Grace and Truth

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Friend of God or Friend of the World?

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you knot know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4adultery

This is strong language…..Adulterers….Enmity with God…

Obviously friendship with the world is serious business in God’s eyes.

 

Definition of “The World”.

We all know John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

So God does love the world. However in this sense the scripture is talking about the world of people that Jesus died for. It was God’s love for all men under heaven that prompted Him to send His Son into this world to redeem us from the curse of sin and death that entered in with Adam.

However James 4:4 is talking about “the world” as a system. A system that is opposed to God.

 

The World is Opposed to God

Just as the devil is opposed to Christ and the flesh is opposed to the Spirit, so the world is opposed to all that is of the Father.

It takes its place in the “unholy trinity” as the very antithesis of all that is of the person of God the Father.  This opposition to the Father manifests in a determined effort to undermine the Bible, especially Genesis.  The creation account, the Flood have come under heavy fire in the last few years, even from Christians.

 

The World is Independent of God

tower of babelThe world system is not only opposed to God, it is also independent of God.

It is the spirit behind this system that attempted to build the Tower of Babel as a way to reach heaven without God. It is the spirit of independence.  It is the same spirit that drives the UN and all other organisations that attempt to play “god” in this world and to re-define “good” and “evil” independent of His laws. It is the reason that God warned Adam and Eve about partaking of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,  Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” Psalm 2:2,3

Choosing the way of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is unthe way of opposition, independence and rebellion to God. Remember that to eat of that fruit was a sin, a breaking of a direct command of God not to partake of it.

The world is a system that is totally separate and apart from God. It’s a system that says “we don’t need God and His laws” and then makes their own.

 

The World is in Rebellion to God and His Laws

It is a system that rises up in defiance of God the Father, as Creator and Sustainer of Life.

God created male and female in His image and told them to be fruitful and multiply. This world system calls into question gender and sexuality. God says there are two genders. The world says there is a sliding scale with multiple gender possibilities. God says to male and female to pro-create, to bring forth life. This world says homosexuality is fine and promotes it as a way of keeping the human population under control.

This world undermines the very laws of nature. Breaking the laws of nature always brings death.

The Tree of Life and the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of one is Life, the fruit of the other is Death.

This world is in open defiance to God.  The spirit behind it knows that God is its enemy.  God knows the world is in enmity to Him.  It seems that it is only the believers who struggle to realise this truth.

 

The World System Has its Own Philosophies and Principles.

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

God has His principles, laws and the way of salvation clearly laid out in His word, the Bible. But this world rejects God’s Word and instead promotes the philosophies of man, which are opposed to Christ. Atheism, psychology, nihilism, post-modernism, you name it, they are philosophies of man and each are totally opposed to God and His Word.

These philosophies of man essentially become counterfeit gospels which are opposed to the true gospel of Christ. Satan promotes them through the media, social media, books, TV, Hollywood and false Christians.

And yes that includes psychology. This deception has infiltrated the Christian church and taken the place of true Biblical counselling, deliverance from demons and healing. Do not be deceived, it is a counterfeit of the gospel of Christ and brings believers in to bondage rather than setting them free.  I am aware at how deeply this has rooted itself in the Church and so I encourage further study of the roots of psychology. Briefly, it is founded and rooted in atheistic philosophy and no amount of applying Biblical words to this philosophy will change the fact that it is of man and is opposed, and therefore in enmity, to the gospel of Christ.

Man’s principles in his “gospel” include: tolerance over truth; love over sin; self over Christ; and the salvation of this planet over the salvation of man.

 

This World is Under Judgment

This world is under judgment my friends.

No amount of recycling and “climate change” theory will save it. It began in the garden of Eden. When man fell into sin, so too the creation fell with him. God cursed the ground at that point. Praise God that Jesus came and redeemed fallen man from the curse of sin, but this world has not be redeemed. This world and all its systems and man-made philosophies are under God’s judgment and are reserved for fire.

Jesus said “Now is the time for judgment on this world…” John 12:31

The unleashing of God’s wrath on this world because of sin is only being held back by one thing – His Word.

“…the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

But at the moment we can see the birth pangs of judgment are beginning all over the world. Jesus warned us of increasing earthquakes, pestilences, wars, rumours of wars and huge deception in Matthew 24.

 

Friend of God or Friend of the World?

faithfulGod considers friendship with the world spiritual “adultery”.  We cannot be divided, we are either a friend of God or a friend of the World.

Jesus is ever faithful to His Bride and He in turn wants us to be faithful to Him – the lover of our souls.

Just as a husband would be jealous if his wife had eyes for another man, so too “the Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously” (James 4:5) for our undivided, wholly devoted love.  And who can blame Him?  He has laid down His life for us! How much more should we be faithful to such a loving and gracious God?

Therefore “come out from among them and be ye separate.”

We are in the world, but we are no longer of the world. We are other-worldly now. Our true home is in heaven, not on this earth. Therefore I encourage you to look up, enlarge your vision. Be a Friend of God, rather than a friend of this world.

Let us be like Paul and be able to say:

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galations 6:14

 

Next post

A Tale of Two Tents

 

Other posts:

Overcoming the Fear of Man

Only One Life ‘Twill Soon be Past

Bible Prophecy: We Are Close to Christ’s Return

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The Shemitah

At this time there is a lot of discussion going on about “The Shemitah”. So what is it and why should we be interested in it?fact sh

Before I begin to answer these questions, I want to mention that the notes which follow will not attempt to cover this subject in great detail but will try to give a brief outline about it, so that readers will have a better idea of what it is. For anyone wanting to study it in greater depth, I would refer them to the many good publications available giving more detail about the Shemitah.

 

A Day of Rest

Without stating the obvious, everybody knows that the week consists of seven days – from Sunday, the first day of the week, through to Saturday the last day of the week. In the Book of Genesis we read that after six days, when God had finished His creation, He rested on the seventh day, blessed it and made it holy (Genesis chapter 2 verses 1 to 3).

When God rested on the seventh day following His creation, He thereby established the seventh day as a day of rest and holiness. But it was not until the Israelites had left Egypt in the Exodus that we learn where, for the first time, they were commanded to observe the Sabbath. There we read that the Sabbath was to be a day when the Israelites ceased any worldly activities, rested and devoted the day to the Lord; the Lord laying down severe penalties for anyone who did not observe it (Exodus 31:14 – 15).

For Jews, Saturday is the Sabbath, the day of rest, the day set aside to worship God. The word Sabbath is a Hebrew word meaning rest. Christianity has moved away from Saturday worship to Sunday worship. I am not going to go into any discussion here about which day is the right day to worship, especially as I believe that we as Christians should anyway be continually worshiping our God and not reserve that for only one day in the week.

 

A Year of Rest

So while we understand that every seventh day should be regarded as a Sabbath, what is not as well known is that every seventh year is a Sabbath year. (I use the present tense because it is a permanent requirement by the Lord even though it is not properly observed today.) In Leviticus chapter 25:1 – 4, we read where the Lord commanded the children of Israel that, when they came into the land He was to give them, the land itself was to observe a Sabbath to Him. They were to work the land for six years “But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord”.

Not only was the land to lie fallow, but the year was to be kept separate because, unlike any of the previous six years, no work was to be done: no sowing, planting or gathering was to take place. The lands, fields, vineyards and groves were to be left to the poor and anyone could eat from them (Exodus 23:10 – 11). In ancient times this could be easily done, but in this modern world it would be much more difficult to achieve and would be a somewhat radical undertaking. Yet the Lord commanded it and would undoubtedly prosper those who abide by it.

 

The Sabbath Year and Connection to God’s Judgment

In Leviticus chapter 26 the Lord tells the Israelites that He will bless them if they keep His commands: these include references to the land. However, as He did with His commands concerning the keeping of the Sabbath day, He also told them that He would punish them if they disobeyed Him regarding the rest the land was to receive, again laying down punishments they would get in the event of disobedience. In verses 33 to 35 of Leviticus 26, the Lord clearly told them what sort of punishment they could expect if they disobeyed His commands regarding the land. He said: “I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the Sabbaths you lived in it.”

Many years before they were taken into captivity in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah was given a word from the Lord warning the Israelites that because of their disobedience they would go into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. They were also told that when the seventy years were completed they would return: their punishment would be over because the land would have received the rest it had been denied previously (Jeremiah 25:11 – 12).

It is an interesting historical fact that the Israelites were in the land for 490 years: from the time they occupied the land until they were led away in captivity to Babylon. In that 490 year period there were seventy Sabbaths. We know that the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon for seventy years, as prophesied by Jeremiah in chapter 25:11 – 12, that being their punishment and also the time required for “the land to enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lay desolate and they were in the country of their enemies.”

 

source: idisciple.org

source: idisciple.org

The Lord’s Release – Shemitah

In addition to the requirement to observe Sabbath years, the Israelites were also required to cancel all debts on the last day of each Sabbath year. The Lord commanded that on the last day of the Sabbath year, all debts were to be cancelled. In English this is referred to as “the Lord’s release” (Deut. 15:1 – 2). It is from the Hebrew for “release” that we get the word “Shemitah”. In the Hebrew calendar the last day of a Sabbath year is Elul 29 which, by the Gregorian calendar, falls mainly during the month of September, although on a few occasions it occurs during the first few days of October.

Although the last day of the seventh year was called the Shemitah, in time the whole year was referred to as the Shemitah year. The Shemitah is a reminder that God is the source of all blessings; both spiritual and physical and when God is removed from life then removal of the blessings will also follow.

 

The Shemitah and Israel Now

Now that many Jews are back in most of the land, and are themselves in control of it, do they observe the Lord’s requirements for the Sabbath year and the Shemitah day? The answer is basically no, although there are examples of some who have done so and are known to have prospered from it. However, the majority do not but, with the help of rabbis, many amongst them who are convicted to try to keep the Shemitah year and day, resort to all sorts of manoeuvring to get around the biblical requirements. For instance, some schemes involve “selling” land to foreigners or special courts at the beginning of the Shemitah year, continuing to work the land, and “buying” it back at the end of the year. They have devised similar schemes regarding the release of debts on Elul 29! The idea behind these schemes is that the law applies to Jews and not to foreigners or special courts; the latter being regarded as acceptable because they are not individuals, so are not bound by the Lord’s decrees.

So in a roundabout way many in Israel today are keeping the requirements of the Sabbath year including the release of debts on its last day. However, religious Jews do not accept these practices and one can only wonder what God thinks about all the scheming going on regarding the land and the release of debts on Elul 29. In the example of the exile to Babylon, we have seen that the Israelites were severely judged and punished when they failed to observe Sabbath years.

 

The Shemitah and Other Nations

The big question facing us now is: “Does the Shemitah apply to nations other than Israel”?

I cannot find a direct biblical answer to this question although we do know that God does punish gentiles and nations, including Israel, for disobedience towards Him. However, as Jonathan Cahn suggests in his book The Mystery of The Shemitah, throughout history there have been many recorded events that have occurred at the time of the Shemitah, or shortly afterwards, negatively affecting nations; too many to be written off as mere coincidence. These events have taken the form of economic or other problems or the start of wars. The other question we need to consider is whether the Shemitah applies when the Jews are not back in the land and in control of it as was the case before 1948. Even here the answer appears to be yes, especially when we look at the example of developments against the Jews of Germany in 1938, a Shemitah year.

 

When is the Next Shemitah?

It is important to note at this point, that going back to ancient records, Jewish scholars have been able to accurately identify when the fact sh 2Shemitah years occur. Even as I write now we are coming to the end of the current Shemitah year. It ends on Elul 29th which this year is from sunset on 13th September, 2015, through to sunset on 14th September per the Gregorian calendar; about a month hence.

Before listing some of the “upheavals” that have fallen at the end, or about the end of Shemitah Years, it would be well to consider the timing of the Shemitah years. They begin on Tishri 1, or Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish civil year, and end on Elul 29. It is important to point out here that in the northern hemisphere the Shemitah year begins and ends at the time of the summer harvests. As pointed out earlier this is usually during September.

 

Notable Events Which Occurred At or Near the End of Recent Shemitah Years

1973. The “Yom Kippur War” – October 6th to 25th. Although the war began badly for Israel, it managed to win that war but it took a heavy toll on Israel and Israelis. More importantly, the longer term aftermath of this war resulted in enormously negative consequences for Israel itself and the world at large – the rise of Arab hegemony. I consider its negative after-effects to equal those of WW1 and WWII.

1987. The big “Black Monday” stock market crash on October 19th occurred only four weeks after the end of the Shemitah year on September 23rd. In this instance the fallout from the crash turned out to be surprisingly small although it took two years for global markets to recover.

2001. The stock market plunge on September 17th and the following global economic and political uncertainty was undoubtedly triggered by the Al Qaida attacks in America on 9th September, 2001. The stock market was immediately closed and reopened on September 17th, the last day of the Shemitah.

2008. The infamous GFC – Global Financial Crisis. The stock market crash happened on September 29th 2008 – Elul 29th!

2015. 13 – 14 September ? ? ? September 17th is the final Day for US Congress to vote concerning the “Iranian Deal” – the deal aimed at curbing Iranian nuclear expansion. It is a bad deal for Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, yet is being promoted otherwise by the US Administration and the key nations involved in the deal – the P5+1.

Everyone can hardly fail to realise that the world is in turmoil, economically, militarily, naturally and spiritually and is surely ripe for judgment. The news is full of it; a lot predicting very difficult days ahead.

Thus the final question we need to ask is: “Are we likely to experience any major negative developments in the world this September or within a short time after the end of the Shemitah year and after the day of the Shemitah on 17th September?”

All I can suggest is: “Don’t be surprised if major upheavals occur during the coming months”.

In closing, I would like to remind readers that, as Christians, we need to remember Jesus’ injunction:

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in our series “Bible Prophecy”.

 

Related Articles:

Blood Moons 2014/2015: A Wake Up Call

Bible Prophecy: We are close to Christ’s Return

Bible Prophecy: Warning to Nations

 


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Noah’s Ark: A Picture of Jesus Christ

noahs-arkJesus compared the days we are living in to the days of Noah. He said:

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37-39

Just as in Noah’s day, there was a day appointed for judgment, so it is today. This time however, it will not be by flood, rather it will be by fire.

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.… But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? “ 2 Peter 3:3-12

The day when the door will be shut on the Ark is fast approaching. There is not much time left. So what I say to one I say to all:

Get on board the Ark now! Take your friends and your family with you. Make sure you are safely within the place of refuge and flee from the wrath that is to come!

Of which Ark do I speak of nowadays? This Ark is not made of gopher wood, no it is Jesus Christ Himself. The Ark of Noah is a picture of Christ and points to Him as the refuge from God’s coming judgment.

The New is in the Old Concealed, the Old is in the New Revealed.

 

The Shadow of the Ark The Light of Jesus Christ
There was only one Ark. One boat.   One way to escape the coming judgment. Likewise there is only one way of salvation.Jesus said “I am the Way….no man comes to the Father but through me.” Forget religion, Christ is the only place of refuge from the coming Day of the Lord.
The Ark was planned by God not by Noah The plan of redemption was foreordained by God to meet the judgment of sin and to make provision for the safety of the elect
Whilst God planned and designed the Ark, He commissioned man to build it. This is a picure of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Saviour must have a human body and nature as well as the divine. God came in the flesh of man through the virgin birth.
Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” We are saved by grace through faith in Christ
Noah believed God’s Word that there would be a flood on the earth, even though there was no evidence of this.   Previously the earth had been watered by a mist coming up. Noah received God’s Word of a coming deluge by faith. We also received Jesus Christ by faith in God’s word. “…Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls”. 1 Peter 1:8
The Ark had only one door.   There was only one way in. Jesus is the only way in to the Father. Jesus said “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved….” John 10:9
The door had no dimensions given No matter how great a sinner may be, there is room for him through the door – Jesus Christ
The Ark had three levels This could be a picture of the Tri-unity of the Godhead.
There was only one window in the Ark.   It was in the flat roof of the boat and about 18”x18” and covered by a hatch. Noah and his family could only look Heaven-ward out of the window God wants us to be looking upwards to Him, rather than being overwhelmed by difficult circumstances.
God told Noah to “pitch (the Ark) within and without with pitch” Genesis 6:14. This is the only place in the Bible where “pitch”, a bituminous substance, is translated as “kapher”. “Kapher” everywhere else in the Bible translates as “atonement”. It means a covering. Lev 17:11 says “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls”. This word atonement  in this verse is the same as the word translated as “pitch” in Genesis 6:14 It is because of Jesus Christ’s atonement for our sins at the cross, that we have a way of escape from what is coming upon this world. He took our place on the cross and shed His precious blood in order to make atonement for us. Once we are in Him His blood covers us and keeps us safe. In Him there is perfect peace and safety which is apart from this world.
God invited Noah and His family into the safety and refuge of the Ark. “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark…” Genesis 7:1 God still invites us today into the safety of Christ, “Come unto me all who labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest…”
God told Noah to make rooms in the ark (Genesis 6:14). Rooms here is translated as “a nest”. God provided comfort as well as safety within the Ark. Jesus said: “In My Father’s house are many mansions:….I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2
God Himself shut the door to the Ark“And the Lord shut him in” before the judgment began. Whilst the door is open all may enter in. However one day soon the door will be shut and the age of grace will finish. Then the time of judgment will begin.

 

“By faith, Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” Hebrews 11:7


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The Door is Beginning to Close

The Age of Grace is nearing its end.The-door-is-closing-courtesy-brad-montgomery-at-Flickr-CC-e1325010017923

It’s time to get on board the Ark.

 

There is a storm approaching

A big one.

When God shuts that door

No man can open it again,

Quick get in now/There’s not much time left.

 

The ones already in the Ark:

Preachers of righteousness,

Just like Noah,

Warn the others

Of the coming storm

 

They can see it

It’s on the horizon now

“Come, come!

Flee from the wrath that is to come!”

 

But this time it is not a rain cloud

NO, it’s a fire-storm

A fire so hot that the elements

Will melt with fervent heat

 

The Day of the Lord is at hand

Forget your possessions

Your reputation

Your position

There’s no time anymore

 

Leave it all behind

It’s all gonna be burned by fire

Anyway

Flee to the Ark

 

Redeem the time,

For there’s not much left

 

 

Noah’s Ark is an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ. Read how so here.