Signs of The Times
I’ve been involved in an extensive study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life, and his theology. It has proved to be a sobering, solemn event.
His life and endeavor’s were met with opposition, censorship, and persecution on every hand. In the end, he paid with his life.
History has unfortunately evolved, and is in the process of repeating itself in our society today.
There is a statement in the outline of this group that says “I hope that it will lead to us all learning from each other, not WHAT to teach, but rather, how to teach better.” As teachers of the Word of God, we are all looking for ways to improve, and communicate to those who are before us; but can we separate the seriousness, and the level of truth of the content that we are teaching, with the ways we develop, or the approach that we use?
I will stick my neck out, and give my personal opinion, according to what I know of scripture at this point in my life, and say “No”.
Below is a statement Bonhoeffer made and is quoted in his book “The Cost of Discipleship”.
“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?...
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
Are we not facing the same issues today in this culture, society, and the church as he did?
Society in this day is totally narcissistic; it is about ME. What makes ME feel good, what do I need, what can I achieve out of this, how is this going to benefit ME. It is a slippery slope, and we are in free-fall.
It’s going to cost everything to stay true to the scriptures today, and many times it may mean the death of any hopes of being popular, well-spoken of, or elevated within the accepted circles of ministry; and yes, our own lives. Anyone who is going to be a teacher of God’s word today, is going to have to keep his eyes focused on his/her calling, and purpose, nothing else.
This is a teaching for myself, as much as anyone. I’ve failed, I’ve fallen, but have gone to God, asked His forgiveness and grace and gotten back up, and kept on walking. With Him, we can finish our course, without Him, we can do nothing.
Scriptures to ponder: Jeremiah ch. 16 and ch. 20
This is a very important question because there are a great many different views, and a lot of wrong teaching on this subject. This blog is not going to try to answer the question in completeness-books have been written trying to answer all that this question entails. But, in this study, I'll give scripture references, and verses to give a scriptural answer, and cross reference verses for anyone interested in a deeper study on this.
When in conversation, and the LORD is spoken about, who is being referred to? Is it the God of the Old Testament, that most people think of? Most people think of God the Father when this term is used, or a reference to the Triune Godhead, encompassing God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In Genesis 2:4 we see the first reference given speaking of God as the LORD.
Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
See also: Exo_15:3; 1Ki_18:39; 2Ch_20:6; Psa_18:31, Psa_86:10; Isa_44:6; Rev_1:4, Rev_1:8; Rev_11:17, Rev_16:5
It may be of interest to note that 6749 verses contain the use of the term LORD in the bible.
Jumping ahead to the New Testament, in the book of Colossians, we are given a description by Paul of the creation process, and who was doing the creating, let's take a look at it:
The Preeminence of Christ
Col 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
See also: by him were: Col_1:15; Psa_102:25-27; Isa_40:9-12, Isa_44:24; Joh_1:3; 1Co_8:6; Eph_3:9; Heb_1:2, Heb_1:10-12, Heb_3:3-4
in heaven: Col_1:20; Deu_4:39; 1Ch_29:11; Eph_1:10; Php_2:10; Rev_5:13-14
thrones: Col_2:10, Col_2:15; Rom_8:38; Eph_1:21, Eph_3:10, Eph_6:12; 1Pe_3:22
by: Pro_16:4; Isa_43:21; Rom_11:36; Heb_2:10
Joh_1:1-3, Joh_8:58, Joh_17:5; 1Co_8:6; Heb_13:8; Rev_1:8, Rev_1:11, Rev_1:17, Rev_2:8
and by: 1Sa_2:8; Psa_75:3; Joh_5:17-18; Act_17:28; Heb_1:3
I could teach on these verses for weeks.
I emphasize again, you could spend a great deal of time studying this, and proving to yourself the truth that it was Christ who was given the power and place of authority to create this world and all that is in it, but time doesn't allow what it would take here. I encourage you to do it sometime-it's well worth the effort. The verses and study above, substantiate what Jesus said in Matt. ch. 28 after he rose from the dead:
Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Does it matter who is being spoken about? Yes, it matters to all the creation, the devil, and the angels. The devil only submits to one authority-one who rules over him, and has defeated him. God gave that authority to his Son, Jesus Christ.
The gospels tell us all authority over demons was given to Jesus when he ministered on earth:
Mar 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
Mat 9:33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
Luk 4:36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
See also: Mat_15:30-31; Exo_4:11-12; Isa_35:6; Mar_7:32-37; Luk_11:14, Luk_4:39, Luk_4:36, Luk_9:1, Luk_10:17-20
These verses make it clear that the only name that demons submit to is Jesus Christ, no other. In my many years of being a Christian and servant of the Lord, I can attest to this fact.
In studying the verses that correspond with these, we can see that it is Jesus Christ who rules over all principalities and powers of darkness described by Paul in Corinthians:
The resurrection sealed His words in eternity-and the devil and every one of his demons know it.
I encourage you to read and study all of Jesus' accounts of delivering people from demons, such as the one below:
Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons
Mat 8:28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
Mat 8:29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
Mat 8:30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
Mat 8:31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
Mat 8:32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
Mat 8:33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
Mat 8:34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
However, if you do not know the power and authority of Jesus Christ, aren't saved, and try to use His name and authority, you take the chance of being defeated by the devil-there's an account of this in the book of Acts, the seven sons of Sceva found this out:
The Sons of Sceva
Act 19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
Act 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
Act 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
Act 19:14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
Act 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
Act 19:16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
My advice-if your going to do this kind of warfare, you better be assured of your relationship with Christ, and know your walking in right standing with him, or stay away from it. Otherwise-you will find yourself defeated as these men were, or worse.
The verses that put the cap on the importance of the question-"Who is the LORD" are found in Acts ch. 4, spoken by Peter:
Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Here we see the sum of it, put in clear terms, that no one could misunderstand. The short commentary by Adam Clarke gives some added light:
"No kind of healing, whether for body or soul, can come through any but him who is called Jesus. The spirit of health resides in him; and from him alone its influences must be received.
For there is none other name - Not only no other person, but no name except that divinely appointed one, Mat_1:21, by which salvation from sin can be expected - none given under heaven - no other means ever devised by God himself for the salvation of a lost world. All other means were only subordinate, and referred to him, and had their efficacy from him alone. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; and no man ever came, or can come, to the Father but by him."
Whenever I'm asked about my faith, rather than just saying "I believe in the Lord"-I go the important step further, and say "I have put my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ". When this is done, the person I'm speaking to, the devil, and all creation knows exactly Who I'm speaking of.
This clarity needs to be at the forefront in my life as a Christian-because we live in a society, a culture and a darkness today that has many ways and means to keep the waters muddy. Who I've put my faith in, is not going to be one of them.
The commentary below by F.B. Meyer gives a beautiful end to this teaching.
THE NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME
The Sadducees are particularly mentioned, because they were the agnostics of the age, and had no belief in the unseen and eternal. The fact of our Lord’s resurrection was, therefore, especially obnoxious to them. The captain of the Temple, who was head of the Levitical guard, was probably their nominee. How weak man shows himself when he sets himself against God! All that they could do was to shut the Apostles up; but they could not bind nor imprison the Living Spirit or the speech of one saved soul to another, and so the numbers of disciples kept mounting up.
Peter must have contrasted this with his former appearance in that hall. Then he trusted his own power; now he was specially filled with the Holy Spirit for a great and noble confession. The name of Jesus stands for His glorious being. It was because the man had come into vital union with the ever-living Christ, that disease was stayed and health restored. The name of Jesus rings through these chapters like a sweet refrain. Evidently He was living and at hand, or the streams of power and grace could not have poured forth to make desert lives begin to blossom as the garden of the Lord. F.B.Meyer
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No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,
saith the LORD.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto
The Victory of Our Faith
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth
that Jesus is the
Son of God?
But they that wait
upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Whole Armor
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all,
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
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