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Commands of Christ December 31, 2015

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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I’ve been studying Matthew 5-7. This was a teaching context where Jesus was telling His disciples certain specific things they were to do, or not do, because they were His disciples.

As we know, modern American-style Christianity is a lot more focused on doctrine – what you know and what you believe. It seems that, for many, simply knowing what Jesus said is thought to be sufficient; or as I’ve noted, “being able to pass a written test” is all that’s required. For some, going beyond that is “legalism.” In that world, we are saved by grace through faith and that’s all that is REQUIRED. Obedience is “nice” but it’s optional.

Jesus anticipates this at the end by contrasting those who “know and do” with those who “know and don’t do.” The “don’t know’s” are not mentioned.

This isn’t a doctrinal statement; it is, rather, the simple commands of Christ:

1. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad when you are reviled and persecuted – when people say all kinds of evil against you falsely – for His sake.

2. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works. (“Light” and “works” are two different things. Our “light” illuminates our works; if God’s Word is light, then similarly our words are our light.)

3. Do not be angry with your brother without cause. (Some think “without cause” is not in the original and this is a blanket prohibition against anger directed at people.)

4. Do not call your brother ‘Raca’ (literally “empty head” or “airhead” – an insult to his intelligence).

5. Do not call your brother “fool” (“moros” – an insult to his character).

6. If your brother has something against you, be proactive in effecting reconciliation.

7. Agree with your adversary quickly.

8. Do not look at a woman with lust.

9. Discard ANYTHING that causes you to sin.

10. Do not divorce.

11. Do not marry a divorced woman.

12. Do not take oaths – it’s just “yes” or “no.”

13. Do not resist an evil person.

14. Turn the other cheek when insulted; don’t retaliate.

15. Give more than what is demanded of you.

16. Give more than what is required of you.

17. Give to him who asks; loan to him who wants to borrow.

18. Love your enemies: bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who use and persecute you.

19. Be covert concerning charitable deeds.

20. Be covert in your prayer life; pray with the right motive.

21. Forgive.

22. Be covert when you fast.

23. Do not lay up earthly treasure; lay up heavenly treasure.

24. Have a “good eye.”

25. Choose God over mammon. You must serve one; you cannot serve both.

26. Do not worry. (specifically, life, food, clothing)

27. Do not be judgmental. (Don’t criticize.)

28. Don’t give what is holy to dogs.

29. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

30. Ask! Seek! Knock! (Presented as a command, not as an option or as a resource)

31. Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.

32. Enter by the narrow gate.

33. Beware of false prophets – discern them by their fruits.

34. Do the will of the Father in heaven.

35. Hear and do what Jesus has said; to hear and not obey is foolishness.

Changed perspective, changed priorities, changed behavior. Some seem a bit obscure, but I’d suggest that if we obey the ones that we clearly understand, we’ll get clarity on the ones where we’re unsure.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them …. and teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Discipleship 101. These are real-world activities. Nothing here about “going to church” and nothing about “here’s how you act with other disciples, but in the world you can follow the world’s rules.”

Thoughts??

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Comments»

1. Jasper Dale - January 1, 2016

how important it is to just simply obey the Lord Jesus. the list you gave is such a blueprint for all of us to strive to follow. i have followed Jesus for 35 years and i want more than anything to be simply obedient.

when i look into Jesus’ eyes, i don’t want to be ashamed. i don’t want to be thinking of how Jesus was at the bottom of my “little list” of what is important in my life.

i want my whole life to be an offering to my Lord Jesus. i believe that when we wholeheartedly obey our Lord, we are showing Him that He means more to us than anything.

i believe that it makes Jesus so happy when His children put Him first. when i read the Scriptures, it seems to me like Jesus spent most of His life…………lonely. He was despised and rejected. how wonderful it must be for Him to look into the eyes of one of His disciples and see someone who has put Him first.

NOTHING in this world is more important than making Jesus Lord of our lives. we will never regret “missing out on the things of the world” when we gaze into His eternal eyes.

may we all put aside the things of this world, and make 2016 the year that we fall more and more in love with the Lord Jesus. perhaps this WILL be the year He comes to take us home. if it is………what a wonderful opportunity to give our all for Him.

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2. William E. Males - January 2, 2016

Hey Brother Steve,

An observation from Costa Rica…

My thoughts took me to separate parts in two chapters of my book, first –

“The very first act of grace through faith is the work of repentance, faithfulness to the commandment of Christ to all men.

Acts 17:30 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent.

Titus 2:11 – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

I Peter 1:13 – Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which hath called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.

Sadly, many professors of faith today will one day find that they exhausted the grace of God and never even missed it; frustrating it with their stiff-necks and stubborn unfaithfulness. Thus by neglecting that measure of faith dealt to them, they are the ones who foolishly limited the effectual working of God’s grace by burying as it were the proverbial “talent” Christ entrusted them with to invest towards His glory. These are they who will one day find they were actually goats and not the sheep they thought they were when the Lord returns to separate those who profess to know Him.

Psalm 78:41 – Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They remembered not His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy [or their sins].

Dear reader, this is a very serious matter, because God has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be holy and separate from the world. By His grace we can be doers of His word and not hearers only, thus answering the call to be glorious partakers of His divine nature, having Christ formed in us and thus escape the wrath to come.

I Peter 1:3 – According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Some are already protesting in their minds, arguing how this sounds like salvation by works. But in reality, it is salvation made evident by growth, which is life, i.e. Christ being formed in us; for the perfection of the believer is the life of Christ in them, our hope of glory. Yet we only have that life because we received God’s word, planting it (as it were) in our hearts.

James 1:21 – Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

However, though we receive the word, we must also continue in the word, for therein do we abide in Christ and His life in us.

John 15:1 – I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Thus, salvation is evident by growth, which is life. Growth is that proper progress that is expected, just like a seed that germinates and begins to sprout, growing upwards towards the sun. Just like that “engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” that James spoke of, when by faith we allow God’s grace to change us, the life in us is just like that seed that sprouted.

Even though a sprout may have just broken through the dirt and pushed out its first two little leaves, it is still perfect. However, it cannot remain that size and be fruitful; it must grow if it is to bring forth fruit. Yet, from germination to harvest, it is nonetheless perfect throughout all the stages of the growing process as long as it is growing; for life is to grow.”

Second –

“We must not fail to grasp that it was because Daniel set his face to seek the Lord “by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes,” that the Angel Gabriel was sent forth as Daniel was confessing both his sins and the sins of Israel. Now some may protest and say that statement sounds like a doctrine of “works,” that Gabriel came because Daniel did those things. Absolutely it does, but Daniel prayed the way he did because God’s grace was not neglected or given in vain in his life. It was the grace of God empowered Daniel to become the kind of man who would humble himself before the Lord with fastings, and with contrition confess both his sins and the sins of his people while crying out in faith for God’s mercies.

I Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Keep up the great service to our King Brother Steve!

William

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3. Sabine Vlaming - January 10, 2016

Dear Steve,

Thank you for the list; it helps prioritizing spiritual matters over earthly ones. The ‘do not marry a divorced woman’ may benefit from differentiation as it is a general rule with specific exceptions as these verses state.

https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Remarrying-After-Divorce/

These instances would include unrepentant adultery and abandonment of a believing spouse by an unbelieving spouse as in the case in my life.

http://www.gotquestions.org/remarriage-adultery.html

Sabine

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stevekerp - January 10, 2016

Dear Sabine,

Opinions abound concerning what Christ meant, and my underlying principle is that marriage was made for us, and God has not ceased to be gracious. I do not believe that preservation of a “marriage” is more important even if it’s destroying the people in it. At the end, Jesus knows the thoughts and intents of the hearts, and His decision will be both correct and final. Thanks so much for your thoughts, and for the links.

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Sabine Vlaming - January 10, 2016

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your reply. I agree with you that matters which are not explicitly defined Scripturally are subject to Jesus’ authority in the realm of grace, mercy and general Biblical appropriation regarding personal liberty.

The Word is very explicit and specific regarding remarriage on certain accounts however, which makes this general statement not to marry a divorced woman Scripturally incorrect.

Two examples:

Deutr 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house.

2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s [wife].

The Apostle Paul commands us regarding unequally yoked marriages:

“…If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him” (I Corinthians 7:12-13).

The next verse indicates this is especially important for the sake of the children, who are often the ones hurt most by a divorce.

But suppose the unsaved spouse is the one who insists on a divorce.

“If the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace” (I Corinthians 7:15).

This obviously means that the Christian husband or wife is then at liberty to remarry to a Godly spouse.

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stevekerp - January 10, 2016

Dear Sabine,

Marriage is a volatile issue. No matter what one says, some feathers will be ruffled. Even the disciples – some of whom were married – were dismayed at Jesus’ teaching (see Matthew 19:8-11) and concluded that “… it is better not to marry.” If that was their conclusion in their day and time, what can we say about today’s cultural collapse, LGBT pressures against Biblical marriage, pre-nuptual legal understandings, no-fault divorce and all the rest?

I certainly cannot judge, and if Jesus refused to condemn a woman caught in adultery, we must rejoice in His grace and submit to His healing, for as we know, He came to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty. My heart grieves with those whose lives have been shattered by marital treachery, betrayal, and divorce. My hope is that, through it all, Jesus will be glorified and that, though men meant it for evil, God still meant it for good.

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Sabine Vlaming - January 10, 2016

Amen, Steve. Thank you for your heartfelt reply.

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