“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” – Ephesians 4:17
Why did Paul call our minds “futile”?
He uses the Greek words here: “mataiotés” for “futile” which means: vanity, emptiness, unreality, purposelessness, ineffectiveness, instability, frailty; false religion.
And “nous” for minds, which means: the mind, the reason, the reasoning faculty, intellect.
So Paul says our minds, our reasoning ability, our intellects are vanity, emptiness and ineffective.
Now consider 1 Corinthians 1:27 and 2:6:16
“16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eatd of it you shall surely die.”” – Genesis 2:16
“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” – John 6:45
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17
“But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” – Job 32:8
“0Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
16But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” – Matthew 13:10-17
“33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. ” – Matthew 27:33-35
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” – Revelation 2:7
And he does this by GRACE (that is a free gift) through FAITH (belief in that which is NOT seen.
And faith comes by HEARING the LIVING VOICE of Christ, that is the Holy Spirit.
Consider the following passage from John 10:
“1“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
19There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?””
So friends, who is the Door?
Jesus tells us plainly he is the Door.
But what of the Gatekeeper, the one who “opens the door for the sheep.”
Who opens the Door (Jesus) for the sheep?
Certainly not the Scriptures, they are those that imprison all things under sin.
It is the Holy Spirit that opens Jesus to us friends. It is God the Holy Spirit himself who sets us free in Christ.
And he does this by grace through faith, in the very good news that Jesus Christ died and rose for the forgiving of our sins and ALL of that… in accordance with the Scriptures, the very Scriptures that imprisoned us under sin.
Do you hear the cross and the resurrection in this friends?
Do you see how at once the Scriptures are the righteous demands of a Holy God that slay sin in the flesh? But the cross is not the totality of the good news! The Resurrection is the SPIRIT! It is He who sets us free from the bondage of sin and death because of the precious shed blood of Jesus.
So we see the cross is still at work. The Scriptures still crucify but when the reader enters the Door by the Porter, he’s made alive in the resurrected power of Jesus that IS the Holy Spirit.
The letter does indeed kill friends. But the Spirit so also gives LIFE!
“4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3
Ask me about evidence… are you joking? I mean is this a joke? You want me to provide you some kind of proof? Some kind of evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact?
You know every year I hear the same refrain over and over again.
Arguments made for the historicity and legitimacy of the claim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
And they’re all good arguments with frankly just about as high a burden of proof being met as any claim would need to meet in order to be established as fact to any reasonable person.
But can I be honest with you? As a personal friend of the Man, I’m indignant at the request.
I see all these appeals to the historical accuracy of the gospel accounts. To the reliability of Scripture and the extra biblical historical sources that corroborate the testimonies we find in the Gospel accounts.
I hear the common appeals to the reasonability or logical soundness of the claim that Christ conquered the grave; why this audacious claim should in fact be believed as true. It’s as if I can use the faculties of my feeble intellect to compel you, or perhaps it’s myself I’m attempting to convince here, that what I say I believe is actually true so then I won’t be, in fact, a mad man who believes the silly idea that a dead man up and walked out of his own grave and did so by his own power and volition no less.
Just hold up right there for one second okay. Let me be totally honest with you for just a minute.
I have personally walked with this man for over 30 years. I was just a little boy when I first heard his sweet voice.
I testify before God and all men, that the Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself to me and promised me that if I trusted him he would save me from my sin.
And every single day since, I have sinned and he has saved.
I have walked with him. I have learned from him. I have prayed to him and I have heard him. I have run from him. I have screamed at him at the top of my lungs. I have begged and pleaded with him. I have praised him and worshiped him. I have suffered with him and I have found him. I have supped with him and he with me and I have known the steadfastness of his love and the immeasurable riches of his glorious grace.
I don’t know OF the Man. I know HIM. I know Him by experience.
66After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
There’s no where else to go.
I don’t know who needs to hear this right now but I feel compelled that many of you may in fact be the one for whom this word is intended.
Everything you need for the valley that you are walking through right now can be found only in Jesus.
Don’t run from him.
There’s no where to go out there. There’s only darkness.
Return to your Shepherd, find comfort at his side.
If you don’t have the strength to make it back to him then simply call out his name.
Help me Lord Jesus.
The good Shepherd cares for the sheep.
If one is lost will he not leave all the others to search out, to seek and save that which is lost?
So our church just began a study of the Book of Revelation.
I think it goes without saying this book tends to bother people and can generally stir up feelings of angst. The last book of the Bible’s a doozy by anyone’s standard.
That said, I want to encourage anyone who might feel this way about the book of Revelation; if you will read this book and commit it to prayer the Lord will surely bless you for it.
Did you know that Revelation is the only book in the Bible to promise a blessing to those who read it?
“3Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” – Rev 1:3
Certainly we’d be blessed to read any of part of the Bible but isn’t it interesting that this book among all books of the Bible is the only one that states a specific blessing to those who read it? Moreover those who “read ALOUD the words of this prophecy”.
So out loud.
Why did the Lord have John write those words “read ALOUD”?
What is the significance of this?
I’m not sure I know. But I’m guessing there’s a reason for it.
In the final chapter of the book Jesus reiterates this promise of blessing.
Only this time to those who “keep” the words of the prophecy of this book, that is, those who guard the word heard.
“7“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”” – Rev 22:7
The Greek word for “keep” here is the same word Jesus used in John 14
“22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But 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 have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14
So Jesus teaches us that the Holy Spirit who was to come and is now here is the one who will “teach you”, and not just somethings, but “all things…” and as he teaches us if we keep the word heard he promises us we will have his peace.
Earlier in his ministry Jesus also said this of the Holy Spirit:
“37On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” – John 7
So Jesus said this living water, the Holy Spirit, would flow out of our hearts.
Not into, but out of.
What is the Lord saying here?
How might this give meaning to Revelation’s promise to bless those who “read ALOUD” and “keep” the words of the prophecy of this book?
Some final Scripture to chew on as you consider these things:
““The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me;
his word is on my tongue.” – 2 Samuel 23:2
“17“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” – Acts 2:17
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” – Rev 22:17
I pray the Lord bless you and keep you this day and that as you abide in his Word you know his perfect peace.
Grace and peace to you all in Jesus’ precious name.
Brothers and sisters, do you ever get really discouraged by your lack of growth in things that really matter? In your sanctification?
You look back on your life and see all the sin that the Lord saved you from and then you look in the mirror and still see more sin.
More anger, more lust, more envy, more pride.
He’s not finished with you yet.
Take your eyes off yourself. Set them squarely on the empty cross and the empty grave and rest assured, the one who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light will finish the work that the Father has so purposed to achieve.
You can’t build this house. But Lord can. And the Lord will.
Jesus is mighty to save to the uttermost. His mercies are new every morning. Where sin abounds the grace of God in the face of Jesus Christ aboundeth all the much more.
So take heart.
If you stumble the Lord is able to make you stand and HE will finish this very good work that HE started in you.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”