Expounding the More Perfect Way….Jesus Christ and Him Crucified Acts 18:24-28

The Bible tells us that man’s purpose is to fear God and keep His Commandments! In fact, Scripture calls this “the whole duty of man.” Reading from the THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His Commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Having heard all that can be said in favor of trying to secure happiness in this life by the use of material agents, the conclusion is: It is impossible; the only happy life is one in fellowship with God and the Bible; such fellowship produces the ideal man; any other life is madness, because there is a day coming when every action, however hidden, will be brought into the unsparing light of the Throne of God and judged, unless cleansed and covered by the Blood [I Jn 1:7])” (Eccl. 12:13). God, having revealed Himself to man through His Commandments, explains that “the Commandments,” if kept, produce perfect moral character. “That the man of God may be perfect (refers to maturity), throughly furnished unto all good works (properly understands the Word, which then produces ‘good works,’ i.e., ‘Godly lives’)” (II Tim. 3:17).

HOLINESS

You see, it is not an action, duty, or function that the Lord wants from a Believer. It is Holiness! This is the “good work”He desires from man! If we seek this state, which is pleasing to God and brings Him glory, we are automatically fulfilling our purpose as Believers. Holiness testifies of a Holy God! Holiness is Godliness! If we are not living holy lives, we are not fulfilling God’s Purpose no matter how many religious functions we fulfill. You see, servanthood may be performed with or without the Lord. Therefore, servanthood in and of itself is not a definitive witness to the world. Holiness, on the other hand, demonstrates a miraculous change! It shows that a fallen sinner has been made a Saint. It shows that the curse has been reversed! Hallelujah! And this will inevitably point people to Calvary because they will ask themselves how this new and miraculous Life has come into a once sinful man!

RELATIONSHIP

We must grasp this concept as Believers that Scripture encourages us to “seek first the Kingdom of God” and His Righteousness (Lk. 12:31). The Believer is to pursue a relationship with God rather than function. A Believer’s function will occur naturally out of correct relationship with God, but correct relationship must come first! Notice, this immediately discounts any non-believer from fulfilling any true purpose of God since he is not yet in relationship with God. A call from God is revealed to an individual by the Holy Spirit at the Lord’s Will. If a person does not know the Spirit of God, he cannot know the Spirit’s desire for his life. Also no one, whether Saved or unsaved, can cause God to reveal anything through a program, method, or “forty days of purpose”! God does not answer man-made agendas, nor will He answer to man’s clock! God is sovereign over all. He speaks at His Own Will and in His Own Time.

THE HEART OF MAN

One does not find that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob emphasized “pursuit of purpose” to these Fathers of Faith, but, if we look closely, we can see that this pursuit is actually a very basic instinct within the natural heart of man. This is why we must never forget the warnings in Scripture regarding the heart. The Bible says the heart of man is evil and deceitfully wicked, so we must be cautious of anything that originates there! “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (God knows the hopeless corruption of the natural heart, and so He said to Nicodemus that no one, however cultured and moral, can either see or enter into the Kingdom of God. There must be a new birth)” (Jer. 17:9). Our own hearts will deceive us! It is their very nature to deceive us! Believer, you must trust the Truth of the Word before you trust yourself! You must use the “Sword of the Spirit” to guard against your own devious heart. We are also told in the Book of Romans the true state of man’s heart, even religious man: “As it is written (Ps.14:1-3), There is none righteous, no, not one (addresses the complaint of the Jews and clinches the argument with the Scriptures, which the Jews could not deny): There is none who understands (proclaims total depravity), there is none who seek after God (man left on his own will not seek God and, in fact, cannot seek God; he is spiritually dead). They are all gone out of the Way (speaks of the lost condition of all men; the ‘Way’ is God’s Way), they are together become unprofitable (refers to the terrible loss in every capacity of wayward man); there is none who does good, no, not one (the Greek Text says, ‘useless!’)” (Rom. 3:10-12). This is one reason why pursuing “purpose” is dangerous! It appeals to a prideful heart, it is self-focused.

RELIGIOUS PRIDE

Also, “purpose” can quickly become an obsession, which automatically becomes an idol, a false god in your life. Purpose can become more important than Christ, and this is precisely what we are seeing in the Church world today! People are bent toward finding purposes for their life rather than finding God’s Will for their life. Some feel that if they are serving a “good” purpose in the world, they are automatically serving God. This is not true. God’s Will and a “good” will are not the same thing! A person’s desire for purpose can even control him, sometimes to the point of forsaking loved ones or even his own health. See, someone searching for purpose inevitably discovers something that drives, hence, the idea of the “purpose-driven life.” It must be noted here that the True God of the Bible never forces anyone to obey Him. God gave man free will! “Purpose,” however, can be turned into a type of religious pride (somewhat like asceticism) where the person believes they are “dying to self” in order to fulfill a higher calling or mission from God. But, any function or purpose that is truly from the Lord will only begin within an individual who loves God enough to want to follow Him. No truly God-given Purpose will make you feel that your “sacrifice” is earning favor with God.

TROJAN HORSE

“Self-actualization,” which is the process of reaching one’s highest potential and purpose, has always been at the heart of paganism. It has actually been part of the very core of New Age theology and occult practices for thousands of years. This spirituality/god is said to unite the world while true “Christianity, doctrine, and theology” is said to divide us. The pagan community strives to develop the idea of “wholeness,” which is, in essence, the teaching that a person, both individually and corporately can be regenerated or “saved” through a more thorough and complete understanding of “self.” Alice Bailey (practicing occultist) says that this is “the process for gods and for men . . . it is the hidden mystery of mind and of its place in evolution.” In other words, this is specifically the false salvation process of the occult! Let’s see how the Apostle Paul addressed the people he met at Mars Hill in Athens: “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ Hill, and said, You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious (in this one sentence, he debunks all of their philosophies; they are guided by superstition, which is no way to live). For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions (has reference to their objects of worship), I found an Altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD (by addressing the situation in this way, he could not be accused of preaching a foreign god to them). Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you (refers to them acknowledging that maybe they did not have the last word on gods! actually, they did not have any word at all). God Who made the world and all things therein (presents God as the Creator), seeing that He is Lord of Heaven and Earth (proclaims Him not only as Creator, but the constant Manager of all that He has created as well), dwells not in Temples made with hands (He is bigger than that!); Neither is worshipped with men’s hands (the Second Commandment forbids the making of any graven image of God, or the worship of any type of statue, etc.), as though He needed anything (God needs nothing!), seeing He gives to all life, and breath, and all things (presents His Creation needing what He provides, which is provided by no other source); And has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the Earth (proclaims all having their origin in Adam), and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation (pertains to particular parts of the world, and those who occupy these areas; however, the statement, ‘one blood all nations of men,’ eliminates any type of racial superiority); That they should seek the Lord (presents the chief end of all God’s dealings with men [I Pet. 2:24; II Pet. 3:9; Jn. 3:15-20; Rev. 22:17]), if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him (Paul is appealing to the action of logic and common sense in trying to address these Pagans), though He be not far from every one of us: (speaks of the Creator being very close to His Creation)” (Acts 17:22-27). Indeed, ancient Gnosticism has infiltrated the Church,“purpose” being its “Trojan horse!” It has now permeated the modern church and masquerades as true Christianity.

SIN!

And through this infiltration, Christianity has been reduced to merely curing the world’s social problems. New Age proponents are able to teach believable distortions of the Bible to back up their philosophy as they give Biblical words and names (such as Jesus, spirit, Heaven, creation, Adam and Eve, etc.) radical new meanings. Because key words sound familiar, myths and mysticisms seem normal as well as exciting to Believers. Besides, who doesn’t want to help mankind? Who doesn’t want to cure the world of sickness and disease, to end poverty and war? Who doesn’t want to tackle the giants of this world and see them defeated? But this social gospel of “purpose” purports that man can do it without addressing the real problem, which is sin! So instead of focusing on the real problem, the Church has been deceived and led astray to work on its symptoms. We are actually completely avoiding the root cause! How can we solve any problems when the real reason for the problems is overlooked? Instead of preaching Jesus Christ and Him Crucified as the only Way this world can be healed, we are told to partner and work with all kinds of people. But, if these so-called “people of faith” are not believers in the Biblical Faith, how will there ever be any unity? The Cross is the only foundation that proper unity can be built upon, but our modern leaders are telling the Church, which was established by Jesus Christ, to partner with other religions of this world and their unchristian beliefs. We are told to partner with homosexuals, Allah, Joseph Smith, Buddha, Madeline O’Hara, atheists, Hindus, Roman Catholics, and other non-Christians. We are told to care more about our own teachings, writings, and reading, than about preaching Jesus Christ and Him Crucified! We are taught to care more about man’s temporal needs than his eternal soul which will live either forever in Heaven or forever in Hell! Church, our priorities are being completely scrambled right before our eyes!

MATERIAL HELP?

This modern false gospel is not demonstrating the Love of a shepherd whatsoever! Man will choose where he spends his eternity, and our mandate from God is to go into all the world and preach the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only way mankind will realize they have such a crucial choice to make! Of course, this does not mean that we ignore human suffering. The Word of the Lord does say, “But whoso has this world’s goods (refers to the necessities of life), and sees his brother have need (it is seeing a Christian in need of the necessities of life over a long period), and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him (presents the individual who has the means to truly help, but refuses to do so), how dwells the Love of God in him? (His actions proclaim the fact that despite his profession, there is actually no love of God in him.)” (I Jn. 3:17). Jesus does lead us at times to provide material help to those in need, but this is not to be our focus. Did Jesus enter into Jerusalem or any other place to work with either the Roman government or the Jewish religious establishment to eradicate the city’s poverty, disease, and illiteracy? Did he go to Pilate and say, “Let’s work together to eliminate poverty?” No! Did He say to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Let’s join hands although we don’t agree on everything to defeat illiteracy?” Again, no! Although Jesus cared deeply for those who were suffering, He did not join hands with unbelievers. He said in Matthew 26:11: “For you have the poor always with you; but Me ye have not always.” What about the Apostles, did they enter into cities to work with pagans and unbelievers to care for the sick and educate the next generation? Of course not! They went, instead, to bring the greatest “help” afforded to any man, “the Gospel of Jesus Christ!”

“After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia (represented an area east of the Ephesus area): but the Spirit suffered them not (proclaims the door being closed to this area as well!).

“And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas (this area would be closed for the time being also).

“And a Vision appeared to Paul in the night (proclaims the Holy Spirit now telling the Apostle exactly where He wanted him to go); there stood a man of Macedonia (the northern part of modern Greece, from the Adriatic to the Hebrus River), and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us (thus, was ushered in the most momentous event in the history of the world, the going forth of Paul to take the Gospel to the nations of the West).

“And after he had seen the Vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia (by the use of the pronoun ‘we,’ we know that Luke, the writer of this Book of Acts, now joins Paul here at Troas), assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them (they knew they now had the Mind of the Lord).

“Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis (this would be the very first presentation of the Gospel on European soil, which would have such a bearing on what is presently referred to as ‘Western Civilization’)” (Acts 16:7-11).

This was their message, and the spreading of their Message was God’s Purpose for their lives! The Message was their Good Work!

 

~JSM

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