Month: January 2012

The Secret to Financial Success: According To Proverbs 19:17

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”  Proverbs 19:17

Helping the poor financially is like making a loan to the LORD Jehovah! The metaphor is powerful! The LORD is a great credit risk! He will repay for sure, and He will include interest and blessings with it! You can never lose giving to the LORD! He represents the poor, because He has made them and protects them (Ps 10:14; 12:5; 140:12; Eccl 5:8).

Reader, financial success is not hard! Give to the truly poor, and the Lord will repay your kindness with liberal blessings. Economic prosperity was never so easy! The omnipotent God will send success to you from heaven! If you scatter your money cheerfully, He will make you rich (11:24; II Cor 9:7)! If you hold back, poverty is coming for sure (11:24)! Of course, the world and your flesh, which are hateful by nature, do not believe this rule.

This proverb, like the others, is a God-ordained law. You may trust it like you trust gravity and other natural laws. The esteemed business programs at Stanford, the Wharton School, and Harvard are jokes in comparison. Any man with knowledge of these proverbs is far superior to the silly little MBA’s from these schools (28:11; I Tim 6:20).

There is little difference between the rich and poor, for God has made them both (22:2). The fact that one man has more than another is God’s choice, not personal superiority (I Cor 4:7; Eccl 9:11). The rich should never mock the poor or gloat over them (17:5). It is the solemn duty and privilege of all men to kindly consider the poor (28:3; 29:7; Ps 41:1).

This matter of considering and helping the poor is so important to God that He has attached blessings and punishments to it. Giving to the poor will bring financial blessings to the giver (22:9; 28:8,27; Ps 112:9). Being stingy with the poor will bring financial judgment on selfish wretches (21:13; 22:16; 28:27). He that ears to hear, let him hear!

Who are the poor, and where are they? They are not on television programs from socialist do-gooders with no regard for God or truth. And this includes those “prosperity gospel” heretics posing as Christians. They often use the pictures of bloated and starving babies simply to increase their cash flow to siphon off for their carnal “ministries.” Nations perpetuating poverty by ignorance and superstition are not objects of godly charity.

The poor are the orphans and widows, or others under acts of God, He brings across your path (Jas 1:27). The Good Samaritan did not go to the slums looking for wounded Jews, but he was eager to help a poor man put in his way by the Lord’s providence. And the poor certainly include the poor among the saints (Acts 11:28-30; Rom 15:26; Gal 6:10).

The poor do not include foolish or lazy men, unless they sincerely repent and do all they can for themselves. Foolish and lazy men should starve, as it is the best teaching device and appropriate justice (20:4; Matt 25:1-30; II Thess 3:10). Wise men are not a general insurance fund for foolish men. Let the foolish learn wisdom the hard way (16:26)!

What do we give the poor? Food, clothing, and shelter, or those things closely connected to these basic necessities (Job 31:16-22; Is 58:7; Ezek 18:5-9; Jas 2:15-16). Luxuries or pleasures are not the nature of true charity. Considering the poor is seeing their needs, not their foolish desires (Acts 2:44-45;4:34-35). Toys for Christmas are not true charity! And neither is the Bible communistic – the more gifted and diligent should enjoy more.

In the churches of Jesus Christ, the giving is to be overseen by bishops and deacons, lest the undeserving receive charity and the deserving be overlooked. The money of the early church was laid at the apostles’ feet for them to make distribution (Acts 4:35,37; 5:2). When the task became too great for them, they ordained deacons for the job (Acts 6:1-6).

Only cheerful giving works (II Cor 9:7; Gal 2:10). If you resent or moan about giving, you lose twice! You lose the money you give, and you lose the promised blessings. You are a loser twice over! You brought nothing into this world, and you will take nothing out. You have been blessed greatly. Why is your soul so stingy about giving to the poor?

Only a faithless fool says, “I cannot afford to give”! The truth is he cannot afford NOT to give! He is poor because of his stinginess. If he loosened his purse, he would be blessed financially. But of course, unbelievers cannot grasp this simple and certain lesson. The faithful man believes the promise and takes advantage of it with cheer and thanksgiving!

God does not miss a single dime you give, or minute you donate, to the poor. He will repay! And He does not miss a single dime you withhold or a minute you keep for yourself. He repays that as well! God will take the little that a selfish and stingy man has and give it to the rich man, who liberally gives to the poor (Matt 25:14-30). Glory!

Wise men with faith rejoice to give to the poor. They know charity is the greatest grace and mark of Christianity (I Cor 13:13; John 13:35; I John 3:16-19). They know one purpose of hard work is to have more to give (Eph 4:28). They know charity is a more excellent way of serving Christ than being an apostle (I Cor 12:28 – 13:3). Glory!

The Lord Jesus Christ will repay every gift you give to the poor. He will repay the principal – you will never be short. He will repay with interest – you will have more than if you had not given. He will also repay with many other blessings (14:21; Phil 4:17-19; I Tim 6:17-19). And He will remember every dime in the Day of Judgment, even when you forget in the horrible heat of that solemn event (Matt 25:31-46; Luke 14:12-14)!

If you still have a hard time giving, consider your glorious Benefactor, the Lord Jesus Christ. For your desperate and starving condition in the poverty of sin and condemnation, He became poor that you might be made rich. What blackness of heart causes you to refrain from giving all you have to others (II Cor 8:9)?


Praying The ‘Whatever It Takes’ Prayer

 

It takes a strong, rooted faith in God to pray, “God, do whatever it takes to save them…”, because He will.  In my life, I’ve recently been in a heavy battle with the enemy for the spiritual health of my marriage and my family.  I’ve found myself praying the “whatever it takes” prayer more and more often, and have seen His hand move in my life!  He has allowed health issues, financial issues, and “the past” to come to a major head all at once, all the while giving me a peace and a joy and a comfort, encouraging my spirit with the knowledge that He is in complete control and has a perfect plan for my life.

Whatever It Takes

Jesus is teaching the teachers about what happens to a demon once it’s cast out.  The demon goes wondering about for a while, but then declares, “I’ll go on back home.”  When the demon returns home, that is, into the body of whomever it left, it’s welcomed back, so it invites seven more demons in.  While Jesus speaks about the demon going home, the members of his own home are trying to get into the house.  They can’t get in – Mary and James must stand outside!  Now I can’t imagine that the juxtaposition of these two passages is a coincidence.

And it’s not.  By asking those inside the house, “Who is my family?” Jesus makes it perfectly clear that he doesn’t necessarily consider his brother a part of it.  His attitude is something like, “My followersare my family since my family are not my followers.”  The strained relationship between Jesus and his family is difficult to understand until we look at our own families and realize that ours are not all that well-adjusted at times either.  Wouldn’t you resent a family member who was perfect?  It might be easier to get along with the black sheep of the family than the white sheep.

Actually, one of the most difficult mission fields of all is one’s own family and friends.  Folks at home know you too well.  There’s often just too much history.  In my case, family members have been separated by geography for years.  Times have changed us yet we still relate to each other as though it were 1972.  Maybe in your case, your family has been in your face so much that there’s over-familiarity – you get on each other’s nerves.  And though you love one another, you might not always like one another.  Sometimes, familiarity breeds contempt.

This may have been the case for Jesus and his brother James.  It’s pretty obvious that, though they must have loved one another, they didn’t like one another.  James was a little younger than Jesus; they worked together in the building trade.  They both were literate; both very Jewish.  James was also known as “Zadok,” “the righteous one.”  Historians report that James had calloused knees from praying so much.  James and Jesus both died as martyrs at the hands of temple henchmen.

They both became religious leaders in different Jewish denominations.  Religion separated them from the first.  Jesus was a liberal.  James was very fundamentalist and legalistic.  The rift on matters of faith became so acute as to make them friendly enemies.  James simply couldn’t believe Jesus’ claim to be the Son of Man (see John 7).   They went their own ways.*

Though James was known as a holy man, he was neither living right in regards to his brother nor believing the right things about him.  He was just a little off.  He might as well have been a thousand miles off.  Wouldn’t you think that this brother, who grew up with Jesus and witnessed his miracle ministry, would be a believer in his brother’s message?  Would you believe if you were James?  Maybe so and maybe not.  We all know how religious hard-headedness, moral inflexibility and false teaching can divide people who should love each other better.  Sometimes division is caused by jealousy.

But something unexpected was to happen.  Peter was supposed to take over the Nazarenes in Jerusalem.   Jesus turned the keys to the kingdom over to Peter.  But Peter doesn’t take over, James does, the Bible tells us (Galatians 2:11-13).  How is it that James, who didn’t believe, suddenly not only believes but takes over the business?  Inquiring minds want to know why didn’t James believe in Jesus from the first, what caused him to change his mind, and how might we also help turn our brother around for Eternity’s sake?

 

Accustomed to Darkness

Friends, the world is saturated in spiritual darkness.  Our text begins with darkness:  the return of a demon to the body of a man.  The only way darkness may be dispelled is through enlightenment.  The light of Jesus penetrates the darkness of the world.  Those who crave light will discover light.  Even those who don’t crave it may be enlightened by it.  Those accustomed to living in light find the experience of total darkness horrifying.  Maybe you’ve been in a cavern when the tour guide switched off the light.  Before long, terror creeps upon you.  When someone flicks on a tiny flashlight, the darkness is pierced and all eyes are drawn to the flicker.

In the spiritual realm, it’s exactly the opposite.  People are accustomed to darkness, blackness.  Their eyes for spiritual things are vestigial – they have a means of perceiving light but it doesn’t work; their “spiritual eyes” are blind.  They can’t recognize the light even if it beams on them.  Healing their spiritual eyes takes a miracle.

 

The Veil of Darkness

Paul knew James personally.  Even after the ascension of Jesus, Paul knew James to be a hard case against the gospel.  Paul might’ve even been describing James’ spiritual condition when he wrote:

Our gospel is veiled, veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded their minds, to keep them from seeing the gospel light of Christ’s glory.

The veil of darkness was invented by the devil to blind humanity to the truth. Though James was a very religious and just man, though he was close to Jesus, he was blinded by the devil to his brother’s true identity, and this blindness caused sibling rivalry that kept him from his salvation.

It’s the same way with those who have, like James, been brought up in the church but have never seen the light.  The evidences of Yahweh’s spirit are spiritually discerned. The blind are not able to see them. To the blind, the things I teach are foolishness.  In order to see the light, the blind must become sighted by divine appointment.  Only a miracle of Yahweh can heal their blindness.

 

Jesus Appears Personally to James

As I mentioned before, James, not Peter, became Jesus’ successor in Jerusalem. Since James was blind, how could this happen?  Paul tells us how:

Messiah died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and he was buried, and he was raised on the third day, and he appeared to Peter [Cephas], then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred at one time, most of whom are still alive. Then he appeared to James. (1 Cor 15:3-8)

James came to believe because his brother returned from death and visited him.  James was 513th on his visitation calendar.  What a surprise!  Jesus reveals himself so that James might enter the Kingdom and fulfill his mission. James’ spiritual eyes come open; the veil is lifted; he is converted. The rest is history.

Why won’t folks here turn to the truth and live?  Why aren’t the churches that teach the truth full?  Because spiritual light may be perceived as the result of a miracle.  It’s a miracle that anyone in the whole world sees.  If our brother is to be healed of his blindness — if the veil is to be torn off — then there must be a miracle.  A miracle would result in our brother seeing Jesus on his own terms, or better, on Jesus’ terms.  But not necessarily on our terms.   It’s a miracle when someone sees Jesus through our faith or lifestyle or words.  But we shouldn’t be discouraged when this isn’t the case.  Why not?  Because no matter how wonderful or favored or good a preacher or evangelist we are, a personal miracle of revelation must still take place before the blind see.

 

What is Intercession?

What might we do to facilitate a miracle of Jesus’ revelation to our brother?  Well, if Jesus had compassion for James, we could have as much; and if he could see James’ potential in the Kingdom, we should be able to see our brother’s potential as clearly.  Jesus took the time to make a way for his brother in eternity, and we have even more time – time that’s wasted in trivial pursuits.  Certainly if Jesus prayed for James, we can pray.  What’s more important than that?

Jesus prayed.  He often communicated with his Father in matters of strategy and evangelism.  He lifted up the spiritual blindness of his nation to his Father, and mentioned many names.  Jesus now lives with us in an unseen dimension.  However, he never stopped praying, and he has prayed for you by name.  It says that even now he makes intercession for us.  Intercession is a word for prayer that means “going between.”  It’s prayer that bridges a gap.  You can always reach some god through prayer, but nobody comes to the Father but through Him.  He’s the bridge.

Did you know that we are to be intercessors?  We bridge the gap between the Father and our brother so that he might receive the miracle of sight and see Jesus face to face.  People say they don’t know how to pray.  You can learn.  Yahweh doesn’t care if your prayer is stylish or not.  He’ll hear you because Jesus is interceding on your behalf.

Who says you can’t do anything for a dollar?  You can learn to pray.  I bought a book at the dollar store called The Everyday Guide to Prayer.  It has a hundred prayers simply written so you can read them to the Father.  Or you may recite the Lord’s Prayer and add to it the line, “Father, remember my brother James today that he might see the light of Jesus.”  Yahweh never gets tired of hearing the Lord’s Prayer even though we do.

Jesus also intercedes for us against the devil.  The veil that blinds our brother is his invention.  Intercession against the devil is something we should continually be engaged in on the behalf of our blind brother.  This is called “warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  An AK47 has little effect on a bodiless demon.  However, our weapons are not material, but spiritual with ample power to destroy the blinding darkness.

We must counterattack before it’s too late.  We must be defensive and pray for our brother to be healed of his blindness, but we must also be on the offense and pray against the devil’s devises. We see Jesus praying against as often as praying for.  He prayed for his brother’s sight and against Satan’s veil of blindness. And if we really care enough about our brother, I mean, if we really care, then we mustn’t be sloth to do the same. After all, this life is not just a bowl of cherries; for the believer, life is war.

 

How to Do Warfare

How can we minister simple spiritual warfare for our brother?  We could read this prayer:

“Father, I claim my brother’s life for your Kingdom.  Tear away the veil of blindness from the eyes of his heart so that Jesus might be revealed to him.  Do whatever it takes to reach him.  I thank you for my brother’s future life in You in advance. Amen.”

Here’s a good companion prayer.  In this one, we pray against the devil’s work.

“Father, I claim the authority as your child to intercede with you on my brother’s behalf.  I command the devil to desist from blinding my brother in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and I demand that the walls of pride, resentment, rebellion and jealousy to be torn down so that he might see the your light and live.  Father, do whatever it takes to reach him.  Amen.”

Though the deception of the devil is strong, a deception is all it is.  These two prayers are like tiny pistols that, if repeatedly discharged in the right direction, will bring the big blinder down.  Simple prayers are a fine place to start learning.  You’ll win if you pray like this frequently.

These are the weapons Jesus uses now to defeat the devil.  He used them for you to bring you the light.  As for brother James – he’s now St. James.  These same means Jesus utilized to free his brother,you have right this instantplus you have far more time and patience than Jesus ever did.  You’re in the Lord’s Army, after all.  Fight for what’s yours!

 

Expect the Unexpected

I know how these prayers have worked for me.  I prayed them for one man almost every day for two years then he saw the light.  When the devil was defeated and Jesus opened his eyes, his conversion was as natural as the rain.  But let me offer one warning.  Yahweh’s answers are unpredictable.  If you pray, expect the unexpected.  Let me tell you about the years Capt. Hook’s mother prayed these prayers.

Capt. Hook is an anointed child evangelist.  Very few know his real name.  He lost his right hand, left leg and an eye in an accident.   He dresses up as a pirate with a wooden leg, a hook for a hand and an eye patch.  I had him in for a youth meeting once and seventy children responded.

Years ago I visited Capt. Hook’s elderly mother in the hospital.  She wouldn’t tell her son’s real name, but she did tell his story.  Capt. Hook was raised in church but he was blind to the light.  In his post-high school days, Hook was wild and cruel.  He became a leader in Hell’s Angels.  He sold narcotics to children and promoted child prostitution.  He spent time in prison and came out worse than he went in.  He was on his way to an early death.

His mother wouldn’t give up on him.  She prayed for him constantly and engaged in spiritual warfare against the devil.  For years, often in tears, but always in faith, she would see him in her spirit as though he were already a new man.  She prayed, “Father, do whatever it takes to reach my son.”  She fought the devil tooth and nail for him.  Had she known what “it would take” to reach him, she might have given up.

For when Capt. Hook was thirty, he had a young runaway girl on the back of his motorcycle when he decided to race a locomotive through an intersection.  He lost.  The girl was killed instantly.  Hook lived, but lost his leg, hand and eye and was in a coma for some time.  In the coma, Hook saw his mother’s prayers and tears over and over.  Torn away now from the demonic strongholds of his rebellious life, Hook also saw the light of Jesus, who healed him of his blindness, just as he had for James.  When Hook came to, he was the new man mother had envisioned.  A miracle had taken place.  As Hook’s long, long recovery progressed, he worked out how he might pay back the Kingdom for all those young people he’d exploited and the one he’d killed.

This incident was a hard answer to prayer, all right.  But it may have been the only answer possible, given Hook’s sin and blindness.  He later recalled the scripture, in which Jesus says:

Matthew 5:29-30.  If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It’s better to lose a member than have your whole body go into Gehenna.

By this time, Hook didn’t consider his sacrifice so unreasonable in return for what he received.

Friend, we’ve been given the authority to win the war for our brother, just as Jesus won James, through divine intervention, revelation and the work of prayer. Yahweh still does miracles!  But we’re called to call forth the miracle that Jesus died to procure. The unbeliever can’t fight the war — he has absolutely no weapons. Don’t ever blame him.  But you have compassion, vision and “all prayer.”  As Jesus lives, you will win brother if you are willing to do “whatever it takes.”

He Who Began A Good Work In You…

“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

When Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he was confident that God was in the middle of something big. A good work was underway. If Paul were to come to us today we would hope that he would see the same work happening in us. Let’s ask a few questions and use Paul’s evaluation of the Philippians situation to do a spiritual checkup of our own.
How do we know God is at work?
Because we share in God’s grace (Philippians 1:7) If we have secured eternal life by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, God is automatically at work, changing us from the inside out by the power of His indwelt Holy Spirit. (If you’re not sure about this part in your own life read “For God So Loves You” in our archives.)
Because our love abounds (Philippians 1:9) Abounding love, love that spills out of Spirit-filled hearts onto anyone and everyone around us is the greatest evidence of God at work. Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love “may abound more.” This tells us that abounding love was present (God had begun a good work) and that God would work to produce even more (God was carrying on this work).
Paul’s prayer also makes clear that the Philippians have to open themselves to the work God is doing. God can do nothing in us unless we allow God access to the internal parts that need the work.
What is the work that God has started?
First, it is important to understand that there are two types of work being done – the work being done in us and the work being done through us. In God’s masterful way, work He does in us always results in work He does through us. Let’s go through some of the work Paul mentioned.
Increasing knowledge and discernment (Philippians 1:9)
The more we know the truth, the more we will be able to figure out, from all the options available to us, which ones are God-initiated and which ones aren’t.
Reducing fear when others oppose us (Philippians 1:28)
The more we remember that the cause of Christ is sure, the more peace and security we experience when we face opposition.
Increasing humility (Philippians 2:3)
Humility is the key to following God. Increasing humility forces out pride, keeping us from supplanting God’s plans with our own.
The work God does in us accomplishes one central thing. It makes us more like Jesus (Philippians 2:5-10). When we become like Jesus, we become brightly shining lights (Philippians 2:15). This is where the work done in us becomes the work done through us.  Here’s how it works. The Holy Spirit that dwells in us, is a brightly shining light that reveals God’s grace and truth to the darkened world around us.
The dark filter of indiscretion (lack of knowledge and discernment) dims this light. The dark filter of fear in the face of opposition dims this light. The dark filter of pride dims this light. With light that is dim, we look like everyone else in the world and have no real testimony to offer. When these filters get cleared away, we shine like stars!
Shining in our boldness; preaching the Gospel without reservation (Philippians 1:27).
Shining in selflessness; considering the needs of others before our own (Philippians 2:3-4).
Shining in abounding love (Philippians 1:9).
How do we know God will carry on and complete His work?
Because His work is done for His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). God’s good purpose is eternal and never changes. His good purpose is that all would come to know Him and enter into eternal life in His Kingdom. He will continue to work to this good purpose until Christ returns to rule over the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Look around.
Are there those around you who do not know Him?
Then there is still bright shining work to do.
Has Jesus come to rule over the New Heaven and the New Earth?
(At this writing the answer is no.)
Then there is still bright shining work to do.
That’s the truth.
You can be confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue that work in you so that He may do ever more good work through you that you may become a bright shining light for His good purpose.

That’s the You Truth. He Who Began A Good Work In You.

Choose Accuracy Over Appearance

 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Matthew 7:15-23

 

When Satan wants to steer people in the direction of the broad gate, he uses special human messengers called “false prophets” (7:15). In the verses that follow, Jesus warns us to differentiate between true and false prophets.

15 Why is it so important to be able to recognize a false prophet? Because a prophet speaks for God! He stands at the crossroads, where the two gates are, pointing people either to the narrow gate or the wide one. If what the prophet says is wrong, then all who believe his message are in danger of being lost forever. In 7:15, Jesus speaks a principle that clarifies this section: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” The word translated “beware” (prosecho) is both a warning and a command, which means you should constantly be alert.16The reason for concern is that false prophets are deceptive—always have been, always will be. This is why 24 out of 27 New Testament books warn believers against false teachers. If they were easy to detect, there would be no need for continual warnings. Furthermore, one of the primary responsibilities of elders is to protect the church (i.e., sheep) from false teachers. In the fourth century, Augustine said, “There are many sheep without, many wolves within.”17 Augustine unknowingly prophesied about the church of America in the 21st century! Think about it: If you were Satan, how would you seek to deceive people? You would most likely use religion and religious teachers. The church of Satan is too extreme and in-your-face, but cults and world religions are Satan’s “bread-and-butter!” The backdoor or incognito approach is always more effective. Remember, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

Appearances can be deceiving. Every year People magazine publishes an issue dedicated to the 50 most beautiful people in the world. (I guess I’m #51, because I’ve never been included in their list.) This is one of their most popular issues, because these are, in fact, beautiful people. But when you look beyond the perfect smiles, perfect hair, perfect bodies and examine the content of these people’s lives, you will see that they are just as messed up as anyone—if not more so. Their lives are characterized by divorce and rehab and career conflict and on and on. They may be the 50 most beautiful people, but they’re not the 50 most “together” people; they’re not the 50 most “emotionally well-adjusted” people; they’re not the 50 most godly people.18 But, of course, an entire issue dedicated to any of these topics probably wouldn’t sell very well because we are appearance oriented. Similarly, believers can be duped by appearances when it comes to preachers we prefer. If a preacher is boring or unimpressive in stature or appearance, we disregard him. If a preacher is captivating, good-looking, and speaks positive thoughts we adore him. We can be very gullible! This is why Jesus says we must beware of false prophets.

In 7:16–20, Jesus explains how to identify false prophets: You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” These verses are bracketed by the phrase “you will know them by their fruits” (7:16, 20). This section of Scripture has been used by believers to support judging whether someone is saved. I have heard countless “fruit inspectors” exclaim, “Bill/Jane is not living like a believer so he/she can’t be a Christian! After all, you will know them by their fruits.” While this may sound biblical, it is not! The Bible does not condone “fruit inspecting” as it pertains to someone else’s salvation. It is God’s responsibility to judge, not yours or mine! There is an old maxim: “A text out of context is a pretext.” Matt 7:16, 20 may be the best case in point. It is widely assumed that the “fruits” in this passage refers to “the fruit (note singular) of the Spirit” of Gal 5:22–23. However, every believer struggles with the fruit of the Spirit. If salvation is dependent upon the fruit of the Spirit, any godly person would assume he or she is lost. Others believe that the fruits refer to “works” that give evidence of one’s salvation. Yet, by whose measure of works should we judge someone’s salvation? The amount of fruit necessary to please one Christian “fruit inspector” may not please the next “fruit inspector.”19

What is false about false prophets is not their outward works.20 Jesus has just declared that they look like sheep! If false prophets did not perform good works no one would believe them. Today false prophets often live and act like Christians.21 How many times have you heard someone say of a cultist, “But he lives such a good life, I can’t believe he’s not a Christian.” Thus, their falsity is not found in their actions.22 Obviously, there has to be another more reliable solution to these verses. And there is! What makes a prophet a prophet? What makes a false prophet dangerous? The answer to both of these questions is words; specifically, prophetic words or prophecies. By “fruits” Jesus is referring to what comes from the lips of a false prophet, not the life of a false prophet. This is confirmed in Matt 12:33–37 where Jesus uses nearly identical language.23 Therefore, Jesus admonishes disciples to be “fruit inspectors” of those passing themselves off as prophets.

The Jewish audience Matthew addresses would naturally think of two Old Testament passages. One refers to a false prophet whose prophecy actually came to pass (Deut 13:1–5);24 the other to a false prophet whose prophecy was not fulfilled (Deut 18:20–22). In both situations, the emphasis is not on how the prophet lived, but on what he said.25 The people of Israel were told to observe what a prophet says and see if it aligns with whatGod says, regardless of any signs the prophet might perform with his prophesying. It may surprise you to know that it makes no difference whether signs or wonders accompany a prophet’s message. If his message does not agree with what God has said, that prophet is to be recognized as a false prophet.26 The true test for discovering a false prophet or teacher is to compare his or her message with God’s Word. This has always been the test for discovering who speaks for God and who does not. Since God cannot possibly contradict Himself (Num 23:19) and His Word stands forever (Isa 40:8), we must judge those who claim to speak for God by the Word.

Fortunately, the Scriptures provide several criteria for identifying false prophets. Deut 18:20 says false prophets speak in the name of other gods; Micah 3:11 says false prophets prophesy for money. In 1 Cor 12:3 false prophets do not confess Jesus as Lord. In 1 John 4:2 false prophets do not confess Jesus having, and remaining in the flesh. In Matt 24:24–27 false prophets do not view Jesus’ return as a cosmic event. In 2 Pet 2 false prophets have libertine ethics.27 We can discern whether a prophet’s message is false by knowing the truth! The FBI trains their agents to detect counterfeit bills by studying authentic bills. If they can master the genuine article they can easily pick out what is counterfeit. This is also true with false teaching. If you immerse yourself in the Scriptures and biblical teaching, you will be able to ferret out what is false. You don’t have to be a “cult expert,” you just need to be a diligent Bible student.

  • In 7:21–23, Jesus utters some of the most frightening verses in the entire Bible. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’28 will enter the kingdom of heaven,29 but he who does the will of My Father30 who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will31 declare to them, ‘I never knew32 you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” Many have looked at these verses and although they have lived godly lives have wondered, “Have I been good enough?” Some have even used that phrase, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you’” to warn Christians that if their lives and service for the Lord is inadequate they may not get to heaven—an idea nowhere taught in Scripture. If Jesus’ point in 7:21 were that faith is not enough, that good works or obedience is also necessary in order to be saved, then Jesus should have said something like this in 7:22: “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, we trusted in you alone, we had faith in you alone, we believed the Bible and your words.” But of course Jesus says nothing of the sort. The key to understanding these verses is found in the context. It is critical to see that these verses directly tie into the previous discussion on false prophets (7:15–20). Matt 7:15–23 clearly distinguishes between “you” and “them.” In 7:23, the pronoun “them” links back to the “them” in 7:20.33 The “them” in 7:20 refers to the false prophets of 7:15. So Jesus isn’t talking about believers in general, but false prophets in particular. In these three verses, He shares three ways that we can’t identify false prophets.34
  • We cannot identify false prophets by the vocabulary they useThey will acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ, addressing him as “Lord.” Not only will they say it once, they will repeat it: “Lord, Lord.” Recognizing the gravity of the situation, they will plead for their lives. This repetition of “Lord” may also suggest that they think they are on familiar terms with Jesus. Next, they will ask Jesus a series of questions, calling Christ as a witness in their defense. Notice that they will not directly assert that they have done good works. They will speak in interrogative, not declarative, sentences. Because of this, their defense will actually be much stronger than their own mere declarations would have been: They will call Christ Jesus Himself as their defense witness. They will ask Him to testify to the facts of their lives: their prophesying, exorcising, and wonderworking.35 Yet, these false prophets have not truly trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • We cannot identify false prophets by the miracles they performWhat could be more notable than prophesying, casting out demons, and doing many wonderful works? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t performed any of these works recently. These are astounding works! But is it really possible for an unbeliever to be used by God? Yes it is. Judas is an example. The disciples all went out two by two and they all came back saying, “The demons are subject to us” (Luke 10:17). There is no hint that Judas stood out as any different from the others. It is possible to drive out demons and yet not have faith in Jesus (Acts 19:13). In Matt 24:24, Jesus states that false prophets may be able to perform such marvelous signs and wonders that even the very elect are almost deceived. The Antichrist himself will have miraculous powers (2 Thess 2:9). Even Balaam’s donkey demonstrates that the devil can produce imitations.36 Jesus, however, states that many people at the judgment will argue that they deserve heaven, that they have a right to heaven because they have done many wonderful works in the name of Jesus. These individuals do not believe that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. In short, they do not believe the gospel, and that is why they are damned. Jesus’ point here is that no one can expect kingdom entrance on the basis of his or her works—no matter how impressive they may seem. Jesus never emphasizes the external as being the highest sign of authenticity.37 He is always more concerned with a person’s heart—motives, thoughts, and attitudes. Moreover, Jesus will not partner with anyone (except God) in salvation. This means that to become a Christian one must forsake all works of righteousness and trust in the finished work of Christ. It is not a matter of doing something, but trusting Someone. Salvation cannot be achieved; it can only be received.
  • We cannot identify false prophets by their sincerityAlthough these false prophets were sincere, they were sincerely wrong. In this context, Christ’s warning was to the Pharisees whose message was that one was accepted by God based on his religious efforts and good works. Jesus explains that they failed to do “the will of His Father.” Jesus uses the phrase “the will of My Father” in John 6:40 where He says: “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (cf. 6:28–29). Matt 7:21–23 therefore becomes a strong warning to religious people. What are you depending on to get you to heaven: Someone who died for you or something you’ve done? The implication of Christ’s warning is: If the people who seem the most likely to make it will be shut out of heaven, then plenty of ordinary people will have the same frightful experience. Many sincere people who are devoted to their faith, many who never brag about their relationship with God, and many who just quietly believe and have good works to prove it—these too, just might miss the heavenly kingdom.38Jesus Christ is not addressing wrong actions, but instead wrong doctrine. He reports that many people will appear before Him at the judgment and will talk about their works, not their faith. Jesus was quoting Ps 6:8. As King David had spoken of vanquishing his enemies so Christ will purge from His presence those who trust their works (“lawlessness”) to give them a right standing with God.

The Maker of Us All

 

The rich and poor meet together – עשיר ashir the opulent, whether in money, land, or property; רש rash, the man that is destitute of these, and lives by his labor, whether a handicraftsman, or one that tills the ground. In the order of God, the rich and the poor live together, and are mutually helpful to each other. Without the poor, the rich could not be supplied with the articles which they consume; for the poor include all the laboring classes of society: and without the rich, the poor could get no vent for the produce of their laborer, nor, in many cases, labor itself. The poor have more time to labor than the mere necessaries of life require; their extra time is employed in providing a multitude of things which are called the superfluities of life, and which the rich especially consume. All the poor man’s time is thus employed; and he is paid for his extra labor by the rich. The rich should not despise the poor, without whom he can neither have his comforts, nor maintain his state. The poor should not envy the rich, without whom he could neither get employment, nor the necessaries of life.

The Lord is the Maker of them all – Both the states are in the order of God’s providence and both are equally important in his sight. Merely considered as men, God loves the simple artificer or laborer as much as he does the king; though the office of the latter, because of its entering into the plan of his government of the world, is of infinitely greatly consequence than the trade of the poor artificer. Neither should despise the other; neither should envy the other. Both are useful; both important; both absolutely necessary to each other’s welfare and support; and both are accountable to God for the manner in which they acquit themselves in those duties of life which God has respectively assigned them. The abject poor – those who are destitute of health and the means of life – God in effect lays at the rich man’s door, that by his superfluities they may be supported. How wise is that ordinance which has made the rich and the poor! Pity it were not better understood!

Ways to Receive the Healing Power of Jesus Christ

PRIMARY WAY

The primary way a believer receives God’s healing power is through faith. God’s healing power is available to the believer through the grace of Jesus Christ. Grace is anything that Jesus atoned for a Calvary to provide for the believer [John 19:30, Romans 5:11]. Grace and truth is by Jesus Christ [John 1:17]. The scriptures states, “of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace [John 1:16].

A believer accesses the grace of Jesus Christ by faith [Romans 5:2]. The believer receives God’s healing power through confidence in the grace provided by Jesus Christ [Matthew 9:28].

Jesus bore my sins in his body on the tree. He bore my sickness [nosos/diseases]. He took my infirmities [astheneia], my weakness, my symptoms caused by disease. I being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, and with his stripes, I was healed at Calvary [1 Peter 2:24, Matthew 8:17, Isaiah 53:4, John 19:30]. Jesus Christ, was wounded[chalal] profaned, defiled, polluted, desecrated, for my transgression and rebellion. He was bruised [daka’], crushed, for my iniquities, perverseness, depravity, and guilt. He took my chastisement. My chastisement [muwcar], discipline, chastening, correction needful to obtain my peace and well-being was upon Him. This peace [shä·lome’] has given me completeness in number, soundness in body, welfare, health, safety, and prosperity. And with the stripes that wounded Him, I am healed and made whole [Isaiah 53:5, AMP, Acts 3:16].

But believers shouldn’t require a sign or wonder to believe in Jesus’ healing grace. Jesus got upset when people required signs and wonders to believe in his healing grace [John 4:48]. He praised people who received his healing grace by faith [Matthew 8:10,Luke 17:18-19, Matthew 9:27-30].

Too many believers can only be healed through the faith of someone else. They require “workers of miracles” or “gifts of healing” [1 Corinthians 12:29, 1 Corinthians 12:9]. They make excuses such as “I have no one to help me” or “someone gets down ahead of me” [John 5:6-7]. They are not Children of God who eat the healing bread of Jesus Christ off the Master’s Table [Matthew 15:26-27, 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Galatians 3:26-29]. They need someone else to drop them some crumbs of grace under the Master’s Table [Mark 7:27-28].

Many persons are like Naaman in the Old Testament;

I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy [2 Kings 5:11].

The prophet commanded Naaman to go wash seven times in the Jordon. Like Naaman, many believers will not do what they are commanded to do in the Word of God. We will not confess what God says about our situation. We will not believe God’s Word and confess God’s Word over our sickness or disease till we are healed. We get furious and walk away like Naaman. We can’t believe that simple obedience to God’s Word is all that is required. But listen to what Naaman’s servants said to him.

Sir, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply to go and wash and be cured!” [2 Kings 5:13].

Let’s look at the difference between the woman with the issue of blood and Naaman. Jesus said to this woman your faith has healed you or made you whole [Mark 5:34, Luke 8:48]. Jesus didn’t say to this woman, my miraculous dispensational healing power has made you whole. Jesus didn’t say my “Gifts of the Spirit” has made you whole. But he said her faith, her confidence in his healing grace made her whole. We have to come to Jesus believing in his healing grace like this woman did in the fifth chapter of Mark. We have to believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. [Hebrews 11:6].

Humans have so much trouble just doing the simple things commanded by God. Believing and confessing God’s Word is a commanded thing [Romans 10:9-10]. Faith is a fight [2 Timothy 4:7]. We want someone else to fight the “good fight of faith” for us [1 Timothy 6:12]. We begin to do the right thing with God’s Word. We believe, we confess God’s Word, but then we quit. We just don’t do it long enough. We get discouraged, depressed, and quit too soon. If our symptoms come back, we get in doubt or unbelief and stop the fight of faith. We are not faithful. We are not fighting the “good fight of faith”.

When we have a revelation of God’s healing grace through Jesus Christ or a manifestation of healing through the gifts of the Spirit; we can’t retain what we receive because we do not have the word planted deeply in our hearts [Matthew 13:21, Luke 8:13]. The NLT reads, “But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep” [Luke 8:13]. We do not have root in ourselves and only endure for awhile [Mark 4:17]. We have a superficial relationship with the Word of God. We are unwillingly or unable to open our mouth and use the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” [Ephesians 6:17].

Jesus Christ wants you whole spiritually, mentally, and physically [1 Corinthians 1:18, Luke 6:9-10, Mark 10:53, Luke 7:47-50,Luke 9:56]. Jesus Christ suffered a horrible death to provide the atonement, propitiation, reconciliation, ransom, Redemption for our sins. Jesus Christ was bruised, wounded, and the to chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed [Isaiah 53:5].

Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands” [Matthew 26:67, Matthew 27:28]. “So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him, by whose stripes you were healed” [John 19:1,Mark 15:15, 1 Peter 2:24]. For the preaching of the cross is to them them perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved [sōzō] it is the power of God [1 Corinthians 1:18].

God has made many options available for you to receive the finished work of Jesus Christ [John 19:30]. The believer is encouraged to use any biblical method to receive their healing [see BIBLICAL METHODS].


SECONDARY WAY

The secondary way is to receive God’s healing power through the faith of some other believer [Acts 19:11]. The other believer ministers the healing grace of Jesus Christ through God’s Word or the Gifts of the Spirit. The secondary way is an easier way to receive. The believer only has to be receptive to receive.

Gifts of the Spirit and special ministries are wonderful and valuable. The believers should take advantage and promote the Gifts of the Spirit and special ministries of healing and miracles when they are available to the believer [1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 1 Corinthians 12:27-31]. The spiritual gifts or charisma, are part of the grace or charis of Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 12:1, Romans 12:6, ]. The Apostle Paul states, “But the free gift (charisma) is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace (charis) of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many [Romans 5:15].

However there are several disadvantages. The believer is dependent on another believer’s faith and special gifts. The Gifts of the Spirit and Special Ministries have to be available and in operation for the recipient to receive their healing [1 Corinthians 12:11].

But healing through faith or confidence in God’s Word is always available to the believer. But it requires the believer to use active faith not passive faith. The believer must ask and continue to “believe that you receive” [Mark 11:24], until the physical manifestation of the healing is received.


BIBLICAL METHODS

When ever a believer publishes and proclaims the Word of God, signs will follow to confirm God’s message. “They went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” [Mark 16:20]. The scripture says, “the Lord working with them”. God works with the believer by providing confirming signs of His Word.

“God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” [Hebrews 2:4]. “It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” [1 Corinthians 12:11].

Paul told the church at Corinth that he didn’t want their faith to rest or stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. “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 2:4-5]. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” [1 Corinthians 4:20].


Laying on of Hands

“Laying on of Hands” is one of the routine methods that Jesus used to heal people. The scripture reads, “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” [Mark 6:5]. The scripture implies in Mark 6:5, that “laying on of hands” to heal the sick is not considered a might work [compare Luke 10:13, Matthew 11:23].

Jesus touched people to minister His Healing Power [Luke 4:40, Matthew 8:3, Matthew 8:15, Matthew 9:18, Matthew 9:29,Matthew 20:34, Mark 7:33, Luke 7:14, Luke 8:23, Luke 13:13, Luke 22:51, and Matthew 17:7]. People sought Jesus to come and “lay hands” on sick people or bless children [Matthew 9:18, Mark 5:23, Mark 7:32, Mark 8:22, Luke 18:15, Mark 10:13].

The recovery of the sick through the “Laying on of Hands” is one of the signs that will follow any believer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” [Mark 16:18]. The recovery of the sick through the “Laying on of Hands” is one of the signs that the Lord uses to work with the believer and confirm the Word of God. “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” [Mark 16:20].

The truth is, any believer who believes in Jesus may do the same works Jesus did. Jesus laid hands on the sick, any believer may lay hands on the sick. Jesus healed the sick, any believer may heal the sick. In fact, Jesus said we would do greater works than he did, because he was going to the Father [John 14:12].

Brother Ananias, “laid hands” on Paul for healing in Acts 9:17. Paul on the Island of Melita prayed and laid his hands on the father of Publius and healed him [Acts 28:8]. Paul also ministered healing to all that were sick on the island [Acts 28:9].


Anointing with Oil and The Prayer of Faith

In James 5:14-15, the sick believer is instructed to call for the Elders.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven”.

This method requires the sick believer to call for the elders of the Church. It also requires the spiritual leadership of the church to have the ability to pray the “Prayer of Faith” [James 1:6 and James 5:15].

Anointing with oil is not a magical ritual. The oil is a point of contact with the power of God.

The disciples used this method in the area of healing and deliverance. “And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oilmany who were sick, and healed them” [Mark 6:13].

In the area of healing, the oil is symbolic of the power of God to remove burdens and destroy the yoke of the oppressor. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” [Isaiah 10:27]. The disciples used this method in the area of healing and deliverance. “And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” [Mark 6:13].


The Anointing

God’s anointing is God’s special tangible power to get a job or task done. Anointing with oil is symbolic of God’s power and ability through the Holy Spirit to accomplish something. Priest [Exodus 28:41], Kings [1 Samuel 16:13], and Prophets [1 Kings 19:16] were anointed with oil to fulfill God’s call on their life.

Jesus the Son of God, is the Christ [Χριστος Christos]. Jesus was the “anointed one” or the Christ. Jesus was anointed with [δύναμις dynamis] to complete the work which the Father had given him to do [John 17:4, John 4:34]. The Greek word dunamisis translated in English as mighty work, strength, miracle, might, or virtue. Zodhiates in Lexical Aids to the New Testament, defines dunamis as “power, especially inherent power. All the words derived from the stem duna-have the basic meaning of being able, and capable.” Jesus was anointed with power to heal all sickness and disease [Matthew 4:23]. There has never been a claim made by any individual, group, or religion in history that they healed all sickness, disease, or infirmity. In the Gospels there are many scriptures that state that Jesus healed all [See Mass Healing].

Jesus was anointed with miracle working power [John 12:37, Miracles of Jesus Christ].

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know [Acts 2:22].

People touched Jesus for a point of contact with the healing power of God [Matthew 14:36, Mark 3:10, Mark 6:55-66].

And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue [δύναμις dynamis] out of him, and healed them all [Luke 6:19].

Jesus was aware when someone put a demand on his healing power or healing virtue [Mark 5:30, luke 8:46]. The woman with the issue of blood was tenacious in making a point of contact with the anointing, “For she said, If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well” [Mark 5:27-30, Matthew 9:20-22, Luke 8:44].

Peter’s shadow was a point of contact for God’s healing power. “So that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them” [Acts 5:15]. Even the bones of the Prophet Elisha were a reservoir for the anointing. Elisha also used his staff as a point of contact [2 King 13:21, 2 Kings 4:32]. Both Elijah and Elisha used their bodies to raise the dead [2 Kings 4:34, 1 King 17:21].

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-3, to announce his ministry to his home town of Nazareth;

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” [Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:1-3]. 

  • The anointing is given to preach the gospel to the poor
  • The anointing is given to heal and restore people
  • The anointing is given to proclaim freedom to the captives
  • The anointing is given to open blind eyes
  • The anointing is given to set people free who are oppressed
  • The anointing is given to proclaim the time of the Lord’s favor

Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to heal all that the were oppressed by the devil. We read in Acts 10:38 that, “God anointedJesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him [Acts 10:38]. We see that Jesus is the Healer and the devil is the oppressor. The devil uses sickness and disease to oppress people. But God’s anointing power destroys Satan’s oppression.

Jesus gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world and destroy the works of the devil [Galatians 1:4, 1 John 3:8]. In some cases demonic spirits may be responsible for some infirmities [Demonic Healings].If the believer doesn’t see a manifestation of healing after a period of time, then the believer must consider that demonic resistance and oppression is at work.

And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? [Matthew 17:18-19, Mark 9:25].

In cases of demonic oppression that produces sickness or disease a believer must understand the authority given to us by Jesus Christ [see “Name of Jesus].


Christians

“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed [chriō] us is God” [2 Corinthians 1:21].

“The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch” [Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16]. The word Christian comes from the word [ Χριστιανoς Christianos]. Christianos originates from the Greek word [ Χριστος Christos ]. Christos means the “anointed”.

The JFB Commentary states that the word Christian/Christianos probably originates from the Roman community of Antioch because of the termination of the word [Jamieson Fausset Brown Bible Commentary, p.78]. The Latin suffix -ianos is generally defined as “related to, belong to”. The Roman community was saying the followers of Jesus Christ were “related to, belong to” Jesus Christ. This was not a term of respect because the Latin termination -ianos, widely used throughout the empire, often designated the slaves of the one with whose name it was compounded.

The Jewish community called the followers of Jesus, “Nazarenes”. Both names were terms of reproach [John 1:46, Acts 24:5]. But you could say the followers of Jesus were “related to, belong to” the Christos the “anointed”.

Christians belong to and are related to the anointing-[Χριστος Christos]. Jesus Christ told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem, “until you are endued with power from on high” [Luke 24:49]. A disciple must be endued or clothed in power to do what Jesus has called us to do. The Greek word for the English word power is δυναμις dunamis. A believer must have power to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ [Luke 24:47, Matthew 28:18]. Jesus instructed the Seventy, “heal the sick there, and say to them, the kingdom of God has come near to you” [Luke 10:9]. Jesus also said, Jesus said, “he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also” [John 14:12, Supernatural Acts of the Disciples]. “You shall receive dunamis power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” [Acts 1:8].

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you [Luke 10:17-19].

Handkerchiefs and Aprons, and Other Points of Contact With the Anointing

Handkerchiefs or aprons are not magic charms or amulets, but a reservoir for the anointing to be transported to provided a point of contact with the Power of God.

So that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. [Acts 19:12]. 

Note that the scripture didn’t say they were healed but that the diseases left them. Some diseases are the product of demonic activity [see Demonic Healings]. The anointing will drive out demonic induced diseases and evil spirits.

Even the bones of the Prophet Elisha were a reservoir for the anointing [2 King 13:21]. Elisha also used his staff as a point of contact [2 Kings 4:32]. Both Elijah and Elisha used their bodies to raise the dead [2 Kings 4:34, 1 King 17:21].

During the great move of God recorded in Acts 5, the Healing Anointing was so intense on Peter that his shadow could be a point of contact to receive God’s Healing Power.

“So that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them” [Acts 5:15, Acts 5:15].

Special anointing are present at certain times or special events to heal. “Who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem; and the power [dunames] of the Lord was present to heal them” [Luke 5:17].

The anointing can be transferred to other people. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” [2 Timothy 1:6, Acts 6:6].

But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, you shall abide in him [1 John 2:27].

The Name of Jesus

Peter used “The Name of Jesus” on two major healing events. The first occasion was the lame man at the Gate Beautiful in Acts 3. “Peter said, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” [Acts 3:6 and Acts 3:1-9]. The second occasion was with Aeneas who had been paralyzed for eight years. “And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed. Then he arose immediately.” [Acts 9:34, Acts 9:33-34]. In Mark 16:17, Jesus says, “In My Name you shall cast out devils.”

Peter said that the lame man was healed by the Name of Jesus and putting faith or confidence in His Name.

And His Name through faith in His Name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yes, the faith which is by him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. [Acts 3:16].

Jesus has been given “a name which is above every name” [Philippians 2:9-11]. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” [Philippians 2:9-11]. Jesus’ Name represents his exalted position and authority in Heaven and Earth [ Matthew 28:18, Matthew 26:64, Matthew 11:27, John 3:35, John 17:2, Romans 14:9,Colossians 2:9-10, 1 Peter 3:22, Romans 14:11].

Jesus is seated in Heaven “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named” [Ephesians 1:21]. Jesus has “a name which is above every name”, even the name of cancer or HIV. Every knee has to bow to Jesus [Philippians 2:9-10]. All things have been put under his feet that includes sickness, disease, poverty, oppression, and evil [Ephesians 1:19-23].

You can’t use Jesus’ authority if you aren’t personally submitted to His authority. A person using Jesus’ Name must have a personal relationship with Jesus and know Jesus’ exalted name and position in Heaven to successfully use “The Name” [Philippians 2:9-11]. Many people know about Jesus but don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus as the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” [Revelation 19:11-16]. In fact in can be dangerous to your health to use Jesus’ Name without a relationship with Him [See seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:13-18].

The Spoken Word

See “Speak to The Mountain”, and “Speak to The Fig Tree”. We can only speak to things that we have authority over.

“But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” [Matthew 8:7-11, Luke 7:7]

“Then he said to the man, Reach out your hand. The man reached out his hand, and it became normal, just like the other one” [Matthew 12:13].

“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house. Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this![Mark 2:11-12].

“Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up” [Acts 9:36-41].

“Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand up straight on your feet!, And he leaped and walked” [Acts 14:8-10 and Acts 14:8-10].

Gifts of the Spirit and Special Ministries

Here is a list of some of the ministries that God has placed in the body of Christ:

God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings [1 Corinthians 12:27-31].

Every believer receives a spiritual gift or gifts to contribute to the common good of the entire church. But to each one is given themanifestation of the Spirit for the common good or profit of the Body of Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 12:7]. It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have [1 Corinthians 12:11].

To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles [1 Corinthians 12:7-11].

Do Not Forsake The Assembly

 

Hebrews 10 says Christians are to stir one another up to good deeds, “not forsaking our own assembling together” (v. 25). But, what does that mean?  The key term “forsaking” translates the GK word egkataleipontes (pres act ptc nom pl masc), which is from the lexical root egkataleipo. According to Mounce, the term is rightly glossed to read “to leave, to leave behind, to forsake, and abandon.” BDAG says it means “to separate connection with someone or something., forsake, abandon, desert.” Kohlenberger adds “to give up.”

The writer to the Hebrews uses the word only one other time. Hebrews 13:5 says, “God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”The word “leave” does not have the same finality as “forsake.” The idea of “forsaking” carries the notion of total abandonment. Paul uses the term in 2 Tim 4:10 and 4:16 to speak of those who totally abandoned him. “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2 Tim 4:10). “At my first defense, no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me” (2 Tim 4:16). Therefore, the GK term translated “forsake” in Hebrews 10:25 means that the believer must not abandonthe Christian assembly.

In conclusion, this text does not mean that a person must come to the assembly every time the doors are open. Rather, it means that we must not “abandon” the assembly. But, what does that mean? Is the notion of abandonment purely subjective? If people come regularly for Christmas and Easter every year, have they “abandoned” the assembly? What if they come once a month and never more, but they come consistently every month? How do we know when someone has abandoned the assembly? Is it purely subjective? I submit that unless we have a clear doctrine of the Sabbath, then we have no objective measure by which to decide what “forsake” means. I would argue that to “forsake” the assembly means unrepentantly breaking the Sabbath (which includes exceptions for acts of mercy, piety, and necessity: Matt 12).

Malachi 4:2

This is the only place in the Bible that mentions ‘a sun of righteousness’. Its wings are the streams of light from the sun. Christians believe that this is a description of Jesus Christ. A famous Christmas song by Charles Wesley includes the lines:

*Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace!

Hail the Sun of *Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

Risen with healing in his wings.

‘Hail’ is another word for ‘praise’. ‘Heaven-born’ means ‘born with help from God in heaven’. ‘Healing’ means health. Jesus is the ‘heaven-born Prince of peace’ who is the Sun of *Righteousness.

Malachi says that people will become very excited. They will jump about like animals that people let out from their pens.

Praise God for His healing power!  He is STILL in the healing business and wants to see your life restored and used for His Glory!

The Lord Will Provide A Way

Jehovah – Jireh – The Lord will provide

This is one of my very favorite names of God and one that through the years has meant the most to me. Jehovah-Jireh means “The Lord will provide”. God revealed Himself as the Lord who would provide way back in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Abraham was about ready to sacrifice his son Isaac on an alter at the top of a desolate mountain in the land of Moriah. We know it was desolate because when they reached the base of the mountain, Abraham took with him the wood, fire, and knife that would be needed to complete the sacrifice. He must have known none of those things would be found at the top. He also took Isaac who was to BE the sacrifice and left two servants behind.

When they were near the top, Isaac said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? And Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering my son.'” Just as Abraham was about to kill his son, the Lord stopped him and showed him a ram caught in a thicket and told him to use that instead. God had placed that ram nearby in advance, knowing He was going to need a substitute for Isaac.

After the sacrifice was complete, Abraham named the place “The Lord Will Provide” which in Hebrew is YHWH-jireh. “Jireh” translates into “Provide” which is a word with wonderful Latin roots. Pro means “before” and video means “to see”. So it means to see in advance or before the need is known. God is preparing an answer before we know that it is a need.

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”   “Here I am,” he replied.  2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”  3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”  6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”   “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.   “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.  9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”  “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”  13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”   Genesis 22:1-14.

We are often taken by surprise by circumstances and events in our lives. God never is. He knows in advance all that is going to transpire. He cares. He has provision ready for us.  If God wants to provide clouds for the sky and food for the sparrows, “Are you not much more valuable than they?”

God truly is Jehoveh-jireh.