Tag Archives: Paul

A Seed Is Planted

IMG_4764The Parable of the Seed and the Sower Jesus taught the multitude gathered on the shore of the Sea of Galilee is familiar to many. Jesus spoke of seed that falls by the wayside where birds come and devour it. He spoke of seed falling on stony places that are unable to take root. He spoke of seed falling among thorns and being choked out. He concluded the Parable by speaking of seed that falls on good ground that is able to produce much fruit. Jesus later revealed to his disciples the seed in the Parable the sower sowed is The Word of God (Matthew 13:1-23).

When God’s Word sown into the heart of a man, woman, boy or girl takes root, a process begins to bring the Seed to full maturity. As one begins to read for themselves the Word of God, listens to the Scriptures being expounded upon by God’s appointed undershepherds, spends time in prayer with The Father, the Seed begins to break ground, grow and flourish. As one continues to draw closer to the Savior through His Word buds begin to form, announcing the Seed is maturing just as it should with daily cultivation. As the buds burst forth into blossoms the beauty of the Seed implanted in the heart is evident for all to see. The Seed continues on to maturity, bearing the anticipated fruit, “some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.”

The Psalmist David wrote of those who delight in the Law of the LORD and meditate upon His Word day and night are like a tree planted by the river that brings forth fruit in season, whose leaf withers not and whatsoever he does prospers (Psalm1:2-3). The Apostle Paul wrote of the Fruit of the Spirit showing forth love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance in those where the Seed has taken root and matured (Galatians 5:22-23). The abundant Christian Life abounds and flourishes when the Seed is planted deep in the heart of man, nurtured, watered and cultivated to produce much fruit for the Glory of God.

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A Virtuous Woman vs. A Godless Woman

The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is the model set forth by King Solomon as a godly woman, one who pleases her husband, cares for her children and her neighbors. In contrast, the Apostle Paul speaks of the characteristics of the ungodly in Romans 1, those who do “not like to retain God in their knowledge” (vs.28), and live their lives accordingly. The differences between the two are striking.

A Virtuous Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31

Does good and not evil all the days of her life

Works willingly with her hands

Gathers food for her family

Rises early from sleep to care for her family

Buys property

Plants a garden

Strengthens herself

Works hard day and night

Helps the poor and needy

Provides warm clothing for her family

Faithful to her husband

Makes and delivers goods to the merchant

Maintains her honor

Speaks with wisdom

Shows kindness

Takes care of her household

Keeps busy

Reverences The LORD

 

An Ungodly Woman – Romans 1:18-32

Filled with unrighteousness                                                Hates God

Involved in sexual sin                                                             Despiteful

Wicked                                                                                          Proud

Desires what others have                                                     Boastful

Seeks to harm others                                                             Invents evil things

Full of envy                                                                                 Disobedient to parents

Full of murder                                                                           Without understanding

Contentious                                                                               Covenant breaker

Deceitful                                                                                      Without natural affection

Has bad character                                                                   Unreasonable

Secret slanderer                                                                       Unmerciful

Backbites                                                                                    Has pleasure in wickedness

 

“Who can find a Virtuous Woman?

for her price is Far Above Rubies.”

Proverbs 31:10

The Salvation of Isaiah

It was in the year King Uzziah died in the land of Judah about 760 B.C. that the Prophet Isaiah saw the Lord seated on His Throne high and lifted up in Heaven. As Isaiah beheld the glorious scene he immediately became aware of his own sinful wretched condition and his shame. Even the heavenly beings present above the Throne covered themselves with their wings from head to foot in reverence and awe of the Holy One who sat upon the Throne.

As Isaiah witnessed the Lord’s royal train “filled the temple… and the house was filled with smoke,” the seraphim cried, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts” in adoration of Him Who sat upon the Throne. Isaiah realized standing in the presence of Almighty God just how sinful he truly was, proclaiming, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” He knew he was not worthy to join in the heavenly chorus of praise because of such wickedness in his being. Isaiah confessed he was a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips, “for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

At Isaiah’s confession of his sin one of the seraphim used tongs to pick up a burning coal from off the altar of sacrifice and laid the hot ember upon Isaiah’s mouth, declaring “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” When confronted with the Holiness of God in light of his own innate sinful nature, Isaiah’s confession led him to repentance and a restored fellowship with God that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden (Genesis 2-3; Isaiah 6:1-7).

The Apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote to the Romans, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” just as Isaiah’s salvation came about over 700 years earlier (Romans 10:10). The Apostle John, exiled to the island of Patmos late in his life for preaching the Gospel of salvation in Christ Alone to the Jewish nation, wrote in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” King David’s testimony included confession of sin before receiving God’s forgiveness, “I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me,” (Psalm 51:3). Without confession of sin one remains lost in sin with no hope of salvation.

JESUS, Our High Priest

In the wilderness God gave Moses detailed instructions on building the Tabernacle. Once settled in the Promised Land, King David desired to replace the Tabernacle tent with a permanent structure. God allowed David’s son, Solomon, to build the magnificent Temple high on a hill overlooking the City of Jerusalem. From the time of Moses until Jesus’ death on the cross, the blood of bulls and goats was what God required to cover sin, but upon the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross He became our High Priest, obtaining eternal redemption for us through His blood.

The Book of Leviticus outlines every aspect of God’s instructions to Moses, not only for the construction of the Tabernacle but also its furnishings and function. The high priest was to be appointed from the Levitical lineage of Moses’ brother, Aaron, and was tasked with entering once each year to seek forgiveness for himself and the sins of the people into the partitioned Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant resided hidden from the people. With the deaths of the high priests throughout the centuries, others were appointed to replace them, that is, until Jesus became the final and Eternal High Priest.

The Apostle Paul writes in the Book of Hebrews of Jesus becoming the Everlasting High Priest upon His death, burial and resurrection. In Hebrews 9:11-12 Paul explains, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in ONCE into the holy place.” As the Eternal High Priest, He alone became the Mediator between God and man. At His death the veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies from the people was rent in two from top to bottom forever giving man access to the Father through Jesus, His Son, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,” (Hebrews 9:24).

As the High Priest of our salvation, Jesus came into the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” breaking down the middle wall of partition between God and man, and “after He had offered ONE sacrifice for sins FOR EVER, sat down on the right hand of God,” ever making intercession for us (Hebrews 9:26; 10:12; Ephesians 2:13,14; Romans 8:34).

Think on These Things

As the New Year begins and resolutions are made to read through the Bible in a year, pray more, eat less, get more exercise, the Apostle Paul closes his letter to the Church at Philippi by giving them those things that would benefit them the most in the future. After encouraging them to “stand fast in the Lord” (4:1), “Rejoice in the Lord alway” (4:4), and “let your requests be made known unto God” (4:6), he gives them final words to guard their minds from the filthiness of this world, a worthy endeavor for all in this new year.

“Finally, brethren,

Whatsoever things are TRUE,

Whatsoever things are HONEST,

Whatsoever things are JUST,

Whatsoever things are PURE,

Whatsoever things are LOVELY,

Whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT;

If there be any Virtue,

And if there be any Praise,

Think on These Things.”

Philippians 4:8

By Faith or By Works

Throughout the Old Testament and during Jesus’ earthly ministry it was to the Jew first God’s righteousness was offered. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). When the Jews rejected God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, the Gentiles were afforded the opportunity to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” (Acts 16:31). The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote of the Gentiles’ righteousness coming by faith, whereas the Jews sought righteousness through the keeping of the law (Romans 9:30-32).

Earlier in Paul’s letter he had written, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight,” (Romans 3:20). The Jews based righteousness on their futile attempts to obey all of God’s laws along with the hundreds of other man-made laws the priests had added to them throughout the centuries, not understanding God’s purpose “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” not salvation. The Law shows the need for a Savior, for no man can keep the whole Law. Paul wrote to the Galatians “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith,” (3:24). To the Jews, Christ became a stumblingblock to them; they stumbled at laying aside their “works salvation” for a “righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ Alone salvation” as was preached to the Gentiles. Paul wrote of the Jews, “Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” He further wrote, “they… going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” (Romans 9:32; 10:3-4).

Paul tells us Moses described the righteousness which is of the law, “That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. BUT the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise… That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him,” (Romans 10:5-13).

Righteousness by faith in Christ which the Jews would not accept as the New Covenant, is a righteousness of grace through faith; “not of yourselves… not of works.” It is Christ, the Perfect Lamb of God, who brings salvation to the whole world both Jew and Gentile, to everyone that believeth on Him and commits their life to Him (Luke 22:20; Romans 10:3; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Turn from Darkness

As the Apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa recounting the events of his Damascus Road transformational experience, he quotes Jesus’ actual words to him that changed his life from darkness to Light. In Jesus’ own words we are given the path to forgiveness of sin and salvation unto eternal life.

The Apostle Paul had been accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6) by preaching that Jesus, whom the Jews had crucified, was the Promised Messiah the Old Testament prophets had spoken of throughout the previous millennia. He spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah whom he encountered on his way to Damascus with orders from the high priest in Jerusalem to bring any believers in Christ he found back to the Holy City to be imprisoned for their faith. As a great Light brighter than the sun shone round about him on that designated road, Jesus delivered to him the way of salvation to God, the Father, for Saul who would become Paul and for all those who would follow (Acts 9).

Jesus spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus of opening the eyes to the Gospel, of which Paul wrote of in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “I declare unto you the Gospel… how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day.” Jesus then said what follows is what Paul needed to do, turn from the darkness to the Light, turn from the power of Satan to God, which is repentance. It is not enough just to know the Gospel; one must believe the Truth of the Gospel and turn away from sin, walking in newness of life based upon the commands of Holy God found in Scripture (Romans 6:4). In so doing, Jesus told Paul man would receive forgiveness of sin and an inheritance of eternal life, “sanctified by faith that is in Me (Acts 26).

After being blinded by the great Light, three days later as soon as Paul’s sight was miraculously restored and along with his new life in Christ, he began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sharing first with those at Damascus, then Jerusalem and Judea, and then to the Gentiles, “that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” Doing works “meet for repentance” is not working for one’s salvation, but is doing works because of one’s salvation. Paul wrote to Titus, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost: which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,” (Titus 3:5). Salvation is of God, not of sinful man. God says all our righteousness is as filthy rags; we are all an unclean thing (Isaiah 64:6). There can never be a scintilla of righteousness in us apart from God and His redeeming grace.