Jehovah-SHALOM, THE LORD IS OUR PEACE
Judges 6:21 Then the Angel of the LORD (Jesus) put forth the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the Angel of the LORD (Jesus according to Isaiah 63:8-9) departed out of his sight.
Judges 6:22 And when Gideon perceived that he was the Angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face.
Judges 6:23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto you; fear not: you shall not die.
Judges 6:24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah-shalom (The Lord is Peace): unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
1. Our fears of God
When Gideon met with Jesus, who is the Angel of the Lord according to Isaiah 63:8-9, he was afraid for his life and said: Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face (Judges 6:22). God is a Holy God and sinners cannot come into His presence and see Him face to face and live. In the tabernacle of meeting that Moses erected, the high priest could only go into the Holy of Holies once a year. He had to sanctify himself, and had to be clean; they would tie a rope on his leg, in case he was not clean enough, and dropped dead in the Holy of Holies before the Lord. Mankind knows that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and when we come before God with our sins He has to judge our sins, because He is a just God.
In the wilderness God wanted the people, whom He had brought out of Egypt to come before Him; but Moses reminded God of the sin problem that would kill the people if they stood in His presence. Moses said to the Lord, the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for You warned us, saying, set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it (Exodus 19:23). Though the people consecrated themselves ceremonially for three days; it was not good enough for them to come into the presence of God. But God wanted to be with His people so badly; He wanted to speak to them without a middle man like Moses or any priest. So God spoke with an audible voice, so that the people who could not come before Him because of their sins, could at least hear Him from afar off.
Now all the people witnessed the thundering, the lightening flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, you speak with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us lest we die. And Moses said to the people do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin (Exodus 20:18-20). We see our sins cause us to hide from God’s presence, like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. We are all conscious that God and sin cannot co-habit. Our iniquities have separated us from our God, and our sins have hidden His face from us, so that He may not hear (Isaiah 59:2). So when we are standing before God, our conscience is accusing us of sins, transgressions and iniquities, we feel guilty and we know that God will not hear our prayers.
2. Christ the propitiation for our sins
God wants us to come to Him, He wants to hear our prayers and answer them, He wants to fellowship or commune with us without a middleman like Moses or any priest. But if God came too close to mankind, He would consume them because of their sin, for He is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). But thanks be to God that 2,000 years ago, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus. God judges the sins, transgression and iniquities of the world in the body of Jesus Christ. We had nothing to do with that, God thought it and carried it out; He is the one who so loved us that He wanted to bring us into His presence and remove sins, transgressions and iniquities that separated us and Him, and that hid His face from us, and would not hear our prayers. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1John 4:10).
Propitiation is the act of appeasing wrath, and conciliating the favour of an offended person, in this case God, for we sinned against God, we broke His law. Propitiation is a sacrifice offered to God to assuage (to subside, to appease, to pacify) His wrath, and render Him propitious (disposed to be gracious and merciful, ready to forgive sins and bestow blessings) to sinners. Christ Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2). For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins, that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time, His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of whoever believes in Jesus (Romans 3:23-26).
When Jesus died on the cross, the fiery wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus. God said to Moses that the people must offer a sacrifice of peace offering, an offering made by fire unto the Lord (Leviticus 3:3). The fire represents the judgement of God, God would Judge the sins of Israel by burning the sacrifice. And once it was done, Israel would be at peace with God, the peace offering sacrifice, was the propitiation for the sins of Israel. The fiery wrath of God was pacified over Israel, and at least for that year, they did not have to fear the wrath of God, they could pray and expect to be answered, because their sins were covered or atoned for. But Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Not just of Israel, but of the world, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Jesus bore the penalty for our sins, transgressions and iniquities on the cross. The fiery wrath of God, for the sins, transgressions and iniquities of the whole world, was poured on Jesus. He died in our stead, so that we can receive the gift of eternal life, when we receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, for the wages of sin being death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). If each one of us has to pay for his sins to be justified or to suffer the fiery wrath of God, before being at peace with God; the whole world would have to die; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But God does not want anybody to perish for his or her sins, because He so loves each one of us. Therefore He sent His only begotten Son Jesus, to die for the whole world: past, present and future. Therefore being justified by faith [in Christ Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world], we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). God is not mad at anybody, He so loves everybody. Jesus died so that the whole world can be at peace with God, when they become born again by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. His blood was shed to bring us back to the presence of God, to pacify the fiery wrath of God, to remit our sin, take them out of the way so that they no longer ruin our relationship with God.
Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O Hades where is your victory? The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law (1Corinthians 15:54-55). The wages of sin is death but Christ Jesus came and died for my sins on the cross. For He (God) has made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, Jesus (2Corinthins 5:21). Friends, I do not need to suffer for my sins since Christ Jesus did it for me. When I am in Christ, there is an exchange that takes place, He took my sins on the cross and gives me His righteousness. Death no longer reigns in me but Christ Jesus. The sting of death is sin; a sting is a sharp pointed instrument or weapon with which certain animals are furnished or armed, such as bees, wasps, scorpions and the like, they use it to inject their venom. The venom causes the inflammation of the flesh and in some instances the death of the individual stung. Satan our arch enemy, was armed with that weapon of sin. He used sin in our life to separate us from our God. He was accusing us to ourselves and to God. Please read the bible study on “The Power of Confession” to discover why God does not want born again Christians to practice sin.
When we sin, our conscience accuses us and we are afraid of appearing before God. We hide, like Adam and Eve did, from the presence of God. But Jesus came and took our sins away, and the guilt and shame that come with it. Satan can no longer use sin to accuse us before God, for Jesus took it. The strength of sin is the law, just like the sting of the animal; it is deadly when the venom is strong. A bee can sting a person and that person will only have an inflammation of the flesh, but if he or she already has a weak immune system, he or she will die. But when a scorpion stings a person, no matter how strong the immune system of that person is, it will kill that person if a serum is not administered. So Satan used the law to kill us, with all its curses. Whenever a person broke the law there is a curse attached to the portion of the law he or she had broken.
But Jesus came to take away the strength of sin, which is the law. He wiped out all the handwriting of requirements that were against us, by nailing them on the cross (Colossians 2:14). The curses contained in the law can no longer be used against us, Jesus rendered them obsolete. Satan cannot use sin against us or the law against us. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 15:57). For by one man, namely Adam, offense or trespass reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17). Death reigned from Adam to Moses (Romans 5:14) because of the offense of Adam, and the Law which was given by Moses, the weapon of sin was empowered, and the curses of the Law made it deadlier. But now, when we are in Christ Jesus, both sin and the curses of the law, Jesus took care of them, and made us righteous, even the righteousness of God which is in Christ Jesus, death no longer reigns in us, but life is now reigning in us, thanks to God who gave us that victory over death through Christ Jesus.
Paul tells us: Christ has redeemed us from The Curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree; so that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14). Paul does not say: Christ has redeemed us from the curses of the law but Christ has redeemed us from The Curse of the law. Being under the law is The Curse, yes inside the Law there are many curses, but Christ removed us from being under the Law altogether; because being under the law with its system of blessings and curses is The Curse! Paul tells us: sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid (Romans 6:14-15). For the law [and its system of blessings and curses] was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Christ has redeemed us from The Curse of the law, or from being under the law with its system of blessing and curses. But we are under grace, or under the unmerited favour of God, and His divine empowerment. You have received the blessing of Abraham through Christ Jesus, and The promise of the Father, who is the Holy Spirit, through faith in the finished work of Jesus at Calvary. Paul warns us: the fact that we are no longer under the law and its system of blessing and curses, does not mean that we should practice sin! Especially the sins leading to death listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10. And John warns us: If any man sees his brother sin a sin which does not lead unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them, that sin, does not lead unto death. There is a sin that leads unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin that does not lead to death. We know, that everyone who has been born of God, does not continue to sin, but the one born of God guards himself, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and all the world lies in evil. And we know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us an understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and the everlasting life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. Amen (1John 5:16-21).
Please read the bible studies on “Abecedary of Prayer” and “David’s Sexual Sin Exposed”, in which we explain why the sins listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10 are the sins leading to death. Those sins have their root in idol worship; there is a demon behind each one of those sins listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10. And when a born again Christian practices one of those sins listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10, he is worshipping that idol or demon that is behind that sin, by so doing he has rejected Jesus Christ and the Father God, and has chosen another god over his life, even a demon. The sin that lead to death that John is talking about, is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ, and by practicing the sins listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10 you have rejected Jesus Christ, and chosen an idol even a demon: you have committed the sin leading to death! Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1Corinthians 6:9-10).
When we are born again we are married to Christ Jesus, and in Hosea and Jeremiah, God likens the idolatry of Israel, to spiritual adultery even harlotry. Some Christians will say: “I never used my mouth to say that I rejected Jesus and Father God, to choose that idol or demon. It never came out of my mouth! In fact while I was still practicing those sins listed in 1Corinthains 6:9-10, I was telling everybody that I love Jesus and that I am a born again Christian!” Let me give you an example. You are married and your spouse decides to commit adultery. When you confront him or her, your spouse says: “I love you; that adultery does not mean anything. You are the only one I love!” Your spouse is not even remorseful and does not even apologize to you for hurting you! And worse than that, you discover that it was not just a one night stand, but your spouse has been having a long relationship with that other person, or even had been cheating on you with many other people.
So you confront your spouse and ask your spouse to choose between you and the other person or other persons. And your spouse answers back: “I still love you and I do not want to divorce you, but I do not want to stop cheating on you with other people; because it spices up my love life!” Marriage is only between two people: the two become one flesh; there is no place for a third person. So even if you so love your spouse; but by him or her cheating on you and refusing to repent but choosing to continue cheating on you, indirectly he or she has demonstrated that he or she has rejected you, and chosen someone else. Our actions speak louder than our words. If a born again Christian practices the sins listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10 and refuses to repent and forsake them, after he or she has been confronted, according to the written word of God, God still so loves that person, but spiritually that person is going to hell: that is the divorce certificate Jesus gives to that person, though Jesus so loves him or her. And if that person dies without repenting of those sins, he or she will go to hell. He or she chose it for himself or herself by his or her actions; words were not needed for their actions spoke louder than their silence!
If you are a born again Christian, and are not practicing any of those sins listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10, you do not need to be worried. You have not rejected Jesus Christ. And if you are into one of those sins you can decide to change your life today, and genuinely repent and forsake them, and you will be restored into the fold. Now some will say: since we are no longer under the Law, but under grace and the curses listed in the law do not apply to born again Christians; therefore I can live anyhow as long as I avoid the sins listed in 1Corinthians 6:9-10.
The answer is no, we cannot live anyhow but according to the scriptures. God says: while the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22). And Paul tells us: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap. For he who sows to his flesh, will reap corruption from the flesh. But he who sows to the Spirit, will reap life everlasting from the Spirit. But we should not lose heart in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not faint. So then as we have time, let us work good toward all, especially toward those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:7-10). What happens to Christians is sowing and reaping, not curses contained in the law for we are no longer under the Law, because Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, even its system of blessings and curses.
As long as we live on this earth, seed time and harvest shall not cease. So whatever we sow, we reap. People do not understand why we need to exhibit all the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. Please read about the fruit of the Spirit versus the works of the flesh in the bible study on “Application of The Perfect Redemption Plan”. Even in business, if you are not faithful to deliver what was agreed upon with your client, you will lose that client, and that client will pass the word around, that you do not deliver on your promises. Poverty is one of the curses contained in the Law in Deuteronomy 29. Christ redeemed us from being under the Law and its curses including the curse of poverty. Now it is up to us to sow according to the biblical prosperity plan of God, so that we can reap. Please read the “Biblical Prosperity” bible study, to understand our part to play in sowing. Let us do our part of sowing in the Spirit, which simply means acting on what the word of God says; and watering that seed sown, which means confessing and standing on the promises of God, concerning that seed sown; then God will cause it to grow and give us the harvest. Like Paul says: I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (1Corinthians 3:6).
3. Come up hither
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet talking with me; which said, come up hither, and I will show you things which must be hereafter (Revelation 4:1). In the days of Moses the people could not come up to Mount Sinai, lest they die, their sins and the curses contained in the law, were the deadliest combination, that was working against them. But now that Jesus Christ has become our peace offering, and our propitiation, that combination is no longer working against us, they have been taken out of the way. Mount Sinai represents the law, and its judgment and condemnation, so no human could go up there, to meet with God and talk to Him.
But now the same voice of God, which was heard from Mount Sinai as a trumpet, is now telling all of us to come up hither. The door of heaven is opened; Jesus tells us I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7). My friend, when you received Jesus into your life, God tells you come up hither! Jesus is the door of Heaven for all sheep. The fiery wrath and the judgment of God were poured out upon Jesus, your access is granted, and no one can shut (Revelation 3:7). The veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies in the temple, was torn in two from top to bottom when Jesus died (Mark 15:38). The holy of holies, represents the place where God is, being in the very presence of God. Paul explains to us, that, that veil was the flesh of Jesus. So when the soldier took a spear and pierced the side of Jesus, and water and blood came out of His side, that is when every born again Christian entered into Christ Jesus, even into the very holy of holies in heaven (John 19:34). Therefore, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh (Hebrews 10:19-20).
Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace [in the holy of holies, in the very presence of God in Christ Jesus], so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). You and I have come up to a different mountain, for you and I, brothers and sisters, have not come unto the mount that might be touched (Mount Sinai), and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they, that heard, entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) (Hebrews 12:18-21).
You and I have come to a different mountain. There is no fiery wrath, we do not tremble, and there is no more fear that God will judge our sins, since He judged the sins of the whole world in the body of Jesus. The Voice or sound of a trumpet, is still being heard, for it is the voice of God, but now He is inviting us to come up hither, to this new mountain named Zion. We have come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22-24). We are right now living in heaven in Christ Jesus, in our heavenly Jerusalem, God lives in that same city which is built on Mount Zion. Now that we are in, let us not stand afar off, but let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Do not sing that religious song that says: “We are marching up to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion…” We are not marching up to Zion, but We have come unto Mount Zion according to Hebrews 12:22-24. God said to Jesus, sit on My right hand until I make Your enemy your footstool (Hebrews 1:13). But Jesus told us: I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:2-3). He is at the right hand of the Father, seated; when we are born again we are also where He is, He did not lie to us. God raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not just in this age but also in the age to come. And God put all things under Jesus’ feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23). God has made us alive together with Christ (by grace we have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:5-6).
4. Peace be unto you
Mankind will never experience peace as long as they reject Jesus. Jesus is the peace of God. Jesus tells us: these things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). When you know what Jesus has done for you on the cross, in the grave and in His resurrection, you can stand boldly before God and face the tribulations, the tempests of the world, because you know that Jesus has overcome the world, and has given you peace. Unfortunately some born again believers still think that God has some lightning arrow in His hand, to strike them with, or wants to pour out His wrath on them, or wants to curse them. They think that they are enemies of God. Thinking like that is rejecting the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
Let us read a portion of the story of Elijah, when he fled to hide in a cave on Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai, after he had destroyed the prophets of Baal in the contest at Mount Carmel. And God said to Elijah: Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire was a still, small voice. And it happened when Elijah heard, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out, and stood at the cave entrance. And behold, a voice came to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah (1Kings 19:11-13)?
So from the very mouth of Elijah: The Lord was not in the wind that tore the mountains, and broke the rocks in pieces; the Lord was not in the earthquake, and the Lord was not in the wind, but the Lord was in the still small voice! Jesus gives us the dividing line between the works of the devil and the works of God, saying: The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I [the Lord Jesus] have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). So when you hear news of tornadoes, tsunamis, and cyclones, most of the time the Lord is not in it, but the devil, who comes except to steal, kill and destroy: he kills people, destroys their houses, cars. But unfortunately some Christians even blame God for the works of the devil. When Jesus was at sea with the disciples and there was a tempest that was threatening the life of the disciples, they woke Jesus up, and Jesus rebuked that tempest and it stopped (Mark 4:35-41). The devil was trying to kill Jesus so that He would not reach the other side of the lake, to set free that man who was possessed with a legion of demons, for that man, once he was freed, went to preach the gospel in ten cities, so that when Jesus came back into that region, the people of the ten cities brought their sick to Jesus.
We also see in Acts 27, there was a tempest at sea, the devil was trying to kill Paul so that he would not reach Rome and bring the gospel. For when Paul arrived at Rome, the gospel spread wildly. God was not in that tempest, but the devil. God sent His angel to comfort Paul, telling him that his life and the life of the people with him in the boat would be spared. We need to use our authority and rebuke that tempest, tornado, cyclone, and tsunami. Elijah said that God was not in the earthquake either. Sometimes we hear news of earthquakes in Haiti and many people die, or the earthquake in Japan and the nuclear power plants are damaged and the radiations contaminate and condemn an entire region in Japan. And some Christians say it is the judgment of God on those ungodly nations. In those Asian nations and Haitians are born again Christians also, who died in those earthquakes or who were irradiated in Japan. Why would God also kill His own children? The truth is God was not in the earthquakes like Elijah said, but the devil.
Elijah tells us also that God was not in the fire either. Sometimes we have news of lightening striking a forest in summer or dry season, and the entire forest goes up into flames. and people’s houses are destroyed and some people die in the flames or smoke. And some Christians think that it is the judgment of God on that ungodly nation. Or sometimes we see terrorists using airplanes to destroy the twin towers in USA on 9/11/2001; and those towers were in flames, and people in the planes and in the twin towers died. Some Christians say that it is the judgment of God on the USA, because it has forsaken God. But in those planes and those twin towers, there were many born again Christians who died. And those terrorists were Muslims, people who are from the devil, even the spirit of antichrist. Why will God use the devil and his agents to kill some of His own children? The truth is, God was not in that fire of 9/11 but the devil for Islam is the spirit of antichrist.
John and James asked Jesus for permission to call down fire on the inhabitants of a village of Samaria, because they did not receive Jesus Christ. As it is written: it came to pass, when the time was come that Jesus should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him. And they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, do you want that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village (Luke 9:51-56). For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2Timothy 1:7). For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Jesus did not say: for God so hated the world and the people who dwell in it, that He sent a strong wind like tempest, tornado, tsunami and cyclone, and sent earthquakes and fire to destroy them; but Jesus says for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Will there be a fire that will destroy the earth? The answer is yes, at end of the age when God will destroy this earth with fire, and there will be all the plagues that are listed in the book of Revelation. Also God is not in floods and tsunamis. for He said: I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake; although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done [in the flood in the days of Noah] (Genesis 8:21).
Sometimes in the preaching of the gospel, there are some satanic agents that are resisting us. They are being used by the devil to bewitch people with their sorceries, and stop them from receiving Jesus Christ. When those agents of the devil refuse to stop bewitching the people, and hindering the gospel of Christ; God judges them! Like for instance when Paul struck Elymas the sorcerer with blindness for a season, for he was hindering furtherance of the gospel. In the meetings of Maria Woodworth Etter, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, there was a guy who did not believe that God can use women to be evangelists; he thought she was from the devil. So whenever she would pitch her tent, and thousands of people would be under that tent, that guy would go around the tent and untie the ropes of the tent and it would fall on the people. So it went on for a while, and mother Etter spoke over the microphone in that tent and said: I know you are here and are trying to untie the ropes, but I warn you this is the last day you do that; God is going to get you today if you do that again!
That guy did not listen to that warning, and went again as he had done many times in the past, and untied the ropes of the tent and it fell on the people. So he went home but when he woke up in the morning his tongue had swollen and was hanging out of his mouth. It was the size of a banana and he could not close his mouth. So he thought it was an infection he went to see his General Practitioner; but the GP confirmed that there was no infection! He could not speak nor eat for his swollen tongue that was hanging out of his mouth of the size of a banana, could not allow him to close his mouth or eat anything. So he realized that it was the judgment of God, because he had been hindering the preaching of the gospel and disrupting the tent meeting. So he went back to that tent meeting and asked mother Etter to pray for his tongue. She refused and told him: I will only pray for you if you repent of your sins and apologize to these people. He mumbled that he could not speak so he did not have to repent of his sin of disrupting the tent meetings, several times by untying the ropes of the tent. Mother Etter told him: you can nod your head so if you repent genuinely and nod your head God will heal you.
So he repented of that sin with tears in his eyes, and nodded his head. So Mother Etter slapped him on his cheek, and immediately his tongue deflated and returned to its normal size, and he could close his mouth and speak again. That guy gave his life to Christ and later became a preacher of the gospel. God was not in the slapping that mother Etter gave the guy, she was angry at him for disrupting her meeting several times, yet God healed the guy. Just like Moses, in anger, struck the rock instead of just speaking to it, yet God still performed the miracle for the people who angered Moses, and made him act in the flesh (Numbers 20:10-12). Mother Etter did not know who the person untying the ropes of her tent was, but God knew exactly who was doing it. And when God judged, an innocent was not judged but the one responsible for the disruption.
Sometimes also God will strike magicians dead, witchdoctors, dictators and sorcerers, who are hindering the preaching of the gospel and are killing Christians. God said to Moses: See now that I, even I am He, and there is no god with me. I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is no deliverer out of My hand (Deuteronomy 32:39). God had to destroy Pharaoh and his army, because he would not let the people of God go, and wanted to kill them! God says: As I live, says the Lord Jehovah, to you there is no longer any occasion to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are Mine. As the soul of the father, also the soul of the son, they are Mine. The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:3-4). God is a just God, He will not kill innocents or pronounce a judgment on an innocent. The one who is persecuting Christians, or killing Christians, or disrupting Christian meetings, and turning people away from the gospel, is the one who will receive the judgment of God, if he or she does not repent and forsake what he or she is doing.
The Father who is the Judge, wanted to judge the world, but how could He judge His own creation! People who are created in His own image and likeness, it was painful for God to sentence them, so He said I will judge no one, but I commit all judgement to My Son Jesus (John 5:22). But Jesus also said, I am like My Father, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). So I will lay down my life for them, I will be sentenced to death on their behalf, so that they can go free. No man takes My life from me, but I lay it down of Myself (John 10:17-18). Everything they were supposed to suffer, I will suffer it for them, even the death of the cross. The death of the worst criminal in town, I will suffer it for them, so that they can go free, and be reconciled with God. I do not judge or condemn anyone, but if anybody hears the message of the cross, and My resurrection and believes in Me, Jesus, his sins will be remitted and he will have peace, be reconciled to the Father. But if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him or her, for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He or she who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him or her, the word that I have spoken will judge him or her in the last day (John 12:47-48).
Jesus has come to preach peace to you and me, who were afar off (Ephesians 2:17). The kingdom of God which is now inside us (Luke 17:21) can only work if we understand that we are at peace with God. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17). We have studied in the first part, the righteousness of God; God had imputed His righteousness unto us. As long as we do not understand the peace of God the kingdom of God will not work properly. Think of a child who is hungry, and wants to ask for some food from his father. But he or she believes, that the father wants to unleash his wrath on him or her; that the father is waiting for him or her with a whip hidden behind his back. The child will have two thoughts, he or she will either rather starve to death, than go to the father to be punished, or he or she will go to the father, but will not be sure of how the father may react, maybe the father will whip me and then give me some food, or maybe the father will say, I am not feeding you because you did not do everything I asked you.
When we do not understand that we are at peace with God, we will not be able to fully know the will of God for our life. We will be double minded, we will not have any confidence, not knowing how God will react or deal with us? But when we know and believe the finished work of Jesus on the cross, and what He has done in the grave, and by His resurrection, we have confidence. We are not double minded for a double minded man or woman will not receive anything from the Lord, for he or she is unstable in his or her ways (James 1:7-8). I struggled for a long time with hearing from God. When I did not read enough bible verses a particular day, or I did not pray a certain number of minutes, I felt condemned, and I believed in my heart that God would not speak to me, because I did not do as well as I did the other days. I was having doubts, I was not certain whether He would speak to me or not. But when I realized that I was in the house and not outside, I was seated at His right hand and He was living in me 24/7, I said, wait a second, Jesus is my peace offering, my propitiation. I am now His sheep, and as a sheep I hear His voice. Peace settled in my heart concerning whether God would speak or not, I know that I know He will speak to me and it is not based on my good deeds or performances; but on the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
James tells us: the effective and fervent prayer of the righteous man or woman avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months (James 5:16-17). I know that I am no longer a sinner, but a righteous man when I received Jesus, Yet not my own righteousness but Jesus’ righteousness, that was imputed to me. No matter what I have done, that was deserving of death, even the death of the cross; the death and resurrection of Jesus, justified me, so that I can go free and have peace in my heart that God will never trial me for my sins. It will be illegal to trial someone twice for the same crime. Barabbas was a notorious criminal; he was a murderer and a rebel even an insurrectionist (Mark 15:7). In the days of Moses in the wilderness, the people who rebelled against God, by worshiping idols, were put to death, and the people who rejected the leadership of Moses also died. My friend there is no sin that you and I have committed that Christ did not die for.
The rebellion or insurrection of Korah in the day of Moses was punished by the ground being opened and Korah and his followers going alive straight into hell (Numbers 16). But here Jesus was taking the place of a rebel even a notorious insurrectionist, named Barabbas, and a murderer on top of that, Barabbas was set free, no matter how Pilate wanted to punish Barabbas, he could not; because Jesus has been condemned in his stead. Barabbas was not even scourged, he was set free. My friend, when we receive Jesus into our life, we go free like Barabbas. I used to be mad at God when I was between 15 and 18 years old; because I grew up in a country of war and many of my friends killed people in the war. I used to pray to God, saying: You are unjust for You are going to send all these young people into hell, because they have committed murder, yet some of them had no choice, they were forced to take up arms! And I remember, I would cry at least for an hour once a week and curse God and said to Him: the wife of Job said to Job: why are you holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die (Job 2:9).
So I would say: God, I have cursed You; kill me! Strike me with your lightning! Why should I go to heaven and my people go to hell because they have blood on their hands? And we used to have a small replica of a globe in our house. So I would take that globe and read the name of the countries in Africa that were in war or had war. I started with Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zaire which is now DRC, Angola, my own country Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Republic of Central Africa. I remember, I would go into a pub called Titanic in my home town Pointe-Noire with my peers, who were involved in that war. I got shot twice but miraculously no bullet entered my body. And when I came home that night I still cried out to the Lord: You have forsaken my people and all my generation, you are going to send to hell, why should I leave and go to heaven when younger people than me are dying? All this generation You have sent to hell!
I was ignorant of the will of God: the only sin that sends someone to hell is the sin of rejecting Christ Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, even the guilt of bloodshed, God will acquit us if we come to Him through Christ Jesus (Joel 3:21). Praise the Lord, there is hope for all those children soldiers in Africa who have raped and killed people, when they receive Jesus Christ. They will have peace with God. Praise the Lord! When the Lord called me to preach the gospel, I said to Him: please send me to my people, to my continent and let me tell my people that God wants to acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed! I know a day will come when God will send me back to those nations of Africa, I wept for in prayers and fasted for months in my youth. I am glad God did not listen to my foolish curses in my ignorance! As Paul says: truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now He strictly commands all men everywhere, to repent even renew their mind in line with the written word of God (Acts 17:30).
I know that there are many people who want at least to scourge us, even just once, for we have rightfully wronged people. But when we come to Christ Jesus, we go free without even being scourged at all. So when people ask you to do penances for your sins, they are rejecting what Jesus did for you on the cross, and are trying to establish their own righteousness and own justification.
Had they laid at least one stripe on the back of Barabbas, then Barabbas could say I paid in part for my freedom, I contributed in my justification. No, Jesus did it all, and Barabbas went free. He was not worried that Pilate would bring up those charges of rebellion and murder against him one day, since Jesus died for his rebellion and murder. So my friend if you do not understand what Jesus did for you on the cross, people will rob you of your blessings. God is no longer mad at you when you are in Christ, all His wrath and judgment were fulfilled on the body of Jesus. The curses contained in the law that were against you, Jesus wiped them out by nailing them on the cross rendering them obsolete.
The enemy uses guilt and condemnation to instil fear in our heart. There is therefore now no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). He tries hard to remind us of our past, all our mistakes, but if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things (1John 3:20). God knows who we were, and who we are, He decided to accept us in His beloved Son Jesus, and to love us freely, to give us the free gift of salvation and of righteousness. I will not accept condemnation, because Jesus bore my condemnation on the cross. Someone might say but what if you sin, then I do what Jesus asked me to do when I sin: if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9). The enemy is always after my confidence, which is based on my peace. For if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him (1John 3:21-22).
So when we know and believe that God has imputed His righteousness to us, and we have peace in our heart, the confidence towards God comes. We can go boldly before His throne of grace and ask whatever we want, and we will receive it. When righteousness and peace is in you, your faith is built up to receive from God. It is like a child who knows that his father loves him or her, the father has no hidden whip behind his back to punish him or her, and he or she knows nothing against himself or herself. The child comes and asks what he or she wants to the father. He or she knows that the father will give it to him or her. Especially if the father told him or her you can ask me for breakfast in the morning.
Think of it, a child brought up in a healthy environment, where children are loved and not abused. The father told his children when you are hungry in the morning come and ask for your breakfast, in the afternoon come and ask for your lunch, and in the evening come and ask for your dinner. Do you think that the child will hes4itate to ask the father for breakfast, lunch or dinner? When he or she knows, she or he has right standing before the father, there is nothing standing between them and the father, and they have peace about their request, that the father will grant that request according to his own words. The child will not even think twice, if the father said it, he will do it, father is a man of his word. It is the same thing when we approach God, our Father. We have a right standing before Him by the blood of Jesus, we have peace, for Jesus is our peace offering, who reconciled us to the Father. The Father gave us His will or promise; it is contained in the book called the bible. When we read it we discover the Will of our Father and we believe it, then we ask with confidence that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Luke 11:2).
Furthermore we know that all the promises of God are Yes and in Him (Jesus) Amen, to the glory of God by us (2Corinthians 1:20). We have no reason to doubt why God should not answer our prayers. The kingdom of God which is in us, is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. We have joy because we are excited by the acquisition or the expectation of something good, about to happen to us. We know that what we have received is a free gift, the whole salvation package is a free gift, acquired by grace through faith in Jesus. We even did not think of it, God thought of it, we did not even think we needed it, God knew we needed it, thus the lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Therefore we are joyful, grateful that God thought out this salvation plan and freely gave it to us, when we believed in Jesus Christ. We have this new expectation or hope that our best is yet to come, since we are in the family now, for when we were sinners, we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). If He did all that when we did not even know Him, or thought of Him, when we were still in our sins, we can only expect that He will do much more now, that we are in Christ Jesus.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love (Song 2:4). We have already seen how Jesus brought us into His Father’s House; we are there with Him in the heavenly places at the right hand of God the Father. In the wilderness when the Lord organised the people into an army, He placed four banners over them. The three tribes which camped on the east side, the banner that was over them was that of the lion. The three tribes which camped on the south side, the banner over them was the ox. The three tribes which camped on the west side, the banner over them was the man. The three tribes which camped on the north side, the banner over them was the eagle. They all served God as they were instructed by Moses. The book of the Song of Solomon is called by the Jews, the Holy of Holies. It talks about the intimacy, the communion the Messiah or Christ has with His bride. It shows the heart of the Christ toward His bride. Jesus our Messiah or Christ is our Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Our Prince of peace is telling us that I want you to know, though all the other banners are over you: lion, ox, man, eagle; but the banner that I, your prince of peace have placed over you, is love. My friends we need to get it right from the beginning. The first banner that God has placed over us and that will forever be over us is love; the Agape kind of love which compelled our prince of peace to lay down His life for His bride. Many waters cannot quench that love, nor can the floods drown it. This love of the Prince of Peace for us, no man on earth has ever experienced it, if a man would have to love the way the Prince of peace loved us, that man would be utterly despised. For the Prince of peace gave all the wealth of His house, to redeem or ransom in full His bride (Song 8:7). Although He was rich, yet for the sake of His bride, that is you and me, He became poor (2Corinthians 8:9). He literally forfeited everything.
Brothers and sisters, I beseech you to study the love of God, not your love for Him, but His love for you. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1John 4:10). Yes the peace that we now enjoy is because God so loved us. Many of us boast about our love for God, when it ought to be the other way round. We did not love Him but He first loved us. God only has the Agape kind of Love, an unconditional love, a love that compels one to lay down His life for a friend even for a stranger. For scarcely for a righteous man or woman will one die: yet peradventure, meaning perhaps, for a good man or a good woman some would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6-8). A Prince of Peace who will die for an ungodly person like me, it is too much. I did not deserve it; I did not do anything special! It is simply because He loved me. And He demonstrated His unconditional love for me, by dying on the cross on my behalf.
Many people will love you only when we meet their criteria. They will ask you to clean yourself before they accept you into their fellowship. They will tell you, you have the wrong background; you are from the wrong side of town. But our prince of peace says come just the way you are. Come unto Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). When people do not know and believe the love that God has for them, they struggle in their Christian walk. They believe that God has brought them into the kingdom only to serve and to fight. Many times people will think that because they are involved in one activity in the church, that God loves them more, or less if they are doing nothing. They try so hard to love God by their good deeds, when it is the other way round: not that we loved God, but God loved us. And many times we feel like we are only being used by God. That God called us into the kingdom so that we can become part of His army, so that we can serve under one of the four banners: lion, ox, man or eagle.
John tells us: we have known and believed the love that God has for us (1John 4:16). So I implore you to study the love that God has for you and not the other way around, and once you have studied it I beseech you to believe it. Jesus reassures you and me, that the same love with which God loved Him, is the same love God has for you and me (John 17:23). God is love (1John 4:8). He does not have love but He is love. He has armies, He is the Lord of hosts, Jesus is the Commander of the Hosts of the Lord (Joshua 5:14). He is over the hosts of heaven and the hosts of Israel but He is love. He so loves you and His banner over us is love.
I was in a church and the pastor said those who are saved, when they are no longer strong like young men and women, and those who come to Christ, when they are jobless, are liabilities for the kingdom of God. They should have come to God when they were still young and not sick and when they were working. For then they would have been assets for the kingdom, they would have worked in the church and they would have gone on to evangelism, and they would have contributed financially to the church. And another said: when you give your life to Christ when you are old, it is only a half soul that is saved, because you are saved but your life is wasted. But when you give your life when you are young not only your soul is saved but your life is not wasted, so you can serve the Lord and give financially to the church.
It did not bear witness with my Spirit; I went to God and asked Him: what is Your heart about this subject? I know we all wish that we were all born into a Christian family, that we never backslid, but it is not the case sometimes. I knew that some people in that church, who had a background of alcoholism, and gave their lives to Christ when they were jobless and almost sixty years old, were feeling guilty; because they blamed and condemned themselves for staying all those years in the world. Let us look at the case of the thief crucified with Jesus, his life was over, he did not even serve God for a second on earth, but he cried out to the Lord; he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you today, you shall be with Me in paradise (Luke 23:42-43). Jesus did not tell him: it is only a half soul, your life is wasted, and you are of no use to Me! There are many sermons behind the pulpits that appeal to the flesh, when we are self-righteous, we enjoy that kind of preaching, because we have always been in church, but it is not the heart of Jesus.
Even when you have only one second left to live, call upon the name of the Lord and He will answer (Jeremiah 33:3). The thief on the cross had no money to give to the church of God, but Jesus did not tell him that he was a liability. The woman with the issue of blood for twelve years, had spent all her livelihood on the physicians, when she came to Jesus she had no money to put into the ministry of Jesus, like the other women that blessed the ministry of Jesus with their substances (Mark 5:25-34). Jesus never said to the woman with the issue of blood: you are a liability, you should have come to Me when you were healthy, when you still had your money so that you could support My ministry like Joanna, Susanna and the other woman are ministering to Me with their substance (Luke 8:2-3). No matter how long you have been out there in the world, or how many times you have backslid, or how old you are or how sick you are or how broke you are: come! God says: come! I will heal your backsliding, I will love you freely: for My anger is turned away from you (Hosea 14:4). God does not love us because of the money we bring to the church, or all the activities we do in church, or how hard we think we are working for Him, He loves us freely.
Isaiah says of Jesus our Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6): A bruised reed He shall not break and the smoking flax He shall not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth (Isaiah 42:3). The prophet depicts the heart of the Messiah. A bruised reed He shall not break. A reed is a common name of many aquatic plants, most of them large grasses with hollow jointed stems, and one example of a reed, is the bamboo. In the day of Isaiah reeds were used for instruments of music, piped instruments. If the reed is bruised (crushed; hurt or broken by a blunt or heavy instrument) it was useless, it could no longer be used as a musical instrument. Many times we come to God, we cannot do anything, we know nothing and we can do nothing. When we are baby Christians, we are not of much value to God, we still need to be fed with milk, we need to be taught how to pray, how to praise, how to serve, and sometimes it takes a long time before we can help someone else, or pray for someone else, or feed someone else.
Many times also we are sick, and cannot be of much help to church activities, or we are poor and cannot really help the church financially. In a way we are useless and worthless in the eyes of men like that bruised reed, men could not use it to make their piped musical instrument. But Jesus our prince of peace does not see us like the world sees us: He came to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted (Luke 4:18). So if you ever feel like that bruised reed that your life has been crushed, your heart has been broken by heavy burdens, that you lost all your money and wasted your life, Jesus came for you and He is not blaming you at all for your past life. He is glad that you are finally Home. He said the smoking flax He will not quench or the smoking wick of a candle He will not quench. What they called candle was more of a lamp; the wick was dipped into the oil. When the flax or the wick of the candle was smoking it meant that the light was about to go out. The smoke irritates the eyes of the people in the room, and causes them to cough. The smoke is offensive to people in the room.
So when it happened, the people quenched the flame on the flax for the oil is used up. Many times in the church setting, or among believers, when we see a brother or a sister who started the Christian journey well, had the “anointing” to use religious terms and their light was shining, and all of a sudden the brother or the sister backslides or sins; we give them no room for repentance. We just cut them off because they are an offence to us, because they embarrass us, and they embarrass everybody around us who is a Christian. So we expel them from our congregation. But our Messiah, will not quench a smoking flax, no matter how offensive it has become to His kingdom, but if the person is willing to repent, He will trim his wick and add some more oil in his lamp, so that his light will shine and men would see it and glorify God.
Peter was once a smoking flax, Jesus even told Him: get behind Me, Satan: you are an offence unto Me: for you are not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men (Matthew 16:23). Even before Jesus went to the cross, Peter denied Jesus publicly. No matter how much a smoking flax Peter was, and all the disciples, Jesus did not quench their flax. Jesus said to Peter: Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus came back after His resurrection and restored Peter who denied Him, and all the other disciples who were scattered from Him. I thank God that there is room for repentance in Christ Jesus. Does it mean that we should backslide so that Jesus could heal our backsliding? Certainly not! For Jesus Christ has overcome the world and has now empowered us to reign in life with Him.
6. Perfect Love casts out fear
When we know that the Prince of peace has placed His banner of love over us, we are empowered to serve Him acceptably. We have already established why we should not be afraid of the fiery wrath of God or the judgment of God for Christ Jesus is our peace offering and our propitiation. We need to study more about the love that God has for us. John tells us: love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is so are we in this world (1John 4:17). God so loved us that He did not just save us, but made us heirs and joint heirs with Jesus. As Jesus is, so are we in this world. We did not do anything to deserve it, it has been imputed unto us, His Holiness has now been imputed unto us, so has His righteousness, wisdom, love, peace, authority, power and glory been imputed unto us. Perfect love is the Love that God has for us and not the love that we have for God, the love that God has for us will never fail. Love never fails (1Corinthians 13:8). There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment, but he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1John 4:18).
The reason why we have peace in our heart and are not afraid, is because we have known and believed the love that God has for us. That is why we can shake off the condemnation and the guilt the enemy is throwing at us. Day and night the enemy is bombarding us with sin and the curses of the law, so that we will hide from God and reject the knowledge of the sacrifice of Jesus, as our peace offering. The enemy will tell us that we have not done enough for God. The truth is: even if we bestow all our wealth to the poor, it will never match up with how much God loved us and has done for us. The love that I have for God has been shed abroad or poured out in my heart when I received the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). We love God because He first loved us (1John 4:19). Everything we do in the Kingdom, is the love of Christ in us, that constrains us or compels us to do so, because we say within ourselves, if He died for us to demonstrate how much He loved us, we ought at least to follow in His footsteps (2Corinthians 5:14). God is at work in us through the Holy Spirit, both to will and do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
So I stop comparing myself with other believers, but only with my elder brother Jesus Christ. Whether they pray more than I, or fast more or read more or have the greater church attendance, or all the other things that Christians ought to do, I know that I am freely loved by God, all these things I do them, but they do not commend me to God. He loved me even when I was a sinner. It does not mean that I am a lazy Christian; God knows that I, Gery, am not! Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:9-10). So when I sleep, I have no fear, for I am reconciled with God, I am not His enemy any more. I do not fear His wrath for I am at peace with God. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).
When we say we truly love God we will keep His commandments. Jesus tells us: if you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love, even as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love (John 15:10). John tells us: And by this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, I have known Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1John 2:3-4). For when a person does not keep the commandments of God, but practices sin, his conscience will be accusing him and his heart condemning him (Romans 8:1, Romans 2:15). But if we keep the commandments of God, and do the things that please Him, we have the petition of whatever we ask. John tells us this secret saying: For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight (1John 3:20-22).
7. Faith works by love
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love (Galatians 5:6). We know that we must have faith to receive anything from heaven. Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he or she who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). If we do not have peace in our heart, the kingdom will not work for us, because we will have fear, doubts about the will of God. We will not have Joy (emotion excited by the expectation or hope that we are going to receive something good). And faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). If we do not know and believe the love that the Father has for us, our faith will not work, for faith works by love, not our love for God, but the love that God has for us.
When we know and believe the love that God has for us, it casts out all fear in our heart; we come before God, for we know that we will receive something good. The servant that did not do business with the talent of his master, explained why. Then he who had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew that You are a hard man or severe or austere man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed: And I was afraid, and went and hid Your talent in the earth: lo, there You have what is Yours (Matthew 25:24-25). Many Christians still think that God is a hard Man, a severe Man, an austere Man, a harsh man; who, would not be afraid to work for such a Man? I would be afraid too; fear would grip my heart, for I do not know if what I do will ever be good enough for Him. It is safer to hide the talent, to do nothing for God at all “since he is so austere and harsh”, for I am afraid to make a mistake lest he pour his wrath on me!
We see that this servant was not made perfect in love, for perfect love casts out fear. He was still afraid of serving God. He was afraid that God would pour out His wrath upon him. He was afraid to make mistakes, so he would rather never try anything. In the beginning I, Gery, prayed for some people and they did not get healed, some even died! I truly blamed myself, because I knew that they were supposed to be healed and not die according to the written word of God. So Satan bombarded me with condemnation and told me: stop praying for people who are sick, for you are misrepresenting God. But I knew there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I acknowledged to Jesus that I needed to know more about healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead. So I studied the scriptures diligently to show myself approved unto God not unto men (2Timothy 2:15). And God was faithful in revealing to me the truth, and I went out again to pray for the sick, cast out devils, until my results were lining up with the written word of God. But if you are afraid of making mistakes, because you fear the wrath of God, you will never disciple people, you will never pray for the sick, never cast out devils, raise the dead. You will never get good at it either.
When I look back: I made many mistakes when I started sharing the gospel with the mentally ill people God sent to me. The little revelation of the word of God I shared every day with them, and prayed for them, and they all came out of the mental institution in Manchester. When Sister Esther told me that the Lord told her to work with me, I was afraid, because I did not want to make mistakes. For she was not crazy like the former people God sent to me. I started to work with Sister Esther, I made mistakes too; but she knew my heart was genuine; I wanted to help her. And I was not ashamed to tell her when she called me on the phone ,that what I told her the previous day or month was a tradition of man that I have picked up from religious people. But now God has shown me in the scriptures what His will is concerning a particular subject. When I started working with Sister Louise, I made a big mistake which caused her a lot of pain. Because I passed on a tradition of man and a second hand revelation, that I did not check that it did not line up with the written word of God. I fell into the trap of the young prophet who was deceived by the old prophet in 1Kings 13; I have learnt a lesson! I should have checked with the written word of God. And I blamed myself for a long time because Sister Louise was suffering because of my mistake, and I confessed my error to Sister Louise and she forgave me. Praise the Lord! She knew that my heart was to help her. And God was merciful unto me, Gery, and delivered Sister Louise from my mistake.
Many times I have been very hard on myself because I made a mistake, but Jesus covered my mistakes and taught me how to do it according to the written word of God. But if I thought that Jesus and God were harsh people, and I had not been perfected in the love of God: I would never try anything for the kingdom of God, and I would never also get better at it. Paul tells us: For every one that uses milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age or mature, even those who by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:13-14). So by reason of use you will have your spiritual senses exercised or developed, you will mature in your effectiveness in soul winning, in healing, in dead raising, in the demonstration of the power of God, and in the manifestations of the Spirit of the Lord. James tells us: in many things we offend all. If any man does not offend in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:2). Only Jesus is perfect, and we are all learning to grow into Him, as Paul tells us in (Ephesians 4:15). So let us not give up, let us keep trying and learning to grow into Christ Jesus. I am not giving us an excuse or license to offend people with our word, or do a mediocre work for the Kingdom of God.
But, when we know that God is love, and The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7). God is not austere, harsh or a hard man, but God is love and good. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (Rhema) of God (Romans 10:17). No matter if you have received the rhema word of God through the reading of the word, or through a sermon or in the dream or vision, etc. faith without works is dead or useless (James 2:17). Unless we act on that word of God, it will produce nothing. The servant with one talent heard the word of God, his master, but did not act on the word. We can only act on the word of God if we trust Him, if we know that He loves us, and that we are at peace with Him. I remember when our mother decided to involve us in the tasks of the house. She taught us everything! But I remember when I washed dishes, I would break some plates or glasses in the beginning. I had fear in my heart, because I thought my mother would shout at me in anger. But she did not to my amazement! But she was more concerned about me, if I was injured, and she then showed me how to wash the plates safely, so that next time I would not break them or injure myself.
I remember when she taught me to cook. I watched how she did it and started to help her, and then one day she let me do all the cooking. I almost burnt the food and I put too much water in the rice. But she was happy that I cooked the meal for the family on my own. My brothers were not happy to eat it, and criticized my cooking. But my mother and father said it was good. I remember when she taught me how to bake, and one day she left me to do the baking on my own. I took a glass dish that is supposed to go into the oven and I put it on the electric plate to cook some “crème Anglaise”. That glass dish shattered all over the kitchen floor. When my mother heard the noise of that glass dish shattering, she rushed into the kitchen to see if I was injured. I was not by the grace of God. She told me not to move from where I was standing and brought a broom to gather the pieces of glass that were all over the floor. And she taught me, that there is a reason why that glass dish only goes into the oven, and not on a cooker be it electric or gas cooker.
But after those mistakes, I became the little chef of our house: baking and cooking for the whole family! And so did my brothers. Our mother and father allowed us to make mistakes, and corrected us in love! Jesus also showed us how to do it: we observe how He did it in the bible and we go and do it as well. We will make mistakes in the beginning but He will correct us in love. And we will get better at preaching the gospel, healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease, raising the dead and casting out demons. He is never far and never leaves us without supervision. He said: All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations or make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus explains to us that faith works by love, the reason the child asks something from his father, is because he knows that his father loves him, the reason why the child knocks on his father’s door, is because he knows his father loves him and wants to enjoy his company, the reason why a child seeks where the father has kept things is, because he knows the father loves him and has placed the things where he can easily find them, a place that he can reach easily with his little hands and small stature. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, he will give him a stone? Or if he asks a fish, he will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him (Matthew 7:7-11)?
Jesus says it is for everyone, not just for a “special few” like many times some believers carefully insinuate. We come to our Heavenly Father, because we know and believed according to the scriptures, that the Lord is good, because we know and believe according to the scriptures, that God is love and so loved us and loves us as He loves Jesus. Even when we have to seek for things in His word, it is never out of our reach or our understanding. Jesus chose some fishermen and tax collectors to be His apostles, how much education does one need to be a fisherman? The twelve whom He chose were not theologically trained. Yet they turned the world upside down, and did greater miracles than Jesus did on earth! If fishermen and tax collectors could understand how the kingdom of God works, there is hope for you and me too. Mankind makes things complicated, but God makes them easy, even the uneducated person can understand it, and do the same work Jesus did.
If I know that I have peace with God, I am loved, and God is good, whenever I have a need or I am in trouble, I will run to God and not run away from God. Even when I have to seek the hidden things of God, I know it is not out of my reach. Think of it this way, I come to my father and ask him for a bag of wheat seed. He tells me it is not in the house but it is in the barn, he gives me the keys, so that I can go to the barn open it and seek for the bag of wheat seed there. Likewise Jesus said I give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, whatever you bind or disallow on earth, will be bound or disallowed in heaven, and whatever you loose or permit on earth, will be loosed or permitted in heaven (Matthew 16:19). Furthermore He gave us the Holy Spirit, to help us, and guide us in all truth. Whenever I am seeking or looking for things of God, I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to me. And the Holy Spirit brings them to my remembrance (John 14:26). My friend, believe that God loves you and He is good. He is not a hard man, a harsh man or an austere man, no!
The love that God has for us, when we know it, and believe it, it becomes the driving force in us; the love of Christ constrains us or compels us, to put actions or deeds to the Rhema word we heard. The Rhema word, is just what the written word of God says about my particular situation, particular issue. Jesus tells us about the rock faith, a faith that will stand against all adversities. Whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one who hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27). This is Jesus’ way of telling us, faith without work is dead or useless, if we want to have a rock faith, we know it comes by hearing the Rhema word of God (Romans 10:17). But if we do not act on the Rhema word, we are acting like fools and not as wise men.
There will always be storms, rains, and floods heading our way trying to destroy what pertains to us. But when we know we have peace with God. When the perfect love of God has cast out fear, and we know and believe, that God so loves us freely, that the Lord is good. Then we will be able to act on our faith. For we know God cannot lie to us. Therefore Jesus was in the boat with His disciples when a great storm arose at sea, the wind and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awoke him, and say unto Him, Master, do you not care that we perish? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith (Mark 4:38-40)? Jesus was not moved by the storms, He knew that God loved Him, He knew that He was at peace with God, so He was not fearful. God has not given us a Spirit of fear but of power, love, and sound mind (2Timothy 1:7).
He knows God loves Him, and all the promises of God are yes and Amen. He knows He has the power or authority over the works of God’s hands. Therefore whatever He binds on earth will be bound in heaven! He simply said to the storm: “keep silent”. Peace be still. For the kingdom of God that is in Jesus, is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Jesus had joy, meaning He was excited about the fact that something good was about to happen to them, since He acted on God’s word. And it did! The wind ceased and there was a great calm. When we are still fearful and have no faith, let us revisit what Jesus did for us on the cross by His death and resurrection and it will build a rock faith in us. We will be able to not only hear the word from God; but act on that word as well. So find out what is written about your particular storms in the bible, and come before God with full assurance that He will answer your prayer.
Gideon had the revelation of Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord is our peace. The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom which means: peace, happy, health, prosperity, restoration, wholeness, well, safe. Gideon had the restoration of the land of Israel which was occupied by the Midianites, they could dwell safely within their borders when they defeated the Midianites. The Lord is our peace, we do not have to fear our enemies any more, or fear the wrath of God anymore, God has not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind. The fear of God that we are to have is a reverential fear, the reverential fear that a son or daughter has for his or her father. Peace does not means absence of conflict or war, for when Jehovah-Shalom appeared to Gideon it was to send him to war against the enemies of the Jews. Jehovah-Shalom will give you rest from your enemies around you and will utterly destroy them.
Finally brothers and sisters, grace and peace be multiplied unto you. Remember me, your brother Gery, in your prayers and supplications. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.
The Lord be with you all (2Thessalonians 3:16). The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen (Romans 16:20).