WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BLESS THE LORD?

And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son. ~ Genesis 24:48

Worship is an act of homage in the presence of royality. Bowing in reverence is one such example. In the text above, Abraham’s servant declares that he worshipped and blessed the Lord.  Many of us know something about the meaning of worship, but what does it mean to bless the Lord?

There are many texts throughout the Bible which speak of blessing the Lord. For example, Psalm 63:4 says, “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.”  In Psalm 66:8, the Psalmist says, “bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard…”

Also, consider the following from Psalms 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits… ~ Psalm 103 :1-3

Blessing the Lord is not exclusive to the Old Testament. In the New Testament we find Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) blessing the Lord as he prophesied.

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people… ~ Luke 1:67-68

In Luke 2, we read of Simeon, an aged man who was filled with the Holy Spirit, who blessed God when he saw Jesus.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. ~ Luke 2:25-32

In his first espistle to Timothy, Paul refers to the gospel as “the glorious gospel of the blessed God”, and refers to God as the One “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords…” ~ 1 Timothy 1:11 & 6:15

According to the scriptures, God is blessed, and can also be blessed! 

Consider the following from the book of the Revelation.

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. ~ Revelation 5:11-15

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. ~ Revelation 7:11-12

There are many other texts that could be given, but at this point I would like to answer the question, “what does it mean to bless the Lord”?

When the Bible speaks of blessing the Lord in the Old Testament, it is often, if not always, the same word which is used when God blesses. It is a very powerful truth that we can actually “bless” the Lord in a very real and personal way. In Acts 13 the Bible speaks of those who ministered to the Lord.

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. ~ Acts 13:2

We bless the Lord when we truly worship him from the heart, and God knows who they are who are a blessing to him. True, undefiled worship is about him. It’s not about us, and it’s not about the feeling we get from the “worship experience”.

True worship is not about an experience so that we will be blessed. True worship comes from the heart that is completely taken up with him, and it is all about “blessing him!”

 

Advertisements

WAS GOD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM UNCONDITIONAL?

Someone recently said the following to me: “The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of Abraham.”

The person who made this statement did so in defense of his position on Israel, but is he correct? Did God make a covenant with Abraham that required nothing of Abraham?

What if Abraham had not obeyed God and not left his father’s house? What if Abraham had not believed God’s promise to make him the father of many nations?

The gentleman who made the statement above, also said the following:

“The problem that rises from this issue is that most people do not comprehend the concept of a covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are two basic types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.”

This simply isn’t true. If it were true, God would save everyone whether they believe the gospel or not, but salvation requires something of the beneficiary, namely, faith.

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. ~ Galatians 3:6-9

Abraham became the father of many nations because he believed God. Nowhere in your Bible will you find any text that teaches that nothing was required of Abraham.

For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. ~ Hebrews 6: 13-15

Notice that Abraham obtained the promise after he had patiently endured.

The covenant God made with Abraham was not one sided. It was as much dependant on Abraham’s faith as it was God’s promise, for the covenant God made with Abraham was the promise of the gospel. Truthfully, there is no such thing as an unconditional covenant in scritpure, which requires nothing of one of the parties. The very nature of a covenant is that it requires something from both sides. In Abraham’s case, it required both faith and obedience.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ~ Hebrews 1:8-10

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. ~ Hebrews 11:17-19

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. ~ James 2:21-23

There is absolutely no language anywhere in your Bible that claims that God’s covenant with Abraham was unconditional and required nothing of Abraham.

On the contrary, when the Lord appeared to Abraham in Genesis 17, God said to Abraham: “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” ~ Genesis 17:1a-2

Later in Genesis 22, God required Abraham to offer up his only son, and Abraham obeyed God!

WHAT IS PAUL REFERRING TO WHEN HE SPEAKS OF “ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN HEAVENLY PLACES” ?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ… ~ Ephesians 1:4

Have you ever wondered what these spiritual blessings, of which Paul speaks in the text above, actually are?

If you have, and you’re still not sure, I believe I have the answer for you.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is constructed in much the same way as his letter to the Colossians, which is more of a condensed version of his message to the Ephesians.

In Ephesians, Paul speaks of the “spiritual blessings” in heavenly places in Christ (1:4). He also speaks of our being seated with Christ in heavenly places (2:6-7).

In Colossians, he says something similar:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. ~ Colossians 1:1-4

What exactly is Paul talking about with all this language of “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” and “seated with Christ in heavenly places” and “dead with Christ” and “your life hidden with Christ in God”?

The answer is found in Paul’s teaching of the old man from which are redeemed, and the new man we are called to be.

In Colossians 3:5, Paul begins to unwrap what he means by saying, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth…” (v.5)

Paul then gives a list of the sins of the flesh which we are to put to death in our lives, and refers to this as “putting off the old man.” He then says that we are to put on the new man created in the image of Jesus Christ (3:10) by walking in love, forgiviness, kindness, peace, etc.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. ~ Colossians 3:12-15

Paul goes into much more detail about putting off the old man and putting on the new in his letter to the Ephesians where he employes the same language of peace as the calling of the believer.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3

This is the heavenly life to which we are called.

Sin is why Christ died, and the expression of sin is the old man of which we are instructed to “put off.” In Paul’s theology, the old man mentioned in Romans 6, as well as in Ephesians and Colossians is not some “mystical thing.” It is a direct reference to the person that sin causes us to become, and Christ died to save us from our sins, which make us murderers, liars, thiefs, blashpemers, adulterers, etc. Paul describes our old man being crucified with Christ as “destroying the body of sin.” ~ Romans 6:6

When we choose to surrender to Christ, we choose to live after the life of Christ, and thus we crucify the old man of sin: who we were in our sins.

Christ died and rose again, to set us free from our sins and to give us power over sin, that the life from above could be freely expressed in us.

The virtures of the new man in Christ, ruled by the peace of God, is what Paul is speaking of when speaks of the spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus and those things which are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

The Holy Spirit comes to us with the glorious life of the enthroned Christ, empowering us to live in this dark and sinful world as true ambassadors for Christ, with a life and peace that is only heaven can give.

HAS GOD’S LAW BEEN ABOLISHED?

In the book of Romans Paul does not disqualify the law. In fact he says the complete opposite: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” ~ Romans 3:21

Paul never disqualifies the law in any of his epistles, but skillfully explains the purpose of the law. According to Paul, the law was weak through the flesh. The written code with it’s commands, decrees, and statues, as was given to Israel, was weak because it could not put a stop to sin, it could only regulate it.

Only by the power of Christ can sin be permenately dealt with, and only by the power of Christ can we live victorious over sin. Those who are changed by the power of Christ are not under the written code of law as the Israelites were, because their law was given to regulate sin, not deliver them from it.

Does this mean that we are without any law now that we are in Christ? Absolutely not!

Serving Christ doesn’t mean we are now lawless. That for which the written code was given is fulfilled in us by the power of Christ. The goal was never the command, but the purpose for which the command was given. The goal of “thou shalt not kill” was “love your neighbor.” The goal of thou shalt not covet or steal is “love your neighbor.”

When Christ came, he did not come to abolish God’s law, but to fulfill it, and those who follow Christ fullfil the law as well, for they do the will of God from the heart.

God’s law is fulfilled in those who live according to the power of Christ. This is why both Jesus and Paul tell us that love fulfills the law.

The virtues of godliness such as kindness, self control, patience, peace, etc., are the very things to which the Law gave witness. The law (the written code) had no strength to free us from sin and empower us with righteousness. Nor did we have this strenght in ourselves, for we had become servants to our own sins. Thus Paul says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” ~ Romans 5:6

Now that Christ has come, we have the strength to please God from our hearts and the law does not condemn us, for we are justified in Christ!

God’s law has not been abolished, but the administration of it in written code has. God’s law is now made manifest through those who have the power of Christ ruling their lives. The goal of God’s law wasn’t to keep us from murdering our neighbor, it was to teach us to love them.

In Romans 2 Paul speaks of the work of the Law in the heart and speaks of the same when he tells the Thessalonians, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. ” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:9

The Law of God is eternal, but the administration of his law has changed. No longer is it the ministation of death in written code. It is now inscribed on the hearts and minds of those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. ~ See Hebrews 10:16-22

Now it is administered as the commandment of love which only Christ can give, and properly know as “the law of Christ”!

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

THE NEW COVENANT REPLACED THE OLD

Once you really get it, that the New Covenant replaced the Old, you’ll never read the Bible the same again. It will become a new book to you.

The Old Covenant, by definition is the law given to Israel under Moses. This is what the New Covenant, established by the blood of Jesus, replaced.

The New Covenant, was promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In the Biblical narrative of the story of Israel, the coming of Jesus Christ (not his second coming, but his first) is the main event! It is the climatic ending of national Israel’s history under the first covenant which held them in bondage under a curse.

The New Covenant was God’s promise to the house of Israel and the house of Judah in the day he would deliver them from their ungodliness.

Salvation for Israel is not somthing in waiting, which hasn’t happened yet. Salvation for Israel has already come in the person of Jesus Christ, and this is why the announcement of Christ takes center stage in the story of Israel.

It was so grand, that God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Israel’s redeemer and to make the announcement to Israel that this man is the Son of God: the one we have all been waiting for!

Yet, not all those who were of Israeli descent accepted the message, and just as the Israelites who sinned and rebelled against God under the law were judged, even so those who rejected Jesus were also judged and cut off from covenant with God just as Moses said they would be. ~ See Acts 3:22-23

But there is good news! God is able to graft them in again, if they will believe the gospel. ~ See Romans 11:23

Once you understand that the gospels and the book of Acts belong to the narrative of the story of Israel, the Bible will become a new book to you.

The coming of Jesus was not an intermission in God’s dealings with Israel. The coming of Jesus was the salvation God had promised to Israel by his prophets, who also declared that when Israel was saved, the whole world would be invited into the blessing!

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. ~ Romans 15:8-12

Salvation for the Gentiles is not a dispensational interruption in God’s dealings with the Jewish people. Salvation for the Gentiles was promised to come when God would save his people Israel.

The message of the Kingdom of God is the same for the Jew as it is for the Gentile: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!

GENTILES OWE A DEBT OF GRATITUDE TO ISRAEL

While I do not embrace the theology of Christian Zionism, I also reject the ideology of many who fight so rigourously in opposition against it.

The New Testament is not a “stop gap” for the rebellious house of Israel. Nor is it an intermission in God’s dealings with Israel while he saves the Gentiles,  wherein afterwards he take care of his unfinished business with the Jews.

On the contrary, the New Testament is the continuation of God’s relationship with the people of Israel. Never once will you read that the New Covenant was given to the Gentiles. Instead, it was given to the house of Israel and the house of Judah in fulfilment of God’s promise through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13).

Previously Gentiles were grafted into the covenant given to Abraham’s descendants under Moses and the Law, and Gentiles are grafted into God’s covenant given to them in Christ. God has not changed his divine order. The New Covenant established with the blood of Jesus is patterned after the Old.

In Romans 11, Paul cleary states that those who are Israelites in the flesh are the branches by nature. Those among them who believe the gospel, remain as branches in their own tree. Those who reject the gospel through unbelief are cut off from thier tree.

The branches by nature (the house of Israel and Judah) were cultivated by God. The Gentiles were not. Yet God, in his mercy, has taken those who were not cultivated by him (the Gentiles), and grafted them in with those who were cultivated by him (the Israelites). In this manner, God has chosen to save all who believe.

Those among the Jews (the branches by nature) who believe the gospel remain as branches in their own tree. Those who reject the gospel through unbelief are cut off from their tree.

Gentiles who believe in Christ are grafted into this tree, which is Israel’s tree.

It is within this context that Paul tells the saved Gentiles not to booast against the branches which were cut off, because God is able to graft them back into thier own tree if they will no longer abide in unbelief.

Now, in the 15th chapter of Romans Paul says, “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.” ~ v. 25

The saints in Jerusalem during Paul’s day is a reference to Jewish believers living in Jerusalem. There may a have been a few Gentiles sprinkled in, but predominatley Jerusalem was occupied by Jews.

Paul then says, For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. ~ v. 26

The Christians in Macedonia and Achaia were Gentiles who wanted to help thier Jewish brethren in Jerusalem.

Now notice what Paul says next:

It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. ~ Romans 15:27

Notice the use of the words “their spiritual things.” This is a reference to the blessing of the salvation and covenant in Christ that Gentiles now partake of, and Paul calls it “their (Israel’s) spiritual things.”

According to the apostle Paul, Gentiles are grafted into Israel’s tree, and are debtors to them because of this very thing. It is wrong to boast against the branches, for though many among the Jews are still are in unbelief, the covenant God gave in Christ came through their ancestors, and in this manner, salvation is of the Jews. ~ John 4:22

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT WOMEN IN MINISTRY?

When Paul says, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (2 Timothy 2:12), this statement is tied to the qualifications of bishops and deacons (listed in chapter 3) which clearly states they must be “the husband of one wife”.

If we remove the man-made added break in the chapters, we can see that what Paul says in chapter 2 is part of the flow of thought in chapter 3.

I think its important to remember that there is a difference in woman ministering, and women holding positions of authority over men within the church.

In scripture, we have examples of woman who ministered, such as Philip’s four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). However, we have no example of any woman holding a position of authority over men within the structure of the church government, and we have instructions which forbid women from having such positions of authority.

According to the scriptures, the husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the church (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). It would be careless to think that God would contradict, within the church, the very structure he established for the family.

In fact, Paul appeals to the union of marriage between a man and his wife, to explain the relationship of Christ and the church.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. ~ Ephesians 5:22-33

Though Paul’s words (above) apply to the entirety of the church (the body of Christ), the governmental structure within the local church should be consistent and not contradictory.

Interestingly, Paul appeals to the disobedience of Adam, who listened to the voice of his wife rather than God’s command, as the basis for his belief that the woman is not to usrup authority over the man (1 Timothy 2:12-14). When we violate God’s ways we open the door to tempations and the snare of the devil.

While I certainly believe that woman can minister (being submitted to their own husbands in the Lord) the scriptures forbid woman from having “spiritual authority” over men within the church government.

WHY DID PAUL SAY, “THE GOSPEL CAME NOT IN WORD ONLY”

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Paul’s standard for gospel ministry was quite different from the standard held by many of today’s more popular ministers, especially those who have turned ministry into a lucrative career.

According to Paul, the gospel which was ministered by him and his company, wasn’t a gospel ministered in word only. It came also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.

What exactly does Paul mean when he speaks of the gospel coming in this manner, and why does Paul, here, make a distinction between the Holy Spirit and power, as he also does in 1 Corinthians?

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Notice that Paul tells the Corinthians that he did not come to them with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to them the testimony of God. This coincides with his statement to the Thessalonians that the gospel he preached did not come in word only.

Paul did not desire to be an eloquent speaker when it came to his declaration of the gospel. Paul’s quest was to minister Jesus Christ not only in his declaration of God’s word, but also in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

What is the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, and why does Paul make a distinction?

We all should know what power is. It is the signs, wonders, and miracles that accompany the gospel. We can see this in both the ministry of Jesus, the apostles, and men like Stephen who was a deacon and not an apostle.

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. ~ Acts 6:8

Power is easily understood, but what exactly in the demonstration of the Spirit, or as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, the ministry of the gospel in the Holy Ghost?

The ministry of the Holy Ghost is that which brings about a change in the lives of those who truly believe the gospel. In Paul’s doctrine, the gospel was to be preached, confirmed by God’s power, and lived in holiness, and this last point is where so many stumble in their understanding.

When Paul says to the Thessalonians, “our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,” he follows by saying, “as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”

Throughout the balance of 1 Thessalonians, Paul expounds on how he and those with him behaved and set the example of true Christian living. This is what Paul is referring to when he speaks of the gospel coming in the Holy Ghost.

Many preachers have a theology about the Holy Ghost which is foreign to the teachings of the apostle Paul. They lead their followers into many emotional responses, claiming that such hysteria is the work of God.

Paul, however was concerned with how the gospel had affected the everyday lives of the people. Had they become a holy people living dedicated lives to the Lord? According to Paul’s theology, the gospel ministered in the Holy Ghost brings about a Christ-like life of holiness to the glory of God.

Paul’s ministry wasn’t one of words only. Instead, Paul’s ministry set the example of godly living.

Consider the following:

For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:3-13

Now consider the following:

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 

Though some have devalued the importance of how we ought to live as Christians, Paul believed that the true gospel of grace changes a person’s life into a life of holiness that pleases God. The Spirit ministers the gospel to us, not only to save us from our past sins, but also to create in us holiness of character that glorifies God. Therefore Paul writes the following to the Thessalonians:

Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8

Paul did not feel that his ministry had effectively ministered the gospel unless the people were established in the faith and living according to the changed life produced by the gospel of Christ.

THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF SCRIPTURE

Sometimes I use the expressions, “the whole counsel of God,” and “the whole counsel of scripture.” I use these expressions at times when addressing things that are wrongly taught and believed.

Allow me to give a practical example of what I mean.

Someone who embraces full preterism, or universalism, or a combination of the two has made the following comment: “There is nothing more absurd than thinking Almighty God is waiting for my consent to save me. I believe in a God who doesn’t need to be believed in.” 

You will find nothing in scripture that is compatibe with this comment.

Faith and trust in God is a big theme from the beginning unto end, in the Bible. There is not a single text anywhere that endorses unbelief, or makes it an acceptable thing in the eyes of God.

Neither is there a single text anywhere that undermines faith and trust in God as the comment referenced above has done.

When any theology of men effects our thinking about God as the theology embraced by the commenter I referenced, has has affected his thinking, we fail to allow the whole counsel of scripture to keep us in check.

When we ignore the whole counsel of scripture, we ignore the voice, guidence, and convictions of the Lord. We then tread on the dangerous ground of idolarty, creating an image of God which conforms to our foolish thinking.

If we embrace the whole counsel of scripture, we continue to live transformed lives with renew our minds which demonstrate the will of God.

This is why theologies such as full preterism and universalism are so decieving.

These views lead people astray from the overall soundness of the counsel of scripture. If the commenter I referenced were correct, there were be multiple texts (in context) which would harmonize with his conclusion.

There isn’t any.

Before you embrace the ideas of men, examine those views in light of the whole of the scriptures. Allowing the counsel of the entirely of the Bible to be your rule for doctrine will keep you from unnecessary errors that come from the wicked one.

One thing that all errors of heresies have in common is their disconnect from the whole of scripture.

REASONS WHY FAITH IN GOD & IN CHRIST MATTER

1 YOU CANNOT PLEASE GOD WITHOUT FAITH

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:6

2 BELIEVING IN JESUS IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. ~ Romans 1:16

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… ~ John :12

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. ~ Acts 10:43

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. ~ John 3:14-18

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. ~ John 6:40

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) ~ John 7:37-39

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live… ~ John 11:25

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. ~ Acts 13:39

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. ~ Acts 16:31

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. ~ John 16:27

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. ~ Romans 4:3

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. ~ Romans 4:23-25

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. ~ Romans 3:25-27

As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. ~ Romans 9:33

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. ~ Romans 10:4

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. ~ Romans 10:9-10

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. ~ Galatians 3:6-7

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. ~ Galatians 3:22

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. ~ James 2:23

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. ~ Ephesians 1:13

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. ~ 1 John 5:1

3 GOD’S POWER IS DISPLAYED ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power… ~ Ephesians 1:18-19

4 TRUE FAITH BRINGS ABOUT A CHANGE

And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. ~ Acts 19:17-19

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. ~ Titus 3:8

5 REFUSING TO BELIEVE THE GOSPEL RESULTS IN THE JUDGMENT OF GOD

Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. ~ John 12:35-41

6 UNBELIEF IS DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? ~ Romans 10:16

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. 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, 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. ~ 1 Peter 2:6-8

7 GOD COMMANS US TO BELIEVE IN HIS SON

And this is his commandment, That we should believeon the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. ~ 1 John 3:23

8 BELIEVING IS OBEDIENCE TO THE GOSPEL

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently… ~ 1 Peter 1:20-22

9 BELIEVING IS THE WITNESS OF GOD IN US

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. ~ 1 John 5:9-11

10 UNBELIEF AND SIN GO HAND IN HAND

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. ~ Hebrews 3:12-13

11 THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPEL ARE DAMNED

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. ~ Mark 16:16

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. ~ John 3:36

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. ~ John 8:24

That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:12

12 UNBELIEVERS MAKE THEMSELVE ENEMIES OF THE GOSPEL

Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. ~ Romans 15:30-3

13 THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPEL ARE BLINDED BY SATAN

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. ~ 2 Corinthans 4:3-4

14 THOSE WHO ARE NOT BELIEVERS LIVE AS INFIDELS

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? ~ 2 Corinthians 6:15

15 UNBELIEF IS DISPLEASING TO JESUS AND TO GOD

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. ~ Mark 16:14

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. ~Mark 9:42

But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. ~ Hebrews 3:17-19

16 BELIEVING IS AN ORDINANCE OF THE WISDOM OF GOD

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:21

17 GOD’S SERVANTS LEAD OTHERS TO BELIEVE AND TRUST IN JESUS

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word… ~ John 17:20

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. ~ John 20:30-31

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? ~ 1 Corinthians 3:5

Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:11

Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. ~ 1 Timothy 1:16

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. ~ 1 John 5:13