Keeping Commandments

Yesterday I touched on a description of those who overcome the Devil in Revelation 12. He goes a step further later in the chapter, verse 17, to describe who the overcomers are, those “which keep the commandments of God, and have [or “hold”] the testimony of Jesus Christ”

Having the testimony of Jesus Christ goes along with keeping the commandments of God. Those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ do not think God’s commands are grievous.

It’s a pleasure to follow them, especially since we’re the only ones who know what they mean–love is the fulfilling of the Law. Christ is the ultimate example of love.

Holding to the testimony of Jesus Christ means letting love rule in your life. When love rules, the commandments of God are done.

It’s amazing how many fight against the Commandments of God as being unneccessary and or a hindrance to some notion of freedom.

Keeping God’s commandments simply means love. Love God. Love neighbor. Love enemy. Love. It’s what Christ did for you. No longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me means that love, keeping God’s commandments, is what life is about.

Overcome By Faith Plus Something

Revelation 12 is an interesting passage. There is a red dragon, Satan, chasing around a woman giving birth to a man-child who will rule the nations. Fascinating behind the scenes look at God’s plan and Satan’s opposition.

Near the end, John describes the people who defeat Satan by saying (12:11), “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

They overcome “by” and the word “by” means “because of, or on the grounds of.” They overcome Satan on the grounds of the Lamb’s blood AND on the grounds of the word of their testimony–the fact that they did not value their own lives.

In other words, near as I can tell, it was the blood of the Lamb AND their testimony in completely trusting the blood of the Lamb with their lives.

Sort of makes you grasp what God means by “faith” a little more doesn’t it? Faith without works is dead, y’all.

Merry Christmas

Don’t forget: He’s coming back.

And next time He won’t be a baby.

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The Gifts of Grace

Grace is not just an opinion, it’s an action. God being gracious to us does not mean that God who formerly thought we were bad now thinks we are good.

Grace is much greater than that. Grace is a favorable disposition towards someone followed by gifts. God does not leave us down here flailing around on our own, just thinking happier thoughts about us.

God gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. His grace actively provides all we need.

If grace is a gift and grace never shows up without a gift, what are the gifts we receive by God’s grace?

John 4:10–the gift of living water–Holy Spirit/salvation/new life
Acts 2:38; 10:45–the gift of the Holy Spirit
Romans 5:17–the gift of righteousness
Romans 6:23–gift of eternal life
1 Corinthians 12,13–spiritual gifts of service to the Body of Christ
2 Corinthians 5:5–gift of the down payment of the Holy Spirit
2 Corinthians 5:18–gift of the ministry of reconciliation
2 Corinthians 12:7–gift of thorns in the flesh!
Ephesians 2:8; 3:7; 4:7–gift of grace
Ephesians 5:2–gift of Christ Himself
Philippians 1:29–gift of believing with suffering
2 Thessalonians 2:16–gift of everlasting consolation
2 Timothy 1:7–gift of power, love and sound mind
2 Timothy 1:9–gift of purpose and grace
James 1:17–the gift of every good and perfect gift
2 Peter 1:3–gift of all things that pertain to life and godliness
2 Peter 1:4–gift of exceeding great and precious promises
1 John 5:20–gift of understanding

Grace gives!

Grace is a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.” Grace is a gift.

Some have argued from this passage that faith is the gift, I don’t think so. Grace is the gift. I know this primarily because Ephesians 3:7 and 4:7 both seem to correlate grace as a gift.

As I said yesterday–you can give without grace, but you can’t have grace without a gift. Grace brings stuff with it. It’s not just a happy disposition, it’s an imparting of gifts.

Since we have been given so much by God’s grace, as recipients of this generous grace, we are to then give to others. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Grace has very little to do with Christmas presents. Most Christmas giving is duty and, at best, a trade with those who give you something in return.

Gracious giving is giving to those who cannot repay, that’s how we know we have the gracious, loving gift of Christ. It’s what He did for us; it’s what we now do for others.

Grace and Giving

I do not like the biblical character, Jacob. He’s a weasel. He gives me the creeps. I’m glad God loved him, and Jacob should be glad I’m not God.

Jacob fled from Esau after stealing his birthright and blessing. When Jacob comes back with all his riches, he sends gifts ahead of him so Esau would be “gracious” toward him.

In Genesis 32 and 33, grace shows up a number of times and always in light of a gift.

32:5–Jacob shows his stuff to get grace with Esau
33:8–Esau asks what the stuff is for–that Jacob might find grace.
33:10–Jacob insists that Esau take the present if he has found grace
33:11–Jacob says God has been gracious with him, that’s why he has stuff
33:15–Jacob denies Esau’s loan of people to help move Jacob’s stuff because Jacob has found grace with Esau

There is a definite connection with giving and grace. This is one passage where we see two guys talking about being gracious, nothing to do with salvation or anything like that. Just two guys being gracious.

They each show grace by their gifts.

Salvation is a gift of God, it is given by Grace. Grace is not just a happy feeling toward someone, grace is an action word that conveys giving.

Up in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul interchanges a gift of money with the word “grace.” Grace is giving. There can be giving without grace; but there can never be grace without giving.