Monday, January 24, 2011

The Eternal Relief Of The Righteous -- Psalm 9:5-17

Christ's Second Coming will be a glorious day
for the disciple of Christ and for those who
"died in the Lord." However, for the
unbelieving soul, that return of Christ will
mark their eternal sentence judgment by the
Lord Himself, who will say:  "....Depart from 
me,  ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared  
for the devil and his angels...." Matthew 25:31-46 

“The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)


One Key To Understanding Holy Scripture

The culture of our day is increasingly changing its understanding of the definition of the “truth.” “’Scientific’ truth” is regarded paramount and all other reality is beneath this “cultural god.”

Some time ago, my wife and I viewed a history channel special on the “Exodus.” Without exception, all the miracles recorded in Scripture dealing with the Israelite exodus, were explained by some sort of “naturalistic” explanation. What, by and large, our culture fails to realize, is, that the God who created the universe, needs no natural phenomena to take place in order to make the type of changes in human history which He desires to make.

The same God who created the universe is the same Triune God who created human history. He is, by definition “supernatural.” And, what He does, He does, “supernaturally.” His supernatural behavior and acts supersede the scientific. I prefer to reference “science,” not so much as truth, but reality. When it comes to the truth, Christians who believe in the Triune God look to Christ who claims to be the Truth. For us, the truth is a no-brainer. The Scriptures tell us that in Christ, “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3

The above pic is an example of  a "paradox."
Scripture is replete with examples, which to the unregenerate mind, are contradictory. One example keeps cropping up with unbelievers who charge God with not being true to His loving nature. They ask the question: “How can a loving God be a loving God that He claims to be and then send people to hell when they die?”

Some people will continually view God’s Gift, the Bible, as contradictory because they don’t realize that there is such a reality as the “paradox.” A paradox is “a statement that seems contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd but that may actually be true in fact.” (Webster) To say that God is not a God of love, simply because He allows those who choose not to have anything to do with Him, to go to hell, is unreasonable and unfair.
God is, a “God of Love” – but, at the same time, He is a “God of Justice.” He gives the unbelieving soul their “free will” choice. He will not force the sinner and drag him into His Holy heaven! This is not contradictory. This reality is more of a paradox. God loves the sinner. But God will punish the sinner if he does not believe and repent. No contradiction here -- only for the unregenerate mind.

The Psalm 9:17 Scripture Focus and Subsequent Understanding of It

We also know from the Scripture that we are to find no amusement in the temporal and eternal demise of our enemies:
The artist's pic of the separation of those inhabiting
heaven's eternal life of bliss and those  souls
inhabiting eternal death's damnation.
Certainly if a person is living as Christ’s disciple, he will possess his share of enemies. Jesus makes this clear when it comes to even one’s own family. We are also told in one of the New Testament Epistles (2 Tim. 3:12) -- “....all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.” Proverbs 24:17-18

And so, very briefly, I propose that there is no contradiction with the reality of the wicked being cast into hell and with the righteous finding relief in that fact. Usually when we think of the “eternal ‘relief’ of the righteous” we think in terms of heavenly bliss, comfort and perfection. But for a moment, think of the Christian disciple’s relief as an eternal relief apart from his enemies, knowing assuredly that they are no longer able to wreak havoc upon his life and soul!

Without contradiction and without rejoicing over the eternal damnation of the wicked -- of those unrighteous enemies of Christ, the Christian disciple can find sweet comfort in the reality that God is true to His Word and that He ultimately punishes the wicked and gives them their chosen destiny!

It is a sweet relief to know that the unrighteous will not inhabit heaven to wreak havoc anymore upon the righteous. It is a sweet relief to know that the wicked will not contaminate the believer’s existence anymore. This is not rejoicing in the pathetic demise of the unbelieving wicked. It is rather, a triumph of victory that the dear soul who trusts Christ, is finally without strife and in a perfect place which cannot molest or destroy his sweet communion and companionship with His Righteous God and Savior.

Amen.

Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:

The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins

See also:


Old Testament:

Psalm 1:1-6 -- The Lord God will reward the righteous and bring his just punishment upon the wicked

New Testament:

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 -- The Lord God will recompense just vengenance upon those who have opposed His dear children

1 Peter 1:1-25 -- Words of (everlasting) comfort for the believer


________________________________________________

Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

___________________________________________


Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3


Note: The above message (with minor editing) was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel

Monday, January 17, 2011

Forgiveness Necessity

This topical sermon message will be far fewer of this retired parish pastor's own words, and most entirely, the words of the late Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie was a blest survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. When released from Ravensbruck, the Good and Gracious Lord led her into a world-wide Christian ministry of speaking and book writing.

The following is from her well known book, “Tramp for the Lord.” This Chapter 7 is one of the most illustrious examples of "forgiveness" that I have ever heard and / or read:

"Love Your Enemy" -- by Corrie Ten Boom

“We feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." -- [TLB] Romans 5:5

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him – a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947, and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I like to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. “When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED.’”

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin, Betsie, how thin you were!

The place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard – one of the most cruel guards.

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out:
“A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course – how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors, and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me.

“But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well, Fraulein.” Again, the hand came out, “Will you forgive me?”


And I stood there – I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven – and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place – could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there – hand held out – but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it – I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

I knew it not only as a commandment of God but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion – I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands.

And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. “I forgive you, brother! I cried. “With all my heart.” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then. But even so, I realized it was not my love. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Old Testament:

Psalm 51:1-17 -- Our sinfulness [deserving of divine punishment] before a holy and just God, and His ready and available forgiveness – Note: Verse, 7

Psalm 130:1-5 -- There is forgiveness with Creator God


New Testament:

Luke 15:10-32 -- Christ parable of the Lost Son and the Loving Father -- A story of forgiveness

John 8:1-11 -- Christ forgives the woman caught in audultery and about to be stoned

Ephesians 1:7 -- Forgiveness in the blood of Christ

Matthew 18:21-35 -- Peter's question about forgiveness & Christ’s Parable of the “Unmerciful Servant” and His teaching of the utter necessity of forgiveness. Note: Verses, 34-35 -- Also, note: Forgiveness works to the favor and benefit of the one doing the forgiving.

Luke 11:1-13 -- Christ teaches His disciples the “Lord’s Prayer.” Please note, Verse, 11:4a

Matthew 6:1-15 -- Christ’s teaching on the humble giving of charity; prayer and also the teaching of forgiveness. Note: Verses, 14-15
Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.


Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3


Note: The above message (with minor editing) was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Priesthood of All Believers and why Christian churches end up, stooping to gimmickry

Definitions:

Scriptures on the teaching of the Priesthood of all Believers:

Exodus 19:5-6 ; Psalm 50:23 ; Psalm 51:17-19 ; Psalm 141:2 ; Matthew 28:18-20 ; Hosea 14:2 ; Acts 8:1-4 ; 1 Peter 2:5-9 ; Heb. 13:10-16 ; Revelation 1:4-6

This emeritus (former Christian parish pastor) comes from a segment of Christianity which is known to highlight the “priesthood of believers” in some of its theological writings. But its “profession” of the priesthood of believers is more “lip service” than the practical embracing of the Scriptural reality. Clergy, by an large, along with their ecclesiastical [structure] “counterpart,” will not seriously teach and preach about the high privilege which Christians have regarding the priesthood of believers, because they are uncomfortable (and, perhaps, paranoid) with its reality.

Secondly, Christian clergy will not seriously preach and teach about the priesthood of believers, because they, themselves don’t have a grasp of the teaching. They simply cannot conceive that Christian discipleship is based upon Scripture's teaching that all believers in Christ are given both the calling and responsibility to communicate the Gospel – both in its narrow [God's love] and wide [God's Law and Love] sense. Generally speaking, Christian clergy [falsely and only] see themselves as the legitimate communicators of God’s Word to a fallen world.

Thirdly, it is this Christian emeritus pastor's conviction, that Christian pastors who possess their specific calling at local congregations [“mediate ‘call’”] are under the (mistaken) impression that Christ’s Great Commission to all believers usually and / or, only begins and takes place within the context of the local church. Hence, [for instance -- as, an example] when you hear a sermon at a local Christian church about “missions,” its framework is cast in denominational perspective.


Remember when Christ sent out 70 of his disciples? That was before Christian churches with their perspective leadership (structure) elders [pastors] were formed, as recorded in the Book of Acts. But "modern day" pastors of local congregations will end up making the application to the sermon, (applying this historical account, recorded in the one Gospel), to be the following [only] modern day model for the average rank-in-file church member. That “model” is to pray for seminary [or Bible college] students and to contribute to the particular “church at large,” [denomination] for those students to enter theological academic training and to graduate for the purpose of becoming ["called"] local pastors.

Most always within Christianity, is the following overlooked and discarded:

There is no New Testament Christian evidence for seminary and / or Bible school training, - none, whatsoever. The invention of formal theological training under the auspices of church hierarchy grew out of the control and manipulation of post century Christianity.

The Scriptural New Testament model is, rather straight forward, as opposed to the modern and contrived [legal] requirements of denominational and church body conferences. Read the New Testament epistles and note how elders (pastors) were selected [called] and appointed. Specifically zero in on the Book of Acts 1:1f and the "Pastoral Epistles," of 1 and 2 Timothy 1:1f - and, the book of Titus 1:1f.

Local pastors and their congregations praying for and encouraging their own membership’s discipleship tasks in the community, are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Why? -- Because of the myopic view of Christ’s Great Commission charge. [Matthew 28:18-20] Christian discipleship and ministry are most often, only understood in the context of the local [four walled] church [building]. If various church members don’t belong to this or to that [function] in the local church and aren’t busy within its structured four walls, those church members, despite their discipleship endeavors in the community and culture, are often sterotyped and viewed as lesser (committed) church members.

What is the “Priesthood of all [Christian] believers?” What is the Scriptural basis?

The Lord God’s call to all Christian believers, is to be his disciple, “priests.” Principle source Scriptures for this privileged function, are: Matthew 28:18-20 ; 1 Peter 2: 7-9 ; Acts 8:1-4 ; Revelation 1:4-6

Why is it that our culture lacks “Christian” influence and is becoming more ungodly?

Failure to understand and implement Scripture’s teaching of the Priesthood’ of all Believers thwarts the carrying out of Christ’s Great Commission Command

One of the major reasons for this decline is that of the lack of clear understanding of church [congregational] pastors and non clergy Christians. That lack of “clear understanding” is in the area of the proper role that Christians are to play in the culture, vis-à-vis Christ’s continued call to discipleship. Matthew 28:18-20 ; Luke 14:25-35 Pastors of local congregations are to proclaim by word and life, the divine revelation. [Matthew 28:18-20 ; Matthew 5:16 ; 2 Timothy 3:1f] They are also to equip the congregational saints not only to live that same divine revelation of Law and Gospel – but to practically articulate that same divine revelation of Law and Gospel by their life and voice witness. Matthew 5:16 ; Acts 1:8

A (very) large part of equipping God’s [congregational] believers is to make them aware of their high calling and privilege in the “priesthood of [all] believers.” They are the ones working in the marketplace and culture. They are (as the Scripture says) "living letters to be read by all people." [2 Corinthians 3:2] Hence, the pastor of a local congregation of believers, is to help equip its membership to intelligently preach and teach God’s written revelation, via the Scriptures, by word and life witness. Pastors who utilize the four walled church to corral church members for this and that committee, board, function and / or, activity, are not doing their job equipping [God’s] living saints for works of "ministry," as God's "royal priests" in the community and culture. 1 Peter 2: 7-9

Those pastors who view their called and ecclesiastical position as a “be all and end all,” entirely miss the mark, and disgrace their calling in playing their part in Christ’s Great Commission call to all believers. Instead, these pastors, (in effect), often manufacture for themselves, along with their church councils, a local hierarchy, impervious to the genuine needs of individual congregational members. Rather, than "building up" the "body of believers" in their local church, pastors, along with the church structure of boards and council, impede the Great Commission Call and the realization of the Priesthood of all believers for every member of the local flock.

Pastors are to pray for, preach and teach their flocks the Scriptures, and to encourage them to take the Scripture message of both God’s law and love [as revealed, in the Scriptures] into the “street” -- [the public -- wherever they work, socialize and conduct their business].

Equally important for pastors of local congregations, are to teach church members to “contend for the faith, once delivered to the saints.” [Epistle of Jude 3-4] This entails, educating -- teaching and preaching in a practical and understandable manner how members of the Christian congregation can best stand against the ever encroaching culture which would squeeze all of us, into its mold. [Romans 12:2] It is one thing to enjoy as a pastor, the congregation’s faithfulness, but to become thrilled with their ability to defend the Christian Faith in the culture, has to be most satisfying, indeed [2 Peter 1:2-11] -- that is, of course, if the pastor can lay aside his own [self] importance (pride) and humble himself. Philippians 2:3-11

Why is there often, such a huge “gulf of disconnect” between members of Christian congregations and their called pastors?

Christian churches often resort to “gimmickry,” [explained, below] because:

They no longer hold the Scripture to be God’s "inspired" (word) communication for all peoples. They no longer (either) care about Christ’s Great Commission Call – or, have lapsed into a state of indifference – allowing the cares of the culture to consume them. Matthew 13:3-23

There is a “gulf of disconnect” between members of Christian congregations and their called pastors, because there is lack of learning and understanding of the proper Scriptural “roles” to be “played” [exercised] by each party.

Christian gimmickry can range from a continued practice of church sponsored chicken dinners and / or, bingo, to [supposedly] cute church road signs.Some churches go to great lengths to advertise in the media. I’m always suspicious when I view elaborate TV or print ads –- just as I’ve been always suspicious of church “greeters.” I’ve even [jokingly] been known to state that I could tell whether a church was friendly or unfriendly, because of the “over-kill” of greeters upon entering a church. Have you ever noticed how quick and easy it is for one to be greeted – but, after the church service, there is little or no contact?

Finally, Christian churches either diminish or do away with the carrying out of Christ’s Great Commission Command, because they basically have disregarded the Scriptures of which they are to trumpet and communicate. Christian pastors often mislead their flocks. Christian church members make it unbearable for their pastors to lead and educate them. Those same church members will often avoid their Christian responsibility and duty in the community and culture and attempt to exert undue influence within the Christian congregation, thus squeezing the pastor between unreasonable demands in the local congregation and unnecessary expectations of the church [denominational] structure, exercised by stubborn and unyielding ecclesiasts [church hierarchical figures].

No local church is perfect. And, I believe that no church denomination is perfect. No matter how much a particular church body [denomination] professes itself to preach and teach the Word of God in all of its truth and purity –- there will be [and, are] “aberrations.” Local churches and their perspective church denominations are rife with under-emphasis and over-emphasis of Biblical teaching and, also sins of omission.

Friends, be encouraged. Christ stated that His church would prevail against the very “gates of hell.” [Matthew 16:13-19] As Christians confess in the words of the Apostle’s Creed – there is the “holy Christian church” – “the communion of saints.” It is to this [greater] “church” that one must belong and be a member. This membership was purchased by Christ, who was born a perfect individual; lived among the human race; suffered and was sacrificed for all human sin, to assuage God’s anger and just damnable punishment in hell for the sinner.

It is this priest's hope and prayer, that all of you reading and hearing this message, will, (by God’s grace) more fully realize Christ’s significance and impact upon your life and hereafter [eternal] destiny. Your soul is priceless. Flee to the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures for your daily guidance and comfort. And put your faith in the Triune God’s never failing gift of Christ, your Savior.

Amen.

Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins

Exodus 19:5-6a: Please note, regarding this Exodus Scripture -- "Because of unbelief Israel failed to realize the promise of God, and the nation forfeited its place as God's own people. During the present age, the church occupies the favored place that Israel lost through disobedience."

[William MacDonald, "Believer's Bible Commentary, commenting on 1 Peter 2: 7-9]

Some Old Testament Background: ……Now, as the Old Testament priesthood foreshadowed Christ, so it was also a shadow of the universal priesthood of believers. According to prophecy, Christ was to have a following, a priesthood of believers, who through faith in Him would be His own, have free access to God through Him, and would serve Him in holiness and righteousness. Addressing the eternal Priest after the order of Melchiizedek, David declares: “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Ps. 110:3). God’s people of the New Testament are told (Isaiah 61:6): "But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord, men shall call you the ministers of our God.” Speaking of the time when the Levitical priesthood would be no more, God says: “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name and a pure offering, for My name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Mal. 1:11). With these words He predicts a priesthood not the tribe of Levi or the house of Aaron. In the New Testament we see the fulfillment of these prophecies. All believers in Christ, but only these, are priests of the Most High. Peter, contrasting believers and unbelievers, addresses the former with the words: “Unto you therefore which believe He [Christ, the chief Cornerstone] is precious: (1 Pet. 2:7, 8, 9). These words include all to whom Christ is precious, that is, all believers………. --

["The Universal Priesthood of Believers" by L.W. Spitz; Centennial Series: "The Abiding Word" -- CPH; St. Louis, 1958]Matthew 28:18-20 -- Christ's Great Commission Command [Call] --

Note: See also, John 20:22, in context. Also note other Scripture references in the above topical message.

Also, very noteworthy: ......"A Priest is not identical with Presbyter or Minister -- for one is born to be priest, one becomes a minister." All are priests, not all are ministers. There is priesthood and there is a ministry. They are not the same, yet both are God-given, and there exists between them a contrapuntal relationship........

[Above, taken from the chapter on "The Ministry," -- "The Church and Her Fellowship, Ministry, and Governance," by Professor Kurt E. Marquart; Published by The International Foundation for Lutheran Confessional Research, Fort Wayne, Indiana]



Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note: The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3

Note: The above sermon message (with minor editing) was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel

Definitions and notes for the topical message of:


Christ’s Great Commission Call

Christ’s Great Commission Call is that call to all Christian believers of all ages to make [Christian] disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Note that in Christ’s Words, He promised to be with his own, until the end of the age [world]. By stating this, Christ’s call to His disciples, implicitly applies to future generations, years and centuries, until His Second Coming. [Acts 1:1-11 ; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ; Matthew 28:18-20] Note that in Christ’s Words, He promised to be with his own, until the end of the age [world].

Priesthood of believers

The "Priesthood of believers" is the Lord God’s call to all Christian believers, to be his disciple, “priests.” Principle source Scriptures: Matthew 28:18-20 ; 1 Peter 2: 7-9 ; Acts 8:1-4 ; Revelation 1:4-6.

Note: ".......All who by faith in Jesus Christ as their Redeemer and Mediator have forgiveness of sins are priests before God. Since sin no longer separates them from God, they have free access to Him. They may approach Him personally. Thus the name "priest" belongs to every believer. It is no longer reserved for any particular order within the Church. And this name is not a mere empty title; it gives expression to the rights and powers of Christ's people. It also reminds them of their duties and responsibilities........" --

["The Universal Priesthood of Believers" by L.W. Spitz; Centennial Series: "The Abiding Word" -- CPH; St. Louis, 1958]

Exodus 19:5-6a: Please note, regarding this Exodus Scripture --"Because of unbelief Israel failed to realize the promise of God, and the nation forfeited its place as God's own people. During the present age, the church occupies the favored place that Israel lost through disobedience."

[William MacDonald, "Believer's Bible Commentary, commenting on 1 Peter 2: 7-9]

Mediate call

God’s "'mediate' call" to an individual Christian, through a local “church” body [assembly of believers] is for the purpose of the [formal] public preaching and teaching of the Gospel [God’s Word] and administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to a specific body (congregation) of believers. In today’s culture, this particular call’s requirement is the prerequisite of some type of formal academic Bible [or, seminary] training. Once completed, and the individual suitably “certified,” the candidate for a local congregation’s call, is beholden to a church body’s ecclesiastical structured, authority. Once, finally, placed [and / or, “called”] to a local congregation, the pastor finds himself functioning as servant to the local congregation, beholden to their particular needs – but also, [sadly and pathetically] beholden to the larger [controlling] ecclesiastical church body, which often becomes manipulative and domineering, rather than [strictly] functioning as an advisory body to local churches and their pastors.

Immediate call

God’s "'immediate' [specific] call" are to certain individual Christian disciples to fulfill by their life, vocation, circumstance, example and daily ministrations, the Great Commission of Christ. This includes preaching and teaching the Gospel vis-à-vis daily interactions in the workplace, community and culture. All Christian believers are called to function in the “priesthood of believers,” but not all Christian believers possess an “immediate call.” The immediate [personal] call from the Lord can be a call for a moment or for a long duration of time –- always, dependent upon the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance.

Also, it should be stated, that the “immediate call” can be a "prelude" to those individuals seeking to be pastors of local churches, -- where, after a given amount of time, after having fulfilled certain ecclesiastical requirements, are then "given" [offered] a "mediate" call to serve a particular local church (fellowship of believers).

Note: Although ecclesiastical (church) authority and individual pastors of congregations are vaguely aware of the “priesthood of all believers” and the “immediate (personal) call,” -- their awareness, generally, only pays lip service to both these Scriptural realities in [and for] the rank-in-file, Christian’s life. Hence, there sometimes, [and, oftentimes] ensues, misunderstanding, paranoia and even subtle persecution of Christians in their exercise of the “priesthood of all believers,” and the “immediate call,” its ministrations and activities.

An important distinction:......"A Priest is not identical with Presbyter or Minister -- for one is born to be priest, one becomes a minister." All are priests, not all are ministers. There is priesthood and there is a ministry. They are not the same, yet both are God-given, and there exists between them a contrapuntal relationship........

[Above distinction, taken from the chapter on "The Ministry," -- "The Church and Her Fellowship, Ministry, and Governance," by Professor Kurt E. Marquart; Published by The International Foundation for Lutheran Confessional Research, Fort Wayne, Indiana]

"Difference between the personal priesthood of all Christians and the public ministry:"

"Whenever Christians perform the rights and duties of their royal priesthood, they act as private persons and not as public officials of the Church. As we distinguish between a private citizen and a public official, so must we distinguish between an individual Christian and the called minister of the congregation. What both do may in a given case be exactly the same thing; the one acts as an individual Christian on the basis of his royal priesthood, which may not be curtailed in any manner; the other acts on the basis of the call he received from his fellow-Christians. One acts, under God, in his own name; the other acts, under God, in the name of the congregation which has called him.

This very distinction limits the sphere of a Christian as a royal priest to such things as he can do as an individual Christian, and it excludes those things in which many Christians act jointly as a congregation. Thus the public preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments, church discipline, and the excommunication of the impenitent sinner from a congregation no individual Christian may claim for himself on the basis of his royal priesthood. In these matters the entire congregation acts, and it acts through its called minister."

[Above taken from: "A Summary of Christian Doctrine" by Edward W.A. Koehler -- Second Revised Edition; Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1952]

1 Corinthians 1:26-29: "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

If He was a man of the world, Yeshua would have chosen the elite of His day to accomplish His mission -- however He used simple fishermen. These men were considered uneducated, lacking "social status", wealth or worldly distinction of any kind -- yet these "simple" men were the ones the Lord selected to build the Kingdom of God.

When the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt, God didn't send an army to deliver them, He sent a single man. But a single man of God was shown to be greater than the most powerful kingdom on Earth. Throughout the Bible, we read of the Lord choosing and using the weak things of the world to confound and shame the wise and powerful. God seems to love revealing His awesome power through humble vessels, so that no flesh can glory in His presence.....

......don't allow the enemy to convince you that God cannot use you because you are "flawed", weak, or seemingly inconsequential. No, instead, remember that He uses the base, despised, nonentities of this world, ordinary, often broken, people...to do extraordinary things. Our God is not looking at your wealth, your social status or your education -- He's looking at your heart! If your heart is willing and your life is available, then He is more than able to perform miraculous work through you for His Kingdom's sake. With so much work to be done, don't allow the enemy to stifle or steal the Lord's vision for your life –- He has a plan to use you to confound the wise of this world, and to bring to naught the things that are!

Source of above -- Taken from: "Worthy News Brief - Monday, July 26, 2010" --http://www.worthynews.com/

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Celebrating the New Year -- Taking note of Christ's words, "Behold, I come quickly!"

Will you make it to the new year? And, if you do;
will you live to the end of the new year? Are
you prepared to meet your Maker? Do you have
the faith necessary to please God? Hebrews 11:6.
Or, are you one of those duped by a false
representation of the Christian Religion that says
everything is okay because because you are one
of God's creation?
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters….” [Isaiah 55:1]

Faithful Christians celebrate this new New Year with a thoughtful and resolute awareness of their one true love – that, being, the presence of their Lord, and Christ. No greater and faithful friend can a person have, than to possess Creator, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


To the non Christian, there isn't any experience that genuinely incorporates the future with lasting hope. All that remains in this life, is the “ticking away,” measured in minutes, hours, days, and years – and, finally, the “end.” Those who do not embrace the Lord of Life cannot experience everlasting life once this earthly (temporal) life is soon, expended. Matthew 7:13-29 ; Matthew 25:31-46

In the last book of the Christian Scriptures, there is recorded the Savior, Lord Christ’s, pointed promise to return to the earth in which he was born:

“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Revelation 3:11

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Revelation 22:12

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20


Who is this “Christ” who promises to “quickly” return?

With every Christmas holiday Season, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ – the true God, being born into human flesh. [Luke 1:26-56 ; Luke 2:1-39] He came to our world, in order to live the perfect [sinless] life we humans can never live, and then to suffer and die a sacrificial death for all human sin, thereby making it possible for the [individual] forgiveness of sin for every human being. [1 Timothy 1:15 ; John 3:14-21] This was accomplished on a Roman Cross. The work of Christ makes it possible for a just and sinless God to turn His anger, wrath and eternal punishment away from forgiven sinners so that they might qualify for “life” everlasting [heaven] rather than “death” everlasting [hell] in the hereafter. Mark 16:15-16 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 


The Scripture declares that a person is made right
with God because of His unmerited favor (grace).
But,it is through "faith," in which that is effected
Ephesians 2:8-9 
Now, just because God provided His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to atone [pay] for the world's sins; that does not translate into every human soul becoming part of God's heavenly family. Why? Because "faith" is involved. And, the Scripture says that without faith it is impossible to please God. [Hebrews 11:6] Faith is the God-gifted spiritual quality which causes a human soul to truly believe. It takes God-given faith to believe that your sins have offended God and His Ten Commandment standards. It takes divine faith to realize that you are a damnable sinner (headed for a just sentence and punishment of a forever hell). It takes God-given faith for you to grasp the Savior Christ, who died for your sins of thought, word, deed; sins of commission and omission. It takes God-granted faith to believe in Christ as your present and eternal deliverer from your present entanglements of sin and its future forever punishments in a God-forsaken hellish eternity.

When Christ comes back to earth, He will come as Judge


Human history (contrary to the “modern” calendar accounting) is divided into two parts – “B.C.” (before Christ) and “A.D.” (“Anno Domini,” Latin for “in the year of our Lord").

Please Reference: “What is the meaning of BC and AD (B.C. and A.D.)?” -- gotquestions.org


Recorded in the Christian New Testament Scriptures, we have readily available, Christ’s promise to return to earth as the triumphant King of Kings. He will not come as an infant as he once came as God, “incarnate” -- born as a human baby – but Christ will return as Judge of all. [Matthew 25:1f] For those who believe in Christ, it will be a glorious and triumphant time and event. For those who have rejected Christ and have not believed in Him, it will be their day of reckoning and eternal sentencing to a place of just and forever punishment in hell. John 3:18 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:8 ; Matthew 25:30

Jesus Christ will come, “quickly”


We humans measure time by our limited human understanding. Time, to us only consists of measured lengths, defined as seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. The Triune God, who created time and space is not limited to that same time and space. The Scriptures tell that time is “relative” with the Lord – one day, is, as a thousand; and, a thousand, as a day. 2 Peter 3:8

When Christ says that He will come, “quickly,” He will come soon, shortly, and without delay. His second coming to “judge the living and the dead” [The Apostle’s Creed] will be an arrival of sudden surprise. The sinner who has not been clothed with Christ’s righteousness [Matthew 22:1-14 ; Philippians 3:7-15] will be cast into a hereafter of “outer darkness.” [hell] Matthew 25:30

Unrepentant and unbelieving sinners will not
escape divine justice. God has called them to
believe in His Christ. John 3:16. But, if they
refuse; they are condemned - John 3:17;18;19

To you, oh pathetic, (lost) sinner:

To you, oh pathetic, sinner – your forever demise of just sentence and punishment speedily awaits you. Sing, dance, “eat drink and be merry” for all you care. [Ecclesiastes 11:9] But know that your life without Christ in this world will take its forever toll upon your priceless soul! Only in the eternal Christ of human history will you be able to truly and honestly live and genuinely celebrate this New Year. Without Him there is complete vanity and eternal loss to come. 

To you, oh faithful Christian:

The New Year brings continued vigilance. Christians are expected and commanded by the Lord, to await Christ’s return with sobriety and diligence, “making the most of the time, because the days [of the culture] are evil.” [Ephesians 5:15-21] Christians are expected to faithfully “occupy” their time and space until Christ returns. [Luke 19:11-27] Christians are not to relax. Christians are to feed their God-given faith by the continual hearing, reading and studying of the divine written revelation.


Faith to believe dare not be squandered and take for granted. It is by the Word of God that a Christian believer is born from above; and, it is that same Scripture Word which nourishes lasting triumphant faith. Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; Acts 8:26-39 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:14 ; James 1:18

Amen.

Please note: Cheap Grace is a Worthless Substitute for a Faith That Saves - thechristianmessage.org/2012/06/

Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Old Testament Scriptures


Psalm 1:1-6 – The Lord’s judgment upon the the wicked, versus the righteous

Ecclesiastes 11:9 – The utter foolishness of the wicked to live a wanton life without God’s presence, help and mercy

Psalm 46:1f –
God’s present help, whatever, the time

New Testament Scriptures

Matthew 25:1f – Divine Revelation’s description of unpreparedness and preparedness regarding Christ’s Second [Judgment] Coming

Philippians 3:7-15 – How to be properly prepared for Christ’s Second Coming, either that “coming” will be by death or the end of the world when Christ appears the second time

Luke 19:1-10 – Christ came to “seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 15:1f – A Gospel chapter of Christ’s parable about the lost and found.

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Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

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Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3