co-edited by John Pence Wilhelm III
I have known the Lord for almost 45 years. In the beginning I just wanted to devour as much of the Bible as I could. Over the years it got deeper and deeper embedded in me and as it did parts of it began to fall in place, as if in organized categories so that it made more sense. I also realized that it needed to be gone over with a fine tooth comb to ascertain if the “truth” I had been taught was accurate, i.e. “Prove all things” (1Thessalonians 5:21). There was a differentiation that had to be made between merely reading and truly studying and examining like the noble Bereans that the scriptures and the Lord acclaimed in Acts 17:11 NIV
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined (searched) the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true
Strong’s Concordance states that the word “searched” means to investigate, examine, scrutinize, sift and question. In other words, we are not to superficially scan but we are to dig deeply like you do for gold, diamonds and all precious stones. Remember last month when we discovered during the reading of the wheat and the tares that things were not as “true” as initially seen? We realized that tares are not just relatively harmless weeds that can be plucked out and thrown in the garbage. No, tares are darnel, apotentially fatal poison that can kill you and must be avoided at all costs. Truths similar to that idea are going to appear in this new series. I have discovered them after very diligent studying and searching, not just reading.
Lately I find myself constantly with a picture before my mind: the tabernacle in the wilderness. There was a large outer court where the natural sun shone on all those who worked there. Then came the inner court where the holy lampstand gave light. Lastly, gloriously, came the Holy of Holies into which the high priest came, but only on the Day of Atonement to ask forgiveness for the sins of himself and the nation. The blood sacrifices were done, his turban embroidered with the words “Holiness to the Lord” was in place and he was prepared to enter this sacred room. In this room dwelt no natural, man-made light – here was the supernatural Shekinah Glory of God. This was as intimate as man could be with his Creator and Heavenly Father. This is where all of us in His holy priesthood may now come. So says 1Peter 2:5
5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Have you ever noticed that God uses repetitive themes throughout His Word so that one fine glorious day these puzzle pieces begin to fit together and a bright light shines? (I think I may have mixed two metaphors in there, oh, well, I’m excited). I will give you a simple example of a verse that made so many scriptures fall in place for me. Luke 6:17 in the Lindsell Study Bible describes in a specific way the scene immediately after Jesus comes down from the mountain, having just chosen His twelve disciples:
17When they came down the slopes of the mountain, [the disciples] stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers who, in turn, were surrounded by the crowds. (Lindsell Study Bible)
Notice the progression: 12 apostles, those closest to Jesus (excluding Judas of course); the larger group of followers who surrounded them; and then “the crowds.” As a God often does, here He repeats a theme from elsewhere in the Bible. Both with the Tabernacle and this event with the disciples and the crowds, God is making the same point: some will gather around God, some will draw a little closer, and even fewer will make the effort to draw nearer to God.
Certainly some of the crowds were there to hear Him speak, but, if you read the gospels thoroughly, a large majority were there primarily to be healed. Yet of all the crowds how many were there at Golgotha to offer the comfort of their presence to Him as He hung on the cross? Of all who heard His Word, why were there only 120 in Acts 1 in the Upper Room?
Look at the illustration of the ten virgins in Matthew 25: 1-13. This was a parable told privately to the disciple (Matthew 24:3). All ten virgins had lamps. Five of the virgins were wise, constantly prepared for the coming of the Lord. However, look at the obvious distinction between them and the other five in Matthew 25:1- 4(NKJV).
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
First we need to clear up a “misteaching.” All my Christian life I had been taught that the foolish virgins were guilty of not taking enough oil in their vessels, so they ran out. That interpretation makes you believe that they were initially saved but somehow “lost their salvation.” However, I discovered from deeper research that this teaching was not accurate. (This became the second “true truth” I learned this year, the first being the one about the wheat and the darnel in the previous blog). Some Bible versions state the verse one way, some another. The ones who used the original Greek translation which states the foolish virgins had no oil to bring with them are: KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, NRSV, etc. They seemed reputable enough authorities to believe.
Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, symbolic of salvation. The five foolish virgins were never saved. They may have “looked like” they were by their good deeds in the church but their hearts never fully belonged to Jesus. During the “daytime” their true identity wasn’t visible. Their lights didn’t need to shine then, times were easy. But when the Bridegroom was delayed – and especially if the darkness was hard to bear and times were tough – then the absence of their true light became apparent. We find this idea consistent with various places in scripture.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
To make totally sure this interpretation was accurate I consulted some dependable commentaries:
23. And then will I profess unto them—or, openly proclaim—tearing off the mask. I never knew you—What they claimed—intimacy with Christ—is just what He repudiates, and with a certain scornful dignity. “Our acquaintance was not broken off—there never was any.”(Jamiesson-Faucet-BrownCommentary)https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/7-23.htm
This proves that, with all their pretensions, they had never been true followers of Christ. Jesus will not then say to false prophets and false professors of religion that he had once known them and then rejected them; that they had been once Christians and then had fallen away; that they had been pardoned and then had apostatized but that he had never known them – they had never been true christians. Whatever might have been their pretended joys, their raptures, their hopes, their self-confidence, their visions, their zeal, they had never been regarded by the Saviour as his true friends. I do not know of a more decided proof that Christians do not fall from grace than this text. It settles the question; and proves that whatever else such people had, they never had any true religion.(Barnes Notes on the Bible). https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/7-23.htm
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and youknow all things.(1John 2:18-20)
Therefore, we again have a paring down of those assembled. I was beginning to see a pattern…and it continued.
Judges 7:1-7 recounts the selection of Gideon’s God-selected army. In this episode God pared down the assembled men from 32,000 to 300, less than 1%. His reasons for ineligibility were fear (v.3) and lack of watchfulness (verses 5-7). With these 300 men and their trumpets and clay jars God and Gideon defeated the Midianites. But first God had to pare down the assembled men to discover who would fight for Him, who was whole-heartedly on His side.
Of all the paring down God performed nothing quite equals the precise surgery He performed on the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Exodus 12:37 informs us that there were 600,000 Israelites plus women and children who left Egypt the night of Passover. However, that was not the number that would enter the Promised Land. Journey with me next time as we discover who were ultimately on His side. The number might surprise you.
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