Laodicea, The Materially Rich But Spiritually Poor Church!

(All Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

The seven churches in Asia Minor that the Lord Jesus Christ chose to write special letters to had some interesting features, which together, reflect the spectrum of characteristics to be displayed by individual Christians and churches throughout the church age. The seventh church, in chronological order, that was addressed by the Lord was Laodicea. We shall briefly review Christ’s message to the Laodicean church, so as to draw out the unique features and experiences of that church, as well as lessons to be learned from them.

Revelation 3:14-22
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

So, that’s the full letter from the Lord Jesus to the church in Laodicea. Out of all the seven churches the Lord addressed personally in the book of Revelation, Laodicea was the only one that had nothing good to be commended for, before being rebuked for their shortcoming. There was absolutely nothing good in this church that the Lord commended! But that didn’t mean the church didn’t consider itself commendable, or that it didn’t judge itself as doing well. Actually, the Laodicean church didn’t see anything wrong with itself. The church believed it was doing exceptionally well! It was rich, it had an abundance of material wealth and it actually believed it didn’t need or lack anything! Now, whose report are we going to believe about the Laodicean church? That of Christ or of the Laodicean church? But what does the Scripture say? Let God be true and every man a liar! Therefore, the Laodicean church’s assessment of itself has to be false then as it contradicts Christ’s assessment of the church! The Lord should be commending us, not we commending ourselves, for he’s the ultimate judge and rewarder, not any man or group of men!

Romans 3:4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.

2 Corinthians 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

So this church was described by the Lord as lukewarm; it was neither hot nor cold. It wasn’t a church on fire, spiritually speaking, but neither was it dead cold. It was a church sitting on the fence, being neither here nor there. And the Lord hated this position the church had adopted! He would rather have a fiery church to commend fully, or a dead cold one to bury right away. It’s better we’re completely heavenly or completely worldly. To mix heavenliness with worldliness produces a church that nauseates Christ and makes him want to spit it out!

Revelation 3:15-16
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Now, why was the Laodicean church such a lukewarm assembly? Why had their spiritual temperature dropped from about 100°C to say, 20°C? The answer may be found in what the church was placing emphasis on, and where their treasure was. What was the focus of the Laodicean church? What was their vision? What were they dissipating all their energies upon? The church in Laodicea had a different yardstick for measuring spiritual success. Though the Lord considered the church to be poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable, the Laodiceans considered themselves to be rich and prosperous and in need of nothing! This was a church absolutely focused on material prosperity. It measured its spiritual success by the abundance of gold in its coffers! To this church, great material gain meant great godliness! It was a church that saw earthly prosperity as the evidence of occupying the earth for Christ. But, the problem was that this church had gathered so much gold that its focus had shifted from God to gold. Because its treasure was on earth, the heart of this church was right here on earth too, where its treasure was. No wonder the Laodicean church was lukewarm towards heavenly things. No wonder they were spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable. The church loved gold more than God, and the love of money had dampened its enthusiasm for God and diluted its zeal and spiritual fervency.

Matthew 6:19-34
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

1 Timothy 6:6-12
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

If the picture of the Laodicean church isn’t a reflection of this end-time church, then nothing is. Like the Laodiceans, majority of churches today are, at best, lukewarm in their zeal and spiritual fervency. Like the Laodicean church, the end-time church is extremely rich and prosperous, and believes it’s doing well spiritually and has need of nothing. But like the Laodiceans, we’re spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable, and we’re not even aware of it! Because we measure ourselves by ourselves, we’re deluded into believing we’re in great spiritual shape. But, compared with the original apostolic standard of holiness, godliness, love, faith, power and zeal for God, we’re a million miles away from the apostolic mark. And it’s by that original apostolic standard that the Lord judges every church during the church age, for the original apostolic faith is the only authentic version of Christianity, and the gold standard by which everyone is going to be judged.

Galatians 1:6-9
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Jude 1:3-4
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:4-5
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

It’s obvious then that crass materialism quenches the fire of righteousness and spiritual zeal like nothing else. An inordinate desire for wealth resets a church’s focus from heaven to earth. Laying up treasures on earth simply keeps the believer’s heart glued to the earth. The worship of gold cannot coexist with the worship of God, for no one can serve two masters at a time. We cannot serve God and mammon! For as long as the church is obsessed with the prosperity gospel, its zeal for spiritual things will keep waning, and it will keep getting more and more spiritually blind, naked, poor, wretched and miserable. The more the church pursues after gold, the less of God it will have, and it will end up nauseating God so much that it risks being spat out of the Lord’s mouth.

Is there any hope for this modern-day Laodicean church of ours? Is there any way of avoiding the danger of being spat out of Christ’s mouth because of our lukewarmness? By his grace, the Lord has provided a way of escape for us, like he did for the Laodicean church. To escape the catastrophic judgement of God hanging upon our materialistic churches, we must be zealous and repent. We must come to the Lord in humility to buy from him, without price and without money, the true spiritual gold of the undiluted original apostolic gospel, that we may be truly rich. We must return to the original apostolic faith and contend earnestly for it. For our spiritual eyes that have been blinded by the gold of this world to be opened, we must receive and apply to it the spiritual salve from the Lord. We must pray for the eyes of our spiritual understanding to be enlightened by the spirit of wisdom and revelation. To be clothed from our spiritual nakedness, we must seek the white garment of true righteousness from the Lord, in exchange for our filthy garments of boastful self-righteousness, for the white garment is the righteousness of the saints. We must repent from our worldly ways and our love of money, and turn back to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, that every other thing might be added unto us. We must flee from covetousness and greed and lay hold firmly on eternal life and pursue after righteousness and godliness. That’s the only way to conquer and reign with Christ in the hereafter.

Revelation 3:18-21
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Revelation 19:7-8
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

1 Timothy 6:11-12
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In conclusion, the Laodicean church in the book of Revelation was a very prosperous church that gloried in its abundance of wealth and judged itself to be doing well spiritually, supposing that material gain was equal to godliness. However, the Lord Jesus described the church as spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable. Laodicea’s material prosperity led to a dampening of its enthusiasm for God, making it a rather tepid and lukewarm church that was in danger of being spat out from the Lord’s mouth. Laodicea has much in common with the modern-day church that’s driven by the prosperity gospel. Like Laodicea, the contemporary church is materially rich but spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable, and doesn’t even know it! Like Laodicea, the end-time church is tepid and lukewarm in his zeal and fervency for God and for heavenly things, having become settled in the world where its treasure is. The only way to avoid the judgement Laodicea was threatened with is for the church to repent and be zealous, and to readjust its values and goals, and place the pursuit of God above that of gold. Only by denouncing the love of money and seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness shall we regain right standing with God and our moral authority in the world.

Thanks for visiting the blog. If you were blessed by the message, kindly like, drop a comment and share with your friends and loved ones on your social media platforms.  You can also follow us to have new posts sent directly to your inbox. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always! Amen!

Laodicea, The Materially Rich But Spiritually Poor Church!

(All Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

The seven churches in Asia Minor that the Lord Jesus Christ chose to write special letters to had some interesting features, which together, reflect the spectrum of characteristics to be displayed by individual Christians and churches throughout the church age. The seventh church, in chronological order, that was addressed by the Lord was Laodicea. We shall briefly review Christ’s message to the Laodicean church, so as to draw out the unique features and experiences of that church, as well as lessons to be learned from them.

Revelation 3:14-22
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

So, that’s the full letter from the Lord Jesus to the church in Laodicea. Out of all the seven churches the Lord addressed personally in the book of Revelation, Laodicea was the only one that had nothing good to be commended for, before being rebuked for their shortcoming. There was absolutely nothing good in this church that the Lord commended! But that didn’t mean the church didn’t consider itself commendable, or that it didn’t judge itself as doing well. Actually, the Laodicean church didn’t see anything wrong with itself. The church believed it was doing exceptionally well! It was rich, it had an abundance of material wealth and it actually believed it didn’t need or lack anything! Now, whose report are we going to believe about the Laodicean church? That of Christ or of the Laodicean church? But what does the Scripture say? Let God be true and every man a liar! Therefore, the Laodicean church’s assessment of itself has to be false then as it contradicts Christ’s assessment of the church! The Lord should be commending us, not we commending ourselves, for he’s the ultimate judge and rewarder, not any man or group of men!

Romans 3:4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.

2 Corinthians 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

So this church was described by the Lord as lukewarm; it was neither hot nor cold. It wasn’t a church on fire, spiritually speaking, but neither was it dead cold. It was a church sitting on the fence, being neither here nor there. And the Lord hated this position the church had adopted! He would rather have a fiery church to commend fully, or a dead cold one to bury right away. It’s better we’re completely heavenly or completely worldly. To mix heavenliness with worldliness produces a church that nauseates Christ and makes him want to spit it out!

Revelation 3:15-16
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Now, why was the Laodicean church such a lukewarm assembly? Why had their spiritual temperature dropped from about 100°C to say, 20°C? The answer may be found in what the church was placing emphasis on, and where their treasure was. What was the focus of the Laodicean church? What was their vision? What were they dissipating all their energies upon? The church in Laodicea had a different yardstick for measuring spiritual success. Though the Lord considered the church to be poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable, the Laodiceans considered themselves to be rich and prosperous and in need of nothing! This was a church absolutely focused on material prosperity. It measured its spiritual success by the abundance of gold in its coffers! To this church, great material gain meant great godliness! It was a church that saw earthly prosperity as the evidence of occupying the earth for Christ. But, the problem was that this church had gathered so much gold that its focus had shifted from God to gold. Because its treasure was on earth, the heart of this church was right here on earth too, where its treasure was. No wonder the Laodicean church was lukewarm towards heavenly things. No wonder they were spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable. The church loved gold more than God, and the love of money had dampened its enthusiasm for God and diluted its zeal and spiritual fervency.

Matthew 6:19-34
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

1 Timothy 6:6-12
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

If the picture of the Laodicean church isn’t a reflection of this end-time church, then nothing is. Like the Laodiceans, majority of churches today are, at best, lukewarm in their zeal and spiritual fervency. Like the Laodicean church, the end-time church is extremely rich and prosperous, and believes it’s doing well spiritually and has need of nothing. But like the Laodiceans, we’re spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable, and we’re not even aware of it! Because we measure ourselves by ourselves, we’re deluded into believing we’re in great spiritual shape. But, compared with the original apostolic standard of holiness, godliness, love, faith, power and zeal for God, we’re a million miles away from the apostolic mark. And it’s by that original apostolic standard that the Lord judges every church during the church age, for the original apostolic faith is the only authentic version of Christianity, and the gold standard by which everyone is going to be judged.

Galatians 1:6-9
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Jude 1:3-4
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:4-5
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

It’s obvious then that crass materialism quenches the fire of righteousness and spiritual zeal like nothing else. An inordinate desire for wealth resets a church’s focus from heaven to earth. Laying up treasures on earth simply keeps the believer’s heart glued to the earth. The worship of gold cannot coexist with the worship of God, for no one can serve two masters at a time. We cannot serve God and mammon! For as long as the church is obsessed with the prosperity gospel, its zeal for spiritual things will keep waning, and it will keep getting more and more spiritually blind, naked, poor, wretched and miserable. The more the church pursues after gold, the less of God it will have, and it will end up nauseating God so much that it risks being spat out of the Lord’s mouth.

Is there any hope for this modern-day Laodicean church of ours? Is there any way of avoiding the danger of being spat out of Christ’s mouth because of our lukewarmness? By his grace, the Lord has provided a way of escape for us, like he did for the Laodicean church. To escape the catastrophic judgement of God hanging upon our materialistic churches, we must be zealous and repent. We must come to the Lord in humility to buy from him, without price and without money, the true spiritual gold of the undiluted original apostolic gospel, that we may be truly rich. We must return to the original apostolic faith and contend earnestly for it. For our spiritual eyes that have been blinded by the gold of this world to be opened, we must receive and apply to it the spiritual salve from the Lord. We must pray for the eyes of our spiritual understanding to be enlightened by the spirit of wisdom and revelation. To be clothed from our spiritual nakedness, we must seek the white garment of true righteousness from the Lord, in exchange for our filthy garments of boastful self-righteousness, for the white garment is the righteousness of the saints. We must repent from our worldly ways and our love of money, and turn back to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, that every other thing might be added unto us. We must flee from covetousness and greed and lay hold firmly on eternal life and pursue after righteousness and godliness. That’s the only way to conquer and reign with Christ in the hereafter.

Revelation 3:18-21
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Revelation 19:7-8
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

1 Timothy 6:11-12
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In conclusion, the Laodicean church in the book of Revelation was a very prosperous church that gloried in its abundance of wealth and judged itself to be doing well spiritually, supposing that material gain was equal to godliness. However, the Lord Jesus described the church as spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable. Laodicea’s material prosperity led to a dampening of its enthusiasm for God, making it a rather tepid and lukewarm church that was in danger of being spat out from the Lord’s mouth. Laodicea has much in common with the modern-day church that’s driven by the prosperity gospel. Like Laodicea, the contemporary church is materially rich but spiritually poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable, and doesn’t even know it! Like Laodicea, the end-time church is tepid and lukewarm in his zeal and fervency for God and for heavenly things, having become settled in the world where its treasure is. The only way to avoid the judgement Laodicea was threatened with is for the church to repent and be zealous, and to readjust its values and goals, and place the pursuit of God above that of gold. Only by denouncing the love of money and seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness shall we regain right standing with God and our moral authority in the world.

Thanks for visiting the blog. If you were blessed by the message, kindly like, drop a comment and share with your friends and loved ones on your social media platforms.  You can also follow us to have new posts sent directly to your inbox. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always! Amen!

Is Material Prosperity Necessarily A Sign Of Divine Approval?

(All Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

It’s common among modern-day Christians to equate material prosperity with divine blessings, and to assume all is well with a Christian, spiritually-speaking, as long as the person is prospering materially. Is it right to always assume that prosperity means divine approval? Can a Christian who is prospering materially be out of tune with God? We shall examine the Scripture to answer these questions.

In Christ’s letter to the church in Laodicea (in the book of Revelation), we find a church that was doing extremely well materially. The Laodicean church was rich and had experienced great material blessings. It was so prosperous that it felt it didn’t need any further blessings. Isn’t that the dream of every one, including most of us Christians? To be so blessed materially that every need is met and we don’t lack or need anything? Wouldn’t that be an answer to most people’s prayers? Well, the Christians in Laodicea actually thought so and felt so cool and great about their abundance of wealth. In fact, they appeared to be glorying in it! But, what was the divine perception of their spiritual state? Was their material abundance a sign of divine approval? Let’s hear Jesus’ verdict concerning the spiritual state of that church.

Revelation 3:14-19
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Wow! What a withering and scathing rebuke! This church appeared to be living in opposite worlds —it was extremely rich materially, but also extremely poor spiritually! It had all it needed materially, but it seemed to lack everything it needed spiritually! The same church that was glorying in its material prosperity and its great vision was judged by the Lord to be poor (spiritually), blind (spiritually), naked (spiritually), wretched, miserable and not even aware of it! How can a group of Christians be so disconnected from spiritual reality? How can an assembly of supposedly spiritual people be so deluded and out of sync with the divine will? This rebuke to the prosperous church of Laodicea should be a wake-up call to all of us! It simply means pursuing material prosperity the way a lot of us do, especially in pentecostal circles, can derail us spiritually! It means prosperity is not necessarily a sign of divine blessings or divine approval! It means we can acquire great riches at the expense of our souls!

The New Testament is actually very clear about the fact that the yard stick for measuring divine favour isn’t material prosperity. In the gospels and apostolic epistles, we find innumerable warnings about the danger riches and the love of money can pose to spiritual health. The New Testament writers took great pains to show how the unbridled pursuit of prosperity can undermine our relationship with God and wreck our faith. We’re told that we cannot serve God and Mammon (money) at the same time; that the love of money is the root of all evil, which some having gone after, have pierced themselves with many sorrows. Not only are we told about the dangers of greed and covetousness, we are actually warned to flee from them! Yes, to flee from the pursuit of riches! To flee from the love of money! To flee from greed and covetousness!

Matthew 6:19-24
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

1 Timothy 6:6-12
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

The prosperity gospel many in pentecostal circles glory in is patently false then! The rat race to amass more and more wealth, so common in our age among churches and Christians, is contrary to the spirit of the New Testament! Christ condemned that spirit in the Laodicean church, and he still condemns it in our churches today! To boast in our wealth as Christians is to glory in our shame! Being rich and increased with goods is no evidence of being right with God! Lacking nothing materially is no proof that all is well with our soul! We can enjoy great prosperity and still end up damned! The yardstick for measuring our spiritual well-being is not the depth of our pockets or the fatness of our bank accounts! True riches are spiritual, not physical, and the things that elicit divine praise and approval are the spiritual fruits of righteousness, not material prosperity.

Luke 12:15-34
And he said to them, Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. And he told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops? And he said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. And he said to his disciples, Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In conclusion, though God blesses and prospers people materially, material prosperity is not always evidence of divine approval. As Christians, we’re to pursue after God, not wealth. An inordinate ambition for material riches that sidetracks God or that puts wealth ahead of him is tantamount to serving mammon instead of God. The love of money still remains the root of all evil, and those who pursue after wealth instead of God will make a shipwreck of their faith and pierce their souls with many sorrows. We may be rich and increased with goods and think we have need of nothing, but in the Lord’s eyes, we may be poor, blind, naked, wretched and miserable! The prosperity gospel that many in pentecostal circles glory in is patently false and anti-New Testament! Godliness with contentment is still great gain, and we’re to put aside the foolishness of the unbridled prosperity gospel and lay hold on eternal life, if we’re to avoid making shipwreck of our faith.

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

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Country First, Or Kingdom Of God First?

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the World English Bible).

St. Matthew 6:33 But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.

Christian nationalism teaches Christians to put their earthly countries first, to seek to defend and project the values of their countries above all else, and to be ready to die for the national flag, if need be, as the ultimate demonstration of nationalistic patriotism. Absolute and unwavering loyalty to country is seen as the hallmark of Christian patriots. From the Biblical/Divine viewpoint, what values should Christians be promoting and defending with their lives, if need be? Where is the Christian’s citizenship, and what banner should the Christian be lifting up and defending at all times? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

Let’s start by reminding ourselves who we are, as Christians, and what our goals and objectives are, biblically speaking. The Christian is a new creation who has died to himself and to the world, having been born again through his union with Christ Jesus. By our union with Christ via the new birth, we become adopted into God’s family, and become sons and daughters of the living God. By being children of God, every born again Christian becomes a citizen of heaven, having come under heaven’s domain, following our deliverance from the powers of darkness, and our translation into God’s kingdom. As citizens of heaven, though we are still in this world, we are not of the world anymore. We have a different Spirit from the spirit that’s ruling and controlling the men and the affairs of this world. While on earth here, the Christian’s primary assignment is to represent heaven as its ambassador, and to help reconcile the men and women of the world to God, through the preaching and the out-living of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To permeate the world with heaven’s values, and to recruit citizens for the kingdom of God, are our primary tasks on earth, as Christians. Therefore, the Christian’s loyalty is, first and foremost, to the kingdom of heaven. Our absolute allegiance should be to Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Lord and King. The cause of Christ in this world is what we are called to defend and project at all cost. The flag we are to lift high at all times is the royal banner of Christ. Each Christian is a soldier in the army of the Lord, with the mandate to fight spiritually with the kingdom of darkness, so as to deliver the souls of men and women held captive by Satan. As soldiers of Christ, we are not to entangle ourselves with the affairs of this world, but are to be single-mindedly focused on our commission, so that we can please our Commander-in- Chief who has enlisted us into his army.

2 Corinthians 5:16 Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Corinthians 5:19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Colossians 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

St. Matthew 28:18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.

St. Matthew 28:19 Go,and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

St. Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

St. Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation.

St. Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned.

Philippians 3:17 Brothers, be imitators together of me, and note those who walk this way, even as you have us for an example.

Philippians 3:18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ,

Philippians 3:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who think about earthly things.

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Philippians 3:21 who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working by which he is able even to subject all things to himself.

St. John 15:18 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you.

St. John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

St. John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his lord.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

St. John 17:14 I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

St. John 17:15 I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one.

St. John 17:16 They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;

Colossians 1:13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love;

Colossians 1:14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins;

St. Mark 8:34 He called the multitude to himself with his disciples, and said to them, “Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

St. Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; and whoever will lose his life for my sake and the sake of the Good News will save it.

St. Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life?

St. Mark 8:37 For what will a man give in exchange for his life?

St. Mark 8:38 For whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also will be ashamed of him, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

2 Timothy 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:4 No soldier on duty entangles himself in the affairs of life, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier.

So, for a Christian to devote his life, time and resources to defending the cause of any earthly nation, while abandoning the cause of Christ, is direct rebellion against the mandate of heaven. It’s the greatest act of disloyalty to Christ. To sacrifice our lives in projecting any nation’s values may earn us the status of national heros, but heaven does not recognise that as an act of heroism! As far as heaven is concerned, such a Christian did not die in service to the Lord, nor for the Lord’s sake. Such a Christian died serving the world and Satan who rules and controls all the kingdoms of this world! To kiss a nation’s flag and to pledge allegiance to it may be a great demonstration of nationalistic fervor, but that’s not heavenly nationalism! True Christian/heavenly nationalism pays allegiance to the heavenly kingdom of God, and defends the banner of Christ, not that of any nation on earth! Christ told Pilate his kingdom is not of this world, otherwise his servants would have fought carnally to prevent him from being arrested. Let’s not be deceived, Christian friends! Our kingdom is not of this world. We’re just strangers and pilgrims here on earth. Our kingdom is in heaven, where our King, Jesus Christ, is right now, sitting on God’s throne. Let’s seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Let’s stop projecting worldly kingdoms, and start being loyal and faithful to our heavenly country! Our lives and resources should be spent in recruiting citizens for the kingdom of God, and in living, projecting and defending the values of heaven, not fighting and dying for Satan-controlled kingdoms of this world that will all be destroyed soon, for the kingdom of God to take over! For true Christian patriots, it’s the kingdom of God first, not country first!

St. Luke 4:5 The devil, leading him up on a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

St. Luke 4:6 The devil said to him, “I will give you all this authority, and their glory, for it has been delivered to me; and I give it to whomever I want.

St. Luke 4:7 If you therefore will worship before me, it will all be yours.”

St. Luke 4:8 Jesus answered him, “Get behind me Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’”

2 Corinthians 4:3 Even if our Good News is veiled, it is veiled in those who perish;

2 Corinthians 4:4 in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them.

St. John 18:33 Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

St. John 18:34 Jesus answered him, “Do you say this by yourself, or did others tell you about me?”

St. John 18:35 Pilate answered, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered you to me. What have you done?”

St. John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.”

St. John 18:37 Pilate therefore said to him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.

Colossians 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

1 Peter 2:10 who in time past were no people, but now are God’s people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

1 Peter 2:12 having good behavior among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.

Hebrews 11:15 If indeed they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had enough time to return.

Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

Revelation 11:16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,

Revelation 11:17 saying:
“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.

Revelation 11:18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” (NKJV).

2 Timothy 4:1 I command you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom:

2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts;

2 Timothy 4:4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables.

2 Timothy 4:5 But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry.

In conclusion, the born again Christian is, first and foremost, a citizen of heaven. His heavenly citizenship takes precedence over his earthly citizenship. Therefore, the Christian’s overriding loyalty and allegience are to be to Christ and his kingdom, not to an earthly country. As Christians, we’re to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The Christian is an ambassador for heaven on earth, to represent heaven and project its values among the people of the world, as we seek to recruit citizens for our heavenly country, through the preaching and the living of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Living and dying for any other cause, outside of the cause of the kingdom of heaven, is living and dying in vain. Loyalty and allegiance of a christian to any cause outside of the cause of Christ is adulterous, amounting to unfaithfulness to Christ, who is our husband and head. For the spiritually-minded Christian, it’s the kingdom of God first, not country first. We should be motivated by heavenly nationalism, not earthtly nationalism, for our kingdom is not of this world. As soldiers of the cross, let’s lift high Christ’s royal banner, even as we pull down every nationalistic pride, and every high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God, as we strive to bring every thought and action to the obedience of Christ. Christian nationalism is glorying in the flesh, which is pride of life. We should glory in Christ instead, and not in any country of the world.

1 Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord (AKJV).

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

1 John 2:17 And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God stays for ever (AKJV).

James 4:4 You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:5 Do you think that the scripture said in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (AKJV).

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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? Examining The Scriptures For Precedence In The Celebration Of Extra-Biblical Festivals

(All Bible quotations, expect otherwise stated, are from the New International Version)

Much has been written about the pagan origin of Christmas and the need to jettison the celebration of this festival among Christians. This article does not intend to rehash the history of Christmas, which can be accessed from many sites on the internet. It’s not in dispute that our Lord Jesus Christ couldn’t have been born on the 25th of December, as the snowy winter in Palestine at this time of the year couldn’t have permitted shepherds to be out in the field watching their flocks by night. In fact, no date set for the birth of our Lord can be accurate, for the simple reason that it wasn’t recorded in the Scriptures. So, any attempt at date-setting for the Lord’s birthday is speculative at best, and doesn’t really matter, because we don’t need to know the exact date he was born! The most important thing is that, the incarnation took place, as well as the nativity, to give humanity the Saviour!

The feast that was celebrated in ancient Rome on the 25th of December, before Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion, was in honour Mithras, the pagan sun god. There’s no doubt about that. The Church, in a bid to woo pagans to Christianity and still give them something to celebrate on that day, converted the day into the celebration of the birth of Christ. The question is, is it permissible to introduce a festival into the Church, outside of the biblically mandated ones, that honours and celebrates God or a godly cause? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer this question.

In the Mosaic Law, certain annual festivals were given to Israel as obligatory religious feasts to be observed at set times of the year. The Law mandated the Jews to observe six major festivals, all of which have unique significance in relation to Israel’s history as a nation, as well as her journey from slavery in Egypt to the promised Land of Canaan. These feasts were more or less memorials to remember God’s dealings with the nation, as well as her past. They were to serve also as the basis of history lessons to the coming generations who could learn the nation’s history from these festivals. The major feasts of Jehovah for Israel included the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. These were the perpetual feasts of the Lord which Israel was to celebrate throughout their generations. The details of these feasts, including when and how they’re to be celebrated, can be found in Leviticus 23:1-44.

However, another feast was added to the six feasts listed above, towards the end of the Babylonian captivity. During the reign of the Persian King Xerxes, the Jews in captivity were threatened with extinction by the evil Amalekite, Haman. When the plot failed and the Jews destroyed their enemies instead, the widespread celebration of the glorious deliverance God granted the Jews was declared a national festival to be celebrated annually, by Mordecai and Queen Esther. This was the origin of the feast of Purim, during which the Jews celebrate their victory and deliverance from their enemies with great joy and exchange of gifts. It became an addition to Israel’s annual festivals, and continues to be celebrated to this day. The feast of Purim wasn’t among those God gave to Moses for the Jews, but it was recognised and honoured by all subsequent generations because of the symbolic significance for the nation. The account concerning the inception of the feast of Purim can be found in the 9th chapter of the book of Esther. However, I’ll quote the last few verses of that chapter here for consideration.

Esther 9:20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far,

Esther 9:21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar

Esther 9:22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

Esther 9:23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them.

Esther 9:24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction.

Esther 9:25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles.

Esther 9:26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word .) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them,

Esther 9:27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed.

Esther 9:28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews —nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

Esther 9:29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim.

Esther 9:30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom —words of goodwill and assurance —

Esther 9:31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation.

Esther 9:32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

Another instance of the introduction of a new feast into the Jewish calendar, in addition to the feasts of the Lord given to the Jews via Moses, occured during the reign of the Maccabees, in the inter-testamental period (the “silent years” between Malachi and Matthew, spanning about four centuries). During this period, the Maccabees, a family of priests, ruled in Judea. During the reign of the Maccabees, Judea was invaded by the Syrian Antiochus Epiphanes, who entered into the holy temple and pillaged and desecrated it, sacrificing swine (an unclean animal by Jewish tradition) on the altar of sacrifice. The Maccabees later organised a Jewish revolt to retake the Temple and expel Antiochus’ soldiers from Jerusalem. They then undertook the cleansing and dedication of the Temple to the Lord. This cleansing and dedication of the temple is commemorated every year by the Jews for eight days, starting from the 25th of December, as the Feast of Dedication. This account is found in the first four chapters of the apocryphal book of 1st Maccabees. The portion of that book where the Feast of Dedication was first instituted is reproduced here.

1 Maccabees 4 [52] Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning,

1 Maccabees 4 [53] And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made.

1 Maccabees 4 [54] Look, at what time and what day the heathen had profaned it, even in that was it dedicated with songs, and citherns, and harps, and cymbals.

1 Maccabees 4 [55] Then all the people fell upon their faces, worshipping and praising the God of heaven, who had given them good success.

1 Maccabees 4 [56] And so they kept the dedication of the altar eight days and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed the sacrifice of deliverance and praise.

1 Maccabees 4 [57] They decked also the forefront of the temple with crowns of gold, and with shields; and the gates and the chambers they renewed, and hanged doors upon them.

1 Maccabees 4 [58] Thus was there very great gladness among the people, for that the reproach of the heathen was put away.

1 Maccabees 4 [59] Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.

1 Maccabees 4 [60] At that time also they builded up the mount Sion with high walls and strong towers round about, lest the Gentiles should come and tread it down as they had done before.

1 Maccabees 4 [61] And they set there a garrison to keep it, and fortified Bethsura to preserve it; that the people might have a defence against Idumea (KJVA).

The Feast of Dedication, as instituted by the Maccabees, was celebrated by our Lord and the Jews of his time. It’s instructive to note that the Feast of Dedication wasn’t among the scripturally mandated feasts of the Lord given to Israel by Moses. It is essentially an extra-biblical feast introduced after the completion of the Old Testament canon of Scriptures. Yet, Jesus and the rest of the Jews celebrated it to the glory of God, because it was a feast that honoured God and his Temple. By partaking in this extra-biblical but God-glorifying feast, Jesus authenticated it and thus showed that whatever would glorify or honour God, even though not expressly contained in the Scriptures, is permissible. Whatever is done to the glory of God, as long as it does not violate any extant law of God, is accepted before God. Jesus’ great discourse about being the Good Shepherd was actually given during the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem.

St. John 10:22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,

St. John 10:23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.

St. John 10:24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

St. John 10:25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me,

St. John 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

St. John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

St. John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

St. John 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

St. John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

St. John 10:31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him,

St. John 10:32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

St. John 10:33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

St. John 10:34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ’I have said you are “gods”’ ?

St. John 10:35 If he called them ’gods,’ to whom the word of God came —and Scripture cannot be set aside —

St. John 10:36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ’I am God’s Son’?

St. John 10:37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.

St. John 10:38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

St. John 10:39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

St. John 10:40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed,

St. John 10:41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.”

St. John 10:42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

We’ve seen two examples of extra-biblical feasts introduced among God’s people to celebrate unique victories, which became incorporated into the feasts of the Jews, and which were even celebrated by the Lord Jesus. This goes to show that extra-biblical feasts can be introduced and celebrated by God’s people if such feasts honour God and glorify him. As long as a tradition does not negate any biblical precept or doctrine, but actually honours God, there is nothing wrong in celebrating it. What the Bible is against are traditions that oppose or violate God’s words and make them of none effect. Whatever gives God thanks and glorifies him is acceptable before God. We presently celebrate personal birthdays, Thanksgiving Day, Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, etc., all of which are intended to glorify God. All these celebrations are not mandated in the Scriptures. Yet, they do not contradict any biblical precept, as giving thanks to God and honouring our parents on special days are in accordance with God’s will.

Romans 14:1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

Romans 14:2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

Romans 14:3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Romans 14:5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.

Romans 14:6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Romans 14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister ? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Romans 14:11 It is written: “’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ’every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Now, let’s get back to Christmas. Though the celebration on the 25th of December in ancient Rome was originally to honour a pagan deity, by converting it to commemorate the birth of the Son of God, Christianity effectively converted a pagan festival to a godly one that honours the Son of God. There is nothing wrong in setting aside a day to honour a historical event like the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though we don’t know the exact date of his birth, and though 25th of December is a very unlikely date for this historic event, the idea of bringing out a day to commemorate the nativity, though extra-biblical, is not anti-Biblical. By drawing global attention to the story of the nativity, we increase awareness to the gospel. What Christians should be bothered about is how people celebrate the day. It should be a solemn festival devoid of the debauchery, revelry, and wantonness most people display during this period. Christmas should be a day of thanksgiving, rejoicing, sharing of gifts, taking care of the poor and needy, and preaching the good news of salvation that the birth of Christ brought to mankind. Once we get the celebration right, Christmas is a festival worth celebrating!

Another part of Christmas that should be jettisoned is the whole stuff about Santa Claus (“Father Christmas”), which has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity. Satan Claus is a patently pagan myth that should have no place in the celebration of the birth of Christ. The deceptive story told to kids of Santa Claus visiting and granting their wishes overnight with gifts is imparting lies and falsehood to children. If we’re to observe Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Christ, the event should strictly focus on the story of the nativity and its significance to humanity. Any mythological addition to the celebration that cannot be justified by the word of God should be tossed out. We cannot replace one pagan myth (the worship of Mithras) with another (the worship of Santa Claus) while celebrating the birth of Christ. It would amount to the same idolatory!

If the celebration of Christmas will lead to a worldwide holiday for Christians and provide a forum for Christian assemblies to meet and worship God and remind ourselves of the first coming of Christ and the purpose of his coming, it will serve a great evangelistic purpose. We should use whatever means that’s available to us to project the message of Christ to the world, even if that means hijacking a hitherto pagan festival and converting it to a godly use. We can sanctify an unholy day by turning it over to God and thus making it a holy day. Paul did a similar thing at Athens during his evangelistic campaign in that city. While promenading through the city, Paul saw many altars dedicated to the pagan idols the people worshipped, and was grieved in his spirit at the wholescale idolatory of the Athenians. However, when he sighted an altar with the inscription, “to an unknown God”, Paul decided immediately to put it to good use. He turned this their “unknown God” to Jehovah, and even quoted one of their pagan poet’s description of humanity as God’s offsprings, and used it to make them realise that God could not be like those animal idols they were worshipping, if humans are his offsprings (Aratus, the Greek poet Paul quoted, was actually referring to Jupiter as the supreme God, but Paul turned it around to make the Supreme God Jehovah). This is one instance of using the enemy’s weapons against him, and of sanctifying an idolatrous practice to the glory of God, by converting it to a godly use. Christmas, based originally on a pagan celebration, has been so sanctified to the glory of God, by being converted to the birthday celebration of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We should ensure that every aspect of the celebration is Christian and godly, and reflect only the nativity story and its implications for mankind.

The Acts 17:15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

The Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.

The Acts 17:17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

The Acts 17:18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

The Acts 17:19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?

The Acts 17:20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”

The Acts 17:21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

The Acts 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.

The Acts 17:23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship —and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

The Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.

The Acts 17:25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

The Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

The Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

The Acts 17:28 ’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ’We are his offspring.’

The Acts 17:29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone —an image made by human design and skill.

The Acts 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

The Acts 17:31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

The Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

The Acts 17:33 At that, Paul left the Council.

The Acts 17:34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

In conclusion, though the origin of the feast we now celebrate as Christmas was initially idolatrous, it’s been sanctified by its Christian adoption to commemorate the birth of the Son of God, rather than the pagan sun god, Mithras. We don’t need to know the exact date that the Lord Jesus Christ was born before we can honour his birth. Any day set aside to commemorate the birth of the Lord and to honour him is acceptable to God. It’s true that there’s no precedence of the celebration of Christ’s birth in the Scriptures. But, the Scriptures allow for the celebration of extra-biblical festivals that honour and glorify God. As long as Christmas focuses on the celebration of the nativity story and God’s love to mankind in giving us his only begotten Son, and as long as it provides a basis for evangelism and the demonstration of God’s love to others, the celebration should be encouraged. The only parts we need to remove from Christmas are the pagan myth of Santa Claus, and the irreverence and ungodliness associated with the celebration. Outside of these, Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to tell the story of the Saviour to the world, and to preach the gospel to every creature. The Church recovered a day dedicated to the pagan sun god Mithras, and rededicated it to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate that!

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Lord, What Will You Have Me To Do?

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the American King James Version).

The apostle Paul is, arguably, one of the greatest ministers of the gospel, being the chief of the apostles, and the most distinguished preacher, evangelist and teacher in the history of the church. He lived an amazing life as a believer and as a servant of Jesus Christ, and did great exploits for the kingdom of God, eventually dying as a martyr. But, there was a time when Paul (then Saul) was a murderer of christians and a terror to the church of Christ. The turning point in his life occurred while on his way to persecute Christians at Damascus. His dramatic arrest by Jesus Christ, and his subsequent conversion to Christianity, shook him profoundly and set the stage for the life of total obedience and service to the Lord that followed. As dramatic as his conversion was, it was the question that Paul (then Saul) asked the Lord, after getting to know him, more than anything else, that set the tone for the great life and ministry he had in Christ.

The Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,

The Acts 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

The Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

The Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecute you me?

The Acts 9:5 And he said, Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you persecute: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.

The Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will you have me to do? And the Lord said to him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.

The Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

The Acts 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

The only question Paul (then Saul) asked the Lord, after getting to know him, was what the Lord would have him to do. Paul’s question revealed a profound understanding of the sovereignty of God and his predetermined purpose and plan for his intelligent creatures. God is not so much interested in what we want do for him as he is in our obedience to his will, to do what he has predetermined for us to do. If we recognise the fact that Christianity is intended to make people know and do God’s will, and not a means of getting divine backing for our own will, our perceptions and orientation will change. We will become more kingdom-minded and less self-centered. We will be praying more for God’s will to be done, rather than for us to have our ways.

God has a plan and purpose for each of us. That purpose for our life was conceived in the eternal mind of God even before we were born. God told Jeremiah that before he came out of his mother’s womb, he had already sanctified and ordained him as a prophet to the nations. Paul would later acknowledge the fact that God called him from the womb and separated him to be an apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, before he was born. God told the Israelites who were about to go into captivity in Babylon that he had plans for them, which would bring them peace and prosperity, even in their captivity. For that reason, they were not to resist going into captivity, however unpalatable it looked. Recognising that God has a plan and purpose for each of us is key to living a fulfilled and successful life. Until we grasp that revelation, we’ll continue to insist on our own will and ways, which will ultimately lead to disaster. Our ways may appear right in our eyes, but they don’t always end well for us.

Jeremiah 1:4 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.

Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Galatians 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Galatians 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Jeremiah 29:4 Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon;

Jeremiah 29:5 Build you houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;

Jeremiah 29:6 Take you wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that you may be increased there, and not diminished.

Jeremiah 29:7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray to the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall you have peace.

Jeremiah 29:8 For thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the middle of you, deceive you, neither listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed.

Jeremiah 29:9 For they prophesy falsely to you in my name: I have not sent them, said the LORD.

Jeremiah 29:10 For thus said the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:12 Then shall you call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Jeremiah 29:13 And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:14 And I will be found of you, said the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, said the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.

Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Like Paul, we must intentionally seek the Father’s will for our lives, in all circumstances we find ourselves. We must ask for what he’d have us do, and not try to force God to approve and bless our self-willed plans. We must come in humility to the Father who has the blueprint and masterplan for our lives, and inquire what he has foreordained for us to do, for only God’s eternal purpose for our lives will bring peace, joy and fulfilment to us. Jesus said his food was to do the Father’s will, and to finish the work the Father gave him to do on earth. To identify the Father’s will for us, and to accomplish that will, should be our food too, as children of God. Christ did not come to do his own will, but the Father’s, and likewise, we are not sent by Christ into the world to seek to do our own will, but his. Thus, until we are able to identify what our God-apportioned callings and purpose on earth are, we will only be doing our own will. Until we ask God and receive a definite answer to the life-defining question, “what will you have me to do, Lord?”, we will be living at cross purposes with God. Until Paul asked that question and got a definite answer, he was living contrary to God’s will, being a persecutor and destroyer of God’s church, while thinking he was doing some great service to God, in his misguided zeal. But, when he asked and received from God what he was born to do, the fiercest persecutor of the church turned around to become its greatest masterbuilder ever! Destiny was finally discovered and fulfilled!!

John 4:31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

John 4:32 But he said to them, I have meat to eat that you know not of.

John 4:33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Has any man brought him ought to eat?

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.

Hebrews 10:5 Why when he comes into the world, he said, Sacrifice and offering you would not, but a body have you prepared me:

Hebrews 10:6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure.

Hebrews 10:7 Then said I, See, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God.

Hebrews 10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you would not, neither had pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

Hebrews 10:9 Then said he, See, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second.

Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Luke 22:39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.

Luke 22:40 And when he was at the place, he said to them, Pray that you enter not into temptation.

Luke 22:41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.

1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

Too many Christians there are who are busy imagining their life’s work and just feeling their way through life, without a definite word from God as to what their specific work and mission on earth are. Too many of God’s children are wandering aimlessly through life, lurching from one self-willed decision to another, just trying out anything that feels good and that seems to work, without a definite knowledge of God’s purpose for their lives. Until we have a clear revelation of the specific work we’re called to do in the kingdom, we will fail to fulfill destiny. Until you discover what your destiny is, how can you fulfill it? Thats why we frequently find a hand in the body of Christ struggling to be a leg, or an ear trying so hard to be an eye. But, if we discover who we are, and our position and place in Christ, we will fulfill God’s purpose for our lives in our generation. Thus, the greatest question, after salvation, is to ask God to reveal to us his will and purpose for our lives. That must be the starting point for whoever wants to live a fulfilled life in Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

1 Corinthians 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

1 Corinthians 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

1 Corinthians 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

1 Corinthians 12:18 But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased him.

1 Corinthians 12:19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

1 Corinthians 12:20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

1 Corinthians 12:21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

1 Corinthians 12:22 No, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

1 Corinthians 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

1 Corinthians 12:24 For our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked.

1 Corinthians 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

1 Corinthians 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

1 Corinthians 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I to you a more excellent way.

In conclusion, deliberately seeking to know and to do God’s will for our lives, like the apostle Paul did on his first encounter with Christ, is key to living a fulfilled Christian life. God has a specific will and plan for all his children. He has a specific role and function for each member of his body to perform in his church and in his kingdom. Like parts of the human body, each member of the body of Christ has his/ her unique position and function in the body. The onus is on every believer to find out their position and role in the body of Christ, and to play that role accordingly, for the edifying of the church and the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth. Locating our place and purpose in God’s plan requires asking the Lord the same question that Saul asked him when he encountered Christ on the way to Damascus—”Lord, what will you have me to do?”

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Christianity Is Following Jesus Subserviently, Not ‘Using’ Him To Advance Our Personal Agenda!

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

Matthew 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Christianity is not a religion, but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. We’re not Christians simply because we’re born into a Christian family, or because we go to church on Sundays. People become Christians through only one way—by being born again, which entails acknowledging they’re sinners, accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, repenting of their sins, and getting baptised in Jesus’ name, for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Spirit of Jesus Christ, in order to become Christians. For, if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him, such a person is not a Christian. Such a person does not belong to Christ. That’s simply the gospel truth.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

The Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

The Acts 2:40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation.

Romans 8:5 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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, Abba! Father!

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

So, being a Christian is belonging to Christ in a personal way. It’s getting united with Christ by his indwelling Spirit. It’s becoming one with Christ. Thus, a Christian is someone in intimate union with Christ, one who has the mind of Christ. A Christian is one who follows in the footsteps of Christ, intentionally living as Christ did, while he was here on earth. In fact, the name ‘Christians’ was first given to the disciples/ followers of Christ by outsiders who observed how they so resembled Christ in their ways and conduct. It was actually a name of mockery, intended to deride and ridicule the disciples who were closely imitating Christ in their living. But the name stuck, because the followers of Christ were actually glad to be considered worthy of being identified with their Lord and Master. The early disciples considered it a badge of honour to be considered of the same comportment as their Lord and Master. What greater honour can a disciple have, than to be considered in the same light as his master?

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

The Acts 11:25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,

The Acts 11:26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Matthew 10:24 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

Matthew 10:25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

John 15:18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

John 15:21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

John 15:23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.

John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: They hated me without a cause.

Christianity then is a lifelong imitation of Christ. It’s a discipleship programme that has the goal and final objective of making followers of Jesus Christ become exactly like him. Every gift of the Spirit to believers, and every manifestation of God to his people, are intended to build us up into the full image and stature of Christ. To be like Jesus is God’s goal for every Christian. God did not save us so we can harness his power to accomplish our pet projects and self-centred plans. He didn’t deliver us from the guilt and penalty of sin only to turn around and fuel our vile passions, pride, greed, covetousness and inordinate ambitions. Rather, we are saved to accomplish God’s will in our generation, like Jesus did in his sojourn here on earth. God saved us to deliver us from our destructive ways, and to replace our ways with his own. Just like the Father sent Jesus to the world and Jesus submerged his will beneath that of his Father, Jesus has saved us and sent us as his ambassadors into the world, demanding that we surrender our will to his and live according to his commandments. We are thus to look unto Jesus as our example in everything, as the standard we’re to measure up to, in obeying the Father’s will. In whatever situation we find ourselves, we are to look unto Jesus, allowing the mind of Christ to disrupt our minds and control our thinking and guide our actions and behaviour. We are to bring all thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ, as we seek, like Christ, to ensure God’s will is done in us and through us.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Ephesians 4:7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it says, When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.

Ephesians 4:9 ( In saying, He ascended, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,

Ephesians 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

Ephesians 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Ephesians 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

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.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.

2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

2 Corinthians 10:6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

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

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:9 Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Philippians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (AKJV).

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:15 But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

1 Corinthians 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (AKJV).

Christians can only reflect Christ as we look unto him and keep beholding his glory. As we focus permanently on the Lord of glory and his agenda, we get gradually transformed into his image. As we fill our hearts with his words and are filled with his Spirit, our old sinful nature continues to die daily, while the life of Christ in us takes over. As we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow the Master, we gradually die to the flesh and thus grow in grace, becoming more and more like Jesus. The more we keep our eyes on Jesus, the more we receive grace to live above the temptations and snares of this world. As Isreal looked unto the brazen serpent on the pole and found healing and life, may we continue to gaze upon the risen Christ, who is our life, our hope and our glory. As we keep our eyes and minds fixed upon the risen and glorified Lamb seated upon God’s throne, we will become freed from the love of the things of this world, and discover the true purpose of life. That’s the ultimate goal of Christianity.

2 Corinthians 3:16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

2 Corinthians 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:11 For we which live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4:12 So then death works in us, but life in you.

2 Corinthians 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

2 Corinthians 4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (AKJV).

Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Colossians 3:7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Colossians 3:11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In conclusion, being a Christian is much more than going to church on Sunday, or being born into a Christian family. To be a Christian is to be united with Jesus Christ spiritually, and to become his lifelong disciple thereafter. It entails denying ourselves, carrying our cross daily to follow Jesus, and living a life of absolute obedience to Jesus’ commandments, after we have been saved. As we follow in the footsteps of the Master Jesus, we are to seek only his will, and desire to do only those things which are pleasing in his sight. The goal of Christianity is to transform followers of Jesus Christ into his image, to become exactly like Jesus, in thought, words and deed, as they imitate the Master, inspired by his indwelling Spirit. Christianity is not using Jesus to fulfill our personal goals and advance our selfish ambitions, but dying to ourselves in our union with Christ, so that only Christ’s will will be done in our lives, and only his life will be reflected through us. True Biblical Christianity is following Jesus subserviently, after he has saved us, and not using Jesus as a means to advance our personal and selfish agenda.

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What It Means To Abide In Christ

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the English Standard Version).

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

John 15:2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

In the passage of Scripture quoted above, the Lord Jesus compared the relationship between himself and his disciples to that of the vine and its branches. The Lord likens himself to the vine tree, with his disciples being the branches of the vine. As the branches cannot live and bear fruits on their own, except they are united with the vine, so are Christians lifeless and fruitless, outside of their union with Christ. Except we abide in Christ and draw nourishment and sustenance from his life and Spirit, we become barren and unfruitful, and will eventually dry up spiritually and die off. Such dead branches are of no spiritual value, but only fit to be cut down and cast into the fire. Such is the ultimate fate of believers who cut themselves off from Christ and don’t get reunited with him again. But, what does it mean, in practical terms, to abide in Christ? How do we remain united with Christ, in order to be fruitful and pleasing to God? We shall examine the Scriptures further to answer these questions.

1 John 2:3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

1 John 2:4 Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:

1 John 2:6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The apostle John, in his first epistle, connects abiding in Christ to knowing Christ, keeping his words and walking (living) as Christ did. To abide in Christ then means to know Christ, to keep the commandments of Christ and to live as Christ lived while he was here on earth. To know Christ is to be born again and to have the life of Christ (eternal life) in us (united with Christ). Being born again makes one a lifelong disciple of Christ, one who must now follow Christ and obey his teachings all his life. Obeying the commandments of Christ implies following the footsteps of Christ and living as Christ did. That’s the evidence of being a disciple of Christ indeed, when we continue or abide in his word. It’s as we obey and live by the word of God that we become fruitful in our Christian walk. That’s when our life becomes pleasing and glorifying to God. That’s how our love for God is manifested—when we keep his commandments. We may profess all the love for God with our mouths and in our songs, but until we keep God’s commandments, we’re only loving God by mouth and not in deed.

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

1 John 3:24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Finally, John was emphatic in what he meant by walking as Christ did, for those abiding in Christ. We must not love the world and its lusts and passions, for whoever loves the world does not have love for God, for the world and its lusts (the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life) are at enmity with God, and we cannot be loving enemies of God and be faithful in our love relationship with God, as that amounts to spiritual adultery. Simply put, friendship with the sinful ways of the world is enmity with God. No one can claim to abide in Christ who is living in sin. Anyone who lives in sin and practises a lifestyle of sinfulness has not truly known God. For sure, no one can be perfectly sinless in this fallen world and in our mortal bodies. However, no true Christian who is abiding in Christ will be comfortable living and grovelling in sin. When he falls into sin, a true disciple of Christ quickly repents, confesses his sin and turns away from it. The Christain who abides in Christ practises a life of righteousness by default, not a life of sinfulness, which he once lived (before he was born again), but has now renounced. By our union with Christ, we become new creatures, old things in our lives having passed away, while all things have become new.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?

1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

1 John 3:6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 5:7 Therefore do not associate with them;

Ephesians 5:8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),

Ephesians 5:10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Ephesians 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Ephesians 5:13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,

Ephesians 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

Ephesians 5:16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (KJV).

In conclusion, a believer must abide in Christ, the same way a living and fruitful branch abides in a vine, for him to remain spiritually alive and fruitful. The moment a Christian stops abiding in Christ, he cuts himself off from Christ’s life, and automatically dies off, the same way a severed branch of a tree dies and rots away, and becomes only good for firewood. To abide in Christ means to be closely united with him in word, in spirit and in deed. It means to follow and obey the commandments of Christ, and to live as Christ did, while on earth. To abide in Christ means to live a life of righteousness, shunning sin and walking uprightly as Christ did. Thus, one cannot be said to be abiding in Christ who loves the world and its sinful ways, for friendship with the world is enmity with God. To love Christ is to hate the world and its lusts, just as to love the world is to hate Christ. No one can abide in Christ and in the world at the same time, for no one can serve two masters at the same time.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

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We Glory In Tribulations Also

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the American King James Version).

The Christian has the promise of divine blessings and favour for living a life of obedience to the commandments of God. We are to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God which shall be revealed in us. However, the Christian’s life is not just one of bliss and glory. We are not only to rejoice because of the blessings and grace we enjoy. Part of the Christian experience is to suffer persecutions and tribulations for Christ’s sake. Suffering for Christ is to be experienced by all genuine Christians, though in different forms and in varying degrees. When tribulations and trials arise because of the cross of Christ and his gospel which we live and preach, we are to rejoice and be glad. We are to give glory to God for the opportunity and privilege to be counted worthy to share with the Lord in his sufferings. That’s what the New Testament teaches. 

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience;

Romans 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:5 And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:

1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.

1 Peter 4:14 If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests on you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

1 Peter 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

1 Peter 4:19 Why let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as to a faithful Creator.

2 Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

Christian suffering is not optional nor can it be avoided. The Lord Jesus taught that anyone who would come after (follow) him should be prepared to deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow the Lord. The Lord also taught that no true disciple of his would escape persecution for the sake of the Word of God, the same way he himself couldn’t escape it, since no disciple can be greater than his master. Whatever the master passed through, every true servant of his must experience. The Lord suffered unjustly while on earth, and left us all an example to follow in his footsteps. No true disciple of Christ can escape suffering unjustly and being persecuted for righteousness sake. 

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:24 For whoever will save his life shall lose it: but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

Luke 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Luke 9:26 For whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

John 15:18 If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.

15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

John 15:21 But all these things will they do to you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

John 15:23 He that hates me hates my Father also.

John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:25 But this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? but if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:

1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

1 Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously:

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.

2 Timothy 3:10 But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience,

2 Timothy 3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say to him, See, we have left all, and have followed you.

Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundred times now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

It’s important that every Christian is made to understand at the beginning of their walk with God that persecutions and tribulations are an integral part of our Christian heritage, in addition to the blessings of Christ and the glory that shall be revealed in us. Unto us it is given, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Persecutions and sufferings are the means by which God allows our faith to be tested and purified and made stronger. They are the means by which our character and Christian experience are developed and built up. If we do not understand and accept this doctrine, not only will we be discouraged when trials come our way, we may become offended by them and abandon the faith. Deceived by the unbridled prosperity gospel, which preaches only the blessings of the cross but not its sufferings and shame, many a Christian have abandoned the faith, when adversity came knocking, being unprepared to deal with sufferings as part of the blessed inheritance of the Christian. Like Job’s wife, they’re ready to curse God and die, when the storms of life arise. Because such faiths have no depth, since they are not built on the Word of God, but are founded on the enticing words of man’s wisdom, they easily crumble under the weight of persecutions and tribulations. 

Philippians 1:29 For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

The Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

The Acts 14:20 However, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

The Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

The Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

James 1:2 My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you,

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

1 Peter 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Matthew 13:3 And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Matthew 13:4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Matthew 13:5 Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and immediately they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

Matthew 13:6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Matthew 13:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Matthew 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred times, some sixty times, some thirty times.

Matthew 13:18 Hear you therefore the parable of the sower.

Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;

Matthew 13:21 Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown.

Job 2:8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with; and he sat down among the ashes.

Job 2:9 Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die.

Job 2:10 But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Not only are we to prepare for, and to expect persecutions and suffering for Christ, we are also to display the right attitude towards them. When faced with trials, we shouldn’t grumble, complain, threaten or fight back. We are not to despair or be downcast. We are to be positive in the midst of trials, knowing we are sharing with the Lord in his sufferings, and will also share with him in his glory, for only those who joyfully partake of the sufferings of the cross will share in Christ’s glory and throne. We are to commit our ways to God and count it all joy for the privilege to share in Christ’s sufferings and develop Christian character and experience. We are to give thanks to God in all things, including our trials, for all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. When we know these truths and live by them, the joy of the Lord will fill our hearts and strenghten us in our tribulations. In the world we will have tribulations, but the peace of Christ will keep our minds and hearts even in our tribulations, which we will eventually overcome by his grace. We are to be of good cheer even in the midst of tribulations, because our Lord has overcome the world. In all circumstances, we are more than conquerors!

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

The Acts 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show to us the way of salvation.

The Acts 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

The Acts 16:19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace to the rulers,

The Acts 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

The Acts 16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

The Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

The Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

The Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

The Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them.

The Acts 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

The Acts 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

The Acts 5:18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

The Acts 5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

The Acts 5:20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

The Acts 5:21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

The Acts 5:22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told,

The Acts 5:23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

The Acts 5:25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

The Acts 5:26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

The Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

The Acts 5:28 Saying, Did not we straightly command you that you should not teach in this name? and, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood on us.

The Acts 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

The Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:36 As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

In conclusion, tribulations, persecutions and sufferings for righteousness are an integral part of Christianity, which every genuine disciple of Christ must experience in their walk with God. They serve as the means of trying and purifying our faith, and of building character and experience in us. God has ordained that every child of his must pass through the school of tribulations to learn obedience and develop spiritual maturity. We must therefore learn to count it all joy when we suffer for Christ’s sake and for the sake of his gospel, for we will only share in Christ’s glory if we are partakers of his sufferings.

Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.

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