Faith on the Fourth Watch!

Chapter 6:  Replace MTD with W&W for Watch and Walk. (Or “Walk with Jesus on the water in the Fourth Watch of the Night, the darkest.} 

NOTE:  This is chapter 6 of the “One Commentary on Ephesians”.

It is obvious even to Dr. Smith of Notre Dame, that today’s youth with their parents and teachers need an alternative to MTD.  May SunGrist be so bold as to suggest that alternative as WATCH and WALK.

It is always good to listen to some that have labored in the ministry of Christ and the kingdom for 59 years and in 120 countries like Tony Abram:  “Be Watchful In All Things!

“In this sermon outline we point out the exhortation the Word gives us to watch. We cannot ever have a vision if we do not have a vision. Our vision and watchfulness must be with the Lord. Unless the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Psalm 127:1

God’s Word often refers to the Christian experience as a walk, seldom as a run, and never as a mad dash. We can walk much better if we have our eyes open and have them upon Him, our Lord.  (2 Tim 4:5 KJV) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

6-1:  How about the alternative to MTD of W&W, for Watch and Walk.

Since Evangelist Abram relies so heavily on the book of Ephesians in his sermon outline, as a great preview of the ULTIMATE INTEGRATION IN CHRIST of One Commentary on Ephesians, that outline is duplicated below.  First a major text for this chapter from II Timothy 4:1-5. {A converted Christian Jew like Tony Abram, Evangelist Hyman Appleman, at Queensboro Baptist Church in Shreveport, was preaching a revival meeting when my profession of faith was made 74 years ago.}

Paul’s life was almost over; he had been told prophesies of Roman imprisonment and death; and young Timothy was a preacher protegee; however, since every Christian youth has a ministry in that they are called to “walk worthy of the vocation to which they are called”  IN CHRIST!  II Timothy 4:1-5:  (1) A Charge of Challenge from Christ; (2) How to spread the Word before the great apostasy of the Falling Away; and (3) What to do when that great apostasy happens, which bespeaks of the time we are living in now, the time of the great MTD.

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:

 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  (II Timothy 4:1-5)

Even as preaching is greater than theology for the lost, so this one sermon outline from a humble preacher to the world of many years is a perfect counter to Dr. Smith and MTD, especially as it previews and as a backup of this One Commentary on Ephesians.

6-2:  Be Watchful In All Things!

Contributed by Tony Abram on May 7, 2008

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:1-6

Summary: In this sermon outline we point out the exhortation the Word gives us to watch. We cannot ever have a vision if we do not have a vision. Our vision and watchfulness must be with the Lord. Unless the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Be Watchful In All Things!

In this sermon outline we point out the exhortation the Word gives us to watch. We cannot ever have a vision if we do not have a vision. Our vision and watchfulness must be with the Lord. Unless the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Psalm 127:1

God’s Word often refers to the Christian experience as a walk, seldom as a run, and never as a mad dash. We can walk much better if we have our eyes open and have them upon Him, our Lord.  (2 Tim 4:5 KJV) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

  1. Paul told Timothy a number of times to be watchful, here He says to watch all things.
  2. Jesus said to Watch and Pray.

(Mat 26:41 KJV) Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

  1. What are we to watch for when we pray?
  2. The works of the flesh that keeps us from praying.
  3. Are we praying the prayer of faith?
  4. Are we praying according to the Will of God? The Word is His Will.
  5. Are we mindful of those in need around us?
  6. Do we lift us our eyes and see the ripen harvest field around us?
  1. I believe the reason Jesus said to look on the fields and pray was so that He could say to us “Go Ye” when we pray. (Mark 13:33 KJV) Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. Excuses are the cradle … that Satan rocks men off to sleep in. D.L. Moody.
  2. We need to watch our desires. We should be like (1 Pet 2:2 KJV) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

A: Desire Word of God.

  1. God watches over His Word. (Jer 1:12 KJV) Then said the LORD unto me, thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
  2. To Understand God we must know the Word of God.
  3. We then can trust God’s Word.

III. We must watch and desire Spiritual Gifts.  (1 Cor 14:1 KJV) Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

  1. Chapter 12 and 14 of I. Corinthians is like the bread and 13th Chapter is the meat.
  2. We should watch and desire Heavenly Habitation.
  3. Desire Heaven.
  4. If you desire heaven you need to get ready by taking on its likeness and traits.
  5. Story of 90-year-old man in India, looked 60, when he was 23 died, 3 angels came and raised him up in his vision when he was prayed for by the brethren. Some of the resurrected power still remained on him.
  6. We must watch and desire God’s direction for our lives. (Prov 16:9 KJV) A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. (Eph 4:17 KJV) This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind…
  7. Paul tells us how-to walk-in Ephesians 6 times.

NOTE:  You can tell that Paul was discouraged by what was happening at Ephesus where he had bestowed 3 years of labor of his ministry, only to hear from prison that some of them had not yet learned Christ.  Of course, later the Ascended Jesus would tell John to write about how the church at Ephesus had left its first love.  And you will recall how just before imprisonment at Rome in a stopover at Ephesus and in a meet with the elders he warned them of a min falling away that would happen there because of grievous wolves both from without and within the church.

  1. Walk in good works. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
  2. Walk worthy of our calling. (Eph 4:1 KJV) I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
  3. To follow Christ is to walk with Him first into the presence of His Father. If that is so, we had better know how to act in the divine presence now (in this present life) and then (in the life everlasting). Ultimately, we will be there a long, long time. Gordon MacDonald
  4. Not to walk as unbelievers walk. (Eph 4:17 KJV) This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
  5. We are to walk in Love. (Eph 5:2 KJV) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.
  6. We are to walk as children of His Light. (Eph 5:8 KJV) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
  7. The Christian walk is much like riding a bicycle; we are either moving forward or falling off. — Robert Tuttle
  8. Walk in wisdom, His wisdom. (Eph 5:15 KJV) See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
  9. Then we must watch our Doctrine.

(1 Tim 4:6 KJV) If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.  (1 Tim 4:13 KJV) Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  (1 Tim 4:16 KJV) Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.  Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief of the truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-by having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other. Charles Haddon Spurgeon Christianity is not, and never has been, about finding the right combination of words! It is about encountering the living and loving God.

For more help go to http://www.tonyabram.com or www.abundantlifecrusades.com.

6-3:  Watch and Walk during this Fourth Watch of darkness before Christ comes.

In ordinary times, we of all generations, are inclined to “go and do” when it is first necessary to Watch and Walk.  Admittedly all generations of Christians have the obligation to Go and Make disciples, however even then after Jesus gave disciples that great commission He then said to “Tarry, until you be endued with power…”  Unfortunately, the times of this youngest generation are the hardest and darkest times of the falling away.  The MTD is the lost generation created by their forefathers, if not lost in the salvation of IN CHRIST, lost to the challenge of the ultimate integration in Christ.

  1. Part of Watching is waiting. Like the first disciples did for the help and power of the Holy Spirit.

Years before that, in the Old Testament, we can read the recorded of, “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, they shall walk and not faint.”

You would think that for the God Who made us and knows us best, it would be at the climax run and not be weary instead of walk and not faint, not so for WALKING and walking in a certain manner is for important to God and to Paul in the book of Ephesians.  Like Evangelist Tony Abram wrote there are six WALKS in the book of Ephesians:  walk in good works, walk worthy of the Christian calling, walk circumspectly with purpose not as unbeliever do, walk in love, walk in the light as children of light distinguished from the majority children of the world of darkness, and walk in wisdom.

  1. Watch and Walk in a military manner.  Veterans are aware of the rules to stand guard duty as first “I will walk my post in a military manner, always being on the alert, and observing everything within sight and hearing.  Don’t you think the Watch and Walk of the Bible has those very same elements.  Watch where you step, and “keep yourself unspotted from the world.”
  2. What is the fourth watch? Simply stated it is the darkest part of the 12-hour night as it is always the darkest before sunrise.  We would compare the Christian walk of Millenniums of this last generation before the Second Coming of Christ to be the darkest of all generation, because the falling away from God, Christ, and the Bible accumulates from generation to generation almost like a good heritage.  We lament in America that the younger generations have inherited more the bad and darker things of their elders than the good things.

6-4:  It is bad but that Is the way it is as one writer, herself a millennium writer for BuzzFeed writes, why is the millenniums the generation of burnout.  { https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work }

While appreciating the generation analysis of millenniums and those before from the writer, Anne Helen Petersen, SunGrist would disagree for God’s analysis in the Word, that:  (1) it was a lost generation that never had the opportunity to burn into the ultimate integration into Christ, and (2) once they did burn into Christ, they did not find a way to become disciples of Christ.  Of course, once again they never had a chance with their parents and teachers passing on the burnout tradition.  Another way to analysis American thought, and the generational analysis of big business and management, is that first the in-betweeners passed on a little, then the boomers actually had their share of burnout to pass to the youngest generation.  (Noted there is now one more generation, the children of the Milles but it is doubtful according to the dark signs of the times that they will have a chance for burnout.

From her author page on Amazon, Dr. Peterson’s short bio is:  “Anne Helen Petersen received her PhD in media studies from the University of Texas, where she studied the history of the gossip industry. Today, she writes about culture, celebrity, feminism, and The West for BuzzFeed News. She lives in Missoula, Montana.” 

 ( https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Helen-Petersen/e/B00EEI8DCG  )

And with the title of her article, How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation , Dr. Peterson assumes it is a proven fact of either gossip or American Thought that millenniums are the burnout generation.  Of course, most of us did not know, the time flew by for so many generations since both American Studies and management first line training by GD, that this generation “The youngest are 22; the oldest, like me, somewhere around 38…”  (And it is suspected that in many cases because of their unique upbringing and culture caught the burnout disease early.) A momentary observation, she could not have had early burnout with earning a PhD even in gossip at the University of Texas, becoming an author and BuzzFeed contributor. And having the smartness to move to Missoula, Montana.  So, it seems, she is saying that herself and her generation were not born and did not develop early the title of The Burnout Generation.

“For the past two years, I’ve refused cautions — from editors, from family, from peers — that I might be edging into burnout. To my mind, burnout was something aid workers, or high-powered lawyers, or investigative journalists dealt with. It was something that could be treated with a week on the beach. I was still working, still getting other stuff done — of course I wasn’t burned out.

But the more I tried to figure out my errand paralysis, the more the actual parameters of burnout began to reveal themselves. Burnout and the behaviors and weight that accompany it aren’t, in fact, something we can cure by going on vacation. It’s not limited to workers in acutely high-stress environments. And it’s not a temporary affliction: It’s the millennial condition. It’s our base temperature. It’s our background music. It’s the way things are. It’s our lives.”

Her analysis of the generations is very worthy of the history of American thought:  “But as millennials enter into mid-adulthood, that prognosis has been proven false. Financially speaking, most of us lag far behind where our parents were when they were our age. We have far less saved, far less equity, far less stability, and far, far more student debt. The “greatest generation” had the Depression and the GI Bill; boomers had the golden age of capitalism; Gen-X had deregulation and trickle-down economics. And millennials? We’ve got venture capital, but we’ve also got the 2008 financial crisis, the decline of the middle class and the rise of the 1%, and the steady decay of unions and stable, full-time employment.”

We know the solution of Dr. Smith, that of John Quinn, and that of Shirley McMichael, the belief system of the MTD generation; but how about this other what one might call a highly trained sociologist, Anne Peterson?

“I think I have some of the answers to the specific questions that made me start writing this essay. Yours are probably somewhat or substantially different. I don’t have a plan of action, other than to be more honest with myself about what I am and am not doing and why, and to try to disentangle myself from the idea that everything good is bad and everything bad is good. This isn’t a task to complete or a line on a to-do list, or even a New Year’s resolution. It’s a way of thinking about life, and what joy and meaning we can derive not just from optimizing it but living it. Which is another way of saying: It’s life’s actual work.”

6-5:  Might based on Ephesians and the total Word of God, SunGrist be so bold to advise a “way of thinking about life” and the “joy and meaning…of living it, and beyond all the actual work of life is in the Ultimate Integration IN CHRIST, a method from God Himself to connect with the ultimate purpose and meaning of the Universe, “to unite all things in heaven and earth” IN CHRIST.

Dr. Peterson states after the end of her article, having given her email address, etc. that if a reader has a confidential piece of advice to send it, so that SunGrist after the completion of this One Commentary on Ephesians will email her a free PDF copy.

First, before the continuation of Ephesians chapter by chapter exegesis, it is a must to consider the world and the ways of the world we live in, with a contrast of The Love of the World with that of the Love of the good Life. Along with this it is necessary to wrestle with the somewhat difficult concept of “In the World, Not of the World”.  (The following was a chapter written for “Den of Thieves” and desktop published in 2008

  1. “In the World”, Not “Of the World”

Now as Americans you have the right to form any kind of organization that you like, meet as you desire on a regular basis, and even call it a religious or charitable organization.  The right you do not have related to such man-made organization is to call it a House of Prayer and of God if indeed it has become a Hideout for Bad Habits as defined by God in His Word.  As we recognize that Christianity today and church membership has become soft, superficial, sentimental, and subverted, we must come to see that at the very heart of it is that the church has not separated from the world.  Also, the church without much sound doctrine today, has little concept of the meaning of “the world” in the Bible.

Once you have come to recognize the detrimental influence of tares on the church organization, you can also come to see the bad influence the tares in the church have on the world at large.  It is at that point that you will start to see the justification for the calling of some churches, where the influence of the tares has become quite extensive, and there are many, that you can accept the calling of some churches, perhaps your own, a “Den of Thieves” or “Hideout for Bad Habits.”  {Maybe it would be more acceptable to call it a “Hideout for Tares”, then at least you could assure yourself that you are in no way responsible for that bad influence of your church.}

The P. R. skill of church memberships, especially their leaders, has been clearly seen at the New Life Movement Church of Colorado Springs has laid on the responsibility on Ted Haggard as the only bad apple in a church.  You know how the world can be that a pastor like Haggard who organized and built this church, while at the same time maintaining a position as the Head of the National Evangelical Association and much of that position no doubt due to the rapid growth of his own evangelistic church…anyway how do you think so much sweet fruit, as in the New Life Church now if we are believe the P. R. can come from the leadership for years of such bitter grapes.  Impossible, yes!  I think surely as we would label Osteen’s church at Houston as a “Den of Thieves” because they have stolen the real Gospel of Christ in favor of a Gospel of “Things” and Prosperity, we would have to also call the New Life Movement Church in Colorado a Den of Thieves just because of their history, more so as you consider how the “New Life” seems to have a source in the world more than of God!  Could this not also be “a form of godliness that denies the power thereof”?

  1. James and John on the “World”.

We are indebted to two famous pastors of the Bible, the Apostles James and John, for both the correct attitude of a Christian toward the “world” and a proper Bible based concept of what the “world is.”  The Apostle James for years was pastor of the very first local church, the church in Jerusalem; and then the Apostle John kept pastored in Ephesus right up until near the end of the first century when He wrote the three little epistles.  While we would never minimize the work of the Apostle Paul as author of 14 of the New Testament books, and as the organized of churches, also as chief editor of the New Testament, the longest pastorate every held by Paul was at Ephesus for two years.  James and John were right there in the trenches of the local church for many, many years; and as the tares began to form in the churches almost immediately, and grew in influence, under the leadership of the Spirit of God they wrote letters to discourage that determinant influence of the tares.  {Yes, it was these two apostles who at first discouraged any efforts outside of the select group that followed Jesus, and perhaps the first to learn not to do so as well as to learn that the tares must be allowed to grow in the world and the kingdom until the End.}

What we learn from James in the book of James and John in the little epistle of I John is “the world” is forbidden in the church and in the Christian life; and yet today in so many popular Christian movements like from Osteen and Warren and even Jack Graham is a very worldly Gospel of things and prosperity which has come to replace the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Read the book by Osteen on the good life now, and you will find one dominant word over and over, the word “things”.  When you add to this all the evangelists and TV preachers of the Gospel of Prosperity, noting also that according to a CNN survey 61% of American Christians believe in the Gospel of Prosperity, also recalling that what this means to them is that if you have enough faith you will materially prosper and be in health, then you see that we are far from the Word of God in the epistles of James and John on a proper concept and practice toward the world.

What part of Pastor James’ statement, “The friend of the world is the enemy of God” do you not understand?  Well, look at the exact wording again.

“Adulterers and adulteresses!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  (James 4:4)

Wow, all of a sudden we have gone far beyond the calling of a local church a “Den of Thieves” or “Hideout for Bad  Habits’, when we say that a local church when dominated by a Gospel of Things and Prosperity have made themselves an enemy to the very God whose name by which they call their building when they say “it is a House of God.”  Yes, that is what God’s people of Jeremiah’s day were doing, saying, “the temple of God, the temple of God, and the temple of God.”  While we did not have the Christian and Scriptural concept of “the world” as a bad thing during the time of Jeremiah, that is really what the people were doing.  They with their lives were bringing the world right into the House of God.  This is seen in the whole book of Jeremiah, the message of which might be summarized from the second chapter as:  God’s people have committed two evils, as adulterers and adulteresses they have forsaken the real God of Israel and the Universe, and as adulterers have hewn broken cisterns that will not hold water.  (Jeremiah 2:13)  We would have to say that the broken cisterns that will not hold water today in many large churches is the Gospel of Prosperity and Things, the Gospel of the World, if you would!  And the first part in local churches today, the forsaking of the real God of the Bible and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ has happened so naturally {worldly} and over so many years as to be almost unnoticed.  {Perhaps it is only as these churches find themselves in the middle of the broken cisterns of the Gospel of Prosperity, Things, and the World that they will recognize all along as Phillips wrote years ago that their “God is too small”; and not only is the God of their mind and worship too small to be the God of the Bible, He is another god not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.}

  1. The “Love not the world, neither the things in the world” of the Apostle John.

If you do not understand the “world”, whatever it is, as a big NO NO for Christians and churches from Pastor James, and from his friend of the world is the enemy of God statement, then perhaps you will see it is a gigantic NO NO when you read from the epistle of I John in 2:15-17.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  {Wow, there alone is a good definition of a tare in the local church:  that is, if you have any member of your local church who call be said to love the world, then the love of God the Father is not in him; and you know what this means, he cannot be a Christian nor can he be saved without the love and spirit of God in him.} 

“For all that is in the world {and here is a good preliminary definition of the world in that what is in the world is defined}–{1} the lust of the flesh, {2} the lust of the eyes, and {3} the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. {Not only are these three in the world but they are OF the world.}

“And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but  he who does the will of God abides forever.”  (I John 2:15-17)

Well,  an active church member might be inclined to say at this point that such convictions on the part of a Christian require a lot of maturity of development to come to this point.  No, this is the matter of being a Christian which is also demanded of any non-tare and legitimate member of the church of the firstborn, written in heaven!  The protest might come back, but you have to be more practical and realistic, this is not for the average church member, only for the most dedicated of church members.  No, to the extent that any church member is the called of God to be among His people, that man, woman, or child is called to be among the holy and dedicated and separated and peculiar people of God, a people completely separated from the world; and the LORD God of the universe will accept nothing less than this among His own wheat and sheep.  Even if now you are allowed to be into the gates of your present House of God many abominations of a worldly life, you will not be permitted eternally to enter the gates of the New Jerusalem with such lack of cleansing.

  1. It is the Apostle John who helps us ID the tares in a local church.

The whole epistle of I John does many things for us including provide security for the Security of the Believer.  One of those things it does for us most clearly than any other portion of the Word of God, perhaps except for Paul in II Timothy 3:1-8 on the bad habits or follies of church members, is to ID those tares in the local church.  {Also remember although we honor Jesus’ teachings not to attempt any separation of the tares form the wheat in the local church as that is His job at the End, many are the Scriptures that teach us to recognize these tares as tares; and what we must adjust to is that they are called other names than “tares”.  In II Timothy 3:1-8 Paul calls them the “follies of” church members, and what we will find now in I John is that Pastor John calls them “bad spirits”.  Also, Jeremiah and Jesus when a whole church has become dominated by such would call them a “Den of Thieves” or “Hideout for Bad Habits”.}

  1. Right up front you can identify a fellow church member who does “not have the truth in him”, alias a tare, if he claims no sin in his life. (I John 1:8)  The no wrong or no sin complex is a clear ID of a tare that has no truth in him.  It is one who quickly will develop the bad habits of II Timothy 3:1-8 to cover up the absence of internal truth–you know a form of religion and godliness with the internal truth and power–with things like boasting, love of self, pride, headstrong, and haughty.  {Recall form previous studies of I John that John distinguishes between a habit of sin –“sinneth not” is a continuous and present sort of way–and random sins which must come the way of all Christians and church members.}
  2. Any church member while claiming fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ continues to walk in any “darkness” is a tare in that they “lie” and fail to “practice the truth”. (I John 1:6)  {Goodness, how Pastor John lays in on the line for church members today but is anyone listening.  You write about the good life now, how about the walking without darkness simultaneously with a claimed fellowship with Jesus NOW!}

NOTE:  While not ignoring the place of the seniors in church membership and leadership, we would note that the teachings of tares versus wheat place the emphasis more on quality of Christian life over quantity of years in service.  Maybe we should even call this “quality” holiness or righteousness!

  1. To walk in the light, obviously the opposite of walking in the darkness, requires fellowship with other Christian brothers (I John 1:7); and right up front we begin to recognize that the Apostle John is laying the foundation for a major problem with churches with which as the last living Apostle he must deal: those who have the wrong fellowship, not the fellowship of Jesus and the Apostles and Prophets, those who have separated themselves from others.

NOTE:  The problem of divisions and separations today is so large and significant that it is hard to tell who is the right separating from the wrong, or with neither right or wrong only separating; and at the beginning we should establish once again that the Fellowship of the Apostles as clearly laid out in the New Testament of the Word of God remains the standard for fellowship.  A departure from the fellowship of the Apostles and Prophets, alias a departure from the fellowship of Jesus and the Word of God, is a departure from the fellowship.

  1. Even as anyone who says they know Jesus must walk and live in the commandments of Jesus, so any church member who does not keep the commandments of Jesus is a liar, a tare, and without the truth inside him. {More of the form of the religion of church membership without the internal power and truth of God of II Timothy 3:1-8.}  Even as the failure of God’s people of Jeremiah was violation of the commands of God, making of themselves in the sight of God a “Den of Thieves” so today we would have to say at any point when the majority of a local church so fail to keep the commandments of Jesus, they too become a Den of Thieves.  Remember how it was in the Temple at Jerusalem.

“Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Ball, and walk after other gods…”  (Jeremiah 7:9)

And the commandments of Jesus go far beyond for His people today than of the commandments of God in that day, although at heart they are the same.  We have rationalized the 10 commandments to the points of innocence, not taking to heart the clear explanations of Jesus as to how the commands are more often violated in the heart.  Much less have we come to the point of non-respecter of persons from Pastor James, also a commandment of Jesus, of non-discrimination based on clothing, status, and income.  {Perhaps at no single point today in the history of local churches, do we see more the local church as a Den of Thieves as we witness the finery of dress and comfort of environment as right at this point, also acknowledging a distinct absence of the poor for whom Christ came to preach the Gospel.}

  1. Of course, from the verses about “the world” we considered above in I John 2:15-17, a tare is IDed as one who loves the world {how Osteen and his 10,000 members and millions of readers must concern themselves that with all this priority for things, obviously things are among those things in the world, they have definitely slipped over the boundary in following the Gospel of Prosperity to the extent that they “love the world”, filling their churches with the empty people of tares.} And how Osteen and other such popular leaders as they make their millions of dollars on Gospel of Prosperity books must consider themselves as in the category of Hymenaeus and Philetus who “overthrow the faith of some”.  (II Timothy 2:18)}…and therefore the love of God the Father cannot be in them.

NOTE:  You see we just thought at first that the Bible did not distinguish between the tare and the wheat in the church in spite of our admission that complete separation must wait until the End.  That does not, however, prevent a lack of association with them as commended by Paul in II Timothy 3:1-8, nor does it prevent the even stronger admonitions of the Apostle John in I John and then later in III John where John says not to even receive such “tares” {the word is really deceivers and bearers of false doctrine in III John, in fact not to bid them “Godspeed” when they depart.

What do we have so far in the epistles of John as other words for tares?

(1).  Deceivers that bring other doctrines besides the doctrine of Christ, which I would suggest would include the bearers of the Gospel of Prosperity;

(2).  Those who cannot have the love of God in them because of the love of the world, the lovers of the world or the wordily as we might say today;

(3).  Also, the liars without the truth inside them, who do not live and walk keeping the commandments of Jesus;

NOTE:  Do you recall how the “lie” and “liars” was also part of the failure of God’s people of Jeremiah? 

“Do not trust in these lying words, saying, “The Temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.”  (Jeremiah 7:4)

  1. The BIG LIE that it is a House of God and Prayer.

It was a lie that this Temple at Jerusalem was any longer in any sense of the word, the House of Prayer and of God that it was meant to be.  It was a lie that these people who assembled here each week were any longer the people of God.  So where is your church today in the day of the requirements of the commandments of Jesus.  Is your church a lie?  Have you so failed to amend your ways like Jeremiah’s day, amend your ways on the commands of Jesus, to the extent that the very name of Christ and of God’s people as a label on your life is a LIE?  And yes, the fact that you are on a local church roll, even a large church roll, will not have the LIE!

This is truly what is being said in Jeremiah and by Jesus about “Den of Thieves”.  It is LIE when they claim that the Temple of Jeremiah or of Jesus’s Day is a House of God; it is a lie when they claim to be the people of God and yet do not amend their ways of weekly violations of the laws of God; it is a lie when church members claim a house of God and a people of God and do not strive to keep the commandments of Jesus.  To be a DEN OF THIEVES is to be a house of liars who pretend to any longer be a House of God and of Prayer.  At one time, perhaps it was a House of God and a House of Prayer; but in the sight of God that has ceased to be.  And never forget it is you attenders and members of a House of God who yourselves make it a Den of Thieves as you practice the LIE of the house of God, the house of God, and of prayer, when it is no longer as demonstrated by your works or lack of works, either a house of God or a house of prayer!

6-6:  Since there is a gossip that Bible Christians are all about “pie in the sky, by and by”, contrast the love of the world in this life with the “good life” now from the Apostle Peter.  (This was also Desktop published years ago in Some Sounds of Sound Faith.)

Sound 1-3:      The Sound of the “Good Life”.

If the Bible has no answer on death and dying, it has no answer on life.  You see as we all know too well the terminal aspect of life is dying and death.  If the Bible has no answer on life, the good life, and eternal life, it has no real answers.  Life is pre-defined as simply living: beginning at birth and terminal during the dying process and death; the “good life” is defined as…well, that is the purpose of this chapter:  that is to define the “good life”.  Eternal life is defined as living forever in a good state or in a bad state; for even as the Bible teaches it is assumed that while the body dies, the soul and spirit live on.

It just must be true that the Bible as the Word of God (that is, words from God on life and living) must define what it is to live the good life and die the good death.  It must be true that if the Bible is the sole criterion for faith and practice (and it is), that is has a good definition of how to live and die.  If it is true that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (and it is true) “and that it is profitable” for life, living, dying, and “instruction in righteousness” in order “that the man of God” woman, or child or God “may be complete” in all aspects of living and dying, then it must have instruction on dying.

I must confess that for one day recently I had no answer for the friend who recently lost a wife, who the next day would be a pall bearer at the funeral of a fellow teacher who spend about two years in a comma without dying, and who he himself at age 83 faced the prospect of death.  No, the prospect of death is not nearly as fearful as the prospect of a long, painful, or “out-of- it-condition” dying process.  A survey showed that among adults next to the fear of speaking in public was the fear of a prolonged dying process. However after that one day of stumbling, I turned in simple faith back to the Bible that I have come to love and learn so well, and turned back to the prompting of the Holy Spirit after seeking answers in prayer; and the answer of HOW TO HAVE A GOOD DEATH was right there in the Bible along as part of how to have a “good life”. Makes sense, doesn’t it, that having a good death which includes the dying process is as much a part of having a good life as marriage or any other event of life.

Well, you read it for yourself, just as I reread it from I Peter 3:10-12. You will find it in quotation marks as it is a quote from the Old Testament, from the book of Psalms, from Psalms 34:12-16.  You can get the same message on how to live and die the good life from either Testament. Let us start with I Peter in the total context of I Peter 3, and then go to Psalm in the total context of Psalm 34.

  1. I Peter 3:10-12.

“For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.  Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it:  For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”

Does this mean that the person who meets these biblical standards from the Apostle Peter is entitled to a better death than the evil?  Without sounding like a fundamentalists or other “know-it-all”, the answer would have to be “YES!” Not according to any of our wisdom, but according to the wisdom of God as given in the Bible.

(1).   This “He” person is identified as:   (a) He who would love life; and (b) He who would see good days.  Here we must quickly distinguish between the “love of life” and the “love of the world”.  The Apostle John specifically admonishes us  to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  All that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. The world passeth away and the lust thereof, but He that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

Suddenly we are into “eternal life”:  the will of God is for us to stay away from “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”; and if we do so the majority of the time, we can live forever.  However, the main point right now is the “good life”.

What would be the sound of “the good life”: the happy sound of children playing, the sound of pleasures with beer and friends. Really the sound of the good life as used by Peter and written in the Bible would have to include the ups and downs of life, the joys and the sorrows, the births and the deaths. And the prime point is that it would have to include a good death {or dying process} as well as a good life, since death is part of life.

Okay, what we come to next in I Peter 3:10-12 is HOW TO ENSURE YOURSELF ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, A GOOD DYING PROCESS–

(2).  Refrain (or keep) your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Both of these aspects sound the same.  To understand the fine points of the differences, we must turn to what Pastor James wrote on the “tongue” in the book of James.  {Remember that James was also an Apostle and the half-brother of Jesus as well as being the pastor of the first church every.} And it is not possible to repeat the whole argument here of James 3, a chapter generally referred to by the subject “the untamable tongue”.  We can only briefly paraphrase:  first of all, think carefully before you become a teacher since a teacher {one known for speaking many words} is judged by God with more strict standards than others.  We all stumble in many ways and must face up to those stumbling; and the supreme challenge of Christ maturity is to not stumble in words, in the classroom or otherwise. The tongue is like a bit in a horse’s mouth that can control the whole body; like the rubber of a ship used by the pilot to control during fierce winds; like a fire that can kindle a forest. The tongue can bless God and curse man made in the image of God.

Where does the fires of hell in the tongue come from?  …(James 3:14)

…from “bitter envy and self-seeking”.  Therefore RULE #1 from Peter:  in order to love life and see good days and a good death, avoid ENVY (the desire to have what you see that somebody else has) and SELF-SEEKING.  I would never attempt to answer why so many that we admire have a bad death, but perhaps in the sin of “self-seeking” is the answer.  You would have to agree that in our modern American context “self-seeking” has become acceptable as more “self-fulfillment”.

(3).   The second admonition from the Apostle Peter is to “turn away from evil and do good”.

(4).   The third admonition for a good life and death from the Apostle Peter is to “seek peace and pursue it.”

We must keep these three admonitions for a good life in the context of I Peter 3:  in other words what came before and after.  What is before as a preface to a good life is the “Finally” of I Peter 3:8–all of you be of one mind{that one mind should be the mind of Christ}, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted and be courteous; and then we have the words of wisdom on what it is to be called by Christ:  do not return evil for evil, do not return reviling for reviling, rather in all those cases return blessings.  If you do this, you will inherit a blessing in life.  {Remember Jesus said, “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”}

  1. Psalm 34:10-12.

The words are almost the same in Psalm as in I Peter, but perhaps you would enjoy reading them devotional, and several times over the years.  What is somewhat different is the preface to the quote and the application!

(1).  The preface to Psalm 34:10-12.  Once again it is necessary to paraphrase:  I sought the LORD God, the Father, the LORD God heard me and “delivered me from all my fears”.  {does this not remind you how God’s ears are always open to the “righteous” and how His face is against the evil?}  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear (respect) God properly in life and death.  Those who seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

(2). The application to Psalm 34:10-12, Psalm 34:17-22: God hears when the righteous cry out in death or life; God delivers them out of all of their troubles; God is near, oh so very near, to those of a broken heart; God SAVES those of a contrite spirit; many afflictions will come the way of the good life and death, but God delivers the righteous out of all of them; God guards their bones {and you must see that this speaks of death and life}; and God REDEEMS the soul of His servants.  {You see that is eternal redemption, the salvation of the soul and the body for eternal life with God!}

6-7:  Challenge to Faith on the Fourth Watch.

“But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!   It is I; do not be afraid.”  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw [e]that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.”  (Matthew 14:24-32)

 

As normal you can free download this chapter/message at

www.sungrist.org/FaithFourthWatch.pdf 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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