A Quick Pass Through Romans 15:4

Romans 15:4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” KJV

What ever scriptures were written previously were written so that we would learn from them, “for the word of God is alive and sharper than any two-edged sword [Heb 4:12] . . . this learning being the benefit of being spiritually alive as well as a living word that will continue to teach us and the indwelling spirit that will bring things that we have learned to our remembrance.

The bible is not a history of the world, the bible is the history of God’s dealings with man. It does not provide a chronological description of how it all happened. It describes how God made the world then how he dealt with man and showed compassion on him and his plan to reconcile the world after the fall. He documented through Moses how he covered Adam’s sin with the blood of an innocent animal and how he has covered sin since. We needed and continue to need to learn how this was done, so that we can know his ways and can appreciate the good He has done for us – the richness of his grace and mercy!

I Corinthians 10: 1-11 say that the things that happened [and were recorded] were a warning and an example of what not to do so that we don’t end up with a similar circumstance as the Israelites in the wilderness. That we would learn how to walk in this journey, to know that this is not our home, that we cannot murmur against the good that God is doing and how he is leading us. That we can’t spend our time partying and getting involved with the world’s corrupt system.

Learning takes place in the mind, a portion of the soul. Everyone including Jesus had to learn how be true to the spiritual nature in a physical body. He also had to guard himself from mental and/or soulical conflict including emotional conflict, temptation and willfulness. These are temptations that he overcame in 40 days of temptation and spiritual warfare in the wilderness. Hebrews 6:12 states that Even though Jesus was God’s son, He still “learned obedience through the things that he suffered.” What does this mean for us; . . . that we have to learn obedience, humility, that we will have to suffer, and even then learn that Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light.

We have to learn that even as priests and kings we will need to learn what it means to be a King and how Kings conduct business. Galatians 4:1-2 talks about how the heir of all still has to learn to be the king and how the kingdom works.

What is the way of patience?

Understanding doesn’t come overnight, so then ” . . . ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:36 And again, Hebrews 6:12 “ … be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Faith and patience are the keys to growth in the long-term. Let’s define what patience is and how it figures into the growth equation. Patience is rendered “endurance and perseverance in many of the translations and dictionaries. Even Jesus tells us that “In your patience, possess ye our souls” Luke. 21:19

Patience with others is Love, Patience with self is Hope, Patience with God is Faith.”–Adel Bestavros

The Kingdom of this World Hates You

The kingdom of this world hates you and will treat you badly but bear
this in mind, as an emissary from the King of Kings: 

*      the world wants to see the kind of love that you manifest

*      the world wants to see the judgment you manifest also

*      the world is in awe and completely overwhelmed by the favor that
        you have

*      it is an incredible blessing to suffer for the gospel

My, How You’ve Grown

Text: I John 2:12-14
In business, in politics, in any number of human endeavors we work to gauge our progress, our attainment, and our achievement. Many examine bank statements, time measurement, games won, awards garnered and other means by which we determine improvement.
Do we do so in spiritual matters? Is there a way that we can make a statement about the way that we have evolved in our spiritual affairs? While there may be some incremental growth that would be harder to determine over short periods of time, the Lord has provided a way to look at our growth over time that allows us to assess where we are and how we need to think about our next steps.
John describes how there are three major categories in the growth cycle of Christians:
Ø Little Children

Ø Young Men

Ø Fathers
Little Children
Examining the text, we find that the children have some clear defining characteristics. He doesn’t say that they are not saved!
Young Christians may say as the disciples said, “Lord, increase our faith” Luke. 17:5
The bible says that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17
But it doesn’t come overnight, so then we have need of patience Hebrews 10:36
And again, Hebrews 6:12 “ … be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises”
Faith and patience are the keys to growth in the long-term. Let’s define what patience is and how it figures into the growth equation. Patience is rendered “endurance and perseverance in many of the translations and dictionaries.
Even Jesus tells us that “In your patience, possess ye your souls” Luke. 21:19
They “have known the Father” and their ”sins are forgiven . . . for his name’s sake”
The trouble with babies and young children is that they are in danger from a number of dangerous things around that could potentially stunt their growth or endanger their lives! We grow on a physical level in spite of ourselves, in contrast with our spiritual selves that only readily grow as we are fed the Word. We can also gauge our growth against our response to life’s circumstances and temptation.
Didn’t Jesus pray “deliver us from temptation” – that we would fall prey to, “but deliver us from evil” Another translation says “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This prayer petitions the Father to give us the daily bread (feeding) that we need that allows us to grow, while asking His assistance to avoid the wrong things that we would encounter during our days on earth.
An interesting parallel verse is found in Hebrews 5:12,13 &14 where the writer explains that a young Christian whose stunted growth has kept him from teaching so he is forced to continue with the first principles (milk) rather than graduate to other profitable principles available.
He goes on to say that strong meat belongs to those who “by reason of use” [who are mature] who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong . . . so then the parallel is in the Peter’s 2nd epistle (1:4-7) where we are admonished to add to our faith virtue [moral excellence], and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness all of this to receive the exceeding great and precious promises.
Baby Christians end up trying to see how much wrong they can tolerate and still be Christians not knowing that these practices and philosophy keep them babies.
Young men
Are said to be “strong’ and have the word of God abiding in them. They also have “overcome the wicked one”.
This is a great testimony and of value as a measuring stick against which to gauge your enlistment in God’s army. Logically, one would have to have had some experience in battle with the wicked one to have overcome him. The experienced spiritual warrior understands the nature of spiritual warfare and is equipped with the tools [the Word] to be victorious.
This warfare means victory but that victory yields us the peace of God to continue in the struggle no matter what you encounter. So then the young men learn little by little, that the tribulations that they suffer is the cause for rejoicing. Romans 5:3-5 tells us that tribulations work patience and patience experience and experience hope,
Hope always keeps us looking at the future where we are expectant that God allows us to overcome once and for all.
Fathers
James writes that we may have a thousand instructors in Christ but not many fathers. Notice the single requirement of the Father – “You have known him that is from the beginning”
The spiritual father has a serene grace to his walk with God. He is not overwhelmed with the trappings of outward appearance. Neither is he trying to prove the veracity of his relationship.
He is much like the Husbandman [farmer] in James 5: 7-8 who waits patiently for his crops to grow. He waits for the rains (the enrichment of the Holy Spirit who acts and creates ways for God’s will to be performed on the earth.
Many of the other translations reiterate you have known him that is from the beginning. [Christ]. This statement begs the question of context. Spiritual fathers have a grasp of the nature of the origin of not only Christ but an awareness of his everlasting, unending nature. This is a source of great peace – because of covenant and relationship. There is no need to fear or be apprehensive. So then as James says early on “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing.” One grows perfect and entire, complete and fully-grown. One is not anxious about external issues but assured that God remains on the throne and in charge. Forever! Amen!

An Act of Will

The Gift

In a discussion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, conflict and confusion [strife] sometimes arise in part because the prince of the air would like to prevent God’s Children’s access to this gift. Jesus spoke of the gift in two familiar passages. In John chapter 4, He asks the woman at the well if she would like to have the Gift of God (vs. 10) . . . living water so that she would never thirst again (vs. 14) . . .” but the water that I give him shall be in him a well of water springing into everlasting life.”

The other passage in John chapter 7, finds Jesus in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles saying to the crowd, “If any man thirst let him come unto me, and drink (vs. 37). He that believeth on me as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (Vs. 38)

Did Jesus contradict himself in these passages? Both in the book of John, the latter passage adding parenthetically “But this spake he of the Spirit . . . “ I believe that Jesus did not contradict himself, but was speaking of two distinct gifts, the gift of salvation and the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

He characterized the gift of salvation as a well of water. We understand a well as having limitations in contrast with the seemingly endless flow of a river. The difference is a matter of volume, they are both gifts and they are both water, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

How do we receive these gifts that God has for us? Jesus appeared to understand this confusion we would have about receiving his gift. He responds in the 11th chapter of Luke’s gospel in the midst of teaching on prayer: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Vs. 13)

An Act of Will

One aspect of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that has caused significant controversy is their manifestation. Much ado has been made of the manifestation: “speaking in an unknown tongue”. This highly visible aspect has been much maligned by the “have-nots” and given undue credence by the “haves”. Much of the imbalance in views were plainly evident in the Corinthian church and for that reason I believe the Lord left Paul’s letters to that church for us to study and appreciate the wisdom by which he approached the subject.

Paul’s discussions of the gifts of the spirit begin in Chapter 12 of the first Corinthian letter. He says he wants the church to understand the realities of those gifts. He discusses in detail the differences in administration of the gifts, how the church as a whole (metaphorically described as the ‘body of Christ’) needs the different gifts not only the manifestation gifts but also the gifts given as offices in the church i.e. pastors, prophets, etc. Barclay’s translation of verse 7 reads, “The visible effect which the Spirit produces in each of us is designed for the common good”. In other words, by whatever means the Spirit manifests himself, it is for the good of all.

God is sovereign and He will make himself known by His power working in the earth i.e. the Holy Spirit in whatever ways he see fit. The spirit world is not limited by time or space so the manifestation of the Spirit as exhibited in biblical times cannot be limited or relegated to those times. We must expect that as God lives, and more importantly, lives in us, His spirit will manifest himself in ways we have seen written in the word and in ways unimaginable.

At the end of the chapter Paul makes an amazing statement. He says “But covet earnestly the best gifts, yet I show you a more excellent way” (vs. 31) How could he ask us to set our hearts on something that we can’t have? I don’t believe that he would, which leads the discussion back to “Ask and ye shall receive” (Luke 11). I believe that all of the gifts are available according to the faith of the individual and how he or she is invested in a ministry that will yield to the Holy Spirit. Are not these gifts to the church as evidence of the love of God and his willingness to edify (charge up), give courage and comfort us?

Yet Paul’s point in chapter 13 is that without the Agape (unconditional love of God), none of the gifts have relevance. All of God’s gifts work by love. Without love they have no context and nothing to act upon. Agape love is the string that ties it all together. It is the beginning of the evidence that one has a well of living water within.