Category: Walking by the Spirit

Following Jesus

Part 1

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me,” Matthew 16:24. What does this really mean? The answer is found in the next verse, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it,” vs. 25. If we lose our life for the sake of the Lord, we will actually find it. What an anomaly, we must lose our life to find it. So how do we lose it? We lose it by denying our self, and taking up our cross, and following Jesus. In other words, we turn away from and leave behind our old ways of sin and selfishness, and all other devices of the flesh. That is denying self.

Now we must take up our cross. To do this we must understand that our cross is Jesus’ cross; His cross is our cross. We were crucified with Him on His cross. So to take up our cross means to accept and embrace the truth that we were in Jesus when He died; we died with Him. His cross is the cross on which our old self died. After dying with Jesus, we were baptized into His death, and raised up with Him into newness of life.

And even though we were crucified with Christ and raised up into newness of life with Him, we were left in our bodies of flesh, and therefore we are still subject to both temptation and sin; for sin still dwells in us, Romans 7:17, 20; and it will cause us to do things we don’t want to do. We want to do good, but we cannot do it because of the sin within us. We are incapable of overcoming it. So, here we are, stuck in this dilemma, with our minds we are serving the law of God, and with the flesh we are serving the law of sin. We must realize that no one can keep the Law. It only makes us aware of our sins, it cannot deliver us from them, so to try to keep it is just a vain attempt, accomplishing nothing. So what do we do? Is there any deliverance from this conundrum?

Yes, absolutely, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit,” Romans 8:3,4. And now those of us who walk by the Spirit consider ourselves to be dead to sin, having been crucified with Jesus, and alive to God through His raising us up with Him, that we might become partakers of His Spirit and nature, having been born again, a new creature, a new being, the body of Christ. And, though sin still dwells in us, there is no condemnation, for the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and of death, and we are no longer slaves to sin, but are now slaves to righteousness as we walk by the Spirit, abiding in Jesus, and believing in His sacrifice.

Part 2

Having denied our self and taken up our cross, we must follow Jesus. In other words, we must follow the examples He left for us as we walk through life in our body of flesh. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” 1 Peter 2:21. While He was on this earth, Jesus was tempted in that which He suffered, Hebrews 2:18a; and He learned obedience from the things which He suffered, Hebrews 5:8. So it is with us——we suffer through temptation, and we learn obedience through that suffering. “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons,” Hebrews 12:7,8.

During these trials, our faith is being tested, that the proof of it, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:7. And should we encounter problems with the accuser of the brethren, we have an Advocate with the Father who is able to come to our aid when we are tempted, Hebrews 3:18. Once our faith has been tested and proven, we will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him, James 1:12.

Some may ask, “But what if we should fall short and sin?” If that happens, we must believe what John said, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” 1 John 2: 1, and, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9. “For since He was tempted in that which He suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted,” Hebrews 2:18.

Dear friends, we are children of God. Do you not think He will make a way for us as we travel to our destination? How are we to overcome sin, by dying to self? No, by trusting in Jesus who carried us in His body on the tree that His death might be our death, so that we could enter the newness of life in the kingdom of His Father. And so it happened, that when God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised us up also the moment we believed in the sacrifice of Jesus. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 16:25-27.

Part 3

Peter said, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them we might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust,” 2 Peter 1:2-4.

Peter makes it plain in these verses that everything we need to live the Christian life can be found in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ. Paul told the Ephesians that Jesus gave the church different ministries until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God. He also told the Colossians that he strives according to God’s power that works within him, that they may attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The Father has placed the fulness of the Deity in Jesus, and has given Him all authority in heaven and on earth, and has placed us in Him by removing our body of flesh, having buried us with Him in baptism, and raised us up with Him from the dead through our faith in the working of God. And because of all this we have been made complete, for as Paul said, “Jesus has become to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,” (see Colossians 2:9-12 and 1 Corinthians 1:30).

“If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth,” Colossians 3:1,2.

Dear friends, we have most certainly come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel,” Hebrews 12:22-24. We ‘are’ a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession; and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

If we are in Christ we are a new creation, and through the knowledge of Christ, the Father has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, and by these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them we might become partakers of the divine nature. May God give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus; and may the eyes of our hearts be enlightened, so that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the greatness of His power toward us who believe.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

P.S. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” Don’t search for this and that; search for the living Christ, and let Him reveal Himself to you.

*** I had a fourth letter that was going to be a part of this, which was about being conformed to the death of Jesus (Philippians 3:10), but the Lord revealed that it corresponds with 2 Corinthians 4:10,12, about apostles always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, vs. 10, and death works in us, but life in you, vs.12. I say this because I placed the original letter on lettersforchristians.com, and, if anyone read it, please accept my apology, and know it was placed there by mistake.

©2021 Jon David Banks All Rights Reserved

The Word

Some say that when we ask God for something and we don’t receive it, it’s because God’s answer is no. This is not true. If we ask for something and don’t receive it, it’s because we ask with wrong motives. The truth is that if we ask anything according to His will, we will receive what we have asked for. “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him [Jesus] they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us,” 2 Corinthians 1:20. We ask and then say, “Amen,” because we believe we will receive what we have asked of God, and that He will be glorified through us by His honoring His promises.

That’s not to say that if, for instance, we ask for healing, we will be healed. There are certain instructions in the Word that we must follow. For one, the sick are to call for the elders of the church. I see people all the time asking for others to pray for the healing of themselves, or, of someone they know. Ignoring the Holy Word of God that says the sick are to call for the elders of the church, they, instead, ask their friends to step in and fill the elders’ positions.

Some will say, “The elders at my church don’t have faith.” Even if this is true, our instruction is to call for them, and to let them pray for us. And who are we to argue with God? When we make excuses like ‘the elders don’t have faith,’ we are arguing with God. But if we instead follow His instructions, He will most assuredly honor our obedience. I’m not saying we will be healed; I’m saying He will honor our obedience.

I’m not insinuating that it’s wrong to ask others to pray for you when you’re sick. I’m saying we must always be willing to humble ourselves and do the will of God as set forth in the Scriptures. Call for the elders AND ask friends to pray for you.

I could go on and on about the habits and false beliefs in the church today, such as, ‘All Christians have been given the authority of Christ’ [if this were true, then, judging by the church, Christ would be next to powerless]; all Christians can heal the sick [if this is true, why are the sick instructed to call for the elders of the church, and why does the Holy Spirit give the gift of miracles and the gifts of healing to individuals as He wills?; all Christians can speak in tongues [if this is true, why did Paul say all do not speak in tongues, do they?; etc, etc., etc.

Beloved of God, we must lay aside our preconceived ideas and return to our first love, and follow Him, rather than our own opinions. We must take the Word of God as truth, and not add to it, nor take away from it. We must respect His Word and abide by it. We must abide in Jesus, and who is Jesus? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God,” John 1:1, 2. “And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God,” Revelation19:13.

And so says the Word, “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it,” Deuteronomy 12:32.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

The Chosen

We were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that we may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. And according to His great mercy God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:1-3. Or, as Paul put it, “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus,” 1 Corinthians 1:30a. And we are now protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation to be revealed in the last time, 1 Peter 1:5.

God foreknew us, caused us to be born again, and now protects us through faith. If God be for us, who can be against us? It depends not on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. And those of us whom He has chosen to offer mercy, in turn, offer ourselves daily to Him as a living sacrifice, and He works in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

We, of all people, are the most fortunate; for we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; for once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

One and the Same Spirit

When two different portions of Scripture seem to contradict each other, it is imperative that we don’t believe one and reject the other. Instead, we must bear in mind that God is omniscient, and, because of this, we can trust that He will reveal the truth to us if we need to know.

As an example of an apparent contradiction, consider Mark 16 where Jesus said these signs will follow those who believe, in His name Christians will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover, etc. Now consider chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians where it speaks of the gifts of the Spirit.

Verses 4-7 say, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” Verses 8-10 lists the gifts of the Spirit, which include the effecting of miracles, speaking with new tongues, and the gifts of healing. There is also the instruction in James 5:14-15 for the sick to call for the elders of the church.

So which is it? Do all Christians cast out demons? Do all Christians speak with new tongues? Do all Christians heal the sick? Or does each individual Christian have different gifts? It cannot be the same thing. If all Christians can perform the same works, there would be no need for the gifts of the Spirit, and vice versa. And what about calling for the elders of the church? If everyone can heal the sick, what would be the reason to call the elders?

So how do we reconcile these verses that appear to be discrepancies? We must trust God to show us the truth. And this is the truth: In Mark 16, Jesus was referring to the collection of believers, not each individual. In other words, these signs will follow the church. And this is made evident by 1 Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He [the Spirit] wills.”

There is always a truth behind anything in the Word that seems to be contradictory.

May we all humble ourselves before the Father in the name of Jesus, and seek His will, rather than our own, that we might walk pleasing to Him, and fulfill His will. For when each individual member of the body is working properly, the promises of God are yes in Jesus.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

lettersforchristians.com

My Credentials

I understand many things I say and write offend some who have been taught differently. Please know I don’t mean to cause trouble or strife. I simply cannot go against what I have learned from the Lord. You see, early in my Christian life it was revealed to me that I was to follow no man, but to only listen to God. This was revealed to me both in my own spirit and another man’s vision. I was even told to stop reading books and only read the Bible, which is what I’ve done for several decades now. I am not asking for you to give me the benefit of the doubt; I am asking you to be careful how you judge me. I ask this for your sake, not mine.

Please consider these experiences I have had: Jesus was standing in the delivery room when I was born. The attending nurse saw Him. She said He also stayed in the room my mom and I were put in after my birth. He stayed there until we went home. She saw Him and His glory every day we were there. When I was sixteen I saw Jesus descending from heaven and a cloud received Him out of my sight. When I was twenty-two He walked me down the aisle to an altar, and knelt in front of me, and I was born again. Once my spirit was caught up with Him where He stood beside me, while Peter, James, and John stood on the other side of me. Paul walked by in front of us looking straight at me.

When I was one completed semester into Bible college, the Lord told me to quit school and return home because my biological father needed me. Within 20 minutes of visiting with him he had a heart attack and passed away. I prayed for him for at least 30 minutes and the Lord answered my prayer and breathed life back into him. He was not a Christian when he died, but he was a Christian when he was born for the second time.

Dear friends, you might think I am bragging on myself? But I am surely not. If I am bragging about anything, it is on the Lord, for I did nothing but obey Him; and I obeyed Him only by the power of His grace and mercy.

Why am I writing this letter? I am simply laying my credentials bare before you. And I do this with the hope that you won’t judge me too harshly.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

Die to self?

To say we must die to self seems a little disrespectful to the Son of God, for self was crucified on the cross with Him, just as Paul said, “… knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin”, Romans 6:6, 7.

“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life,” Romans 6:3, 4.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly,” Galatians 2:20, 21. Verse 21 suggests that, if we don’t accept the entire work of Jesus on the cross, we nullify the grace of God. For in Him we were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead, Colossians 2:11, 12.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

That no one should boast

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD,” 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31. [Paul began his letter to the Corinthians by saying “…to the church of God which is at Corinth, TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST JESUS …”]

There are many today preaching that our righteousness is imputed to us by God, but our sanctification is earned by first dying to Self. But as we can see from these scriptures, Jesus became to us both righteousness and sanctification, as well as wisdom and redemption. Sin became imputed to us when the law was given, Romans 5:13; wisdom, righteousness and sanctification, and redemption were placed upon and within us when we were born again and raised up with Jesus, a member of His body, the new creation.

For this reason Peter wrote, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us EVERYTHING PERTAINING TO LIFE AND GODLINESS, THROUGH THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust,” 2 Peter 1:2-4. We may dare trust that, in Christ Jesus, God has supplied every need.

Dear friends, we must become immersed in the truth of Peter’s words that our Father has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness and He gives us these things THROUGH THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by His own glory and excellence, and He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that we might become partakers of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4.

For in Him all the Deity dwells in bodily form, and IN HIM YOU HAVE BEEN MADE COMPLETE [having everything pertaining to life and godliness], and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, IN THE REMOVAL OF THE BODY OF THE FLESH BY THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him THROUGH FAITH IN THE WORKING OF GOD, who raised Him from the dead, Colossians 2:9-12.

God loved us when we were dead in our transgressions and He made us alive together with Christ (by grace we have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH FAITH; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD; NOT AS A RESULT OF WORKS, THAT NO ONE SHOULD BOAST, Ephesians 2:4-9.

Those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, Galatians 5:24. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord, Hebrews 12:14. How do we crucify the flesh and how do we pursue sanctification? We do both by faith accompanied by self-denial and perseverance; always looking to the Father, believing that He placed us in Jesus, and that we are now partakers of the divine nature through Him. We are not to work to make these happen, we are to trust that by God’s doing Jesus became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. Our fight is the fight of faith.

Our salvation is a gift of God through faith in His Son. Yes, we must deny ourselves daily, and consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We must daily present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God. Again, we do this by faith in God’s only begotten Son, who has become to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST, Galatians 3:26, Romans 6:11, 13 and 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31.

As Eve was in the first Adam when he was created, so also were we in the last Adam when He was crucified, buried, raised from the dead and ascended to heaven a new man, the living Christ. As a result, our sins are forgiven, our old Self was crucified with Jesus on the cross, and we are now seated with Him in the heavenly places, sons and daughters of God, a new creation, having been born anew in and by His Spirit.

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God, Ephesians 3:14-19.

In the name of Him who is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

The Spring Rain

When the Word speaks of awake from sleep, it is referring to forsaking your sins and walking in the light. ‘But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil,’ Ephesians 5:13-16.

Many people are looking for a specific awakening. One group even claims it is here now. But the truth is — the word awakening is not in the Bible.
What these people are calling the awakening is really the spring rain, and, because of using the wrong word, they have a misunderstanding of what it will be.

There are two major rains mentioned in the Word, the autumn rain and the spring rain, also known as the early rain and the latter rain. The autumn rain fell in Israel’s planting season around October and November; the spring rain fell in their harvest season around March and April. The autumn rain prepared the ground for planting; the spring rain prepared the wheat for harvest. And, as Jeremiah said, it is God who gives both the autumn and the spring rain in its season.

‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed. They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest, Jeremiah 5:23, 24.”’

“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth,” Hosea 6:3.

Our God will come to us; the spring rain will come to us. We need not hurry it, the Lord will send it in due time. What it will be remains to be seen.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

The New Self

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory,” Colossians 3:2-4. From these verses we find that we have died and our life, which is Christ, is hidden with Him in God; and we will be revealed with Him in glory when He returns.

Our sinful nature was crucified with Christ, as Paul told the Romans, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may increase? May it never be! Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin,” Romans 6:1-7.

Jesus is a perfect Savior. From His obedience to the shedding of His blood, to His resurrection, is everything that pertains to life and godliness. To be born-again is to have been crucified with the last Adam and raised up into the life of the new man, the risen Christ.
Let us put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him, Colossians 3:10.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

lettersforchristians.com

Pick and Choose?

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12. It has always amazed me that so many people approach the word of God so irreverently. They act as though they are called to sit in judgment of the word of God, critiquing each subject to see if it is acceptable to them.

Consider this, the word of God states that women are not to speak in church, yet women stand up and speak in churches worldwide. “Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression,” 1 Timothy 2:11-14. How is it that both men and women ignore these verses today? It is because some have overturned the word of God, saying it is behind the times, and therefore is not to be heeded in certain things because society has changed. Still, the word of God cries out, “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to or take away from it,” Deuteronomy 12:32.

This is just one subject being dismissed by the church today. Again, the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It is more than obvious that a large number of professed Christians today simply guard themselves from the sword of the Spirit by holding on to the shield of self, in order to appease society.

I am well aware this is a touchy subject, but it is one covered by the word of our God. My purpose for this letter is not to find fault, but to shed light on the truth that many have ignored the parts of the word of God with which they don’t agree. We are not our own; we were bought with a price; we have no right to pick and choose.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

lettersforchristians.com

True vs. False Apostles

Paul, in explaining the ministry of apostles, said, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake; that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you,” 2 Corinthians 4:5-12.

The rubber doesn’t get much closer to the road than this — death is at work in us, but life in you. In another place He says, “For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fool’s for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.”

Knowing these things, who would want to be an apostle? Would you believe about everybody and his brother and sister? Yes, there are people crawling out of the woodwork, men and women, who claim to be apostles, especially in the New Apostolic Reformation movement. Even though Paul said apostles are men — ‘as men condemned to death’ — pompous women are claiming to be equal to men in the call of the apostle. This is a sure sign of the anti-christ, for Daniel said the man of sin will have no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women; and we know from Genesis 3:16 that a woman’s desire is for her husband. The man of sin will show no regard for men or for any other god, for he will magnify himself above them all. The women’s liberation movement in the 60’s and 70’s had its origin in the spirit of anti-christ. For the word of God says, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 11:3.

These women and men in the NAR movement are false apostles. They actually choose the office for themselves. The office of the apostle is not sought, nor is it a feeling that makes one think he might be an apostle. The Son of God Himself chooses and personally appoints His apostles.

The man who wrote the Passion Translation professes to be an apostle. If you compare the Passion Translation with a legitimate Bible, you will see that he is living in a dream land filled with ice cream and lollipops. And, if this doesn’t make you throw the PT away, just look up his so-called experience in the Library of Heaven, or study his testimony that there is one more chapter in the book of John and that he is chosen to reveal it when the time comes for what he calls the greater works generation (John 14:12).

I say these things jokingly, but they are true. He really believes this stuff, as do most of the other self-professed apostles in the NAR movement. (The PT was written explicitly for the NAR movement). They all put themselves on a pedestal, thinking themselves to be above their flocks. But what does Paul say, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.”

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

He Deserves Nothing Less

“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s,” Romans 14:7, 8.

This is good to know when facing an operation with a risk of death, which is what I’m doing on August 20th at 8 a.m. The risk is not great; it’s the same as all other operations when one is put to sleep during the procedure. There’s always a risk of death. Even so, to hear the doctor tell you that you’re going to be at risk for death is a little unsettling.

But, thanks to Jesus, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord, and He will never forsake us. For this reason Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the living and the dead. So it makes no difference whether we live or die, for we belong to the Lord of the living and the dead.

Considering the price He paid for us, that is, His body, His blood and His life, we owe it to Him to give Him our full allegiance, and deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him, regardless of the cost to us. If for no other reason you follow Jesus, do so because of the price He paid for you.

The Christian life is not all rah rah and hallelujah; there are many trials and tribulations along the narrow way. And to this we were called, that we might learn discipline and, thereby, obedience, as it says, “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness,” and, “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed,” Hebrews 12:10b-12. “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments,” 2 John 1:6a.

Let us submit to our Lord in all things, from the greatest to the least, from the best to the worst, and from life to death, for He deserves nothing less.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

Belief in God

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” From this verse we see that faith is not only the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, it is also believing that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

One must first believe that God is, and that He rewards those who seek Him. These two beliefs are the basis on which faith stands. Without believing that God is, there is nothing to place our faith in. And without believing that He rewards those who seek Him, there is no reason to expect an answer for any prayer. But believing that God is and that He rewards those who seek Him lends tremendous credence to having the substance of something hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

If one believes God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him, believing we have the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen is a given. Think about it, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:32-35a.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

Under Grace

Romans 6:1-14, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

“For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

May the World Come to Know

My wife found this letter in some old boxes. It was written in 1997.

Love is a rose whose fragrance overshadows its thorns. It is a seed which sown lies hidden, patiently awaiting the flower if its beloved. Love is the tear in Compassion’s eye, the smile on Mercy’s lips, and the warmth of Understanding’s embrace. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Never.

My heart’s desire is for our Father’s love to be perfected in me. I want to be clothed with compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience. I want these virtues to emanate from me as God sheds His love abroad in my heart. If I never see another miracle, at least let me love my wife as though she were my own body; let me love my neighbor as though I were loving myself; let me love my brothers and sisters and all my enemies as I have been loved, — kindly, patiently, unselfishly, and unconditionally.

I believe that as we walk in love and work from love we are planting seeds that might one day grow to become sturdy oaks. I believe we are pervading the earth with the fragrant aroma of the Spirit of Jesus. (The Holy Spirit tells me now the creation appreciates the children of God.) I believe love is of God and we are of God if we love one another as He has love us. And God loved us not in word, but in deed, by sending His only begotten Son to redeem us and reconcile us to Himself, that He might bestow upon us His exceeding great and precious promises. I long for His love to be perfected in me!

Our works of love, whether they be toward our spouse, our neighbor, or our enemy are never in vain. They speak volumes throughout eternity even as I write. Our God is not confined by time. At this very moment He exists before time, He exists today, and He exits forever. Since love of Him, the works we do in love ring through the ages.

The spirit of love is the Spirit of the Lamb, giving oneself for the sake of others. May we live, breathe, and walk in the Spirit of the Lamb. May we take his yoke upon us and learn of Him. May we assimilate His ways in all our dealings with our spouses, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, and even our enemies. May we always be true children of God.

Dear friends, faith moves mountains — love moves men; may we be fishers of men. Let us pervade the earth with the fragrant aroma of the Spirit of Jesus, loving one another from the heart, in deed and in truth. May the world come to know we are true disciples of the Son of God.

Rev. Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant