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New Website

Counsel launches it’s new website.

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The Emotions of Christ

In the events surrounding the last of the ‘signs’ of John’s Gospel – the raising of Lazarus, we get an insight into the heart and soul of the Word made flesh. It commences with the encounter that Martha had with her Master on the road as He approached Bethany. John is fulsome in the detailed discussion that took place and would indicate that all the while Martha was standing as they conversed. Her opening remark “Lord if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” has the feeling of a rebuke. Whereas Mary, while she used the same words said them on her knees weeping in an attitude of adoration and worship. This attitude corresponds with Luke’s account of the Lord’s visit to Martha and Mary’s home. The former over wrought, complains that she is left alone to serve while Mary sat at His feet. The word ‘weeping’ used of Mary and those who were with her was really a wailing, customary of those times. Whereas the word used by Jesus means the tears were running down His face! Divine eyes shedding human tears.

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The Seven Churches: Part 3

This is the third of four articles examining the seven churches by way of exposition and practical application. All Bible study should have these two elements: what does the passage mean to those who received it and what can I do about it today? None of us live in any of these cities, our location and circumstances are different but there are lessons for us.

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Well Placed Loves

Solomon was given the gift of wisdom, but he misused it. God has given us the ability to love, but we often misuse it. As we saw in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 the last days are perilous times when professing Christians love self, money and pleasure instead of God. When these misplaced loves are no longer outside, but within, times are dangerous for the church.

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God’s School: Paul’s 7 Revelations from the Lord

1. Conversion to Christ

In unbelief as the popular anti-Christ leader on a road near Damascus. What is revealed: Sees the Lord and He is Jesus! Results – Confesses Jesus as Lord and is filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized.  (Acts 9:2-6; 17-18)

2. General Sphere of Service

Praying in the temple in Jerusalem. What is revealed: Jewish rejection of the message of Christ – he was then to go far away to the Gentiles (nations). Results: Crowd cried “away with him”.  (Acts 22:17-22)

3. Deeper Understanding of God and Gospel

Most likely in Arabia or Tarsus (unseen years) – either in the body or out of it, but caught up into the 3rd heaven. What is revealed: Some things he couldn’t tell. Also he was given a revelation of the gospel of Christ whose terms of salvation is faith alone – and which matched the OT prophets. Results: Growth in the Lord’s grace. He was committed to stand for the one true gospel against any deviation by whomever.  (2 Cor. 12:1-4; Gal. 1:10-18; Acts 17:2, 3)

4. Specific Area of Service

On missions in Troas. What is revealed: The need in Philippi of those open to the gospel. Results: Saw that a need in the other places did not constitute a call and so obeyed and went to Philippi. He suffered but saw God’s hand in saving people and a church established.  (Acts 16: 6-12)

5. Encouragement to Be Fearless in Proclaiming Message

In Corinth where he was rejected in the synagogue and had to meet with believers in a house. It was at night in the middle of persecution and blessing. What is revealed: To press on boldly for he would not be hurt as God would be with him. Results: He believed and stayed and saw more people saved and a church started.  (Acts 18:4-11)

6. Encouragement that He Will Reach New Spheres of Service

At night in a castle in Jerusalem. He was a Roman prisoner because a mob was trying to pull him apart. What is revealed: To “be of good cheer” for he would indeed reach Rome as a witness for the Lord Jesus. Results: He reached Rome against all odds. As a prisoner in house custody he preached the gospel to all that came unto him and saw much fruit. Wrote instructive letters to the churches.  (Acts 23:10-11; 28:30-3; Phil. 4:22)

7. Word of Hope When All Hope Was Gone

A prisoner in a ship going to Italy – on the sea in a violent storm with reeling winds in darkness – no hope of being saved. What is revealed: God’s angel stood by him and assured him all would be saved and he would indeed reach Caesar. Results: He believed God and in the shipwreck all were saved and Paul reached Rome – just as God said!  (Acts 27:18-25)

It was Paul the apostle who wrote: “…God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” He also wrote: “the gospel which was preached of me is not after man … but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”. And he also wrote to the church: “…the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord”.

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The Ministry Of Priests And Prophets

As we read through the Old Testament we discover that God used various channels through which he conveyed His mind to His people Israel, the most prominent of these channels being the priests and the prophets.

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Christ Our Forerunner

C.H. Macintosh said “There are two grand facts which characterize Christianity, and mark it off from all that had gone before; and these are, first, man glorified in heaven; and secondly, God dwelling in man on the earth.”

One result of Christ glorified is the truth of the forerunner, a word found only once in scripture, and attributed to our Lord Jesus after His ascension:

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6:19-20).

Ascending to heaven (Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9) He entered as our Forerunner. Doing so He prepared our way, awaits to welcome us, and asks that we bear witness to His glory.

The Way of the Glorified Man

The word translated “forerunner” was a military term used to describe a soldier, scout or spy who ran ahead before the regular forces followed. At the same time it was also used to describe a small boat that went ahead with an anchor when the ship could not get past the sand bar at low tide. Rowing past the sand bar, this small vessel would drop the anchor, securing the ship until the tide arose allowing the ship to follow. Christ, our forerunner has carried our anchor – hope – and fastened it behind the veil. He is our certainty that we will someday follow Him.

Considering our Forerunner we see a significant difference between Him and the Old Testament priesthood. The O. T. High Priest could only represent the Israelites. On the Day of Atonement none could follow him behind the veil. Our great High Priest sits in heaven not only representing believers from all nations, but is also our Pioneer having blazed a trail for us. Today we follow by faith (Heb. 4:16), but someday we will follow Him into God’s presence.

The Lord told Peter, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” (John 13:36). These words carried a double significance. Peter could not follow the Lord to the cross because the Lord alone must bear the world’s sins. But after the Lord’s ascension Peter would not only take up his cross in service to his Master (Matt. 16:24, Luke 22:31-32) but would also glorify God on a cross, dying a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19). Dying to self, we also have the wonderful privilege of daily taking up our cross and following Him (Luke 9:23, Gal. 2:20).

However the deeper and fuller significance is found in the fact that He has now prepared the way for us to follow Him to heaven (John 14:1-6). When the Lord told His disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them (John 14:3), it was still future. This preparation began at Calvary and was completed forty days after His resurrection when He ascended to His Father. He has fully prepared the way by His presence before the throne of God. Being the first man to enter heaven, He is our pioneer.

Upon death, the Old Testament saints’ spirits were transported to a place called Abraham’s Bosom (Luke 16:22) or paradise (Luke 23:43). But when Christ ascended to Heaven in His glorified body He emptied Paradise of these saints (Eph. 4:8) and their spirits followed Him into glory. Since that day, when each believer dies, their body is placed in the ground but their spirit enters the very presence of God (2 Cor. 5:8). Someday all believers, dead and alive, will be resurrected in glorified bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-57; 1 Thess. 4:13-18, 5:23; 1 John 3:2).

By returning to His Father, Christ said that the Spirit would convict the world of righteousness (John 16:8, 10). God used this event to powerfully demonstrate Christ’s unchanged intrinsic righteousness. The Lord touched a leper without becoming ceremonially unclean (Matt. 8:3) and on the cross our Substitute bore our sins without becoming sinful. He became a holy sin offering yet remained untouched by iniquity. He suffered the law’s curse without defiling Himself. He took away our sin yet there is still no sin in Him (1 John 3:5). From eternity to the cross and back to heaven He is “Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1).

Showing satisfaction in His perfect work the Father raised the Righteous One from the dead, and welcomed Him back into His presence, not only as the eternal Son but now also as the glorified Man.

The Welcome of the Glorified Man

What a day that must have been when heaven received our Lord Jesus (Acts 3:21). We have sometimes sat transfixed or even participated in standing ovations for heroic people who have performed courageous feats. However we cannot even begin to imagine the loving reception Christ received from His Father (Psa. 110:1). This joyful occasion must have also included poignant worship from Heaven’s hosts and would have been thrilling to witness and partake. Now we worship by faith but someday we will see Him and worship with the angels.

Welcomed back to heaven, our forerunner is waiting to welcome us. Shortly before Calvary Christ prayed to His Father, desiring that we be with Him (John 17:24). We find it both touching and comforting that Christ is looking forward to our arrival. A time of great joy awaits us, a time of great joy awaits Him (Jude 24). He expects and anticipates us. We expect and anticipate Him. Let us serve Him wholeheartedly so that day will not be tempered by the sadness of our infidelity and disobedience.

We get a glimpse of this in the life of Stephen. Just before the authorities stoned him, heaven’s curtains opened so he could see Christ standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55) – approving his testimony, sympathizing with his pain, and eagerly awaiting his arrival.

There may have been times when you have not felt very welcome, sadly maybe even ostracized by other believers. Beloved, let us show impartiality (Jam. 2:1-9), forbearance (Eph. 4:2), and forgiveness (Eph. 4:32) toward one another. For after all Christ does. Let us esteem our brothers and sisters highly (Php. 2:3-5), for after all Christ does. Rest assured that the day you pass into glory Christ will welcome you with the most heartfelt, genuine, and loving reception you have ever received.

In His prayer to the Father Christ asked that we see His glory (John 17:24). Someday we will (1 John 3:2) but now by faith we have the privilege to testify to it.

The Witness to the Glorified Man

The underlying theme of Stephen’s sermon after his arrest was God’s glory. The Jewish people still revered the temple (Acts 6:13-14) but God’s glory had left it long ago (Eze. 10:4, 18-19, 11:23; Acts 7:48). He described individuals such as Abraham and Moses who witnessed God’s glory. The Israelites witnessed the Shekinah (dwelling place) glory hovering over the ark and later filling the temple. Stephen explained that God does not dwell in things made with hands but in both his word and character he showed that God now dwells in individual believers (Acts 7:48-49; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Initially rejecting their saviours (Joseph, Moses), always persecuting the prophets, this privileged nation (Rom. 9:4-5) had ultimately rejected and crucified the Lord of glory (Acts 7:52; 1 Cor. 2:8).

As he was speaking his face shone (Acts 6:15) and learned witnesses such as Saul must have recalled reading how Moses’ face shone after being in God’s presence (Ex. 34:29-35; 2 Cor. 3:12-18). For the Christian, the Spirit’s ministry increasingly radiates out from within, manifesting the reality that we have spent time in Christ’s presence. As we commune with Him in His word and in prayer, we are gradually changed into His image. This transformation is greater than Moses’ temporary, reflecting glory (2 Cor. 3:6-11) and is a powerful witness to Christ.

Seeing Christ in us provides an unveiling ministry to a lost world that the god of this age has blinded – it helps take away the veil that hides the good news about Christ’s glory (2 Cor. 4:3-4, 6).

The gospel primarily concerns Christ’s glory. In eternity He shared the Godhead’s glory with the Father but stepping into time He veiled it: clothing Himself in human flesh, serving His God, dying for the sins of the world. Anticipating victory the Son asked the Father to fully return Him to His previous state of manifested glory (John 17:5), now also in a glorified Man. We confidently preach salvation in Christ, His presence in glory affirming both that God has accepted His work and answered His prayer.

Our testimony for Christ is not only about a Saviour who died for our sins, but also about a Lord who is risen for our justification (Rom. 4:25), glorified in Heaven with all things put under Him (Eph. 1:20-22). The gospel glorifies Christ who opened the way, awaits our arrival, and whom we unveil to a lost world.

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Editorial: 2+2=4

W. E. Vine tells us the word ‘reckon’ is ‘properly used of numerical calculation’. Here is one instance where Paul used the word, ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ (Rom. 8:18).

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Isaiah 53:7-9 God’s Servant Will Be Submissive Part 4 of 5

The Ethiopian eunuch was reading the fourth stanza of this servant song when Philip met him. He admitted that he didn’t understand what he was reading and “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35). This is a prophecy about the Lord Jesus and more specifically about His attitude to His sufferings. In one sense, men were responsible for those sufferings: He was despised and rejected (v3), wounded and bruised (v5), oppressed and afflicted (v7) at the hands of men. In another sense God did it: “the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (v6). But the focus in this stanza is that through it all the Lord Jesus submitted to what was happening without any resistance or retaliation.

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 “Be still and know that I am God,”

That I who made and gave thee life

Will lead thy faltering steps aright;

That I who see each sparrow’s fall

Will hear and heed thy earnest call.

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