Friday, July 1, 2022

Welcome

July 2022 is now posted.


We will be posting the Glorious Gospel articles individually below. A PDF file (large print) can be downloaded under the Archives tab and printed if desired, as well as past editions.

There is audio from Grace Assembly Church services.

 The Glorious Gospel

Continued


Jack Davis


The Glorious Church

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” Eph. 5:25-27.


This “church glorious” points us to the ultimate product of His love and the working of His power. Strong’s concordance gives synonyms for the word translated “glorious” here as splendid, gorgeous, and honorable. This speaks of those that greatly appreciate our dear Lord’s giving, are most receptive to and fully reciprocate His love. Those made kings and priests unto God, and shall reign with Him, are set apart by the cleansing, cleansed by the washing of water by the word. Those Old Testament priests prepared for entering the holiest by washing at the laver. That laver seemed to be both look  glass and wash basin. See Ex. 30:18 & 38:8; II Cor. 3:18.


The Holy Spirit does this work in us today, by the Word. Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you, They are spirit, and they are life” John 6:63. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” John 15:3. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” John. 17:17.


The gracious work that our dear Lord is presently doing in the church is preparation for a glorious presentation. This is a viable for every believer, but not all will submit to Him for its completion. The individual in whom this work is being done is part of a minority. Out of Adam’s body God took a rib, and of that rib, God prepared for him a wife – Gen. 2. Adam was a type of Him that was to come (Rom. 5:14), even Jesus Christ, the last Adam – I Cor. 15:45.


Our Apostle Paul also ministered to this end, for the presentation of a chaste virgin to Christ – II Cor. 11:3 & Col. 1:28-29. Oh, who will accept love’s sweetest engagement for that most glorious union? Will you go? Rom. 7:4. That company of believers to be presented unto Him, and by His side as His workmanship will be all glorious within, inwrought gold – Psalms 45:9-15.


“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” I Thess. 5:23-24.


“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable the unproveable in his sight: If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” Col. 1:21-23.


The distance is immeasurable between what we were by nature, and what He has in mind for us. The same is true with all we could accomplish in ourselves. Our part is to present our bodies a living sacrifice, Let, yield, permit submit!!


We must continue in living by complete confidence in the Lord, and stay steadfastly with the hope of the gospel. We do well to remain in absolute dependance upon Him. Let us be expecting, desiring, earnestly requiring of Him, to perform all that His wonderful word has promised. We are to allow the development of the life of Christ in us, which is indeed our hope of glory. We see yet many spots and wrinkles, and weeds in our gardens. We know purging and purifying needs to be done, and we are prone to cry, “Hurry up Lord!” He is more than able and dependable to get it all done on time, as we commit and submit entirely unto Him. “Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting yielded and still.”


The Glorious Appearing

The grace of God is teaching us how to live, and to be “Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” We expect be to ready for that meeting in the air – Titus 2:11-13. Then will we fully see Him as He shines forth, manifesting His dignity, honor, and worthiness of all praise and worship. He has provided that we appear with Him in glory – Col. 3:1-2. The full overcomer’s place with Him will be made plain publicly, openly evident. It behooves us to set our affections on things above, if we haven’t already. LOVING HIS APPEARING! Letting love’s longing for His return motivate our living! No time to waste!


A Glorious Body

“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be ye followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself’ – Phil. 3:16-21.


Looking intently for our Lord’s return transforms our thinking, daily adjusts our focus for living. As we have beheld our dear Lord in His precious Word, He has been changing us from glory to glory inwardly, from one degree of glory to another. We are being marvelously transformed as He is subduing in us all things unto Himself. But soon we are to reflect, radiate outwardly His glory in differing measures. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead” I Cor. 15:41-42.


He is coming soon to be glorified in His saints, and we in Him. Is not this at least in part the essence of the gospel of the glory? It is Scripturally evident that Jesus is and always will be the brightest light in our Father’s universe. AMEN.

 Worth Worrying?


Gordon Crook, Pastor
Grace Assembly, Wichita, Kansas


Jesus asks a lot of questions during His earthly ministry. Most of them are rhetorical questions to make a point of something important. This is a good method to help people consider your point and to remember it.


In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asks, “And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?” He is teaching us to trust in our Heavenly Father, and in verses 25 through 34, we find Him demonstrating the Father’s care by comparing us to the birds and to flowers. 


We, as human beings, have a tendency to worry about all sorts of things in our lives. The meaning of the word used by Jesus is “to be anxious.” Anxiety often leads us to act in irrational ways. Worrying about something never changes anything. In fact, it can even make us sick. You might have heard someone say they were “worried sick.”


Jesus wanted us to know that our Heavenly Father cares about us and sees our every need, and He will supply our needs. This is not an encouragement to sit around and do nothing, so God can drop everything in our lap, but to know that God does supply. We need not need to worry about our own effort.


This was not something new the Jesus brought to them (and us), we find this theme throughout the Old Testament. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalms 55:22. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalms 56:3. “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalms 34:4.


God did not just start caring about His children when Jesus came to the earth, He has always cared about His children. Even the very place we live is evidence of God’s care. The amazing detail of what is required for us to live on this earth is far beyond some random happening. The distance of the earth from the sun, the size of the earth, the exact composition of our atmosphere, and on and on with the details required for us to survive. God provided that, and He sustains it. “Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding (sustaining) all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” Hebrews 1:3.


It seems very apparent that God wants us to trust Him for all our needs. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6. Sometimes I think we believe that we should go to God for our really difficult needs that we cannot figure out ourselves. However, scripture is clear about taking everything to Him. 


This also means that we should recognize that everything comes from God lest we get to thinking that somehow we are responsible for all we have. Our culture today wants us to think that we have worked hard for all we have, and as such, it belongs to us. This also means that we will tend to worry about it all. When we recognize that all we have comes from God, we also realize that we can rest in knowing that He provides what we need.


We can also be anxious about how much we are accomplishing in this world. Martha was quite busy to show how good a hostess she was. Mary realized that there was something better. It’s not that Martha was wrong for wanting to work hard to provide for Jesus in her house, but being too anxious about that caused her to miss out on the best. 


“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

       

We need to learn to cast all of our care on Jesus. Not because we are lazy or don’t want to take care of our own needs, but because He has told us to. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.


I go to work every day, and do my best effort at work, but I trust the Lord to provide for me. The fact that I have never been laid off is not based on my amazing work and intelligence, but rather that God has provided for me all of these years. 


Truly trusting our Father requires that we dispense with the idea that we are sufficient for ourselves. It can be easy to say that we trust God, and when things are going great, even easier. However, we need to be willing to trust God for every part of our life and every circumstance, even if they are not as we want them to be.


Job gives us an understanding of true trust in God. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” Job 13:15. We certainly prefer to trust that God will prosper us (lots of prosperity gospel being preached out there), but God may choose to take us through some difficult times in our life to bring about the change that He wants to work in us. Can you make the same statement as Job in your life? 

 PEACE IN THE DAY OF CHAOS


Anita Clark – Pastor
Grace Chapel, Carbondale, Kansas



“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come... And from Jesus Christ...” Revelation 1:1-2.


When it became the time for Jesus Christ to give His life for the sinful world, He said in John 14:27, “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The word “peace” in the Gk. means, “quietness and rest.” He has given us peace, our part is to appropriate it, letting God’s peace be manifest in our daily lives. 


The condition of the United States and the World as a whole is very unpeaceful. In the Old Testament writings about the condition of Israel in II Chronicles 15:5, it states, “And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations upon all the inhabitants of the country. And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city, for God did vex them with adversity. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” What a precious promise!


The world has been going through terrible problems. The Corona Virus has really taken it’s toll upon humanity, especially in foreign countries where there are many who live in poverty. Statistics show that in countries all over the world 6,344,239 have died from the Covid virus. The virus is just one problem that we have been experiencing. The war in Ukraine has affected many nations. The U.S.A. is furnishing many weapons and other supplies, which causes us to wonder - How long can this go on? The problems with the prices at the gas pumps, the increase of food costs, and many other conditions have arisen all over the world. Many people are out of work, and some begging for help, and many being evicted from their homes. These are just a few of the conditions around the world in this day we live in. I say unto you, We are living in the last days. Jesus Christ will come very soon. The tribulation is almost upon us.


I Peter 1:6-8 states, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein we greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trying of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Paul says in Ephesians 2:14, “For He is our peace.” The word “Peace” means “our rest and quietness.”

 

The word Peace has three different ways seen in the Word of God.. First there is “Peace with God.” “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “justified” in the original Greek means “to render or show or regard as just and innocent.” We were sinners before we came to know Jesus as our Savior. God has made us righteous. We were cleansed because Jesus bore our sins and died for us, and as we accept that, God gives us a wonderful standing. Colossians 1:21 says, “And you who were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind, by wicked works yet now, hath He reconciled.” When we become the children of God, we are given profound PEACE.


The next part is THE PEACE OF GOD. This is what God wants to work in us. This PEACE settles our minds. Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye shall have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” The word “overcome” means “to conquer, prevail and get the victory.” The meaning of the word “peace” in the Greek language means -”quietness, and rest.” As we go on with Christ, yielding to Him, we are continually getting victory over all things that would cause us to lose rewards with Him. Trials are hard. None of us enjoy going through tough times, but we seek the Lord and He gives us peace. How precious!


Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “Thou wilt keep him in PERFECT PEACE, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee. Trust in the LORD for ever; for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” As far as our salvation, we should be assured that we are saved and going to heaven. Jesus made the peace at the cross. Satan will try to trip us up, but we are victorious in Christ Jesus. 


HOW DO I GET THAT PEACE? First of all, Jesus is called “The Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6. Also, we can pray for peace to come into our lives. It helps to read the Word of God often, and believe that God hears our prayers and loves us so much.


HOW DO WE KEEP ON FEELING THAT PEACE? The answer: God’s Word. Reading the Word gives us assurance and peace. Also, attending the meetings to have fellowship with other Christian believers is important. Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us: “Not forsaking of ourselves together as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching.”


In II Corinthians 13:11 Apostle Paul says, “Finally, brethren, farewell, be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” To “be perfect” in one translation says, “Be made complete,” while the words “live in peace, “are interpreted “ enjoy the spiritual well being experienced by believers who walk closely with God.” “Now the God of Peace be with you all. Amen.”

 Prophecy


Earlene Davis


Personal Lessons in Christ’s letters to the seven Churches – Rev. 2 & 3.


We learn from the Church’s failures and from their  victories and their rewards. We could say, the whole of what Paul’s gospel teaches is brought out. Paul, the Apostle to the Church wrote especially to the Church. In his epistles we learn of a high calling of God in Christ Jesus to which the individual overcomer can attain. Just like these churches had to overcome; there were things they had to suffer. All overcomers we read of in the Bible had to suffer. But many believers judged the way as too hard. The flesh does not want to suffer. II Tim. 2:12, “If we suffer with Him we shall reign with Him.”


When we are first saved, we begin like the Church of Ephesus. We receive the Word of God and go on and are filled with the Holy Spirit (Rev. 2:2-3). As God reveals the Word to our hearts we learn what place we are called to and that we are seated in the heavenlies in Christ. That we are not of this world and we can depend on Christ as our head.  We read all these things in the Epistle to the Ephesians. We love Christ preeminently and as we take in His Word and yield to the Holy Spirit, our love grows. That is the way God intended. You know, if you love someone, you want to please them.

 

There is a danger of failing and it begins with the warning of our devotedness to Christ. We let go of reading God’s Word and cease to pray as much. We let other things intrude on our fellowship with the Lord. The things of the world begin to take over. Many times it may not be evil things, but any thing we put first – material goods, pleasures or just the cares of this life, etc. Rev. 2:4-5, “thou hast left they first love” for Christ…”remember from whence thou art fallen.”


Just as the saints in Ephesus had to overcome that tendency, so do we. We have pressures from within (our flesh) and from outside (the world) and from Satan. But “greater is he that is in you, then he that is in the world” – I Jn. 4:4. 


If we abandon our first love for Christ and do not repent, the next step is dwelling where Satan’s seat is (Pergamos) and that is in the world – Rev. 2:13. Satan is the god of this world, II Cor. 4:4. Seeking the pleasures and fellowship of the world is dwelling where Satan’s seat or throne is.


Jesus prayed for us in Jn. 17:15-17, we are in the world, but not of it. If we live in harmony with the world, we are letting Satan gain a victory. He enjoys nothing more than defeating a Christian, especially one that had been overcoming. Satan makes everything easy for the believer who starts going the way of the world. Gal. 6:8, “he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”


This may not be in what you think of as a worldly sense, it might be in a religious sense. Satan works on our minds so we will start to think that Paul’s way is too narrow and so unbending. We are tempted to get into religious activity that is much more popular. This is how the Christian can go down until his spiritual life is diminished.


What is the remedy? Overcoming, letting the life of Christ rule in our life. The Lord allows temptations, trials and battles for us to learn and grow. Every time we overcome, we become stronger spiritually. The Lord is very much aware of our lives. We read over and over again, in fact seven times in His letters, “I know thy works.” He knows our down sitting and our uprising - Ps. 139:1-4. He knows the thoughts and intents of our heart. Because God is not a respecter of persons, those who overcome will receive the greatest reward. 


It is God’s purpose that everyone overcome and receive a full reward, but not everyone will. So there are different rewards. The promise reward to Ephesus, “to eat of the Tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God,” Rev. 2:7. Adam and Eve had a right to eat of the tree of life, but they chose the forbidden tree. Their fellowship with God was spoiled. The overcomers can eat of the Tree of life, which is Christ, Rev. 22:2.


One of the ways to stay in fellowship with the Lord is to feed on Christ by reading the Word of God. He is the living Word, Jn. 1:1,14. When we feed on the word, we are feeding on Christ. Jesus said in Jn 6:63, “My words are spirit and they are life.”


This reward to Ephesus overcomers means fellowship with Christ and with God. We will read more concerning the overcomers of the Ephesus condition in the next issue, the letter to Smyrna.

 JONAH


Debra Isenbletter, Pastor, Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri


Jonah 3:6 “For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” 


In Jonah 3:6-9 we see another response to Jonah’s prophecy, it is the King’s response and it is the same response as the response as the people.  In this verse we see the Word Heard, the Word Received and the Word Believed.


The Word Heard: “For word came unto the king of Nineveh,”. I do not know how he heard Jonah’s message, only that he heard it.  It may have been through the overwhelming reaction of the people. He could have heard the news of their proclamations and fasts. He could have seen those things, people in deep mourning, that could not be hidden. He could have heard Jonah speak personally, we do not know. However he heard the message, when he heard it, he reacted and he responded by doing something. I believe this statement that the “word came unto the king of Nineveh” is so revealing. That Word of Judgment came unto him because he was just as guilty as the people, it was just as much for him as it was for the people and he knew it.  The “word that came unto” him could have been two-fold, the word about the messenger (Jonah) and the word about the message (Judgment). One translation reads: “For the word came to the king of Nineveh [of all that had happened to Jonah, and his terrifying message from God]” (Amplified Bible). The Lord could have used the testimony of Jonah’s experience to add to Jonah’s authority as a prophet.


The phrase “came unto” has several different meanings and each meaning can show different stages of conviction and I believe there was a conviction on the part of the king just as there was with the people. The meanings are “to touch, reach, strike and smite.”  Can you not see how each shows a greater level of persuasion and force? First there is a “touch,” that almost seems gentle, an awareness, a way to catch someone’s attention. Second, it goes a little further, it means “to reach.” The message reaches the heart, it cannot be ignored. Third, it means “to strike,” that is like a slap that would further get your attention, you would feel a little pain.  Fourth, it means “to smite” and that is the harshest of all because the pain could not be ignored and would have a lasting effect.  These are not just different stages of conviction, but if the conviction is ignored, they can also show levels of judgment.


And who did this word come unto? It came unto the king of Nineveh. As the king, he is a visible sign of the power and authority of Nineveh.  He is the ruler. He is the is the head. He is a symbol of the people in their attitude and their actions. Isaiah, when writing about the spiritual condition of the people of God pointed out that sin begins with the leaders, who are the head and it spreads and affects the people, the whole body.  “For …the whole head is sick … from the sole of the foot even to unto the head there is no soundness…” (Isa.5-6).  Sin spreads, and the people follow the examples of their leaders, the leaders have a responsibility and are responsible. The name of this king is not given and the Lord does not tell us but commentators and historians speculate on two possible kings. I will mention two, only because there are certain events pertaining to both that show how the Lord uses circumstances to persuade people. Adad-nirari III and his son Ashur-dan III are two kings that may be possible candidates.  


Adad-nirari III.  According to history for some reason he chose to worship one god, Nabu (Nebo), the Assyrian god of wisdom, learning, and prophecy. It was a religious revolution that historians compare to the religious revolution in Egypt when Pharaoh Akhenaten chose to worship one single god Aton, the sun god.  In both cases there was a monotheistic revelation and, in both cases,  it was short-lived. It was short-lived because the priests of all other gods were threatened. But, the sudden change to worshiping only one god is never explained. If it occurred before Jonah’s visit, it may have been one reason why he reacted the way he did and God showed mercy. If it occurred after Jonah’s visit, it may explain why he made such a radical change in setting aside all the other gods and chose a god of wisdom, learning and prophecy.  


Ashur-dan III was the son of the king that started the religious revolution.  His brother reigned before him but during his reign, according to history, Assyria was hit by a plague and later there was a revolt that broke out and after that there was another plague. The Lord could have used all of those events to prepare the people and king for Jonah’s message. The Lord chooses not to give the name of the king, these two men are only possibilities but these two examples show how the circumstances during their reign could have been used the by Lord to prepare hearts for the message of judgment.


The Word Received: “and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him,”.  The king did not simply react to what the people did, but to what Jonah said.  The king will first react and the he will act.  He stood up: “and he arose from his throne.”  He put off: “and laid his robe from him.” He put on: “and covered him with sackcloth.”  He sat down: “and sat in ashes.” He did not ignore the message of Jonah and Judgment, he reacted to it. He did not hesitate, he was willing to step down from his seat of authority. He was willing to strip himself of his garments of royalty.


The Word Believed: “and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”  He put on: “and covered him with sackcloth.” He put on garments of sorrow and mourning just as his people were doing. He followed their example.  He sat down: “and sat in ashes.” He went one step further than the people did, he sat on the ground in the ashes and the dirt. He did this for all to see. He went from the highest place to the lowest place. He humbled himself before God and before man. He did this publicly and not privately. He stepped down from a place of honor to a place of humiliation. This is a picture of the submission of the kings in the last days (Psa.2:11-12). This is a picture of how the humble receive grace and when that grace is received the Lord says “he giveth more grace,” that He “giveth grace to the humble” (Jam.4:6).  What a powerful testimony of the Word of God!

 God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8


Part 7


Pastor Vicky Moots
Kingman, Kansas


Ecc. 3:4: “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  When I first read these two phrases, I thought they were pretty much saying the same thing in a different way.  But they are actually different, because you can weep without mourning, and you can laugh without dancing.  To “weep” means to “manifest strong emotion by crying, or shedding tears.”  We cry in pain or in sorrow, and sometimes we cry with joy, but tears are necessary for weeping.  God gave us tears to moisturize our eyes and to cleanse them, but weeping also cleanses the soul.

When is it a time to weep? We are to weep not only for our own sorrow, but also along with others who are weeping, to share in their sorrow or their pain, as Paul commands us in Rom. 12:15, “…weep with them that weep.”  By weeping with them we are entering into their feelings and showing compassion.

In John 11:33 we read the account of Jesus’ emotions regarding the death of His good friend Lazarus: “When Jesus therefore saw her [Mary, the sister of Lazarus] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.”  Then in v. 35 we read, “Jesus wept.”

Jesus was not only weeping because he loved Lazarus but because of the sorrow that others were experiencing.  He was weeping with those that wept, even though He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  In addition, he could have been weeping because of their unbelief.

After He miraculously brought Lazarus out of the grave, their tears were turned to tears of joy and laughter. Rom. 12:15 also tells us that we are to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice…”  I’m sure that Jesus likewise joined in their laughter and rejoicing.  He had previously spoken to His disciples in Luke 6:21: “…Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.”  Because of the hope that we now have in the resurrection, there will one day also be a time of laughter in place of our present time of weeping, when we again see our loved one’s faces.

Another time that we should weep is when we cry tears of repentance.  Luke gives us an example of this in Luke 7:36-50 when he relates the story of a woman in the city “which was a sinner” who came to the Pharisee’s house where Jesus was eating.  Verse 38 tells us that she “stood at his feet weeping and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head…”

Can you imagine how many tears it would actually take to wash someone’s feet? She was truly pouring out her soul at Jesus’ feet.  As she wept and washed the dirt of the earth away from Jesus’ dusty, tired feet, He in turn, washed the dirt from her tired, sinful soul as He said to her in v. 48, “…Thy sins are forgiven,” and in v. 50, “…Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

Even after we are saved, there will likely be times in our lives that we need to weep at the feet of Jesus, to repent of our wrong attitudes or actions toward others or toward God, just as Peter did after he cursed and denied Jesus at the time of the crucifixion.  We read in Luke 22:62 that after Peter heard the cock crow, he remembered the words of Jesus and “…went out and wept bitterly.”  He also poured out his soul, and Jesus forgave him.

We don’t find many tear-stained altars in churches today.  Neither sinners nor Christians seem to be spending much time weeping.  It seems as though the tears have dried up due to spiritual dehydration, from a lack of the Living Water, a lack of hearing the Words of Jesus.

I believe that today is the time for weeping, a time for soul searching, tears of repentance, weeping for ourselves and others; for then will come the time for laughter.  David declared in Ps. 126:5-6, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

The Apostle Paul was a good example of this.  He told the elders of the church at Ephesus, in Acts 20:19, that he had been “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears…” And in v. 24 he said, “…neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy…”  The tears came before the joy and the laughter.  He sowed the seeds of the gospel, not only with his words, but with his life, and watered it with his tears so that it would produce fruit for rejoicing.  God will likewise use our tears to make us fruitful.

We may go through some dark times of trials and weeping, but the morning will come, as David stated in Ps. 30:5, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  The night doesn’t last forever, and neither do our tears.

David also described our times of weeping poetically in Ps. 84:5-6 when he said, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well…”  “Baca” means “weeping.”  It is not a literal valley, but refers to any place of tears.  It is a valley that we may have to pass through many times in our lives, but God can collect all those tears and turn them into a well of refreshing and cleansing, if we give them to Him.

We can also choose to intentionally go through the valley of Baca, as Paul did when he said in Phil. 3:10, “That I may know him [Christ]…and the fellowship of his sufferings…”  He chose to enter into, to fellowship and share, the emotional suffering of Jesus, and was also willing to suffer physically for Him as he preached the gospel.  Why? For the joy that was set before him, just as he said regarding Jesus in Heb. 12:2, “…who [Jesus] for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…”  Paul looked forward to the joy of reigning with Christ as His bride.  But the cross and the time of weeping and suffering come before the crown.

But one day the time of weeping will be over.  There will be no more need for tears, as we read in Rev. 21:4: “…and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain…”

Hallelujah! What a day of laughter and rejoicing that will be!

 THE ENCOURAGING WORD



“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Col. 3:12 (NIV)


“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 (NIV)


“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection.” Proverbs 30:5


“Your mercy and loving kindness, O Lord, extend to the skies, and your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 36:5


“God is faithful who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” I Corinthians 1:9


“But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73:28


My! “Looking unto Jesus…” Surely we are more and more dependent on our Beloved and the Faithfulness of our Heavenly Father, and comfort of the Holy Spirit!


Martha Wainright

Thursday, June 2, 2022

 The Glorious Gospel


Jack Davis


“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” II Cor. 4:3-7. 


What is the Glorious Gospel? Is it not the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face (person) of Jesus Christ? It seems to indicate in I Tim. 6:14-16 & II Tim. 1:8-10, that this is far beyond the grasp of mental conception, or normal human vision. But we read of Jesus being the “image of the invisible God,” in Col. 1:15. In Heb. 1:3 Jesus is spoken of as being “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.”


We are wonderfully blessed to hear the good news, the glad tidings of God’s goodness, greatness and grace, which are extended unto us in His dear Son. How marvelous to behold, even through a glass his holiness, righteousness and power, as well as the brilliance, splendor and radiance of Our God. He said in the beginning, “Let there be light: and there was light” Gen. 1:3.


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shinneth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” John 1:1-5,14.


Moses requested to see the glory of God, “If I have found grace in thy sight.” He was blessed to behold the afterglow or back parts of God’s glory (Ex. 33), while hidden in the cleft of the rock and covered by God’s hand. As we today find grace, we behold His glory. His light shines for all that believe, but is blinding to those that reject to receive. Such an attitude is to open oneself to greater darkness. 


Verse five in our text expresses the attitude of those who truly minister the glorious gospel. Preaching Christ Jesus as Lord leaves out room for the self life. I am so very glad that there are still some to whom the gospel of the glory is being revealed, thus committed to their trust. Praise God, He is still enabling them for that which He counts faithful - I Tim. 1:11. There seems to be a minority being intrusted with such a momentous message. God who has commanded the light of His glory to shine in the face of Jesus, is writing this message in receptive hearts - II Cor. 3:3. A veil of legality or bondage to sin seems to be upon most hearts.


We would point out five great and gracious factors, features or related elements of this gospel of the glory.


Glorious Liberty

“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” - Rom. 8:19-21. 


It seems that the eagle wings and the wings of the cherubim express the most spacious freedom of our sonship. What a glory that all creation awaits our coming into our own as sons of the living God. Oh, to be able to soar to the throne on high, when our adversary is trying to chain us. He whom the Son has set free, is free indeed. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty   II Cor. 3:17.


The glorious gospel contains the truth that makes one free. Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace - Rom. 6:14. The perfect law of liberty is certainly the wonderful Word of God’s marvelous grace - James 1:25. This message not only teaches us to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and not be entangled with the yoke of bondage, but also that we are  called to liberty to use unto God’s glory. The liberty that we are called to makes us love slaves to our Lord and His people - Gal. 5:1,13.




Glorious Power

“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” Col. 1:11. The glory of His power is extended unto us that we may be able to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, in all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness, feature that! Most would tell you that God’s power strengthens us for many inferior reasons. The “dunamis” (Greek) of God is to be placed in the inner man according to the riches of His glory – Eph. 3:16. In II Cor. 4:7 we are given to understand why the Christ life-light is placed in earthen vessels, “That the excellency of the power be of God, and not of us.”


Oh, what a glorious treasure is placed in these “Clay Pots.” Let us value highly this eternally valuable deposit. The frailty of the vessel is certainly used to manifest, even magnify the excellence of treasure. This is illustrated in verses 8-14. In fact the difficulty we experience as we go on in the Lord’s will in these temporary dwellings serve to produce a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. They are part of our training for reigning verses 15-17. The afflictions of the moment won’t last, but thank God, that which they are working, will. Hallelujah!!

To be continued


 Trust In The Lord


Gordon Crook, Pastor
Grace Assembly, Wichita, Kansas



“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5


Such a simple and familiar verse. Many have memorized this verse in their Sunday school class. But, as with most such simple verses, there are deep truths here that are very important to our spiritual life.


Trust – to trust, to have confidence, to be secure, to feel safe. These are the meanings of the original Hebrew word used here. These will help us think about what is really being expressed here, and what it means to our daily living.


Trust is something that is earned. It is hard to trust someone that you don’t know, or someone that has not proven to be trustworthy. So, when we read that we should trust in God with all of our heart (everything in us), we need to know if God is trustworthy. Has He earned our trust? You might be thinking that I have no business thinking about God this way. I see in Scripture that God wants me to think this way. On many occasions, God encouraged His people to watch Him work on their behalf. Exodus 14:13, 2Kings 6:16, 2Chronicles 20:17, Isaiah 41:10.


As I read God’s Word, I find that He has and is proving Himself to be trustworthy. In fact, there has never been anyone that can be considered more trustworthy than God. He has always done exactly what He said He would do. This is what Paul tells us in Romans 15:4. Paul reminds us that this gives us hope, because we can trust God with our future based on His trustworthiness in the past.


Trusting in the Lord is what will make us steadfast. This is an important fact for all of God’s people to understand. We do not become steadfast by looking to our own ability, but by trusting in our steadfast God. Psalms 125:1.


The level of confidence we have is also based on God’s record of never failing anything He said. Joshua 23:14, 1 Kings 8:56. It is also based on our understanding of God’s ability to do what He says. As humans, we might have a true intention and desire to do what we say, but sometimes we might just not have the ability to follow through. Ephesians 3:20. Having confidence in God’s ability to complete that He says, should put our heart at rest.


If you are expecting someone to do something really important for you, that might have significant repercussions if not done well, you might be uneasy until it is complete. We never need to be uneasy waiting for God to complete His promises. Philippians 4:6, Isaiah 26:3. In fact, we are encouraged to ask with thanksgiving which demonstrates our confidence in our Lord.


Secure and feeling safe. We feel secure and safe when our system of defense is working as it should. We lock our doors, and maybe turn on some lights to help us feel safe from someone coming in and causing harm. I watched a man who had guardian dogs for his flocks, and he spoke of feeling safe because he knew the dogs were always on alert and would never allow any predator to harm his flock.


When our trust and our confidence is fully in our Lord, we can feel safe and secure knowing that He is always on alert and will not allow our enemy to harm us. Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 91. This is better security than anything we can come up with.


Which brings us to the second part of our verse. If we are to put all of our trust and confidence in our God, then we cannot lean unto our own understanding. This also means that we cannot try to second guess God and His purposes. If we truly trust Him, we have to recognize that our thinking will only make us doubt God’s true ability in our life. 


Our understanding is limited by our short existence and our ability to understand the world around us. Our ability is so limited by our human frailty and inability to see beyond the present. God sees the end from the beginning, so He has knowledge that we cannot.


Do not allow the enemy to rob you of your confidence in your Lord. Place all of your trust in the Lord with every part of your life, and He will give you safety, security and rest and relief from anxiety.


 THE ETERNAL PLAN



Anita Clark – Pastor
Grace Chapel, Carbondale, Kansas



What do we know about Eternity Past, before the creation of the earth and mankind?  Some things we know from the Holy Scripture.  We know there was the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - three persons of the Godhead.  

God the Father - Before Genesis 1: there was no time.  God created time for mankind as He created the earth and the heavens.  This was part of His plan to redeem the humans at a later date.  The fall of man did not surprise God.  The title for “God” in the Hebrew language is the word “Eloheem.”  This name occurs 2,601 times in the Bible.  The Bible speaks of the Trinity, which shows the three persons of the Godhead - God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  They work together. When Jesus came to earth, He distinctively showed His love for His Father and spoke of Him often to those around Him.

God The Son - John 1:1 declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Jesus is the Word.  In John 17:5, & 24-26 Jesus prayed to His Father before He went to Gethsemane, and ultimately to the cross.  Colossians 1:14-20 speaks of Jesus Christ as the Creator, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven; and that are in earth, visible and invisible...”.   Of course God the Father and the Son always worked together on all things.

The Holy Spirit - the Triune God includes, this personage. Genesis 1:2 declares that  in the beginning the earth was “...without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep, And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” In Hebrews 9:14 it is said of Him, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Purposes and plans were made before time. Before the earth was formed, the Godhead, Father, Son and Spirit held a “mighty council, and divine foundation laid” (one of the Grace and Glory songs).”  This was all decided before the Fall of Satan (Isa. 14:12-17).  Galatians 4:4-7 says, “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law; to redeem them that were under the curse of the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because, ye are sons God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father,...thou art no more a servant (slave), but a son, and if a son the an heir of God through Christ.”  The words “Abba Father” is a term of endearment such as “Daddy, Daddy.”  The decision of this Divine Council was held before the earth was ever brought into existence. It took place before Satan’s fall.  He has always tried to destroy what God has made, and works in the unbelievers today.

As we have already seen - God (the Trinity) was planning many things before time began on earth.  I Peter 1:18-21 speaks of the redemption provided by Christ Jesus’ death.  Verse 18, “...that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver or gold,...(Vs.19) “But with the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” Acts 2:22-24, Peter speaks to the crowd on the Day of Pentecost, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God...Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible to be holden of it.” Also, Rev. 13:8, tells us Jesus is: “...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Even the purposes of our individual calling by grace were ordained before the foundation of the world.  II Tim. 1:9 Speaking of God’s plan, “Who hath saved us, and called us, with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  Eph. 1:4 says we have spiritual blessings in Christ, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” The plans of the Triune God have always been in effect.  Titus 1:1-2 says that we acknowledge the truth, “In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”  

Satan is God’s Arch-enemy - I already mentioned the Scripture where Satan fell from the presence of God and has become our arch enemy as well as God’s. Another place where this is mentioned is Ezekiel 28:12-19.  II Pet. 2:4 tells us what God did with the angels who sinned against God and followed Satan.  “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains darkness to be reserved unto judgment.” All through time, the forces of God and the forces of Satan have been in opposition. By reading Job 1, we gain more insight about Satan as he appears in the presence of God, where he is given permission to tempt and attack God’s servant, Job. Job went through terrible trials.  Sometimes we think we have awful trials, but in comparison with Job’s, we haven’t suffered much.  We learn to walk in victory in the Lord’s power despite Satanic darts coming from the old devil.  The Lord strengthens us to have the power of the Holy Spirit to  overcome all things.  In Deuteronomy 33:27 it says of God, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”


 Prophecy


Earlene Davis


Dispensational View of the 7 Churches Continued


A dispensation is a period of time, we are living in the dispensation of the Church Age. We need to remember the view point of this revelation. John was taken to the Lord’s day and hearing a voice behind him turned and was looking back at the Church Age – Rev. 1:10-12. John saw the whole Church Age from the beginning to the end. The seven churches all together tell the story of this Age and how the Church has traveled from the Day of Pentecost to the present time and even beyond where we are now.


Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6) represents Protestantism. They have gone on a long time. Martin Luther came out of the Catholic Church and stood against the falsity of it. He had to hide for he was in danger of being killed by them. People have formed a religious organization named after him, which he was very much against that. Later Wesley came on the scene and God blessed him. After his death people made an organization after his name and there were others. Sardis had a name that they lived, professing to be God’s people. The Catholics say, “We are God’s people, we are The Church.” But in these last days, the Protestants cease to protest. That is what the name means – Protest-ants.” They protested the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. After they ceased protesting they didn’t have much and now they are buddy buddy with the Catholic Church for the most part. They may have big churches, big programs, but not much reality (V. 2). Since the ecumenical movement they both are closer to unity all the time. Soon they will be one big glob, the Laodicean condition, that we will read of later.


Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13) like Smyrna, no fault is found in them. If Smyrna represents the full overcomers who go by the way of the grave during this Church Age, Philadelphia represents the full overcomers who will be alive when thee Lord comes and will be translated. I Thess. 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first (Smyrna saints resurrected): Then we which are alive and remain (Philadelphia saints) shall be caught up together with them in the clouds (translated), to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”


An open door is set before these saints, the open door of heaven, the door of translation (V. 8). They will not have to go through tribulation, because they have kept the word of Christ patience, looking for their Lord to come (V. 10). Some true believers are not loving His appearance. They are careless and indifferent and will be asleep spiritually, drunken with the things of this world. To them He will come as a thief in the night. I Thess. 5:4-11, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” Those who had been asleep spiritually, will wake up when they realize some saints are gone and they are left to go into tribulation days.


Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) is the condition of Christendom in the last days of this Church Age. There will be one united world church, not the true Church, the body of Christ, but Christendom, the visible religious conglomeration. The ecumenical movement will culminate with all the daughters going back to the mother church – Rev. 17:5. They are saying now, “We are not going to let doctrine keep us apart. We can be a powerful force in the world if we are united. It will sound so good, but the truth of the gospel suffers because of this compromise. It is not God’s will that His people compromise on doctrine. Love is a favorite topic in the ecumenical gatherings, but let we put the emphasis upon loving Christ supremely. The true Church has already been made one – Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 2:13-22; 4:4-6.


Apostasy is the chief characteristic of the Laodicean church, “neither cold nor hot.” The Lord hates this lukewarmness and indifference – “I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Vs. 16-17). By the grace of God, true believers are called to come out, before God’s judgment of her – Rev. 18:4,8. In V. 18 there is salvation for whosoever will. Some individuals will be saved and come out, before God judges Christendom. That’s the grace of God.


So we see how the church has gone dispensationally. It had a wonderful beginning. It was God purpose for all the church to stay up on the Ephesian plane, seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Satan has corrupted the minds from the simplicity that is in Christ. They left their first love for Christ. The Church as a whole became worldly minded. Next false doctrine was allowed to be taught. Many evils followed such as Spiritual fornication, clergy over laity, etc. Some periods of revival occurred, but as a whole deterioration continued until the last condition is a self-satisfied one world church, with Christ on the outside knocking to get in (Vs. 20). 


As a whole the church did not heed the Apostle Paul’s warning of II Cor. 11:2-3. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 


Thank God some did heed Paul’s warning and there are some today that are holding fast. Rev. 3:11, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Some are looking for Jesus’ return, they are the Smyrna and Philadelphia saints.


Starting next issue, we will glean some Personal lessons from these letters of Christ to the 7 Churches.


 JONAH


Debra Isenbletter, Pastor, Christian Assembly
Springfield, Missouri


Jonah 3:5 “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”  


When we look at the People’s Response, three important actions are seen that are very revealing and an example of all who are convicted by the Word of God. (Faith, Fasting, Repentance). I do not know if Jonah only preached for three days, the time it took to cover the length of the city. What I do know is that while he preached and after he finished preaching there was a response that was amazing in its scope. Nothing like that every happened in Israel. Israel had many prophets come and preach and they were well known and preached for years.  Many of those prophets did mighty miracles and yet Jonah is different.  He was one prophet, not well known, he had only one short message, he did no mighty miracles. As far as we know he did not call upon them to repent or encourage them to repent. He only pointed out their sin and the consequence of that sin, a terrible judgment. What a different contrast to how God dealt with His people and what a different response to the message of one prophet. We can see how their response shamed God’s people. 


Faith: The people of Nineveh believed God. The people were the first to see Jonah, they were the first to hear his message and they were the first to believe. What a testimony. They believed God because Jonah revealed God. They believed Jonah’s message was the Word of God. The word “believe” comes from “to build up or support, to foster as a parent or a nurse.” That shows the wonderful result of belief, it is a strength, it is a certainty, it is a trust. It is both the Word and God who has revealed the Word that brings this unshakeable faith, this unbelievable strength which is called faith. It is that belief in both the prophet and the message of the prophet that will bring about the reaction and action in the hearts and lives of the people. They are moved and motivated to do something, anything, whatever they can do to try to stop judgment.  


I know that Jonah did not do any mighty miracles but he was a living miracle. It could be that they had heard from the sailors about their experience with Jonah, it could be that Jonah testified of his experience in the belly of the great fish. The Lord does not give us any other details  other than Jonah preached and they believed.  What this shows me is that believing God comes first, and that is the greatest work of all and it energizes anything else we might do. They were not saved because of their works, they were saved because they believed God and what they did showed their belief. Abraham believed God first (Rom.4:3; Gal.3:6; Jam.2:23).  “Abraham believed in the Lord and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Gen.15:6).  I remember a comment by W.J. Franklin on this verse that I have never forgotten, He wrote: “Note that Abraham uttered no words, did no works, made no boast. He shed no tears, made no prayers. He simply believed God. His was an attitude not an action.”


Believing God is the definition of faith (Heb.11:1). What is striking is that they had faith in the negative part of Jonah’s message, in the judgment but somehow, they also had faith in something positive, in God’s mercy.  They believed in God’s judgment but also believed in God’s mercy. They believed in what God would do (destroy them) but also believed in what God could do (deliver them). They believed and acted on that belief.


Fasting: and proclaimed a fast. This is a testimony of their faith. To “proclaim” means two things, first “to read aloud” and also “to call out to a person you meet.”  That proclamation could have been a public decree which was read aloud in the market place. It could also have been a personal plea, carried by word of mouth from individual to individual. It was to abstain from all food or water for a stated purpose.  We know the purpose of the fast was that they wanted to stop judgment. We do not know the period of the fast. I believe it started the day they heard the message and lasted until the forty-day deadline.  


Repentance: and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least. 


Visible Sorrow: and put on sackcloth”—In this we see a visible sorrow, an outward show of what they felt inwardly. They put on “sackcloth” which was a course loose black cloth made of black goats’ hair. It was used for repentance, mourning and sorrow. It seems every culture, Nineveh included, had this practice but we have many examples in the Old Testament. Jacob put on sackcloth and mourned his son Joseph (Gen.37:34). David and the people put on sackcloth and mourned Abner (2Sam.3:31). Sackcloth and ashes are a double sign of mourning and sorrow. Jeremiah described this type of sorrow, asking that God’s people do this (Jer.6:26). Ezekiel also described this type of sorrow asking those in captivity to do this (Ezek.27:30-31). In Esther, Mordecai and the Jews showed this type of sorrow when they heard the edict of the king concerning the Jews (Esther 4:1-3). Sackcloth also can show not just the sorrow of the people who hear the message but of the prophet who preaches the message because it is a message of sorrow.  Elijah wore sackcloth from goat or camel hair (2Ki.1:8). John the Baptist was clothed with camel hair (Mark 1:6). The two witnesses wear sackcloth (Rev.11:3).  It makes me wonder, what did Jonah wear?


Universal Sorrow: “from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” The “greatest” speaks of position and power and wealth. They could be the elders, the rich, the merchants, they were all men of importance. The “least” are those that had no position, no power, no wealth.  They could be the young, the poor, the women, the children. Those that were not important. This really does show how widespread the effect of Jonah’s message was on the hearts of those that heard it or heard it passed on by others. Both fasting and sackcloth were outward expressions of an inward conviction. This shows a sorrow of the heart (Joel 2:12-13). This was often accompanied by prayer (Dan.9:3). This was also often accompanied by a confession of sin (1Sa.7:6). All of these things could have occurred and it would have felt like a tidal wave sweeping through the city. No wonder the king hears about it and reacted.

To be continued – The King’s Response (Vs.6-9)


 God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8


Part 6


Pastor Vicky Moots
Kingman, Kansas


Ecc. 3:3b (continued): “…a time to break down and a time to build up.”  This is a continuation of the meaning of this verse.  This time I would like to use the physical body for an illustration, specifically using the example of bones and how they heal.

There are two types of cells in bones that help to maintain and heal them as well as to help regulate calcium at the proper levels in the blood stream by either breaking bone down or building it up.  Bone is living, growing tissue, not just a rigid lattice-work, composed of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals.  Osteoclasts are the bone cells that break down bone, and osteoblasts are the cells that build it up.  Both are equally necessary.

So, what determines whether it is a “time to break down” or a “time to build up”? If you fall and break a bone, the injured bone bleeds.  The bleeding results in chemical signals being released which cause the osteoclasts and osteoblasts in that area to become activated.  The osteoclasts secrete enzymes that break down the calcium from the bone and release it into the blood stream, thereby breaking down the damaged bone.  But at the same time the osteoblasts must take some of that calcium and use it to start building up new bone in and around the break to strengthen and repair it.

These two processes of breaking down and building up alternate until the healing is complete.  This is all coordinated by various hormones that are released by the body, such as calcitonin, thyroid and parathyroid hormones, as well as Vitamin D.

How does this apply to us spiritually? In the natural, we usually break bones by falling.  When God created Adam and Eve in The Garden, they were innocent and without sin and able to fellowship with God without fear.  But then they fell: they sinned by disobeying God, and the result was a complete break in that relationship.  Sin separated man from God, much like a broken bone is separated, and death entered the world, both physically and spiritually.

But God had already prepared a plan.  He sent His Son to heal that relationship.  The sacrifice of Jesus was able to mend the break by paying the penalty for sin to bring man and God back together.

The provision for this healing was made for all mankind on Calvary, but each individual must accept it personally.  However, sinful man does not want to seek after God.  In fact, he does everything to avoid God, as Paul tells us in Rom. 3:11: “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”

So how does God break down our hardened hearts and our pride and cause us to realize our need of a Savior, our need for spiritual healing? Jesus told His disciples, in John 16:7-8, that after He departed, He would send the Holy Spirit, who would “…reprove the world of sin…”

The word “reprove” means “to convince and convict.”  The Holy Spirit penetrates our calcified, hardened hearts and breaks down all the barriers, all the excuses, all our self-righteousness, and convinces us that we have “…sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), thus bringing conviction to our souls. The Holy Spirit functions in this manner much like the osteoclasts do in our body when they secrete the enzymes that break down the calcium in the injured bone at the site of the break and release it into the blood stream in order to start the process of healing.

Do you recall that I stated that this process in the physical body was triggered by the blood that flowed into the broken area as a result of the injury? Our spiritual healing is also on the basis of the blood, apart from which there can be no redemption.

In the physical body a hematoma, or collection of blood, forms between the two separated edges of the broken bone.  The osteoblasts begin building up new bone by depositing calcium into that hematoma to form a bridge connecting the two pieces back together so that they can again become one, while the osteoclasts continue to break down the old damaged bone.

The same thing happens to us spiritually.  It is the blood of Jesus that spans the gap between God and man.  Paul tells us in Rom. 5:10 that “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…”  The word “reconciled” means “to be brought back together.”

If the osteoclasts represent the Holy Spirit who breaks down our hardened hearts and brings us to God, then what do the osteoblasts represent? What is it that builds us up after we have been broken down? It is the Word of His grace that functions for us spiritually like the osteoblasts do physically, as Paul tells us in Acts 20:32: “…the word of his grace…is able to build you up…”

The Holy Spirit convinces and convicts us of sin, breaks us down and draws us to God, and then reveals God’s Word to us to enable us to grow and be built up.  Paul explains to us in Eph. 4 that the gifts of ministry (listed in v. 11) have been given to the church, for the purpose of “edifying,” or “building up,” the body of Christ.

As we listen to the ministering and teaching of God’s Word, specifically the Word of His grace, and receive it personally and study it, it will begin to work in our lives, just like the osteoblasts, to build us up.  During this process, if our hearts become hardened or lifted up with pride, the Holy Spirit, like the osteoclasts, will be faithful to break us down again, to allow the work to progress.  The breaking down and the building up will continue alternating, with the ultimate goal of building us up unto “…the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

In summary, in the Garden of Eden the relationship between man and God was broken when Adam fell.  Sin separated man from God, but God has restored that broken relationship through His Son.

In the physical body, the resulting new, healed bone that is formed from a broken bone by the action of the osteoclasts and osteoblasts is actually stronger than the original bone before it was broken.  And so, it is in the spiritual realm, regarding the union of man and God that was brought about by redemption.  It is a new, permanent bond, one that cannot be broken, as we read in Rom. 8:38-39, that nothing “…shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


 THE ENCOURAGING WORD




“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:” Psalm 146:5


“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8


“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” I Cor. 5:58


“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness by His wounds you have been healed.” I Peter 2:24


“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Psalm 133:1


“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; I who say to you, Fear not, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13


“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” Matthew 24:35 (NIV)


 Martha Wainright


Sunday, May 1, 2022

 Altar – ations


Jack Davis


“And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered…” - Lk. 9:29.


It is interesting to consider from the scripture the things that have been altered in conjunction with, or in relation to prayer. Some have been external, some internal, and many eternal. Alteration is the act or process of altering, the state of being altered, or the result of altering. Prayer changes things, yet not generally our Father’s over all purpose. God is love. Love faileth not, in other words, not driven off course. Most all true Bible students have been amazed at the strange turns in the course of events in answer to prayer. There are also many times that the circumstances as not changed until the people therein are altered in some way, thus fulfilling the purpose for its allowance. Prayer usually serves in bring the sincere prayer-warrior into closer harmony with the purposes of God.


There are many important aspects of our prayer life. One that impresses me is that we have the marvelous privilege therein to be labors together with God.


It is most intriguing to observe the drastic alterations that are yet to take place in answer to prayer in the perfect will of God. “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightenings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound” – Rev. 8:1-6.


In answer to the prayers of the saints, offered with incense upon the golden altar; the messengers prepare to trumpet forth destructive transformation. The saints offering up their petitions according to the will of God, with the attitude of gratitude, give forth a sweet smelling savor.


The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is not overcoming divine reluctance to deliver, but rather laying hold of his willingness to intervene, showing forth his mighty power on our behalf. Believers express in many different way, their cry, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” “Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”


“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle” Heb. 13:10. Shall we that are under the everlasting covenant, offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name? Oh, Let us go forth unto Him without the carnal camp, bearing his reproach. For He suffered without the gate that He might set, apart unto Himself, His espoused, and present a glorious company, without spot or wrinkle. Such presentation requires some major altering at this altar.


Since Jesus Christ our merciful and faithful high priest has ascended on high, and opened access to the throne room for us, we are urged to go unto him without the camp, but thank God also within the veil. Heb. 13:13 & 6:19.


Altered at the Altar: “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God.  And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him” – Lk. 9:27-35.


Jesus often went to His Father in prayer, Here we find Him leading others up to pray. Today we still find Him leading true followers up in prayer and worship. This was indeed a special moment. An unexpected change took place while he was in close communion with His Father. Three favored guest from earth was at this astounding event. Then two other companions appeared in glory. These two, Moses and Elijah are heard discussing the accomplishing of His course, the approaching Cross. Not their taking His life from Him but rather His carrying it out to the conclusion. Well, it seems that these three almost missed it. They were asleep, then awakened and amazed to see His glory. Thank God, today, He still awakens us to behold His glory, He has, He is and He will. By beholding His glory we are wonderfully changed. II Cor. 3:18.


It seems that Peter spoke up before he fully woke up, not knowing what to say nor what He said. He knew that it was good to be there, to behold the glory of the Lord. It seems that he wasn’t yet fully able to discern that which is most excellent. Phil. 1:9-11. 


The two men communing with Jesus were indeed great men of God. They had finished their course, and reached an elevated state, but they couldn’t do what our merciful and faithful Lord was about to do. It took a spotless lamb to die for the sins of the whole world, tasting death for every man, bearing our sins in his body on the tree.  He was making the way for many sons to be brought unto glory.


Peter seemed to be ready to start a construction company, or maybe three, to enshrine equally Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. But the builder of all things is God. Heb. 3:4.


I am so glad to be able to realize the spiritual development in Peter by the time he wrote about this event in second Peter. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in you hearts” – II Pet. 1:16-19.


“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” Jude 20,21. We are taught in scripture the changes essential to spiritual construction. We enjoy a personal development of faith that comes by exercise. Such exercise in the Spirit brings progress, growth, development, keeping us receptive and responsive to love divine.


Thank God, that while Peter thus spake, it got cloudy, and out of that cloud rang the message clear and Loud. That transforming word, that it was God’s Son they needed to hear.


Now Elijah, on another mount had sensed the wind, the earthquake, and the fire but he was moved on in God’s will by a still small voice. Are we listening? Elijah and Moses are both great examples of alterations taking place in answer to prayer. Read James 5:17-18.


Peter, James and John had heard Jesus speak on earth and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. Soon we will hear Him speak from heaven. John records Jesus’ words; “…He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life…The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live…the hour is coming, in the which all that are in graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth…” Jn. 5:24-29. The Lord Himself is soon to descend with a shout, and we shall ascend to meet him in the air. When that trumpet sounds we shall be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. GLORY!!

 Cisterns


Gordon Crook, Pastor, Grace Assembly, Wichita, Kansas



Jeremiah 2:12-13 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.


A cistern (Middle English cisterne, from Latin cisterna, from cista, “box,” from Greek kiste, “basket”) [1] is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater.


A fountain is a spring of water that continually gives forth cool, clean, refreshing water.


We had some cisterns in Paraguay. They were typically built with cement or bricks covered in a cement layer to make them hold water. There is a problem if the concrete or brick walls crack, and they can no longer hold water. The water collected becomes stale as it sits waiting to be used.


Notice that God refers to two evils here. The first is turning away from God, and the second is turning toward our own self effort to replace God. God uses this comparison to help understand how ridiculous His people were being. Imagine having an opportunity for a fresh, continually flowing spring of refreshing water, but choosing instead to create a cistern that would hold old stale water that runs off of the roof. And then, the cisterns wouldn’t even hold water because they are broken. Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it.


This is a great reminder for us. Why would we turn from God’s fountain of living water to our own cisterns? The cisterns speak of our self effort in any way. Looking to our own effort and the world for fulfillment, for wisdom, for wealth, for anything that makes our life complete. Our cistern collects these, and they either become stale, or they just leak out and become useless. 


Our self effort just doesn’t compare with what God has prepared for us. When we turn to our Lord for all that we need, we find a plentiful supply and it never gets old. Like a spring, it is continually supplying new fresh living water. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” Psalm 36:9. “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14


God’s Word is our source for knowing all that God has for us. “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” Psalm 119:50 “I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me” Psalm 119:93. Why do we seem to want to search in the world (philosophy, culture, expectations). All we will find is corruption from the simplicity of the gospel of God’s grace. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” 2Corinthians 11:3.


Paul warns of this very problem in Colossians. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” Colossians 2:8. He knew that these saints, just like us would be attracted to the things of the world and that this would draw them away from the truly valuable thing in their life. Notice the simple contrast here, much as in the passage in Jeremiah. “Not after Christ.”


The world today offers so much to satisfy our soul and so much to give us solutions to all that comes our way, but they do not satisfy, and they do nothing to solve anything. Many in Christendom are trying to mix the offerings from the world with God’s supply.


It is not possible to mix the two things either. We cannot try to take the living water that God provides from His fountain and place it in the “cistern” of our own self effort or the effort of this world. We must daily partake of God’s eternal supply that is offered to us freely.

 THE  PEARL  OF  GREAT  PRICE


Anita Clark – Pastor, Grace Chapel, Carbondale, Kansas



The ultimate purpose of this Church Age is to prepare a group of redeemed human beings to be a Bride for Jesus Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit is going on today in the lives of believers who are yielding to the divine working of God.  A careful study of Philippians 3:7-14, shows that Paul was not speaking of gaining salvation, when he writes, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung that I may win Christ.” He is speaking of a work that will change him into a completely yielded child of God with a close place with the Lord Jesus; where all is “counted loss” to win Christ.  


No where in the Bible does it teach that we win salvation by any good works. In fact the opposite is taught. Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He has saved.” Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved by faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Not of works lest any man should boast.” Also Phil. 3:11, Paul says, “Not as though I have already attained” (GK. “To seize or attain).” The word “apprehend” (V. 13) means almost the same thing, “to seize, attain, apprehend.”  Paul sums up his desire in V. 14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”


In other portions Paul speaks of the race course likening it to our spiritual day by day journey to achieve this place as the winner - I Cor. 9:24-27.  The wonderful place we desire, to be yielded completely so that the Holy Spirit  prepares us to be the Bride of Christ. Paul speaks specifically about this in II Cor. 11:1-3, “Would to God you would bear with me in my folly, and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”


God has made provision that every believer in Christ could be in that company, who will make up the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sad thing is that not all will avail themselves of that glorious place. Satan deceives believers and lulls many to sleep (I Thess. 4:13-5:8).  The Lord warned that we are to watch and be ready for His soon appearing. In Rev. 19:1-10 we see a beautiful scene in heaven, when all the church is gathered unto the Lord. Not all who are there are the Bride. In V. 7 we see a “great multitude” introducing the Bride, who had “made herself ready.” There are guests and servants at the wedding, Vs. 5 & 9.  


 Matt. 13:45-46, Jesus spoke of “The Goodly Pearl.” The Merchant man speaks of Christ who came to the world “seeking goodly pearls.” God has made provision for each believer to be His “pearl of great price.” The word “goodly” in the Gk. is “beautiful, good, literally or morally virtuous.” The Lord Jesus came to seek a Virtuous Bride.   Jesus came to call a people who would yield to Him completely and love Him supremely. He gave up all He had with the Father to find this Pearl.


V. 46 “He went…and “He bought it.” The Lord is “seeking goodly pearls.” This speaks to us that provision is made for every believer to be that beautiful pearl that Jesus is looking for in this Age of Grace. “Who, when He had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that He had, and bought it.” II Cor. 5:21 “For He hath made Him sin, who knew no sin, for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He condescended and became a human being in order to die and save us.  That’s how greatly He esteemed the “Pearl of great price.” This pearl represents the Bride of Jesus Christ.

 

And oyster is an ugly thing, and represents us in our old adamic state. It is rough, rock hard, and almost impossible to open. We were found in the dark depths of the ocean of sin in a very corrupt state. Oysters grow in water that is often smelly and has a bad flavor. This is so typical of all the human race, when Jesus found us. We were hopeless! He came to that place, “made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant (slave)” in order to rescue us. Heb. 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”


The Lord works a work from the inside out. As we yield He does His work in us. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” Phil. 2:13. The pearl realizes an irritant bothering her. God gave a defense mechanism, a fluid to coat the irritant.  Layer upon layer of the coating, is applied until a lustrous pearl is formed. This speaks to us that God is working a little at a time to change us into His image and make us ready to be that pearl of great price. We might liken the fluid to the Holy Spirit constantly at work to make us into that beautiful pearl.  This work is an inward, often unseen by others.


The longer a pearl is grown, the larger the pearl and its value increases. A natural pearl of value is found in less than one in every 10,000 wild oysters. Natural pearls created without human intervention are very rare. God does this work in us as we yield to Him. The Master Workman has promised to finish the work He has begun.  The only thing that hinders this is our will.


He saw the beauty of what we would be when He molded us and His Spirit coated us with the beautiful righteousness of Christ. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich” II Cor. 8:9. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Our job is to yield to His working in us.


Matt. 13:46, “When he had found one pearl of great price, the “virtuous one,” the only one of her mother” S. of Solomon 6:9, also mentioned in Prov. 31:10, whose “price is far above rubies.” May we choose now and let the Lord work, so we will be ready for this exalted place.

Prophecy


Earlene Davis


Dispensational View of the 7 Churches


A dispensation is a period of time, we are living in the dispensation of the Church Age. We need to remember the view point of this revelation. John was taken to the Lord’s day and hearing a voice behind him turned and was looking back at the Church Age – Rev. 1:10-12. John saw the whole Church Age from the beginning to the end. The seven churches all together tell the story of this Age and how the Church has traveled from the Day of Pentecost to the present time and even beyond where we are now.


Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-3) represents the beginning of the Church Age. On the day of Pentecost, 50 days after Christ’s resurrection, all believers were baptized into one body and the Church began – I Cor. 12:12-14. The book of Acts tells the glorious beginning of the Church. It was separated from the world, and gladly received the Word and continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they had all things common, rejoicing and praising God and the Church grew daily – Acts 2:1,4,41-47. God’s purpose for the whole Church is outlined in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. What the Lord has provided for the Church and what He wants for them.


Paul said, he had heard of their faith and love to all the saints. He prayed for them to have the spirit of wisdom and revelation and to know the hope of their calling and that they might experience the power that raised Christ from the dead – Eph. 1:15-23. In Eph. 2:1-6, Paul tells them they had been dead in trespasses and sins, but they have been quickened, raised with Christ and seated in the heavenlies. That truth is for the whole Church, we are a heavenly body, a heavenly people. God did not intend for the Church to be a part of this world – Jn. 17:13-17. We are in the world, but not part of it. Neither did God intend nor instruct believers to fix up the world. It will never change until Christ comes back to set up His kingdom. We are not to be as Lot, who fellowshiped with the world. We are pilgrims just passing through on our way to our heavenly home – Jn. 14:1-3.


Verse 4 of Rev. 2, tells the first failure of the Church. They left their first love, their love for Christ as the Head of the Church, as their Lord and Bridegroom. The Church as a whole ceased to love Christ supremely and began to degenerate. We read in Acts 19 of Paul going to Ephesus and God gave him a great revival. The city was so stirred and many who came to Christ, burned their idolatrous books, idols and shrines. But when Paul returned to this same church (Acts 20), he had to warn them, to examine themselves and to feed the church; for grievous wolves shall come in not sparing the flock and draw away disciples to themselves. In Paul’s last imprisonment he said all Asia had forsaken him – II Tim. 1:15. They no doubt like Demos loved this present world – II Tim. 4:10. They wanted the easy way. Paul’s way meant suffering. People were going away from the truth even back then – Rev. 2:5. The Ephesus period probably didn’t last until the end of the first century. 


But we will notice that in every phase down through the years of this age, there has always been overcomers, those who held true to Christ – V. 7. The Smyrna church are the overcomers of this condition. No fault is found against them. They will exist clear up to the coming of Christ. Rev. 2:8-10, “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” They represent the full overcomers who have died in the Lord down through the years, if we die before the Lord comes and are full overcomers, we will be of them.


Just as Smyrna represented the overcomers of Ephesus,  the Pergamos church represent the nonovercomers who dwell in the world, where Satan’s throne is – Rev. 2:12-13. Satan is the god of this world, II Cor. 4:4. Declension takes a while whether it is in the church or individuals. The early Church had terrible persecution. Believers had to hide out to worship God. Then Constantine the Emperor of Rome made friends with the Church and gave them freedom to worship. Christians thought this was the answer to all their prayers. But Constantine had a motive, he wanted to be the head of the Church.


There were those who stood against it. One was Antipas (or Polycap), Rev. 2:13. He warned the Church  not to make friends with the Emperor and he lost his life, He was a faithful martyr. When any individual or church departs from the truth, they do not stay on one level. They keep going down, unless they repent. This is what happened in the Church. The sect of the Nicolaitanes (Clergy over laity) had tried to infiltrate Ephesus earlier (2:6), but they wouldn’t have them. But during the Pergamos period, they were in the church (2:15). Not only their doctrine, but also the doctrine of Balaam (evil associations, false doctrine, spiritual fornication) was found there (Rev. 2:14-15). Shortly thereafter a state religion began, the Roman Catholic Church.


Thyatira tells of this further decline, with papal supremacy the climax. In this condition the prophetess Jezebel represents the Church as the teacher. Rev. 2:18-21. This is actually what the Roman Catholic Church did, she put herself up as the teacher of the people (not the Bible), but the church. For years the people were forbade to read the Bible. If they wanted to know anything, they had to ask the priest. Their doctrine is a mixture of the Jewish Religion (their priesthood and offerings, etc.); and the Christian  doctrine (virgin birth of Christ, His death and resurrection); and paganism (idols, pagan practices and worship). It has been called the dark ages of the Church. 


During this period no one was allowed to profess any other doctrine, but what the state church endorsed. The Scriptures were hidden and only a few had assess to them. But God preserved them through that very means. They hoarded them so perfectly that it prevented them from being lost or destroyed. About 1500 A. D. the first man we know much about (although there were others) was Martin Luther. He found in Scripture (Rom. 1:17), “The just shall live by faith.” And there he was doing penitence for his sins. He was very disturbed by the hypocrisy of the priests and how evil they were. For they sold indulgences for a certain amount of money. If you wanted to sin you just paid the priest and was given permission to sin. The history of the popes, is anything but good people. Many bought their way into the Pope position. You no doubt heard about Borgia, they had illegitimate children that they put up in the Church as Cardinals, etc. It was a very evil time. It is all recorded in Church history.


Martin Luther came out of the Roman Church and the Lord brought a revival of the Church. It was an upward trend for awhile, Rev. 2:24-25. This brought in the Sardis period, the reformation, which we will cover in the June issue.