2Corinthians 3 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 3

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I move from 1Corinthians into 2Corinthians Chapter 3 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in you, and in us! You will say it, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Ministry of the Spirit.” Beloved, do you minister to others, in this way? 

Verse 1 — 

Paul once again asks if he must somehow commend (that is, provide proof) to them, or that he must supply them with letters of commendation from Jerusalem or from the believers in Corinth (!!) in order for them to believe Paul and obey his instructions! They continue to question and resist him. It grieves my heart, and it happens often in today’s church — particularly if a Spirit-filled pastor is appointed. 

So, he says, do I need to commend myself? Do I need to somehow prove I am from the Lord? Do I need to provide you with favorable letters of commendation from others, so you will trust me? Such things should not be necessary, but at Corinth, they 1) are listening to false teachers and 2) are offended by Paul’s exhortations.

Verse 2 —

You are our letter, declares Paul! You are our proof, for you came to Christ through me, and have been ministered to by Timothy. You are our letter, written in our hearts — we do not just come and go and forget about you, O Corinthians. You are in our hearts. And our hearts, and their contents, are known and read by all men.

There is no mistaking who we are. There is no doubt of our love, Paul says, in anyone’s heart but yours!

Verse 3 —
It has been shown, Paul says, that you, O Corinthians, are a letter of Christ, cared for by us (ministered to by us), written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. 

They came to faith in Christ through Paul’s ministry. They belong to Christ because of Paul’s ministry to them! And some have a measure of the Spirit.

This letter of Christ is not written with ink, which will fade. It is written with the Spirit of the living God — He writes it, He is eternal, and what He writes is eternal! It is not written on tablets of stone, as were the Ten Commandments. It is written on tablets of human hearts! 

The evidence of Christ’s imprint on their hearts should be visible in them all, and is visible in some of them. But the conduct of others in the church at Corinth reveals that they are not yet letters of Christ. In many, there is nothing written on the tablets of their hearts yet. It is my own experience, and Christ’s and Paul’s exhortations, that they must be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then the love letter of Christ, and the two greatest commandments, will be written there!

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

They will do these things when they are filled with His divine love! Are you filled with His divine love?

Verses 4-6 —

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God, says Paul. Timothy and Paul are confident that indeed, they are validated as apostles by the work done in the hearts of some of the Corinthian believers. They are not confident in their own ability to make it so, but on Christ’s, and they look toward God to do in the hearts of the Corinthians what must be done.

It is not that Timothy and Paul are adequate in themselves. Nothing that they do stems from their own adequacy. 

As he has said in 2:16, Who is adequate! Not I! Not Timothy! Not Paul! None of us! But their adequacy comes from God! Hallelujah!

We are filled with His Spirit and His divine love, and His Spirit teaches us all of the truth, and empowers us, making us Christ’s witnesses here. 

And many have come to salvation, because God’s empowerment is more than adequate — it is perfect and complete!

Who made Paul and Timothy and us adequate? God, when we were filled with the Holy Spirit! We could not otherwise be appointed as servants of a new covenant. What is this new covenant? 

It is not a covenant of the letter (the Law of Moses) but of the Spirit, for the letter kills. It shows us the poverty of our hearts but does not provide the cure for it. We cannot stop sinning as long as the sin nature is alive in us, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)! 

So is the Law bad? No! Paul tells the believers in Rome that the Commandments holy and righteous and good, (Romans 7:9-12) but the sin nature in us causes us to rebel and disobey and sin.

But the Spirit gives life, zoe, life as God has it, eternal life! When Jesus died and rose and ascended and was glorified, the new covenant was instituted. Now, there is a way for human hearts to be changed so drastically that we are able to easily obey His commands. 

And it is a pleasure to do so! The sin nature, which always railed against God’s good and perfect Law, is crucified. We become partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:4), and doing God’s will is as automatic as breathing. Glory to His holy name! Oh, beloved, the Spirit gives LIFE!!! And then, God working through you by His Spirit, you bring life to others!

Verses 7-8 —

The ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones (the Ten Commandments), came with glory (the brilliant and fiery presence of God), so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, even though that glory was fading —

Exodus 34:34 But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, 35 the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

That ministry came with glory, but the ministry of the Spirit came with much more glory! It will not fade! It is eternal, because it is God’s glory, in a human container! 

Verse 9 —

The ministry of condemnation (the Ten Commandments condemn us as we read them because our sin natures are rebellious and we do not do them) came with glory.

But how much more does the ministry of righteousness — that is, the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us when He fills us and makes us righteous, and through us, as He ministers through us to others —  superabound in glory!

Verses 10-11 — 

What had glory — the ministry of the Lord to and through Moses — is now surpassed by the ministry of the Spirit. Moses’ face shone while he was in the presence of the Lord, but the shine faded until he went into the tent of meeting again. But the Spirit who fills us and remains in us causes the glory of God to shine brightly from us, always! 

Verses 12-14 —

Therefore, having such a hope — what a hope! Christ in us, the hope of glory! His glory in us, and shining from us always! Paul and Timothy have that hope, and so they speak with great (abundant) boldness (straightforwardness) to the believers at Corinth, and everywhere they go!

We who are filled with the Spirit are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so the sons of Israel would look intently at the end of what was fading away. Our glory does not fade away! 

But the sons of Israel had hearts that were hard and rebellious against the Law. Until this very day, at the reading of the Law of Moses, the veil remains over their hearts. 

Why? It is removed in Christ, the Messiah whom they still reject. If it were lifted from their hearts (and it will be, at the end of things, per Romans 11:25-27), He will lift the veil so they can see the true meaning of the Law, and cry out for Him to take the rebellion from their hearts and fill them with His glory!

Verses 15-16 —

Paul repeats himself, for emphasis, saying, And to this day, whenever Moses (the Law of Moses) is read, a veil lies over their heart. But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away! 

When I turned to the Lord, it was because I had the first glimpse of my heart. I needed a Savior from my past sins! Then, I heeded His words and realized my heart was still rebellious. So I cried out to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you will do the same, you will shine continually!

Verses 17-18 —

Now the Lord is the Spirit — they are both God, and the Lord comes to us by way of the Spirit. They and the Father fill us with themselves (John 14:23). 

And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Is it liberty to do what we want, without penalty of death? No! This liberty is freedom from slavery to sin (Romans 6:7, 18, 22) just as promised by Jesus Christ in John 8:31-36!

Oh, that you, O believer, would continue in His words, and thus show yourself to be His disciple, for you would know the truth, and the truth would set you free from slavery to sin — free indeed, free to the uttermost, forever free from the sin nature that causes your heart to be veiled and hard and rebellious! Glory to God! 

Do you want to know your life’s purpose? It is to be set free from sin and to then shine in such a way that none can deny that Jesus Christ is who He says He is, sent by the Father! It is to be as He is, in this world! He will do it, if you ask Him!

And then you will be able to say with Paul and the rest —

We all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord — we are the reflection of that glory — are being transformed (metamorphoo, as with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration) into the same image, from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 

Once we are filled, He continues to form His character in us, and we reflect His image and shine ever brighter as we grow! And I am confident that He will always do so —

Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Hallelujah! May you seek all that Christ commands you to have! You will shine! Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it!

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WILL YOU INHERIT THE KINGDOM?

[SW348] 10/13/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Will You Inherit the Kingdom?

Text: Matthew 25:31-46

Who will inherit the kingdom of God? In this passage, Jesus will show you that it is the same as in the parable of the talents. There are rewards for obedience, and dire consequences for disobedience.

If you are convicted by Jesus’ words in this passage, there is hope! Repent and cry out to Him!

Many commentators and believers assume that in this passage, Jesus is referring to good works that are done to meet humanity’s natural needs. But even those who have rejected Jesus Christ will supply such things. 

Many people in the world need food, drink, shelter, clothing, healing of their bodies, and support when they are in prison. But much more, they need to be saved from the wrath of God and reconciled to Him by believing into Jesus Christ! 

So, He is not referring to meeting humanity’s natural needs, but to works that only He can do, through believers whose hearts are completely His.

Verse 31 —

The time will come when the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, comes in His glory. He comes to judge.

No one will be able to miss His coming, for it will be like lightning which flashes across the sky, easily seen from afar —

Matthew 24:27 “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

He will be visible to all the earth, when He comes. All the angels will be with Him, myriads upon myriads and thousands upon thousands of them (Revelation 5:11). It will be an awesome and powerful sight! And He will sit on His glorious throne, where He will judge.

Verses 32-33 —

Who will He judge? Peter tells us that judgment begins with the household of God, that is, with believers (1Peter 4:17). And now, there are both Jewish and Gentile believers. Therefore, Jesus says all believers from all the nations will be gathered before Him. 

He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. NOTE: In the natural, sheep are able to withstand cold nights because they are covered with wool, so they don’t need to be closely herded together to survive the night. But goats are covered only with hair, and must be closely herded together at night, or they will not survive the cold.

In what way will Jesus separate one believer from another? He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left. That is His judgment. But what happens to each group?

Verse 34 —

On the day of judgment, the King will say to the sheep who are on His right, “Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (before anything was).” They are His true children, co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)!

It is just as in the parable of the talents. He will say to some believers, Well done, good and faithful slave! Enter into the joy of your Master!” But other believers will not hear those words, on the day of judgment. 

These believers are blessed by His Father! These believers inherit the kingdom of God, says Jesus! But He only says these words to His sheep who are on His right, not to the goats who are believers (see Verse 44), but are on His left. Why are those on His right blessed? Why do they inherit the kingdom of His Father?

Verse 35-36 —

Jesus Christ tells them they did works that the world cannot do. What did they do? He says, 

— I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat. 

You saw that many were in need of the Bread of Life, and you gave them Me (John 6:35). And they no longer hungered, and now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink. 

You saw that many were in need of my living water. So you proclaimed that I would give them My living water so they would never thirst again. My living water gave them eternal life which sprung up like a fountain within them (John 4:14)! With joy, they drew water from Me, the fountain of salvation (Isaiah 12:3)! And now they stand at My right, with you. 

— I was a stranger, and you invited Me in. 

Many were far from My Father and Me. But you told them that I would welcome and give eternal life to whosoever will repent (Matthew 4:17) and believe into Me (John 3:16). They repented and believed and entered into eternal life. And now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was naked, and you clothed Me. 

Once they were saved, they realized they had no power to live out and spread My gospel. But you told them that I command them to wait until they are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). The Holy Spirit is the power from on high (Luke 1:35). So they obeyed and were filled with My Holy Spirit! And now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was sick, and you came to Me. 

Once they were saved, they found that they were still sin-sick, unable to keep from sinning (Romans 7:19). But you came to them with the good news that when they are filled with My Holy Spirit, their sin nature is crucified (Galatians 5:24) and they become partakers of the Father’s and My divine nature (2Peter 1:4). So they were healed of their sin. And now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was in prison, and you came to Me. Once they were saved, they found that they were still slaves to sin, imprisoned by their sin natures. 

But you came to them and told them about My promise that I will set them free from slavery to sin (John 8:36), purifying their hearts (Acts 15:9). So they obeyed and were filled with My Holy Spirit, and I did all of these things in them! And now, they stand at My right, with you.

Verses 37-39 —

The righteous — those who are filled with the very righteousness of God because they are filled with the Holy Spirit — will be surprised! When did we do these things to You, Lord? They did not realize that as they obeyed and were filled and went forth to do all these things that only He could do (Him working through them), they were blessing Him! 

What is more, He says that by doing them for the least of His brethren, they did them for Him (Verses 37-38). They did these things even to the least of these who now stand at His right. They did these things for all mankind, including those who were of no significance in the world’s eyes. 

So, even the least of these now stand before Him, on His right, with you. They also have done the will of His Father in heaven (Mark 3:35, Matthew 12:50), so they are His brethren. They are His sheep. 

And they have done these things to Him. It is not that He needed to be saved and sanctified, for He is the Savior and Sanctifier. So what does He mean?

They did what He has commanded all believers to do. So, He was blessed when they obeyed, and is blessed by the glorious result  — all of the sheep who are now at His right hand!

Verses 41-43 —

But the judgment is different, for the believers on His left, who are the goats. They are believers, for they call Him “Lord” (again, see Verse 44). 

But He says, Depart from Me, accursed (doomed) ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. He condemns them to hell!

Why? They gave Him nothing —

— They never spoke to the hungry about the Bread of Life

— They never spoke to the thirsty about His living water

— They never invited any stranger to come into the kingdom of God by repenting and believing

— They never gave imprisoned believers clothing with power from on high, laying hands on them so they would be filled with the Holy Spirit

— They never spoke of freedom from slavery to sin 

Because they never did these things to anyone, they never did these things to Him. Heed His words, beloved!

In their churches, no one ever told them they must be filled with the Holy Spirit so they have power to live out and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.They never opened their Bibles to learn for themselves that Jesus commands all believers to do so. 

Instead, they did what the world can do equally well. They met the needs of humankind in natural ways. They did not do the things that only Jesus Christ can do, working through them.

Verses 44-45 —

So these believers, the goats who are on His left, will also be surprised. They will say, Lord, when did we see You and not do these things? When did we not take care of You (serve You)? 

Lord, we worked hard and spent the church’s resources in order to serve natural food and natural drink, inviting them to come and eat and drink in our church’s fellowship hall. We worked hard and spent the church’s resources to take food and drink to others! We worked hard and spent the church’s resources on “attractional” events at our church.We gave them clothing from our clothes closets, and went to prisons to visit them.

And He will say, Truly I say to you, that you did not do it for even one of My sheep, who now stand before Me on My right. So, you did not do it for Me. You did nothing for Me, because you did nothing for them!

Jesus was never able to rejoice with them, He was never blessed by them and by all who would come to repentance and faith in Him, because they never did what He commanded them to do. That is why He will curse them and sentence them to hell. 

If only they had done His Father’s will, by asking Him to fill them with His Holy Spirit, they would have been His sheep, and at His right hand, along with all of those who came to faith and were filled through the ministry the Lord did through them. If only! But they did not.

Verse 46 —

And just as in Matthew 25:30, the believers on His left, the goats, will go into eternal punishment. But the righteous, those filled with His righteousness who went out with His gospel, will go into eternal life.

He does not desire that any should perish, O believer. He desires that all should come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). 

Beloved, if you will heed His words, see the poverty of your heart, and ask Him to change it, He will surely do it. He will fill you with His Spirit, and you will not come to Him empty-handed, but will have done what He commanded you to do. 

Then, at the time of judgment, You will be a glad sheep. When all believers are separated, you will find yourself to be at His right hand. And you, even you, will become a co-heir with Him.

Lord Jesus, may many heed your words today. Amen.

2Corinthians 2 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 2

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I move from 1Corinthians into 2Corinthians Chapter 2 today.We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in you, and in us!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Filled With the Fragrance of Christ.” Again, this is part of becoming the Amen!

Verse 1 —

Paul speaks again about his decision not to come to Corinth. In 2Corinthians 1:23, he said it was to spare them another painful visit.

He determined not to come “for my own sake,” he says. A better translation is “with myself.” Why? So he would not come to them in sorrow (sadness, grief) again. He was not angry, but filled with grief and sadness, when he came for that painful visit, and when he sent them the severe letter. He did not want to be grieved again.

Verse 2 —

For if Paul causes them sorrow (grief), then what makes him glad (rejoicing) but the ones whom I made sorrowful (filled with grief)? His reason for coming was to correct them, to wake them up, to rescue them from spiritual peril. And, if they have heeded His words, seen their hearts, and cried out to the Lord for Him to change their hearts, Both Paul and the Lord are glad, indeed! That is godly sorrow, beloved!

Verse 3 — 

The words Paul writes in Verse 2 were also in the severe letter that he sent. Why did he send that severe letter? So that when he came, he would not have sorrow (grief) from those over whom he should be able to rejoice. They are his children in the faith, and yet, they are rebelling and sinning against the Lord! He made them sorrowful, so they would repent. Oh, how he wants to be able to rejoice over them rather than be grieved by them!

And yet, he has confidence (is convinced, believes) regarding all of the believers at Corinth, that his joy will be the joy of them all — that all will repent and be filled with the Spirit. Then they will rejoice together!

Beloved, Paul and I want you to have the joy we have, and you will, when you heed and see and cry out, and are filled with the Spirit! You will be filled with His joy — and it is joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Verse 4 —

It was not easy for Paul to write that severe letter. It was birthed out of much affliction (burden) and anguish of heart. It was bathed in many (abundant) tears — not so the believers at Corinth would be grieved, but so that they might know the love He has especially (superabundantly) for them!

It is that way for all of us who speak to today’s church. We love you with God’s divine love. It is not easy to speak and write these words. We are compelled to do it because of the divine love of God with which He has filled our hearts!

Verse 5 —

But if any have caused sorrow, they have, to some degree, caused sorrow not to Paul so much as to the whole church at Corinth. He does not say this to be burdensome, but to speak the truth. Sin of even one member of the church affects everyone, beloved!

Verses 6-8 —

Now, he says the punishment inflicted by the whole church at Corinth on a particular one (see 1Corinthians 5) has been sufficient (fit, ample). The sinner has grieved and repented.

Therefore, they should forgive and comfort him and not cause him further sorrow. Otherwise, he might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 

So, the church should now bring him back in, and reaffirm (confirm) their love for him. He has received appropriate discipline.

It is just as John Wesley did with the penitent bands. If you sinned, you were placed with fellow sinners, separate from the church. You were exhorted in the penitent band until your heart became repentant and the fruit of repentance — a changed heart — was evident in you. Then you were welcomed back into the church, in the love of Christ.

Verse 9 —

Now Paul explains the purpose for the instructions he gave them in 1Corinthians 5. He instructed them in order to put them to the test, to see if they would obey his exhortation to separate the sinner from the church and allow Satan to sift him for a while. 
And now he puts them to the test again, to see if they will welcome the man, who has now repented, back into the congregation. If they do, Paul will see that they are obedient in all things related to this situation.

Verses 10-11 —

Paul says anytime you forgive anyone anything, know that Paul has also already forgiven —

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Whatever Paul has forgiven, he has forgiven in the presence of Christ (for he stands before Christ, per 1Timothy 5:21, 6:12 and 2Timothy 4:1). And Paul has forgiven all of them (whoever), for their own sakes, so that they may also forgive in the same way as he has forgiven.

Why? So that Satan would not take advantage of (defraud, steal from) Paul, or them. Paul says, we are not ignorant of his schemes. I tell you the truth, Satan will do whatever he can to make infants in Christ fight with one another! 

Satan rubs his hands together with glee when there is upheaval in the church. He rejoices when believers do not forgive one another, for in so doing, their spiritual survival is in peril! Oh, how hearts need to be changed, completely, by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. As it was at Corinth, so it is now! 

Verses 12-13 — 

Paul now speaks of his missionary journey to Troas and then on to Macedonia. When Paul was filled with the Spirit (Acts 9:17), the Lord gave him something that he manifests, as he goes  — the sweet aroma of knowledge (ginosko, absolute knowledge, beyond first knowledge) of Christ!

He does not speak of these things to boast, but so that the believers at Corinth would see the results of obedience to Christ’s command to be filled with the Spirit and pour forth His fragrance wherever they go! It is the same for me, as I speak to today’s believers!

Paul went to Troas, where a door was opened for him in the Lord. It was an opportunity given by the Lord to carry the gospel to them.

He had no rest for his spirit, though, because he did not find Titus, his brother, there. So he went on to Macedonia, and Titus joined him there (see 7:6-7).

Verse 14 —

Paul now launches into great thanksgiving, and a glorious picture of what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and out in the mission field (which may be your own neighborhood, beloved)! 

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ! It is a procession where Christ is the Leader, and all who are His follow after Him, rejoicing and celebrating His work in and through them! This is not an exercise in imagination, but it is truth! Indeed, we triumph over persecution and over Satan’s wiles through Christ in us! He has filled us, and dwells in us fully, as do the Father, and the Spirit! 

And as we go about, Christ manifests (shows forth) the sweet aroma (fragrance) of the knowledge of Him in every place! Wherever we go, the fragrance of Christ goes with us, and is readily detected by everyone around us! And we have that fragrance because we fully know Him!

Verses 15-16 —

And that fragrance is not just detected around us as we walk about the earth, but it is a sweet savor to God our Father, in heaven.The sweet fragrance of His Son in us fills His nostrils! How wonder-full!

And our fragrance goes forth to everyone — those who are being saved, and those who are perishing. Some choose to perish, because they reject Christ, beloved. 

To the one, an aroma from death to death — that is, to those who reject Christ. But to the other, it is an aroma from life to life — that is, to those who receive Christ. It is not ordinary life, not the existence I used to live, but zoe, life as God has it, eternal life! Hallelujah!

And who is adequate (competent, worthy) for these things? Certainly not I! But the Lord does His work through Paul and all who are filled with His Spirit. He causes that fragrance to emanate from us! We dare not believe, nor would it even cross our minds that we could possibly carry the gospel, apart from Him —

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Verse 17 —

For we are not like many, peddling (adulterating) the word of God, but as from sincerity (purity of heart), but as from God (He who has sent us out), we speak in Christ in the sight of God! Beware! There are many false teachers who peddle the Word of God today, claiming (among other false things) that you can get whatever you want from God by claiming Scripture passages. The operative word is, “you.” Beloved, just like me, you need a new heart after you are saved, just like I did. You need to obey Christ’s command to be filled with the Holy Spirit! 

The words I speak are not my words, beloved. I would not begin to know how to preach the gospel. I do as Paul exhorted Timothy to do —

2Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

And yet Paul and the others and I depend on Christ, and His Holy Spirit, to empower us and give usP wisdom, when we teach and preach. I will teach all of the truth, as He shares it with me when I ascend His hill, early in the morning!

And like Paul and the rest, I speak in Christ. I am standing before God, in His presence, because He has purified my heart —

Psalm 24:3  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? 

And who may stand in His holy place?

4  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 

Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood 

And has not sworn deceitfully.

I could not give myself clean hands and a pure heart. He did it! I am nothing — I am not adequate. But He makes me adequate, just as He does Paul and the rest, by filling us with His Spirit! We will see it, in Chapter 3. 

Lord, may your church heed the words given by Paul to the believers at Corinth. As you show them their hearts, may they cry out for heart change. You will gladly do it! 

Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it.

ARE YOU AFRAID?

[SW347] 10/06/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Are You Afraid?

Text: Matthew 25:14-30

Are you afraid to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, by which you were saved and reconciled to God? Do you see Jesus as a hard man who asks you to do more than you are comfortable doing? Do you fear persecution? If so, I pray you would heed Jesus’ words today.

Verse 14 —

In this parable, Jesus speaks of a man who goes on a journey. Jesus Christ went on a  journey back to the Father, after He came, died, and rose, and then ascended and sat down at the Father’s right hand. Then He poured out His Holy Spirit.

He called you, O believer, you who are His own slave, His bondservant, one who should serve Him out of love, though your debt of sin has been paid by Him. And He delivered and entrusted to you His possessions which are of incalculable value and cost —the gospel of salvation, reconciliation, and sanctification! 

Verse 15 —

He gave His gospel to every believer, according to their ability. He did not give them instructions on what to do with what He gave them. But I know that He assigns each believer a sphere, an area in which to proclaim salvation through Him (2Corinthians 10:13), and has given us all His great commission (Matthew 28:19-20)

He gave sufficiently to one group of believers so they would be able to proclaim His gospel and watch Him save and sanctify many, even to the ends of the earth. He gave sufficiently to a second group of believers so they would be able to proclaim His gospel and watch Him save and sanctify many in their own country. 

He gave sufficiently to a third group of believers so they would be able to proclaim His gospel and watch Him save and sanctify those who were in their city (see Acts 1:8).

Verse 16 —

Immediately, without hesitation, the first group of believers went forth with the gospel, even to the ends of the earth! And many repented and believed into Jesus Christ! 

Those in the first group were faithful to the Lord, and gladly shared the gospel, just according to what He had given them to do. They could not stop speaking of what they had seen and heard, of how the Lord had saved, reconciled and sanctified them, and proclaim that He will do the same, for whosoever will believe into Jesus Christ, and obey Him! 

I proclaim that Jesus Christ made me a “such were,” beloved — a sinner far from God, who repented and is now saved, reconciled and filled with His Holy Spirit  (1Corinthians 6:11)! I proclaim His great mercy to any who will repent as I did! I proclaim that He died for our sins, rose, ascended, was glorified and has poured out His Holy Spirit to empower His church to walk as He walked in this world (1John 2:6)!

Verse 17 — 

The second group of believers also immediately, without hesitation, went forth with the gospel! And many repented and believed into Jesus Christ! As with the first group, these were faithful to the Lord, and gladly shared the gospel, just according to what He had given them to do. Again, they could not stop speaking of what they had seen and heard!

Verse 18 —

The third group of believers responded differently. Having received from Jesus His gospel, they went away, and dug holes, and hid the gospel by burying it. They called themselves “quiet Christians.” 

Verse 19 —

Jesus Christ is coming back, and He will reckon with all of the believers to whom He has given His gospel of incalculable value. He will ask them for an account of what they have done with what He has given them.

Verses 20-21 —

The first group of believers, who obediently went to the ends of the earth with the gospel, will be able to give Him a wonderful report when they stand before Him on the day of judgment! They will have doubled what the Lord has given them! To those, Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put in you charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master!”

Verses 22-23 —

The second group of believers, who obediently went throughout their countries with the gospel, will be able to give Him a wonderful report! They will have doubled what the Lord had given them! To those, Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put in you charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master!”

Both the first and second group of believers will be rewarded for immediately and gladly going forth to multiply that which He had given them. And their immediate reward, as they faithfully went, was to have front-row seats to watch the Lord give them a great harvest of souls! 

But that is not all He will do, when they give their wonderful report to Him! He will put them in charge of many things, in His kingdom in heaven! 

And they will enter into the joy of the Lord, a continual state of rejoicing with Him, face-to-face! They and He will rejoice eternally over all those who came to faith in Him and were subsequently filled with His Spirit so they, too, could be sent out! Even while they are here, they have a foretaste of His joy — it is joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)!

Verse 24 —

But the third group of believers, who were to proclaim His gospel in their cities, will have a different report. As they stand before Jesus in the day of judgment, they will try to justify their disobedience, saying, “We know You are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.”

Their words to Him will reveal the poverty-stricken condition of their hearts. They never came to know Him intimately by being filled with His Holy Spirit, or they would have known that He is not a hard man at all! They would have known that the Lord had prepared in advance what they were to do; all they had to do was walk in it —

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

Even while they stand before His judgment seat, the third group of believers will accuse Him of being a hard man. They will accuse Him of making them work where He had not worked. Thus, even face-to-face with Him, they sin against Him, falsely characterizing Him as being hard and lazy.

If they had known Him intimately, they would have understood that He had sown seed in advance. They would have known that by His power, they would be able to reap the harvest. They would have known that He makes seed germinate and grow!

Mark 4:26   And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. 28 “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

But they disobeyed His command to be filled with the Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). As a result, they falsely characterized Him, refused to share the gospel He had given them, and resented Him. 

Verse 25 —

This third group of believers will even say more! They will tell Jesus Christ that they were afraid. Of what? That He would treat them unfairly. 

Thus, they will falsely characterize Him as being unfair. They will say this to the righteous Son of God who saved them from God’s wrath and reconciled them to God, taking upon Himself the punishment they deserved, by selflessly going to the cross for them (Isaiah 53:5).

Those in the third group of believers want only to go to heaven, and believe there should be nothing more required of them than to repent and believe. They do not care about reaching people with His incalculably valuable gospel. Why should they have to do the work that Jesus should be doing?

They are also afraid of the persecution and rejection that always comes when believers share His gospel. They knew that He had told believers in advance that they would be persecuted for His name’s sake (John 15:21).  

They do not want the world (those who reject Jesus Christ) to hate them (John 15:19). They do not want to endure physical harm or even death for the sake of the gospel. 

So they will say to Jesus that they hid His gospel, burying it so no one in their cities could discover it. Then, after accusing Him of being hard, lazy and unfair as they stand before the Lord at the time of reckoning, they will say, “Here is Your gospel that You gave us.” They will not be ashamed that they have done nothing with His incalculably valuable gospel. 

Verses 26-27 —

So He will say to the third group of believers, His own slaves, You wicked, lazy slaves! You knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather were I scattered no seed. He will repeat to them their accusations against Him.

And He will say to them, At the very least, you should have given My gospel to even one person who would believe it, be saved, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then gladly go forth with it, as the others did. Then, on My arrival, I would receive you and that one person to whom you gave My gospel.

Verse 28 —

Because those in the third group of believers did nothing with what He had given them, Jesus Christ will command that the gospel He had given to these wicked, lazy slaves be given back to Him, and He will give what they buried to those in the first group, to take to the ends of the earth. 

He will issue His judgment regarding all three groups of believers. He wants you to understand both the rewards of glad obedience and the consequences of disobedience. 

Verse 29 —

To the first two groups who immediately and gladly obeyed and went out into the fields He had prepared in advance, He said, I shall give you more, in My kingdom. You will be honored in My kingdom.

But Jesus’ words will be different, for the third group of believers who 

— Did not go out into the fields where Jesus assigned them to do the work He had prepared in advance

— Did not obey Him by staying and waiting for the promise of the Father, so they would be filled with the Holy Spirit so they would have His power when they went out 

— Did not know Him intimately and thus falsely characterized Him as a hard and lazy Master who was not trustworthy

— Refused the persecution that is part of proclaiming Him, because they were concerned only for themselves

To the third group of believers, His own slaves who stood before Him, Jesus will say, Even what you have (your salvation) will be taken away. The relationship between Him and them will be severed, per The Expositors Bible Commentary (EBC) . 

Verse 30 —

And Jesus will say, throw out these worthless, useless slaves, cast them into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (clenching their teeth because of pain and anguish).

These slaves will be condemned to hell, banished from His presence forever, dear believer! Again, from the EBC, “To fail to do good and use what God has entrusted to us to use is grievous sin, which results not only in the loss of neglected resources but in rejection by the Master, banishment from His presence, and tears and gnashing of teeth.”

The words of the third group of believers were proof of their own guilt. The consequence of their lack of obedience to Him and lack of intimate knowledge of Him will be condemnation to hell.

Why does the third group of believers hide the gospel? They have not been filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ commands us to stay and wait for the promise of the Father. If they had obeyed His command, they would have received His power, and they would have become His witnesses, ones who are as He is in the world —

Acts 1:4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

1John 4:17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

Obey Him today, beloved. Then you will be able to multiply the incalculably valuable gospel He has given you. Then you will not fear when you stand before Him, for He will judge you to have been obedient and faithful.

And when you are filled with the Spirit, you will not fear persecution, but will boldly speak even to those who are persecuting you, just as Peter and John did when they stood before the Sanhedrin 

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Beloved, heed the words of the Lord! Obey Him by waiting until you receive His power, His divine love, and a pure heart. Then you will immediately and gladly go out with His gospel, compelled by His love. And by His power, many will be saved and reconciled, many will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus, they will also be sent out with His gospel. 

Lord Jesus, may today’s believers heed Your words, see the poverty of their hearts, and cry out for You to change them. Amen. So be it!

2Corinthians 1 — To a Church in Crisis, with Love

Text: 2Corinthians 1

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I move from 1Corinthians into 2Corinthians Chapter 1 today. This letter was written by Timothy and Paul to the church at Corinth after a painful visit by Paul (and probably Timothy). Paul will write of his deep grief and sorrow because the attitude of the Corinthian believers required that he add a severe letter of rebuke.

Timothy and Paul note that some at Corinth have repented. But some still do not understand (fully know). And they must come to this full knowledge, in order for Paul to be able to boast about them when he stands before Christ in the day of the Lord, to be able to say, “Look at what the believers at Corinth have done, because they are filled with Your Spirit and walking as You walked in the world!” And they must come to this full knowledge so they are able to boast that it was because of Timothy and Paul’s work among them.

I were to give this a title, it would be, “A Partial Understanding.” That is the condition of the believers at Corinth, and I have deep grief and sorrow that the same is true of today’s church, as well! 

Verses 1-2—

Paul identifies himself once again as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. He writes that this letter is from Timothy, “our brother,” and him. Again, he emphasizes his God-appointed apostleship, which has been questioned by the believers at Corinth. 

And he assures them that Timothy is his brother and theirs. They all have believed into Jesus Christ. But we will see, later in 2Corinthians, that many in the church at Corinth have begun to follow a different Jesus! How I wish that such a thing did not happen in today’s church, beloved, but it does!

He calls them the church of God at Corinth, but does not address them as saints. He reminds them of who they belong to, and that they are part of a greater whole that includes the saints throughout Achaia, the region where Corinth is located. 

He ends the greeting with “Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is greeting commonly used by Paul. 

He prays for them to have grace (the divine influence on their hearts and His reflection in their lives) and peace (the peace of Jesus Christ). These are only possible through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father of the Corinthians, as well as of Timothy and Paul, for they have believed into Jesus Christ —

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

Verses 3-5 —

Remember that Paul said a wide door for effective service (ministry) had opened in Ephesus, but that there were many adversaries (1Corinthians 16:9). Now he writes of the perils and affliction Timothy and he endured in Asia Minor, after they were persecuted by Demetrius and the rest in Ephesus (see Acts 19:24-38). 

Paul blesses the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (solace, consolation, exhortation). Because of His mercy, God the Father gave Timothy and him consolation amidst their great persecution for the sake of the gospel. And indeed, there is much persecution of the believers at Corinth.

God Himself comforts Timothy and Paul in all their affliction (persecution, tribulation), so they are able to comfort those who are in every affliction with the same comfort that God gave them. Timothy and Paul are filled with His Spirit, so His comfort flows from within them to others who are persecuted for the sake of the gospel — including the believers at Corinth. How wonderful that He does that for all who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ, even today!

Timothy and Paul super-abundantly suffer persecution as Christ super-abundantly suffered persecution. But they receive super-abounding comfort, in Christ! 

It is true of all Christians who are persecuted. I will add that in the 20th and 21st centuries, more Christians have been persecuted for their faith than in all of the centuries since the church was birthed at Pentecost approximately 2,000 years ago! And still, Christ comforts them, just as He did Paul and Timothy!

Verses 6-7 —

All that Paul and Timothy endure is for the comfort (consolation) of the believers at Corinth. All they endure is for the salvation of the Corinthians. Paul uses the present tense (“is”) here. But aren’t all who are presently in the church at Corinth saved?

The Corinthians were surely comforted when they first heard the gospel from Paul, realized their need for a Savior, and came to faith in Jesus Christ. But the condition is dire in Corinth, as he writes this letter, to the point where some are in danger of losing their salvation. So, all that Timothy and Paul endure was for their salvation then, and is for their salvation now.  

NOTE: I checked the commentaries, because I wanted to be sure I was understanding this passage correctly. “The spiritual survival of some of them is in jeopardy,” writes Paul Barnett in The New International Commentary on the New Testament! 

But when the wayward members of the church at Corinth repent and are filled with the Holy Spirit, they will share in Paul and Timothy’s consolation through Christ. In the midst of the persecution suffered by the believers in Corinth at the hands of their fellow Corinthians, Jesus Christ will comfort them, giving them strength to patiently endure the same kind of persecutions that Paul and Timothy endure.

Paul and Timothy’s hope for the church at Corinth is steadfast and sure, amidst the troubles at Corinth, and amidst the Corinthians’ ongoing persecution for their faith. Why? Again, they know that if those who are Spirit-filled in Corinth share in Timothy and Paul’s persecution for the sake of the gospel, then they will also receive God’s consolation. 

Verses 8-10 —

Paul does not want the believers at Corinth to be ignorant of the suffering Paul and Timothy underwent in Asia. It is the mark that theirs is a ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Here, in Paul’s own words, are some of what he has endured —

2Corinthians 11:24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

Timothy and Paul were burdened excessively, beyond their own strength, even to the point where they despaired even of life. Please understand that they were not depressed, as I have heard some teach, for they were constantly comforted and delivered by Jesus Christ. But they were utterly at a loss (i.e., “What will they do to us next?”) because of the intensity of the opposition.

Paul now launches into a series of double entendres (double meanings) for the words “death” and “delivered,” so the Corinthians may understand the kind of death they had died, and the kind of death the Lord commands all believers to die.

Paul and Timothy had the sentence of death within them. They were already filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore dead to self, their sin nature crucified. Therefore, they could both say —

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Because they were dead to self, they did not trust in themselves, but in God who raises the dead. Even if they were to physically die, they possessed eternal life! 

They trusted in God, who delivered them from so great a death (literal death from persecution, but also spiritual death had they not believed into Christ). It is on God that they have set their hope, not man. 

And Paul is confident that He will yet deliver them from future persecution that they will endure. He will do so for as long as He wants them to remain on the earth. When their lives and ministry are fulfilled, they will be delivered to the very throne room of God! Hallelujah!

Verse 11 — 

Paul does not fail to thank some of the believers at Corinth, who were co-helpers to them, through their prayers for Timothy and Paul. How did these believers help? By their prayers on behalf these two men! It is also through fellow believers’ prayers that the Lord showed them favor during this intense persecution in Asia.

Do you see that, if you know and love and obey Jesus, your prayers for those in the harvest field are heard by the Lord? Indeed, the prayers of the righteous (those made righteous by being filled with Christ’s righteousness) are powerful and effective, availing much (see James 5:16)!

Verse 12 —

Now Paul begins to address the continuing problems at the church at Corinth. The first is the Corinthians’ questioning of Timothy’s and Paul’s integrity (lack of corruption, moral uprightness). 

And so, Paul writes that Timothy and he boast in this — their consciences testify that their ministry at Corinth was done in holiness (in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit who has filled them) and godly sincerity (very exceeding divine purity), not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace (the divine influence on their hearts and its reflection in their lives) of God. That is how they have conducted themselves in the world, and especially toward the believers at Corinth.

Verses 13-14 —

Paul speaks of how the Corinthians should be able to understand (fully know) what he has written. He hopes they will be able to understand (fully know) until the end  (the day of the Lord Jesus). But the believers at Corinth only partially know. If they fully knew, they would not question Timothy’s or Paul’s integrity.

He hopes they will be able to fully know until the end (the day of the Lord Jesus). And when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they will fully know until that day!  Then, the believers at Corinth will boast in the Lord’s work done through Timothy and Paul, and Timothy and Paul will be able to boast in the work done through the believers at Corinth. 

But the believers at Corinth remain infants, even after 1Corinthians, and the visit, and the harsh letter from Paul. They still question the integrity of men sent by Christ to them. They are still not filled with the Holy Spirit, so they remain self-centered and quarrelsome. They still have not heeded Timothy and Paul’s exhortation to ask the Lord to change their hearts, so He is able to work His works through them!

Verses 15-17 —

Paul relies on the Corinthian church to have at least a partial knowledge of Timothy and him. He intended at first to come to them, so they might have a second grace. The first grace is salvation. The second is the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

He intended to pass through Corinth on the way to Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to Corinth, and then receive funds from Corinth for his journey to Judea. 

And he certainly did not make this plan lightly. He was not fickle, changing his mind at the last moment. He had planned to visit them again. He did not take counsel with the flesh (the carnal nature, or men who are carnal), so as to say, “yes” and then not come, or “no,” and then come.

Verses 19-20 —

Paul now uses a double entendre again, to lead the church at Corinth away from their contempt for him, and to the gospel. They say to Paul, You said yes, you were coming. But then you said no, you were not coming. You were fickle! You lied to us!

God is faithful. God’s Spirit has filled Timothy and Paul, and Silvanus (see verse 19), who also came to Corinth. Therefore, their word to them is faithful. Their word is not fickle, that they would say both yes and no.

All three preached the Son of God, Christ Jesus to the believers at Corinth. And the gospel of Christ is not yes and no — it is YES, in Him. 

There is no wavering, no faithlessness with Christ. If you believe into Him, you will be saved from God’s wrath, and if you obey His commands to stay and wait (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:1-4, 8), your sin nature will be crucified and you will be filled with the Spirit, like Paul and Timothy and Silvanus!

For as many as are the promises of God — the promise of salvation from God’s wrath, the promise of a Savior who would take upon Himself the punishment we deserved, the promise of the Holy Spirit who would fill us and give us new, pure hearts — all these are “yes,” in Christ!

And through Christ is Paul’s Amen, and Timothy’s Amen, and Silvanus’ Amen, and Jeff’s Amen, and my Amen! We say, “Truth!” We say, “He has made it so in us!” And God is then glorified through us! He works through us, and He receives all honor and praise from us, for what He does!

Verses 20-21 — 

The Corinthians have doubted and mistreated Paul, Timothy and Silvanus, questioning whether they are really servants of Christ. So, Paul now speaks of God’s inward anointing of him and Timothy and Silvanus. God has filled them with His Holy Spirit, equipping them to be Christ’s ambassadors!

Paul reminds the believers at Corinth that it is God who establishes (confirms) these three evangelists with the church at Corinth, and it is God who has anointed these three. It is God who has sealed them, and it is God who has given them the Spirit — the Amen — in their hearts, as a pledge, property given in advance as a downpayment for the rest! Therefore, the Corinthians have no business judging their integrity and motives!

Verses 23-24 —

Paul calls God as his witness upon his soul. He speaks the truth to the believers at Corinth. After his so-called “painful visit,” he wanted to spare them further harsh rebuke. So he did not make another visit. 

The believers at Corinth have accused Paul and the rest of “lording it over” them (domineering them, acting arrogantly toward them)! Paul answers, “We have done no such thing!” 

They are workers with the Corinthians, for the joy of the Corinthians. It was the privilege of Paul and the rest to work with them to secure their faith in Christ, which gave the Corinthians joy.

Indeed, with regard to their faith, Paul and the rest had no need to lord it over them. It is not by Paul or Timothy or any other that they can be made able to stand firm in their faith. It is by faith in Christ, and obedience of His command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

I like the King James Version here —

2Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

But do the believers at Corinth really stand by their faith? We will soon learn that not all stand in such a way, for they have not heeded Paul’s exhortation, seen the poverty of their hearts, and cried out to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Stay tuned! 

Lord Jesus, may your church heed Your words, and may hearts be changed, for the glory of the Father, and for Your glory! Amen.

YOUR REQUIRED SACRIFICE

[SW346] 09/29/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Your Required Sacrifice

 Text: Hebrews 12:1-17, etc.

Oh, beloved, today is a good day for you to make your required sacrifice. Today is a good day for you to obey the Lord by asking Him to crucify your sin nature, so you cease from struggling against sin. He longs to have you ask Him!

Verse 1 —

There is a great cloud of witnesses before you, who did not receive the promise of seeing the Christ, but now are with Him in the kingdom of heaven. When Christ came, He was crucified on a cross so, when you believe into Him, your past sins are forgiven, and you are saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to Him. 

Now, you are required to ask Him to crucify you — that is, your sin nature. You are required to offer yourself entirely to Him. That is what is meant by the second half of this verse — to lay aside (vigorously cast off) every encumbrance (burden, weight), and the SIN which so easily entangles (thwarts our attempt to run the race)! The burden of the sin nature must be cast off so sin no longer entangles you.

If you will obey Jesus Christ and stay and wait to be filled with His Holy Spirit, you will able to run the race that is set before you, pressing on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God, in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). The sin nature must go, or you will be endlessly entangled by it, and unable to complete the race (more about that in Verse 14).

Verse 2 —

Fix your eyes on Jesus, consider Him attentively! He is the Author and Perfecter of faith. He endured a cross for the joy set before Him. What joy? He saw the cloud of believers who would be not only saved and reconciled, but filled and serving as His witnesses here! 

He is the Author of your faith, the One by whom you are saved. He is the One who perfects (completes, fulfills) your faith when you obey His command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Beloved, you will be amazed at what He does in you when you ask Him to crucify your sin nature, and then through you, when you become His witness here by obeying  His command to be filled with His Spirit! I tell you the truth, beloved, when you see your heart’s poverty, you will immediately ask Him to purify your heart and fill you, for the joy set before you!

Jesus Christ fully surrendered to His Father’s will. Because of the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning the shame of it, and is now glorified at the right hand of His Father in heaven! He gave selflessly to you. He was the required sacrifice. Now it is your turn! 

You will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, when you are set free from slavery to sin (1Peter 1:8, John 8:31-36) and empowered to be Christ’s witness to a lost and dying world, and to His wandering sheep!

Verse 3 — 

Consider Him attentively! Consider, understand, perceive, contemplate, apprehend the truth! He has endured such (true) hostility from sinners who rebel against Him, then and now.When you look at His sacrifice, the hostility you endure will seem slight in comparison. 

When He fills you with His Spirit and your sin nature is crucified, you will not grow weary, nor will you lose heart. The world will hate you (John 15;19), but you will press on. You will not be able to stop speaking of what you have seen and heard (Acts 4:20)!

Verse 4 — 

But here was the problem for the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews — the Jewish believers who were scattered because of persecution. They had not yet resisted (withstood) to the point of shedding blood in their striving (struggling) against sin. 

What does that mean? A spiritual crucifixion of the sin nature! The blood of the sin nature must be shed, or they (and you) will struggle against sin and lose the battle. 

Some commentators say Verse 4 refers to persecution, but I disagree. If they are able to set aside the tenets of their denomination that can influence their interpretation, and look at this in context, it clearly pertains to crucifixion of the sin nature. They are not struggling against persecution — they are struggling against sin!

Verses 5-6 —

The writer of Hebrews says, You have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you, as His children — “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him, for those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and He scourges every child He receives (see Proverbs 3:11-12).” 

He disciplines you today, beloved, for you have not yet (withstood) to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin. But some believers do not even strive against sin, because they are told they don’t need to strive against sin. Beloved, that advice goes contrary to the Word of God! Run from those who tell you such things!

You are His child. He loves you. Therefore, He disciplines you today. He scourges (admonishes, convicts, tells a fault, rebukes, reproves) you today, for He has received you as His child. Do not disregard His discipline. Do not faint when you are rebuked by Him, when He tells you that you have a fault, that you need something you do not have. 

Verse 7 — 

If you endure (undergo) chastening (disciplinary correction), you are being dealt with by God as His child, for even in the natural, fathers discipline their children. But if you have not been chastened by Him, though all of His children have been chastened, then you reveal that you are illegitimate (false, a bastard) and are not His child!

Heed these words, beloved! You will likely never hear these truths from most of the teachers and preachers and prophets of today’s church. They will tell you, “God loves you! He is just love! He will not correct you. You don’t need to be filled with the Spirit. You don’t need to worry about sin. Once saved, always saved!”

Verse 8 —

If you had a good earthly father, and he disciplined you, how much more should you submit yourself to the discipline of the Father of spirits, your perfect heavenly Father, AND LIVE (have eternal life)? Will you revere Him as you revered your good earthly Father? Or will you reject this word?

The recipients of this letter are Hebrews who have believed into Jesus Christ. But they are still willfully disobeying God —

— They worship angels (Hebrews 1:1-14)

— They heed the words of Judaizers who urge them to follow the Law of Moses (Hebrews 8:13)

— They discount sin (Hebrews 3:17), as their fathers did

Their salvation is at stake. Either they will submit to Him and keep the eternal life they received when they believed, or they will lose it. Your salvation is at stake, O believer in today’s church. Will you submit, or will you reject this word?

Verses 10-11 —

If you had a good natural father, he disciplined you for a short time, as seemed best to him. But much more so, your perfect Father in heaven disciplines you for your good, so you may share in (become partakers of) His holiness. 

How do you become a partaker of His holiness? You ask Him to fill you with His Spirit, and thus crucify your sin nature. Then you become a partaker of His divine, holy nature.

These words of discipline do not give you joy right now, but rather sorrow (cause you grief). But to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields this peaceful fruit (fruit of good effect), the fruit of His righteousness. When you are filled with His Spirit and the Son and the Father dwell in you permanently, so does Their righteousness!

Verses 12-13 —

Therefore, though you are shaken by these words, strengthen your weak hands, strengthen your wobbling knees! Make straight paths for your feet (Matthew 3:1-3, John the Baptist quoting from Isaiah 40:3), so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, a reference to Jacob’s wrestling with the Lord (Genesis 32:24), until the Lord touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh, dislocating it and leaving Jacob with a permanent limp. 

The writer of Hebrews and I say, submit to your Father! You are spiritually lamed by your sin nature, unable to walk as Jesus walked in this world. But He will heal you of your lameness, by crucifying your sin nature! Then you will walk as He walked, and will be as He is (1John 2:8, 4:17)!

Verse 14 — 

The writer of Hebrews now issues two commands —

— Pursue (endeavor earnestly to acquire) peace with all men. Part 1 of “all men” refers to the church. Within the church, do not stir up strife. You know that such things are the result of the sin nature. When you pursue God and ask Him to change your heart, you will no longer stir up strife among the brethren, for your sin nature will be crucified. Part 2 of “all men” is to proclaim to everyone the gospel of peace with God through Christ.

— Pursue (endeavor earnestly to acquire) the sanctification (purity of heart) without which no one will see the Lord (Matthew 5:8)! Only He can do it in you. Ask Him to crucify your sin nature, and He will replace it with His pure, divine nature!

Verses 15-17 —

Another set of commands is given. See to it — look diligently — to ensure that no one lacks the grace of God. Remember, grace is the divine influence on the heart, and its reflection in the life. 

The lack of the divine influence on your heart will be evident if you bear the fruit of bitterness (poison), which springs up in Christians whose sin nature is alive and well. By their bitterness, many are morally contaminated and made unclean in the eyes of the Lord! Many then, and many now! 

Paul exhorts the church at Corinth —

2Corinthians 6:1   And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain —

Look diligently, also, to ensure that there be no immoral or profane person among you, no one like Esau, who sold his birthright for some stew Jacob had made (Genesis 25:29-34). After Esau sold his birthright, he did not inherit the blessing of God, even though he sought it with many tears. Instead, his father, Isaac, bestowed the promise of God on Jacob.

Paul exhorts the Corinthians —

1Corinthians 5:11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one.

Do not sell the blessing of the infilling of the Spirit and freedom from slavery to sin, in order to have what your sin nature now craves. If you sell it by refusing to give your required sacrifice, you will come short of it, and will fall, just as many did in the wilderness wanderings after their Exodus from Egypt —

Hebrews 4:1   Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of (lack) it. 

Hebrews 4:11 Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest (resting from our struggle against sin), so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

Submit yourselves to this word from your Father in heaven! Ask Him fill you with His Spirit and thereby crucify your sin nature. Then you will have given your required sacrifice! You will have shed blood in your struggling against sin, and it will be entirely removed from your nature! Amen!

FALSE CHILDREN

[SW345] 09/22/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

False Children

 Text: Isaiah 30:9-19, etc.

Who are the false children? What do they do and say? And what does the Lord say to them? I tell you the truth, He longs to be gracious to them, if they will cry out to Him! His desire and mine is that all of his children be true to Him!

Verse 9 —

His own children who rebel against Him are the false children — they are untrue, faithless, and have lied to Him, pledging allegiance to Him while they go their own way. They execute a plan, but not His. 

The Lord says, They make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin. They rebel against Him by willfully disobeying Him, and further disobey Him by seeking help from Egypt (Isaiah 30:2).

What does that have to do with you? Egypt is a type, a symbol, of the world and of sin. Many of the Lord’s children do not look to Him. And so, this scripture is applicable to today’s church. She looks to man’s ways. She seeks help and allies herself with those who do not know God. 

Today’s church seeks to be a friend to the world, rather than evangelizing it. She ignores her call to speak the true gospel of salvation from the wrath of God and reconciliation to Him, by believing into Jesus Christ. Jesus says this, if you are truly His —

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

The Lord’s false children are unwilling to listen to His true prophets whom He has sent to them again and again. They are unwilling to hear and heed the instruction of the Lord, through His prophets. They prefer the words of the false prophets, who they view as kind and loving, and who speak words that please them and stroke their egos. It is the same in today’s church!

Verse 10 — 

His false children say to His seers, those who behold the Lord and hear His words, “You must not see!” They do not want to know what the Lord says. 

And to His prophets, who gaze upon the Lord’s face and hear His words, they say, “You must not prophesy to us what is right (that is, you must not prophesy straightforwardly, you must not prophesy against what we are doing).”

But who shall His true prophets obey? Peter and the apostles responded to the Jewish leaders who told them to stop teaching in Jesus’ name —

Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

His  false children want pleasant words — smooth (flattering) things! I was at a women’s conference where a true teacher of the Word of God spoke from Isaiah, calling this group of women to repent. They had openly confessed that they willfully disobey God! 

What was their response? Nearly all the women rebelled, saying they are princesses and do not need to repent! They had been listening to false teachers who flattered them!

His false children do not want to hear the Word of God, which is living and active, and sharper than any double-edged sword, able to divide soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and which judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (see Hebrews 4:12)! Beloved, it is the same in today’s church!

Many who are in today’s church are unaccustomed to the word of righteousness, preferring to take in only milk, for they are yet infants. Thus, they are unable to discern good from evil. The writer of Hebrews says —

Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice (doing/obeying the Word of God) have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

His false children want the Lord’s prophets to prophesy illusions (deceit). They have listened to false prophets who tell them smooth things, who flatter them, who say, God will not deal with you for your rebellion against him. Come and rebel with us! Seek God for things. Do not seek to know Him intimately, or you might actually learn His truth and see us for who we are!

Verse 11 —

So, to the prophet who spoke at the conference, and to the prophets of Isaiah’s day, His children say, “Get out of the way! Turn aside from the path! Cease from speaking about the Holy One of Israel!”

A bishop in my denomination came to a large meeting, invited to speak by our bishop. The man said, I don’t often get invitations to speak. Most leaders of our denomination prefer that I just stay where I am, in the church the Lord has given me to shepherd. The people there are accustomed to the word of righteousness, for it is all that I speak, and they eagerly receive it. 

He teaches holiness of heart and action. They go hand-in-hand. When your  heart is pure, you will walk like Jesus in this world. Are you holy on the inside, so you walk holy, like Jesus did, in this world?

So, how does the Lord respond to His false children who rebel against Him?

Verse 12 —

Therefore, thus says the Holy One of Israel! He is the Holy One of the church, too! He is holy! Have you cried out for Him to make you holy? He longs to hear your cry!

The Holy One of Israel says to His false children, You have put your trust in oppression (tyranny, cruel and oppressive government) and guile (perversity), turning away from Me. You have relied on (sought the support) of the world, and of false prophets. Do you not realize that, rather than trust your God, you are trusting Egypt, which treated you cruelly? How quickly you forget that I delivered  you from their oppression and cruelty!

Do you not understand that today, the world will do the same? They do not know God, and they do not have His character, His truthfulness and faithfulness? Do you not understand that, if you listen to false prophets, you will be led down the broad path that leads to destruction? (See Matthew 7:13.) 

Verses 13-14 —

The Holy One of Israel continues, saying, Therefore, because you are false children, following after that which will destroy you rather than hearing and heeding My words, this iniquity (sin, turning aside from the Lord) will be like a breach about to fall. 

There is a breach, a broken place, between you and Me, says the Lord! It is about to fall, just as a breach in a wall causes it to fall! The collapse (crashing down) of His false children will come in an instant, suddenly, in the time it takes to wink your eye!

It will be like the smashing of a potter’s jar, so ruthlessly (He shall not have pity) shattered that a sherd (broken piece of pottery) will not be found among its pieces, large enough to take fire from a hearth, or scoop water from a well. Turn, beloved! Return to your Lord!

Verses 15-17 —

The Lord has said, In repentance and rest (sticking fast, like glue) you will be saved. In quietness (settling in with Me) and trust (trusting in Me) is your strength. But you were not willing. 

Instead, you wanted to hear flattering words. You wanted to be called princes and princesses. You listened to lying prophets and believed them. 

You shunned My prophets, who called you to repentance and rest, who called you to settle in with Me and trust in Me alone. These things will lead you to destruction. 

You say you will flee on horses (symbols of natural strength). Then you shall flee! Those who pursue you shall be swift. I, the Lord, the Holy One, will reverse what I did for faithful Joshua, who rejoiced when the Lord gave Israel victory over their enemies, saying 

Joshua 23:10 “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.”

But 1,000 of you will flee one enemy, and you will flee at the threat of five. Your enemy, the devil, will defeat you!

Verses 18-19 —

But here is the mercy of the Holy One of Israel, O wayward church filled with false children who listen to false teachers! He waits on high for you to cry out.

Isaiah says, The Lord longs to be gracious to you, to adhere you to Himself, just as a bondservant who asks his master to permanently be his servant, even after his debt is paid, because the bondservant loves his master (Exodus 21;5-6).  

He waits on high to have compassion, to have pity, on you. He executes His justice upon you for your sin, but His justice also is expressed in His desire to restore you and bring you into a holy, intimate relationship with Him by filling you with His Holy Spirit, O believer!

He is waiting for the sound of your cry, He says. The Hebrew word means, “bleating.”  He waits to hear the bleating of His sheep who are in danger. And when He hears it, He will answer you. But you will not cry until you see your condition, and you will never see your condition if you continue to follow after false prophets who flatter you with the smooth things that they speak!

How blessed are those who long to adhere themselves to Him like glue, who long to ask Him to make them His permanent bondservant who serves out of love, though their debt is paid in the very blood of Christ! 

Lord Jesus, may your church hear Your voice, and see her folly. May she see the danger she is in, and may You hear the bleating of your sheep. I know that You will be gracious to them and will surely rescue them, if they cry out for you, just as you rescued me! Amen.