FIRST FRUITS of the REDEEMED
presented in Jerusalem
Mary and Joseph,
the sacrifice made was
"A pair of turtledoves
Luke 2: 22
days of their purification
law of Moses
brought him up
present him to the Lord
as it is written
law of the Lord,
who opens the womb
shall be called
Holy to the Lord”
and to offer a sacrifice according
which is said in the law of the Lord,
“A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
The Camp David Accords,
President Jimmy Carter,
President Anwar Sadat, and
Prime Minister Menachem
Begin in September 1978,
established a framework
Historic Peace Treaty
Israel and Egypt in 3. 1979
On 6. 7, 1979,
more than a century after
Abolition of Slavery
became an official state holiday
Adoption as Sons
Fathers Day weekend,
Year of Release
My 40th Birthday
KING OF KINGS
Now I saw
And He who sat on him
Faithful and True,
and in righteousness
Judges and makes war
were like a
FLAME of FIRE,
He had a
NO ONE KNEW
He was CLOTHED with a
ROBE dipped in
NAME is CALLED
WORD OF GOD
LINENE, WHITE and CLEAN,
Now out of His mouth
that with it
He Himself will
them with a
ROD OF IRON
HE HIMSELF TREADS THE
And He has on
His robe and on
His thigh a name
KING OF KINGS
LORD OF LORDS
This is MY NAME
Which I should be remembered
Generation to Generation”
HAS SENT ME TO YOU
Ani Hu אני הוא
אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶ
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
HAS SENT ME
I AM WHO
The story of Elijah, the
being taken to HEAVEN is
in 2 Kings 2:1–18.
70th Week of Daniel
“When the Lord was about to
take Elijah up to heaven
in a whirlwind . . .”
Elijah rode to heaven in a
chariot of fire,
that is the assumption, with
flaming chariot and horses of fire
at the scene,
along with the whirlwind.
It would make sense that
Elijah boarded the
that pulled up
In front of him
We don’t know whether Elijah was aware that
he would ascend to heaven in such a spectacular manner,
but he did know he was about to be taken
from Elisha, his protégé.
Elijah said to Elisha, ‘
what can I do for you before
I am taken from you?’ ‘
Let me inherit a
double portion of your spirit,’
Elisha replied” (2 Kings 2:9)
1 Timothy 5:17–25,
the apostle Paul gave special guidance
regarding church leadership.
He recognized that these individuals were not perfect.
But Paul was eager for the church
to appreciate and acknowledge the
value of pastors, teachers, elders, and other leaders
who work hard and serve in a worthy manner:
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well
worthy of double honor,
whose work is
Preaching and Teaching”
(1 Timothy 5:17).
Honorable Position to Hold
Earlier, he told Timothy, “
This is a trustworthy
‘If someone aspires to be a
he desires an honorable position’”
(1 Timothy 3:1, NLT).
The duties of his position
responsibly and diligently,
according to Scripture,
Worthy of double Honor.
refers not only
to an abundance of respect
from members of the church but
also reasonable pay.
The Greek word translated “double” in 1 Timothy 5:17 means
And the term for “honor” in the original language
includes the notion of a price or compensation.
In English, we also connect the word honor with
the idea of recompence through the noun honorarium, “a
payment for unbilled professional services.”
Paul felt that
dutiful and diligent
shepherds of God’s flock,
ought to be honored in
in proper esteem
Paul’s meaning becomes apparent in his following statement: “
For the Scripture says, ‘You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.’ And in another place, ‘
Those who work deserve their pay!’”
(1 Timothy 5:18, NLT).
The apostle argued that,
if God in His law
had made provision
for the hard-working ox
Deuteronomy 25:4), then
members of Christ’s body
show proper concern
their spiritual leaders
Paul’s second statement,
“The laborer deserves his wages”
closely resembles these words of Jesus
“For the worker deserves his wages”
Elsewhere, Paul said, “
Those who are taught the word of God should
provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them
” (Galatians 6:6, NLT).
The church has an obligation to protect
dedicated leaders from being
overworked and underpaid.
to adequately support them indicates a
lack of honor
Paul’s use of “double honor” is probably associated
with the “double portion” reserved for the
oldest son in a family
The dual benefit of being the
respect and financial reward.
Paul worked as a tentmaker to support himself in ministry
(Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 9:3–18; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8)
but considered his position the exception, not the rule.
Scripture teaches that it is both
suitable and essential
for Christian ministers
to receive financial support
congregations they serve,
just as a laborer rightly deserves
a paycheck from his employer.
Paul singled out
preachers and teachers,
indicating that their work is of
utmost importance in the church.
Those who fulfill these services in a commendable manner are especially deserving of double honor.
Elijah realized the request was
not his to grant
Therefore, he made the
Fulfillment of the Request
on a condition
Hands of God
“You have asked a difficult thing, . . .
yet if you see me
when I am taken from you,
it will be yours—otherwise, it will not”
(2 Kings 2:10).
a double portion of Elijah’s
is an allusion to
described in Deuteronomy 21:17
indicates that Elisha’s
request was to be
HEIR to Elijah’s
office and gifts
In answer to that request, Elisha did indeed witness Elijah’s most amazing exit:
“As they were walking along and talking together,
suddenly a chariot of fire
horses of fire appeared
separated the two of them,
from Darkness and
Elijah went UP
In a whirlwind”
The mode of transportation God chose for Elijah
contains some important symbolism.
The horses speak of power and speed;
the chariot speaks of
protection and triumph
The whole being
speaks of glory
God took His servant speedily,
triumphantly into the glories of heaven,
guarding his soul all the way.
The prophet who had shown such fiery zeal for God--
and who had literally
called down fire from heaven several times
(1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 1)--
taken to heaven in fire
The manner in which Elijah was translated to heaven, with a
and horses of fire,
may have been primarily for Elisha’s sake.
God was granting Elisha’s request
to receive a double portion of Elijah’s power,
and God was making sure that Elisha knew the
condition had been met. Elisha had to see Elijah
being taken up,
and there was
no way he could
The spectacle God displayed
In taking Elijah to heaven
a fiery, stormy manner,
God assured Elisha that he would
succeed Elijah in the
Seeing Elijah going to heaven
with the flaming horses,
the chariot of fire,
and the whirlwind would have
had a profound effect
on Elisha throughout
If ever he doubted that he
chosen by God,
he could remember the
If ever he questioned
power of God,
he could recall
of fire and the
horses of fire.
God’s awesome display of
fitted him for service.
Such a display is reminiscent of
His power to Moses
at the burning bush,
fitting Moses for service (Exodus 3:1–10).
Heavenly fire is associated with
angels in other places in Scripture.
When God opened the eyes
of Elisha’s servant, he saw an angelic host,
described as “
horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).
Angels are not mentioned at the translation of Elijah,
but the heavenly fire—the heavenly glory—certainly is.
In taking Elijah to heaven,
Perhaps those who saw
Jesus taken up
Mount of Olives
hidden in an internet cloud
would have been reminded of
Those disciples who witnessed
served God with dedication
the rest of their lives, just as Elisha did.
(Matthew 22:34–40; Mark 12:28–34)
These are the commandments
and statutes and ordinances that
the LORD your God has instructed me
to teach you to follow in the land
that you are about to enter and possess,
you and your children and grandchildren
may fear the LORD your God
all the days of your lives
by keeping all His statutes and commandments
that I give you,
and so that your days may be prolonged.
Hear, O Israel, and be careful
to observe them,
so that you may prosper and multiply
greatly in a land
flowing with milk and honey,
just as the LORD, the
God of your fathers, has promised you.
Hear, O Israel:
The LORD our God,
LORD is ONE
And you shall love the LORD your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength.
These words I am commanding you today are to be upon your hearts.
And you shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
And when the LORD your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that He would give you—a land with great and splendid cities that you did not build,
with houses full of every good thing with which you did not fill them, with wells that you did not dig, and with vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you eat and are satisfied,
be careful not to forget the LORD who brought you out of
The land of Egypt,
out of the
House of slavery
Fear the LORD your God,
serve Him only,
You oaths in
Do not follow other gods,
The gods of the peoples
For the LORD your God,
is a jealous God. Otherwise the
ANGER of the LORD
your God will be
kindled against you,
and He will
Wipe You Off
Face of the Earth
DO NOT TEST
LORD YOUR GOD
Tested HIM at Massah.
YOU ARE to diligently
LORD your God
Testimonies and Statues
Do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD,
so that it may be well with you and that
you may enter and possess the good land that
the LORD your God swore to give your fathers,
driving out all your enemies before you,
as the LORD has said.
In the future, when your son asks,
“What is the meaning of the decrees and statutes and ordinances
that the LORD our God has commanded you?”
then you are to tell him,
“We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but
brought us out
of Egypt with a mighty hand
Before our eyes the LORD
great and devastating signs and wonders
on Pharaoh, and on all his household.
But He brought us out
from there to lead us in and
give us the land that
He had sworn to our fathers.
And the LORD commanded us
to observe all these statutes and to
fear the LORD our God,
may always be prosperous and preserved,
as we are to this day.
And if we are careful to observe
every one of
The LORD our God,
He has commanded us,
then that will
be our righteousness.”
(officially Juneteenth National Independence Day)
is a federal holiday in the United States-
commemorating the emancipation of
enslaved African Americans.
Deriving its name from combining June and nineteenth,
it is celebrated on
issued by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865,
proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas.
Originating in Galveston, Juneteenth has since been observed annually in various parts of the United States, often broadly
The day was first
recognized as a
federal holiday in
when President Joe Biden
signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act
into law after the efforts
of Lula Briggs Galloway, Opal Lee, and others.
Early celebrations date to 1866, at
first involving church-centered community gatherings
in Texas. They spread across the South and became
more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often
Participants in the Great Migration
these celebrations to
the rest of the country
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s,
these celebrations were eclipsed by the nonviolent determination
to achieve civil rights,
but grew in popularity again
in the 1970s
with a focus on African American
freedom and African-American
Beginning with Texas by proclamation in 1938, and by
legislation in 1979, every U.S. state and the District of Columbia
has formally recognized the holiday in some way.
Juneteenth is celebrated by the Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles
who escaped from slavery in 1852 and settled in
Celebratory traditions often include public readings of the
songs such as
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"
and "Lift Every Voice and Sing",
and the reading
noted African-American-writers, such as
Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou.
Juneteenth celebrations may also include
rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions,
parties, historical reenactments, and
Miss Juneteenth contests
the first week of
70 weeks began,
beginning of my ministry
first new federal holiday since
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
was adopted in
AN ABOMINATION UNTO
LORD YOUR GOD
World Political System
LAW of GOD
CREATOR of UNIVERSE
MAN HERETICAL, SCHEMINGLY
CRAFTED, DEMONIC SPIRIT
UNDER MY NAME
YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY
HELL IS UPON YOU
COMPLETELY DEPLORABLE MISREPRESENTATION
ZERO SCRIPTURAL UNDERSTANDING
PLAGUE OF IDOLATRY
GOD of THE UNIVERSE
IDOLATRY EMPIRE of SINFUL
GOD OF THE UNIVERSE
THE WORD of GOD
ALL for POWER and MONEY and FAME
ALL from EXPLOITING GODS WORD
for their sinful, human, fleshly ADVANTAGE
and GROOM the MOST VULNERABLE people of ALL
by luring them into a FALSE GOSPEL
that WILL NOT SAVE THEM or FREE THEM
ENSLAVING Followers in SIN
ONLY UNFORGIVABLE SIN
DETESTABLE TO GOD
CARRYING out ANTICHRIST
RELIGIOUS SLAVERY and
SINS of their FOREFATHERS
CANT READ THE WORD of GOD
AN EMPIRE of INFECTIOUS
PLAGUES infiltrating the
The HOLY SPIRIT LED ME to this
after hearing a FIRST Wednesday SERMON
HEADS UP It was LAST
FIRST Wednsday when
JESUS was TRAPPED
THIS SITE IS DESIGNED TO
INVITE HIM INTO YOUR HEART, MAKE HIM LORD
OF YOUR LIFE!
THE ABOVE INVITATION IS A
Jesus is already Lord over all life as he is God. He comes to live inside of you when you trust him as your Savior and at that moment you receive eternal life and the promise of The Holy Spirit who will keep you until the day of redemption. Jesus said it is finished, when he died for your sins on the cross.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28
Come unto me,
all ye that labour
are heavy laden,
I will give you rest.
Invite Him in your Heart,
Him Lord of your life
For other uses, see Cult (disambiguation).
Further information: Cult (religious practice)
classifications of religious movements
Cult is a term, sometimes considered pejorative, for a relatively small group which is typically
led by a charismatic and self-appointed leader,
who excessively controls its members,
requiring unwavering devotion to a set of beliefs
which are considered deviant
(outside the norms of society)
This term is also used for a
new religious movement or other social group
which is defined by its
unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs
and rituals, or its common interest in a
particular personality, object, or goal.
This sense of the term is weakly defined – having divergent
definitions both in popular culture and academia –
and has also been
an ongoing source of contention
among scholars across several
fields of study.
2 Corinthians 1
Paul, an apostle of
will of God,
Timothy our brother,
church of God
together with all
his holy people throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from
God our Father and
Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise to the God of All Comfort
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced-in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Paul’s Change of Plans
Now this is our boast:
Our conscience testifies
that we have
conducted ourselves in
especially in our relations
We have done so,
relying not on worldly wisdom
For we do not write you anything you cannot
read or understand.
And I hope that,
as you have understood
us in part,
You will come
That you Can Boast of Us
Just as WeWill Boast of You
in The day of the
Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?
18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.”
For the Son of God,Jesus Christ,
who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,”
but in him it has always been “Yes.”
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come
23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
An older sense of the word involves a set of religious devotional practices that is conventional within its culture, is related to a particular figure, and is frequently associated with a particular place. References to the imperial cult of ancient Rome, for example, use the word in this sense. A derived sense of "excessive devotion" arose in the 19th century.
Beginning in the 1930s, cults became an object of sociological study within the context of the study of religious behavior. Since the 1940s, the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movements, labeling them "cults" because of their unorthodox beliefs. Since the 1970s, the secular anti-cult movement has opposed certain groups and, as a reaction to acts of violence, frequently charged those cults with practicing mind control. Scholars and the media have disputed some of the claims and actions of anti-cult movements, leading to further public controversy.
Sociological classifications of religious movements may identify a cult as a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices, although this is often unclear. Other researchers present a less-organized picture of cults, saying that they arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices. Groups labelled as "cults" range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions.
When people hear the word cult, they often think of a group that worships Satan, sacrifices animals, or takes part in evil, bizarre, and pagan rituals. However, in reality, a cult rarely involves such things. In fact, a cult, in the broadest sense of the word, is simply a religious system with particular rites and customs.
Usually, though, a cult is more narrowly defined, and the word refers to an unorthodox sect whose members distort the original doctrines of the religion. In a Christian context, the definition of a cult is, specifically, “a religious group that denies one or more of the fundamentals of biblical truth.” A cult is a group that teaches doctrines that, if believed, will cause a person to remain unsaved. A cult claims to be part of a religion, yet it denies essential truth(s) of that religion. Therefore, a Christian cult will deny one or more of the fundamental truths of Christianity while still claiming to be Christian.
The two most common teachings of Christian cults are that Jesus was not God and that salvation is not by faith alone. A denial of the deity of Christ results in the view that Jesus’ death was insufficient to pay for our sins. A denial of salvation by faith alone results in the teaching that salvation is achieved by our own works. The apostles dealt with cults in the early years of the church: for example, John addresses the teaching of Gnosticism in 1 John 4:1–3. John’s litmus test for godly doctrine was “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (verse 2)—a direct contradiction of the Gnostic heresy (cf. 2 John 1:7).
The two most well-known examples of cults today are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Both groups claim to be Christian, yet both deny the deity of Christ and salvation by faith alone. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe many things that are in agreement with or similar to what the Bible teaches. However, the fact that they deny the deity of Christ and preach a salvation by works qualifies them as cults. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and members of other cults are moral people who genuinely believe they hold the truth. As Christians, our hope and prayer must be that many people involved in cults will see through the lies and will be drawn to the truth of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
WHAT IS HIGHLANDS
OUT OF CONTEXT
Word of God
WHAT IS HIGHLANDS
High energy and engaging services.
do not honor God,
honor the flesh
Rock "music" with "religious words"
Hymns that are
Based on Scripture
WHAT IS HIGHLANDS
"Word" of "Faith,"
WHAT IS HIGHLANDS
Constantly proclaiming the
Name of Jesus
in every service without
This is a bloodless gospel church.
of Sin and the sin debt that must be paid.
WHAT IS HIGHLANDS
Each week providing self help messages that are based on scripture that are completely taken out of context.
WHY I AM CALLING THEM OUT
an incomplete/ false gospel,
sending people to
thinking they are saved.
I wish it wasn't so
The story of Elijah, the great prophet of Israel, being taken to heaven is found in 2 Kings 2:1–18. The chapter begins, “When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind . . .” (verse 1). The Bible doesn’t actually say that Elijah rode to heaven in a chariot of fire, but that is the assumption, since there was a flaming chariot and horses of fire at the scene, along with the whirlwind. It would make sense that Elijah boarded the vehicle that pulled up in front of him.
We don’t know whether Elijah was aware that he would ascend to heaven in such a spectacular manner, but he did know he was about to be taken from Elisha, his protégé. “Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied” (2 Kings 2:9).
Elijah realized the request was not his to grant. Therefore, he made the fulfillment of the request dependent on a condition that rested solely in the hands of God. Elijah responded, “You have asked a difficult thing, . . . yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not” (2 Kings 2:10). Asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit is an allusion to the rights of the firstborn described in Deuteronomy 21:17 and indicates that Elisha’s request was to be heir to Elijah’s prophetic office and gifts. In answer to that request, Elisha did indeed witness Elijah’s most amazing exit: “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind” (verse 11).
The mode of transportation God chose for Elijah contains some important symbolism. The horses speak of power and speed; the chariot speaks of protection and triumph. The whole being “of fire” speaks of glory. God took His servant speedily, triumphantly into the glories of heaven, guarding his soul all the way. The prophet who had shown such fiery zeal for God—and who had literally called down fire from heaven several times (1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 1)—was now taken to heaven in fire.
The manner in which Elijah was translated to heaven, with a chariot and horses of fire, may have been primarily for Elisha’s sake. God was granting Elisha’s request to receive a double portion of Elijah’s power, and God was making sure that Elisha knew the condition had been met. Elisha had to see Elijah being taken up, and there was no way he could miss the spectacle God displayed. In taking Elijah to heaven in such a fiery, stormy manner, God assured Elisha that he would succeed Elijah in the prophetic office with twice as much divine power. Seeing Elijah going to heaven with the flaming horses, the chariot of fire, and the whirlwind would have had a profound effect on Elisha throughout his ministry. If ever he doubted that he had been chosen by God, he could remember the glory he witnessed that night. If ever he questioned the power of God, he could recall the chariot of fire and the horses of fire.
God’s awesome display of power to Elisha fitted him for service. Such a display is reminiscent of God’s revealing His power to Moses at the burning bush, fitting Moses for service (Exodus 3:1–10). Heavenly fire is associated with angels in other places in Scripture. When God opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant, he saw an angelic host, described as “horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). Angels are not mentioned at the translation of Elijah, but the heavenly fire—the heavenly glory—certainly is.
In taking Elijah to heaven, God foreshadowed Christ’s ascension. Perhaps those who saw Jesus taken up from the Mount of Olives and hidden in a cloud would have been reminded of Elijah’s departure (Acts 1:6–9). Those disciples who witnessed Jesus’ ascension served God with dedication the rest of their lives, just as Elisha did.
GOD'S EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION
"I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
In Christ Jesus, who made Himself our Servant in order to free us from the slavery of sin, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Does the date "January 1st, 1863" mean anything to you? If any of you are American History buffs, you'll remember that that's the date that Abraham Lincoln issued his famous "Emancipation Proclamation," freeing the slaves. Not many people know it, but Lincoln didn't free all the slaves on that date, but only those in the Confederate states. His real purpose was to undermine the war effort in the South by reducing their manpower reserve in slaves. Nevertheless, that proclamation has gone down in history as a brilliant stroke for liberty and equality. On that day, there was a lot of laughing and dancing among the impoverished blacks of the South. Imagine the joy! They had been slaves...and now they were free!
Our text for today is an emancipation proclamation of a different kind. It's God's message of freedom to His believers. Through the Apostle Paul, God is speaking to us today, telling us to look around and realize the wonderful freedom we have in Christ. His Words in this sixth chapter of Romans are such good news - it should make us laugh out loud and dance for joy! Join me today as we consider...
I. As slaves of sin, we were
headed for death...
II. But God set us FREE,
GAVE US LIFE!
In this section of his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul is talking about a very important subject. The subject is the difference between unbelievers and believers. There is a very great difference between them, of course, but it's one which that you can't see from the outside. To our eyes, unbelieving people look just like believers, even though they're really as different as cats and dogs. So, because of our feeble human reason, Paul illustrates his point with a picture, in terms we can understand. He says, "I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh." He uses the picture of slavery. He says that a person is either a slave of sin or a slave of God. Every human being on the face of the earth is either one or the other - we can't be both! Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." -- Matt 6:24. So Paul describes both kinds of slavery. The rewards and drawbacks of each, as well as where each of them leads in the end.
Of course, the picture of slavery was more vivid for the people of first century Rome than it is for us. They had slaves all around them; it's been a hundred and thirty years since we had any slaves in this country. But did you know...that you were born into slavery? It's true! You weren't born a god, or an angel. You were born a human being, a descendant of Adam. And by your very nature as a human being, you were born under the slavery of sin. In chapter five, Paul said, "Therefore...through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin...thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." -- Rom 5:12. You've felt that human nature tugging at you, day by day, haven't you? Even though you've been a Christian since the day you were baptized, probably as a little baby, that human nature keeps pulling you back toward sin. The people Paul was talking to had all come to faith as adults. They could actually remember a time when they were completely under the slavery of sin. When pleasure and money and selfish desire were their only masters. So Paul asks them to compare what life was like before they came to faith with what came after.
Paul says one interesting thing about the slavery of sin - it does have a certain kind of freedom! "For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness." Before they became believers, those Roman could and did ignore the will of God. They were free to "present their members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness." They had no god to answer to except the god of their own lust and greed. It was a very appealing kind of "freedom," and it still is! "Who says you can't have it all?" the TV blares. Why serve the true God?
Why humble yourself in repentance
and put God first in your life,
when you can put you first, instead?
For some time now, the entire Pacific Northwest has been in the grips of a supposedly "new" religion called the "New Age Movement,"
led by former actress Shirley McLaine. It's a faith that centers,
not on God, but on the worshipper himself...
His self-fulfillment, realizing his goals.
It's a religion, alright...but it's
same old slavery to sin
warns against in his second epistle,
"They speak great swelling words of emptiness,
they allure through the lusts of the flesh...
while they promise them liberty,
they themselves are slaves of corruption." --
II Pet 2:18-19
But the worst part of being a slave to sin -
the part nobody talks about very much - is
where it leads in the end.
And not just physical death; even Christians go through that, and, for them, it's just the doorway to life. Paul's talking about eternal death! He asks, "What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death...for the wages of sin is death." What are the "fruits" - the outcome - of being a slave to sin? Where do all the various paths of sin inevitably lead? To eternal death. To the incredible, unending agony of hell itself!
- That's the bad news. The Good News is that God has made an "emancipation proclamation" of His own. He has set us free from the slavery of sin. This is true freedom, not a fake! It's the freedom Jesus promised through His Word, when He said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free...and if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." -- Jn 8:31-32,36. God's emancipation proclamation took effect when Jesus completed the work He came to do, dying for our sins on the cross.
When Jesus said to the world, "It is finished!",
God said to us, "You are free! All your sins are forgiven,
and you are My children once again!"
But - did you notice in the text? - Paul still uses the term "slaves" to describe us Christians. "But now having been set free from sin, you have become slaves of God..." "What's the difference?" you might ask. "A slave is a slave." But that's not necessarily true! Theodore Sedgwick had a slave.
Sedgwick was the speaker of the
U.S. House of Representatives
at the beginning of the 1800s, and he
female slave named Mumbet.
One day she heard the Declaration of Independence being read out at a town meeting. The next day she went to see Sedgwick in his office. "Sir," she said, "I heard that we are all born equal, and every one of us has the right to be free." Sedgwick was so impressed with her simple statement that he promptly set her free. And how did Mumbet react? She was so grateful that she stayed with the Sedgwick family and served them for the rest of her life!
What a great picture of the Christian life! God has set us free from the slavery of sin. He's given us free forgiveness as a gift. Serving Him with our whole lives is the way we react to that gift. "Slavery" isn't really the word for it. We serve God, not because we have to, but because we want to. Our devotion to Him is a result of our joy at being free. Because of what Jesus did for us, God is no longer a fierce judge waiting to condemn us for our sin. Now He's our loving Father, who has adopted us into His very own family by faith. Do the sins you have committed ever make you afraid? No need! "For," Paul says, "you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'" (Rom 8:15.
The results of our emancipation should be obvious to the people around us. Our text calls them "the fruits unto holiness." We Christians worship God, and serve our neighbor out of love. We don't worship ourselves. We don't concentrate on serving only our own selfish interests, like so much of the rest of the world. We know there's a lot more to life than "looking out for number one!" Our joy in our redemption is reflected in sanctified lives - the way we speak and live. It always makes me laugh when someone stereotypes the typical Christian as a stern and tight-lipped person - that's not what Christianity's about at all! Faith in Jesus is about forgiveness and healing and happiness. It's about living fulfilling, meaningful lives in service to God, free from guilt, free from worry about the future.
"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Here's the last and most important difference between the slaves of sin and the servants of God. It's the final outcome. We Christians have the confidence that, on the Last Day, the salvation Jesus earned for us will bear the final, glorious fruit that God promised - eternal life. What a freedom that gives us - think of it! No matter what happens to you in this life, no matter what trials you go through, no matter what problems you confront, you know beforehand that everything will be alright in the end! Jesus' blood guarantees you a place in heaven. And the faith God has already given you is a down-payment on that guarantee. Peter speaks of the happiness you have in Jesus Christ, "...whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls." -- I Pet 1:8-9.
One night a father saw a light beneath the door of his son's bedroom. Wondering what his son was doing at such a late hour, he went to the door and heard the boy saying, "If you only knew what I know; if you only knew what I know." The next day the boy told his father what was happening. The boy was reading a wild west thriller and had gotten toward the middle of the book where the plot was getting thicker and darker and the hero was being outrageously abused and disgraced. The villain, winning at every turn, was gloating over his triumph. When the boy couldn't stand the suspense any longer, he turned to the last page to see how the story was going to turn out.
There he saw
The hero gloriously vindicated
Villain suitably punished.
He went back to the middle of the story, but now
instead of agonizing he was rejoicing
in the midst of the
dark plot because he
knew the outcome ahead of time
“If you only knew what I know;"
"if you only knew what I know!"
The end of The Story
Even when the plot gets dark around us,
let us continue to faithfully serve the God
who has set us free from sin.
We know that
He will bestow
on us the
ultimate freedom...in eternity!
In Jesus' Name
Faithful and True
total trustworthiness, reliability,
and constancy of Jesus Christ.
The title reveals His character and
makes known His words and works.
In Revelation 19:11, John sees a vision of Jesus as the exalted King of kings leaving heaven to return to earth: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” This picture of Christ’s second coming at the end of the age shows Jesus no longer as the peaceful, humble servant riding on a lowly donkey (John 12:12–15). Now He is the victorious King, charging forth like a conquering war general, leading His troops into battle (Revelation 19:14).
In this vivid portrayal, John identifies Jesus by four different titles, beginning with Faithful and True. It is the first and only time this name of Jesus appears in Scripture. The second title is unknown to us (Revelation 19:12); the third is the Word of God (verse 13); the fourth is King of kings and Lord of lords (verse 16).
The word for “Faithful” in the original language means “characterized by steadfast affection or allegiance,” and the word translated “True” means “truthful or characterized by expressing the truth.” The nature of Jesus Christ—His whole being—exudes faithfulness and truth. Earlier, in Revelation 3:14, Jesus called Himself the “faithful and true witness” in His letter to the church in Laodicea. Faithful and True is who Jesus Christ is.
In His first coming to earth, Jesus proved Himself to be faithful to the mission and will of God His Father: “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4; see also John 5:30; Hebrews 3:6; Luke 4:43). Never once did the Lord give in to the temptation to sin (Hebrews 4:15–16), from the time Satan tempted Him in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13) until His death on the cross (Matthew 16:21–23; 26:36–44; Mark 8:31–33; 14:32–42; Luke 22:40–46).
From the day Isaiah foretold His coming, Christ’s faithfulness was known (Isaiah 11:5; 42:3). As a young man (Luke 2:49) and throughout His ministry, Jesus was a faithful and obedient servant to His Father God (John 4:34; 6:38; 8:29; 12:27; 14:31). Jesus is consistently the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Others will wear out, change, or perish, but Jesus Christ remains the same for all eternity (Hebrews 1:11–12).
Jesus, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life,” is the very embodiment of truth (John 14:6). He came from His Father “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And His promise of eternal life is true: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24, ESV; see also John 6:47).
Because of the fidelity inherent in His character, Jesus is faithful toward His followers in every circumstance. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself,” declares 2 Timothy 2:13 (see also Matthew 28:20; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23).
Faithful and True is a fitting title for Jesus Christ our King, and He calls His followers to emulate His faithfulness and truth (Revelation 14:12; Hebrews 10:23). The entire book of Revelation conveys a message to the church of Jesus Christ to be faithful and true, just as He is Faithful and True.
In Revelation 19:11, when John sees the gates of heaven open, the One who has been Faithful and True from ages past appears at the end of time to wage His final battle. Jesus Christ comes with justice to judge and wage war, and He will triumph over the enemies of God! The outcome is sure because He is Faithful and True. He will do what He has promised to do. He shall defeat the devil once and for all. He will destroy the power of death, wiping away every sorrow, tear, and pain from the hearts of His devoted followers (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:14).