I am grateful for the gift of salvation, believing that You empower me to become more like You!
[For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:8;
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. John 4:10;
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12]
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
from James 2
Me: Good evening, Jesus!
Jesus: Good evening, Jon!
Me: I have read this passage out of James 2, thinking that James felt that works were preeminent in the life of the believing. That works are evidence, – a litmus test – as it were, of the fidelity of a disciple’s walk in You. It seemed to me to be an outpouring of a lifelong adherence to Judaism as it was practiced by the Pharisees in Jame’s time.
Jesus: Do not miss the earlier unmistakable reference that James made in verse 12:
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” Compare Galatians 5:1 to see what he was talking about:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
James is simply exhorting to consider carefully whether your faith is placed in Me, resulting in a changed heart and changed works or in some idol (self is a common one) resulting in nothing. This is worth constant attention: are you in Me and I in you? If you are, the works will follow of themselves, as Mine do also. In fact, the works that will flow out of your life will be mine. You may walk in them freely.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Me: Good evening, Jesus!
Jesus: Good evening, Jon!
Me: May You not always be found, Lord? Are you not always near?
Jesus: I may always be found by the one who desires to find me:
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Prior to the end, Perception of My presence is up to you. What do you call someone who goes where he is unwelcome?
Me: Intrusive? Unsought? Annoying?
Jesus: Do you think I will win any hearts, if I Am those things?
Me: Not the way You made us.
Jesus: That is right. “Unsought” is the test I use to know if I Am welcome with anyone. I seek a loving relationship with you. I could dominate I chose, but that is not why I made you. Nearly everyone knows someone who is insensitive to social cues. Even though they mean well, they may be seen as selfish and intrusive. Why? Because they are self-focused. You know I Am not like that.
Me: Why do you say “Perception” of Your presence?
Jesus: I am, of course, omnipresent. My existence everywhere and (every-when) is a feature of My nature. David knew this:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139: 7-16
For those who desire My company, as David (sometimes) did, I Am ever there for them. For those who do not, My presence is not obvious. The part of man that was made to perceive spirit did die in the Garden. It it only restored with the new birth when one chooses to answer My call. Then one can hear my voice. Here is an example of some who did not even when they could see me physically:
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
I promised My presence through Moses at the threshold of entering the land I swore to Abraham. Moses related it to Joshua in the hearing of all the people.
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
I reinforced that promise to Joshua directly. This is who I Am.
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
To the disciples and all who would follow, I reassured of My closeness.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
My invited presence is the key to a successful and joyful life.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
Though I allow a relationship with Me to be optional, none should think that it does not matter at the last.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Me: Thank You Jesus! Thank You for helping me to dig into these passages to hear what You are saying about them! I am blessed indeed to have Your promise to be with Me! I don’t know how those who do not know you, navigate their days. I love You!
Jesus: You are welcome! I love You, and I love that you love being with Me!
Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.
Me: Good evening Jesus!
Jesus: Good evening, Jon!
Me: You know, Jesus, that last week I sat through another of those talks about improving one’s approach to the different attitudes and beliefs of the generations. It seems to me the basis of the books and lectures I have been exposed to is that every “generational cohort” has a set of more-or-less common experiences that shape outlooks.
Jesus: What did they say that resonated with you?
Me: I can certainly see a foundation for the notion that major life events could shape one’s thinking. I thought of my own upbringing during the cold war, complete with nonsensical duck and cover drills in grade school. Many in my generation developed fatalistic attitudes, not expecting to reach adulthood.
Jesus: Fatalistic attitudes are not limited to your generation. Why do you say the drills were nonsensical?
Me: A little later in life, when I had real NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) warfare training in the military, and had seen from close-in video records how the shockwave of a nuclear yield tosses everything in the air and then blows it away. I saw pictures of items further out etched on regular walls by the flash. I realized that ducking under a school desk with one’s hands on his head was really a kind of placebo, not a survival tactic.
Jesus: What did you find most eye opening from the presentation on generational interaction?
Me: One thing was hearing the defining anxiety for the latest generation getting to working age (gen-Z, I think) is fear of the consequences of global warming. That it would be incumbent upon employers to present their best “sustainable” face in order to attract and retain these workers because they had a need to feel they were “part of the solution rather than part of the problem”. Another thing was that at least part of the Millennial generation in the United States was strongly shaped by the events of September 11th, 2001.
I had just finished watching a documentary on the collapse of the Twin Towers and building 7 that brought up a lot of unanswered questions and asserted the discovery of residue of high tech thermite in the debris along with steel micro-spheres, which require molten steel to form. Those assertions (with many others) and those explanations that have commonly been put forth are at odds.
During the section in the presentation relating the different concerns shaping the various generations, It immediately occurred to me that no mater the generation, if these things were the defining events, they were all also highly politicized and the narratives that had been put forth were carefully constructed. They all bear the marks of propaganda designed to produce fear.
Jesus: Your observation about playing on fear is as accurate as it is intentional by those involved. Worse things are coming ahead of My return, nonetheless.
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Yet those who listen to Me hear My admonition to fear not.
But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
Perfect Love gets rid of fear.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1
And fear of any but Me is inconsistent with who I Am. To be made perfect in love is to grow in perfect relationship with Me. That is not of your own doing, but My gift, if you will accept it.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
1 John 4:8
Me: What about the influence of the parents on the next generation?
Jesus: I gave parents the responsibility for raising their children.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
Most have vested this responsibility in stewards from whom they have required no accountability. Many have abdicated altogether. Your nation has adopted law pertaining to public schools contrary to My instructions in Deuteronomy 11 for parents. Much more often than parents know, their children are taught that the beliefs of their parents are outdated and wrong. So even if parents endeavor to teach My principles for life at home, they are being undermined in many cases.
I have given plenty of warning that the spiritual condition of parents has long-term consequences.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
You know anger often comes in response to fear. Consider these instructions.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Me: The presenter of the talk on generational interactions said over and over that different beliefs and outlooks are not wrong and need to be embraced by the other generations, written into policy, and trained into the workforce. It seemed to me an assertion that moral relativism was fine. Just. Fine. Truth? What Pilate said…
Jesus: Here is a truth you can count on.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 14:12, 16:25
I want to talk to you about another passage that you have not recognized is related.
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
Do you recognize the voice of the children of this generation? Saying to each other, “Fall into line with us. Do as we say is right and you will be accepted.”
“Peer pressure” and “Wokeness” are the order of the day. But I Am saying, “Listen to My voice! Set your heart on things above! Be filled with My Spirit! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You! I pray you will help me have the right attitudes.
Jesus: You are welcome! I Am working on your attitudes as you submit them to Me. I love you!
12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,
28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
from Mark 11
I sat with an acquaintance (who shall remain anonymous) this evening who was recounting one after another of the things he judged to be perpetually wrong in his life, voicing his anger toward this family member or that one, the failure of mental health people to help him, his various “diagnoses”, why others were to blame for Every. Single. Thing. I found only one thing he said that I agreed with: the failure of those working in the mental health profession to help him. The truth can set one free from all these maladies. Coping strategies are, at best, only learning to live with one’s demons. If one has been conditioned that error is truth and truth is error, well, the steering is going to be off. Neither mental health professionals, nor I, nor anyone else can force someone to walk in truth they have discounted. (Why that condition exists in this case is a long story.)
I did try to get this friend to agree to look at the passage in Mark 11, especially verses 23 & 24. If one has a mountain to move, what are his chances of success if he dissipates all his energy giving voice to his inadequacy and the impossibility of the task?
The passage talks about believing and not doubting. Doubting in this context is simply unbelief. Belief vs. unbelief. Verse 22 says “Have faith in God.” That is who we are talking about here. People who know God. This friend says he is in that category.
I am sure the fig tree in this passage serves as an object lesson for exactly how to have a withered life. (Hoping one would choose to avoid that end, of course.) Where is the wisdom in a man cursing his own existence? If one does so, while blaming God for not “fixing” it, what shall we do with that promise in verse 23 that says, “[H]e shall have whatsoever he saith”?
I have written extensively before about the value of lending one’s voice to the truth the scripture proclaims about the believer. That is, acknowledging who we are in Christ.
My unhappy and misguided friend is applying his energy rushing headlong in a diametrically-opposed direction. We would all still be on that path if we were unable or unwilling to believe Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin is sufficient. Something deep inside recognizes the truth that we deserve destruction, except we acknowledge the value He places in us. Redemption in Christ brings us into His glorious light, even from the deepest darkness.
Lord, please open my friend’s eyes, for things are possible with You which are impossible with men. I know also, that he is not alone. I know what it is like. I thank You for leading me away from cursing my own life with the lips you gave me to express gratitude and Your majesty, and to marvel at all You have made and continually sustain for our benefit. I pray these words might give guidance to any who need to find You and learn to say what You say. Blessing and not cursing.
I am grateful that You have already given everything needed for life and godliness!
But he answered and said, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:3-4
Me: Good evening, Jesus!
Jesus: Good evening, Jon!
Me: Thank You for a pleasant day traveling toward home with You and Jeannie!
Jesus: You are welcome! Happy to be along!
Me: I cannot imagine a way to thank You enough for Your promises! The bonus of being a partaker in Your nature seems to eclipse all the promises individually, and even taken all together, as great as they are!
Jesus: If you are filled by my Holy Spirit, how could you be otherwise than a partaker of My nature? My divine nature is My Spirit. Likewise, My Spirit in you is My divine nature.
What you have lacked in understanding stems from the view that My Spirit is ethereal in the commonly held sense of no substance discernible by the physical senses. My Spirit is ethereal, in fact. But unlike the common conception, the mighty flow of My Spirit powers the entire created heavens and earth, the spiritual realm as well as the physical; giving form and substance and energy beyond the ability of man to conceive.
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Me: Marvelous! I love You Jesus! Thank You!
Jesus: I’m glad you liked My revelation to your heart! You are welcome! I love you!
I am grateful that You are the Sovereign of the universe, and I am not.
Me: Good evening Jesus!
Jesus: Good evening Jon!
Me: I was reading Step Four in the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelves Steps and Twelve Traditions book, and it was talking about various character defects as examples that they might help one learn to examine them. It sort of jumped out at me that this sentence was one of those hit-the-nail-on-the-head moments:
… griping that others failed to recognize my truly exceptional abilities?
While the authors didn’t also mention the desire to say, “I told you so!”, they could have. Then the thought came that You had many fail to recognize Your truly exceptional abilities. Yet, I’m sure You never griped about it and I can’t think of an instance of You telling an individual that they had been warned after things went wrong. What is the secret to being at peace about such “votes of no confidence”?
Jesus: Have you noticed that you do not also have a tendency to analyze ways in which your own shortcomings contribute to various problems, especially failing to help those you are responsible for adequately prepare to meet what is expected of them from those with higher authority in the organization? I know that the items that progress into crisis mode are most evident once someone in authority begins to express they view it as a problem. But as a manager (technically) responsible for directing the work of another you would do well to help them with your experience. I know the “chain of command” that is referred to in military service is often violated in private business; your protege’s get directions you hear nothing about unless there is some kind of trouble. Meanwhile, you tend to assume all is well, whether there is a storm brewing, or not.
I know the end from the beginning. Do you ask Me about these things, and what you should do about them? Recognize My truly exceptional ability to help! I ask My Father about everything. Then I do what He tells Me. This is the answer to your question about how I remained at peace. It is faithless to gripe about things you have asked Me to help with. If you have not, it is because you have asked not.
The best kind of discernment, is My discernment. I will help you with insight into the unseen. I know the thoughts and intents of the heart. Just ask.
Recognize, also, that I chose a few to disciple. These were generally not among those casting no-confidence votes, though they were all works in progress; as are you. This is the secret to multiplying the exceptional abilities that I Am giving you. Seek Me. Listen carefully. See clearly. Be diligent. Abide in Me. Keep My love for you and for your charges in mind. Love them in the power of the Spirit.
If you find you have detractors, so do I. Do not blame them. Pray for them. They are being used by the accuser, almost certainly without consciousness.
Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You! I ask you to help me make a habit of seeking You about these situations. I have so much I need to grow in!
Jesus: You are welcome! I love you! I am helping you grow. I Am the Vine.
I am grateful to have the red-skin potatoes and new asparagus in the ground.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!
Me: I reckon the Father knew exactly where Adam was.
Holy Spirit: Far more precisely than Adam knew where Adam was. Did you wonder why sin caused Adam to “hide” though he had never hidden before, never experienced sin before, never even been harshly corrected? He was taught by Me. He communed with Me in all My fullness. That should be enough to convince you that knowledge, even knowing perfectly, is not a defense against the possibility of sin.
Me: Why did these new behaviors develop?
Holy Spirit: What was the tree that they had eaten of? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil:
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Also, what did the Father say at the end of His work on creation?
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Consider that until Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying the one prohibition that was given (for their own good, and the good of all that would follow) there was no accomplished evil in the world to know? There was obviously some in the spiritual realm. They believed the deception of the serpent that God failed to have their best interest at heart. Sin entered the world though their choice to disobey. One of the most noticeable evils was the doubt that entered them about the nature and character of God. The effects of their sin that caused them to “hide” presented many facets. They did not want to admit to their sin. They did not want to see the Father, for they understood He knows all. At least they would have understood, except one of the fundamental processes of sin is the shifting of one’s focus to self. They were ashamed. That negative emotion had not existed before in the world. They were afraid. God had revealed the consequences beforehand, though they had never seen either physical or spiritual death and did not know what it might look like. Do you know, they did not immediately recognize the void where their spiritual connection to Me had been?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Fear had not existed in the world up until then either. Not by any of its names: neither by dread, nor anxiety, worry, terror, fright, horror, alarm, panic, trepidation, agitation, consternation, dismay,distress, angst, unease, disease, apprehension, suspicion, distrust. You get the idea. There is plenty of it now.
Much later, Jesus would point out that this death was the aim of the evil one.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Their innocence was stolen, as was their peace, joy, and unfettered fellowship with Me. Death entered the creation. The “very good” perfection was destroyed.
However, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
You should understand from these statements about Jesus that this “destroying” is not the same in nature as the devil’s brand. It works by making it possible for each one to accept Jesus’ atonement for their sin and thereby choose to be saved from their sin and the attendant death and decay that had been operating.
Jesus works in the lives of those who choose Him at the heart level. He sends Me to guide into all truth. In Jesus walk on the earth, some expected a political movement to set things straight: oust the Romans, restore Israel to sovereignty. Jesus did not choose that method then. He does not choose it now. The devil is defeated in his schemes when a person chooses to follow Jesus, depends on His power, and resists the devil so that his temptations get no traction. One adoption at a time.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
2 Timothy 1:9-11
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Though the world makes a lot of noise, I am grateful that Your promises are sure and are peace.
As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.
Me: Good morning, Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit: Good morning Jon!
Me: I need You. All that You have created is marvelous, and reflects Your nature and character. But the effects of sin have allowed noise and confusion to take the center of the stage. You are perfect and reveal all truth. Yet seemingly endless outlets push lies for the advancement of agendas that are not of You. The effects of sin in me do not help the situation. Help me to lay down self will and mindless reactions out of habit. Help me to keep Your awesome promises in mind always.
Holy Spirit: Those things that you ask are part of Jesus’ promise to you that I Am sent to guide you into all truth. Consider this –
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
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 to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
1 Timothy 6:5
I Am faithful to make a way for you to withdraw from the evil din for a while to seek Me. I will will be met by you, even as now. I will strengthen you. I will refresh you. I will uphold you. I will remind you of My love.
Elect. There is a word that is prone to raise the dander of various Christ-believers and the very foundation upon which others choose to mark their position. I think I will go out on a limb and cite what I believe Jesus is saying to me about it through the scripture. Come along, if you dare. Even the mildly curious is welcome!
May I start with 1 Peter 2:6? My takeaway in a spiritual nutshell: Jesus, the I AM incarnate, is the elect. We are/may be elect only so far as we are in Him. Let us read the first ten verses of 1 Peter 2, placing our targeted verse in context.
1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:1-10
About verse 8, which most translations have as something similar to the KJV, the translation as “appointed” escapes me. I admit it. The Greek ἐτέθησαν thus translated is used one other time, in Acts 7:16 in Stephen’s account of Jacob and his being laid to rest.
If I were doing the translating (which I am clearly and admittedly unqualified to do), I would have leaned toward the last words in 1 Peter 2:8 being “to which they were set”. From which, I would have understood the meaning to be “set in their ways, or fixed in their understanding”, i.e. as the result of their stubbornly-held anti-Jesus belief. To me, this interpretation of verse 8 squares nicely with Jesus’ statement, “According to your faith be it unto you.” upon healing the blind (Matthew 9:29). It is ironic that one of the aims of King James in wanting his own translation of the Bible, is that it not be so… Calvinistic. I get the sentiment. Calvin was living in Geneva and heavily influenced early English translations.
I invite you to prowl around relating to this passage at Bible Hub for yourself. You too, can become an unqualified researcher of the Scripture in the original languages. If you are one who leans toward idolizing Calvin, I urge you to reconsider the merits of being known by any name than Christ’s. But, I digress.
In Titus 1:1-2 – Paul gives his own conversion as an example of election as of (according to) the saved-by-faith-in-Christ, thereby amplifying that election (ἐκλεκτῶν) is simply imputation of the elect nature of Jesus into the life of the believer by faith.
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
Let me say, as an aside, that godliness is not powerless man trying to act as God acts; rather, omnipotent God acting in the heart of yielded man.1
Luke 18 contains two parables I would like us to look at, dear reader. The first mentions the elect (v7) being quickly answered by God. Jesus, then asks the rhetorical question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (v8). To me, this reinforces the link between faith in Jesus the Elect and our election by virtue of being in Him, if so we (choose to) be.
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Isn’t it handy for a parable to open with a direct statement of the object lesson to be remembered?
The second parable is of the tax gatherer and Pharisee praying; Jesus is asking his hearers, “Who was justified?” Verse 9 explains (before the story) this parable is against those who are trusting in themselves and despising others. Seems to me this parable has a direct application to any who presume salvation because they are raised in a Christian home, a member of any particular denomination, or whatever human “election” criteria one can devise to view themselves as therefore “in”, while others are, by inference, “out”. Not different than an Israelite believing himself “in” by birthright as a “son of Abraham”.
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
There you have it. My understanding of election as intimate communion with Jesus, who is THE Elect. Thank you for reading to the end. Please do not saw off the limb I am now out on. I am only trying to help those who would draw closer to the Elect.
1 When I use the word “man” in the absence of a definite article, I imply neither sex, as this is the way the language has traditionally been used. I find the modern he/she/whatever approach clumsy and frankly, an affront to a right understanding of the creation by His Unmistaken Majesty. You may now visualize me dismounting my soapbox.
1 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Me: Good morning Jesus!
Jesus: Good morning Jon!
Me: Jesus, most of Hosea is calling Israel and Judah to task for their idol worship and wrongdoing. Yet right in the middle of all that there live these three verses that open chapter 6. Is that the way that You knew that You would be raised up on the third day? Was this a message left to Your human self to prepare Your heart for the sacrifice You would make for us?
Jesus: You have heard the question posed, “What would you say to your future (our younger) self?” You have read of My struggle with consenting to My impending death in the garden (Matthew 26). I tell you that I was strengthened by this passage in Hosea, and with it I strengthened My disciples that they would know what was coming (or at least remember that I had told them when things occurred just as I said).
Me: What about the part of the passage about You coming as the rain? The later and the former rain unto the earth?
Jesus: The farmer knows the benefit of the former rain to sprout the seed and the latter rain to complete the growth of the crop to its full yield. Even so, the one who receives Me shall sprout unto new life, and the one who endures in me shall be brought into full fruition.
Me: I have to recognize, Jesus, that had I been able to go back and speak to My former self, I would still have been full of rebellion and willfulness, serving self with as much vigor as any Israelite ever bowed down to a lifeless image. There has never been a time when I did not need You as my Savior.
Jesus: I had to accept the passage in Hosea by faith, even as you must walk by faith.
Me: I am glad to know that, Jesus! I love You!
Jesus: I am glad to show that faith to you. I love you!