritual enemies.

    As we know, probably the greatest enemy of sheep is the wolf and these are mentioned in Scripture describing dangerous persons who would harm God’s children.

    For example Jesus calls false prophets, ravenous wolves:

    Matthew 7:15″Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

    Also in John 10 Jesus says:

    John 10:11-13 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

    We mentioned before that the hireling, the career modern pastor can be and often is a hireling who really does not care for the spiritual well being of the sheep and does not acknowledge the dangers that false prophets and teachers pose to the sheep. In addition the hireling also does not acknowledge or worry about the harmful worldly ideologies and philosophies that creep into the church. All these things, false doctrines and ways of the world are the dangers that are always lurking around to bring harm to God’s flock.

    A true shepherd has the same spirit David had when he told Saul:

    1 Samuel 17:32-37 Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

    The real shepherd that cares and loves the sheep is not afraid to go against the sheep’s enemies. The shepherd is courageous and does what is necessary to keep the sheep safe, the shepherd goes after the enemies of the flock. God always helps the shepherds who do it in God strength and using the spiritual weapons of God, Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

    With God’s word, with God’s weapons we tear down the lies, the worldly ideologies, the false doctrines and counter act the lies of the false teachers and prophets.

    This is a great responsibility of the shepherd, as we said before, one of which many modern pastors do not want to practice. So far, many, too many modern pastors are neglecting the two responsibilities we mentioned so far. The first responsibility is that too many of the so called modern pastors, we also call hirelings, do not feed God’s flock sound doctrine, in fact, sound doctrine is avoided in most cases today, in fact sound doctrine is mostly avoided like if it was the plague.

    The second responsibility as we have seen is actually connected to the first one, the first neglect is not to teach and preach sound doctrine and the second is like it, they do not preach against false doctrines, do not defend against them, they do not protect the flock from worldly ideologies and philosophies, in fact they embrace and accept and even introduce them to the church.

    On this last point made when a pastor/elder introduce, accept and tolerate false doctrines, worldly ideologies in their church by default they actually become wolves in sheep’s clothing even if they themselves do not preach false doctrines.

    In these cases the pastors/elders become accomplices of the enemies of God’s flock and they actually become God’s enemies as well while harming the lives of God’s sheep.

    As we see the real shepherds of God’s flock feed their flock with the teaching and preaching sound doctrine of God, they protect the flock of God by refuting and rejecting false doctrines and to not allow the ideologies and philosophies of the world to come into the church.
    In fact, shepherds are similar to the cells of the human immune system which must attack and destroy any foreign element, such as a virus or bacterium introduced into the body in order to keep the body in a state of spiritual health and not cause foreign bodies to become an infection which then spreads and devastates the whole body. Without these pastoral safeguards it is evident that the body of Christ becomes spiritually sick just as a natural body gets sick with an immune system that does not work as it should.

    The pastors/elders or shepherds must also cure the sheep when they are sick or hurt. This brings us to the third responsibility of the pastor/elder, in other words spiritual counseling.

    We can find this responsibility even mentioned in:

    James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

    It’s the pastor/elder that must intervene in the believers’ lives to ascertain their spiritual health besides their physical lives, recognizing that often the physical sicknesses of believers are connected to their possible spiritual illnesses.

    Proverbs 27:23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds;

    In fact the James passage speaks more to the spiritual condition which affects the physical condition than just only the physical. When a pastor/elder is called to pray for the sick believer it is incumbent upon them to examine their spiritual condition and to counsel them if sin or spiritual sickness is present. Verse 16 talks about confessing trespasses and praying for one another.

    In this context he is talking about elder and believer and this confessing is indeed speaking about the counseling aspect of the responsibility of the pastor/elder. The counseling part of it includes of course doctrinal biblical counseling and then prayer is to be included and all of these will help the person be healed. Here it is intended to be understood when a sickness is spiritual and the spiritual illness affects the physical being of a believer.

    Therefore, in summary, the responsibilities of a shepherd are to feed the sheep ( teaching and exhorting with sound doctrine). To protect the sheep from all the dangers they may be at risk to encounter ( not allowing worldliness, false doctrines, and sinfulness to affect them and harm them). To keep them in health and giving them the proper spiritual health medicine, God’s word, counseling and prayer.

    Besides all this and governing the flock of God, the church, the pastor does not have any other duties. Certainly the pastor is not an entertainer, an actor, or some kind of do it all. The pastors/elders serve God’s people by fulfilling their God given responsibilities. Of course, all of us as Christians are to always help each other in all and any way.

    As we have seen pastors are to be hospitable as well, their home always ought to be open to host other believers. This does not mean a pastor’s house ought to be a hotel’s revolving door or some kind of shelter. Even though at times that may temporarily be required by the Lord, to give some kind of shelter or hospitality to someone in need within the community though.
    Now that we have seen what a minister, a pastor/elder does to serve God’s flock, that every minister is such by God’s grace and now we return to what Paul is saying in Romans 15:16

    Romans 15:16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus called Paul to be a minister of Jesus Christ to the nations and this was to minster the Gospel to them. We need to specify that Paul’s ministry was specifically God’s will and God’s will was that the nations would be given the message of salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also need to distinguish the difference between the nations and Israel or the Jews. Let’s look at these two things one at a time. Jesus chose Paul to specifically go to the Gentile nations.

    Paul knew from the beginning that was the ministry God gave him even though Paul had a great zeal to present the Gospel to the Jews and for a period he did, yet God always changed Paul’s plan and always called Paul back to His original plan and the original ministry Paul had.

    The very interesting thing is that Paul himself says several times besides this one that God called him to minister the Gospel to the Gentiles:

    Acts 13:46-47 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

    Acts 22:21 “Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”

    Acts 26:22-23 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come– 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

    Galatians 2:7-9 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8(for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

    As we clearly see Paul knew that His calling was to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles and to establish the Gentile people of God.

    We also must notice that Peter was sent to the Jews, in other words the circumcised and he was the chief Apostle for the proclamation of the Gospel to the Jews.

    We should also notice that Paul understood that he was called as an Apostle out of due time, this is also interesting as Paul was not one of the original twelve but called to minister to the Gentiles. This is interesting because back in the Gospels Jesus speaking to the twelve ( we must exclude Judas Iscariot obviously and can include Matthias, Acts 1:15-21),

    He told them this:

    Matthew 19:28-29 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

    Twelve Apostles, twelve tribes. This is not what God told Paul and Paul is not one of those twelve, Paul is the Apostle to the nations , the Gentiles, the non Jews. He will not be one that will judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

    The other thing we must notice is this one, although Peter was called to be the Apostle to the Jews, Jesus gave Him the charge to be the one who would have the keys to open the Kingdom of God to the world Matthew 16:19 and indeed Peter did just that. Peter was involved in opening the access to the Kingdom of God through the Gospel as he was primarily involved in the very act of unlocking God’s Kingdom for all people.

    Therefore, Peter opened the doors of the Kingdom to all nations but then Paul entered within that opening and sowed the Gospel in many regions of the Roman Empire which was made up of people of many nations.

    Peter was therefore the originator of the message of salvation in Jerusalem and Judea Acts 2 and 3. He was also instrumental in the inclusion of the Samaritans Acts 8 and the Gentiles Acts 10. Therefore doing this He unlocked the doors to God’s Kingdom. The keys were the message of the Gospel and once these three ethnic groups were called to salvation the door to the Kingdom were opened up to all people not to the Jews only, and as I said the only key to open up God’s Kingdom is the Gospel.

    Without Jesus’ work of redemption, without God’s Spirit to regenerate people through faith in the preaching of the message of salvation in Christ there could be no access into God’s Kingdom. This is also perfectly in line with what Jesus told Nicodemus about having to be born again in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, John 3:1-10.

    Therefore, Peter was God’s instrument to unlock the Kingdom of God for all people, yet Paul was the Apostle sent specifically to the nations, the non Jews, to lay the foundation of the body of Christ among the Gentiles through the preaching of the Gospel to them.

    Paul was an Apostle called by Jesus Himself to go to the Gentiles with the message of salvation but as we see he was called to something that the rest of the Apostles originally did not know, Acts 1:1-8.

    We must understand, that the body of Christ, including the Gentiles as part of the Kingdom of God as the people of God had been a mystery hidden through the ages past; until Jesus revealed it by sending His Spirit and gave the understanding of God’s plan of redemption included the Gentiles and thus this created what we know as the body of Christ.

    This is very well described by Paul in Ephesians 2 and 3. The Jews had no clue from all their prophecies that God wanted to include people of the whole world and make them all part of the Kingdom of God.

    The Jewish Apostles had a very incomplete view regarding God’s plan for the world because they always thought that for Gentiles to be saved they would have had to become Jews first.
    They always and only saw the Gentile people as being saved only when Israel would have achieved the fullness of the promised Kingdom and that they would be saved only because they would become subjects of Israel’s worldly dominance.

    However, God did not have the Jewish concept of salvation in mind at all. He later revealed what the fullness of His plan would be, He did it through the Apostles but only after Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and made them aware of His will and His plan and doing it as they gradually understood God’s plan in better detail John 16:13-15.

    Obviously the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s Kingdom as adopted children did not at all annul all the promises God made to Israel in the past, in fact God will indeed bring all His promises He made to pass for the remnant of the nation, only those who will be called out as the elect will be grafted back into the olive tree, Romans 11.

    All this has to occur by the salvation of the remnant believing in Messiah Jesus at His second coming, then all Israel will be saved and admitted into the New Covenant through faith in Christ and thus all of God’s promises made in the past will be fulfilled in and through Christ and Christ alone.

    Paul was called to be an Apostle by Jesus Himself, Acts 9:1-16. The Lord Jesus specifies and explains even to Ananias whom He chose to go and pray and baptize Paul after his conversion on the way to Damascus, that Paul was His chosen Apostle to go and minister to the Gentiles:

    Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

    Paul indeed was a witness of Christ and brought the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles, to kings and even the children of Israel.

    He was an Apostle but in a sense a different type of Apostle, he was not one of the original twelve or better eleven and Matthias who later took Judas Iscariot’s place. It is, as I said before interesting that God chose Paul to be such Apostle. Perhaps he chose him because of several reasons. God likes to exploit our talents and abilities as well as giving us His Holy Spirit. Or better God intertwines His power and ability with all the other things He brings about in our life in order to use us in a much complete and effective way. Perhaps out of all the Apostles Jesus chose, seems that Paul had some advantages the other Apostles did not have, some of these God-given providential circumstances were so that Paul was facilitated to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.

    Let me explain what I mean.

    There are several things Scripture tells us regarding this and we must be attentive to them.

    For example, God makes all things work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, Romans 8:28. In this passage we see that God has a particular purpose for those He loves and upon whom He places His favor and mercy, these obviously are also the ones that love Him, because He first loved us, 1 John 4:19.

    God has told us in His word that for all those He foreknew before the foundation of the world to be His children, Ephesians 1:4-14, He has a very specific purpose and that He would make all things work for their temporal and eternal good. We can see this occur in Joseph’s life. God called him for a specific purpose but before he would actually arrive at that point in his life he endured many things, things that literally seemed to be his God-given dream killers.

    God foretold Joseph in his teenage dreams what He would have done in Joseph’s future but God never told Joseph how many hard things he would have to endure in order that God’s final purpose for his life would come to pass.

    Joseph was envied and hated by his own brothers who planned to kill him. That was not God’s plan. They sold him instead as a slave to a caravan of Ishmaelites who then sold him as a slave to an Egyptian lord. In the meantime, his brothers fake his death and tell Jacob their father that Joseph got mauled by a wild animal while not even caring about hurting their father through their deception. In Egypt meanwhile, Joseph was blessed by God but even there he was wrongfully accused by his master’s wife of having attempted to sexually have his way with her, while instead, it was her that kept pursuing him and he kept rejecting her advances. For that false accusation he was thrown in jail, In jail, God blessed him with success. There he was able to interpret Pharaoh’s baker’s and cup bearer’s dreams He thinks the cupbearer would remember Joseph and help him be set free yet the cupbearer forgets and Joseph remains in jail for a longer period of time. Once again, for the third time, his dreams seem to be destroyed. However, Pharaoh has dreams that upset him and his wise men cannot interpret them. At this point, the cupbearer remembers Joseph and mentions his experience in jail.

    Joseph gets summoned by Pharaoh and Joseph interprets his dreams. For that and the wise advice, Joseph gives Pharaoh, not only he gets freed from prison but gets promoted as governor of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Here he governs Egypt through seven years of bounty and plenty and then seven years of famine, in which his brothers come to Egypt to buy food as Joseph had implemented a plan to conserve the food in the years of plenty for the years of famine since that was the plan he had shared with Pharaoh regarding the dreams he had. Joseph’s brothers do not recognize him and through a series of tricks Joseph plays on them, he is able to make them confess to their crime committed against him. However even after they recognize him he forgives them and loves them as he calls his father who thought he was dead to live in Egypt with him. At the end of all this happens and listen to what Joseph says

    Genesis 50:15-20 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17’Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

    I know that many people are not too keen on the fact that God has a preset plan for our lives. I feel that this instead is a great blessing and it is very comforting and encouraging to know that God has full control of all things in our life. God’s sovereignty in our lives ought to make us feel absolutely secure and greatly loved.

    Think about it for a moment, what is better, us in control with our very little strength and very limited knowledge, with no real knowledge of our future or Almighty God with unlimited power and knowledge of all things?

    Wouldn’t any of us want to feel secure in the hands of someone who can guarantee that we will endure things in our lives on the control of someone’s unfettered power and knowledge? We all look for security, safety, provision, certainty in good outcomes.

    That is why we invest in things and people who can help us have some of these things in our lives and yet many believers feel uncomfortable for some reason in relinquishing the control of their lives to their sovereign heavenly Father who can provide all the things we seek in other people and even ourselves but He can do it so much better.

    In addition, we need to have faith in God’s promises and one of them as we said before is that He works all things together for our good and for His glory. God’s plans and our good are always melded together. In fact, everything about us is not by chance, God is the one that even makes us be born where He wants us to be born. God is sovereign, nothing in anyone’s life happens by chance.

    Acts 17:26-28 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being,

    David makes known these facts of God’s complete sovereignty over our lives in his writings:

    Psalm 139 in its entirety is a declaration of God’s sovereignty over the lives of His children and actually not only His children but everyone for that matter. However, as we will see the outcome for those who are not God’s children but are and remain evildoers is much different than the outcome of God’s children’s lives.

    Psalms 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

    God has created us personally, let’s not make any mistake, although we are biologically made through human interaction it is God Himself that makes us, as David aptly describes. This is why abortion is such an abomination to God. We see also in the creation of a human being that God desires to interact with human will and activity and even if we are born through biological action God is never detached from this procreation, in fact, He is very much involved in our creation process.

    In fact, David also says that all of our days are indeed fashioned for us when they were yet not. If this is not a declaration of predestination I do not know what is.

    God has a very specific purpose for us and all of the works He desires we accomplish are also planned beforehand for us.

    Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    These two facts are mentioned by God Himself when He speaks to the prophet Jeremiah:

    Jeremiah 1:4-5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

    God knows us before He creates us, God’s plans for our lives is preordained, God sets us apart for His purposes before we are even born. God ordained Jeremiah to be prophet to the nations before Jeremiah was even born. In fact even here we see that God confirms what David previously said, that God is the One who plans our lives before we even exist and the One who forms us in our mother’s womb. It is God who sets us apart for His work before we are born, it is then when God ordains us.

    So Paul was chosen and ordained by God to be the Apostle to the Gentiles before he was ever born, God had predestined him to do this God preordained work. All those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior have been preordained to believe and preordained to eternal life, Acts 13:8.

    Not all believers may be preordained to do great works as Paul and others did. Not all believers are preordained to be ministers in the body of Christ, however, all believers are preordained to become like Jesus in character and behavior. Every believer is preordained to be faithful to God in whatever place and position God has placed them. Some may be called to be ministers in the body of Christ, others may be called to be God’s ministers in government and law enforcement, because that is what God says these are, Romans 13:1-4.

    Many if not most believers are called to any work, many if not most are called to be husbands, wives, parents and although many believers see these things as menial work or less important work than let’s say ministry in the body of Christ, they are very wrong to think this way.

    God may not always call us to great visible spiritual works like Paul and many others were and are even today called. Yet, we need to understand that God wherever He places us desires that we be faithful to Him and obey the instructions we read in His word. We are all called, I repeat it, to become more and more like Jesus in character and behavior. Therefore, actually that is the greatest work to which God calls us all. If we aren’t working in this God ordained work all others become useless in reality.

    Even Paul brought these things to the light especially in chapters 12-13-14 of 1 Corinthians.
    In chapter 12 Paul makes it very clear that not every believer is called to ministry but in chapter 13 in fact Paul tells us that unless we all learn to practice the higher calling of God, which in fact is to practice the love of God, all other things become useless.

    However, Paul was called by God to be the Apostle to the Gentiles and he like David, like Jeremiah, like all of us was preordained to be such before he was born.

    Paul mentions this fact also in this way:

    Galatians 1:15-16 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,

    Even in this passage, Paul reiterates that he has been separated by God’s will from way back when he was in his mother’s womb to become God’s Gospel preacher to the Gentiles. However, as we also see he says God chose him to reveal Jesus in Paul, this is the part I was mentioning before, revealing the character, love, and behavior of God’s Son in him and to be the preacher to the Gentiles.

    God is mainly concerned that Jesus’ presence be reveled in all of us first of all outside of ministry and then even in ministry. Being like Christ means being like Him not only in ministerial works but and especially in character, love, thought and behavior.

    As I had mentioned before, God chooses everything in our lives, where we are born, the languages we speak even the work we do in order to use all those things together to make us better serve him.

    Just look at Paul, even though Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee he also was born in Cilicia and was a Roman citizen by birth. He also knew several languages very well. He knew Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and probably even Latin. God in fact used all these things to further Paul’s Gospel ministry. God used all this even to help Paul during his ministry. This made Paul a much more effective minister and in case we think this is what often we call pragmatism, it is not. These are all things God caused Paul to have because God was the one who orchestrated them all.

    These facts about Paul lead me to suspect that when Paul talked about speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 he may be meaning the tongues he already knew from learning them. Paul’s reference in fact is about languages, not spiritual esoteric languages. The fact is that Paul spoke one of the languages he knew while others did not, they would not be able to understand him and therefore there would have been the need for an interpreter.

    I don’t want to be dogmatic on this point but it is possible that Paul meant this when he said:

    1 Corinthians 14:18-19 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

    The word “with my understanding” which is used in the translation actually in the sense given in Greek would be read “I prefer to say five words with meaning to instruct others rather than ten thousand words in another language.”

    The context and the true meaning that Paul is communicating in this chapter is that he prefers to speak in the language that everyone can understand in order to instruct others as well. Which seems to mean that even if he spoke in another language he understood but others did not, only he could receive instruction from what he said but others did not. So Paul always wanted to use a language that others where he was ministering could also understand and through which they could receive instruction.

    It is obvious that in certain circumstances and certain assemblies someone could have understood what he said even if he spoke in a language unknown to the majority but that was not Paul’s intent nor was it God’s.

    So, whether one had the spiritual ability to speak in another language or one speaks a learned language, the thing that must be done in the assembly is to always speak in the language used in that place for the sake of all. For this reason, in both situations, if a person had to speak in another language there had to be an interpreter. This is true even today, if in a community there are people of different ethnic groups who know different languages, however, sthey must speak in the language that the majority speaks, otherwise there must be a translation of what they say.

    Let me give you an example, when we frequented the Christian community in Florence there were many who came from African regions where they speak French. However, these people spoke and understood Italian very well.

    Often during worship some of these praised God in French aloud. Obviously those who spoke French understood it and could receive edification and blessing and say Amen, but those in the majority of the community who spoke and understood only Italian received nothing because they did not understand.

    Sadly no one interpreted and therefore all this became a real violation of the word of God according to 1 Corinthians 14. This in my opinion was also the problem that was in Corinth, no matter if you speak supernaturally or not but in the assembly we must speak the language that everyone understands and if someone speaks in another language they must do it one at a time, not all together and there must be one person who interprets, see 1 Corinthians 14:27-28.

    However. in many other circumstances knowing multiple languages helped Paul in writing and communicating to people in the langauge they could understand.

    Paul used the languages he knew as well to aid him in the ministry:

    Acts 21:37-40 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

    As we see here in this passage alone we see la the benefits that were helping Paul to be a more effective minister. He spoke to the Roman officer in Greek as popular Greek was the main language spoken across the Roman Empire at the time. I am not saying that in the region the Romans called Palestine in which the Jews still lived, Judea etc. they only spoke Greek, in that region they obviouly spoke Aramaic and Hebrew as well as we see in this passage and in verse 40 Paul speaks to the Jewish crowd in Hebrew.

    However, popular Greek was spoken mostly across the Roman Empire. Let’s say that popular Greek was as English is today in the world. It may not have been evrybody’s main langauge but a lot of people knew it and used it. In any event, Paul was fluent in Greek and was born in the city of Tarsus in the region of Cilicia and was a citizen of such region and a Roman citizen at that.

    As we see here Paul has given many talents, abilities and was providentially blessed by God to have all these in his life and God uses these things together with His power to make Paul a very,very effective and powerful minister, even because of these things.

    Paul used all the things God blessed him with to be a better and more effective minister of the Gospel to all people.

    This is all to say that all that we have in our life is God given and blessings of God so that when we become children of God we can better serve Him in our call.

    God plans our lives and give us the tools, abilities and talents beside the gifts of His Spirit to be better used in the purposes God has designed in our life.

    Even me for example, without even attempting to compare myself to Paul, I could never, yet even in my life God has caused such things to be so that I can be better effective in the call He placed on my life. If God calls us to do certain things He will also thoroughly equip us for those task. Even I was born in the United States and have dual citizenship, US and Italian, God chose where I woul be born, chose who my parents would be, American mother, Italian father, God chose where I woild live and grow up (Italy), God allowed me to be fluent in both English and Italian languages.

    God bypassed and worked through all the bad choices I made in my life, God sought me and saved me and called me to be His child and minister and in the capacity He called me He also thoroughly equipped me to be a more effective witness of the Gospel and teacher of His word and allowed me to be such to American people and Italian people and also by living and ministering in both countries during different periods of my life. To be able to build a website in both langauges to be a better and more effective witness of the Gdopel anf teach His word. For all this I am extremely grateful to God and this is how God makes all things work together for good in our lives. Everything, before and after our conversion is utilized by God in our life to further His calling.

    As we clearly see God has preordained our life and I am satisfied and grateful that He did. I am very happy that God knew me before He created me, that He ordained my steps and worked through and often overruled my bad decisions ans lead me down the way of salvation where I was found by Him, where I was born again of His Spirit.

    God loved us before He even created us, God preordained us to be in Christ and called us to be in Christ and caused us to answer the call giving us faith to believe in Him who died for us and leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name sake and leads us to salvation and to work His works which He also preordained that we should walk in them.

    Paul was foreknown and preordained to be the Apostle to bring the message of salvation to the Gentile people, and after him the message was given into the hands of ordained and called men who have been doing the same through out history. Such as those who teach God’s word and prophesy in truth in His name.

    Let’s look now as some of the passages where Paul was able to be aided by the things God caused him to have in his life and how God used these things to further Paul’s ministry and to help him out in cerain situations.

    I know that Paul in Philippians 3 said that all the things he had previously gained he counted them loss in order to gain Christ. What he is saying there though is not that he counted dung things that were usefulto him, he counted dung his previous religious ideas, his religious affiliation to Judaism and his religious efforts, but he did not say that because he was ashamed to be a Jew or that he renounced being a child of Abraham according to the flesh, not at all. He counted dung his efforts through the flesh to obtain favor with God and apart from Christ.

    In fact, in many cases he makes the case that he is actually glad to be a Jew and he found it a privilege to have been chosen by God as a Jew to be in Christ. See, Romans 3:1-2, Romans 9:1-4.

    Paul understood the purpose God had placed in his life in being a Jew.
    He could in this way relate to his people according to the flesh and be able to better explain Christ’s presence in the Old Testament Scriptures. He makes this statement in which he explains that his life experience and knowledge and citizenships were a benefit for the propagation of the Gospel.

    1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

    Several times Paul also used his Roman citizenship to his advantage:

    see Acts 16:37, Acts 22:25-30, Acts 23:27.

    Then Paul says this:

    Romans 15:16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

    Here Paul is writing something in a type of metaphorical language related to Old Testamentary Levitical priestly duties.

    In fact we need to qualify that the word Paul uses, minister, in the beginning of Romans 15:16 in Greek is leitourgon, word from which we derive the word liturgy. Usually the word minister used to describe an elder or a deacon is diakonos. Purposefully the word for minister is changed from the usual used one diakonos to leitourgon. The term leitourgon used in the New Testament is applied mainly to the Levitical priesthood, who ministered and served at the altar; Hebrews 11:11.

    It is also applied to the ministers of the New Testament, when they discharge “substantially” the same offices toward the body of Christ. The same types which were discharged by the Levitical priesthood; that is, engaged in promoting the welfare of the body and being occupied with things of holy nature, see; Acts 13:2 It is still used in even a greater sense in Romans 15:27 and 2 Corinthians 9:12.

    This type of priestly ministry is also described well in

    1 Peter 2:4-5 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    These are obviously referred to spiritual work and spiritual offerings and not of the bloody animal or other types of offerings were that offered in the Tabernacle and Temple in the Old Testament.

    However, the example Paul is giving is the one of performing the function of a priest in respect to the gospel of God. The office of a “priest” in the OT was to offer sacrifices and make offerings.

    Paul here retains the “language,” though without affirming or implying that the ministers of the New Testament were literally “priests” in order to offer sacrifices as in the past.
    What Paul is meaning here is to be determined from the connection and the question is, what is the “sacrifice” of which he speaks?

    It is the “offering up” to God the sacrifice of the Gentiles. The Jewish OT sacrifices were abolished because Messiah had fulfilled in His person the design of their appointment, and they were to be done away with now. The Epistle to the Hebrews is very clarifying in this. There was to be no further “literal” sacrifice as Jesus offered Himself once and for all. However, at this point the “offering” of the Gentiles was to be as acceptable as had been the offerings of the Jews.

    God made no longer a distinction and in speaking of these offerings, Paul uses “figurative” language drawn from the Jewish rituals. Assuredly Paul did not mean that the offering of the Gentiles was a “literal” sacrifices to expiate sins; nor did he mean that there was to be an order of men who were to be called “priests” under the New Testament.

    The meaning is this: “Acting in the Christian assembly substantially as the priests did among the Jews in OT days; that is, endeavoring to secure that the offerings which the Gentiles make to God are acceptable.”

    The Greek word used here “offering up” is prosfora commonly means “a sacrifice” or an “expiatory” offering, and is usually applied to Jewish sacrifices; Acts 21:26; 24:17.

    It is also applied to the sacrifice which was made by our Lord Jesus Christ when he offered Himself on the cross for the sins of people; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 10:10. It does not always mean “bloody” sacrifices, but is used to denote “any” type of offering made to God; Hebrews 10:5,8,14,18.

    Therefore, it is used in this sense, to describe the “offering” of the Gentiles who were converted to Christianity who made of themselves a “devotion” or better dedicating themselves to God.

    The “language” is derived from the the Jewish customs and the apostle represents himself “figuratively” as a priest presenting the Gentiles as an offering to God.

    Paul says that their offering might be acceptable or approved by God. This seems to be in accordance with the prophecy we find in Isaiah 66:20,

    “They shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations,”

    As we see even here, it is mentioned as an offer to God from all the nations.

    This obviously does not mean that this offering was to be rendered “acceptable” by any merit of the apostle or the people itself, but it meant that Paul was appointed to prepare the way, so that
    the Gentiles’ offering, as well as that of the “Jews,” might come up before God.

    Then Paul concludes by saying that “the offering of the Gentiles” be sanctified, or made holy by the working of the Holy Spirit.

    The OT sacrifice was “prepared” or made fit “to be” an offering, among the Jews, by salt, oil, or frankincense, according to the nature of the sacrifice; Leviticus 6:14.

    In an allusion to this, the apostle says that the offering of the Gentiles was rendered “holy,” or fit to be offered, prepared by the converting and purifying and regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit.

    The Gentiles were not prepared by salt and frankincense and oil as physical elements but by the cleansing influences of God’s Spirit.

    The same idea, substantially, is also expressed by the apostle Peter in Acts 10:46; 11:17.

    Romans 15:17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.

    Paul making reference to the things he mentioned before, his ministry, and the salvation and sanctification of the Gentiles mainly through his ministry, through preaching and teaching, and because of the results, Paul has indeed reasons to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.

    By this statement, we understand even better that the offering of the Gentiles we not made by human efforts, not even religious efforts but through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

    This subject perfectly reflects what Paul also wrote to the Corinthian church:

    1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption– 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

    It always has been clear that Paul always boasted in the Lord regarding the work of the Gospel and its results. Paul always taught us to only glory or boast in the Lord and not in anything we can do or even did as Christians.

    In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul said that we are saved by grace through faith and that even faith is not from ourselves, we are not save by works lest any one should boast in themselves for even having believed in Jesus. Then he also says that we are God’s workmanship God recreated us in Christ Jesus, this is the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, and God did this, not only to save us form eternal damnation but also unto the practice of good works which works God also has preordained or prepared for us that we should walk in them. This is exactly why we cannot boast at all for anything. We cannot boast for our faith in believing in Christ, we certainly cannot boast for what Jesus Himself did, we cannot boast in the fact that God gave us life and regenerated us, we can’t even boast in what we do for God because even the works themselves are not ours but God’s. So what can we boast about, or in who can we boast? The only person we can boast in is God the Father, Jesus Christ and and the Holy Spirit.

    This is what Paul does here and always did, he always boasted or gloried in God and Jesus for everything in his life and ministry.

    I know there are times he speaks of the things he did and even seems to boast in his work and ministry but when one is honest in the his writings when he seemingly boasts in his works, he always ends up giving the credit to God.

    Let’s look at what Paul says about this subject:

    1 Corinthians 15:10-11 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

    2 Corinthians 10:17-18 But “he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

    Galatians 6:14-15 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

    In the Corinthian passage Paul does not hold back in saying what he was and what he did, yet look at how he says this; first of all Paul says that he is who he is by the grace of God, this alone precludes that he gives credit to God for who he is. Grace is unmerited favor, Paul and also all of us were saved by God’s unmerited favor toward us and with that favor, regeneration, faith, salvation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit and therefore ministry are given to us.

    Therefore, we are who we are in Christ because of God. Paul says that God’s grace toward him was not in vain because he labored, he worked in his ministry more than all the other Apostles, yet even though he states this fact and it is a fact he still does not take credit for who he is and what he did, instead he says that it’s the grace of God in him and not his working alone.

    It’s the cooperation between Paul and God but it was the power of God that brings about all this in a person, when a person yields themselves to God as Paul did, God’s Spirit gives the power and even the desire to do His will.

    Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

    and

    Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

    We have nothing to boast about for anything at all and Paul always made sure we understood this fact and we really better understand it well.

    Therefore. Paul is saying here in Romans 15 that he glories, boasts and rejoices in God and in God alone for being the Apostle to the Gentiles and for having this ministry and for the results his ministry brought forth. We learn form Paul’s behavior and attitude that we also should have the same, Paul does encourage us to imitate him as he imitates Christ,

    1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

    1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

    Paul is the Gospel minister to the Gentiles, he gives all the credit and the glory for who he is and what he does to God and God alone. We must do the same in all we have success in doing, as Paul does we ought to give glory to God in all the things that pertain to God.

    Romans 15:18-19 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient– 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

    Paul now says something we should all do. This first statement is still in reference to his ministry to the Gentiles as we see written here and also because it is still in the context of the previous verses. He had said before that he would only boast in Jesus for all the things God had accomplished through him. Now he is saying almost the same thing here.

    Before Paul said he would boast only in Christ, here Paul says that he won’t even speak about anything that Christ had not accomplished through him whether it was in word or deed, Paul is still acknowledging that anything he did was through the power of God’s Spirit within him and that he was not going to speak of anything Christ did not do through him.

    Paul would not boast or brag about anything he did in his ministry because he would give the glory only to God and he would not brag about any other thing that God did not do in him and through him.

    This is the statement of a man wholly and completely devoted and dedicated to the cause of the Gospel, a man who labored not to receive accolades or praises for what he did but a man who did only the work of God. He actually had the same attitude and desire Jesus had, to do God’s established will, and to heed God’s call and to completely fulfill the call without having to run after the vain things of this life and of this world.

    There are still great and inherent differences between Jesus and Paul, Jesus was God’s only begotten Son, Jesus had no sin, committed no sin and obeyed His Father completely and perfectly.
    Paul was a man like everyone, a sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and even after his conversion Paul still sinned. This is evident by what he shares about himself to explain a spiritual truth about born again persons, this he did in Romans 7:15-25.

    However the sentiment that was in Christ was also in Paul, no matter the great differences between him and Jesus. Paul in fact always exhorted the believers to have the same sentiments and desires that were in Christ.

    He says so in:

    Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

    Paul indeed forgot about himself and similarly to Jesus, Paul became God’s servant even though he had the rights and privileges of an adopted son of God. Paul gave up all he was and could have been without Christ instead he gave himself fully to the call and the ministry God gave him.

    Paul humbled himself, Paul did indeed do what Jesus had mentioned several times in the Gospels, in other words:

    Matthew 16:25-26 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

    Paul lost his life and found one in Christ and always wanted to have Christ live through him. This is exactly what we all should be trying to do. This does not mean that all and every believer is called by God to ministry as Paul or others are called. It means though that our will, our desires, efforts, and plans ought always to be lost in God’s will, no matter what it is and no matter what we do in our life.

    There are many ways we are called to fulfill God’s will in our life but it can be summarized in one simple way, we are to obey all that God requires of us in His word. That is God’s will and ministry for us.

    Ministry is usually misunderstood by many believers. All believers are called to full-time ministry, there are no part-time Christians, there are no part-time children of God.

    We are not God’s children only in part or when it is convenient for us.

    We are all God’s adopted children and we should all become like Jesus in our thinking and in our desires. We should all do what Jesus and Paul and many other Christians did through history.

    We should be willing to give up our privileges of children while we live here on earth and we should become God’s servants and also serve God by serving each other in love.

    It is a Christian ministry for example to serve God as fathers and mothers, as husbands and wives, as faithful employees and serving our brothers and sisters in Christ in the body.

    All these things are clearly delineated in Scripture. We submit to God in obedience and by becoming His servants we should become each other’s servants.

    Unfortunately many, too many believers, neglect the clearer service to which they are called to seek service and ministry to which God perhaps did not call them. Many believers want to be teachers in the church, yet they neglect to teach their own children for example. Many want to be pastors and elders in the church while they cannot guide their own family in the ways of God. Many want to be missionaries and evangelists yet they cannot properly preach the Gospel and evangelize their own children.

    Serving faithfully as the pastors of our family which is the primary duty of all husbands and fathers, must come before any man can lead God’s flock, and besides; the family is God’s flock as well, especially if the members are all believers, nevertheless the children must be evangelized, taught and made into Christ’s disciples.

    The Great Commission if we are really honest with ourselves and understand it properly must be extended to the church leadership to the family as well.

    Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

    As leaders and pastors of the family, the Great Commission is to be obeyed by fathers and husbands and yes, even mothers.

    In addition, too many believers for too long have reserved the responsibility of the Christian education of their children solely to the church and not themselves.

    This actually is a great reason why many children later in life fall away from the faith.

    The greater responsibility of Christian education falls on the fathers and even the mothers not the church. The church must train parents how to be the pastors of their own families not do their job for them.

    Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

    Although there is not a great amount of information regarding children’s spiritual education in the New Testament yet there are many instructions regarding this subject in God’s law and let’s remember that God’s law is not abolished, it’s fulfilled in Christ, see Matthew 5:17-18. There are many things that are no longer necessary to practice in the church today, yet many things remain as instructions from God that we must heed.

    Look at what the word of God tells us about the responsibility of spiritual education, beginning way back in Deuteronomy 6 Moses instructs God’s people about teaching God’s word to their children:

    Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

    The book of Proverbs which is a great source of Godly wisdom and godly life instruction echoes what Deuteronomy 6 says and even what the New Testament instructs us to do when it comes to who has the primary responsibilities of spiritual upbringing and education.

    In fact, the book of Proverbs opens like this:

    Proverbs 1:8-9 My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; 9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.

    Proverbs 3:1-2 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.

    Proverbs 4:1-5 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding; 2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. 3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, 4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. 5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

    Proverbs 6:20-21 My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.
    21 Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck.

    In fact, if one follows the thread in the book of Proverbs many of the chapters open up with the saying:

    “My son.” and then he continues by commanding to heed God’s wisdom and instruction that come from the teachings of the father.

    It is also noteworthy to mention that we see that the teaching responsibilities in the family are not mutually exclusive to the father but even the mother is mentioned several times as we have seen and then we also have this passage where the mother seems to be mentioned as the one who taught the things that king Lemuel writes:

    Proverbs 31:1 The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:

    The church as an assembly is supposed to teach and train the parents and make sure they teach their own children spiritual truths. The Christian education for children in the assembly did not even exist in the beginning. The church must train and teach the adults to train and teach their own children.

    As I said many times before and will never stop repeating it, one of the reasons, the main reason why children who come from Christian families do not get saved and do not continue to walk with God is that the parents do not properly teach, admonish and train their children in the things of God.

    Many sadly think they do but in reality, they do not. Simply sending children to Sunday school an hour a week, sending them to Vacation Bible school, sending them to be a part of the youth group at church are not things that will save children or even teach the adequately the things of God.

    Making disciples of Jesus is much more than that, it is parents who must provide the main teaching and training in the things of God. Also they certainly hardly ever discipline them in the way God’s word says they should. Remembering that disciplining children God’s way is not simply punishment and corporal punishment, but it’s also supposed to be a tool to teach and even evangelize children.

    I am not saying that all the church activities which I mentioned before are inherently wrong in themselves, however, they never should be the only way children ought to be trained in God’s ways.

    Let’s remember, the exceptions do not make the rules. God’s rule is that fathers and secondarily mothers are the main trainers of children in the family. That’s God’s way!

    In the beginning, the church did not have all the things to train children that exist today, but if God really wanted that to be done in the church I have no doubts that He would have given such instructions.

    The church activities mentioned are modern and sadly they have become a spiritual detriment instead of a spiritual aid.

    If those things were simply an addition to the Christian education of the parents then it would help, but when those things replace the responsibilities of parents to teach their children and more often than not they end up being a detriment. When things are not done as God intends, there are always negative consequences.

    Another area in which we serve God as ministers is by faithfully serving God besides our family is by serving our employers God’s way. This is being ministers of God in the workplace.

    Ephesians 6:5-6 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

    Colossians 3:22-24 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

    1 Timothy 6:1-2 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. 2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.

    Titus 2:9-10 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

    1 Peter 2:18-23 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

    There are five clear-cut passages that exhort Christians to be submissive, respectful, honest, and obedient to their masters. This obviously is referred to as servants in those days but it also must be referred to as the relationship between employees and employers.

    You see, we are to teach and exhort these things, and the reason why there is so much misunderstanding or ignorance about these things is that these things are not really taught in the church.

    Worldliness is different from serving God in our family and in our jobs, that is not being worldly, that is indeed spiritual work.

    Another way believers can and should serve God is in governmental positions. God knows we need believers in our government, in our courts, justice system, and law enforcement.
    We clearly see that God considers these positions ministerial and indeed spiritual.

    Romans 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

    The Bible is clear, there are many ways we serve God and they are not at all as many think they are.

    In the church everyone cannot be leading and teaching, in fact, the reality of the church is those who are called to be such teach others to be such within their family, to be good and faithful servants of God in all the other activities a person may be involved as we already explained.

    This is why, even in the last passage we read, a Christian who is called and dedicated to having a position of authority in the government, judicial system or law enforcement is a servant of God, is a minister who carries out the duties of that ministry within that God given sphere of influence. The whole idea of church and state separation is wrong as a believer is never, ever, called to put aside God’s will, God’s law, and God’s word in any decision making process. Certainly it is difficult to carry out this work according to God’s will, indeed almost impossible today, however if a Christian chooses that path he must always do God’s will in every way, however difficult and sometimes even dangerous, and yet, this is what Jesus meant when he declared:

    Matthew 16:24-27 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

    A Christian is never allowed to compromise his or her faith, or at least they should not do so. To serve as judge or minister in government or enforce just laws in no way is a separate thing from serving God. We serve God according to His word always and everywhere.

    The fact that governments today are so wicked and corrupt to the point that it has now become unlikely almost impossible to serve and even vote for them is precisely because believers have it all wrong regarding the government. For Christans not wanting to become an integral part of such governments is what made them corrupt and evil. I believe that today it is very difficult to support or vote for or participate in a government that is in the conditions in which it is. However, the fault lies not with the world alone but with believers who have abdicated the responsibility to serve God in the institutions of government, justice and law enforcement and kept them good.

    This is why all believers that continue to say that their political choices or their votes are a separate issue from their faith are in grave error. How can a Christian ever have political associations contrary to God’s will and God’s word? One cannot! If we support ungodly laws and blatant sinful behavior even if we ourselves do not practice it, we are still sinning.

    For example, supporting any party, voting for any candidate for office who is pro-abortion is a sin, A person becomes an accomplice to that sin and their hands are bloodied as those who support and commit that abomination.

    It is insane to think that a real Christian can vote for a party member, support a party platform that it actually ungodly to the core, members who are all supporters of baby killing, aren’t sinning. No one in their right mind or in the right spiritual condition would have voted for Herod after he commanded that babies should be murdered in Bethlehem and surrounding areas, see Matthew 2:16-18; indeed if they could have voted for him they would not have. So why are Christians today voting for many modern-day Herod?

    Anyway, as we have seen, whether God calls us into, as we are used to calling it, full-time vocational ministry or not we are always full-time ministers and we are always God’s servants wherever God places us.

    We should all have the same sentiment that was in Jesus and Paul in that we ought to become servants of God and one another as we have already seen written in Philippians 2.

    Philippians 2:1-8 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

    This was the case with Paul, as in the Romans 15 passage we are studying, he does not want to speak of anything he did rather than what the Spirit of Jesus did through him in word and deed.

    Even in writing to the Galatian church Paul says:

    Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

    Paul always wanted Jesus to be seen working in him and not himself. Paul did not want Paul to be seen working and speaking through him but wanted only Jesus Christ to be seen and heard.

    Even John the Baptist had the same exact sentiment about himself:

    John 3:26-30 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

    We all better take up the same sentiment John and Paul had. We need to decrease while Jesus must increase in our life. In reality that is what the process of sanctification really is all about. It’s us allowing Jesus Christ to increase in our life as we decrease. In fact, the job of ministry in the body of Christ is to help every member grow into the stature of Christ. We are responsible to do so as individuals but it is also the ministers’ responsibility to help every member achieve this goal.

    Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    This should be the intent of the church, besides evangelizing, the principal job in the church is making disciples of Jesus Christ, which means that we all work together to help each other become like Jesus.

    The bottom line is that Paul wanted only Jesus Christ to be seen, he wanted to glorify Jesus in his life and so should we.

    Incidentally, even the Holy Spirit is here in us and in the body of Christ to glorify Christ, not Himself or anyone else.

    John 16:13-15 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

    By Jesus’ words, the Holy Spirit is here to glorify Jesus. Everything the Holy Spirit did and does is to bring glory to Jesus Christ not to draw attention to Himself or even worse to make the attention be on us.

    This is exactly why Paul had to write chapters 12-13-14 of 1 Corinthians. He wrote these chapters to straighten out the Corinthian church because apparently, they were practicing spiritual pridefulness in the exhibition of their spiritual giftedness. Paul, therefore, has to write them to straighten them out and to explain to them properly the use of the Spirit’s gifts in the church and the motivation that should animate us which is love for each other exhibited in the mutual help we ought to exert in order to help each other in edifying each other, which as we have seen in Ephesians 4 is the main job of the body of Christ. Helping each other to edify each other in love is the main objective and this means to allow Jesus to be seen in us and through us.

    The Holy Spirit, therefore, wants to always glorify the Lord Jesus and no one else, we ought to have the same desire as the Spirit of God.

    This is why, sadly, even today in certain segments of Christendom, especially in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, we see professing believers behaving even worse than the Corinthian believers in Paul’s days.

    I believe that even though many in this movement may be acting with some kind of misguided good intentions and they think they are acting in good faith, in the end they actually even fake manifestations of the Holy Spirit in order to seem more spiritual than they are. Even though they won’t admit it they practice these things in order to be seen and to be in the spot light. This is all wrong and we know that the Holy Spirit would not want to manifest Himself to bring glory or attention to the person rather than Jesus.

    Paul was in perfect harmony with the intentions of the Holy Spirit and he always acted in line with the desire to allow everyone to see Jesus at work in and through him.

    Think about one thing, Paul was an Apostle and basically had the fullness of all of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and manifestation. If there was anyone who could have bragged about what he did it was him. The gifts he had were all genuine and done in the power of God and that is to who Paul always and only gives the glory.

    Paul did not want to talk about anything God did not do and he gave always all the credit of all he did to Christ.

    In fact he continues in this verse saying:

    Romans 15:18c-19 to make the Gentiles obedient 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God,

    We already commented for the most part on this in all we have said so far. Paul says that God has given him all of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and power in order to make the Gentiles obedient. Obedient to what?

    Obedient to the Gospel call! What is is the Gospel call and why does Paul say that it must be obeyed?

    Today unfortunately many have been misguided in believing that the Gospel is an invitation God gives to people. However,it is not!

    In Scripture we find the answer as to what the Gospel call is. The Gospel call is a commandment not an invitation.

    We are called to obey God as He commands us to do two things, believe and repent!

    From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry the call was to believe and repent:

    Matthew 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

    Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

    These two passages are not an invitation but commands! In fact the verbs repent and believe are given in the imperative mood. An imperative is a commanding statement.

    However, it does not end with this, the Scripture in other parts shows us that God command people to believe in His Son and repent of their sins.

    Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

    Even Peter preaching to the Jews in this previous passage commands them to repent and be converted, which is to say believe in Jesus as their Messiah so that even their sins as a nation could be forgiven.

    Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

    Acts 20:21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

    1 Peter 4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

    2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

    Here Paul is comforting and encouraging the Thessalonian believers that were being persecuted and troubled telling them that they would be avenged by God, that God would take vengeance on those who do not know God and those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    This has a double connotation in that it includes people who most likely were not even exposed to the Gospel and therefore did not know God and those who heard the Gospel call and rejected it, in other words did not obey the commandment to believe in Jesus and repent of their sins.

    Regarding those who Paul says do not know God, people can delude themselves thinking they know God without knowing Jesus Christ and believing in Him, but that is just a delusion. Scripture is clear, the only way to know God is by and through believing in Jesus Christ.

    Here are just a few passages that tell us this important fact:

    John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    Even beforehand Jesus talking to the Jews, especially the Pharisees, said this:

    John 8:37-47 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father–God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

    Failing to know and to believe in Jesus is proof positive that one cannot and does not know God.

    John 17:1-3 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

    This is a very rich passage and really would deserve expository teaching of it’s own but for time sake let’s just only look at the subject to which we are looking, which is how knowing God is possible only by and through believing in Jesus.

    Here Jesus is saying exactly that, God gave Jesus full authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all God gave Him to save, see also Acts13:48. However, Jesus also says that part of eternal life is first of all knowing and believing in Him and secondly it is knowing the Father in other words God and Jesus who God sent. So knowing, believing in Jesus is mutually and intrinsically connected to knowing God.

    1 Peter 1:20-21 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

    Believing in Jesus we believe in God, through Him we believe in God, because even as Jesus said previously, believing in Him automatically leads us to believe in the Father that sent Him, believing in Jesus we believe God raised Him from the dead, in doing so as we confess Him as Lord we are being saved, see Romans 10:9-10.

    However, as Peter says, in believing in Jesus we also believe in the Father who raised Him form the dead and glorified Him, in doing so our faith and hope is not only in Jesus but it’s also in God.

    Knowing Jesus is knowing God, without knowing Jesus no one can know God.

    So Paul in the 1 Thessalonian passage is saying that God will take vengeance upon those who do not know God because they don’t know Jesus Christ and believe in Him, but then he also says that God would also destroy those who did not obey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.

    This is the second category of people although the two are categorically connected as we said before those who reject the Gospel call automatically also do not know God. However, when a person rejects believing in Jesus and repenting of their sins, the Scriptures tell us that this is the equivalent of not obeying the Gospel.

    Therefore we understand that obeying the Gospel has to be in reference to a commandment not an invitation and disobeying it as well is not obeying God’s commandment to believe in His only begotten Son Jesus Christ and to repent of their sins.

    Once again in the book of Hebrews we find this statement :

    Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

    Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. The opposite is also true, if a person disobeys Him they will receive eternal damnation. Therefore, we understand that the Gospel commands us to believe in Jesus and repent of our sins.

    As we said before the Gospel call is not an invitation, it’s a commandment. It really is an erroneous doctrine to teach that God invites us to be saved. He does not! He commands us to believe and repent.

    I understand in part why this erroneous doctrine of God inviting us to be saved originated. It originated with the teaching and preaching of a defective version of the Gospel and unfortunately an erroneous characterization of God.

    The Gospel must be preached in the way God intends it to be preached not as we see fit to preach it. Modifying and softening the Gospel to make it, as many say, more attractive to people is actually blasphemy. The true Gospel will attract whom God wants it to attract. This is clear by what Jesus says in John 6 when He says:

    John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    However, this helps us also understand that believing in a false, modified and softened Gospel causes many to misunderstand what God is telling people to do and unfortunately it leads many people into a false state of security regarding their salvation and causes many people to think they are saved while they are not because they have really never understood the true meaning of the Gospel, they sadly never come to the realization of the depth of their sinfulness and therefore many do not truly repent of their sinfulness.

    Believing in a flawed Gospel message causes people to follow Jesus for all the wrong reasons and just because people seem to be following Jesus does not mean that they are saved or that they are really His disciples. Often when these people hear the true message of God they end up becoming offended and either stop following Jesus or they retreat in an assembly that caters to their sinfulness while allows them to remain in such a condition.

    However, not really repenting of one’s sins is actually disobeying the Gospel and it is rejecting Jesus’ Lordship over their life and that is a big problem because the Gospel call is a commandment to repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus, let me repeat this Lord Jesus, yes, believing in Jesus as savior cannot happen by itself, He indeed is our savior but He is the Lord and Romans 10:9 tells us that we must confess Him as Lord in order for our salvation to be genuine. Confessing Him as Lord does not end with just saying that Jesus is Lord but obeying Him, this is the point of this whole conversation, obeying the Gospel.

    We see this exact problem also described in John 6,

    John 6:60-66 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

    The account we read here is very interesting, because Jesus just finished giving a very intense message regarding Himself being the Lord and savior. The way He gave the message in fact is still misinterpreted even today. Many even today do not understand Jesus’ words too well.

    However, the point is this, God’s word often times is simple in understanding but very hard in content.

    Telling sinners for example that they are rotten to the core and must turn form their wicked ways and that they cannot religiously do anything to be saved but to trust Jesus and turn from their sinfulness is a hard saying. This is exactly why many today try to soften the Gospel so that it sounds more appealing to sinners without making them feel too much like sinners. This is a deadly trap!

    Anyway, when people who are following Jesus for the wrong reasons and with the wrong motivation here the straight, unadulterated Gospel they are offended and they are very reluctant to submit to the truth and as it happened in the John 6 episode they chose to either no longer follow the real and true Jesus any longer or as I said before they choose to be disciples of another Jesus and believe another Gospel which unfortunately does not save them.

    Heeding any other call than believing in Jesus as Lord and repenting of one’s sins does not save anyone. As I said, it leads to a false sense of security because it leads people to stay in a condition of sinfulness and feeling perfectly comfortable and OK with it thinking that God accepts that, He does not!

    So now I hope we better understand what Paul means when he says to make the Gentiles obedient.

    People must become obedient to the Gospel and that is exactly what Paul is saying here. The Gentiles, not all of them, however as an ethnic group became obedient to the Gospel. In fact, it’s all that are ordained unto eternal life by God believe.

    Acts 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

    Then Paul says:

    Romans 15:19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

    Paul is saying that as an Apostle he preached the Gospel to the Gentiles and the proof that he was an Apostle of God to the Gentiles was that he preached all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum and he did it with mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

    In our studies we said many times that the signs and the wonders were the signs of the Apostles and not the signs and wonders of the common believers. I firmly have come to believe that even in the days of the Apostles believers besides a very small amount of them who were called to be the foundation of the church and its leadership.

    I know that many even today have the misguided idea that any believer could have had the power to perform signs and wonders but I believe that Scripture itself can show us that it was not so even then.

    The reason why people think this was possible and even is still possible today is because they fail to understand fully the period and the ministry of the Apostles in those days.

    Let’s begin with Paul since it is he that we are talking about.

    Paul himself makes this very important statement:

    2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.

    Paul is actually saying here what he said in Romans 15. The signs that proved he was an Apostle were signs, wonders and mighty deeds done by the Spirit of God.

    That this power was evidently given only to the Apostles is also present in all of the book of Acts. In fact, the title of the book itself is called the Acts of the Apostles.

    It is evident that it was the acts of the Apostles that are in evidence and the entire book confirms this fact.

    It was not the acts of the church or of any believer but of the Apostles.

    Let’s look at some passages that help us confirm this very fact.

    The healing of the lame beggar in Acts 3 was done through Peter together with John and both were Apostles.

    This next passage describes the Apostles’ prayer and it is they who ask God to heal, and do signs and wonders in Jesus name through them.

    In fact in verse 33 it states that it was indeed with great power that the Apostles preached the Gospel.

    Acts 4:29-33 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

    Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people.

    This verse gives us no doubt that it was through the Apostles only that many signs and wonders were done.

    In Acts 6 we see that it was men who were at that time placed in church leadership while the word of God in all doctrines for the church was not yet completed and while the witness of the Gospel was still being given to the Jews in that area, that was exhibiting signs and wonders.

    Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

    Stephen was an early church deacon.

    In Acts 8 Philip an early church evangelist although not an Apostle per say, was still an early church minister and leader and he demonstrated the witness of God’s message with signs and wonders and mighty deeds.

    Acts 8:5-8 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.

    However, after this incident, as we go through the entire book of Acts and we see that the signs, wonders, and mighty acts were done only by the Apostles and their ministry companions even though it is not absolutely clear that their companions did many, however we see that Paul and Peter are mentioned as those who did most of them.

    It is also evident that as the Gospel was preached more and more to the Gentiles and as the word of God to the church became more and more complete and as in time the Apostle age ended with their deaths so did the signs wonders and mighty deeds.

    We see clearly that the wonders, miracles and signs, and mighty deeds were predominantly done by the Apostles and as Paul says they are the signs of the Apostles.

    There is also another reason why people today insist on saying that any believer even today can manifest these signs and miracles. The reason is that they do not understand very well what was going on in those days and how and why God was working in that way through the Apostles.

    The Apostles were, actually are a very unique and special group of men that have no other one who could ever take their place nor duplicate or even continue their ministry.

    The prerequisites of being an Apostle were very strict and special prerequisites and that are delineated in the book of Acts. First of all there were only going to be twelve Apostles so it is important to understand that however there is also a thirteenth, Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. The other twelve are twelve (these did not include Judas Iscariot) for a reason. Jesus gave the reason
    in the following passage:

    Matthew 19:28-29 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

    Even in the book of Revelation when John sees the heavenly Jerusalem and he is describing it he says:

    Revelation 21:14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

    This is a very important statement and we want to make a very important connection to this. The heavenly Jerusalem is the physical abode of the body of Jesus Christ who is the Lord’s bride, see Revelation 21:2.

    However, in Ephesians 2 Paul speaking of the body of Christ as the spiritual temple of God and not so incidentally the Apostles are described by Paul as its foundation.

    Ephesians 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

    It is therefore fitting that even in the eternal physical abode of the body of Christ the Apostles have their names on its twelve foundations.

    One can argue about the number of the Apostles, there is one interpretation that claims that Paul gets counted as one of the twelve because Matthias who was chosen by the other Apostles to be Judas’ replacement was not a valid choice because Jesus did not pick him personally while Paul was chosen personally by Jesus. It is a complicated issue because all this is true and yet the Gentiles are not one of twelve tribes of Israel and this would conflict with what Jesus said in Matthew 19:28-29.

    It think this is not an important thing to figure out and it still remains a little of a mystery, suffices to say that the twelve and Paul or the twelve including Paul are Apostles chosen by Jesus and they are very unique individuals who cannot be duplicated.

    There is no such thing as Apostolic succession. There are no hundreds of foundations in the heavenly Jerusalem but only twelve so there cannot be anymore Apostles of Jesus Christ besides the ones mentioned and personally chosen by Jesus.

    Getting back to Acts 1 and the choice of Matthias to replace Judas, we see that, as we mentioned before, that there were very strict prerequisites to be an Apostle.

    Acts 1:21-22 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

    These are very limiting and strict prerequisites to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ. The very first and most important one that is not directly mentioned here is that to be an Apostle one had to be chosen directly and personally by the Lord Jesus.

    Luke 6:13-16 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.

    John 6:70-71 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

    John 13:18 I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’

    John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

    So the very first and most important prerequisite to be considered an Apostle is one had to be chosen personally and directly by Jesus.

    Even though it may seem that even being chosen by God’s Spirit or through church leadership even today is the same as being chosen by Jesus it is not the same.
    As we see, the other prerequisites are very precise and unique and could not be that just any other men could have them.

    Let’s look at them:

    As we said before the Apostles were chosen personally by the Lord, See, Luke 6:13; John 6:70-71; John 13:18; John 15:16; John 15:19; they were men (not women) that had to have walked with Christ since the ministry of John the Baptist up to the resurrection of the Lord; Acts 1:21-22. Only very few men could fill these prerequisites alone, but as if this was enough, this is not all.

    These men also had to be witnesses, real eye witnesses of the resurrected Lord .

    No one today can ever claim that they can fill those prerequisites, none of them. Therefore it is evident that no one could have been an Apostle except for them as no one can be an Apostle today for the same reasons.

    In fact, some have raised doubts that Paul could be considered an Apostle because he was not a direct witness of the Lord’s resurrection and also he did not walk with Jesus and the other Apostles during the Lord’s life and ministry, in fact he persecuted the church.

    The proponents of the false doctrine that claims that even today there can be the office of an Apostle use Paul as their scapegoat in order to justify their position.

    Yet, they fail to understand one very important thing, that even though some of the prerequisites and facts about Paul do not match up to the ones we stated before and that are necessary to be considered an Apostle; however Paul was chosen directly by Jesus Himself, in person. He is the only other person personally chosen by Jesus besides the others, Acts 9:3-16. Paul is the only person in history who was chosen by Jesus personally after His ascension. In addition Paul did indeed see the risen Lord
    1 Corinthians 9:1. We also see in that passage that Jesus tells Ananias is choosing Paul to be His Apostle to the Gentile nations and even Paul confirmed this fact several times, Galatians 2:7-9;
    Romans 1:1; Romans 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; as we see Paul opened almost all his letters with his job description, job given him by the Lord Jesus Himself, in fact, when he writes his first epistle to Timothy this is how he opens:

    1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,

    Paul would never have usurped such a position and privilege if it were not have been given him by the Lord Himself.

    Sadly today too many men and even more sadly women do usurp this office and position by either self declaring themselves Apostles or by appointment of others in the church who also do not understand that such an office is no longer valid and operational since the death of the original Apostles. Let me reiterate what I already said before and most importantly what God’s word says. All the Apostles were men, males, personally chosen by Jesus, walked with Jesus since then, witnessed His resurrection, saw Him after His resurrection and witnessed His ascension. Nowhere in New Testament Scripture, nowhere at all is it intimated that a woman held a position of authority and government or an official teaching position in the body of Christ.

    Women who are so arrogant today to usurp a position of authority in the body of Christ and any and all others who allow this to happen are misguided and are actually transgressing God’s word itself, as a manner of fact the Apostle Paul himself in his God given Apostolic authority declared this:

    1 Timothy 2:11-14 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

    It is more than clear, unless one twists Scripture and takes it out of context, that women in the church never had a position of rule and authority and being Apostles, elders, deacons and teachers are offices and positions of rule, governance and authority in the church. Paul in his Apostolic authority prohibits a woman to teach and usurp the authority in the church. To be an Apostle, pastor/elder/teacher and even deacons it is assumed to have a position of authority always and this would place a woman to have authority over a man. The problem that was created around this passage is that to justify today’s disregard and transgression to God’s word, proponents of the erroneous teaching that women can indeed fill these positions say that Paul gave this ordinance in a cultural setting not as an authoritative statement that would and could transcend the time in which it was given.

    This is a fallacious interpretation of this passage because as the context itself demonstrates, it is not cultural it is correlational to the order God established at creation, in other words, in the church of the redeemed God spiritually restores people to the original state of creation before the fall into sin.

    That is actually what it means to be spiritually regenerated. Having been brought back to that state God’s children must therefore adhere to the order of roles God gave man and woman at creation.

    To say that in the church of the regenerated we must adhere to cultural dictates is actually acting like we have not been regenerated and adhere to culture whether it is in line with God’s will or not.
    God’s word transcends time and culture you can rest assured about that.

    I personally know a woman, who unfortunately is greatly deceived that claims to have been given the five fold ministry by God Himself. This is absolutely impossible because she can’t hold four of those positions according to Scripture but also church history. She absolutely cannot be an Apostle first because the office no longer exists but secondly because a woman cannot hold authority in the church. She cannot be a prophet because today the ministry and office of prophet has been absorbed in the office and ministry of pastor/teacher and also cannot be the latter because they are positions of rule and authority in the church. In the end the only ministry and position she could hold out of the so called five fold ministry would be the one of evangelist. According to Scripture that is how it is. Sadly I know many women that are holding offices and positions they ought not to hold and by doing this they are usurping the authority and holding it over men, which as we have seen is prohibited in the body of Christ.

    Some others within Christendom continue to insist, such as the Roman Catholic church that there is such a thing as Apostolic succession. There is no such thing, it is nowhere written in Scripture that there is such a thing, in fact, some of the information we glean from Scripture seems to indicate the opposite, as we see.

    In fact, even what Ephesians 2:19-22 says denies Apostolic succession as it states:

    Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

    Even in a physical edifice, in a building the foundation is one and it is laid once.

    The Apostles and prophets of that day are the foundation of the church, there can be no other foundation, therefore there can be no more Apostles. In the church after the Apostles were done doing their work the government and authority if the church was passed down to the elders of the local churches. Yes there was an overseeing elder also known or called Bishop, but there were no more Apostles then and there are none today.

    Others today, besides the Roman Church, claim that the office of Apostle still exists, They base their information on some Apostolic age Scripture such as Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12 which both mention the office and position of Apostle. Of course these passages mention the office an position of Apostles because the office and position of Apostle was active and real in those days.

    Does that fact have to preclude at all costs that this office and position must exist today? Of course not! Only God has the prerogative to maintain something or not in the church. There is no information whatsoever in Scripture that claims that the office of Apostle had to continue in the church for the entire time the church is on earth.

    These promoters of Apostolic continuation also claim that just because Jesus does not appear in person to choose Apostles He still has sent the Holy Spirit that can do that because, as they say, the Holy Spirit is God and He is the Spirit of Christ.

    Taking facts superficially this may appear to make sense, however, it cannot be so.

    They are absolutely right in saying that the Holy Spirit is God and He is the Spirit of Jesus. However, they are misleading in saying that the Holy Spirit has the job of choosing Apostles in the church.

    Even within the Trinity there is a certain hierarchy of order in authority and of the work of each person within the Godhead. Every person of the Trinity has a particular function and as I said a specific hierarchy.

    The Father is considered supreme within the Trinity, the Son, Jesus willingly submitted to the Father’s will and purposes and the Holy Spirit willingly submits to Jesus and has specific functions. If you want to know the functions of the Spirit and His submission to the person of Jesus Christ you can see it delineated in:

    John 16:13-15 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

    There are many other functions and authority the Holy Spirit has and it is described in the Scriptures, yet the one of choosing Apostles is not ever mentioned.

    If we believe in God’s word, if we believe what God’s word says and what God’s word says about the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit then we have to see that the Holy Spirit’s job has never been the one to chose Apostles, not even after Pentecost.

    The role of choosing Apostles was only Jesus’ and no one else. Jesus chose them in person, all of them, even Paul, as we have seen. No one else was later chosen as Apostle by Jesus and especially not by the Holy Spirit.

    To be an Apostle one had to have the prerequisites we talked about already and the greatest one is the one to be personally chosen by Jesus. Paul was personally chosen by Jesus and Paul saw the resurrected Christ. No other man after Paul except the Apostle John saw the resurrected Christ after His ascension.

    John saw Him as he wrote about it in the book of Revelation.

    As I said before, no other man in history since John saw the resurrected Christ and the resurrected Christ never ever chose another Apostle after Paul.

    If anyone at all claims that they saw the resurrected Christ after John saw Him they are lying and blaspheming. No one has ever seen Jesus after John, period! Apostolic succession is a lie, there is no such thing, it’s something man made up, it is in no way Scriptural.

    Obviously the Roman church is not the only false segment of Christianity that claims this fallacy. The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement also claims a certain type of Apostolic succession. While it is not identical to the Roman religion’s Apostolic succession in that it does not require a succession line to be demonstrated, although even the succession line the Roman religion claims to have is by no means accurate at all; however it is still the same exact error in content because as we have seen, there cannot be any Apostle today as there was in the Apostles’ days, why?
    Because the prerequisites for being an Apostle can no longer be sustained since the appointment and the subsequent death of the original Apostles.

    I believe this was an important addition to what we are studying because it both encompasses the verse we are studying where Paul mentions mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God,
    and the fact that these mighty songs and wonders were related only to the Apostles.

    Therefore we also had to look at what it meant to be an Apostle even in relation to the mighty signs and wonders.

    Recapping this we have seen that mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit that Paul mentioned are strictly related to being an Apostle. We also have seen and hopefully understand that not anyone can be an Apostle and we saw that no one even today can never be an Apostle because to be one requires having prerequisites that no one after the original Apostles could ever fill and have.

    We also saw before that Paul always gave glory and credit to God and never took credit and glory for himself because he knew that everything he had and did was done by the power of God.

    In other places as we did already see Paul knew that his ministry, call and all abilities he had to preach, teach and perform powerful signs and wonders came from God and God’s power. Certainly the effort he placed in performing God’s will was his and even in that he did not want to take full credit. Look at some of the things he says about this:

    Colossians 1:28-29 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

    As we see here Paul says it was he who labored and strove but he did so according to God’s mighty working in him.

    He clearly stated this as well regarding this subject:

    Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

    We see that here Paul writes something that is so twisted and misinterpreted by many in the Christian community. Paul is in no way saying that a person has to work out their salvation in order to be saved or to keep one’s salvation, yet some believe that this is what Paul is saying. Paul is simply saying that once we are saved we should not hide what God did in us but we ought to manifest Christ in us by doing God’s will. In fact Paul says that if and when we do this it is indeed because it s God who gives us the will and the power to perform His will.

    We ought to live out our salvation not keep it hidden within us. It is in a way as Jesus commanded us to do in:

    Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

    When we are saved by God we are regenerated, made new, we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s light. God is light and we are children of light. So therefore we are light as Jesus says and we are salt as well.

    When Jesus says what He says in Matthew 5 He is really saying what Paul is saying in Philippians 2:12-13, just using a different way of saying it. The point of all this though is that it is God that works in and through us and gives us the will and the power to do His will.

    Even in other Scriptures Paul says this:

    1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

    He does admit that he labored for God even more abundantly than the other Apostles yet He gives the credit to the grace and power of God.

    Paul therefore as an Apostle preached the Gospel primarily to the Gentiles from Jerusalem to Illyricum.

    Now, we know that Paul in the beginning of His ministry preached the Gospel to the Jews from Jerusalem and at times continued to do so even after he began preaching it to the Gentiles.

    When Jesus called him to be His Apostle, He said this:

    Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

    Jesus said of Paul that he would be His chosen vessel to bear His name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. Indeed Paul did exactly that!

    Paul in fact began his ministry in Damascus and this is what he did:

    Acts 9:20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

    As we see here, Paul preached Christ in the synagogues, which means he began preaching the Gospel to the Jews.

    Paul’s life was threatened and he left Damascus and went to Jerusalem, there the Biblical account says this:

    Acts 9:26-30 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

    Paul began preaching the Gospel in Jerusalem and he preached it to the Jews. It says he also disputed against the Hellenists.

    The Hellenistic Jews were those who lived in Grecian/Roman cities, they spoke the Greek language, and used the Septuagint version of scriptures. They were mostly the Jews who were spread through out the Roman Empire and did not live in the region of Palestine. These Hellenistic Jews came periodically to Jerusalem to fulfill the requirements of the Law and celebrate the Jewish Feasts.
    It is interesting to note that the Gospel to Gentiles did not, could not begin before Acts 10 where Peter was called to go and preach the Gospel to Cornelius who was a Roman. One could ask then if Paul was called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles why was Peter chosen to be the first one to preach the Gospel to the first Gentiles?

    Simple, because Jesus chose Peter to do so! However, many may miss the fact that Peter was not chosen to preach the Gospel to Cornelius in Acts 10 but he was chosen to do so back in Matthew 16.

    Matthew 16:16-19 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    This entire passage by the way has nothing at all to do with Popes, the Vatican or the Roman religion.

    Simply put, this passage is Peter’s confession of faith regarding Jesus, it is also the evidence that faith to believe in Jesus is only a gift of God. Then it is Jesus’ declaration of His Lordship and His promise that He would build His body the church and that the gates of death and hell would not prevail against it. Then Jesus concludes by giving to Peter the authority and the privilege to be the one to open the doors of God’s Kingdom to all people and Peter did just that.

    Peter preached the Gospel to the Jews in Acts two and opened the doors to God’s Kingdom to them. Then in Acts 8 Peter and John were called to confirm the Gospel salvation to the Samaritans. The fact that Peter was the one who had to go and confirm and pray, only in that case, for the release of the Holy Spirit on the Samaritans also fulfills the binding and loosing declaration Jesus gave in Matthew 16:19.

    Then finally Peter preached the Gospel to the first Gentile group when he went to preach it to Cornelius and his household.

    Nevertheless, even though Peter was given the keys by Jesus to open the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus gave Paul the Apostolic authority and commanded him to go and continue to preach the Gospel to the Gentile people and therefore to establish the body of Christ in these Gentile cities.

    Paul did do just that, he preached the Gospel in his first journey with Barnabas and Mark from Jerusalem, to Caesarea to Selucia to Antioch to Cyprus, Perga, Iconium and Lystra.

    He then took his second missionary journey with Silas, from Jerusalem to Antioch to Tarsus, then they went to Derbe back to, Lystra Iconium, Troas,Neopolis, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus then back to Caesarea then to Jerusalem.

    In his third and fourth and final journey he went back to all the previous places plus some other cities. It is therefore implied that when Paul was in Macedonia, in other words when he was in the region of the cities of Thessalonica and Berea, north westward of these cities we find the region of Ilyricum.

    Therefore when this Paul writes that he preached to Illyricum he may mean that he preached throughout Macedonia as far as the Illyrian frontier, or in his words may involve a journey within Illyricum itself on the Adriatic seaboard, which, though belonging politically to Macedonia, lay in “Greek, Illyria.” But since no word is said in the Acts of any extension of Paul’s travels beyond the confines of Macedonia, and since the phrase, “I have fully preached,” precludes a hurried or cursory tour in Illyricum, we should probably take the word “unto” in its exclusive sense, and understand that Paul claims to have evangelized Macedonia as far as the border of Illyricum.

    Paul in the power of the Holy Spirit working in him through his Apostolic call and authority and confirming the word of God with powerful signs and wonders preached the Gospel from Jerusalem to the further border with Illyricum. It is obvious that when Paul writes to the Roman church it has to be before he went to Rome, since he is saying in this letter that he has yet not been to Rome but he was looking forward to going there to be with them and minister to them Romans 1:10-15; Romans 15:22.

    Paul wrote the letter to the Romans during his third missionary journey, at the second of his two visits to Corinth which are recorded in Acts. This would place him in the region that bordered or included Illyricum.

    Paul was faithful until this point and as we clearly see even further to fully preach the Gospel to all places he went to visit. In addition, when he says fully preaching the Gospel he means even more than one may think as he in fact clearly said to the Ephesian elders when he left Ephesus in Acts 20.

    Acts 20:17-28 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

    Let’s quickly look at this passage and take out the important things we find written within it.

    Paul sends for the elders of the church in Ephesus. We see first hand there were already several elders there, Paul also gives record to his behavior and way of life he had when he was among them. Paul served the Lord with humility and he underwent many hardships and persecutions at the hand of his own countrymen, yet Paul kept nothing back and proclaimed all that was useful for the edification for the body of Christ. Then Paul says something to which we must pay attention one more time. He went about teaching publicly and from house to house. That is indeed and interesting statement. Does Paul mean here that there were public church gatherings like we have today and also house bible studies as we are used to seeing today? Is that what Paul is saying?

    No, it’s not! The church gatherings in Paul’s days were not done in public buildings as we do today!

    What does Paul mean then when he says he taught publicly?

    We have a record in the book of Acts as to what this means. Paul preached and taught outdoors and he taught also in synagogues.

    Acts 9:19-20 Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. 20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

    Acts 14:1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.

    Acts 17:1-4 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

    Acts 17:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.

    Acts 18:4-8 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household.

    Paul taught and preached in the synagogues, there were the public places of worship of the Jews and all Gentile proselytes to the Jewish religion.

    Acts 17:16-18 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers,

    Paul also taught and preached outdoors. 18 and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

    Acts 16:11-15 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

    Acts 17:22-24 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:

    The point is that Paul preached Christ in the synagogues and in the market place or where people used to gather for various reasons.

    Yet, Paul also said that he preaches and taught from house to house.

    It becomes evident that the Jews and the Greeks who worshiped God through Judaism met in synagogues yet Paul often makes reference to people who were already converted to Christianity and therefore considered the body of Christ as people who met in homes.

    Therefore, we understand that the main place of meeting and worship for Christians in Paul’s days and even many years after, even centuries after, was in homes.

    In fact often the place where Christians met was mentioned as, the church in so and so’s house or as the household of so and so.

    Romans 16:5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

    1 Corinthians 16:19-20 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

    Colossians 4:15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.

    Philemon 1-3 To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

    And of course the very passage we are studying in Acts 20:20-22 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

    The church met in homes not in public buildings like most of the Christian assemblies do today.

    Paul preached the Gospel and taught God’s doctrine publicly and in the home assemblies.

    However, the main point we want to make here is the one that Paul says next, in other words that he did not neglect to preach and teach, not only Christ crucified and resurrected but the entire doctrine of God as the Holy Spirit was enabling him to do.

    Acts 20:26-27 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

    Therefore, preaching and teaching the full Gospel as Paul states in Romans 15:19 goes beyond the simple truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection and it encompasses the entire doctrine of God.

    When the whole counsel of God is fully preached and taught we will preach the full Gospel in the way God intends it to be taught and preached.

    Of course it is the simplicity of the message of the cross that saves people. God uses that very simple truth to begin His good work of salvation in someone, but God wants to and desires to complete the good work He began in us and will continue to work it in us until the day of Jesus Christ,
    Philippians 1:6.

    The Gospel is the good news of salvation in Christ and the person of Christ crucified and resurrected and all the doctrine He passed on to the Apostles and then they to us. In fact that is exactly what the Great Commission is all about:

    Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

    As I said already several times before, the Great Commission is not a commandment to simply evangelize the nations, it’s actually the commandment to grow the body of Christ in the world, in quantity and quality. In numbers and then to make it grow in the full and complete stature of Christ.

    It is erroneously taught that the Great Commission is simply a mandate to evangelize. Of course, as we even mentioned before, the local body of Christ always begins with the preaching of the Gospel as in Christ crucified and resurrected. Salvation is the first step for the creation of the body of Christ anywhere. With evangelism the redeemed elect are called, saved and added to the body of Christ. It is obvious that evangelism is essential for the accomplishment of the Great Commission, you can’t make disciples without first having converts, however the Great Commission is a togetherness of commandments not simply the one to evangelize. Evangelism is the very first step of the creation of a local assembly. Yet, Jesus says to make disciples and to do so we need converted sinners and then they need to be discipled, in other words taught all the Lord taught the Apostles, before and after Pentecost. What He taught in the Gospels and what He taught through the Apostles after the resurrection and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, all the things we have today written in the pages of the New Testament and even the Old Testament actually.

    As I said many times, that Ephesians 4:11-16 is the in depth description of what the Great Commission means.

    And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    You see, you need all these ministers and all their ministries to practice the Great Commission.

    The Apostles and prophets of those days were necessary to lay the foundation of the church, see:

    Ephesians 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

    The Apostles and prophets in that era were those men who laid the foundation of the church, in other words through the newly revealed divine doctrine they established the first base of the body of Christ. They reunited in Christ all the world’s ethnic groups and began the building of the body of Christ. Later on, even as Paul says in the above passage, upon their foundation the rest of the body throughout time would be built upon and by the same message and doctrine the Apostles and prophets taught. However, it would be the elders of the church, the pastors that would continue the accomplishment of the Great Commission,this fact is made evident by the Apostolic instructions we find in the New Testament Scriptures. Therefore the Apostles and prophets began the work of the construction of God’s holy temple, the body of Christ and the others are those who later would continue the work.

    You need Evangelists to preach the message of salvation to the elect, once the elect believe the pastors/teachers, in other words the elder/pastors of the body continue to fulfill the Great Commission. This in addition continues the growth of the body of Christ and the continuation of the creation of new ministers who God will use to continue to fulfill the Great Commission. This is why we got missionaries to go into all nations to evangelize, then to continue the fulfillment of the Great Commission, which is making disciples of Christ by teaching them the doctrine of God, namely the full Gospel and starting new local Christian assemblies, and thus the cycle repeats itself.

    Therefore, the full Gospel Paul is mentioning is also as he mentioned in Acts 20: 27 the whole counsel of God.

    Today the elders/pastors and evangelists who are also today’s prophets are the ones who continue to build upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets of that era, that is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Yet, the Great Commission will not be fulfilled completely until the Lord’s return.

    Romans 15:20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation,

    Paul’s aim, his desire, his passion was to do God’s will and Christ had called him to be His Apostle to the Gentiles, that was what Paul was called by God to do.

    Acts 9:15-17 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

    Acts 20:24-25 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

    Paul wanted to do God’s will in such a passionate and zealous way, in many ways, reminiscing of the Lord’s Jesus Christ’s zeal.
    Obviously, no one can ever be as dedicated and passionate as Jesus was, yet Paul did exhort us to be imitators of Christ and of him as he imitates Christ.

    1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

    1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

    Paul indeed imitated Christ, he was not perfect as Jesus is, yet he endeavored, in his imperfection to imitate his Lord and Savior. He encouraged the believers to be like him, to do as he did, to be Christlike.

    Jesus had great zeal to do His Father’s will. From childhood Jesus had that zeal,

    Luke 2:41-50 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

    John 2:16-17 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

    John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

    Jesus’ desire to do God’s will was even greater than His physical needs.

    Jesus was focused on doing only one thing, God’s will!

    John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

    John 8:29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

    Paul as well was all into doing God’s will. Paul took the call God placed on his life very seriously and he also had one aim to fulfill that call as he clearly states in:

    Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    Indeed Paul did faithfully complete the task God gave him as he tells Timothy in:

    2 Timothy 4:6-7 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

    Paul’s aim as he states was that one of preaching the Gospel because that was the very essence of establishing the church, we also understand that preaching the Gospel is indeed not simply limited to the basic Gospel of salvation as we understand it, rather it is discharging the duties of the Great Commission as we have seen before.

    Paul did so and he explained this concept to the Ephesian church in Acts 20 as wehave read and studied beforehand.

    So, a very interesting thought is developed in that passage as we read.

    Paul who is called by God to preach the Gospel both to Jews and Gentiles at first but then sent solely to the Gentiles, verse 21, includes also the following statement which he made to the Ephesian church, where he says in verses 24 to 25 of Acts 20.

    But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God,

    what is Paul referring to when he says: but none of these things move me? What things?

    The things he mentioned when he said: And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
    Paul knew, all the difficulties, prison, tribulations that awaited him but nevertheless Paul says But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

    So as we have seen that Paul was given a very specific mandate by Christ Himself and Paul’s desire, his aim, the zeal he had was that of serving God faithfully as he was called. Paul in a Christlike manner says that none of the difficulties he was about to suffer for the Lord were a cause for him to even slow down, indeed Paul says he does not count his life dear to himself.

    Paul made several statements in his letters that his life and every Christian life in reality is not their own.

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    I understand that contextually this passage speaks of not being able to do what we want with our bodies in the sexual realm, such as in that specific case talking about fornication.

    However, even within this context, we see that the reality of this passage goes beyond that very context and by principle it encompasses our entire life and what we do with our body, in essence Paul says tells us we have been bought at a price, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, because of this fact we are not our own but belong to God fully. We cannot just do what we want in our life, we are not our own property, we belong to God.

    So when Paul says to the Ephesian church in Acts 20 nor do I count my life dear to myself, he means the same thing he says in the 1 Corinthian 6 passage. Paul belonged to God, he knew God purchased him, as God did purchase every elect, every believer. Therefore he did not count his life as important except in doing God’s will according to God’s call. This is a very Christlike attitude, this is the attitude the Son of God had.

    In fact, Paul exhorts us, through the letter to the Roman believers to do this:

    Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

    This is exactly what it means to personally and willingly submit to God and give ourselves voluntarily to be living sacrifices, to be such in a holy manner. The New Testament definition of being holy is measured in this, being holy is the theme of our sanctification, or growing into God’s likeness and being consecrated for His use. This is a prominent subject throughout the Bible.

    Like Jesus, the Apostles taught us that sanctification, or true holiness expressed itself in faithful, patient and loving service to God while awaiting the Lord’s return.

    In fact, Paul in the previous passage of Romans 12:1 says that living in such a way is indeed acceptable to God and it is our reasonable service to God. In other words, our lives and behavior are our service to God, and we also must do so in a reasonable way, using reason, using godly reasoning.

    Paul, also said, in a passage of which we read a part earlier, that Paul counts all things as dung compared to having Christ and serving Him. Philippians 3:8.

    Therefore, as Paul claims in our study text, in other words that his aim is to preach the Gospel, he is saying it here also in Acts 20 when he says: so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

    His aim, Paul wants to hit the mark and the mark, the target is preaching the Gospel, fulfilling the call God placed on his life, he says he wants to finish the race with joy and indeed he does as we read in
    2 Timothy 4:6-7 and as he later says in the same letter:

    2 Timothy 4:17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear.

    Paul was faithful to the call and ministry God gave him, he did not worry about the price he had to pay to serve God, that was his desire, his zeal, his aim, Paul hit the target God placed before him and the question is will we be like Paul as well? Will we have the same sentiment that was in Christ Jesus?

    The question many of us at this point may ask, what is the call of God for us? What ministry? Is it to preach the Gospel and preach and teach the Kingdom of God like Paul? What is it?

    Only we can figure out what God called each of us regarding a specific ministry. However, as I have said many times before and will say it again; as believers we all really only have one and same call, that call is given to all of us as we read it before in Romans 12:1 and Philippians 2:1-8.

    Our call is to be like Jesus in all of our relationships, in our work whatever it is, in all these things we must be holy, sanctified, set apart, consecrated to God and serve Him with godly reasoning, in other words, in obedience to His word.

    You see, we cannot all have positions, ministries and or be officiators of the word and of the Gospel in the church. Paul brings out this point in 1 Corinthians 12 where he explains that not all believers have governing positions in the church, that not everyone has the same gifts and therefore not everyone has the same calling.

    However, we are all, without exception, called to be like Christ in all aspects of our life through holy and obedient behavior. This is the call for every Christian without exception.

    In fact, Paul also writes 1 Corinthians 13 where he does say that the more excellent way, the superior call is not whether or not God gives us specific gifts or calls us to specific ministries, rather that we all have, as I said, also found in the Philippians 2:1-8 passage, that more excellent way,the superior call which we all have from God, which is to love Him with all our being and demonstrating it by obeying Him and loving others in the way God commands.

    Jesus says that loving one another is indeed His commandment:

    John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    John 15:12-13 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

    1 John 3:23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

    1 John 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

    There are many, too many passages to go through that tell us what our call is. Let me be clear we can concentrate all those passages in one statement, being obedient to God’s word.

    That is how we love and serve God and one another.

    Therefore, if and when anyone asks themselves or asks me as a pastor, what is God’s call on my life, the answer is very simple, be like Jesus in everything, be obedient to God’s word, offer yourself to God in that way because that is your holy and acceptable and reasonable service to God.

    If and when God calls us to a specific ministry God will let us know, but if He does not call us to one, let it be sufficient for any and all Christians that they are called to be Christlike in all things and obedient to God’s word in what God’s word commands us to do. Serving other believers in love is the high calling of God which is placed on all of us and foremost being faithful to God in all things. That is the high calling of God and it is placed on all of us regardless of whether we are called into a specific ministry or not.

    John in his second epistle writes:

    2 John 4-6 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

    I believe that in the Christian communities at large this call is being mostly ignored while everyone seems to be enthralled with seeking positions within the body, they seem to seek wanting to be heading ministries but then when it comes to the higher call, which as see is serving each other in love and showing Christ’s love to others in practical ways, then it seems that very few understand or even want to live out that superior calling. Therefore, we can assume that many Christians prefer positions, personal acclamation and want to be in the spot light. This causes a lot of problems, because when love is not the motivating factor but personal ambition is the motivator then all types of contentions and divisions occur.

    In fact almost the entire first Epistle to the Corinthians is written to address these issues which were at the forefront of that assembly’s behavioral problems. The Epistle in fact opened up with a rebuke to the personal ambition and wrong motivation of the Corinthians. This situation though is not at all limited to that assembly in that era, it is, as I said, a very common problem today as well.

    1 Corinthians 1:10-12 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.

    Then in the third chapter of the same epistle Paul becomes even more specific regarding this bad behavior:

    1 Corinthians 3:1-4 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

    They were acting like mere unsaved men by having envy and strife and divisions among them.

    These are all cause by seeking vain glory and selfish ambitions and dong things without love as the motivating factor.

    Concluding this parenthesis we can look indeed as what Paul says in:

    Philippians 2:1-4 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

    This is the highest call, love. Without love all other things, even ministry, becomes meaningless, that is exactly what God says in His word:

    1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

    In the end Paul’s aim, his desire, his zeal was that of preaching the Gospel, to bring Christ’s word to the elect. Paul was willing to endure anything for the love he had for God and the call God had placed on him, look at what he tells Timothy as he encourages his protege, his disciple to be like him :

    2 Timothy 2:8-10 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

    In this passage we also see that Paul recognizes that those for whom he is willing to suffer all things are the elect, those chosen by God to be saved, see also Acts 13:48 regarding this point. Paul acknowledges that the elect are the ones that must obtain salvation and for their sake, for he recognizes that Christ died for the elect, because Jesus loved and died for those whom the Father had given Him to save, see John 6:37-45. For this love and with this love Paul’s aim was that to bring the saving message of God to the elect.

    That was Paul’s number one mission and he confirms this in:

    1 Corinthians 1:14-18 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    Paul continues, not only preaching the Gospel was his aim, but he says

    not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation

    He earnestly desired; and made it a point for which he struggled to minister the Gospel into regions which had not yet heard the Gospel. In other words not where Christ was named where the gospel had not been before preached.

    Lest he should build in other words, he desired to found local churches; he regarded himself particularly called to this by Christ. Others might be called to edify the church, and he did that also, but he regarded it as his main function to make known the name of the Savior where it was not before known. This work was particularly adapted to the ardor, zeal, energy, and courage of such a man as him. Every Christian has their proper gift; and some are particularly suited to plant and establish churches; others to edify and comfort them; compare 2 Corinthians 10:13-16. Paul was called to a higher and particular honor which involved even most danger and responsibility.

    As a missionary church planting Apostle and preacher of the Gospel, Paul endured many sufferings and perils to discharge his call. He even mentioned it himself:

    2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they ministers of Christ?–I speak as a fool–I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness– 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

    Paul endured all this for the sake of the elect, for the privilege and the honor of preaching the Gospel for the love he had for his savior and for the elect. He desired to plant churches but he did not want to go where others already had preached the Gospel and where the church already had been planted.

    In this demeanor Paul is demonstrating a great deal of respect for the ministry of others. Paul did not want to take credit for things he did not do nor did he want to interfere with the divine call placed on others. From the very beginning Paul showed a great deal of respect for God’s call on other Apostles. He realized that he has a specific call from God and so did others.

    Look at what God’s word says about this very fact:

    After Peter officially opened the door to the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles Acts 10; the Council of Jerusalem accepted God’s call of salvation on the Gentiles Acts 11, Barnabas went and called Paul and together they began to minister to the Gentiles, see Acts 11:22-30.

    This episode launched Paul’s ministry to the outer regions of the Roman Empire, in other words away from Jerusalem and Judea, into Asia and Greece and even as Paul claimed earlier all the way to Illyricum and later on even to Rome.

    In the Epistle to the Galatians Paul makes clear that he had a call to go specifically to the Gentiles and as he says here where no other had gone to preach the message of God’s grace and salvation.

    Galatians 2:1-10 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6 But from those who seemed to be something–whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man–for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8(for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

    Also in 1 Corinthians 3 Paul mentions this:

    1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

    The key word we must look to is the word foundation. Paul says he does not want to build on another man’s foundation. What men is he referring to and what foundation?

    We find the answer in:

    Ephesians 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

    This is almost the same context Paul brings up in 1 Corinthians 3:5-11. God’s grace called Paul to be an Apostle and as one he was, as he says in the Ephesian 2 passage, he is one who lays the foundation of the church and as he says Christ and His teachings are the basis upon which the foundation exists.

    In 1 Corinthians 3 as well as in Ephesians 2 Paul is claiming that the Apostles are those who laid the foundation of the church this means that through Christ’s person and doctrines and the message of the Gospel they founded, planted the church in various places and actually for all time.

    Once the foundation was laid by the Apostles all the other ministers simply had to continue to build upon it. We build the body of Christ in other words, edify, build, the body of Christ upon what the Apostles taught and did.

    Paul therefore is very respectful to the other Apostles and makes sure that he does not go to minister or to lay the church’s foundation where someone else already had done it.

    There is another passage in which Paul says something similar:

    2 Corinthians 10:12-18 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us–a sphere which especially includes you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. 17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

    This is a very important lesson for any and all pastors and elders today, and believers in general, also and especially those involved in ministries of various kinds. We ought to always operate in the purview that God has given us. We should never try to usurp or interfere in the ministries and the divine call of others unless asked or invited and even then we must make sure that we do not try to usurp the leadership of others.

    We must operate within the limits of the sphere to which God appoints us as Paul says. He also says not to boast of things beyond measure, that is in other men’s labor. We shouldn’t ever try to take credit for other people’s work and or success.

    At that time Paul had to deal with people who wanted to usurp his Apostolic call and position and therefore his work. He does mention this in:

    2 Corinthians 11:11-15 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

    This kind of thing unfortunately happens too much even today.

    Paul also repeats in 2 Corinthians 2:10-16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment what he said in:

    Romans 15:20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation

    Romans 15:21 but as it is written: “To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.”

    Paul went to the Gentiles and in this passage he confirms that he had to go where God sent Him. God directed Paul’s steps and steered him where He wanted him to minister the Gospel and start up churches. This was evident in fact from the beginning as we see written in Acts 16

    Acts 16:6-10 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

    Paul became very sensitive and obedient to the leading of God’s Spirit as to where He wanted him to go to minister the Gospel. It was not where Paul wanted or desired to go that mattered but where God wanted Him to go, that’s where Paul was willing to go.

    God sent Paul to Macedonia to preach the Gospel, that is the region where Corinth is. In fact Paul in this Epistle to the Romans specifies that God had sent him to minister in that region, he says this in verses 18-20. Illyricum in fact was on the border of the outer fringes of the region of Macedonia. As a manner of fact Paul is writing to the Roman believers from Corinth. Although this is already his second stay in Corinth it is during this time, this is Paul’s third missionary journey. He lodged in Corinth for three months at this time and writes to the Roman believers while he also explains to them in the subsequent verses that he wanted to go to Rome but was hindered in his desire to go and visit and spend quality time with them.

    He explained to them that he was sent to minister the Gospel to those who had not heard it yet, in those places where no one had yet brought the message of God’s salvation.

    Paul cites a passage quoted out of Isaiah 52:15, here the Apostle applies it to his own conduct; as he endeavored to fulfill such a declaration by his manner of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.

    It almost mirrors the language he wrote in this same letter in chapter 10 when he referred the preaching of the Gospel to the Jews but also to the Gentiles, as we understand, by the language that Paul employs in that chapter he begins by referring the preaching of God’s message to the Jews but later on in the passage he unites the message of salvation to all people when he says:

    Romans 10:9-13 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    Whoever, Gentile or Jew who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. God is the Lord of all people and Jesus came to save the people of the entire world, see John 3:16-17 and Paul specifies it here as he says 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

    In Romans 10 he claims that those who never heard the Gospel need to hear it to be saved, as he says, if no one goes how will they hear, and if no one is sent how will they preach .

    Romans 10:14-15 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

    Paul was that preacher and he went where God sent him. It is important to always reflect on the Evangelical call.

    I would like to just take a little time to repeat what we already said several times in the past regarding Evangelism.

    Paul took his evangelical call very seriously and went to those who had not heard, for the sake of the elect he went to preach where no one had gone before.

    2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

    Paul had the same sentiment as Jesus had. As Jesus endured all things for the sake of the elect, so was Paul willing to do the same except of course that Paul was just the conduit of Christ’s redemptive work. Whoever is called to preach the Gospel must also have the same zeal Paul had and that sentiment that was also in Jesus, be willing to endure all things for the sake of God’s elect.

    Paul and the Apostles clearly understood the importance of heeding God’s guidance and call because the Gospel is the only way for a person to achieve salvation.

    The preaching of the Gospel is the only vehicle God uses to save people, see 1 Corinthians 1:21 and Romans 10:17. There is no other way, see Acts 5:12 and Romans 1:16-17.

    Therefore it is obviously imperative that the message of the Gospel goes out into the world. Yet there is a great misconception in most of the church world today regarding the way Evangelism is understood and taught and in the end even practiced.

    This is mostly due to a faulty understanding of the doctrine of salvation, the faulty understanding of man’s real sinful condition and the faulty understanding of man’s free will. These things together lead to a faulty understanding of how Evangelism really works.

    Briefly, since we have already talked about this several times and even extensively during this study of the Roman Epistle, I want to do a quick cursory pass through regarding this very important subject.

    We already established that the only way to be saved is by hearing the Gospel message and believing it by faith. There is not other way. Once either a person dies having rejected the Gospel message if heard or if a person dies without having heard it that person will undergo eternal judgment and damnation.

    Once again, in order to be saved from God’s eternal wrath one must believe in Jesus and therefore the Gospel message, there is no other way.

    The problem that comes up in this optic is that many, too many people, object to the part regarding those who have never heard the Gospel and who die in that condition as going to hell.

    Many believers do not seem to properly understand why all this occurs and because of this they perceive God as being unjust for doing such a thing. They claim that if a person dies without having had the opportunity to hear the Gospel, that God is somehow obligated not to send them to hell.

    First of all, God is not and ever is unjust in His doings. His will is always good, acceptable and perfect, see Romans 12:2.

    In fact, in this very verse we understand why people perceive God as unjust regarding the fact that He sends a person into eternal damnation if they perish having never heard the Gospel.

    Why? Because their minds are not renewed and they do not see and think like God does and therefore they cannot prove that God’s will is always good, acceptable and perfect and they try very hard to twist God’s word to make it submit to their own will instead of them submitting to His.

    These think that it is only fair for someone to go into eternal perdition if they reject the Gospel but they do not retain fair that those who did not have the opportunity to hear it perish as well.

    This happens because they do not properly understand the complete corruption and depravity of man and the complete enslavement of man’s nature to sin.

    Paul gives a very good rendition regarding this subject in Romans 3:10-19. He also makes man’s standing in his sinfulness very clear in Ephesians 2:1-3.

    Mankind is not able to respond properly to God and His law because of a sinful nature to which man is enslaved and also because spiritually, in other words the part of man through which he has a relationship with God is dead.

    Therefore man is completely depraved and corrupted in his nature, there is nothing good within man plus man cannot relate or have the proper relationship with God because man is spiritually dead.

    In fact Jesus told Nicodemus that a man must be born again of the Spirit in order to see and enter into the Kingdom of God, see John 3:1-5. Jesus also told the Samaritan woman just about the same thing in a different way, see John 4:21-24.

    Man’s spirit must be made alive and this occurs only by the work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel, see Romans 10:17.
    Therefore, mankind cannot and will not respond properly to God nor can man have a proper relationship with God because man’s sinful nature prevents man and God to have the proper relationship.

    Therefore as we see it is not the rejection of the Gospel that causes mankind to be eternally damned it is man’s sinful nature and man’s sin that causes man to receive God’s eternal wrath.

    However, since God is rich in mercy and abounding in love toward His creation, He made the way so that many could be saved and that way is Jesus and the Gospel message, John 14:6.

    The Gospel does not damn it saves the rejection of the Gospel or not having had the opportunity to hear it and believe it leaves man in its sinful and unforgiven state and therefore leaves man in the condition it always was.

    Without the Gospel as we see salvation is impossible! The faulty idea that those who never hear the Gospel somehow can in some way be saved because they never had the opportunity to hear it is based on the fact that people do not understand that all of mankind, all without exception, deserve God’s judgment, wrath and eternal judgment. If one does not start from this place they will get everything about salvation and evangelism wrong.

    If we start from here then we clearly understand that God is not unjust to judge man for his sin and to condemn all men regardless to eternal damnation. That is what a just, holy and righteous God does and must do.

    However, as we hopefully know, God is also good, loving and merciful and He does not want His creation to perish, so He made the way to escape His eternal wrath and judgment. That way as we said is Jesus and the Gospel message which must be believed by faith.

    If believers do not understand the complete depravity and corruption of mankind, that man cannot properly relate to God and that all mankind only deserves God’s eternal punishment they will never accept the truth about how God saves.

    Romans 9:11-24 explains clearly why God saves and who He saves and that God is not unjust ever, and that it is man who objects to God’s ways and man who questions the way God decides to extend His mercy to people.

    As we have seen though, God is not unjust because He saves people based on His mercy and choice, because as we said before, no one deserves God’s mercy and salvation, otherwise grace would not be grace and mercy would not be mercy.

    If man’s salvation was based solely on man’s choice then salvation would be a reward for a human choice. In fact, many erroneously think just that, in other words they believe that God grants salvation based on the choice of a person alone and for those people exercising their so called free will to accept the Gospel and believe it. They also erroneously think that God condemns people solely based on their rejection of the Gospel.

    While it is true that a person does believe and chooses to believe the message and repent of their sins, we must remember that it occurs only because God places people in the right spiritual condition whereby they can do it, this is evident by many passages of Scripture of which the one which clearly delineates this concept best is found in:

    Acts 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

    As we clearly understand by the wording of this passage makes us arrive at the only possible conclusion to which we must arrive and that we can arrive, that is, in order to believe the Gospel a person must be previously appointed to eternal life by God.

    We understand that this is clearly the choice of God who in this sentence is the one who holds the active part of the sentence as the passive action of the verb is referred to those who are appointed. These did believe, action verb, only because they were appointed, passive verb, in other words, they are the recipients of God’s action in other words, being appointed by God to eternal life. This is the action that caused them to believe and this was because it was previously willed by God.

    It is obvious by the structure of the sentence that it cannot simply mean that the Gentiles had been appointed to eternal life as an ethnic group. Why? Because the sentence, although mentions the Gentiles who were indeed chosen, as well as the Jews, to receive God’s salvation as an ethnic group, states that as many as had been appointed believed. This implies that out of that ethnic group of Gentiles as a whole, only as many as were appointed to eternal life believed precludes that some of the same group who heard the message did not believe. Why did they not believe? Obviously, because they were not appointed as individuals. This entire context and subject is indeed a reflection of what Paul says in Romans 9:11-24 and the words of Jesus Himself who taught us this same concept in John 6:36-40; John 6: 44-45 and John 6:63-71.

    A person’s salvation therefore occurs because of God’s choice based on His mercy and His grace through faith in Jesus Christ then these are indeed gifts of grace and mercy, even as Ephesians 2:8-10 states.

    There cannot be two different standards of salvation, there is only one, we are saved by grace and mercy through faith in Christ alone, this can only occur when a person is living and never after one is dead, Scripture clearly states that there are no more chances after a person dies without Christ.

    Hebrews 9:26-28 He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

    It is appointed for men to die once and then the judgment. This is a statement that does not at all preclude that there can be another chance for the salvation a person after death.

    Therefore the faulty thought of many believers that a person is condemned simply because they do not believe if just that, faulty. While it is true that if a person does not believe they remain in their sins and are condemned it does not mean that everybody without exception has had or has to have the opportunity to hear the message of the Gospel in order to believe it or reject it.

    Based on their faulty way of understanding salvation and sovereign election they arrive at the faulty conclusion that those who do not hear and have no chance of hearing the Gospel message somehow need to have a second chance because it would not be fair that they did not have the opportunity to choose to believe in the message and be saved.

    Yet again, mankind’s condemnation is not based on whether or not a person hears the message or rejects it but it is solely based on the spiritual condition of man and his not forgiven sinfulness.
    The Gospel is the remedy for that condemnation and the only one at that. The Gospel therefore if rejected till death leaves the person in that already condemned condition because the Gospel is the only remedy to fix man’s sinful condition and to spare them eternal damnation.

    Therefore, let me ask this, people who never hear the Gospel are they still sinners, spiritually dead and not forgiven of their sins? The answer is yes!

    According to God’s standards are they condemned to eternal damnation because of their condition? Yes! Is God righteous and just to condemn all men because of this? Yes! Therefore if God sent everyone into eternal damnation would He be wrong or unjust to do so according to the standards to which He holds everyone? No he would not be unjust or wrong!

    Therefore, if God made the way for man to be saved and then dispensed this salvation to many through His mercy, grace and love is He being unjust or is He being merciful? If God decides to save some by His mercy and favor He did not do anything wrong, He simply exercised His mercy toward some while He gave His judgment and just punishment to the others. Is this unjust? No!

    Would we say that a President, King, Governor is unjust when and if they decides to pardon a criminal and not pardon others? No we would not! I never heard anyone say that one of these would be unjust unless they pardon every criminal or they are unjust because they choose to pardon some while letting others continue in the just punishment they have received for their crimes, in other words for transgressing the law.

    Yet, believers claim God is unjust basically because He allows many to be condemned even though they deserve it, even by their own admission, and because He saves some who otherwise would be justly condemned to eternal damnation, and these include themselves by the way.

    In fact, the prerequisite of salvation is to believe in the Gospel message which commands us to repent of one’s sins. Believers should therefore have understood when they believed and repented that they were condemned already and that they needed to be saved out of that condition.

    In concluding we must understand that as human beings we are sinners, with a sinful nature, our sins separate us from God as we are in that case spiritually dead and cannot relate to God properly. All this is what condemns us.

    Not believing the Gospel or not having the opportunity to hear it are not the things that condemn man are the cause of people remaining in their condemnation, which is just and right, and incidentally ours would have been too if God had not had mercy on us.

    Therefore, last but not least, today believers are erroneously taught that they believe or better yet, often we hear it said they choose to believe or choose Jesus by exercising their own free will. This is actually true but not as many think. Or better, yes, we are the ones who choose to believe and when we do it is exercising our free will but only because our will has been freed by the slavery of a sinful nature and this is God’s doing not ours.

    We have often seen in Scripture and even mentioned in this teaching that man is completely enslaved to sin through his nature. As a sinner man’s will may be free in some things but it is not free at all as it always acts in rebellion to God and is never free to serve God as God desires we serve Him. We said before that man is spiritually dead, in other words, man cannot relate to God properly and have a loving and obedient relationship with Him willingly. Man can try to do so through religious rituals but never out of willingly submitting led by love toward God.

    Jesus in John 8 said this:

    John 8:31-36 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

    Often this passage is used, and not in the wrong way, to signify that if we abide in God’s word we truly will be Christ’s disciples and that we will know God’s truth and that truth will set us free from error and false doctrines.

    This is absolutely true, however, in the immediate context the meaning Jesus is giving it here is that if we abide in His word we will know the truth about Him, who He is, see John 14:6, the truth about Him and that He is the truth and in fact He claims that that truth about Him would set people free.

    The Jews of His day actually complain to Him saying that they weren’t in bondage to anyone. Interestingly enough they were indeed under Roman bondage, however, Jesus explains to them and us that those who commit sin, in other words sinners by nature, are slaves of that sin in their nature.

    Then Jesus states that those who are slaves to sin do not abide in the house (Kingdom of God) forever, however He says that a son will abide forever, therefore if the truth, Jesus the Son of God, sets us free, then we will become free indeed.

    In addition He means that we must become children of God by new birth, John 3. Only the sons of God will dwell in the house of the Father forever. Therefore we are freed, freed from what? Sin and death, and our sinful nature. Therefore, we are indeed slaves to sin in our nature and only by becoming free from it through Christ we can be set free and free our will.

    Our so called free will when we are slaves to sin is not free at all, it’s not free in everything concerning morality and the things concerning obedience to God’s will.

    Paul also explains it this in some passages we have often seen:

    Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

    Romans 8:1-8 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    There are many other passages as well but these really help us understand that when we are still in the flesh, in other words not born of the Spirit through faith in the Gospel message we cannot be pleasing to God nor can our mind, the seat of our will be and our mind is at enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God, in other words, His will, nor indeed can it be, therefore those who are not born again cannot please God.

    However as we see from verses 1 to 4 in the same passage we have been set free from the power of sin and death and our sinful nature is removed, see Romans 6:5-7 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

    In fact, later on in the same chapter 6 Paul says: Romans 6:15-20 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

    Clearly, we were slaves to our sinful nature which rendered us completely ineffective in obeying God and doing His will. Our will was not free as we thought it was. Everybody’s will is free in things that do not pertain to obeying God’s will. Our sinful nature makes our desires sinful and not desiring to do God’s will rather to be rebellious to Him instead.

    People who are not born again can still operate freely in many of the decisions they make, such as what to wear, where to go on vacation, what color or type care, etc. Things that do not pertain to righteousness and holiness and obedience to God, in those we have free will.

    In things that pertain to God though, we do not have a free will rather we always will choose to sin rather than obey God.

    This proves, that man’s will is not free in things pertaining to God. Let me say, that mankind may appear to be able to obey God and do His will when they practice some religious practice or rituals.

    That however is not God’s will, that is not being born again of the Spirit and worshiping, in other words obeying and serving God, in Spirit and in truth. Which as we have seen before means to be born again of the Spirit, even as Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4.

    That in fact is exactly the subject of the conversation they have, she is mentioning things concerning the validity of religious requirements while Jesus instead speaks to her about being born again of God’s Spirit and then serving and doing God’s will in Spirit, being born of Him and truth which is obeying God’s word, His truth and Jesus as Lord, all these are truth. God’s word is truth, John 17:17, Jesus is God’s word and the truth, John 1:1-14, John 14:6, John 18:37, and the Spirit is truth, John 14:17, John 15:16, John 16:13.

    As we see it’s not, as Jesus told the woman, through religion. Jesus is telling her there was a true religion at the time, the religion of the Jews, but why? Only because it testified of Him and it lead to believe in Him, the promises of God made to His people were all regarding Him.

    John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

    See also Luke 24:25-27; Luke 24:44.

    It’s not religion but it’s new life in Christ by His Spirit by faith in Him through the message of the Gospel. This is how it really works. Religion does not make us right with God, religion is instead trying to appease God or be considered righteous before God through good works and rituals.

    However, religion does not make a person right with God, it does not regenerate a person and give them new life, only Jesus can do so. Jesus and His life makes us alive spiritually and allows us to have a living spiritual relationship with God, it makes us become children of God and a part of His family.

    He also makes our will free from the slavery of the sinful nature since we become new creations in Christ and as Paul said in Romans 6 our old man has been crucified with Christ, we are made anew without a sinful nature.

    Once again, the objection to this is brought by believers who rightfully raise the question that if our sinful nature is gone, why do we still sin? Paul anticipated this question when he wrote Romans 6.

    Paul must in fact explain why we still sin in Romans 7 and then tells us in chapter 8 how we have the victory and the forgiveness of the sins we commit in the body while we are Christians.

    As we therefore see, as we get back to the subject of evangelism, we see that in most cases it is taught erroneously.

    As we have seen, man cannot believe by himself, and we have seen that it is not the rejection of the Gospel that condemns a person, a person is condemned already and the Gospel is the only way to avoid the condemnation that one already has because of their sinful nature.

    Having arrived, hopefully, to the understanding that in order to be saved a person must hear and believe the Gospel of salvation and if one does not hear it, or rejects it because of their sinfulness, they will not escape God’s just wrath.

    Paul therefore knows that he had to go and preach the Gospel, that was his God given call, but not because he believed that if he did not do it people would otherwise perish as many erroneously believe today, but because he had to obey God and because he was sent to preach to the elect, the elect who had to hear the Gospel to be saved. I will end this concept saying this, no one who is not destined to perish will perish. God will make sure that those for whom Christ died will indeed be saved because they are destined to be saved, those who are appointed to eternal life will believe.

    So the Gentile elect were those to whom Jesus was not originally announced and they will indeed see the glory of God and His salvation and those who had yet not heard it, would understand it, and this is a sad indictment of the Jewish nation to whom He came first and to whom He announced the Kingdom of God. However, it is even as John wrote:

    John 1:10-13 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Jesus citing Isaiah in speaking about the Jews said:

    Matthew 13:14-15 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’

    Therefore as the Jewish nation as a whole rejected the Messiah, God sent His saving Gospel to the rest of the nations and added them to His Kingdom. Therefore as Paul claims in Romans 11, they temporarily became the enemies of the Gospel for the Gentiles’ sake:

    Romans 11:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.

    God has given them up for the time being but concerning their election of old they are still beloved by God for the sake of the promises God made to the fathers. You see, God is always true and faithful to His promises and just because men are disobedient and unfaithful does not revoke His promises. Remember that God swore by Himself so He will faithfully keep the promises He made to the fathers.

    Hebrews 6:13-20 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

    The remnant of Jewish nation reunited with redeemed Israel and the redeemed Gentiles will at Christ’s return obtain all the previous promises God made them through the Fathers and will be admitted in the New Covenant in Christ and through Him when they will believe in Him at His return,
    see Zechariah 12:10.

    Romans 15:22-24 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.

    Paul now says that he was hindered form going to Rome for the reason just mentioned. In other words, because God sent him to Macedonia to preach the Gospel. As we can clearly understand from the following verse Paul’s desire was indeed to go to Rome as he says, for a number of years.

    Often God’s will may cause delays in the desires we have. We must always be willing to forgo our desires, even godly ones to do what God wants us to do. We see later that God gives Paul the desire of his heart, to go to Rome. Even in that case Paul goes to Rome in chains and not as a free man.

    David wrote that when we delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart:

    Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

    However, even though God may give us the desires of our hearts let’s remember that He will not give us everything we desire. The key to understand this verse is the first part, we must delight ourselves in God and our desires must reflect God’s desires and His will.

    We cannot expect God to give us the desires of our hearts if they are not lined up with His will and desires. We cannot expect God to give us things He determines evil and or things that we desire for selfish reasons or even things we desire which we determine good but God can rule not good for us.

    For example, Paul desired to go to Rome and yet, God vetoed that desire and called him to go and minister elsewhere. We know Paul delighted in the Lord and desired a good thing when he desired to go to Rome, yet God delayed Paul from going there.

    We cannot perceive God’s delays as God’s denials. Sometimes God denies or delays good things, even things that are lined up with His will.

    You will remember that Paul desired to go and preach the Gospel in Asia but the Lord instead sent him to Macedonia, in fact this is where Paul writes the letter to the Romans.

    Acts 16:6-10 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

    Delays and denials are not always due to the enemy. There are some instances when this occurs, in fact Paul talks about him being hindered in another Epistle and he does claim that it was the enemy that hindered him.

    1 Thessalonians 2:17-19 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you–even I, Paul, time and again–but Satan hindered us.

    We know that the devil and his demons and the wicked people they influence often place road blocks and hindrances in our way, because they try to place obstacles in our way and hinder our progress in the Lord. Satan is always in opposition to what God wants to do.

    However, we must exercise spiritual discernment and wisdom in order to establish the reasons for which we are delayed or hindered. As we see it’s not always Satan and his ministers that do such and we should not be so hasty in giving the credit to Satan.

    When something evil and wicked blocks our progress and hinders us we can almost be sure that it may be the enemy to cause it, however, not always in that case either. It could be God’s will as well. We should not always give credit to the devil.

    Let us remember that no matter what the cause of our hindrance and delay is God remains completely sovereign and in control of the situation. Let us not get discouraged and remember God’s promises, especially the one that states:

    Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

    We must believe God and take His word at heart, God promises that ALL things, not just some things, not just what we deem as good, but ALL things work together for our good, those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

    Of course being called according to His purpose is, as it states in the following verses of Romans 8, means to be the elect of God, yet Paul added those who love God. Remember what Scripture says?

    We demonstrate that we love God by our obedience to His word, see John 14:21-24; 1 John 2:5-6; 1 John 5:2; 2 John 6.

    When we walk in obedience to God we are loving Him, those who love God are those who endeavor in their lives to live in obedience to His word. The born again, the called according to His purpose are these. However, even for us who are called, if we neglect to obey God we may most likely find out that things will not always work out for good. Although we may be forgiven and go to heaven we can still have to endure many unnecessary hardships and end endure God’s chastisement, often even severe if our rebellion is great.

    However, we must know that if we endeavor to walk in obedience to God then it will not matter how many delays the enemy places before us, any and all things we may endure will work for our good.

    There are may reasons why God will delay us or even hinder us but we must remember that they will all work themselves out for our good as God desires to bless us and do us good.

    Even to the Jews of old and to us today God says:

    Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

    God’s thoughts toward His children are always for good, He has thoughts of good and peace and not of evil, God delights in giving us a good future filled with hope.

    Even in His punishment and severe as it may be, His intentions through His discipline are for our good, to lead us in a better path, in his path:

    Hebrews 12:7-13 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

    God’s discipline upon His children is designed to be a remedial and healing process not a destructive one. God’s discipline is also designed to teach us His ways and the ways in which we ought not to walk. There is a big difference between God’s discipline of His children and God’s wrath upon unbelievers.

    God’s judgment and wrath upon the wicked is usually brought upon them not in a remedial way but as a final and destructive end. God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, however, usually His mercy is given to those whom He ends up saving or who is already saved.

    Proverbs 29:1 He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

    This last verse is true even about believers, not in an eternal sense but in a physical and temporal way. This is true about unbelievers in both a physical and temporal way and also in an eternal sense.

    God rebukes unbelievers many times and many ways but also rebukes His children. This verse is true of both.

    If a child of God continues to be rebellious and not repent of his or hers sins, they can be suddenly destroyed and that without a remedy.

    This to say that we ought not to take advantage of God’s grace and His forgiveness and continue to live in sin because even if we will not endure God’s eternal wrath, we can endure very severe chastisement that can end up destroying our lives, lead us to physical sickness and even death.

    There are many impediments to our plans and as we saw they can have various reasons to exist.

    It’s not always God directly that delays or blocks our plans, it can be the enemy and it even can be the way we live and the behavior we practice. In all of these reasons we must remember however, that God is sovereign and has control over every situation, and as we said, we know that all things work together for the good of God’s children.

    Paul therefore is convinced that although he is delayed in getting to Rome he will eventually get there. In fact, he got there indeed, not as he planned or thought he would but he got there.

    Paul writes to them

    Romans 15:24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.

    Paul hoped to journey to Spain and that on the way to Spain he would stop in Rome to enjoy the believers’ company for a while.

    However, there is no recorded evidence that Paul ever got to Spain, nevertheless he did get to Rome but not as he expected to get there.

    This proves that often times, and we even know this by experience, God ends up giving us the desire of our hearts but not in the exact way we expected.

    Indeed that happened to Paul in this case, he seemingly never got to Spain but he did get to Rome, but as a prisoner.

    In fact, Paul in the next verses explains this:

    Romans 15:25-28 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.

    Paul explains to the Roman church that he needs to return to Jerusalem to minister to the saints there. The churches of Macedonia and Achaia had collected money to send to their poor Jewish brothers that were in need.

    This episode is mentioned in

    Acts 19:21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

    As we see here, Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem to bring the offering of the Macedonian churches and then sail to Rome and then go to Spain from Rome.

    Paul left Macedonia, in other words Greece, he travels to Ephesus and there Paul shares something regarding his future journey to Jerusalem:

    Acts 20:22-25 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.

    This is a farewell to the believers of Ephesus as Paul tells them they would not see his face anymore.

    Paul knows that as he is going to Jerusalem and that he will be running into tribulations and hardships yet, look at his great attitude, he says, none of those things would move him as he was willing to even die for Christ and indeed in the end he does.
    Paul indeed finished the race with joy and completes the ministry call that Christ placed on his life.

    Paul reiterates this statement when he writes his second letter to Timothy, in fact, he writes this from the Roman prison of the Mamertino, from where he will never come back.

    2 Timothy 4:6-8 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

    Paul however, goes from Ephesus to Jerusalem and there he does bring the offering of the Greek churches to the Jewish Christians however, there he gets arrested.

    As he is being arraigned and interrogated by the Romans and the Jews, while in custody this happens to him:

    Acts 23:11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

    The Lord testifies to Paul that he would go to Rome and be His witness there as well. However, there will be more delays for Paul on the road to Rome.

    Paul gets brought before Felix the Roman governor and there he waits judgment. However, Paul has to wait two long years and Felix leaves as governor and Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

    There Paul ends up appealing to Caesar so that Paul gets to go to Rome now. As we said before, often we end up getting the desires of our hearts but not in the way we expect. Paul got to go to Rome but not as he thought he would go. He did not go as a free man rather as a prisoner yet God used him in a mighty way even from his captivity. If one considers that most of Paul’s Epistles were written from prison. The bulk of doctrine for the church is written by Paul and most of it from prison.

    God can and will use us in all and any situation, all we have to do is be willing to be placed in any situation, we must, like Paul did be willing to suffer loss for Christ’s sake but God can and will empower us and use us for His glory.

    Therefore, Paul does go to Rome and he enjoys much freedom even as a prisoner and he finally does meet up with the Roman church as he desired to do in this letter.

    Romans 15:27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.

    Here Paul tells the Roman believers regarding the offering of the Greek churches for the Christians in Jerusalem, that it pleased the Greek believers to feel in some way indebted to the Jewish believers because the Gentile people received the benefits of the promises God made to Abraham and to his seed.

    Indeed, the Gentiles have been partakers of the spiritual promises made by God through the Jewish nation and in fact even Jesus in talking with the Samaritan woman says that the blessing of God’s salvation indeed comes by the Jews:

    John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    Clearly salvation is of the Jews as we know Jesus is the Messiah who has come through the lineage of the tribe of Judah. Jesus in His flesh is indeed a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the tribe of Judah, from the direct line of King David. Although, being born of the Holy Spirit in Mary, yet, both His earthly parents, Joseph and Mary are from the lineage of David. We can see this by examining both the genealogies reported in the Gospels, see Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-37.

    There is also another awesome passage in Luke where Gabriel the Archangel announces the birth of Jesus to Mary:

    Luke 1:26-37 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

    Even here we understand clearly how Gabriel explains that Jesus would indeed be conceived by the Holy Spirit but that He was the Son of God and the son of David, verse 32. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and the son of man, son of Adam and son of Abraham and son of David.

    So because of all of the prophecies made to the fathers Jesus the savior had to come from this lineage and therefore salvation has come into the world through the Jews. Because of all the promises and revelations God gave to His people of old and because of all the blessings that came through these promises the entire world will benefit of the salvation of God. Jesus came because of what He declares in John 3:16-17, speaking to a Jew, Nicodemus, Jesus tells Him that although salvation is of the Jews it is not exclusive to them alone. In fact going all the way back to what God promised Abraham we see this promise being fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ.

    Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family
    And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation;
    I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    We are indebted in some ways to the people of God through which we have received the promises of God.

    Paul makes this evident in several of his writings:

    Ephesians 2:11-18 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh–who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands– 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

    Also he brings this concept out in Romans 11:28-33 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

    As we see, because of God’s election of the Jewish nation today the nations have been made partakers of the promises made to His people which include salvation in Jesus Christ and becoming the one people of God all through Jesus Christ of course. There is no people of God, there is no Kingdom of God unless all its subjects become such by faith in Jesus Christ and gaining access into God’s Kingdom that way. There is no true Israel unless it becomes such through and in Messiah. This is not a theology of replacement rather for the Jewish nation it is the of readmission into the New Covenant and therefore all the promises of God for them, see Romans 11:11-27. That is actually what Jesus told Nicodemus also, see John 3:1-17.

    Nevertheless, as Jesus even said in John 3:16-17, God loved all of the elect of all the world not the Jewish/Israelite ones that He sent His only begotten Son to save them and include them in the people of God. It is true, that there is a house of Judah and a house of Israel. Many who adhere to the house of Judah, the Jews although they are scattered in the world they are distinct and usually live in a separate state from the nations. However, we must remember that the house of Israel intermingled itself with the Gentiles and therefore they are literally scattered and mixed with the nations. That was the actual situations of the Samaritans of old and that is why the Jews hated the Samaritans. They became a mixed multitude. So today we have Gentiles and Israelites mixed together and the Jews who live separately from the rest. Gentiles and Israelites today are obviously separate from the Jews who maintain a religious, racial and cultural separation of their own. There will be a time,when the House of Judah and the house of Israel and the Gentiles will all become one people. This will occur only after the return of Messiah. According to the Bible though even then there will be a distinction in roles and purposes as to how the Kingdom of God will be and function. We have a lot of this described for us in the prophecy of Ezekiel. The house of Judah will have a special and particular ministry in the Millennium what others will do is not one-hundred percent clear, yet we know, that His people will rule and reign with the King, see Revelation 20:4-5.

    Certain things are out of our purview to know, one thing is certain everyone will have roles and duties in God’s Kingdom as He will assign them and that will be in accordance to the rewards God will grant us in accordance to our own faithfulness in this life.

    Nevertheless, Paul writes to the Roman church that the other believers in Macedonia recognized the debt of gratitude they had toward the Jewish brothers and sisters in need and they expressed their love in providing an offering for them. Offering that Paul himself was going to Jerusalem to deliver in their behalf.

    It is wonderful to see how the love of these brothers was displayed in real and tangible ways and not in words alone. Today, I sadly see too great a part of Christianity who preach love, talk about it a lot yet is very, very stingy in demonstrating love in a real and practical way.

    I also see a pretty large segment of Christianity expressing their love to the world and the unsaved, in reality in such a way they should express it to their brothers and sisters. Obviously God desires that we love even our enemies, but there are degrees and ways in which we ought to practice love in those cases. God’s word shows us that although we must be willing and able to show love to the unsaved it is in such a way that it should not ever be a greater demonstration of it than how it ought to be practiced among believers.

    In the body of Christ we are brothers and sisters in the Lord, the unbelievers in the world are not God’s children. Let me give you a practical human example.

    A father or mother, would never love other children in the same way they would love their own, unless they adopted them as their own. Under normal circumstances though you will hardly ever see, if ever, any person taking care of other people’s children in the same way they take care of their own. Do parents treat other people’s children the same way they treat their own, do they love them the same way? No, it does not happen in real life nor does God do this. God does not love or treat people who are not His children in the same way He loves and treats His own children. Why would He? That would actually be an offense to Jesus Himself! Why? Because Jesus died to redeem the elect and them He redeemed onto God. If God loved other sinners while they remain such in the same way He loved His own He would actually be despising His own Son’s sacrifice.

    Believers in fact are God’s adopted children and God will love us in a very special way, as His children. For Christ’s sake God did it and does it. Let me ask you,what kind of privileges do unbelievers have with God? Do they have the same privileges as do God’s children? I do not believe so!

    Ergo, why do believers think that their duty is to love unbelievers in the way they ought to love their brothers and sisters?

    It is so wrong, and this erroneous understanding of God’s love is causing a lot of hurt and damage in the body of Christ. Believers are being neglected and ignored by other believers because their entire attention has been placed upon trying to love unbelievers into the Kingdom of God.

    They even take Scripture out of context to justify their behavior. For example they cite this next Scripture to explain this and yet this Scripture has absolutely nothing to do with loving unbelievers into the Kingdom of God, nor does it have anything to do with evangelizing.

    John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Let’s examine this passage properly. Jesus says to His disciple that He is giving them a new commandment, that they ought to love, who? One another. Not the unbelievers. Love one another as He loved them, or us for that matter. How did Jesus love us? To the extreme and in a very sacrificial way. He forgot about Himself and served us, He lived in our behalf, He suffered for us things we cannot even begin to understand and He died for us. This is how the Living God loved us, totally unselfishly and sacrificially. This is how we ought to love one another, not how we are to love unbelievers.
    Then Jesus says, that if, if, we have this kind of love for one another all will know we are His disciples.

    Once again, this is not evangelism by love. Not at all! Jesus is not saying people will believe in Him by our love, He simply is saying that, love God’s way is the proof and demonstration that we belong to Christ. Basically, it is not words that determine that we are His disciples but the love we show to one another. It is true that loving in such a way can and will in some cases attract people to Christ, but let us remember this, it is not this that will save them. Only faith, belief in the preached Gospel will save them. God may at times use this love as a catalyst of attraction to the Gospel but we must be careful not to try to use love in place of the Gospel. In fact, that is the error we are talking about. A lot of believers take this passages and use it in place of true and real evangelism. In fact, they even go further in their error because they do not express that kind of love on their own brothers and sister they try to practice it on the unbelievers themselves. That is not what God wants at all. He wants us to have fervent and deep love for God’s children and demonstrate this love in practical ways not in word alone.

    John writes:

    1 John 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

    Pretty straight forward and clear I believe.

    By the way, this is also true not only in the physical realm but especially in the emotional and spiritual one.

    There are many needs people have and we must be willing to love them in those particular needs as well. Example, if a believer is in need of encouragement or comfort and we know it and just ignore it and act with indifference we are not displaying love at all by ignoring and not meeting those needs that person has.

    Even Peter says:

    1 Peter 1:22-23 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

    Look at this passage, it says we have purified our souls obeying the truth of the Gospel through the Spirit of God in sincere love of the brethren and for this we must love one another fervently with a pure heart.

    Let’s look at these two last words, fervently. Our love for each other should be fervent, what does fervent mean?

    The definition of fervent is: very hot, exhibiting and marked by intensity, a synonym is zealous, burning desire.

    Now I would like to ask, how many Christians do we know who actually love ine another in such a way?

    Of course, we are not speaking here of a physical type of love, that is not at all what we are talking about, but it’s an emotional and practical love we are talking about here. Loving with fervency means not to allow anything or anyone to interfere with the love we ought to display for one another.

    Sadly this kind of love practice happens more and more rarely in the body of Christ these days. It has been said that Christians are the only army that shoots its own wounded. As sad and far fetched as it may sound to some, that is indeed very true. In fact, I would even go beyond this description and make an even worse statement, I believe that Christians actually seem to like to wound each other even when a person is healthy enough.

    In the body of Christ I noticed that there is some ill ways of seeing other believers especially when they are hurting, I have experienced a lot of this in my own life, perhaps more than experiencing true love from other believers.

    Some Christians are so insensitive to the needs of others that when another believer is hurting, especially because of others’ behavior they are actually told to stop being so sensitive and to stop dwelling on the wrong that was done to them, Often these believers are simply told to get over it and to stop being offended about what others do to them.

    Basically they are being told to ignore the offensive and bad behavior of other believers toward them, in other words the lack of love others display and are told to move on.

    However, this is very wrong and bad advice that does nothing but allow those who do wrong and are unloving to continue to be so.

    Scripture tells us there is an actual process to be followed in order to actually eradicate this behavior in the church. If loving each other is the greatest commandment Jesus has given us to obey after loving God that is, then why would people ignore and even dismiss the disobedience to this commandment?

    Certainly we must be willing to forgive others when they sin against us, certainly we must not retain resentment toward others and not repay evil with evil or sin with sin. Yet, God does not want us to ignore and dismiss bad behavior, lack of love and indifference among God’s children.

    As I said before, there is a process that we must follow and God has given us instruction about it in
    Matthew 18:15-1.

    In addition, Jesus also said:

    Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

    This is an important passage, we can equate this today with, when we partake of the Lord’s supper if we know someone had something against us, this is the same concept of Matthew 18 but reversed.
    In other words, if we have wronged someone and we know it we must be reconciled. It is better to forego the celebration of the Lord’s supper and be reconciled to our brothers rather than partake of it and break the bond of peace. The same even in the celebration of a worship service or any ministry for that matter. Everything we do and touch will be contaminated and the Lord will not accept our worship.

    This is how serious this is.

    We cannot dismiss and justify believers for their lack of love and the indifference they have toward others but they must be confronted and corrected and repent.

    It does not make sense therefore to go out into the world and try to save the world by pouring out all the love we can on unsaved people and then ironically, when and if they become believers ignore them and lack to show love to them. That is actually what is happening in a great part of the modern church.

    Love the unsaved the way the brothers ought to be loved and then ignore and be indifferent toward the brothers in the church, this is backward thinking and it is absolutely sinful.

    When all the resources of the church and the love we ought to have one another are redirected on the world while the believers are being mistreated and ignored we are totally out of God’s will.

    By the way, this is exactly what the so called seeker friendly church does. It entertains the sinners instead of feeding God’s flock.

    Look at what Jesus told Peter:

    John 21:15-18 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

    It is an interesting passage all around, this is not only Jesus reinstating Peter, it is also the call of Jesus on the elders of the church beginning with Peter to feed His sheep.

    By the way, the catalyst of it is loving the Lord, if we love the Lord we take care of His sheep, we feed His sheep. That is the ultimate demonstration of our love for God, especially when one is an elder/pastor. Feeding God’s sheep and ending to His lambs is an act of love, to the sheep and the lambs and toward Jesus our Lord.

    Look at what is the main call of the elders/pastors in the church:

    Acts 6:2-4 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

    The spiritual feeding of God’s sheep is essential to the point that God calls determined men to this task and then others to fulfill the other needs of the sheep. It is indeed an act of God’s loving care.

    However, we are ALL called regardless, to practice love toward one another and as I said beforehand to practice this love in truth and deed and not simply in words:

    1 John 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

    This, as I said even before, is not simply demonstrating love by providing physical needs but also spiritual and emotional. In fact, the spiritual and emotional needs often supersede the physical but they are the ones that are usually met the least by other believers.

    It should not be a difficult thing to find comfort and encouragement to come from other believers and yet is is often the rarest thing one can receive. There are many reasons why God’s love is not practiced properly in the body of Christ.

    The very first reason I believe, as even Scripture shows us is selfishness. Paul in writing to the Philippian church brings up this problem when he says:

    Philippians 2:1-4 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

    As we clearly see, Paul commands believers not to do things through selfish ambition or conceit. This behavior is not godly. We should not be selfish, in fact Paul says, let us esteem others better than ourselves and not to simply look out for our own interests, selfishness, but to look to the interest of others, unselfishness.

    This passage is an indictment to the modern church because indeed it mostly practices what Paul is commanding not to do.

    James 3:13-14 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

    Once again, even James mentions when we have bitter envy and self seeking a person is lying against the truth. They are not being loving as God commands and are being hypocritical. God also commands us to love without hypocrisy.

    Romans 12:9-11 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

    As we see even here, our love must be without hypocrisy, not fake and we must be kind and affectionate to one another in brotherly love and honoring and giving preference to others.

    Paul also continues in this chapter 12 of Romans by commanding believers :

    Romans 12:15-16 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another.
    This passage says to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep, this is another way to say in sharing in other believers’ joy and also to be of comfort and encouragement when someone is hurting and suffering.

    Sometimes, in fact often, people need just a little comfort and encouragement and that is not or should not be so difficult to give to each other. As I said, though selfishness and indifference to other believers’ sufferings and difficulties are sinful because love is not practiced and love is, as we said many times, a commandment that needs to obeyed.

    I believe there are two overwhelming problems in the church today that make us disobedient to God and therefore ineffective, and those are false doctrines or even ignoring doctrine altogether as an otherwise essential and central thing in the body of Christ, and not practicing love God’s way, which incidentally is learned behavior which taught us in His word.

    Therefore, the Gentile believers sent a love offering to the church in Jerusalem not only because they felt indebted to them because of God’s promises to the forefathers, that is namely the Lord Jesus who brought salvation to the elect of the entire world but also because of the Lord and the salvation of God the Gentiles had a debt of love toward God and a demonstration of this love with the love they practiced toward their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, which no doubt, most did not even know personally.

    That is the beauty of their act of love. They loved their Jewish brothers and sisters even if they did not know them and demonstrated their love by collecting and sending this money to them. As we saw before, love must be demonstrated in a real tangible and practical way and not just in words.

    It easy to say we love someone, lip service is not what God wants. In fact, Jesus quoting Isaiah says this bout the Jewish people:

    Matthew 15:7-9 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8’These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

    Jesus addresses the lack of love God’s people had for Him by calling them hypocrites. Paul in Romans 12 says:

    Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy.

    It is hypocritical to draw near to God by simply giving Him lip service but having a heart far away from God and in addition He mentions worshiping Him in vain because they did not teach the truth of God rather the teachings of men.

    We see how the worship God requires is not simply singing songs on Sunday, but it’s living in obedience to God and teaching God’s truth. God considers teaching false doctrine and even living it an unloving thing in His regards.

    This is why Jesus said:

    John 4:23-25 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    True worship and true love demonstrated to God is in only in concert with God’s truth.

    Truth is the opposite of hypocrisy, hypocrisy is falseness disguised as truth, it’s being fake, not truthful. So love done in hypocrisy is fake, not truthful and therefore it’s not love at all, at least not love God wants from us.

    Paul was now going to bring this love offering raised by the Gentile believers to the Jewish believers and then he was planning to go visit the Roman church. Paul says that he was planning to go visit them on his way to Spain but as we know, there is no record of Paul going to Spain. We do know however, that Paul made to Rome as a prisoner. As we even mentioned before, God sent him to Rome to be His witness but not as Paul had originally thought he would.

    We cannot predict the ways God leads us to places and how He answers our prayers.

    Romans 15:29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

    Paul now makes a statement that can seemingly be confusing. Did Paul really ever show up without the power of the Gospel of Christ? No! Paul always went everywhere in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul was an Apostle and as such he had all the gifts and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This was essential in those days because the church was in its embryonic stage, in other words its foundation was being laid. There were places where the Gospel yet had not been preached and the most important issue is that the word of God for the church was not yet complete, therefore it was necessary that the Apostles that had the primary authority of God in teaching God’s truth had all the gifts of the Spirit and ministry. It was up to them to lay the foundation of God’s teaching, remember what Jesus told the Apostles in John 16:13-15 and what Paul himself wrote in Ephesians 2:19-22. The Apostles were indeed the founders and therefore the foundation upon which the whole church will eventually be built.

    Therefore, today or better after the Apostolic age was over and God’s word to His church was completed there was obviously no more need for Apostles as there was in the beginning. The authority in the church was and is today God’s word and the Apostolic doctrine passed down to the elders of the church to be preserved and guarded and transmitted to the church. See:

    2 Timothy 2:1-2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    This is why even in the Apostles’ days it was important and imperative that elders be chosen and appointed in every congregation, in every city, see:

    Titus 1:5-9 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you– 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

    All this to say that Paul and the other Apostles had the fullness of the Holy Spirit power and gifts because they were the foundation of the church.

    Paul himself said this:

    2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.

    Even in that which incidentally is appropriately called the book of The Acts of the Apostles, the acts are of the Apostles not the believers or the church as a general concept. These facts are important and must be taken into consideration.

    Acts 2:43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

    Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people.

    Today we must stop insisting that the gifts and signs of the Apostles belong to any and all believers, they do not! Apostles were special and unique men chosen by Jesus to be the foundation of the body of Christ, special and unique men to whom God gave His word so they could then pass it on to us in the form of Scripture. Today the elders/pastors are the governing men in charge of the body of Christ but the signs of an Apostle are no longer necessary because today we have the written word of God and let’s remember that those signs specifically were done by God through them because they were for the benefit of Israel and not for the Gentiles.

    Hebrews 2:3-4 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

    Notice this is written to a church of Jewish believers.

    1 Corinthians 1:22-23 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,

    1 Corinthians 14:21-22 In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips
    I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

    As we see in this last passage are some very important things we must see. First of all Paul mentions the law, what does he mean by law? Old Testament Scripture, namely:

    Isaiah 28:11-12 For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, 12 To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear.

    From this passage we deduce easily some very important facts, foreign tongues is the issue, God would speak supernaturally to His people, to this people it says, who are this people? Jews! He says in Isaiah that that was the rest and the refreshing in Christ that Israel kept rejecting and He says that even doing this miraculous thing, even then they, the unbelieving Jews would not hear God’s message.

    That is then exactly why Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 14:22 that speaking in tongues was a sign, a sign to who? To and for the unbelieving Jews because that is exactly why Paul cites Isaiah 28:11-12.

    By the way I would like you to notice the words used in this passage here and then the words Peter uses in Acts 3 when he says this to the Jewish people:

    Acts 3:18-19 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

    So let me be clear, this is why today the sign of tongues would no longer be necessary.

    As we can clearly see the word used in Isaiah and in Acts that is refreshing is the same and has the same meaning and speaks of the same time and episode, in other words Isaiah prophesies what Peter is describing, the times of refreshment for Israel but as he says Isaiah, these did not want to listen. Even when God clearly showed him that Isaiah’s prophecy was being fulfilled and therefore this sign, the foreign tongues was precisely a sign of divine judgment on the Jewish people and it was for them and for them alone. This is why Paul rightly says that this sign was for Jewish non-believers, and not for believers in the body of Christ. So that we can understand even better that all this speaking in tongues in today’s Christian assemblies is not what it was in those times and is useless in the body of Christ. This is said just to understand even better because this sign is no longer needed today and was a sign that served for a very specific period and for a very specific reason.

    The Apostolic period is gone for over 2000 years, the word of God is completed, the Apostles are no more and the Gospel is no longer offered to the actual nation of Israel in the land as a national commandment to accept Messiah. This period is gone and the remnant of the Jewish nation will come to faith in Christ but it will be all together done in a much different and drastic way than in the beginning of the church.

    All this is to say that signs were first of all Apostolic in nature and not a common occurrence in the general body.

    Therefore, Paul as an Apostle was going to Rome in the full Apostolic power that the Gospel afforded him, He was still going as a witness of God’s power in the Gospel, even as he related to them in the opening part of his letter to them when he said:

    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

    The Roman church apparently did not have a steady and permanent Apostolic guide in Rome and Paul not only through this awesome letter but also by his presence as an Apostle would be of great edification for the Roman believers. We cannot be one hundred percent sure of it but seemingly, the Apostle Peter never went to Rome contrary to especially Roman Catholic tradition. If he did though he certainly was not in Rome at this particular time and never was in Rome while Paul was there. I believe the reason why Paul wrote this theologically deep letter was that at this time there was no true Apostolic representation in Rome and also because the believers needed to be Apostolically instructed in these truths.

    This is the greatest of the Apostolic letters of Paul; in every sense, in scale, in scope, and in its combination of doctrinal, ethical, and administrative wisdom and power. The range of Romans is larger with noble and far-reaching teaching of Christian virtues, spiritual instructions, and deep theology to present no parallel to any other Epistle, and to which only the Corinthian Epistles rival.

    This is an indication of the fact that to this point there was no Apostolic leadership in Rome.

    The origin of Christianity in Rome must be traced back to converts who were scattered throughout the empire who later came to visit or live in the imperial city. The high probability of the condition of the Roman church was due to the sojourners who later migrated back to Rome from Jerusalem since the famous Day of Pentecost mentioned in Acts 2:10 these converted Jews may also have been instrumental in the founding of the Roman church.

    Therefore Paul wants to go to Rome to edify and encourage the scattered believers who had no steady Apostolic leadership and he goes as he says in the fullness of the Gospel and his Apostolic authority.

    Romans 15:30-33 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

    Paul now is making supplication to the Roman believers through the Lord Jesus Christ and through the love the Spirit that they strive with him in prayers to God for him. Let’s take a look at this first part of Paul’s request. We can read the urgency and desire that he has in making sure that he would be covered in prayer as he was approaching going to back to Jerusalem. Paul knows the importance there is for being covered in prayer when working in ministry for God. He understands the essential nature and importance of prayer in and for any event. In fact we see later in this passage why it is so important as Paul reveals the reasons of his requests. This ought to be a teaching for us as well to make sure we always are bathed in prayer especially when we minister for the Gospel sake and that we ought not to be ashamed or too proud to ask, actually as Paul does to actually beseech them, beg them to strive in prayer with him. This is an good indication of Paul’s humility. It is by no stretch of the imagination that we can understand that Paul is probably one if not the greatest Apostle Jesus called into service. His zeal, his desire and his unstoppable attitude, his unwavering strength, his sacrifice and willingness to suffer all for Christ and the Gospel and his knowledge of the things of God is astounding but Paul knew all that was due to God’s power and grace and God’s Spirit working in and through him. He did declare that in several occasions:

    1 Corinthians 15:10-11 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

    Colossians 1:25-29 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

    You see, Paul realizes that although it is indeed him laboring and striving it is all because of God’s grace and power in him not him alone.

    Paul certainly taught us that when we boast or glory we can only do so about the Lord and not about us:

    1 Corinthians 1:30-31 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption– 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

    Even in Ephesians 2 Paul writes this:

    Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    Not only we are saved by grace through faith and that this is a gift of God and not of works but also we are God’s workmanship, God recreated us in Christ Jesus as new creations in Christ, see also 2 Corinthians 5:17, but He did this in order that we may walk in the good works of God, works He has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. What we see here is that even the works we do to walk in, ministry and service for God are works He prepared beforehand for us. Therefore we cannot boast in our works either, we cannot take credit for any of them.

    Paul knew all this and taught it and as a very gifted Apostle he realized he needed to be covered in prayer so that He can have God’s grace and power and blessings follow him and so that he could thus be successful and bring glory to God. Paul did not want to strive in the flesh but walk in the fullness of God’s Spirit.

    From the very beginning of the church’s existence even the other Apostles knew they needed to operate in the power of God and that prayer was an essential component of their success in ministry:

    Acts 4:23-31 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

    Paul knew this as well as he often asked for prayer for the ministry at hand and understood the essential need for other believers to pray for him:

    2 Corinthians 1:8-11 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
    Ephesians 6:18-20 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

    Colossians 4:2-4 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

    In both of the last two passages as well as the one in Acts 4 we find prayers lifted up to God specifically for God to empower the Apostles for the ministry ahead.

    Therefore, we can easily understand that they were all aware of the fact that God had to be the One to move in and through them to make things happen. They knew that it was not inherently them that had the ability and the power to move people and situations in order to have the proper results.

    In fact, what we can deduce from all New Testament Scripture is the fact that prayers are never offered directly for the salvation of specific individuals, in reality if we are honest with ourselves we understand that prayers for the salvation of people are never offered but are for those who must preach the Gospel. In Scripture we certainly find commandments and principles that God wants us to obey, prayer is one, but in Scripture we also find things that are models of how things should be done or not done. Prayer for indivdual salvation is not even mentioned as a model of prayer.

    One will ask then whether it is actually effective or Biblical to pray for the salvation of individuals.

    It is certainly not a sin, but we never find a demonstration of this type of prayer in Scripture or as an indication that this is a pattern of prayer that is encouraged or commanded. We are told to pray for all men, sure that is true as Paul writes in:

    1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    One could easily say this passage indicates that we ought to pray for the salvation of all men, in a sense it is it also says thogugh to pray for all men and for those in authority as well so that we, Christians, could live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and revrence. Actually this is the subject of the prayers, the end of this prayer is that God desires that all kinds of people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. However, this is not a blank slate prayer pattern to pray for the salvation of individuals in particular, rather that we pray for all men ad those in authority so that we can have the freedom to live gidly and peaceably and having this benefit we can propagate more easily the Gospel around us so that indeed men will be saved.

    This is in fact an important reality because in fact it clearly indicates that after all the salvation of a person is the prerogative of God, that is, only his will and not something that has to do with the will or a purely human decision.

    If we stick strictly to the indications of the word of God, we see that it is always and in any case the work of God and God’s will that mercy is given to whom he wills, or rather to whom he has decided to love in Christ.

    We have seen this truth clearly described in:

    Romans 9: 13-18 as it is written: “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated”. 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? Be it not! 15 He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 16 Therefore it does not depend on those who will or on those who run, but on God who gives mercy. 17 He in fact says in the Scripture to Pharaoh: “For this very reason I raised you up, to show my power in you and so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Thus he gives mercy to whomever he wills and hardens whomever he wills.

    Furthermore, we also see in another passage that it is God who opens the heart and the understanding of the Gospel to people:

    Acts 16:14 And a woman named Lydia, a merchant of purple, from the city of Thiatira, who worshiped God, was listening. And the Lord opened her heart to understand what Paul said.

    Finally, the famous passage found in Acts 13:48 seals the fact that the salvation of individuals is fully in the decision of God and not just plainly in the people,

    Acts 13:48 The Gentiles, hearing these things, rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord; and all who were foreordained to eternal life believed.

    As we understand that the will of God is already established about to whom He will show mercy and give faith to believe in the Gospel. We can implore God for the salvation of particular individuals but we cannot have any illusions that God will save those people despite how dear they are to us. We must fully rely on the perfect justice and sovereignty of God’s and always hope in His mercy, with concrete and firm trust in Him and that He is the One who does everything perfectly with the gratitude that He had mercy on us who do not deserve it and also knowing that no one deserves the grace and mercy of God and that all human beings as dear as they are to us are unrighteous sinners:

    Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    and also that God is under no obligation to have mercy and to give grace to anyone and this must be a firm point in our hearts and we must be firm in God’s faithfulness as even Abraham did when he said this knowing of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:

    Genesis 18: 24-25 Assuming there are fifty righteous people in the city, would you destroy the place and spare it for the sake of the fifty righteous in its midst? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing: to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous is treated as the wicked; far be it from you! Will not the judge of all the earth do justice?

    The judge of the earth God does not kill the righteous together with the wicked. But the question comes to mind who is righteous before God? The answer as we must well know it by now is, no one as we must know except Jesus Christ who is the righteous One who died for the unjust so that some, many unjust be justified before a just God.
    So knowing that all human beings are unjust and ungodly and deserve God’s judgment and eternal perdition we can cling to the same mercy that God has had for us in the hope that our loved ones and friends can receive the same, but we cannot believe that God for whatever reason is obliged to fulfill our prayers for their salvation.

    In conclusion regarding this, we must surely pray for those who bring the Gospel to the people and pray for those who engage in the work of the ministry so that they can work in the power of the Holy Ghost and not in the flesh.

    This is a far cry from how much of the modern-day church does things. As we often have said before, when the power of the Holy Spirit is stifled and quenched, put out by carnal strategies and ideologies instead of the power and will of God, we cannot get the results God desires and in fact the Holy Spirit will not move in power to move people and situations. The flesh cannot change lives, the flesh cannot save, the flesh cannot profit at all in spiritual things, in fact even Jesus said:

    John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

    This is exactly why, when sound doctrine is eliminated and ignored, actually despised, and it is replaced with human and even worldly strategies and ideologies then there can be no spiritual results.

    Therefore, Paul, probably the most dedicated and zealous Apostle as well as the others, did not think that it was them to be able to produce fruit unto God by themselves, but it indeed that it was the power of God in them and they also did not take it for granted, rather they always prayed to God to supply all they needed to bring forth the Gospel and prayed for God to bring results, this they did without ignoring the fact that they had to obey God and cooperate with Him by doing what He called them to do.

    It is also important to realize that in all the Apostolic prayers it is never requested the salvation of particular individuals, rather that the power of God be manifest and for doors to be opened so that the Gospel would spread, obviously this would cause the salvation of people, rather the ones that God intends to save.

    Therefore, Paul implores the Roman believers to strive with him in prayer through the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Holy Spirit.

    Paul asks them to strive with him in prayer, let’s look at what is the meaning of the word strive:

    the Greek word used here is a compound word made up of the word sun which is
    a primary preposition denoting union; with or together and the word agonizomai
    the word agonizomai means as we can easily ascertain is the word from which we get the English word agonize.
    This is particularly related to a struggle, agonize as someone contending for a prize, running in a race or very strenuous athletic or sporting event and contending in a fight with an adversary.

    As we therefore understand the word is very descriptive of how Paul is asking them to pray with him, united with him in the struggle, in the spiritual battle and to do it with an agonizing effort.

    This indicates spiritual battle something that is not an easy task and that requires a great effort.

    We always say, that as Christians, we are always in a spiritual battle, but then we seem to think that we are always going to a picnic instead. When the fiery darts of the evil one start flying at us we though, reel in terror and then wonder what is going on. We forget so soon that the Christian life is indeed a constant spiritual battle and that we are the soldiers fighting it.

    As soldiers we must act as such, we cannot be fearful and cowardly, we cannot be deserters and become soldiers of the opposing army. Sadly when we compromise our walk with God that is what we do, when we become friends of the world that is what we do, God’s word tells us that we become enemies of God:

    James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    Even to Timothy Paul wrote:

    2 Timothy 2:3-6 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops.

    As we see even here Paul compares believers as warriors, soldiers, athletes and hard working farmers.
    These descriptions are important because they indicate exactly what we have been saying until now. These are all persons marked by discipline, faithfully executing their duties and responsibilities. They all must strive, work hard, train hard and be very disciplined and this is how we ought to live as Christians.

    We are indeed in a spiritual battle that is exactly why Paul writes the entire passage we all so well are acquainted with but usually practice very little in Ephesians 6:

    Ephesians 6:10-20 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

    As we see in this passage all this is warfare language. Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might and to put on the whole armor of God so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. This is warfare at its best. The devil is the enemy of our soul and the archenemy of God and he is in constant battle against God and God’s children. Remember as we already studied the greatest battlefield we fight the devil and his demons, the world and even our flesh is our mind. That will be usually where we end up winning or losing the battles. We do not have the time to get into this in depth here, suffices to say you can refer to the teaching of chapter 12 on our website regarding the renewal of the mind. One particular passage though to which we can look regarding this context is:

    2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

    This confirms what we were saying about chapter 6 of Ephesians we are indeed in a spiritual battle, no kidding around. We better take our Christian life seriously as we would a real battle. Paul says we walk in the flesh but do not wage war according to the flesh and we have mighty weapons in God and those are the weapons mentioned in Ephesians 6 where, even there Paul tells us we are wrestling, battling against spiritual powers who take many forms and use many and mostly ideologies and philosophies, therefore we know even by this last passage that the battle is a battle for our thinking because through it we become programmed to think in certain ways and that in the end dictates our behavior. Our weapons are for the pulling down of strongholds and for the casting down of arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. As we see here there are three particular words used that clearly indicates that Paul is talking about things that affect our thinking, the words here are arguments, knowledge of God and thoughts, therefore the strongholds Paul is talking about are in the mind of people. The battles are mostly there, in the way we believe and think.

    All this needs to be said because it is essential that we as believers understand the seriousness and gravity of the spiritual warfare in which we are.

    Getting back to the Ephesian 6 passage we wrestle against power and principalities of darkness, against all of their stratagems, philosophies and ideologies and especially false doctrines that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and that build up strongholds of the same in the minds of believers.

    The word wrestle indicates that we are battling, fighting and we have spiritually powerful weapons to do so, however, we must be willing to fight and battle and not surrender to the enemy, which sadly is what too many believers do.

    In the passage we see various parts of the armor of God and yet in many cases we fall short to observe one particular weapon with which we have to wrestle against these powers and principalities is found in verse 18 where Paul says:

    Ephesians 6:18-20 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

    Prayer is a formidable spiritual weapon and with it we wrestle even as Paul says here in the passage we are studying in:

    Romans 15:30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,

    Paul, the super Apostle, the super man of God is asking other believers to strive, wrestle with him in prayer. As we were also mentioning before, Paul is not ashamed for other believers to pray for him nor is he conceited into thinking that he does not need others to pray for him. We did see that in several occasions he requested prayer for himself, in fact, in Ephesians 6 he prays as well as in the other previous passages in which he requests prayer, asking for the ability to preach the word of God and the Gospel in the way he should and to be fearless and strong in the way he should preach it.

    Even the best and more anointed preacher that ever existed after the Lord Jesus did not consider it a weakness, in fact he considered it essential to ask for prayer to do what he was called to do.

    It’s essential that we ask to be covered in prayer to do what God called us to do and not to be too arrogant into thinking that we don’t need it.

    Even the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord prayed:

    Matthew 26:39-44; Mark 1:35; Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 9:28-29; Luke 22:32;

    Luke 6:12-16 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.

    Before He chose the Apostles and even the one who betrayed Him, Jesus prayed all night.

    Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John is Jesus prayer.

    Jesus also exhorted us, commanded us to pray. Therefore prayer is a very important thing in the life of a believer, I would say it’s essential.

    Paul understood this very well and therefore he asked for prayer in many occasions and in this one specifically he asks the Roman believers to strive in prayer with him so that he would obtain protection and deliverance from the Jews when he went to Jerusalem to bring the offering of the Macedonian churches to the Jewish believers.

    This is a very important teaching for us today, because we see the essential nature of being covered in prayer and the humility in acknowledging that we need to be covered in prayer. It is prideful to think that we do not need to be prayed for and it is being humble in admitting we need God’s help in all we do. Prayer indeed brings about results when it is prayed in God’s will and to bring forth fruit for His glory. All we need to do is look at what Jesus said about this:

    John 15:5-8 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

    Jesus says, we can ask what we desire in prayer if what we desire is what God desires and we shall have it because God will answer the prayers that are requesting things He desires, That is how it works, this passage in no way, shape or form says that God will give us anything at all that we desire for our selfish gain and purposes. We really need to renew our minds and stop always thinking in a carnal and worldly way. Our Heavenly Father will always take care of our needs, not our wants, when we seek His Kingdom and righteousness first in our life, that is a promise:

    Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

    Most Christians, perhaps almost all of us do not live in such a way and then we wonder why we must struggle so much to obtain our needs and many wonder why they cannot make ends meet.

    The reason is we do not fulfill our end of this conditional promise of God. If we seek His Kingdom and righteousness then God will provide for all our needs but not our wants. Our wants are on us. Sure God may bless us if we do our part enough so that we can sometimes also have what we desire for ourselves as ling as it does not interfere with our good and as long as they are not sinful desires, those He will not allow.

    Although when God wants to chastise us He allows us to have the things we carnally desire but He does it to punish us not to bless us. In fact, those very things that we desire will become accursed to us.
    God often did this in the life of His people, we find one of these accounts written in:

    Numbers 11:4-6 Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”

    You see, they were despising God’s provision, the manna, and they craved other food, the food they had in captivity. They were despising their freedom even desiring to return into slavery to have what they wanted instead. They were acting ungrateful and we do the same thing so many times in so many ways. We probably do it not even realizing it but we better begin to realize it. We act in an ungrateful way when we desire what Egypt, in other words the world, offers us while not being satisfied of what God is providing for us and especially our freedom bought by Christ.

    Many times we are willing to return to be conformed to the ways of the world in order to achieve what we want and we do so by compromising our walk with God, this can take many forms, However, the one that usually becomes more usual for most Christians, is not a blatant return to sin but a gradual backsliding caused by the consumption of time and money spent on ourselves and our earthly wants rather than concentrating our time and money on glorifying God and doing what is important to Him.

    As I said this proves that we are acting in an ungrateful way toward God.

    Look at how God responds to their ungrateful cravings:

    Numbers 11:18-23 Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” ‘ ” 21 And Moses said, “The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; yet You have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month.’ 22 “Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them?” 23 And the LORD said to Moses, “Has the LORD’s arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not.”

    Numbers 11:31-33 Now there went forth a wind from the LORD, and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. 32 And the people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague.

    This is what happens when we treat the Lord’s blessings with contempt and are ungrateful for His provisions and demand more out of life in such a way that we neglect living for God’s will and His glory. As you can see, sometimes God does give us what we want or demand but it is not a blessing in the end.

    James was very blunt and severe about this when he writes:

    James 4:2-5 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    Prayer is essential and God will answer when prayers are His will and they will in the end glorify Him and here Paul is asking for prayer to be delivered from the danger of the Jews as he was going back to Jerusalem, not the Jewish believers, the Jewish unbelievers and the Jewish religious leaders because he knew of their hatred. After all, he knows very well how the Jews hated the Christians because he was one of them in the past and he also hated Christians and did all he could to stop Christianity.

    Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

    Galatians 1:13-14 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

    Paul knew the hatred the Jews had for the Christians because he also once hated them, before his conversion. He therefore knew that he would be in grave danger when he went back to Jerusalem.

    Paul before going to Jerusalem had already suffered at the hand of the Jews as he declares in:

    Acts 20:17-19 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;

    Indeed he was in danger of going to Jerusalem and the book of Acts tells us of the danger in which he would be:

    Acts 20:22-23 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.

    And indeed, chains and tribulations awaited him as we see later when he goes to Jerusalem, Paul incurs in a bad situation with the Jews in Jerusalem, see Acts 21:30-36.

    Now as we read these accounts in the book of Acts and then we read Romans 15:30-32 knowing that Romans was written before Acts 21 happened it may appear to us that Paul’s prayers and the prayers of the Roman saints were not answered.

    However, it is not like this at all, as we read on in the book of Acts we see that God indeed answered those prayers. Although Paul falls prey to the Jewish mob and he gets arrested by the Romans, nevertheless he was delivered as he asked and he did indeed make it to Rome.

    Let’s look at how God answered Paul’s and the saints’ prayers:

    The very first thing we see is that Paul actually gets arrested by the Romans because of the unrest caused by this interaction with the Jews at the Temple, Acts 21:27-40.

    The fact that Paul was a Roman citizen also came to play in this story. In a certain sense we can begin to see how the Roman arrest and his Roman citizenship are coming into play in how God will answer the prayers of the Roman saints and Paul’s also.

    I did mention even before that God prepares all things beforehand, things that will cooperate to our good when the right time comes into play. Paul being a Roman citizen and him getting to Rome happened primarily because of this very fact.

    God is, as we often have seen, omniscient and omnipotent and He makes all things, He creates all circumstances in which He leads us and most often these things and situations are an intricate but integral part of how God answers our prayers. He knows all things, the beginning from the end and He is sovereign so that all things pertaining to His children but also all people are already pre-determined and planned to be such. This is why often is seems that God changes His mind but He does not, He acts in accordance with His predetermined will and creates the circumstances to lead us and all things to go exactly as He wants them to go and to be.

    For example, when King Hezekiah got sick, refer to Isaiah 38 and 2 Kings 20:1-11; at first glance it seems that God already has made up His mind to take Hezekiah’s life, He even sends Isaiah to tell Hezekiah to get his things in order because he was going to die.
    Then is seems that God changed His mind when Hezekiah prays to God and grants him another 15 years. However, God did not change His mind at all, why? Hezekiah was sick unto death and God knew this but God has the power of life and death in His hand, God did not tell Hezekiah when he would die, simply He told Him he would, but when only God knew. Hezekiah believed that his sickness would lead him to death and potentially it could but God had different plans and He made it so that He would answer Hezekiah’s prayer but that was because God already had intentions to heal him.

    This concept is basically the same as we find in the book of Jonah, God tells Jonah to preach to Nineveh to repent or He would destroy them. Now I know it is not exactly the same but it is in many ways the same concept because He was sending Jonah to Nineveh to preach because God’s intention was from the beginning to have mercy on them. In other words God knew that they would repent because it was His will they would. In fact, Jonah runs away from God’s commandment to preach, yet God persuades him in a drastic way to go, we know the story. Jonah goes preaches repentance and they all do, but then look at what Jonah says to God:

    Jonah 4:1-2 But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.

    Jonah clearly understood that God’s intentions were those of saving Nineveh not destroy it.

    In fact, God tells the prophet exactly that that was His intention from the start. God did not want to destroy Nineveh, He wanted to have mercy on these people and He sent Jonah to preach repentance to them. This is because God chose to have mercy on them and sent the message of warning and repentance but His intention was to save them from the very beginning and caused it to happen.

    God did not change His mind from destroying them simply because He changes His mind at the time of their repentance because of their free will alone, but because it was His intention and His will from the beginning. In fact this is exactly what Jonah figures out and what God then confirms when He says to Jonah:

    Jonah 4:10-11 “And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

    Many erroneously believe that God having mercy on us depends solely upon our doing but Scripture confirms that it is God’s choice and prerogative to have mercy upon whom He wants to have mercy and that He is the one who causes it to be so.

    Romans 9:14-18 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

    Such is the case with Hezekiah, He receives physical mercy and that was planned by God from the beginning, no, God did not change His mind because Hezekiah prayed, as He did not change His mind because Nineveh repented, in both cases God caused the change to occur in others so that He would do what He predetermined in His will to do. God always plans and does and causes things to be in accordance to His predetermined will:

    Ephesians 1:3-11 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

    This last verse is the proverbial cherry on top, God does all things according to the purpose of Him, God, who works all things according to the counsel of His own will. This is why God saves who He wills, as Romans 9:16 says, it does not depend solely on who wills but on God who has mercy. God changes His mind in eternity past regarding a great part of humanity, in other words, that He would save many in spite of their sinfulness, their unwillingness and inability to obey Him, seek Him and repent of our sinfulness.

    Because He predetermined by His perfect will to save many those whom He chose to save He saved, saves and will save. It is not because God changes His mind because we do, He makes us change our mind but to us it always seems that it is He who changes His.

    If and when we see things only from a human perspective we will never understand things form God’s perspective, however He did show us how things are from His perspective in His word, sadly many believers have a very hard time accepting things from God’s perspective even though He made it clear in His word. Sadly most of the time this happens because of human pride. We as humans have a very hard time relinquishing control of our lives to God but God has full control over them and often we get upset because we have a hard time accepting God’s will when we are only a secondary subject within it.

    Anyway, we understand that God makes all things cooperate to our good and His glory and He does not change His mind, He changes ours and He changes our ways to His whether we like it or not, but if we are humble we will like it because as Paul says, if we renew our minds to begin to think like God does by the use of God’s word, we will know that the will of God is, good and acceptable and perfect.

    Paul was very humble in this way, he would let God guide him like a sail boat lets the wind guide it. Paul had no problems in trusting God’s will for His life and yet Paul asked for prayer in this Epistle, he asked the Roman believers to contend in prayer with him to be delivered from the Jews when he would go to Jerusalem and pray they he could go see them in Rome.

    God now begins to answer their prayers, however often God does things we fail to see and understand that they are the answers to our prayers.

    In Acts 21 and 22, Paul gets arrested by the Romans yet this is exactly the answered prayer of the Roman believers as well as Paul’s prayer mentioned in this fifteenth chapter of Romans.

    Paul gets arrested by the Romans and therefore he is being saved and spared from the Jews as he asked.

    Later, the prayer gets answered again when the following episode happens, Paul gets brought before the counsel of the Sanhedrin, which is the Jewish religious and political governing authority in Israel, here again the Romans must take him and bail him out and take him to safety, do not forget, the Romans are protecting Paul because he is a Roman citizen, see Acts 23:10.

    However, it does not end here, the danger in which Paul finds himself becomes even greater and yet God once again delivers him answering the Roman believers prayers and Paul’s.

    God personally encourages Paul in prison and look at what He says to him:

    Acts 23:11 But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”

    The next day a conspiracy arises against Paul:

    Acts 23:12-13 And when it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13 And there were more than forty who formed this plot. 14 And they came to the chief priests and the elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a solemn oath to taste nothing until we have killed Paul.

    God again in answer to the Roman prayer requested by Paul, intervenes and it so happens that Paul’s nephew hears of the plot and goes to warn the Roman captain of the Jews’ plan to kill Paul,
    see Acts 23: 14-22.

    Therefore Paul gets taken escorted by many soldiers to Caesarea to the court of Felix the governor.

    Paul ends up staying there imprisoned for two long years, Acts 24:27.

    Once again God’s confirmation of Paul going to Rome is apparently delayed. However, the delays are only considered such by us, God does not delay, God is always on time, it is us who usually are impatient and cannot wait for God’s perfect timing.

    But Paul is convinced and knows that God is faithful and that, even if with delays, he will arrive at his destination.

    In addition, this also includes all the other things God delievers Paul from before he reaches Rome.

    But Paul is convinced and knows that God is faithful and that, even if with delays, he will arrive at his destination.

    Including these things we can see everything that Paul had to experience on the way to Rome. As the book of Acts informs us about Paul’s journey.

    For example in Acts 27: 1-44 describes the shipwreck that Paul undergoes en route to Italy.

    Also in this episode the Lord reassures the Apostle in this way:

    Acts 27: 22-26 But now I urge you not to lose heart, for there will be no loss of the life of any of you, but only of the ship. 23 For tonight an angel of God appeared to me, to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, “Paul, do not be afraid, you must appear before Caesar; and behold, God has given you the lives of all who sail with you” . 25 Therefore, men, be of good cheer, for I have faith in God that it will happen exactly as I have been told. 26 But we will have to end up stranded on an island. ”

    In the case of the Apostle Paul, the Lord gave him many confirmations from the beginning of this journey from Jerusalem to Rome that He would take him safely to Rome but in the meantime he had to undergo many difficulties.

    This also makes us understand that even when we are fully and perfectly at the center of God’s will, this does not exempt us from difficulties and sufferings.

    Paul indeed makes it to Rome and becomes a blessing to the believers there although incarcerated, basically on house arrest, he nevertheless is able to have many visitors and even write the letters we know as the prison epsitles, five of them exactly, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and 2 Timothy.

    Paul then concludes this chapter with a blessing and opens the next chapter which is mostly salutations. Nevertheless in the next chapter which seems almost insignificant compared to what he has written thus far in this powerful and intense letter, we still find some very interesting things written therein, and even some spiritual gems.