God's promises are sure and never ending.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2: 20.
Even though Paul wasn't present at Jesus' crucifixion, he certainly came to be one of Jesus' strongest disciples after Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. And as that event changed Paul's life for the better, I can only imagine how our lives would change in an instant, if such an event were to happen to any of us. In the verse above, Paul makes it clear what that transformation meant to him. I hope it means something to you as well.
And faith is what keeps us looking forward to His promises.
This is the story of our first parents, Adam and Eve, of how God made them - and then how we came to be. To understand where we are from that point in time to this day, we have to understand the timeline of human existence, which is God's 7,000 years / 7 days timeline of man.
The 7,000 years is literal time, the 7 days is prophetic time - of which we are now almost at the end of the 6th day, or 6,000th year and runs like this. Adam to Abraham - 2,000 years or 2 millennial days, Abraham to Jesus - 2,000 years or 2 millennial days, Jesus to now - 2,000 years or 2 millennial days. The 2,000 years from the birth of Jesus to now, also known as the church age, includes the 7 years of the Tribulation and concludes with the return of Jesus at the END of Tribulation with the 1,000 (literal) years of the coming millennium, or the 7th millennial day in prophetic time of human existence.
Jesus won't return until all prophecies have been fulfilled and complete.
So to begin at the beginning . . .
We are all born into sin caused by Satan in the first instance, tempting Eve with a lie and then Adam, who was with her also, eventually fell to the same lie by eating what Eve offered him and he was then faced with a serious dilemma because of his love for Eve, which is a very powerful emotion - should he turn her away or join her in her violation. And even though they disobeyed God’s command, not to eat of that tree, I often wonder if they weren’t so naïve and innocent, and being the very first humans, would they have fallen if they weren’t so childlike? They certainly weren't 'street wise' by any stretch of the imagination but still, they disobeyed a command. And I suppose that’s irrelevant now but I think we should be more hard on Satan than Eve. He knew exactly what he was doing and he has much more to answer for. So because of that transgression, sin entered man and has been passed down through Adam to everyone in every generation since. And we can see from this story just how much Satan hated Adam and Eve and then us because God considers all of us as His children. Satan was so jealous of us in the extreme - he knows God loves us and being consumed in his hatred, he also knows his end and has only one thought toward us - if I can't have it, neither can you. And he still believes he has a chance of defeating God if he can turn more of us away from Him, that is his goal. NEVER underestimate him, he is much more powerful than you or I and just remember, if he can talk angels out of heaven - he can talk you out of it too.
And if you're having trouble fighting off sin, as we all do, just remember who it is that is trying to keep you bound - keep in mind his attitude toward us - if I can't have it, neither can you and he is always, still trying to pull us down to his level but he has already lost. This isn't a simple game with him - it has very serious and deadly consequences. And we have more to lose than a brief moment in whatever by lack of concentration. So sin should never be treated lightly, 1st Corinthians 6: 9, 10 are some of the things God hates, I won't mention them here, you can read them for yourself and there is comfort in Isaiah 1: 18 - 20: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. There's probably no need to comment further as the verses say it all - I'll just say, how gentle is God with His first few words . . . but there is also a limit and a boundary.
And this is why, 4,000 years after Adam, the virgin birth of Jesus was necessary so that He wasn't tainted with a sin nature. Jesus didn't have a human father, so the sin nature wasn't passed down to Him. But since He had a human mother who also carried the sin nature, He was fully human but without the sin nature because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. So knowing this, we must also understand that Jesus, although virgin born, was born exactly as we all are and His spirit, like ours, wasn't installed until after His birth. If you believe what I've just said about the process in which Jesus was born, then you should also be able to refute the concept that our spirit is given at conception, I will have more to say on that below. The only difference, He will become God's Son by this special circumstance.
In Luke 4: 1 - 13, it tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days and nights and He was weakened by hunger, after which, the devil came to tempt Him. In verse 13 it says: And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season. And by saying all it is clearly saying He was tempted of every sin that is common to man and if He failed in just one test, it would have negated His saving work on the cross. Could any of us have done what He did in His love for us? You need to remember that it is God who made us - through our first parents, Adam and Eve, so we are not 'our own' by any means and it is to Him we belong. When we die our body returns to dust from whence it came (just like Adam who was made from dust, our body, shall return to dust) but our spirit returns to God, which was given by a separate process that only He can destroy is very sobering, Matthew 10: 28. It is only a believer's spirit that returns to Him but an unbeliever's spirit goes to a very different place to await judgement and after that judgement, an unbelievers spirit is cast into the lake of fire - for eternity. And if you think about it, eternity means time without an end - for both the believer and the nonbeliever, for believers it will be a time of amazing joy - not so for the nonbeliever - and who would want that?
And that is not to say a believer won't face judgement, we all will. 2nd Corinthians 5: 10 says: For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. At this point upon death a believer’s spirit is given an interim body, which is only temporary.
But an unbeliever's fate is already determined if they don't change by repenting before their death. And the second death is the worst we could ever experience – Revelation 20: 11 - 15 is very convicting and I’ll write it here: And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead, which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead, which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
God’s word clearly teaches that all people — whether saved or not, will stand before Jesus on a day to be judged. Believers will answer for their deeds at the judgment seat of Christ but will escape condemnation simply because they continued in faith. Romans 8: 1 says: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. In Matthew 12: 31, 32 Jesus is saying in these verses, that there is only one sin that isn't forgiven, which is rejecting the one who made salvation possible for us and describes the unbelievers who refuse to change but believers who are careful of scripture won't fall to that sin, thereby escaping it. And the lost will face Him in judgement at the great white throne to receive their fate. And the tender mercy that God is still offering to everyone before death, simply by changing direction and coming to Him, should never be thrown away. The reason believers will have escaped condemnation is as explained and also because they didn't fall away after believing, they continued. And the following verses that Paul says in Romans 11: 22, 23 are truly, a great comfort and benefit to all: Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide, not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
Looking again at the words if thou continue, they have a very strong meaning in these verses, which simply means to persevere under all adversities and continue appears 334 times throughout the Bible. And continue is preceded with if thou - or if you, which is not quite a command but it is a strong directive that we all should obey. So we can now see that the word continue is an encouragement and is something we all must do. I think these verses in Romans are a beautiful inspiration and also a kind forgiveness to all who are struggling in whatever, that while there is life, there is also hope. I also like what it says with the same words in part in Colossians 1: 23: If ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard. Even every unbeliever’s life can soon be turned around if they just give in and let Him have control. It is also a very tender exhortation to the sinner, if we come to Him broken to be mended. If we just come to Him, child-like in our sins, forgetting our human failings and confess those sins - even if we think those sins are too much to forgive, He will heal us. Is there a greater mercy? And scripture tells us in Ephesians 2: 8, 9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In 1835, Charlotte Elliot on her death bed penned a well known hymn, which is credited with turning many hearts to the Lord. She was sadly thinking, as so many do, that God wouldn't accept her in her sins but a preacher who visited her said, "You have nothing of merit to bring to God, you must come just as you are". And so the hymn Just as I am was born. There are many who put off coming to Him hoping to disentangle themselves from their sins in time and if you are in that situation, it is a very dangerous hope because you might not even make it through today. He already knows your sins, just come as you are, confess your sins daily and He will heal and forgive you. Consider this: Believers are saved no matter what their sins are, if they repent and continue. Unbelievers are NOT regardless of good conduct, they've either fallen away and didn't return or they didn't even begin. All they have to do for the same reward is change their direction and that doesn't mean you must attend a church to receive that promise.
And who can afford not to accept such a beautiful promise?
Now after Adam, we are all formed indirectly through natural procreation, not directly, by instant creation as He formed Adam. Adam wasn't born of a woman, nor was he born a baby - he was made fully grown. To digress a little here to explain a correlation, Jesus was 33 years old when He was crucified, which was in His prime and that is more than likely How God would have made both Adam and Eve around the same age, adults in their prime. Thinking further, when ALL believers are risen, both alive and dead to meet Jesus in the air at the END of the Tribulation, we are given an interim body awaiting our new bodies where He will transform our bodies to be like His glorious body, Philippians 3: 21. Being transformed in our present lives, isn't something we can do easily on our own, it is the work of the Spirit that perfects it when we allow him to change us.
In Genesis 1: 26, 27, it explains that God created man in His likeness. He first created Adam in the morning of the sixth day and He created Eve in the evening of the same day. Of course, there is quite a lot that happened in between those two events - which was bringing all the animals before Adam to name them but remember, God can do things in the blink of an eye. We then read in chapter 2: 21, 22, that God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam and God took one of Adam's ribs and formed Eve. And Eve was made fully grown just as Adam was but we're not told whether God breathed life into her the same as with Adam, or if it was by another way. I would assume it was simply because they were the first humans. Adam was formed first from clay, then God breathed life into him after, and so he became a living soul – He didn’t create man around a spirit. When God breathed the spirit of life into Adam he then became a living soul – man is earthly, made from the earth and to the earth his body will return but the spirit that He imparts returns to Him. And just as Eve was made from one of Adam's ribs, she too, is earthly. So many don't know that our spirit returns to God, thinking once you die that's it.
So after making Adam and Eve, He didn't need to be continually doing it that way, it was decreed by God for man to reproduce by a biological process, which is known as procreation but not yet possessing a spirit. During gestation, the order of the body is formed first and on birth, the life-giving spirit, which is the ‘breath of life’, is imparted at that point by God – exactly the same as He did to Adam. And here is where some get it wrong - read all of that last sentence again. Let's look at Jeremiah 1: 5, which so many use an argument for life beginning at conception and says: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. If we look into that sentence, as well as other verses that say the same thing, we must consider what God is saying. Firstly, we have to agree that it was God who made us, through Adam and Eve, not us ourselves. Yes, it was God who formed us as the verse mentions but formed doesn't mean possessing a spirit as yet and nowhere in scripture does it say that. God also said, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; that is, God knew Jeremiah's spirit - and ours too, well before he, and we, were born. We must remember that God created Adam from clay then made him alive - so the giving of life is His domain, not ours. And really, we don't need to think any further than that. God knows exactly how many people will be born so it would stand to reason that He would create the exact same amount of spirits that are now residing in heaven until a new baby is born.
Just on that last sentence, I'll digress here to relate a story I once read - whether it's true or not I can't say - I like to think of it as an example. It's about near death experiences, (NDE) of which there are many brain surgeons who validate it. It was some time ago but I've never forgotten it because it seemed plausible to scripture. Briefly from memory, it relates to a woman who died, or almost died during an operation. She recounted how she was floating 'out of her body' but still connected to it by what appeared as a silvery, blueish cord and she was taken up, or transported to heaven and was in the presence of a 'higher being' who showed her a vision of what she called little diamond shaped objects that were going down to earth in a stream, one after the other and others in another stream were returning but not as many. She was told, the diamonds going down, are the spirits that are going to be placed into new born babes by God, the ones coming up are those of people that had just died. I like it as an example of how God could install our spirit just by thinking it. Make of it what you will and I tend to agree with it as it makes sense with scripture.
So we see by this paragraph and the ones above it, if we tie it together with God breathing the spirit of life into a lifeless form of clay, we can understand that God always does things the same way and in the right order. He imparts ours and everyone's spirit, the same as He did with Adam, the same as He did with Jesus as I've mentioned above. Of course, we don't know exactly how He does it, He could do it just by 'thinking it' if He chose to, it just makes sense that it would all be done in the same way so as not to create confusion.
So when you think about it, humans don’t have the power to impart a spirit by that process, only God has that power, He ALONE is the giver of life - the spirit is life and life is the spirit. God places a spirit in everyone at birth, which makes us alive and if we understand this, without a spirit we would just be a mechanical entity – a robot. Again thinking further and knowing that God alone is the giver of life - all we are doing is the mechanics of it before our spirit is given, therefore we cannot be the givers of life.
There are many verses that tell us, God is the giver of life, God is the taker of life.
Jesus sent and gave us the Holy Spirit after His ascension, which isn't our own spirit as it was God who imparted our own spirit at birth because it was Him who made us. Genesis 2: 7. It becomes clear when you think of it like that. So thinking further, life begins when you draw your first breath, just as Adam did with his first breath. That is when God places your spirit in your body. Your spirit enters your body with your first breath and it leaves and returns to God on your last breath. Anyone with a little knowledge of scripture can understand this - it is usually unbelievers who will debate it.
Everyone at some point, has wondered – what is it that makes me 'alive'? It’s our spirit, which is the life within us, and is who we are and our physical body is just the vehicle that carries it around. You can also think of our spirit as an entity, which by definition is something that exists apart from other things, having it's own independent existence. So our spirit is a separate entity, as is our physical body but both are connected, which makes us one. And that's about as far as most can understand, we 'know' that we're alive and by thinking further, all of us can understand this 'life' that is within us can only be from God - where else did it come from, there is no other reasonable explanation. As this point is often debated by many, you might think about this: From conception, the body grows with all the parts, including the heart and blood and bones and everything else, so then, for all intents and purposes it is ‘live’ i.e. it has movement and continues to develop until it is ready to be born. But it is not yet “alive” so to speak, simply because the spirit is only installed at birth. And of course, no-one knows just how God does that, He can do it in any way He chooses - I can only think of the words in Genesis 18: 14, Is any thing too hard for the Lord? And leave it at that. Zechariah 12: 1 says: The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretched forth the heavens, and layeth the foundations of the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him. This verse and those in Isaiah 44: 2 & 24 are similar to those in Jeremiah 1: 5 above. The text above this verse and below is just how I interpret His meaning in how He gave life to Adam and then to us in the same way and this verse would indicate that to be true. But I am aware, this verse can be taken two ways and many will argue the other way but remember, many verses are veiled, it just needs to be understood that God does things in the same manner so as not to create confusion.
And we see that Adam, until God breathed into him, he was still just clay - and like Adam, so it is with the human form. The biological process of the baby being delivered into the world, where it takes its first breath, would follow on exactly as God did to Adam. And if you think about it completely, just as Adam became a living soul with his first breath – so it is with us. God doesn't do things a different way to cause confusion. God 'used clay to work with' only when He made Adam, and if you think about it, that's why Eve was made from Adam - to begin and complete the process of procreation with a man and a woman, Genesis 2: 23 - so thinking further, all men are the one species, we did not evolve from something else. In saying 'God used clay to work with' - He could have made Adam just by thinking it but He did it that way to show how He breathed life into a lifeless form and He alone repeats that process with every newborn babe. The next paragraph explains in medical terms the process of birth after conception.
"Babies don’t breathe in the womb as we understand breathing. Instead, they rely on their mother’s breathing to receive oxygen to their developing organs through the umbilical cord. Within a few moments after birth, the baby will take a sharp inhale and breathe for the first time on its own. This inflation of the lungs brings oxygen into the baby’s bloodstream without the mother’s help for the first time". I think this medical explanation is also a good analogy of our spirit being imparted only at birth.
Just another thought, as a baby grows in the mother until it is ready to be born, the spirit that God imparts at birth must be fed in order to grow spiritually and the way it is fed is by you and I reading God’s words as early and as much as possible. And it's not only our spirit that grows and benefits from reading God's words, it's our mind as well. That doesn’t happen in the mother, it happens outside the mother only after we are born, so it would seem to me that God imparts our own spirit at birth - for more than one reason. If our own spirit was ‘fully grown or mature’ so to speak, then it wouldn’t need to grow as we do so it must be a 'baby' as well. Think of how we thought as an infant - we had childlike thoughts, hence the need for God’s words to help us grow. Think about that for a minute - the spirit that God imparts to us at birth is an empty vessel, (our spirit) and is yet unfilled with His words until we believe and receive the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus after which, we fill that vessel and ourselves with God's words - which is why it needs to be fed in order for both of us to grow. Of course, until we make that choice to follow Jesus, we are just filling our own spirit with everyday life matters because the Holy Spirit isn't yet in us. As mentioned above, it's our own spirit that was given by God that makes us alive and if it wasn't an empty vessel, that is, if it was already 'spiritually full' would we continue to sin? And if it was already full would there be a need to read God's words? It's an interesting question and it's the very reason we are are all given a free choice, simply because that vessel IS empty, so we either accept and follow Him, which results in salvation and eternal life, or reject Him. And it's up to you what you fill that vessel with so let the Holy Spirit have control to help you fill that vessel - your own spirit - with things that will benefit you. Thinking further, there are many who say they don't believe, yet if you ask them why they don't believe, no matter what answer they give, most haven't an acceptable or reasonable answer, just following others who say it without giving any serious thought as to why, which, is really the negative part of human nature - rebelliousness. I can only think that 'empty vessel' has never been filled - even partly with God's words, therefore they reject it in ignorance and is a sad thing. There are those who will wilfully or deliberately reject it for whatever reason. And as sheep will follow their shepherd, goats only follow each other. I'm sure everyone can understand that analogy.
Romans 8 is a good study for all - there are so many good verses for thought there and too many to single out any one verse.
And you know who will fill our mind with worthless matter if we don't fill it with spiritual matter. 1st Corinthians 10: 13, is written for understanding, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it. And many might wonder how and the answer is in James 4: 7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Submission being the key to it, then more in verse 8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. By consciously submitting to God's will and not your own, we will have a better chance of recognising his attacks and act quickly to stop it. It's just being aware that Satan WILL attack every one of us and then training yourself to recognise when he does so as quickly as you can and stamp on it before it gets a hold. The longer you entertain whatever he puts before you - or if by you yourself, the harder it is to escape. And it's simple to do but not many do it quickly, allowing it to grow. Everyone suffers temptation in varying degrees of different sorts and each one is like ice-cream to a child and we're no different. Who can fathom the mercy of God.
So because birth and life it is a two-part operation, in which we do the physical part, God does the spiritual part, and all at the right time. On that point, it’s easy to think that we would seem to be ‘the givers of life’ through a biological process but we are told that it is God who gives life and not us. There are many verses that tell us God is the giver of life - here are just a few, Genesis 1: 26, Job 33: 4, John 6: 33, Acts 17: 25. It’s the spirit that is given by God at our birth, with our first breath, which is now the ‘life’ within us and on our death it’s just the body that dies, not the spirit, as it returns to God, which only He can destroy. Ecclesiastes 12: 7 says: Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Our body and our spirit, although connected, are two separate entities – one is of the earth, the other is spiritual, which explains the above verse. And just think, if our bodies consist of two separate entities as mentioned, and God breathed the spirit of life into Adam, who was a lifeless form until then and clay became a living soul at that point. And so too, man became a living soul thereafter by procreation but without a spirit until God gives it.
I mentioned Ecclesiastes 12: 7 in the above paragraph, I should also mention part of verse 6 as well as they are connected - it speaks of the 'silver cord' - or ever the silver cord be loosed, which is referring to our death and by reading the two verses together, you will understand them, and we can also see the silver cord is the spiritual connection, that is, between our own spirit and the Holy Spirit. And we can now see that the silver cord is also the life force, which is sustained by God and can be severed at any time of His choosing. Job 1: 21.
Perhaps a simple illustration will explain it - think about a puppet that is attached with various thin strings to a handle and when the puppeteer moves the handle in different directions, the puppet moves accordingly and if one or more of the strings were broken, the puppet wouldn't move as it should. These were favourite children's toys. So thinking further, picture, or imagine God in heaven, somewhere above earth. And if you imagine the silver cord as being billions of strings in God's hand, (one for each person) which are also attached simultaneously with every person's spirit as God gives it on our birth and is 'the life force' that is within all of us. The Bible tells us that it is God who gives life and it is Him who takes it whenever He chooses. So these strings that are in God's hands, are the silver cords of life and we can now understand the meaning of being loosed.
Then knowing that, we must also conclude that God knew our spirit before He gave it and Psalms 139: 13 - 16 affirms it: For you created my inmost being; [our spirit] you knit me together [our body] in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame is not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
(It was King David who wrote most of Psalms as well as Moses and 4 others. The author here is speaking in a metaphorical way, saying he was knit together in his mother's womb. Metaphorically speaking is a turn of phrase that means what has been said may or should not to be taken literally).
As mentioned above, Jeremiah says in part in 1: 5, Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee; and the rest of this verse tells us about God calling Jeremiah even before he was born. And just as God knew Jeremiah and called him for a special purpose, it also confirms that He knew everyone else and He has a specific purpose for each of us as well - and once that purpose has been revealed to you, no matter how difficult or insignificant it seems, do it to the best of your ability. Some may think, how will I know His will for me? And that could be the start of the Spirit working in you with a prompt and you will just 'know' so don't ignore it and let it grow. If the desire is there the Spirit will reveal it and prayer will help. And it may be that you will just know unconsciously. And as you grow by filling your mind and spirit with God's words, gradually you will learn to recognise whichever way he speaks. I can only encourage you to do what is needed to hear his voice.
He first formed Adam from dust, and knowing our body comprises about 60% water, it’s possible He mixed water with dust to form clay. (Just my thoughts.) He then breathed ‘the spirit of life’ into him after – not the other way round, which some wrongly think that life begins at conception – that is just the initial biological mechanics of it. God let the rest of the growing process proceed in the mother but leaving the installation of the spirit until birth. So looking at the verses in scripture above, it is clear that there is much more to it than thinking life begins at conception – it does not.
And now you know how everyone’s name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world. Everything was and is all done in its rightful order. Not only that, we know the date and time of our birth and we also know how long we’ve already lived, yet we don’t know the day of our departure – but God does, our days are established and numbered by Him.
And as it was through procreation that our bodies were created by our parents, who disciplined us as necessary and we obeyed them, shouldn’t we all the more submit ourselves to the Father of our spirit and live? Hebrews 12: 9. That is obedience too but on a higher level.
Our own spirit was imparted by God so that we can communicate with Him, through the Holy Spirit at any time. And as our body has its own specific functions, only our spirit has the ability to converse with Him. And it would stand to reason the Holy Spirit is able to converse with us - it's just a matter of recognising whichever way he does so. You can think of that as a thought process, which by definition is the act of using your mind to consider or think about something. And by conversing or praying, we are doing just that in a spiritual sense, that is, from your heart through your mind. There are many verses in scripture that speak about this and John 4: 23, 24 being one of the most important, I'll write them here for you to think on: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father requireth even such to worship Him. God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.
EVERYTHING about God and His dear Son is done in spirit.
And the moment we believe in Jesus, His Spirit enters ours, which is indwelling. And what I mean is, there are two spirits at work here - our own spirit, already installed by God at our birth and the Holy Spirit upon believing, a combining, or intertwining of the two so to speak and that is how the Holy Spirit communicates with us, through our spirit. Just a little further from that, we are told in scripture to pray to God directly and not to the Holy Spirit, Philippians 4: 6, asking what you will in Jesus' name. It is the Spirit who relays our prayers to God and you only have to think about how many times you feel unable or unworthy to pray to realise that - Romans 8: 26.
And, if you are receptive to that, the Holy Spirit who was made manifest at Pentecost – Acts 2: 1 – 4, will come to you and he is in all who believe. Prior to that, the Spirit was on them but not yet in them – Numbers 11: 17. There are many believers who haven’t yet heard the Spirit’s still soft voice, they know they’ve received it when they first believed but haven’t yet experienced it – and in reality in most cases, they are just lukewarm. That’s a spiritual condition they must overcome if they desire it. You know the antidote for being lukewarm – pick up His book. If you really think about it, you know it's the truth. Apologies for my bluntness.
Thinking about this, we are the custodians of our spirit and God wants us to be mindful of it and do the very best we can so that we can return it in a suitable condition that is acceptable to Him. As mentioned above, without a spirit we're just a robot - so our spirit is on loan to us and He wants it back better than He gave it. In the next paragraph I'll write a little of the talents, which will explain what I've just said. He will help us if we only allow Him to. And if you think about that, we really have only one purpose in this life and that is to come to Jesus, as long as it is called today, before it’s too late and do what is required of us, which is helping others if they will allow us, so that when we stand before Jesus, we will hear Him say: Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
Matthew 25: 14 - 25, the parable of the talents is good to observe and understand. To 'fast forward' it's basically about the gifts that are given to all believers, some more than others. Each and every one of us are given at least one gift to use in being a help unto others and no matter what your own gift is, whether you think it's too hard, or perhaps too insignificant, do it to the very best of your ability to glorify God. And as this parable explains, God knows what each person is capable of. This story is an example of what all believers are required to do in helping others - and is describing a wealthy man who went on a far journey, entrusting his servants with his possessions in his absence. One was given 5 talents, one was given 2, and one was given only 1 - to every man according to his several ability. The Master knew what each man was capable of and distributed the talents accordingly. After which, the Master returned and the one who received 5 talents used his ability and doubled it. Likewise, the one who received 2 also doubled it. But the one who received 1 was fearful of losing it and he buried it in a field so that he could at least return what was given. He was just lazy. He didn't use the given gift to increase for the Master, which is our given responsibility and we can all do what is expected in one way or another.
Thinking about the gifts that everyone is given to help others and once we've recognised what our gift is we can then use it for Him. And they are many and varied. 1st Corinthians 12: 1 - 11 tells us what they are and it doesn't take long, the Spirit will reveal it in time. This parable in Matthew 5: 14 - 16 is another good example and instruction: You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good work and glorify your Father in heaven.
So don't be backward in coming forward.
Similarly, Matthew 20: 1 - 16 is also good to understand. Again, to fast forward, this story is about a man who owned a vineyard and he needed labourers to work in the harvest, so he went and hired some and agreed with them a fair price - a penny a day. By a certain time, he saw that more labourers were needed, so again he went and found some and said: Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And at a later hour, he saw there were still not enough labourers and again he did the same, saying the same to those 'latecomers'. And the vineyard owner, perhaps by his own inaccurate calculations, saw that more were required to complete the harvest and he went 3 times into the market place finding others. This story only mentions that he went 3 times - he may have even needed to seek more.
That in itself is a wonderful story when you look into it and realise it's true meaning.
This parable also reminds me of Peter, when he denied Him 3 times at Jesus' trial. But the point I want to make here - 3 times Peter denied Him, 3 times Jesus forgave him in mercy, we can be confident that He will forgive us too. Scripture tells us we should forgive others 7 x 70, which is simply meaning an unlimited time. And because Jesus said 3 times, feed my sheep, we too, should also be prepared and willing to seek those lost sheep for the harvest - the harvest field is plentiful but the labourers are few. Peter was being reminded by Jesus to stay 'committed to the job'.
Which, if you think about it, our given responsibility is the same.
Because the parable about the labourers in the vineyard is specifically about God accepting whoever He decides into heaven and by whatever circumstances, I'll try to explain it this way with the help of scripture. The last workers hired were the first to receive their wages - a penny, Matthew 20: 8. And so it was with the second lot, they too, received a penny. So when those who were hired first received the same - only a penny, they expected more, which is natural human thinking and they murmured against the vineyard owner - saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. Contrary to what so many might think, this parable is not about money, it's about reward. Then in verses 13, 14 it is clear. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is [yours] and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. The words emphasised here are what the vineyard owner said to those murmuring against him and are also speaking of God's kindness and His love toward us. And God doesn't differentiate between those who come early or those who come late - it's all the same to Him. But it's not 'all the same' to you or me, it's a dangerous thought to think I've got plenty of time - none of us know when we will depart this life and the example of the prodigal - included below is clear enough.
This is how it is for some today, who don't really understand the mercy and patience of God - or His reasons in this parable. Even so, many could be considered latecomers in this era of Laodicea - but as long as we just come before it's too late we will receive the same reward as those who come early. Even the first who come early aren't without faults. And that's not to say it's OK to come later simply because no-one knows when too late is - and that's rolling the dice! If we think about that in regard to our own lives, we can begin to understand His mercy and perhaps, His reasoning. People often ask, why did Jesus speak or teach in parables? Quite simply, because the truth is often trodden on by unbelievers. He spoke in this manner to confuse those who didn't or wouldn't understand in those days but today, we have the Spirit who will unravel them if they're unclear to us. Look at 2nd Corinthians 4: 3 & 4, in particular verse 4. I am also reminded, from these examples that there is another event, as well as many others, that happened after 3 days had passed - God raised Jesus 3 days after His death. And that speaks of the promise that God will raise us (believers) at some time, either alive or dead at the END of Tribulation to meet Jesus in the air. 1st. Thessalonians 4: 16, 17.
Human thinking is different to God's thinking, the reward of salvation and eternal life is the same, whether you come early or late - just so long as you come, that is the mercy in this parable. Think about when Jesus was on the cross along with two others - one thief mocked Him and the other thief was repentant, right at the 'eleventh hour' and he received a fitting reward. I can only think if the one who mocked Him was repentant as well, he too would have received the same forgiveness and reward. It tells us in Luke 23: 39 what the unrepentant thief said - If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. Yet both men were sinners, as we all are but one came and asked for forgiveness - the other man didn't. And thinking further about it in our spiritual life, just like that unrepentant thief, we should all be aware of what can happen if we leave it too late. We all need to remember our sinful disposition and if we just come to Jesus like that repentant man in humble sincerity, He will delight to heal us.
And isn't that a perfect example for everyone today?
Take the example of the prodigal son, Luke 15: 11 - 31, who wanted everything that life could give him before serving the lord. There are many of us who can say a similar story in our own lives and any person may be just like the prodigal - I want everything now, serving God can wait. And we all know where that can lead and fortunately, that story has a good ending. But think about it in our own lives today - perhaps a young boy or girl with a different mindset, wanting to live for God and Jesus, if they continue in their belief all their life, trying their best to stay away from sin, the reward is salvation - and by doing so early they will live a better, fulfilled life, free of later heartache. And their reasoning could be, it's best to start now and continue - just in case it ends badly - early. And like the prodigal, a thoughtless person in their younger years may want everything life could offer but late in life, decide that salvation offers more - and I am one of those. This is why He said, the last shall be first and the first last, which is the same in these parables.
If only others would come to the same conclusion as I did, before it's too late. And I can assure anyone in the same situation as I was, it's far better to receive this peace early rather than late, agonising over it. And I totally understand this mindset, 'I don't want to miss out on anything'. Well, there's more to gain than there is to miss. And it's best to realise that sooner, rather than too late. Just give in. A little on peace - John 14: 27 says, 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. And over in 16: 33 He says: These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have Tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcame the world. And in Colossians 3: 15 it says, And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
And it's NEVER too early to begin because no-one knows the day of our departure. Just a little more on that, there are many like I was, coming to God at the 'eleventh hour' but there are also those who lost at the eleventh hour too, even before. And who would want that when it doesn't have to be that way. Just remember the unrepentant thief that I've mentioned above - his transgressions could also have been forgiven if he had realised in due time. And what I'm saying here is, it's the last battle, or perhaps the last battles that count and none of us know when that is, so don't give up at any time, much less the end. There is a saying that will help you that goes something like this - never make a serious decision when you are in a valley, when you get to the top of the hill you will have a clearer view. And the way forward will seem that much brighter. Over every mountain there is a path, it may not yet be seen in the denseness of the valley.
To digress a little and thinking about the adversities that we face in our lives, some so much more than others and we often wonder why, life seems so cruel at times. Yet they pale in comparison when you think about the adversity that Jesus faced from His birth and up to His death. From the beginning Herod of Judea sought to kill Him because he had heard from 'the three wise men' that a King was to be born in Bethlehem and he feared that the baby Jesus would be a rival. And Herod being fearful, sent soldiers into Bethlehem and surrounding areas to kill every male child under the age of two in his wroth. The Holy Spirit came to Joseph and warned him about Herod and told him to take the child and His mother into Egypt and they were there until Herod's death. And after Herod's death the Spirit told Joseph to return to Israel. And then later, the Pharisees and Sadducee's and Sanhedrin sects being corrupt, joined forces seeking ways to condemn Jesus, even to kill Him, which eventually resulted in His crucifixion, along with two others. And whenever I think on this, my mind is filled with horror, and He willingly allowed this to happen for one reason only - that you and I might live.
We are washed clean by His blood. How can we not love Him.
With birth and life, we can see that the beginning is a beautiful thing and like flowers in a field, they show so much promise yet how quickly they fade and die. In 1st Peter 1: 24 it says: For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. And it’s really only when you advance in years that you even begin to think about how short life is, and when we were younger, that same thought rarely, if ever, crossed our mind. But the very young as well as the old are taken at times and because of that, we should never fall to that human thinking or ailment that is common to all – 'it won’t happen to me'. The fact that life at best is very short, we ALL should adopt the attitude; I want salvation and do something about it sooner, rather than later. And it’s simple to do – if more would understand the true and simple meaning of the strait gate verses and realise they have nothing to do with attending churches and then link them with the verses in John 4: 23, 24 which I’ve written above – those verses are connected. But so many still can’t see it as it is. If they would only realise that Satan has them bound in rebelliousness.
After thinking about the beginnings, that is, our birth and life it would be remiss not to think about the opposite end, that is, the brevity of life and finally death.
Firstly, it takes a very mature Christian to face the end of life with peace and confidence, especially if they find it coming in difficult circumstances. Most people would hope and be happy to just fall asleep and not wake-up. If you think about it, that's pushing it away, which is not unnatural at all and at some point in time, we're all going to face it. And people are far less likely to ever contemplate their own demise so as to appreciate the need of our saviour, Jesus Christ because of this unpleasant human thinking. It may help all of us if we try to remember what Paul was thinking in the end of his life, For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better. Philippians 1: 23. He knew the end was going to be better than the present. The moment we die our spirit leaves our physical body and is clothed with an interim body and we are then immediately brought into the presence of our Father and His dear Son in the third heaven where we will wait to be united with those believers risen by Jesus when He returns at the end of Tribulation.
Going back to the first sentence, 'difficult circumstances' and human nature is hard to separate, all of us would hope for the second sentence but it may help to think of it like this. As mentioned above, our spirit and our physical bodies are two separate entities and if we could stand outside of our bodies and see or view ourselves as such, we can now understand that it's only our spirit that has the life, thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions and everything pertaining to that. Thinking further, we see that our spirit must exist somewhere in our brain, as that is 'the computer' or command centre that experiences those things - which in turn gives directives to 'the engine room' - and must be the heart, which absorbs and stores that information - it also supplies the 'fuel' to carry out all our bodily functions or actions. Which, just like any engine, it increases or decreases it's rhythm depending on the demands imposed on it. Then further, if we look at our physical body we will now realise it is just a vehicle that carries the spiritual body around - it's just a covering. So on our death, our spirit immediately leaves the body and returns to God completely intact, no matter what happens to the body but prior to that point, only the physical body will feel the pain of difficult circumstances. That may be a short time or a long time but OUR SPIRIT WILL NOT, it merely registers that the physical body is now experiencing pain and it departs on the realisation that the physical body has died. I hope that is a help to all, particularly knowing that so many will lose our lives in martyrdom during Tribulation. So knowing this we can understand that the physical body, even if it's under violent circumstances, decays and returns to dust but our spirit, which God has created and given is eternal and will immediately go to a place of rest - as long as we have made a conscious decision to follow Jesus and live for the promise of salvation but those who refuse that gift will remain in eternal torment. Of the two choices that are freely open to all, who would choose that. In this paragraph I've tried to explain it in simple terms, in the next we'll look at how scripture explains it.
There are many who will wonder about what happens after we die and 1st Corinthians 15 begins to explain it. Verses 21, 22 says, For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Paul goes on to say in verse 39, All flesh is not the same flesh: and he further tells us there is a difference between the flesh of man and beasts and fish and birds but we are made in His likeness, Genesis 1: 26. So man was made a little higher than 'other flesh'. Going back to the verses in 1st Corinthians 15, verses 42 - 44 says, So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown in a natural body; it is raised in a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. Then in verse 50 Paul says in part, Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God: (As mentioned above, Ecclesiastes 12: 6 & 7, which confirms it.) Then from verses 51 - 57 Paul tells us of a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 1st Thessalonians 4: 13 - 18 tells us a little more and is to our benefit to know and properly understand, which is the hope of all Christians.
Christ is the only person yet to have been resurrected - we, as Christians are soon to follow. And we read of some in days gone by who were resuscitated, and also of those who will be in the days to come. Those who were, have gone before us and those yet to be resuscitated, are those 'two persons' who will be brought back to life for a purpose. Those who were resuscitated long ago have since died a natural death and passed on - not to be confused with the second death. For 'those two' yet to be resuscitated by God, Revelation 11: 2 - 12, namely Moses and Elijah, who are to oversee the building of the 3rd Temple and direct the 144,000 Jewish men, raised by God throughout the world at this time, and they are to carry the Gospel to all nations in the 1st half of Tribulation. Those 144,000 are descendants from the 12 tribes of Israel.
I mentioned above, 'upon death a believer’s spirit is given an interim body, which is only temporary'. John 14: 1 - 3 says, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: [rooms] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. This is where all departed believers go on death - to the third heaven, which is God's domain. That last part that I've emphasised, Jesus is saying He will return at the end of Tribulation, where we will meet Him in the air.
2nd Corinthians 5: 2, 3 says For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be 'clothed' upon with our 'house' [our new body not yet given] which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. In Revelation 6: 11 it becomes clear, And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until; their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. This verse not only refers to those who were slain because they refused the mark, it also refers to those who died in faith from the beginning as they too, were under the altar. Revelation 14: 12, 13 also says, Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. They too, will be clothed in white robes.
I mentioned above Revelation 6: 11, about those saints who will be killed because they follow Jesus - and there will be many, and Revelation 13 tells us more in verses 7, 8: And it was given unto him [Satan] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given to him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. But we can take comfort in what Jesus says in Luke 12: 4, And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. When Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, He was looking past the cross and it will help us if we're called upon to suffer the same to adopt the same attitude as Jesus.
If we are living for Jesus then death in the natural sense holds no fear for us, for we know that the end of our lives is just the beginning of something much better than we could anticipate. It’s those who won’t come to Him while His hand is still outstretched in mercy who won’t know these promises. Their life is more important than sacrifice of any sort. By sacrifice I'm meaning to throw away the things that mean nothing and think of how Jesus paid the ultimate price for our redemption, with His own life so that we may have life. Those living for today place no importance or significance on the spiritual death that lies beyond the physical death, which is the 'second death' - Revelation 20: 6. And they fear losing their lives in the natural sense, all of which is unknowingly brought about by disbelief and not ever knowing what could have been. And that is a sad thing.
Consider the story of the rich man and Lazarus, it’s very relevant today. Luke 16: 19 - 31.
Those verses, as well as the ones below speak to me of the brevity of life, which will catch up with all of us sooner or later and cannot be ignored and need to be carefully thought about.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, the perfect will of God. Romans 12: 2.
By saying be not conformed, Paul is saying if we conform to the world, we agree with it and walk in its ways but anything that is not of God is of the world. Loving what IS of God that happens to be in the world is different from loving the world itself. And by saying be ye transformed, he is meaning to be converted from what we once were to what we are now, simply by accepting and acknowledging that Jesus is our Lord and saviour, and that is by His grace. So live each day as if it was our last, continuing to renew our minds by what we read, and the more we read and try to live a Godly life, the Spirit will eventually come to us. And live not in the sense of taking what you can from life but being more mindful of what comes after death. There are only two options and you have the free choice of one or the other.
It’s easy to think when we are young that we are invincible but as we get older we see the reality of it, which is in sharp contrast to our younger thinking. And thinking 'it won’t happen to me' is just not accepting that it could. Unfortunately, we all suffer this ailment or denial to some extent, some more than others.
Psalm 39: 4 - 6 says: Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as a handbreadth; and mine age is nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
These verses show that David was aware of his frailty and by saying Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; he is very conscious of his weaknesses in his own sin – and we are all like that, more often than not, at times not even considering it. Most pushing it away, refusing even to accept the very truth of it. At least David realised it and was convicted of it, knowing this earthly tent won't last forever. He mentions a handbreadth, a very short measurement when you relate it to time. He recognises that age isn’t even considered in God’s view of us, and if we lived to be the same age as Noah, it wouldn’t mean anything to Him. If you think about that in a spiritual sense it becomes clear - God has already lived forever and will forever do so but in comparison, we are here only one minute in time and we're gone the next, so it's easy to understand that. Wisdom doesn't always come with age - some never get wisdom no matter what age they reach and sometimes the young are wise but the old are lacking. So many aspire to amass wealth – all in ego or vanity and many achieve it but no-one can take it with them when this life ends for them. Someone else will gather what they have heaped up. In reality they are poor, naked and blind. And there is more, much more to acquire in life than amassing riches. And so often, the rich don't even consider these things. It is more often than not, the poor are really the wealthy if they have Jesus in their life. And just remember, whilst you may be poor, Jesus was poorer. Matthew 8: 20 says, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.
James 4: 14 says: we are nothing but a vapour. And how quickly does a vapour disappear, think of steam as it rises from a boiling kettle – it’s visible for a few seconds, then it’s gone. And isn’t that a perfect analogy of the brevity of life?
SALVATION IS THE ONLY THING THAT REALLY MATTERS.
I once heard of an old gravestone that read:
Friend, pause as you pass me by -
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, you too, soon shall be -
Prepare for death and follow me.
And someone wrote the following under it:
To follow you I am not content -
Until I know which way you went.
Which bids the question - Where will you spend Eternity?
If anyone is interested and would like to read more of my articles, rather than searching for them, just click on the titles below and it will take you there. These articles are about salvation, some more so than others but all will be of benefit to you. And if you deem them worthy and true, you might like to save them to 'favourites' for future reference. You don't need to save all of them as they are all here - if you would like to have them, simply save this one. I constantly review and update these articles as the Spirit teaches and whenever I review them, if you've saved them they are updated on your computer as well. You may even want to forward them to friends.
- The Strait And Narrow Way - Not Many Really Understand These Verses, Do You?
So many put their faith in the church system, tying it to salvation but are blind to the perfect way that Jesus made available for all who would earnestly seek it. Nothing that is of man is the strait and narrow way.
- Chronological Timeline of the Events in Tribulation
AND SO THE END BEGINS . . . .
- Read Your Bible - Doing So Leads to Life.
There are so many today who sadly, don't read the Bible and have no idea of the beauty it contains.
- THE RAPTURE PRINCIPLE: Is It Before, During, or After?
Many have differing views on this and I think the reason they believe something is because they heard it from someone else and most people believe the first thing they hear if it seems to be true. But you should examine it yourself before you agree.
- A Short Essay On Faith
Faith is not a thing that you see in people at first glance but you can see the evidence of it in them by their actions. And faith is a given trait that should never be hidden so don't be afraid to show it. By your actions someone else may benefit.
- SIN - The Wages Of Sin Is Death.
Sin is a subject not many are willing to address, thinking I've still got time to fix but no-one knows the hour of their departure. The past is where you learnt the lesson, the future is where you apply the lesson, don't give up in the present.
- The Workings of the Holy Spirit
The Spirit is a gentle thing and he will come to all who earnestly seek him.
- Do You Know What Time it REALLY is?
So many are just drifting in this world on a windswept ocean without a thought of the rocks ahead that are so close. And with so little time to alter course and steer a safe passage - now is high time to think about salvation.
- This Is My Commandment That Ye Love One-Another As I Have Loved You.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- END OF DAYS - Just How Close Is Tribulation, Have You Any Idea?
It is so sad that so many are completely unaware of the days we are living in and of what is coming in just a few short years. And even worse, much less care. Was it Jesus who coined the term 'If they only knew'.
- The Genesis Gap.
Was there a world in existence before the flood of Noah? Look a bit closer, scripture will reveal it.
- ETERNITY - Have You Ever Wondered, Where Will You Spend Eternity?
If you lived in the Sydney area in the 50's & 60's there's a very good chance you saw this word in yellow chalk on street corners. It was also seen in Newcastle and Wollongong.