366. THE EXTREMELY URGENT NEED FOR PEOPLE TO SEEK FORGIVENESS FROM GOD AND TO FORGIVE ALL THOSE WHO HURT THEM. OR ELSE!

A quick look at TV and you see a world out of control. Especially scenes from American television at the moment. Fancy any community screaming obscenities at their police force, physically attacking them and wanting them defunded and disbanded. Fancy others belittling their duly elected President and some even threatening to bring chaos across the USA if he wins the next election. Those who have never accepted the results of the 2016 election can never forgive him for standing for office and have tried in many ways to bring his presidency to an end. One sees in various reports that assassination attempts on him are being considered in some quarters if he were to win the next election. Such an attempt would be seen by many disgruntled folk as a virtuous act. Such is the degradation that comes from harbouring hate and resentment and an unwillingness to forgive those whom we think have harmed us in any way.

But before we begin our “Tutt! tutts!” can we honestly say that we ourselves are prepared to forgive everyone of every sin they may have committed against us.  If we cannot say “Yes” we ourselves are part of the problem. The writer of Psalm 73 expressed what happened to him as he became bitter and lost a true perspective on life, Psa 73:21 “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22  I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” Bitterness twists the mind so that one almost ceases to be human and acts without any due regard for a fellow or fellow humans. 

I have written previously that the NT Greek word for bitterness [pikria] is the origin of our English word [‘picric’] as in picric acid. This is one of the most bitter substances you can find and is highly unstable and explosive. In fact it was used in explosives in the First World War. Have we not all seen folk so filled with bitterness and unforgiveness that they were a walking emotional time-bomb. But good news! Some of us have had the privilege of seeing some of these burdened folk become convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit and turn to God for forgiveness, often with great physical and emotional healing taking place at the same time. Not only that but they became willing to forgive those who had harmed them in any way. Going even further into the unbelievable, they became willing to pray a blessing upon those they had previously been bitter against. Adding another dimension to their forgiving, they expressed an openness to be reconciled [where possible] to their former enemies! Some were! Some weren’t, but the latter remained open to the possibility by keeping the door open to any possible future reconciliation.

This is the sort of thing we need to see happening in the USA and in Australia and throughout the world. For example, can anyone in their right mind ever become aggressive towards those who prefer to say, “All lives matter” and mean it, rather than being coerced into saying only that ”Black lives matter!?” It just illustrates that Satan has blinded the minds of those who refuse to believe so that they cannot recognise the dangers of the pernicious anti-God Marxist philosophy that they think will bring about a new Utopia. It never has! It never can! It never will!

So writing this article is part of my tiny miniscule attempt to save the world from possible chaos, violence and destruction in the coming days. I am hoping that people, all of us, may learn how to be forgiven by God and then learn by His grace and love, how to forgive everyone of everything. It is utterly necessary! It is entirely possible! But only by the gracious help of God and a willingness on the part of humans to humble themselves to receive His help!

What is being offered in this blog article number 366. 

I thought the number 366 was an easy number to remember, being the days in a Leap Year. It is a blog people can keep coming back to, to learn about forgiveness. There are over 30 articles I have written in previous blogs and I made a summary of the links to them in blog number 219. A more recent blog is number 258 which is a You Tube recording of a Skype teaching given from Australia to The Healing Ministry at All Saints Episcopal church at Winter Park in Florida some years ago.

For convenience I am summarizing all these links them in this article by providing the following links. Just click on the numbers 219 and 258 below to be taken to those articles.

Article 219 which has 30 plus articles to click on

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/jimholbeck.blog/4942

Article 258 2https://jimholbeck.blog/2018/02/02/258-what-is-involved-in-forgiveness-a-you-tube-skype-teaching-by-jim-holbeck-recorded-by-the-healing-ministry-at-all-saints-episcopal-church-winter-park-florida/58 has the link to the You Tube video recording on forgiveness

NOTE:] Just in case the above procedure has difficulties you can simply go to www.jimholbeck.blog and type “forgiveness” in the Search box  and the list of articles will be displayed for you. 

Or type 216 or 258 in the search box and you will be taken to those articles

If you find the articles helpful, please share them with others because I think the world is in a very difficult and very dangerous place at the moment, and forgiveness rather than hate needs to flow between humans of all races and skin colours. The truths in these articles can help if read and acted on! The truths have helped many folk in the past and I am sure that read humbly, could help many folk around the world in the present and in the future. That is my hope and my prayer.

Blog No.366 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 16th September 2020.

Posted in Audio material, BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, GROUP DISCUSSION MATERIAL on "Forgiveness", Healing, Holy Spirit, Justification, Mental Health, Politics, Prayer, Questions and Answers, Salvation, Sanctification | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

365. Conformation To The World Or Transformation To The Likeness Of Christ? That Is The Question! What Is Your Answer? Romans 12:1-2

Like most of us, I like looking at YouTube to find things that might be encouraging in this increasingly difficult world. I am blessed as I come across some gifted Bible teachers and preachers and encouraged in my Christian walk as I hear or read their expositions of God’s word. In my search I recently came across a sermon I had preached five years ago [about the time of my 80th birthday] in the historic 1824-1828 convict built church of St Thomas in Port Macquarie . So I steeled myself to listen to my own sermon from way back then. 

I realised as I listened that I would probably not change any word of what I said back then. To my surprise I found it encouraging. [Jim, “Self-praise is no recommendation!” True but I was just making an observation that the truths preached were a renewed blessing to me 5 years later. ]  The passage has so much relevance for today’s world situation, and to me offers some clues as to how we can cope [and even have victories] as we seek to live for the Lord in today’s depressing political climate. 

I was encouraged as I thought about going into full-time service some 60 years ago that the Lord can use ordinary people like me through whom to speak. After all He once spoke through the mouth of an ass, so there was obviously hope for someone like me [Numbers 22:28]. In the 20 minute sermon I attempted to summarise in a few minutes the 11 chapters leading up to Romans 12, by looking at the theme of “belonging to God.” Following that I looked at the challenge of verses 1 and 2, will it be for us, conformation or transformation? My challenge to my readers is this? Would you be willing to risk listening to a retired 80 year preacher as he shared what he found helpful for himself in the Book of Romans?

The challenge is issued and you can find the sermon on this You Tube site. 

If you have any difficulties using this link you can just type jim holbeck into You Tube and you will find it among considerable other material in my name.

I might have some limited opportunity to respond to anyone who wanted to contact me at jimholbeck@gmail.com

 Blog No. 365 posted on jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 12th September 2020.

Posted in Audio material, BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Holy Spirit, Justification, New Covenant, Prayer, Questions and Answers, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

364. Memories That Bring Tears To Your Eyes And Praise To Your Lips. A Personal Reflection. 2Corinthians 12:9

We humans are funny creatures and we are all so very different. I was reflecting on this a few days ago when I was thinking of how certain dates can become so significant in our lives as individuals. Significant things happened on a certain date and the memories, good or bad, will remain with us forever. The date that became so significant to me was the 22nd day of the month. That date became special to me way back on 22nd August 1964 when my very best friend Carole and I were driving back from seeing my sister’s family in the Qld country. We pulled up outside a small town called Esk before we drove the last stage of our trip back to our homes in Ipswich. As we admired the beauty of the hills around the township we began to talk about how wonderful it was to be able to spend some time together at last. I had said farewell to Carole in late January to go to theological college in Melbourne [1700km away] and we had not seen each other until this time in August. We shared how we had missed seeing each other even though frequent letters had kept us in touch. 

The conversation deepened as we shared about what the future held for both of us.  Carole had another 18 months to finish her bond with the Qld Education Department as a trained teacher and I had at least another 2 years to study in Melbourne. I had only a short time before I was due to leave her again to return to Melbourne until December. I was going to miss her terribly as I realised how kind she had been to my parents, visiting them often and sharing with me how they were going, in the many letters she faithfully wrote to me every week. I realised that my love for her had deepened during our time apart. I wondered whether this beautiful, attractive, gorgeous, highly intelligent creature sitting next to me could ever get to love and marry an ordinary guy like me. Somehow I plucked up the courage and said something like, “Carole, what would you say if, some day, I asked you to marry me?” Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long for an answer as she replied immediately, “I would say ‘Yes’.” How much easier it was then to say, “Will you marry me?” and how blessed to hear the answer, “Yes!” What a joy to drive home and delight both sets of parents with the news. Just a week later our engagement was announced publicly in the papers.

I booked my return train trip back to Melbourne but shortly after my father became ill and was taken to hospital in Ipswich and transferred to Brisbane. He died of a brain tumour soon after. Carole was magnificent in helping us cope in such sad unexpected circumstances. I realised afresh that I was going to marry a real gem.  Before I left by car for Melbourne taking my grieving mother with me, Carole and I had worked out that the earliest time for our wedding would be another 22nd of the month, the 22nd January 1966 just after she would complete her teaching bond and would be free to come back with me to Melbourne until I finished my external degree from the University of London. 

By the grace of God Carole and I were able to share almost 54 years of a wonderful loving married life together, always celebrating with a real sense of praise to God on the 22nd of January and the 22nd of August every year. They were joyful memories etched in our minds as we praised God for bringing us together and enriching our marriage and family life over all those years. I think we were both amazed at the number of people over those 53 years who would say to us, “You two were obviously meant for each other.” We certainly believed that God in His infinite wisdom and love had brought us together from thousands of miles from each other, Carole coming as a 4 year old with her parents from Kharagpur near Calcutta in India and me from Gympie in Qld to meet in Ipswich, fall in love and serve Him together for over 50 years. What an incredible privilege for both of us. We both saw each other as being God’s gift to us individually.

The years since then have flown but the 22nd of August last year brought up the 55th anniversary of the day I proposed and Carole accepted. We did not know it at the time, but that day last year would turn out to be the last trip to another town we would have in our car together. Within a few weeks Carole would be hospitalised with fluid on the lung as her cancer increased. She was released after treatment but was readmitted back into Port Macquarie hospital on the 19th October and was transferred to Palliative care in Wauchope a couple of days later. Then came another memorable 22nd of the month. The specialist came into Carole’s room with a group of student doctors on that day and said to her, “Carole, we will try to get you home as soon as possible and we will arrange for palliative care nurses to visit you at home.” Carole thanked her and then suggested to her in her own gracious way, how the palliative care could be improved even further. But it was only a week later that the same specialist returned with another group of student doctors and said to Carole, “Carole you won’t be going home. You will die in a few days.” It appeared that Carole’s lungs were filling with fluid and draining them would not be possible. My beloved Carole did die just 2 days later. 

I write this just a few hours before what would have been the 56th anniversary of the day we became engaged. It probably will mean that every 22nd of every month will be filled with memories for me as I remember our engagement and our wedding and the joys of our married life together. They will be happy memories as I praise God for giving me such a perfect [for me] life partner. But when you face a personal bereavement you remember what you once had, but then you go on to remember what you no longer have. The tears of joy turn to joys of sorrow as you know you will no longer see that loving smile or feel that loving touch or hear that beautiful eisteddfod winning voice saying softly, “Darling, I love you so much! Thank you for loving me!” And over the last year adding, “And thank you for caring for me.”

Why have I as a very private person written so personally? Simply because I wanted to and felt I had to. It is never easy to face grief when someone you love is taken from you when you had hoped you might have had perhaps another 10 or more years together. I am glad that when I began ministry and had to minister to those going through bereavement, I would tell them that there is no set pattern to follow when going through a grief process. We all have to find our own way of coping whilst being open to the well-meaning advice that our friends pass on to us. So sharing in this way is my way of coping at the moment. I hope it doesn’t embarrass anyone but I just love to praise God for His incredible goodness in allowing Carole and I to meet, fall deeply in love and have an extremely happy fulfilling life together in Him. 

Many of you who read this article, may also be going through grief. I can humbly say that I find it helpful personally to reflect with thanksgiving and praise on all the good that God has brought into my life, especially the gifts of being born into a loving family, and His gracious gifts of a loving and beloved wife, dearly loved children and grandchildren. And on the days when I do feel a little bereft and a deep sense of loss chokes me up, I am finding this promise of the Lord to be wonderfully true as I seek to keep close to Him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Blog No.364 posted on Friday 21st August 2020

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363. Liberating News! Freed From Destructive Comparisons! What Is The True Basis For Making Comparisons?

I love the phrase “comparisons are odious.” Why? Because it seemed that I always finished up on the wrong side of every comparison. So it raised the question for me, “What should be the basis of our comparisons?” I know from my own experience and from ministering to thousands of people in three different countries over 50 plus years, that to compare ourselves with other people, can be very destructive.

If we compare ourselves with other people, it can lead to pride and arrogance on our part. We can imagine ourselves to be vastly superior in looks, charm, attractiveness and intelligence, but we wonder why other people don’t recognise it as they should, when it must be so obvious!  We might think! Wrongly!

OR, when comparing ourselves with others we can see ourselves as being vastly inferior in every way. They are better looking, more charming, more attractive and more intelligent. We think that everyone sees us in all our patheticness. The result is that because we think we don’t compare favourably with other people, we think we have nothing to offer! We are nobodies! We are just extras in the ongoing scenes of life while those “superior others” are playing all the main and supporting roles! We are just “also-rans!” In our opinion!

What is the answer? What is the true comparison we should make in life? I’ll try to put it in a simple sentence.

The only valid comparison I can make in life is how I compare now [by the grace of God], with how I should be now [by the grace of God] if I had loved and obeyed Him perfectly for every moment of my life!

 That is enough to humble me for the rest of my life. But praise God, He can forgive all my past failures as I put my trust in what Christ did for me on the cross. Not only that, but He can transform me into the unique person He wants me to be, as I keep looking to Him for His grace and power. As St Paul wrote, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18. Becoming uniquely more and more like Him, the object of our adoration and love!

This true comparison makes me humble, knowing that I will never be as good as I could have been. But it also makes me expectant, knowing that as I yield myself to Him, the Lord will help me to become closer to the unique individual He wants me to be.

Blog 363 posted on Wednesday 29th July 2020.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Mental Health, New Covenant, Prayer, Questions and Answers, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

362. The Future Is In God’s Hands, Not Man’s. [The Message Of The Letter To The Ephesians.]

Something is happening in the world today even though many people do not realise it. In the words of a well-known hymn, “God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year.” It may seem to many people in our world today, when many appear to be drifting away from organised religion, that God is losing control of His world. However, God has a purpose for His world and He has already set this purpose in action. What He has begun, He will bring to completion. No human can stop it. It is inevitable. In His time!

What exactly then is this purpose that He has set in place? Saint Paul described it in His letter to the Ephesians. There are different ways of describing the message in Ephesians. One of my favourite descriptions was that found in a book by Watchman Nee entitled, “Sit. Walk. Stand.” The “Sit” stood for the fact that as believers we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. That is our status in the eyes of God. The “Walk” represented our Christian walk as believers. The “Stand” came from our need to stand against the powers of darkness in spiritual warfare whilst clothed in the armour of God. It was an accurate description of the contents of the epistle.

The same truths are expressed in a different way in the following description. It is based on what Paul described as the purpose of God for His world, which is a mystery that was revealed by God to His people. The mystery is that in building a new humanity He would bring them together in Christ and through this new humanity [the church] He would make that message of the mystery known to the whole world, “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Eph 1:10.

Some human thinking influenced by totalitarian Marxist philosophy so prevalent in our world. sees unity as the result of the process of division and the breaking down of all existing structures and forcing human thinking to submit to its godless materialistic philosophy. God’s process in bringing unity to the world is quite different. His process is that of reconciliation. He has made it possible for individuals to be reconciled to God through the death of His Son. He has made reconciliation to one another as humans possible by that same death of Jesus on the cross. Then these reconciled believers [who have been reconciled to God and to one another] described as the body of Christ and the church, are to take that message of reconciliation to the wider world to enable this uniting of all things in Jesus in God’s time.  The process began with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, was spread through the ministry of missionaries sharing the mystery of God’s purpose and redeeming love around the world throughout the ages, and is progressing day by day.

As a later verse puts it,

“From utmost east to utmost west,

wherever feet have trod,

by the mouth of many messengers

goes forth the voice of God,

‘Give ear to me, ye continents,

ye isles, give ear to me,

that the earth may be filled with the glory of God

as the waters cover the sea.”

 

When will that fulness of time come? Only God knows! But as the hymn goes on to suggest, we need to be ready. Why?

“yet nearer and nearer draws the time,

the time that shall surely be,

when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God

as the waters cover the sea.”

 

Every time we introduce other people to Jesus we are being used as part of the eternal purpose of God in uniting all things in Himself and hastening the day when He returns and when indeed, “the earth shall be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.”

Blog No.362. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 12th July 2020.

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361. A Prayer That Needs To Be Prayed For A World In Turmoil. The Prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola.

It is marvelous how seemingly small things in our lives leave a massive impact. I was thinking recently about a prayer I learned when I first became a Christian in 1958. Many of the phrases in the prayer, even now, keep popping back into my mind some 62 years later. In a sense, the biblical truths behind the prayer have helped shape my life over all those years. The prayer implies that Christians are meant to have a servant heart in all their relationships, no matter what success [humanly speaking] they have achieved in life. The prayer composed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola may have been influenced by the words of Jesus as He told his disciples “For the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10:45. Certainly as the founder of the Jesuits, he and his followers attempted to live in accordance with the concepts in the prayer and many nations throughout the world and over numerous generations have been richly blessed as a result of the ministry of the Jesuits.

In a world increasingly being marked by rebellion, riots, looting, destruction and even physical violence and murder it is a prayer that many young and older folk could learn and live by, for their own benefit and for the future prosperity of the world. Otherwise the soul and life destroying concepts of atheistic Marxist philosophy so prevalent in all our educational systems, in which there are no moral absolutes [except what they insist on] will continue to prevail to the detriment of the peoples of the whole world.

Could I imagine the young and older folk engaged in the riotous aggression we witness now on TV, ever humbling themselves to pray such a prayer? Humanly speaking, Never! But Ignatius as a young man was not to be admired, until he met the Lord in a life-changing encounter. He was never the same afterwards. Neither is anyone who encounters the living Jesus! So it is possible that some of these riotous folk we see today, may some day come to realise the demonic background to their present thinking and antisocial behaviour when they have an encounter with the truth [Jesus Himself]. Then and only then can they begin to make a positive contribution to the world as St Ignatius eventually did. I pray so! So here is the prayer as I learnt it, with my comments on the side.

Prayer of Saint Ignatius Loyola

Teach us, Good Lord,

My comments

He is good, for He died for us

He is the Lord over the whole creation as its creator and sustainer.

We need Him to open our eyes in order to understand spiritual realities.

 

To Serve Thee as Thou deservest; He died for us so that we might live for Him
To give and not to count the cost; No one can out-give God! God loves a generous giver especially when they give themselves to Him and to His purposes.
To fight and not to heed the wounds; It is the fight of faith to trust in the victory already won on the cross for us.
To labor and not to ask for any reward, Reward is not the motivation for labour, but is the undeserved result of faithful labour for the Lord
save that of knowing that we do Thy will. To know we are in the will of God is the greatest blessing on earth
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen. “For from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things.” Rom 11:36.

Why not pray the prayer and see what the Lord can do in and through you, to His glory?

Blog No.361. A Prayer That Needs To Be Prayed For A World In Turmoil. The Prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola. Posted on Sunday 28th  June 2020.

 

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360. The Unholy Triumvirate. Adding Entitlement To The Dangerous Cocktail Of Victim Mentality And Bitterness. Why The World Is In Such A Mess!

In my previous article number  359  I wrote about the dangerous cocktail that results when bitterness is added to victim mentality. I also mentioned that if another particular element was added, it would form a dangerous triumvirate that could influence the thinking and consequent behaviour of many in our world today. We can now look at what that third element is. It is the Sense of Entitlement that so many people in the world today seem to have adopted as an ongoing pattern of thinking. It is bad enough of itself but when added to the other two elements it can become a mixture that is quite explosive in human relationships.

First of all what is a sense of entitlement? On the Psychology Today website it was described as being an enduring personality trait, characterized by the belief that one deserves preferences and resources that others do not. It may appear sometimes that some folk are certainly “entitled” to have a sense of entitlement, because they have sacrificed a lot in becoming more learned or more skilled or have become more committed than others in their desire to make a greater personal contribution to the world.

Unfortunately however, others with a sense of entitlement expect to receive more recognition or rewards than they appear [humanly speaking] to be “entitled” to. Especially when they see themselves as victims of some external factor or factors, eg.,when they say something like, “Because of my background, I missed out on that, so I am entitled to  have it now.” If they have harboured resentment about having missed out on something and have become bitter about it, then the added sense of entitlement creates a deadly mixture or a negatively powerful triumvirate. That was seen recently in the USA where one activist virtually advocated looting with her reasoning something like this, “You don’t have it because of your impoverished background compared with others, who can simply walk in and buy it. You can’t do that, so go and take what you want.” Some folk would see that advice as encouraging envy leading to the theft of what is not rightfully theirs. But if there are no absolutes, no rules, no guidelines, then anything goes.

Such things appear to be happening throughout the world at the moment. It is anarchy being promoted as a means of achieving a more equitable society. Just think about all the protests that are going on in the world today. Many of them have leaders with an apparently good motivation and are seeking to bring about desirable change to correct known injustices. But not all. Many of them seem to be led by people who are targeting  groups who believe themselves to be disadvantaged, and trying to bring about change by force rather than by reason and peaceful means. Where is the wisdom in all this?

Fortunately the Lord has shown us in His word what is true wisdom and what is not. The following table show us what is God’s wisdom for how the world and its peoples should operate, contrasted with so-called wisdom that is entirely different and counterproductive for humankind. It is found in the Epistle of James chapter 3, verses 13 to 18. [Reading across from left to right.]

GOD’S WISDOM HUMAN WISDOM
Jas 3:13  Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

[True wisdom is meek because it depends on the mind of Another, God Himself.  James had already written about that in James 1:21, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Any revelation from God has to be received with humility for we cannot obtain that truth of ourselves.

 

On this side we have the characteristics of human wisdom.

14  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

·      Bitter jealousy. “Bitter” is pikron, πικρὸν which I have shown elsewhere  is the root of picric acid, one of the most bitter, unstable and explosive compounds in chemistry.

Jealousy [zēlos; ζῆλος] is bad enough of itself but when bitterness is added to it, it becomes a deadly mixture destroying human relationships and rational thinking.

·      Selfish ambition. [eritheia; ἐριθείαν] means putting ourselves and our own desires and interests ahead of the interests of others. It can mean pursuing our own agenda to the detriment of other people. In Gal 5:20, it is seen as one of the works of the flesh [fallen human nature] together with jealousy.

·      boasting. katakauchaomai; κατακαυχᾶσθε means to exaggerate our exploits or character above that of others. Putting down others by unduly exalting ourselves.

·      false to the truth. pseudomai; ψεύδεσθε To deceive by telling untruths.

What a contrast this is to the peaceful uplifting wisdom of God.

17  But the wisdom from above

·      from above. [anothen; ἄνωθεν] It’s origin is in God.

·      is first pure,

·      then peaceable,

·      gentle,

·      open to reason,

·      full of mercy and

·      good fruits,

·      impartial and

·      sincere.

The above is a picture of what the world would be like if we all operated according to God’s wisdom

15  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

·      Earthly. [epigeios; ἐπίγειος from the earth or the world. Its origin is from fallen human thinking and not from God’s revealed wisdom in His word.

·      unspiritual. [psychikos; ψυχική means soulish, lacking any spiritual origin.

·      demonic. [daimoniōdēs; δαιμονιώδης].

What a shock to discover that some so-called human wisdom may actually be demonic, having its origin in Satan rather than in the Lord. As such it is counter-productive to human welfare. As Jesus said of Satan, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Jn 10:10. Justifying looting, stealing, killing and destruction in the name of justice or in the pursuit of equality could be seen by some to be supporting what is of demonic origin. It certainly is not of God!

Jesus by contrast, operated by divine wisdom to enable people by His death and resurrection, to bring real life, abundant life, to those who would humble themselves to receive Him as Saviour and Lord, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jn 10:10. Abundant, satisfying life even while living in an imperfect world.

 

Outward Expression. It is what happens when God’s wisdom is in operation in the world.

18  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 

PEACE. A deep abiding peace. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. “ Jn 14:27.

And a peace beyond human understanding as St Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Php 4:6-7.

Outward Expression. It is what happens when humans turn away from God’s wisdom and try to operate by their own fallen human wisdom.

16  For where jealousy and selfish ambition [see verse 14]  exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

·      Disorder. [akatastasia; ἀκαταστασία] It can mean commotion, confusion, instability, riots, uprisings. Paul and others endured it, 2Co 6:4  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5  in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;

It will be one of the signs of the end of the times, Luk 21:9  When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.

·      Vile. [phaulos; phaulos meaning wicked or evil.

·      Practice. [pragma; πρᾶγμα; a deed; matter, thing, work. It is the outward expression of what we believe. True belief leads to true behaviour. Wrong belief leads to wrong behaviour. As Jesus indicated in Jn 10:10, stealing, killing and destroying is demonic behaviour. Justifying it in the name of correcting injustice is human wisdom and has nothing to do with God’s wisdom.

As you look at what is happening in the world today which form of wisdom do you think is most observable, God’s wisdom on the left or human wisdom on the right?

Above we have the Unholy Alliance or the Negatively Powerful Triumvirate.  Bitterness being added to a Victim Mentality and then crowned with a Sense of Entitlement. In brief, “I’m bitter because I’m a victim as I don’t have what you have. As a victim I am entitled to what you have and so I will take what is rightfully mine, in my opinion, from what you have. In my case, force and theft are justified as I attempt to right this wrong!”

 There are many other forms this triumvirate can take, but common to all of them is that they are all based on human wisdom, human ways of looking at situations and human ways of acting to deal with perceived inequalities and perceived unjust situations.  The danger is that in seeking to do something about them, we can be tempted to act in ways that are contrary to the character of God and opposed to His purposes for His world.

 Is There Another Way? Yes! God’s Way! It Is Not Only Better, But It Is The Only Way!

Jesus as the Messiah came to earth to be a victim. It had been prophesied centuries before that this would be His role as the Messiah. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” Isaiah 53:3-7.

 He was the willing victim, as the sins of the world were laid on Him and He bore the punishment for those sins on behalf of sinners. But He didn’t remain the victim, as He rose from the dead, the victor over sin, death and over the powers of darkness and evil.  St Paul referred to this as he encouraged his readers to be humble like Christ was in His ministry on earth, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves, 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Php 2:3-4.

 St Paul highlighted Christ’s example on how to live for others

People were to have the same attitude to others as Jesus had. Was His life characterised by the powerful triumvirate of Bitterness mixed with a victim mentality and crowned with a sense of entitlement? No! Quite the opposite! Php 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

  • He was a victim, but a willing victim to offer Himself for others as an atoning sacrifice for sin as part of God’s plan to save the world. Heb 9:14 ”how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
  • He was not bitter but joyful as the writer to the Hebrews commented, “Jesus, … who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2.
  • He had no sense of entitlement. The whole world was His as its Creator, yet He emptied Himself of all to which He was entitled, all the privileges that were His as the Son of God, and He became a servant to others, for their betterment and for their salvation. He had said of His ministry, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10:45.

 The power to change the world is not given by God to those who rely on the Unholy Triumvirate of Bitterness + Victim Mentality + A Sense of Entitlement based on human wisdom and which leads to inappropriate words and actions, often violent in nature.  It is given to those who trust in Jesus to whom all authority is given and who has become entitled to receive the adoration, praise and obedience of every living creature, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Php 2:9-11. Only when Jesus is confessed as one’s Saviour, and submitted to as one’s Lord, is one in a position to be part of the healing processes that God sees as necessary for His world. For as James put it, “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:20.

Blog No.360. Posted on Thursday 25th June 2020  

 

 

 

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359. THE CURSE OF VICTIMHOOD [And Other Factors] ON THE HUMAN RACE

In early 2019 I posted an article number 311 on this site with the title, ‘“Hey! I’m The Victim Here!” The Curse Of “Victimhood” In Today’s World.’ Little did I realise that a very deep sense of victimhood would become so quickly imbedded in so many people groups around the world. I pointed out in that article that all of us are victims in life in varying degrees, but one does not have to adopt or maintain a victim mentality as an ongoing attitude of mind throughout life. One can have a much more positive attitude to life even in the midst of challenging situations.

In the next article number312 I wrote about a dangerous cocktail that comes from adding bitterness to a victim mentality. Part of the article contained these words, “Bitterness contaminates individuals, groups and even many in political parties. That is obvious as we look at our TV screens and see there those who have drunk the toxic cocktail of bitterness mixed in with their victim mentality. Many who have done so have lost any sense of proportion. They no longer think rationally. Their faces are twisted with bitterness and they fail to see any good in people or even good policies in another political party. They play asinine infantile political games while ordinary people [for whom they seem to have no compassion, concern or respect] suffer terribly. The trouble is that corrupt leaders corrupt others and many beautiful precious “run of the mill” folk [in the eyes of such people] are ignored and badly disadvantaged as a result! Only the “enlightened elite” like themselves matter!” That is becoming even more obvious every day.

A Modern Triumvirate

I thought that when I came to write article No. 360 that I should take a 360 degree look at what is happening in the world today and comment on a modern triumvirate. There is a third element in the triumvirate, joining Victim Mentality and Bitterness, and together they are exercising a powerful influence in the world, causing it to cease to think rationally and binding the peoples of the world to their damaging ways of thinking [and behaving.] It is a difficult element to come to grips with but when I address it in the next article, you may recognise how dangerous it can become, when blended in with the other two elements of Victim Mentality and Bitterness. 

Till next time!

Blog No.359 posted on Thursday 18th June 2020.

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358. PENTECOST. Culminating The Christ Event. From Christ’s Incarnation To Christ’s Pouring Out Of The Holy Spirit. [A Thumbnail sketch of Salvation in Titus 3:4-6]

As I was thinking about Pentecost Sunday, my mind went to the phrase “renewal of the Holy Spirit” so I decided to see how it might relate to Pentecost. There are times when we read quickly over a passage of scripture and fail to see some of the riches present in it. So I was surprised to see what these 3 verses had to say when I looked at the context of that phrase in Titus 3:4-6. I set out below what I found, so that some busy preacher somewhere in the world might get a flying start for their last minute Pentecost Sunday sermon. Or a humble believer might be blessed as they read about the Lord’s goodness and loving kindness towards them individually and personally in Christ.

 A].  What Was Actually Happening When Christ Came To Earth

Titus 3:4 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared.”  [God was revealing His character in and through Christ and also His purpose for the world.”] We look more closely at some of the words in this phrase.

– “goodness”, [chrēstotēs;  χρηστότης.]  God is always good or kind. It is His eternal character which appeared in human flesh in Jesus’ incarnation.

– “loving kindness”, [philanthrōpia, φιλανθρωπία.] This is where our English word philanthropy comes from. It is love [philia] of mankind [anthropos]. It is God’s constant disposition towards His human creatures. He loves them!

– “God our Saviour.”[sōtēr; σωτήρ sōtēr.] God is Saviour as the source of salvation and Christ is the instrument through whom it was achieved.

– “Appeared.” [epiphainō; ἐπιφαίνω.]  This is the source of our English word epiphany, a manifestation, appearing or revealing. When Christ came, the eternal qualities of God’s goodness and loving kindness were revealed to His creatures in human flesh in Jesus.

B}. What Jesus Accomplished

5 he saved us, [sōzō; σώζω.] God is Saviour as the source of salvation and Christ is the instrument through whom it was achieved on the cross. Salvation is attributed to both the Father and the Son in the New Testament. It is also attributed to the Holy Spirit who opens people’s spiritual eyes and hearts to the Christ of the gospel.

C]. How Salvation Was Accomplished

– not because of works done by us in righteousness. Our “good works” before conversion can never gain merit in the sight of God. “Good works” are those that stem from a living faith because they are inspired and enabled by the Holy Spirit!

– but according to his own mercy. [eleos; ἔλεος.]  God’s mercy was the motivation behind God’s act in sending Christ into the world to achieve salvation. He was doing something for sinful mankind that they could not do for themselves.

– by the washing [loutron; λουτρόν.] If mercy was the motivation behind Christ’s coming to save,  then the washing away of sin was the method. This is brought out in the only other occurrence of this word, in Eph 5:26, where the church is cleansed by being washed, “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”’ There are at least 3 other references linking the concepts of “wash” and “spirit.”  That connection is natural because the Holy Spirit is the agent of regeneration. Regenerate people are those who are born of the Spirit. One example is in 1 Cor 6:11 where Paul wrote about the change that had come upon some of the believers in Corinth, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” The Spirit of God had worked in their hearts so that they were cleansed of their sin, set apart to God by the indwelling Spirit and had been brought in into a living relationship with God by that same Spirit. Likewise in Rev 7:11 believers [born again of the Spirit of God] are described as those who had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb [meaning Jesus] and in Rev 22:14 as those who had washed their robes so that they might have the right to the tree of life. Entry into heaven necessitates being born again. Jesus said so, “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. 

 -of regeneration  [paliggenesia; παλιγγενεσία.] This can mean a new beginning or a new situation as in  Mt 19:28, ‘Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”’ But it can also mean an individual inward renewal to bring about change.

But how could that change be effected? Paul gives us the answer in the next phrase.

-and renewal of the Holy Spirit.  [ἀνακαίνωσις anakainōsis.] It is interesting that the only other occurrence of this word is in Rom 12:2, where Paul was describing change, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind …. ” It is obvious throughout Paul’s writings that any renewal or spiritual change could only be effected by the Holy Spirit. That is what Paul is saying in this verse as he describes God’s mercy as being demonstrated in the change happening through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, in the lives of those who become God’s people. It was a powerful change as the next phrase indicates.

6 whom he poured out on us richly. [poured out = ekcheō; ἐκχέω. ] “Whom” here of course is the person of the Holy Spirit, not just a force or an influence, but a person of power. The bestowal of the Spirit was not just a trickle but rather a “pouring out.” Historically we know that the gift of the Holy Spirit was “poured out” on the day of Pentecost as Peter preached on that day, “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” Acts 2:33.

Peter also described the pouring out as a fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, in Acts 2:17-18, “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18  even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” Also in Acts 10:45 is Luke’s description of the pouring out of the Spirit on the Gentiles, “And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.”

– richly. [plousiōs; πλουσίως] We get the impression from these verses above that the pouring out of the Spirit was a pretty powerful manifestation of His presence coming upon them. Indeed Peter wrote to his readers using this word “richly” when he wrote, “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet 1:11. Entrance into God’s eternal kingdom can only happen as people undergo the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. But Paul wrote in a deeply personal manner about God’s agape love being poured out into the hearts of believers, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Rom 5:5.

– through Jesus Christ our Saviour. All God’s mercies become available to us through [and only through] Jesus Christ whom God sent to be the Saviour of the world.

What a marvellous truth-filled passage is found in Titus 3:4-6! It begins with Paul focussing on God Himself in the Christ Event. As he does so, he reflects first of all on  the character of God, His goodness and loving-kindness. Eternally the same from all eternity! But something amazing happened with the coming of Christ into the world. This wonderful character of God APPEARED! That which God’s people had only read about for centuries had now become visible in human form in Jesus.  What an appearance!

It was not only an appearance of God’s character but also of His wisdom in knowing how to bring guilty sinners back to Himself. Simple words but how powerful are these dynamic words, “Saved”, “Washing,” “Regeneration,” “Renewal,” “Pouring out.” The Holy Spirit of God Himself being involved in this whole process of salvation for guilty sinners, and in their reconciliation back to God.

PENTECOST? In the words of Prof John Murray’s book, “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” the whole drama of salvation [redemption] planned by the Father, [and the Godhead] accomplished by the Son, was now able to be applied to the human race as the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who were willing to receive God’s grace to them in Christ, at PENTECOST! Halleluia, what a Saviour!

A SUGGESTED PRAYER

What a change would take place within our world if people were to read these verses from Titus 3 and say to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t really know what these verses mean, but they sound exciting. Please,  in Your mercy, grant to me a washing of regeneration and a renewal of the Holy Spirit as You pour out Your Spirit on me, just as You poured out Your Spirit on those disciples in Acts chapter 2. Please work in my life by Your Holy Spirit and make me into the person You want me to be. I ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN!”  

Blog No.358. posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 29th May 2020

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357. God Motivates and Empowers His People. The Blessing of Pentecost. [Part 2 of 2.] Philippians 2:12-13

We CAN do what is pleasing to God. In the previous blog we saw how God had promised in the Old Testament, that in the new age of the Spirit (under the New Covenant He would initiate with His people) He would motivate and empower His people to live for Him. That new age came into being on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out on the early disciples. From that moment on they were changed. Later on, there were disciples in other places who also experienced the Holy Spirit coming upon them. They too were to experience God’s motivating and empowering power in their lives.

OUTPOURINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AFTER THE DAY OF PENTECOST

An Outpouring Of The Holy Spirit In Samaria. We read in Acts 8 that after the martyrdom of Stephen by stoning, the church in Jerusalem was persecuted and all the disciples except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. One of those disciples was Philip who was one of the seven men chosen to ensure that there was fair treatment of Hellenistic widows in the daily food distribution. The seven had to be “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.”  Philip went to the city of Samaria and proclaimed Christ to them. There was a great response to his preaching and many people were set free of evil spirits and others were healed. Many heard Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and were baptized in His name.

Word of this believing response to the gospel message through Philip came to the apostles in Jerusalem.  They sent Peter and John, who prayed for these Samaritan disciples to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Luke records the reason why. Acts 8:16  for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). The outcome of their visit?  As the apostles laid their hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit. It was another pouring out of the Spirit on believers though in a different locality. However it maintained continuity with the church in Jerusalem as it took place through the laying on of the hands of the apostles.

An Outpouring Of The Holy Spirit In Ephesus. The apostle Paul came to Ephesus where he found a number of disciples of Jesus.  We are not told why he asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” However it appeared that they knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. That prompted Paul to ask them, “Into what then were you baptized?” They replied that they had been baptised into John’s baptism. Paul explained that the baptism John offered was an anticipation for the coming Messiah, the Christ, in whom they were to trust. Paul would have been able to tell them that the Messiah had come. They could now be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus who had come as the Messiah.  We read what happened, Acts 19:6-7 “And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.” Yet another outpouring of the Holy Spirit in another location at a later time.

Our Own “Pentecost” Experience. We have seen that the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit was on the Day of Pentecost. This fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. However we have also seen that there were later outpourings of the Spirit such as in Samaria and Ephesus.  Various outpourings of the Spirit have occurred in various places and in various times throughout history.  We can think of many revivals when there appeared to be a greater outpouring or manifestation of the Holy Spirit than at other times.

But let us never denigrate or fail to appreciate our own experience of the same Holy Spirit. It is not as though Peter and James and John and Paul and the disciples in Samaria and Ephesus received a greater Holy Spirit than we received when we repented of sins and received Christ as Saviour. He is eternally the same. The Holy Spirit who came upon them to motivate and to empower them is the same Holy Spirit who has entered our puny little lives as well. It means that we too can (and should) be motivated and empowered by the same Holy Spirit to live for the Lord.  Well in what way does that happen?

WORKING OUT IN PRACTICE WHAT GOD IS WORKING IN OUR LIVES 

There was a brilliant little book with the title, “Caution! Saints At Work”.  I suppose we, as modern day believers, could carry signs with the words, “Caution. God At Work On This Site” referring to the fact that He is at work within each one of His people.  It would be true but perhaps not advisable! We shouldn’t have to tell others that God is at work in us. They should be able to see it without us pointing it out to them! What does the Bible have to say about God being at work in us in terms of motivating and empowering us to live for Him? The answer is found in Philippians 2:12-“13, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” We will now take a closer look at those verses.

In verse 12 we note that it does not say, “Work for your salvation!”   Salvation can only be a gift to us from God’s grace. We can never earn or deserve the mercy and grace of God. We can’t earn our salvation. That’s what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8,9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

 In Philippians 2:12-13 we are reminded that the responsibility of believers is to work out in practice what God is inwardly working within them. They are His saved or redeemed people.  They respond to His amazing grace in their lives out of a sense of “fear and trembling”.  This is not a cringing fear of God but rather the deep reverential awe of the majesty and holiness of God who has given them the awesome task and responsibility of doing His will for “His good pleasure”.  What a task! What a responsibility! But He works in them to give them the willingness and the ability to do so. Or in the terms we have seen earlier, He motivates and empowers His people to live and work for Him.

THE PRIVILEGE OF PLEASING GOD AS HIS CHILDREN [and His faithful workers]

In Philippians 2:12 Paul uses the word “katergazomai” in saying that believers are to “work out” their salvation. It means to accomplish or to complete a task. God’s grace and power are seen in the salvation of every individual.  His grace and power are also there to help them to live out the implications of the salvation they have received by faith.  [Physics lovers will recognise something common in these words for “work” in these verses. It is “erg” which they will remember is the unit for energy or work in physics. ] NOTE 1

The final comment on these verses highlights another truth. Philippians 2:13 in many versions says that God works in believers “to will and to work for His good pleasure”. This appears to mean that God is pleased when His people allow Him to work in and through them.  However not all translators or commentators seem to go with that meaning of [eudokia] for “pleasure” in this verse.  But there is another verse in the New Testament where the word is best read in terms of giving God pleasure. It is Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  

What an incredible motivation it would be for us (who have received Christ as Saviour and submitted to Him as Lord) to live in obedience to God’s will, if we knew He was pleased by our genuinely sincere (but imperfect) attempts to do so. Even then we would humbly have to admit that unless God was at work in us, we would not have the desire to please Him and certainly not the ability to do so in our own strength. The whole of our Christian life from its beginning until we live with Him in glory depends on His amazing grace to us. [God’s Grace always covers Status and Function; His acceptance of us in Christ AND His enabling us to live for Him to His glory!]

Praise God for Pentecost! Because of Pentecost, we have the tremendous privilege and pleasure of knowing God intimately.

Praise God for Pentecost! Because of Pentecost, we have the tremendous privilege and pleasure of GIVING HIM PLEASURE as we cooperate with Him in enabling Him to do His work in us and through us to His glory!

Blog No.357. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 27th May 2020

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NOTE 1.

  • In verse 12, it is believers who are to “work out” [“katergazomai”] the salvation they had received as a gift in Christ.
  • In verse 13 when he tells his readers that God is at work in them he uses the word [“energeō”] which means to produce an effect or to be operative within. Literally it is “the one working in you” where it is the present participle form of the verb.
  • Paul then adds another “erg”in describing what is produced by this work of God in the believer as resulting in a willingness and an ability of the believer to do God’s will.  In the text it is “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” where “to work” is the infinitive form of the same verb [energeo.] This willingness and ability of believers to work for God’s pleasure comes because of God’s work in them.
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