Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seperate Paths

The Scriptures regarding separation focus primarily on avoiding sin rather than not associating with sinners. Because of the weakness of the flesh and our susceptibility to fall in the midst of temptation, there is a tendency to believe that complete separation from sinners would result in holiness. However, we see the opposite with Jesus and His disciples, “And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:10-13) Believers must associate with unbelievers (i.e the sick) of the world in order to share the gospel of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, and fulfill the great commission. (Matthew 28:18-20) In fact, we are called to be “the sweet aroma” of Christ in this world, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16) Believers have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation, namely that Christ died and rose again on behalf of all mankind and all may receive eternal life and forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)

In all honesty, association with unbelievers can easily become a slippery slope because we often either compromise and fall into sin with them or at least give that appearance to others. John warned about the world and its pulls toward sin, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) Our only salvation is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Rather than being conformed to the world, we must be transformed by the power of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 12:1-2) We must be a firmly rooted tree as referred to in the first Psalm, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

To be certain, the Scriptures teach to avoid sinning with sinners. Solomon warned his son about the enticement of sinners eager to commit sin, “My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause; Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole, as those who go down to the pit; We shall find all kinds of precious wealth, We shall fill our houses with spoil; Throw in your lot with us, We shall all have one purse," My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed blood. Indeed, it is useless to spread the net In the eyes of any bird; But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors.” (Proverbs 1:10-19) Solomon instructed his son in the ways of righteousness and urged him to seek these paths for the preservation of life, “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:10-19)

Paul also instructed the Corinthians regarding associations. While they should associate with unbelievers with the purpose of sharing Christ with them, they should not associate with those inside the church who are wicked and not trying to work out their salvation. “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) Paul wrote the Thessalonians a similar exhortation, “And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15) The purpose of this separation was to admonish the believer and help him realize his sin.

Paul also taught that while we should associate with unbelievers to shine the light of Christ in their lives, we should not be bound together with them. While the unbelievers remain in darkeness, a true deep intimate fellowship must not occur. This type of fellowship should only occur among fellow believers. "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

The guidance provided by the Holy Spirit to a believer while studying the Bible is often referred to as the illumination of the Spirit. The gospel of John records Jesus telling His disciples about this future ministry of the Holy Spirit, saying He will teach, testify, guide and disclose the truth concerning Christ: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you…When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me…I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.” (John 14:26,15:26,16:12-15)

Another excellent passage discussing the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:10-16, emphasis added) The natural man cannot understand the supernatural and spiritual things of God. As the Bible is a spiritual book inspired by the very Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21), it requires the Spirit of God for interpretation. Only believers in Jesus Christ as indwelled by the Holy Spirit can fully comprehend the truth contained in the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit ministers in the lives of humanity before, during and after salvation. Before salvation, God the Father draws humanity to Himself (John 6:44) through the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11). Those who believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life escape condemnation and are justified by their faith in Christ (John 3:16-18, Romans 3:21-28,4:4-5,8:1). The moment a person places their faith in Christ, they are born again, regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit (John 3: 5-8,Titus 3:5) as well as being securely sealed in their salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14), permanently indwelt (John 14:16, Romans 5:5, 1 Corinthians 3:16,6:19, 2 Timothy 1:14), baptized into the body of Christ (Romans 6:3-5, 1 Corinthians 12:3) and given spiritual gifts for ministry in glorifying God (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:7-16, 1 Peter 4:10-11). After salvation, the Holy Spirit provides the power for the believer to live in righteousness resulting in sanctification (Romans 6:19-22, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Other ministries of the Holy Spirit after salvation include illumination of the Scriptures (as discussed earlier), conviction of sin (Hebrews 12:4-11), intercession on behalf of the believer (Romans 8:26), testifying to the assurance of salvation (Romans 8:15-16), filling and controlling the believer to walk in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:4-11, Galatians 5:16-17, Ephesians 5:18) and ultimately using the believer to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Thank you Jesus for giving us the Helper who will be with us forever!