The Streams of Grace – (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)
It is only as we act faith that the streams of God’s grace open up to us and supply us with our needs, especially so in this spiritual warfare (Ephesians 3:14). That prayer is Paul’s but it is in the first place inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit’s desire that we are strengthened. And that by the self-same Spirit who indwells us, “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The Christian man or woman is in the Lord and the Lord is in them. He is the source of our spiritual energy from whom we draw the needed grace and strength to fight the good fight of faith. He who is in the world is the enemy of God and us his people. He is the cause of the warfare we are having to fight. The Devil, and Satan, his domain is in the earth. He has been cast out of heaven. The apostle John tells us, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). The entirety of an unregenerate world is under his sway, his influence. The Devil uses this world of unbelief to rise against the people of God. They are God’s enemies too and ours. Now you begin to see what we are up against. Not just flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). But flesh and blood too, influenced by these powers of darkness. But if it is the will of God the Holy Spirit that we are strengthened with his might in the inner man (3:14), what hinders us from beings so? Up! About your business, on your knees. For he cares for you. Do you recall in the gospels Jesus’ disciples are in the boat with the Lord? There’s a storm and they’re petrified. The awaken the sleeping Jesus asking him doesn’t he care that they perish? What does he same to them? Where is your faith? He doesn’t say they haven’t got any, but where is it? Where is your faith, are you engaging in this warfare in faith or just letting the enemy ride roughshod all over you? Are you allowing the Devil to scare the living daylights out you just like the disciples in the storm? “Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36). “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
A Christian has no right to be running scared. There is a time when faith must fall away and give place to trust. We are continually with him and he with us, he holds us by the hand, guides us with his counsel, and when our time’s done takes us to glory (Psalm 73:23-24). Can we not trust him, has he ever lied to us? “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1Peter 5:7). Yes, in the midst of this anti-Christian warfare, he cares for us, he will not fail us. So we ought not to be agitated with fear, disturbed by the circumstances, the cares of this world. “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). We have the victory in Christ. Many enter the field of battle against Satan but few conquer. Because few have the courage and the resolution to wrestle with the difficulties. Note, “we wrestle” (v12). It is a wrestling match, but it’s to the death. They come joyfully out of Egypt but as soon as their bellies begin to grumble, instead food and plenty, they’re face with war and poverty. And they want go back to Egypt. Is that you? Will you turn back and flee in the face of the enemy? Or will you stand and fight? Will you prove the Lord, will you trust in him and what he has promised? Are you willing to endure hardship for Christ and his cause? Many there are who loathe the idea of losing heaven. But they loathe even more the cost of getting there, the warfare, the fight they find themselves in. They want heaven but at no cost to them. They want to get there on the wings of ease, dressed in fine raiment and bellies full. No, it takes another spirit than the spirit of the world in order to follow Christ fully. It takes the spirit of Caleb. “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it” (Numbers 14:24).
We are not given the impression that there is a great deal of hope for the Laodicean church. There have been times of course through history when denominations, churches have returned from apostasy. When the medicine has been applied (v22-22). And through the grace and power of the Lord Jesus such have been revived. But equally, there have been times when repentance has not been applied and the sword of justice has fallen (v16). When we look at the region of what was Paul’s field of ministry, Asia Minor, and the churches there then. Now, Islamic hotbeds. But we can look closer to home, our own country, Great Britain. There are buildings strewn all over the land that used to house thriving, saving churches. Now, business premises of one kind or another. The marks of apostasy all over the land. But this is the plaintive cry of the Lord Jesus himself here (v20a). This is a plea to the remnant (v19). There is always a remnant. The problem for the remnant is that they are infected by the state of the church, pulled down. Maybe even to the point of being backslidden. Please note that Jesus is standing at the door of the church, not someone’s heart (v20a). If Jesus wants into a person’s heart he sovereignly opens it (Acts 16:14). He neither knocks nor asks permission. This church had rejected him, cast him out and from outside of the church he calls, and rebukes, and chastens his own, the remnant within. The way back to communion with Christ remains a possibility for them (v20b). The invitation to supper symbolises this communion, a return to intimacy with Christ, with the Triune God. The message to the remnant is, you don’t have to go down with the ship. As a young boy, I used to marvel at the old movies that portrayed a stricken ship’s captain going down with his ship. He would stand there on the bridge, saluting, and heroically go down with his ship. I used to think, what courage! It was a waste of human life in reality. Well, the Laodicean church is a sinking ship, but the remnant doesn’t have to go down with her. That too would be a sheer waste.
The possibility remains, they can yet reign with Christ (v21). They may yet conquer, by pure, royal, and free grace. And they will ultimately be where he, Christ is, reigning (Revelation 20:4). My throne and my Father’s throne, the carrot that is held out to the remnant, to rule with the Father and the Son of God (v21). This is an exaltation that is inexpressible in human speech, who can even begin to imagine being lifted up to such heights? And the required cure? Simple gospel repentance. But remember this is not just a legal requirement, repentance is always unto faith (Mark 1:15). A believing repentance. Think of Jesus’ exaltation when he returned to glory (Philippians 2:10-11). Well, the promise to the conquerors is that they will share in that glorious exaltation. So what does the Spirit say (v22)? Watch! Fight! Conquer! Fight the good fight of faith! This church in Laodicea was self-sufficient, self-satisfied. They had no need of anything. Surely a church that doesn’t pray is a church without Jesus, he is on the outside. If our dependency is truly upon Jesus will that not be expressed in both private and corporate prayer? The fulness of grace is in Jesus, he has an inexhaustible supply of grace in himself. You cannot exhaust that supply. And we are always in need of his grace. We needed it for salvation, we need it to continue, and we need it to finish the course as a conqueror. We always need his grace. And whatever you have of this world’s goods and chattels no one nor nothing else can ever truly satisfy you. Maybe you and I are going to be out of this world sooner than we think, are we ready? Perhaps there was a time when you wanted Jesus more than anything else. Do you still want him? And if not, why not? What harm has he done to you? The message to the Laodicean Christians was a simple gospel message, it’s always simple, it’s we who complicate it. Get right with God!
“God be merciful to me a sinner, and make me do and know and believe in Jesus Christ: for I see, that if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness, I am utterly cast away. Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Saviour of the world; and moreover, that thou art willing to bestow upon such a poor sinner as I am, (and I am a sinner indeed) Lord, take therefore this opportunity , and magnify thy grace in the salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen” (John Bunyan).
And keep on praying, on your knees, until God answers you.
The Problems With Pre-millennialism? – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 1)
One of the problem’s we are faced with when we come to the pre-millennial position is that of the separation made by its proponents between the old and the new dispensations. In the Bible Israel is a spiritual concept, that is, the church and Israel are one and the same. There are times of course when the nation of Israel is referred to. But when it comes to God’s elect, the Bible is speaking of an Israel within Israel, not all who are of national Israel descent are of the spiritual Israel. Only those who have been circumcised in heart, or in New Testament terminology, born again, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans (9:6), i.e., to the church. The unity of the covenant is fixed, Abraham and the Gentiles are all dealt with in the same way, by faith. The covenant of grace was established with Abraham and with his seed (Genesis 17:7; 22:17), which includes the Gentiles, in fact all the nations. All is one, there is no separation between Jew and Gentile all are dealt with in exactly the same way. The apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, makes this clear, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). There is a clear unity between Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:8). Abraham’s seed are the true Israel of God, donated by the Father to Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. Again, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[ the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (Romans 9:6-8). God’s purpose, “that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two” (Ephesians 2:12-22). God does not have two people, only one. The church, the Israel of God. Jesus himself, “So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). The latter being a text used by the Pre-millennialists profusely, but obviously not understood for some reason.
The next problem is that of the sudden rapture. A secret and a sudden rapture, separate from the resurrection? According to the New Testament this will take place in exactly the opposite way. “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord (1Thessalonians 4:15-17). It’s visible, with a shout, a trumpet blast, the resurrection and the translation of the saints follows. There is absolutely nothing sudden, silent, or secret about this event, nor is it separated from the resurrection. When the saints will be with the Lord, forever, never to return to the earth. And yes, only one, yes one, resurrection, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voiceand come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement” (John 5:28-2). Next time we will look at the dangers of this teaching, for it is no small thing, there are serious dangers with it, it is heresy.