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OCTOBER 2018

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Moving Mountains

 

So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

(Matthew 17:20 NKJV)

 

Can We Move Mountains?

The answer to that question is yes!  But in order to move mountains we need to understand the conditions required for the prayer to be answered and we need to understand what the Lord meant by mountains.  This verse is not meant to make us feel guilty for our lack of faith but it is intended to give us confidence that if we pray the way the Lord wants us to pray for the things that He has told us to pray about, we can be sure that our prayers will be answered in the affirmative.

 

What is Faith?

Faith is always confidence in something or someone.  In this case faith is confidence in a promise that the Lord had made to his disciples.  He had sent them out with power over demons.  In Matthew 10:8 we read his commission to the twelve apostles, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”  So the twelve had been given a promise and power and yet when He and three of the disciples came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they found nine of the apostles (which included Judas) powerless when it came to casting out this particular demon.  For some reason, they didn't have the ability to exercise faith in the promise that the Lord had given them in this case.  So we need to make sure that the Lord has given us the authority to move a mountain which in this case involved casting out a demon. 

 

What is the Mountain?

The Lord spoke in parables at times.  That is He often used a story to illustrate a spiritual principal.  I believe His miracles literally happened but that they too teach us lessons in a figurative way.  We know that the Lord spoke in figurative language so that those who wanted to understand could understand and those who didn't want to understand could find fault.  In this case, He has just come down from a mountain and that would tend to make us believe that mountains could represent the coming powers in the final battles between good and evil just before the Lord sets up His kingdom.  It would give the Jews assurance that even though powerful men would arise to try to deceive and control the world, they should be sure that their faith in the Lord would be rewarded.  They would be able to make a difference in the world conditions of that day. A faithful remnant will be saved for the coming Righteous Kingdom.

 

The mountains could also represent literal mountains but frankly I don't think that is what the Lord is teaching here.  So in the context, the mountain was the problem that the disciples were experiencing.  They couldn't do what the Lord had told them they could do.  And that is a mountain that many of us experience.  Sometimes, we simply need to wait for an answer, but we get impatient.  Sometimes, Satan is attacking us and trying to get us to lose confidence in promises that the Lord has fulfilled in our lives many times.  In those cases, we need to resort to prayer and fasting.  And we need to bring the problem to the Lord.  That was the cure here.  The disciples were told, “bring him here to Me.”  And the Lord did for them what they had been commissioned to do. 

 

Faithless and Perverse (Obstinate )

The disciples were called faithless and perverse.  Are we like that today?  How many times have I heard teachers of the Bible tell us that the New Testament principles connected with the church do not work today.  They say we need new practices for a new generation.  I wonder when I hear these things if we should be able to depend on the way of salvation as presented to us by the Lord and his apostles or has that changed as well?  Did the Lord who made heaven and earth provide us with a blue print for the building which is His church that doesn't work today?

 

In addition,  we have conferences on how to keep our young people which is one of the mountains we are facing today.  Perhaps we need to bring them to the Lord and perhaps we need to realize that the problem is with those of us who claim to be Christians.  The problem is not with the instructions that the Lord has given us and the problem isn't even with the young.  The problem is with those of us who have lost confidence in the simple truth that the church is the house of God, it is His temple, it is His garden and we don't have the right to make it our church when it is His.  We might also ask ourselves if we are presenting the Gospel the way it is presented in the New Testament or are we presenting it the way the religious world presents it?  Do we still believe in the “repent and believe” Gospel or are we presenting a “sign up for a good time” type of Gospel? 

 

We can move mountains when the Lord gives us the authority to do so.  When we can't seem to move a mountain that we should be able to move, we can and should bring that problem to the Lord.  He is faithful even when we are faithless (2nd Timothy 2:13).

 

Meditation for the weeks of October 7and October 14, 2018

Lessons from the Wind

 

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8 NKJV)
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14 NKJV)

 

This last Saturday, when I walked out the door, I saw the sun.  I know it has always been there, but the last few weeks the clouds have kept it hidden.  But I also “saw” the wind.  Now I didn't actually see the wind, but I saw the flags that were blowing so hard that I thought they would be ripped to pieces.  I felt the car sway as I drove down the road.  I saw dust in the air.  I didn't see the wind, but I saw the effects of the wind. I obviously knew that the wind existed and that it was moving in a powerful way.

 

The New Birth

The Lord says that to enter (or see) the kingdom of God, we must be born again or from above.  Then the Lord likens that birth to the wind since we must be born of the Spirit.  The new birth is available to all, but it is a work of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord tells us,  “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:7-11 NKJV).”  The Holy Spirit cannot be seen but His work can be seen and even felt. 

 

Sin

Notice that the sin that is mentioned here is the sin of unbelief.  Remember the first time you took the Lord's name in vain?  Do you remember how it “felt?" Taking the Lord's name in vain is a public demonstration of a person's disdain of the Lord.  It is unbelief.  Yes, when we first did it (and most of us have at some time in our lives), I am sure that we all were convicted that it was wrong.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit convincing us of sin.

 

Righteousness

Notice that righteousness is connected with the Living Lord who is now in heaven.  Because He is in heaven, many mock His claims and do not believe that He was raised from the dead and is coming again.  But God's righteousness is something that we get by faith and not by works of righteousness.  For those of you who think you are “good enough” to go to heaven, I am sure that you wonder if you have done enough good to make the cut.  That is the Holy Spirit convicting you of your need of the righteousness that Abraham had credited to Him when he believed God. 

 

Judgment

Right now Satan is the great deceiver and He doesn't care what lie we believe so long as we don't believe in or trust in the Lord Jesus.  But Satan knows that the cross broke His power.  He may rule in this world temporarily, but the Lord says He is coming again and while Satan may win battles, he loses the war.  When the Lord comes again, He is going to come to judge and take vengeance on His enemies.  Believers are saved from all of that but the unsaved are going to see wars and disease and natural disasters like they have never seen before when the Lord returns.  I am sure that you have considered your future and have wondered if you are ready to die or to meet the Lord should He return before you die.  That concern is the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit Glorifies the Lord

To glorify has different meanings but here it just means to speak well of or to bring praise and honor to the Lord.  The way the Lord is best glorified is for us to trust the One that the Holy Spirit is trying to convince us to trust.  So while we didn't really see the wind that caused the flag to blow straight out on Saturday, we did see the flag and its flopping in the wind.  When you feel that tug of conscience, when you lay awake at night wondering what your life is all about, when you wonder why it is easier to curse than to pray, remember that is the Holy Spirit's way of working in your life.  And should you submit to what He is saying to you, you will notice that your flag of life will fly differently as well.

 

 

Meditation for the week of October 21, 2018

The Unpardonable (Unforgivable) Sin

 

Matthew 12:31-32 NKJV "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

 

Question

Is there an unforgivable sin today?  In John 3:18, the Lord says that there is.  The verse says, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  Unbelief or not trusting in the work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ is not forgivable.  There is only one way to heaven and there is only one Truth with regard to that great issue.  No one comes to faith in that truth apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit as He uses the word of God.  That is why the Lord tells us that we must be born “of the Spirit.” 

 

Is the unforgivable sin in John 3:18 the same thing as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?  I believe these sins are one and the same. 

 

Differing points of View

Most commentators and preachers that I have read and heard say that the passages dealing with blaspheming the Holy Spirit have to do with attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord said in these passages that He was casting out demons by the Spirit of God (see Matthew 12:28).  These commentators say that since the Lord is not physically present to cast out demons by the Spirit of God today, the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not possible today.

 

However, I believe that “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit” should be read “whoever speaks against THE WITNESS of the Holy Spirit.”  It was not the Holy Spirit that was casting out the demons, it was the Lord even though He was casting them out by the Spirit.  But the Holy Spirit was doing His work of using the works and word of the Lord to convince people to believe on the Lord.. We often need to add words to the literal translations of the Bible in order to understand the context.   In this case we need to add the words “the witness”.  The passage mentions that people were wondering if this was the Son of David which means that the miracle was being used by the Holy Spirit to convince them that the Lord was the Messiah.   It is noteworthy that being critical of the Lord could be forgiven but being critical of the Holy Spirit could not be forgiven.  An example might help.

 

Two Thieves

In Luke 23 we have two thieves dying on crosses beside the Lord.  Both thieves started out speaking critically of the Lord (see Matthew 27:44).  But in Luke 23, one of these men had a change of mind.  He had blasphemed the Lord, but when he confessed that He was  getting what he deserved but that the Lord had done nothing wrong, he was forgiven.  The other thief never had a change of heart.  One was forgiven and the other was not.  Both men had the same Holy Spirit trying to draw them to trust in the Savior but one resisted.  In resisting he was actually calling the Holy Spirit a liar.  So the while both had bullied the Lord, the one who had submitted to the witness of the Holy Spirit was forgiven and saved for paradise.  The other had resisted the Holy Spirit and by resisting His witness, He had rejected the Lord and was condemned.  I believe that is what the Lord meant when He said, Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

 

 

Conclusion

No one can believe that the Lord was and is Who He claimed to be apart from the work and witness of the Holy Spirit.  No one can be saved apart from the work and witness of the Holy Spirit.  By nature we are obstinate unbelievers.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit using the Word of God that changes our minds and brings us to that place of repentance where we admit that God is right even when that makes us wrong.  So yes, I believe that we can commit the unforgivable or unpardonable sin today.  It is simply refusing to bow to the conviction of the Holy Spirit as He tries to convince us to trust in the Lord.  Christ rejecters are really calling the Holy Spirit a liar as He witnesses to them.  So yes, John 3:18 shows us the sin that is unforgivable.  Those who are condemned already, are condemned because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  They have not believed the witness of the Holy Spirit.

 

As I have studied this issue, there seems to be a difference between those who are wrestling with the issue of Who Christ is and who have not been able to trust the Lord verses those who in obstinate rebellion turn their backs on the Lord.  I believe that the Holy Spirit causes us to think about eternal things at many points in our lives, but I also believe that one who dies and goes to hell had to have come to a point in their lives were they have totally and finally rejected the claims of Christ and the witness of the Holy Spirit.  Only God knows if and when that has taken place in a person's life.  I believe that as long as people are questioning whether they might have committed the unforgivable sin, they haven't.

 

I hope no one reading this has committed the only unforgivable sin.

 

Meditation for the week of October 28, 2018