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FULLNESS OF JOY

Scripture Text: John 12:1-3 “. ..and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment” (John 12:3).

That was the happiest home in the whole area, because the Lord Jesus Christ had done a great work in the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Every member of the family had become happy because of His grace and power. All who passed by that house could smell sweet fragrance from the house, even to a long distance. That is the desire of the Lord Jesus Christ for every new home, that, people may come to know Him through them and they themselves may receive great joy. The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to make our joy full as He says in John 16:24 and also in John 15:11. The desire, plan and purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ in saving us, is to make our joy full. Now, that joy does not depend upon worldly possessions or worldly qualifications. We may be very rich or poor, educated or illiterate, have a high position or no position, we may belong to any country, yet our joy can be full under all circumstances, and no man upon the earth can take away our joy from our hearts. Our Lord says in John 16:22, “… your joy no man taketh from you”. Earthly joy can be taken away by our enemies, friends and circumstances but this joy can no man take away from us. People may try by words, deeds and schemes, but they will never succeed. What a joy it is! This joy is for all times, not occasionally. This is Paul’s testimony too as he says in Phil.4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice”.

Whenever there is a marriage, there is joy. In Jer. 33:11 and Isa. 62:5, the joy of the bridegroom and the bride is compared to heavenly joy. It is not ordinary joy but heavenly joy and God wants every home to have such a joy. But you may say, “We don’t have such joy.” In many cases this is true. lt is not God’s fault but our fault because we fail to abide by God’s Word. In John 15:7 there is a very simple, divine law. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you”. First of all we must be sure that we have everlasting life flowing in us. Just as the branch abides in the vine and brings forth fruit, we should abide in Him.

The Lord says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you”. For every walk of life, we have God’s Word-for childhood, youth, middle age, and for old age. For sickness, sufferings, trials and other circumstances, God’s Word is given to us to overcome every situation and to come out victorious. We can say with Apostle Paul as a testimony in Phil. 4:13, ” I can do all things through Christ”. This man Paul was happy even in times of sorrow. “As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:9, 10).

Now we find that the same truth is made clear to us through the story recorded in John 12:1-3. Let us see the condition of that family when the Lord Jesus Christ went first to Bethany, as we read in Luke10:38. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us the first time, His main purpose is to uncover our true condition. During His first visit to the home of Martha, she went to prepare food. Mary sat at the feet of the Lord. Lazarus was nowhere, because he had no interest in God’s Word. He was

a good brother, full of affection but no hunger or thirst for God’s Word. Martha also was very hard working, very gifted in cooking, and had a large heart. But her heart was full of jealousy, and she had a bad temper. Mary was good and humble outwardly, but inwardly proud. The Lord had seen their sorrow and He went to change them. Through the very same sorrow, they came to know that their Master was not an ordinary man. He had power over death. The same power came into them and they became new people. Before the Lord Jesus could make them happy, He had to transform them completely. In the same way, those who want a happy home, must be transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ. They must be born again.

In John 12:1-3 we have a fivefold secret of a happy home and a triumphant life. When the Lord Jesus Christ came for the first time they received Him and welcomed Him, but they treated Him as a guest. But now they came to know Who He was. They gave Him complete charge. That is the first secret of a happy home. Accept the Headship and the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ in your home. He must be the Lord in your hearts and homes. In other words, before you do anything, you must consult Him. Before making any plan go to Him. Before shopping or spending money, go to Him. Do not do anything on your own. He is the living Lord. He will speak to you. Say to Him, “Lord, show me Thy will, and Thy plan for today, where to go and what to do”. When He speaks obey Him.

Secondly, Lazarus is the symbol of resurrection. The same power is meant for you and me. In all your difficulties, poverty and sickness or any situation, come to Him and ask Him for the power of resurrection. We overcome trials, not by will power or Bible knowledge or by long prayers or fasting or wearing simple clothes, but by the power of resurrection. Do not depend upon your human cleverness for victory. You will never succeed. Claim the power of resurrection by faith.

Thirdly, the food on the table speaks of the Word of God, which is our daily spiritual food. It is by hearing God’s Word daily as a family, meditating upon it and claiming His promises that all our questions and all our problems can be solved. In very few homes, they have regular family prayers. They are far too busy. Hence there is no unity in the family. Hence problems keep on increasing. It is by having family altar, reading the Word of God together and claiming God’s promises that we can conquer our trials.

Fourthly, Martha served joyfully. For a happy home, you must have joyful service. Serve others and help others. A Christian home is meant for that purpose, where many can be comforted and strengthened. Where there is more service, there is more joy.

Fifthly, Mary was full of gratitude. With humility and meekness, she expressed her gratitude to the Lord. She poured the ointment on His feet. It is by worshipping Him and thanking Him and praising Him that we make a happy home. Learn to thank God for everything. Do not murmur. Phil.4:6 speaks of giving thanks. Begin the day with thanksgiving and end the day with thanksgiving.

These are simple divine laws. First of all, acknowledge the Headship and the Kingship of the Lord” Jesus Christ. Secondly, enjoy the power of resurrection. Thirdly, meditate the Word of God and enjoy it fully. Fourthly, joyful service and fifthly, a spirit of praise and

thanksgiving, to be able to thank the Lord for everything. All these make a happy home. May the Lord bless these thoughts to our hearts.

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What Is the Unpardonable Sin?

Posted on August 8, 2013 by sacffadmin in Equip.org
This article first appeared in the Practical Hermeneutics column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 34, number 04 (2011). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is called the “unpardonable sin,” a sin that will never be forgiven. The very possibility of even committing it often haunts many Christians. Indeed, as an insecure high school sophomore I once thought that I had committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit—and I became depressed. Clearly, our own mood and emotional outlook can affect how we listen to Scripture. In the four decades since, I’ve encountered many Christians who feared that they had committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and I’ve always been glad to tell them that they had not.
Jesus’ teaching on the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit—the unpardonable sin—is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but in Matthew we find Jesus’ most thorough and cohesive presentation. In Matthew 12:22 we read that Jesus healed a demon possessed man who was blind and mute. We won’t completely understand the significance of what follows unless we understand the wonder of this moment in first-century Palestine. A blind and mute person was a burden and a blight—someone dirty, someone to avoid—and this one was demon possessed.
But Jesus healed him! Suddenly the man was able to speak and see. In a moment he was able-bodied. He could care for himself and express what was on his mind. The people were “astonished.” What a wonderful thing! What an amazing joy and relief this must have been to those who cared for him.
But in response to this wholesome, restorative, and undeniable miracle—undeniable even to the Pharisees—the Pharisees sneered, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”1 So the Pharisees attribute this miraculous healing to Satan—the “lord of the flies,” the “Prince of Darkness,” the “evil one.” The Pharisees’ response demonstrates an unequivocal hardness against God.
In refutation, Jesus stresses the obvious in verse 26: “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” Such schizophrenic behavior would incapacitate Satan’s kingdom. But then Jesus kicks it up by pointing out that no one plunders a strong man’s house without first binding the strong man, and so Jesus demonstrates that he must be casting out demons by an “authority greater than Satan.”2 In short, Jesus’ easy conquest of powerful evil beings demonstrates what only hardheartedness would refuse to see: Jesus healed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And now we come to one of the Bible’s most sobering statements: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (v. 31–32).
At the outset, it is important to note that the Pharisees didn’t mention or “speak” the words “Holy Spirit” or anything even close. It must therefore be possible to commit the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit without ever even uttering the words “Spirit” or “Holy Spirit.” What then did the Pharisees do? Notice the context. They attributed the undeniable, unambiguous, healing work of the Holy Spirit—in this case He freed a man from being ravaged by a demon that resulted in the man’s being blind and mute—to the power of Satan. This wasn’t just a misunderstanding. New Testament professor D. A. Carson is right to say that the Pharisees’ blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the rejection of the “truth in full awareness that that is exactly what one is doing—thoughtfully, willfully, and self-consciously rejecting the work of the Spirit even though there can be no other explanation of Jesus’ exorcisms than that. For such a sin there is no forgiveness.”3
Then, in verses 33–34, Jesus further illumines the Pharisees’ hardened condition. Jesus tells them that a “tree is known by its fruit” and that they are a “brood of vipers” who are “evil” and who speak out of the “abundance of the heart.” In other words, the Pharisees’ blasphemy wasn’t a hastily uttered slip of the tongue or simply a mistaken apprehension of reality. Rather, it was a knowing, deliberate, and final rejection for which they will give an account of themselves on the Day of Judgment.
Those tenderhearted toward God would panic after hearing Jesus’ logic, rebuke, and warning of eternal condemnation. But not the Pharisees. Instead, in v. 38 we read, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, ’Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’” It was as if they said, “Even though you have healed a blind and mute man in our presence, demonstrated your dominance over spiritual beings, and have refuted our arguments—we still need more proof that what you do is of God.” In verse 39, Jesus tells them that this request further demonstrates their hardened wickedness: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign.”
Thus the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is more than a onetime, or perhaps even a frequent, rejection, whether verbal or not, of the Holy Spirit’s testimony to Jesus.
Consider two examples in Scripture of people who initially rejected the Spirit’s testimony to Christ, but later accepted it. Jesus’ brother James grew up with Jesus, was present during the inauguration of Jesus’ miracle working ministry (John 2:11–12), and was probably present at this miracle (Matt. 12:46), but James thought that Jesus was, at the least, confused or mentally unstable (John 7:3–5). Later, however, James became a leader of the Christian church (Gal. 1:19). Likewise, Paul not only initially rejected the gospel of Christ, he sought to imprison and kill those who actively proclaimed it (Acts 8:1; 9:1). Later, however, Paul became an apostle. Therefore, it is clear the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit isn’t simply failing to acknowledge the Spirit’s testimony to Christ. Rather, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit occurs when one knowingly, unambiguously, intentionally, and permanently rejects the Holy Spirit’s testimony to Jesus. New Testament professor Darrell L. Bock sums it up well: “The blasphemy of the Spirit might be regarded as the by-product of rejecting the Son of Man. The difference between blaspheming the Son of Man and blaspheming the Spirit is that blasphemy of the Son of Man is an instant rejection, while blasphemy of the Spirit is a permanent rejection….Once the Spirit’s testimony about God’s work through Jesus is permanently refused, then nothing can be forgiven, since God’s plan has been rejected.”4
Like Jesus, therefore, we must warn those who harden themselves against the proclamation of the Good News. For this blasphemy adamantly, intently, and with finality rejects the Holy Spirit’s work, and therefore it puts one beyond repentance.
Furthermore, consider a rationale for why the unpardonable sin is what it is. Christians don’t believe that the Father and Son are to be less revered than the Holy Spirit. What makes sense then of why the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable is that it is the ultimate hardening of oneself against the Holy Spirit whose very work is to convict the world of sin and the truth about Jesus (John 16:7–9).
It can be easy for Christians struggling with rampant but unfocused insecurities to blame their anxieties on something tangible such as, “Maybe I’ve committed the unpardonable sin!” But we must subdue such anxieties by taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5) and rooting our lives in the knowledge of the clear teaching of Scripture. For no one who has fixedly refused the work of the Holy Spirit would be worried that he or she might have offended the Holy Spirit. The very fact that a person would be concerned about his or her relationship with Jesus is evidence that he or she isn’t hardened against the Holy Spirit!
Moreover, if the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit could occur through nothing more than ignorant or angry words spoken in haste than Scripture would be self-contradictory. This is so because there are many verses that unmistakably guarantee a person’s salvation that would not be true if he or she had committed an unpardonable sin (John 5:24; cf. John 1:12; John 3:16; Rom. 10:9). These verses don’t say, “You will be saved unless you’ve committed the unpardonable sin.” They just say, “You will be saved.”
A sure knowledge of what Jesus says about us dispels unfounded insecurities. Indeed, this is what was most helpful to me as an insecure high school sophomore. I memorized Scripture verses like those mentioned above and whenever I feared that I had committed the unpardonable sin I persistently recited them to myself in a loop until I regained assurance of my salvation. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Therefore, those who confess “Jesus is Lord” and believe that “God raised him from the dead” can safely and assuredly conclude that they have not committed the unpardonable sin, but will be saved.
—Clay Jones
Clay Jones is associate professor in the master of arts in Christian apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil. Some of his most recent reflections can be found at www.clayjones.net.
NOTES
All Scripture quotations are from the ESV.
D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 290.
Carson, 291–92.
Bock, 1143. The “blasphemy of the Spirit is not so much an act of rejection as it is a persistent and decisive rejection of the Spirit’s message and work concerning Jesus. When a person obstinately rejects and fixedly refuses that message or evidence, that person is not forgiven” (Bock, 1141).

(source)

The Lord Delivers us from Bondage

Posted on August 8, 2013 by sacffadmin in Christ is Victor
‘I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters’ (Isaiah 43:15-16).

This is how the Lord describes Himself. To be the redeemer of the people of Israel, His specially chosen people, the Lord had a way for them right through the sea. He showed that Pharaoh of Egypt was no longer their king. When Pharaoh was their king, they had to bear a great burden. They were under hard taskmasters. They wanted deliverance.

The devil knows the areas in which he can oppress us with the maximum pain. He does not normally inflict pain which is easy to bear. He creates pain and oppression in that area where you are most pained, thereby inflicting huge loss and damage.

Who is a redeemer? One who delivers you in that area where you are a captive. Certain thoughts are very strong. Oh, you put them out of your mind but they come back again. They chase you. They persist in pursuing you. You cannot run away from them. You may cross the oceans but the thoughts are still there. The devil oppresses many people with wrong thoughts. They are weakened. So there is no rest for them. That is not the work of God. God’s thoughts are strengthening, ennobling and freeing.

Very often we do not see the difference between our thoughts and God’s thoughts, because of the spirit of perversity. That is why the Bible says, ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man’ (Proverbs 14:12). You say, ‘My thought is right!’, ‘My plan is right!’, ‘My ways are right!’ No! No! You must know how to go to God, who searches your heart and weighs your spirit, to know whether this is a perverse spirit or the spirit of God. This perverse spirit can be a very strong spirit. It can afflict the whole family. It seems to afflict father, mother, sons and daughters. It makes it impossible to see what is right and what is wrong. The spirit of perversity is always to be found wherever there is idolatry. This perverse spirit is also found where Christians make an idol of something. I can detect this spirit very well.

The Word of God tells us that the Lord delivered them from all their oppressions. But Israel’s nature of grumbling was still persisting for forty years. There remained in Israel the spirit of unbelief in the face of daily miracles for forty long years.

But the Lord was trying to make a way for them. Right from the start, it was a way in the wilderness. When they came out of Egypt, they came against the sea. When you come against a forest, you ask somebody, ‘Is there a path through this?’ But when you stand by the shore of a mighty sea, you never ask such a question. But God says, ‘I am the Lord . . . ‘ and He makes ‘a path in the mighty waters’. When you see the mighty waters before you, you tend to get fearful. I do not think that in the Christian life there is ever a person who does not confront mighty waters at some time or other.

I look to the one who alone can make this path. To many of you in your personal lives there may be the desire for sanctification. But somehow, it is slipping away. Somehow you seem to fail. Some evil thoughts still prevail. Some anger, some wicked and covetous desire, some bitterness or some lust is lurking somewhere in the heart. The mighty waters are before you. But what does God say to you? ‘I am the Lord,’ the One who ‘maketh . . . a path in the mighty waters’. Maybe you are despairing about your condition. No, these mighty waters are going to divide by a clear path of victory.

—Joshua Daniel (source)

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