Category: Walking by the Spirit

The Awakening?

Romans 13:11, “And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.”

Christians everywhere are looking for a last great awakening. Most seem to think God will pour out His Spirit and we will all be super Christians in the blink of an eye. They wait for an hour to come when that happens. However, Paul says the hour has already come for us to awaken from sleep. He says emphatically, “The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand,” Romans 13:12a. He doesn’t tell us to wait for the awakening, he tells us to wake up now and lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, vs. 12b.

I am aware that some, myself included, have been calling the latter rain an awakening, but I am also aware the church is the body of Christ and is to grow to maturity. In this verse Paul is referring to waking up from an immature state of judging, criticism, disobedience to laws, and all other things done by those who still tiptoe in darkness. He is saying we must begin walking in the light of day as mature Christians, loving one another from a pure heart and sincere dedication to the Lord. That to Paul is truly awakening. 

I believe we should take his admonition to heart and open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to reveal the things in our hearts that are still hidden from the light of Christ, things we may have put off dealing with. I believe we should apply ourselves and remove every hindrance that stands between us and our complete surrender to the Lord.

I believe one hindrance that often goes unnoticed is the emphasis on the teachings that we must do so much before the Lord can do anything with us. It is an indisputable truth that our salvation is in Jesus, and not in anything we do; for the Bible plainly says, “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God,” Romans 7:4. 

We were crucified on the cross with Christ that we might be joined to the risen Christ and bear fruit for God. It is already finished. We need only endure to the end. And I believe that, as you endure, you will find, as I did, that if you trust in Jesus and walk in obedient submission to Him, you are already dead to the world and are bearing fruit for God. Yes, you may slip at times, but that is part of growing up. We must learn to walk before we can run.

We were formerly darkness, but now we are light in the Lord; let us walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), proving what is pleasing to the Lord, Ephesians 5:8-10. And, “… all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you,’” Ephesians 5:13,14.

God has already poured out His Spirit upon mankind. Jesus has fulfilled His ministry. He is seated at the right hand of God. He has overcome the world. His light shines today for anybody who will walk in it. The time for us to awaken from sleep is now. We are not to wait for God to wake us up, we are to lay aside the deeds of darkness and walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, and we are to do it today. 

I fear if we don’t awaken now, we will find ourselves in a perpetual wilderness with no rock from which to drink and no manna to sustain us. For to sit and wait for God to awaken us is, in effect, to dismiss the Holy Spirit who says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts….”

Also, nowhere in the Bible have I found the latter rain being referred to as an awakening. To my knowledge, this is a term that has come from man. If this is true, and we do not wake from sleep before the latter rain arrives, will we even know it is raining?

(“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame,”) Rev 16:15.

Living a Lie and Calling it Faith

Dear friends, yesterday I posted a letter, “Whatever Happened…?” A couple people thought I was complaining and finding fault with the church. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

#1 — The faults of the church are evident. No one has to look for them — they stand out like spines or quills on a porcupine.

#2 — Not many people realize it but the devil is being preached in many churches, and those who preach him claim they are doing it in the name of Jesus.

Number two is why I say the things I say. I am an ambassador for Christ and He is not pleased with what He is seeing. People are being led astray by false teachers and preachers every day.

The devil’s mission has been to turn souls away from God since the beginning. He does this by enticing people to sin. I’m aware of two ways he does this. He appeals to our flesh, trying to entice us to give in to our old natures in any and every way he finds us vulnerable. If he cannot accomplish this, he uses the same tactics he used on Jesus in the wilderness. He brings Scriptures to our minds and suggests that we take it upon ourselves to make those Scriptures come true. He tells us the promises of God pertain to us and that we need to make them work. From this one point he has convinced many Christians they have the authority of Christ. He has convinced others that they can speak things into being; and still others that they can declare and decree things into being.  

He was successful in turning Eve away from God, but he failed with Jesus. Jesus, being the Son of God, did not fall prey to the temptation to put God to the test by claiming the promise that God would give His angels charge over Him, and bear Him up, lest He strike His foot against a stone. Jesus, instead, humbled Himself and became obedient to God.

If the devil cannot get us to turn from God by indulging in our sinful natures, he will try to entice us to lift ourselves to a place where we are equal to God, as he did Eve. Thus the spreading of the rumor that we have the authority of Christ, and the rumor that we can declare and decree, or just speak things into existence. 

Before I posted the letter yesterday, I posted a request for any one with the authority of Christ to come to the panhandle of Texas and heal a Christian lady of cancer. I also offered to pay all their expenses. Quite a few of my FB friends have said they have the authority of Christ, but none of them responded. 

I did this for one reason, it was an attempt to get each one who claims to have all this authority to have a little sit down with their conscience. I knew that if they did this they would have to consider whether they really believed they have Christ’s authority, or not. And whether they believed they have His authority or not, they would have to admit they are belittling His holy name; for if they have His authority and refuse to use it, or if they don’t really believe they have that authority and yet claim to have it, they are dishonest and need to repent and stop dragging the Lord’s name through the mud.

I am very serious about this. Jesus’ name is being misrepresented daily, and I find it offensive. He is my Savior, my Shepherd, He knows me and He loves me. He ordained me to preach His gospel, and He did so by the laying on of His own hands. It is my responsibility to destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. And so I endeavor to fulfill the Lord’s will, and I do so for the sake of the church.

No, I am not finding fault and judging the church, I have forsaken all that is in the world for the sake of the church. And if I can provoke anyone to have a sit down with their conscience, and face reality (which is Jesus) and forsake their dishonesty of holding on to teachings they don’t really believe (if they really believed today’s world would have been turned upside down by now), then I will receive a reward when it’s all over. And I would gladly forego the reward if it would but help the church.  

One gentleman took it upon himself to sit in judgment of my letter and accused me of being critical and judgmental, and a murmurer and a complainer. He then proceeded to “set things straight for me,” as he put it. He justified his right to do this by saying he was “under the umbrella of the ministry of Rev. Loran Helm.” 

I believe this man was dragging Rev. Helm’s name through the mud for he misrepresented him by not only judging me for things he didn’t understand, but also condemning me for those same things. Fortunately, when Jesus told me of my call He told me there were two others in the U.S. with that same call, and that Loran Helm was one of them. I never met Bro. Helm but I knew he was a true servant of God because of what Jesus told me. Had Jesus not told me about him I may well have come away from the reprimand of the gentleman with the belief that Loran Helm was a man who also sat in judgment of people, for the gentleman inserted himself as an authority to sit in judgment of me by virtue of his being under the umbrella of Rev. Helm’s ministry. 

So, as this man misrepresented Rev. Helm, many today are misrepresenting Jesus, and that is what my letter was about. It was not a fault-finding mission; it was a call to wake from sleep that Christ might give you light. It was a plea to face reality (which is Jesus) and offer your conscience to God and allow Him to reveal any flaws it might contain. God desires truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden parts He makes us to know wisdom.

Therefore if one believes he has the authority of Christ, he has it; and if he has it, he can use it. However, it is more than evident that those who claim to have it don’t use it because they cannot make it work; hence, living a lie and calling it faith. My friends, God is not mocked. It is time we awake and confess our dishonesty.

It is time to stop using the Word of God as a book of facts we can use as proof that we are right about things. It is time we submit ourselves to the Word of God and allow it to divide our souls and spirits, and to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. It is time to grow up.

Whatever Happened…?

I have visited several churches in the recent past and most pastors seemed to dwell on their pet beliefs. Some pastors focused on the belief that Christians have the authority of Christ and spent most of their time explaining how to use that so-called authority. In one of the churches the pastor exercised his so-called authority and released the Holy Spirit into the sanctuary (or so he claimed). Another church’s pastor repeatedly concerned himself with appealing to the emotions of his congregation trying to entice them to evangelize the town in which they lived. Another pastor begins with Scriptures and ends with cute little cliches` that have nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ, etc.

I sometimes feel like a stranger in a foreign land when I enter a church. It hurts me deeply to hear some of the sermons being preached today. The devil has his foot in the door of so many churches, to the extent that Jesus has been relegated to just another means by which man can feed his ego. 

Whatever happened to revering the holiness and the sacredness of God? Why is there so little respect for Him? What kind of person does it take to stand and say, “I declare this and I decree that,” and what kind of mindset would one who was conceived in iniquity have to have to claim that he, or she, has all authority in heaven and on earth? What kind of preacher would dare preach that Christians should do these things? Oh, yes, they all say these things are biblical, but they are dead wrong. 

These people interpret the Bible with their own selfish and egotistical reasoning, and find ways to satisfy their fleshly desires. They have become pawns of Satan, sent to accomplish what he accomplished with Eve in the garden, but failed to accomplish with Jesus in the wilderness, that of getting people to exalt themselves up to the level of God. The devil’s message of raising oneself up to the level of God resonates from so many pulpits that it is almost unbearable.

Whatever happened to denying your self and taking up your cross and following Jesus? What happened to obeying the Lord and walking humbly before Him? What happened to resisting the devil? When did it become the norm to rail accusations against the devil and take authority over him? When did Christians become so daring and self-willed that they no longer tremble when they revile angelic majesties, when even angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord? What has happened to common sense and common decency and sound doctrine? 

And when, pray tell, was the Holy Spirit, who convicts men of sin before a holy God, replaced with luring people to church with promises of finances, healings, and authority to change their circumstances.

Whatever happened to Jesus Christ, and Him crucified?   

What in the World has the Church Become?

What in the world has the church become? People who attend church regularly rush down the streets and highways exceeding one speed limit after another. And they do this knowing full well they are breaking the ordinance of God to obey the laws that exist. They deliberately ignore Romans 13:1-7 that begins with, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God….” 

What about those who entertain the lust of the flesh or the desire for riches? What about those who sit in judgment of others and the backbiters who spread rumor after rumor slandering their brothers and sisters in Christ? And, what about those super-Christians who are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, claiming this, claiming that, declaring this, declaring that, supposing themselves to have the authority of the Son of God? With their haughty and arrogant attitudes they too show no hint whatsoever of a disciplined Christian life. Believing they have the same authority as the Lord, they feel they need not submit to Him, but are free to use their authority anytime and in any way they wish.

Dear friends, there are countless other such sinful and lawless practices we have all either been guilty of or have seen others committing. With this in mind, would you agree that it certainly appears that many of us are following the Man of Lawlessness, rather than the Son of God; the Man of Sin, rather than the Son of Righteousness? Please ask yourselves these questions: Where will we be standing in the end? Will we be in the camp of the righteous or the camp of the lawless? Will Jesus say, “Well done,” or “I never knew you?”  

I Samuel 15:22, 23, says, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry….” For this very reason God rejected Saul from being king. What does that say for those of us who rebel against the speed limits and cheat on our income taxes, and those who lift themselves up to places of authority pretending to be something they are not? 

In the end will we be counted among the sons of God, or will we be counted as hypocrites and sons of lawlessness? Will Jesus welcome us with open arms, or will He say to us, “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness?” Matthew 7:23. It all depends on whether we deny ourselves and submit to God and learn obedience through the things which we suffer, or if we feed our egos and do whatever we want when we want. The road that leads to life is very narrow and only a few will find it. The road that leads to death is very wide and many will follow its paths. It is a road that is strewn with fleshly pleasures and countless ego boosters. It is a road on which you don’t have to obey any speed limits. It is a road on which you can cheat on your income taxes and sit in judgment of your fellow man. You need not concern yourself with what is right or wrong; you need only do what you feel like doing. You need not become a bond-slave to Christ Jesus and walk in obedience to Him and to God. On this road you can do whatever you want when you want.

I believe it is time to wake up from our slumber, Romans 13:11. It is time to strengthen what remains and is about to die, for our deeds have been found to be unfinished in the sight of God, Revelation 3:2. And it is time to remember what we have received and heard, and to hold it fast, and repent. For if we do not wake up Jesus will come like a thief, and we will not know at what time He will come, Revelation 3:3. 

There are so many who have been carried away by false doctrines and false assumptions of the day. Please test yourselves to be certain you are not one of them. Guard yourselves to be certain you are walking down the narrow road that leads to life.  

The Full Armor of God

Gird your loins with Truth

Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness

Shod your feet with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace

Take up the Shield of Faith

Put on the Helmet of Salvation

Take the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

That’s it, the Full armor of God; nothing about the spoken word; nothing about claiming a promise; nothing about standing on the word; nothing about declaring; nothing about decreeing. 

Did you notice Paul didn’t mention a thing about using authority over the devil? What was it he said? “In addition to all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish ALL the flaming missiles of the evil one.” Not a word about rebuking; not a word about binding; was Paul ignorant about Jesus giving Christians all authority in heaven and on earth, after it was given to Him? Or, are Christians today ignorant about faith being able to extinguish ALL the flaming missiles of the evil one? 

I ask, “Why would anyone need authority over the devil when faith alone can defeat him? Why would Jesus find it necessary to give anyone all authority in heaven and on earth when it isn’t needed? You may be thinking, ‘He gave 82 people authority during His ministry, why wouldn’t He give it to us?’ The answer is this: Jesus had not yet shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins and He had not yet been raised from the dead and become a life-giving Spirit. Thus the 82 were not born anew, nor were they filled with the Holy Spirit. We today have been born anew and filled with the Holy Spirit. Christ has overcome the evil one and we may now take refuge in our Father through faith in Jesus. We have no need of authority; we need only faith in Him to whom all authority in heaven and on earth was given. 

When Peter and John encountered the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, Peter said to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—-walk,” Acts 3:6b. And when all the people saw the lame man walking they were filled with amazement and ran to them. Peter, seeing this, explained that God had glorified His servant Jesus, verse13. In verse 16 He furthered explained to the people that on the basis of faith in His name, it was the name of Jesus which had strengthened the lame man; and the faith which comes through Him had given the man perfect health in the presence of them all.

There’s a big difference in having faith in Jesus’ name and having His authority. I, for one, don’t consider myself worthy to have the authority of Christ (even if He were to give it to me). Therefore I have no choice other than to trust the One through whom I have received forgiveness of sins and have been raised up into newness of life and grafted into the Israel above; that One who has given me everything pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Himself, and in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; that One in whom I live and move and have my being; that One Beloved of the Father who sits beside Almighty God and advocates and makes intercession for me. 

I believe in Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, having been made in the likeness of men, and became obedient to the point of death; for which God highly exalted Him, bestowing on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. My faith is in HIS name, the name of Him who now has all authority in heaven and on earth, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

I will continue to follow the example my Savior set for me and refuse to regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. I will not entertain the thought of being equal to Jesus in authority. I will simply continue to walk by faith in the name of the One who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I need not stand on, nor claim a promise. Nor do I need to speak things into being, or declare and decree things. For my Savior is faithful.  He cannot deny Himself. If I need something, I need only ask Him; for He supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory. Praise His holy name.

Rev. Jon Banks

Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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We may dare trust Him

The following is written, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words:

We are called to follow Jesus, and, to do so, we must walk as if our hands are in front of our eyes, making it necessary to trust God. We must trust Him to lead us in His will. We must trust Him to lead us not into temptation. We must trust Him for all things. Those who have faith in the Lord, have no need to move their hands away from their eyes; for their holy Father knows what is before them. He leads them as He works in them, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. This is walking by faith; and it is the only way to walk by the Spirit.

We cannot walk by the Spirit if we are busy planning our every move, and determining for ourselves what is best. We can only walk by the Spirit when we lose sight of ourselves, and, keeping our hands in front of our eyes, offer ourselves to the Father with a ‘not my will, thine be done’ attitude. We walk by the Spirit by trusting our Father in every situation, leaning not on our own understanding, but acknowledging Him in all our ways, trusting Him to direct our paths. 

Regardless of what we are going through, we can dare trust our Father to keep us, and to lead, guide, and protect us. He is our Rock, our refuge and our fortress; He is our shelter, and he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Our God can most assuredly be trusted. He cares for His own. He is not a perception man has created to worship; He is a Living Being, He is Life, and Life everlasting. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

Our God is that He is. He always has been, and always will be. As I type these words God not only exists today, He also exists before time; and He exists throughout eternity; He is before time, and now, and forever; He has no beginning and no end. God simply is. And, from the beginning of creation until now, His mystery has been unfolding on the earth, and will continue unfolding to the end. And we who call Him Father are a part of His mystery, for His Word says, “He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds,” Titus 2:14. These good deeds flow from us as we follow Him with a trust like that of a small child, as He works in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Yes, we may dare trust Him, for He delights in us.

Rev. Jon Banks

Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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He will guide you into all truth

In Genesis 49, the Word says, “Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, ‘Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what shall befall you in the end of the days,’”. Within this chapter, and chapter 48, are hints of the mystery of God. In chapter 48 Jacob [Israel] said concerning Joseph’s two sons, “His younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he [Manasseh], and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” The name Ephraim means fruitful. Hence, Ephraim will bear the fruit of many nations. Ephraim was the ‘son of the right hand’, Genesis 48:17, which corresponds with Benjamin, which actually means ‘son of the right hand’. 

Ephraim and Benjamin, both being ‘sons of the right hand’, correspond in that the tribe of Benjamin was hardened, in order to allow Ephraim’s descendants of a multitude of Gentile nations to enter the kingdom of God. Thus, Paul’s conversion out of due time; for being of the tribe of Benjamin, Paul was one of those who had been hardened, those who were destined to come into the kingdom after the fulness of the Gentiles have come in. This is why he had scales over his eyes, and, “though his eyes were open, he could see nothing,” Acts 9:8b.

  

Thus, through Joseph, whose name means ‘may Jehovah add/give increase’, the Lord added to the twelve tribes of Israel, and He did so through Joseph’s son, Ephraim, the ‘son of the right hand’, whose name means fruitful, and whose descendants would be a multitude of nations.

The Old Testament testifies of Jesus; for as it is written, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall,” Genesis 49:22,. This verse refers to Jesus and corresponds to Ephesians 2:14,16 “For He Himself [Jesus] is our peace, who made both groups  [Jew and Gentile] into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity,”. When Israel was telling his sons what would befall them in the end of days, he was testifying of Jesus. 

These things are a small part of the mystery of God that was revealed to me in a vision. I have mentioned them in order to shed light on the truth that the Scriptures were never meant to be interpreted by man; they were meant to be interpreted by the Holy Spirit. “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God,” 2 Peter 1:20,21.

The Word of God and all things pertaining to Him are interpreted by the Holy Spirit sent to us from God. He, in turn, reveals them to us at the appropriate times; as it is written, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth,” John 16:13a.

We must each govern ourselves to follow our Lord by walking in, and by, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, leaning not on our own understanding, but acknowledging the Lord in all our ways, and allowing Him to direct our paths. He will never leave us or forsake us; He is always faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

Rev. Jon Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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Return to your first love

The church in Ephesus was known for their good deeds and their toil and perseverance. They could not stand evil men, and put to the test those who were  calling themselves apostles, and found them to be false. They had persevered  and endured for the Lord’s name’s sake, and they hadn’t grown weary. Today the church in Ephesus would be considered a pretty good church, strong, steadfast, giving, haters of evil. What more could one ask for in a church? But Jesus had one thing against them, they had left their first love. 

Jeremiah 2:2b (NIV) says, ‘This is what the LORD says: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”’ From this we see that leaving our first love is losing our devotion to Him whom we have been betrothed. It is losing sight of loving Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. It happens wen we get caught up in the doing, rather than the being. It happens when we become unrestrained in our thinking and begin forming opinions and doctrines with our own understanding, thereby becoming entangled with formula after formula, rather than His Presence. 

The church in Ephesus was busy making sure everything was right. They did good deeds and they learned perseverance and endurance. They abhorred evil, and turned away false apostles. To the human eye, they were a beacon of perfection. However, in their zeal to please the Lord, they lost sight of their fellowship with Him. They became so busy ‘being’ Christians, they lost sight of the living Christ within them. To the eye of Him who had purchased them from the ravages of sin, this was sin, and they needed to repent and do the works they did at first. They needed to return to a place of complete love and devotion to the One who had betrothed them.

We, today, must guard ourselves from leaving our first love. We must shun the tendency to allow our minds to run unrestrained; for, in so doing, we will find ourselves forming opinions; we will find ourselves holding to this doctrine and that doctrine, rather than holding to the head. We will find that, although we are endeavoring to do the things required of us as pertains to our place in the body, we are flip-flopping; flip-flopping because we are not holding fast to the head, Jesus. 

Dear friends, we can search the Scriptures day in and day out looking for answers to this question and that question, only to find in the end that it is futile. There are no questions. There are no answers. There is only Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life; and in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form. We have been granted precious and magnificent promises, in order that we might become partakers of the divine nature. We are to follow Him of whom the Scriptures testify. We are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We cannot be partakers of the divine nature if we are not holding fast to the head. We must abide in the vine. 

It is sad that so many weary ones search the Scriptures looking for this and for that, and never turn to Him of whom the Scriptures testify. Oh, they call on Him, they use His name, but their trust is not in Him; it is in formulas they have fabricated by taking Scriptures out of context. They are so busy trying to be Christians, they have forsaken the living Christ. One might say they are now worshipping an idol; an idol of an image of God they have fashioned for themselves. And they reached this point because they left their first love, either by ignorance, or by a desire to do things their own way.

If we hold fast to our first love, we will not be tossed about by doctrine after doctrine, or opinion after opinion. We will be anchored in Him who loves us, resting beneath the shadow of His wings. And as He leads us beside waters of rest and makes us lie down in green pastures, we will find that He also guides us in the paths of righteousness and leads us into all truth. We need only follow Him; for in Him are all things pertaining to life and godliness. We need only walk in simple child-like trust as He works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Hold fast to the head; abide in the vine; trust in Him with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Return to Him of whom the Scriptures testify. Return to your first love.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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The last days

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths,” 2 Timothy 4:3,4.

This time has come. There are preachers chomping at their bits to tell you anything you want to hear. If you don’t care to learn obedience through suffering, one will convince you that you can use the authority of Christ to change your circumstances. Another will tell you that you no longer have to resist the devil and wait for him to flee; you can now use the authority of Christ and bind the devil, or just command him to leave. Do you want to go further and be like the Creator? Some will go so far to tell you that life and death are in the power of the tongue, and you are to be an imitator of God, and therefore it is His will that you imitate Him and speak things into existence, just as He did in the beginning. Whatever you want, there is preacher somewhere who will twist scriptures in a way to suit you.

Many of these preachers are nothing more than motivational speakers, who appeal to the flesh and give it a temporary emotional high. They have formulas for nearly every promise. And none of their formulas require you to submit to Christ. On the contrary, their formulas are only workable if you raise yourself up to the level of Christ.

It’s sad, but true, that for every vulnerable lamb, there is a ravenous wolf waiting to pounce. And no-one is more vulnerable than one who begins to follow Jesus, only to shrink back at the first sign of trouble. To keep moving forward in troubling times, we must submit ourselves to Jesus, trusting Him to deliver us when and how He wants. We must surrender ourselves to Him 100%. This is not easy to do. When someone tries to do it and fails, and does not admit his failure, he begins looking for ways around his troubles. At that precise second, the second he begins looking for alternatives, he enters a realm of vulnerability, where the powers of darkness set their sights on him and begin assailing him with fiery darts. 

These fiery darts often come in the form of scriptures, much like Satan used against Jesus in the wilderness. And these scriptures most often come from ravenous wolves disguised as shepherds. These wolves concentrate on a few scriptures that appear to apply to your situation. They conveniently leave out the truth that these same scriptures pertain only to those who have denied themselves, taken up their cross, and are following Jesus; those whose desire is ‘not my will, but thine be done’; those who seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

These wolves are experts at putting the cart before the horse. They seduce people who have not given themselves 100% to Jesus, and teach them the tricks of the trade — declare this, decree that; claim this, claim that; speak life, speak things into being; move this mountain, move that mountain, etc. They teach the vulnerable anything and everything that will keep them from submitting to the authority of Jesus. They even claim that all Christians have been given the authority of Jesus, dissuading them from submitting to Jesus.  And they do this for the simple reason that they themselves have been deceived by the powers of darkness, and are now working together with Satan, preventing as many people as possible from submitting to Jesus. They have believed a lie, and, in effect, preach Satan, and call him Jesus.

These wolves in sheep’s clothing are not interested in the truth; they are interested in themselves; and God has given them over to their delusions. And believing their delusions are from God, they expound on them, thinking they are workers of God. These are the ones to whom Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness,” Matthew 7:23. And those who fall prey to their delusions will suffer the same outcome, unless they repent and submit themselves to Jesus.

Some of these people know they are thieves deliberately preying on vulnerable souls, but most of them don’t know they’re wrong. They think they’re right because they call on the name of Jesus, and use His name. But, in reality, they are doing exactly what the devil tried to tempt Jesus to do — exalt Himself and claim His right to the promises that pertained to Him. The devil tried hard to tempt Jesus to put God to the test, thereby exalting Himself to God’s level, as did Eve. However, unlike Eve, and these self-proclaimed prophets of today, Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, and emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant. These ravenous wolves today teach people to do the opposite; thus, though they claim to preach Christ, they are, in reality, anti-Christ; this is the spirit of lawlessness that is engulfing the masses.

The lying spirit behind these false teachers is the exact same spirit who lied to Eve, telling her she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, whereby she became like God, knowing good and evil. It is the spirit who tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It is the spirit who, if he can’t get someone to turn against Christ, will try to entice that person to raise himself up to Christ’s level. This spirit has been an enemy of the divine order since the beginning. He thrives on insubordination because he himself is insubordinate. He delights in disobedience, which springs from lawlessness; whereas, God delights in obedience, which springs from submission.

This is very serious. There is God, who is the head of Jesus; there is Jesus, who is the head of man; there is man, who is the head of a woman, 1 Corinthians 11:3.This divine order was established in the beginning, Genesis 3:16. Whoever resists this divine order is guilty of insubordination, which is likened to iniquity and idolatry, 1 Samuel 15:23. These wolves and their followers proclaim the opposite. They subvert scripture, undermining its very foundation, teaching that man is equal to Christ: man has the same authority as Christ; man has the power to speak things into existence; man can decree a thing and it will be established, etc. etc. etc.

Dear friends, Jesus will one day return to receive His bride unto Himself. She will be holy and blameless and beyond reproach. She will offer herself to Him in complete submission, her only desire being to please Him. She will be spirit of His Spirit and the two shall become one. No man who exalts himself to the level of Jesus, and no woman who exalts herself to the level of a man, will be a part of this holy union.

Sadly, there are countless numbers in our churches entangled in this mystery of lawlessness, spouting verses and verses of scriptures, unaware they are promoting the spirit of anti-christ. Most who have fallen prey to these lies have done so because of their own selfishness; but some who have fallen prey are sincere Christians who became caught up in this heresy because its followers use scriptures, having not realized that scriptures are the devil’s most often used ploy.

Satan is crafty, he is savvy in his use of scriptures; and it is only by the grace of God that we can overcome him. The mystery of lawlessness, which has been at work since the days of Paul, is now unfolding before our eyes; the man of lawlessness is at the door. We must be on our guard, while at the same time, caring for the weak among us, snatching them out of the fire. 

I have been asking the Lord for some time now to let me write an uplifting letter that might encourage His people. Last week I heard from the Holy Spirit that the times are such that I need to draw attention to the mystery of lawlessness and the sinfulness of some of the teachings being peddled today. I humbly ask that you please give prayerful consideration to the content of this letter.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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You cannot serve both

When I was in my thirties I thought about writing a book concerning the psychology of the cross. I wanted to point out the psychological benefits of each and every thing through which God leads His children; how intricately His designs and plans for us benefit us psychologically. I had forgotten about my wanting to do this until now; and I am now so glad I didn’t.

I have found there are some today who preach on the psychological aspects of the Word. They may mention the crucifixion of Christ from time to time, but very seldom. They also say very little, if any, about our responsibility to Christ. They mostly embellish the advantages of Christian principles. 

They lure people with their knowledge of the Word (some of them appear to have very high IQ’s). They expound on the Word with such ease that people think they must be walking hand in hand with God. But, in reality, they are using the Word of God as a means to an end, usually to attain an exorbitant amount of money. 

We must be aware there are those who preach what appears to be the truth, but their heart is not fixed on the Person of Jesus, nor the cross of Jesus. We will know them by their fruits. 

I believe those who use preaching as a means to attain riches would most likely walk away from preaching if their riches were taken away; for their hearts are not set on Christ, but on mammon.

“Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me,’” Hebrews 13:5.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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His Ways and His Thoughts

Many use the truth of the love of God as a means to become popular and/or for financial gain. They speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining advantage. They say things like, “God loves you and therefore wants you to be financially prosperous; He wants you to become like Him and speak things into being; He wants you to declare and decree whatever you want, or whatever you lack, etc. He loves you so much that He wants you to have all authority in heaven and on earth.” These people peddle Jesus as a sort of life-coach and a personal handyman who helps you get whatever you want and fixes whatever is wrong.  

People who listen to, and give heed to, these people fail to take into consideration Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Many think they are blessed when people like them and accept them, or when everything is going their way, but the Lord says we are blessed when people persecute us, and cast insults at us. We are blessed when we are poor, when we mourn, and when we are humble. We are blessed when we persevere under trials, etc. 

These people deliberately withhold facts, such as, when we ask God for more faith, we are also asking for trials by fire, for faith is tried by fire, 1 Peter 1:6,7; and if we ask for the will of God to be done in our lives, we are also asking for sufferings, for it is the will of God that we not only know the power of Jesus’ resurrection, but also the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, Philippians 3:8-11.  

The Lord’s ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. We, as Christians, must bring our ways and our thoughts into subjection to Him by denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Him. He is NOT our life-coach, or personal handyman, HE IS OUR LIFE. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We are not to USE Jesus; we are to FOLLOW Jesus. We are not to WIELD His authority; we are to SUBMIT to His authority. 

Please weigh these words on the scales of the Word of God.

Rev. Jon Banks

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The Simplicity of the Gospel

The first Adam was created in the likeness of God, and, having sinned, stained the likeness of God he had been created in. The last Adam lived a sinless life and offered Himself for the sins of the first Adam, and for all who had inherited the curse which he received. We are now to lay aside the old self [Adam], the self that inherited a sinful nature from the first Adam, and put on the new self [Jesus], the self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness in the truth, the self which now lives by faith in God and in His Son Jesus.

The old self is of the earth; the new self is of heaven. We are no longer bound to the sinful nature inherited from Adam, we have been crucified with the last Adam [Jesus] and born again and are now members of the body of the risen Christ.  We no longer live for the things of earth, but for the things of heaven, where our new lives are hidden with Christ in God. Our old self which was created in the image of God has been stained by the sins of Adam, and therefore must return to dust. Our new self has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth; that is, we are being renewed in the spirit of our minds as we lay aside the old self and walk in the new. We no longer walk in the sinful ways of the old self, but in the righteousness and holiness of the new. And we do this by believing and trusting in Jesus who is now our source of life; He is our vine and we are His branches. 

As Eve was fashioned from the rib of Adam, so also are we, the bride of Christ, being fashioned from the inmost being of Christ, the life-giving Spirit. Our new self is hidden with Christ in God in the heavenly places, in the kingdom of God, which is of heaven, and in heaven. “[We] have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer [we] who live, but Christ lives in [us]; and the life which [we] now live in the flesh [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us], and delivered Himself up for [us],” (Galatians 2:20).

We in this new creation have been made complete:  “For in Him [Jesus] all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, 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 flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him from the dead,” Colossians 2:9-12. We were crucified with Christ, buried with Him, and raised from the dead with Him.

As believers in Jesus we must deny our old self and press forward in the Spirit, and take up our cross, and follow Jesus one day at a time. We daily lay aside the old and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. “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 minds on the things above, not on the things that are on 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. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth,” Colossians 3:1-8. This is walking by the Spirit; this is denying one’s self and taking up one’s cross and following Jesus. This is pressing forward to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

We must never complicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should instead embrace its simplicity. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” 1 Corinthians 1:21. The foolishness of the message is its simplicity. To the world the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ is absolute foolishness. They see it as a crutch for weak people, a sort of psychological booster to get them by. But to those predestined by the will of God for eternal life (Acts 13:48) and called by the Holy Spirit, it is precious. Never lose sight of the simplicity of the gospel:  

The Word became flesh, lived a life without sin, was crucified and buried, preached to the dead, raised from the dead, and seated at the right hand of God. And God, being full of grace and mercy, placed all believers in the Son, and now reckons them as crucified with the Son, buried with Him through baptism, and raised up into newness of life with Him. 

In closing, the Word became flesh and put an end to the fallen nature of the first Adam by offering Himself as a pure and sinless offering for sin, after which He became a life-giving Spirit. He now gives new life to all who believe in Him, and this, by the grace of God. “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” 1 Corinthians 15:45. And, “The first man is from the earth, earthly; the second man is from heaven,” vs. 47. The first Adam inherited death. The last Adam arose to eternal life for those who live, move, and have their being in Him. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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Crucifying the Flesh

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” Galatians 5:24. How do we crucify the flesh? The Bible is very clear on this subject. “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1Peter 4:1,2. We crucify the flesh by enduring the sufferings and by learning obedience. 

As we walk by the Spirit one day at a time, our efforts to be obedient begin to become a way of life; a life in which we find that our flesh has less and less sway over us day by day. This is not dying to Self, it is learning obedience, and growing as we learn. It is the Lord training us up in the way we should go, teaching us humility, reverence, and all other godly virtues as we grow up into Him, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

When we try to die to self, we place our attention on our shortcomings and sinful tendencies. This is not healthy to the Christian. As Christians, we are to think of good things, things worthy of praise. There is nothing worthy of praise in ourselves, so we must lose sight of ourselves and set our minds on things above, where our lives are. To do this, we rely on Jesus and walk by faith in Him. This is why He told us that to come after Him, one must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Him.

We are sanctified at the new birth, set apart to God, and made holy by the blood of Jesus. Our Father then begins training us up in the way we should go by leading us through various trials in order to test us, — “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…” 1 Peter 4:12. Peter exhorts us to rejoice in these trials for we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, (vs. 13). He also instructs us to endure by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us at the proper time, (1 Peter 5:6). He goes on to say that we are to resist the devil, our adversary, firm in our faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by our brethren who are in the world. And after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us, (vs. 9,10).

In speaking of things such as worldly chatter, quarreling, wrangling about words and wickedness in general, Paul said, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work,” 2 Timothy 2:21. How do we cleanse ourselves? We cleanse ourselves by turning and walking away from everything that pertains to ungodliness, and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. We both crucify the flesh and cleanse ourselves by living to God. And we live to God by faith that we were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and raised with Christ. It is through faith in Christ that we walk by the Spirit in the heavenly kingdom into which we were raised. It is through faith in Him that we overcome any and all things the evil one tries to use against us. It is through faith that we live and move and have our being in Jesus. He is all in all.

Paul wrote to some Christians who had been quarreling with each other, “Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” He immediately followed with, “AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. 

Paul was reminding them they also had been unrighteous, but had since become righteous by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. We all need to be reminded of this very same thing from time to time, otherwise we could end up like these Corinthians, allowing our old natures to creep back in, or, even worse for some, getting stuck in a predicament of trying to save ourselves by works. 

Please test what I have written by the Word of God, and not by what’s been handed down by man; for as the angel told Daniel, “…many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase,” Daniel 12:4b.

Rev. Jon Banks

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Slow to Speak

Our son was in a small Christian school for kindergarten and first grade. We had to take him out of that school because his first grade teacher appeared to have a less than loving attitude toward him. When she learned that we were pulling him out of the Christian school and putting him in a public school, she told him he would no longer be a Christian, but he would be a publican for going to a public school and he would go to hell. He was so concerned about being a publican and going to hell, my wife had to go to the public school with him and ask his new second grade teacher (in his presence) if he could attend a public school and be a Christian. Thank God the public school teacher was a Christian with a good heart and conducted herself as such.

This may seem like a small thing, but consider this, every day there are countless number of Christians who think and behave like the Christian school teacher did — they speak of things they don’t understand, and, at times, do so with judgmental, and “holier than thou” attitudes. Consider also all the false doctrines going around now, doctrines people have concocted without restraint of any kind, leaving others believing they speak for God. For instance, 

decree something and God will make it happen (this came about by people using their own understanding and taking a verse of scripture completely out of context); 

claim the promises of God (this began as a man-made tool to try to overcome a lack of faith); 

create things by the words you speak (this came from the word of faith movement started by some wolves in sheep’s clothing seeking to devour the masses for monetary purposes by giving them what they want to hear). 

There are many, many more false beliefs being preached, all equally harmful, and sworn to be true, by preacher after preacher, and layman after layman.

Those who teach these and other fallacies are on a collision course to be judged by their words, and it won’t be pleasant for them. God is not mocked. “For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life,” Galatians 6:8. We must always be careful when we speak to others about the things of God. We must never give advice to another unless we know our advice is born of the Spirit. Only then will it help someone. If we give advice that comes from the flesh, and not the Spirit, it will most likely do harm. We may then find ourselves on a slippery slope in our own Christian life for having harmed someone by speaking of spiritual things from our fleshly minds. Many continually go through struggle after struggle simply because they speak of spiritual things from their fleshly minds.

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment,” James 3:1. James continues explaining how hard it is to tame the tongue. This is something Christians should concern themselves with, for we will be judged by our words, and those who teach will receive a stricter judgment than all the others. If more Christians took James 3:1 to heart, there would be far less arguing over scriptures, and far less false doctrines floating around. We must be quick to hear and slow to speak. This is essential in the Christian walk.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Lest we be carried away

When I was still using my own understanding trying to learn the things of God I jumped on every Scripture I could find that resembled what was on my mind at the time. I also read many books written by Christians. Consequently, I ended up thinking things that were not true. It wasn’t until I learned to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Word to me that I began learning the truths of God.

Many Christians today are still trying to learn the things of God with their own understanding. They jump from verse to verse, preacher to preacher, and book to book, trying to learn the things of God. As a result, their minds become weighed down with thoughts that often do nothing but confuse them. They end up trying this formula and that formula, hoping they’ll hit upon something that actually works. 

People who rely on their own understanding find themselves taking mental stands against anything that questions their beliefs for the moment. For instance, if one believes healing comes by claiming the promise, he will take a stand against any thoughts to the contrary. His struggle quickly erodes to a mind game, refusing even sound doctrine. In contrast, people who rely on Jesus listen from the heart, and, thus, never enter mind games, (nor do they claim promises from a holy God). 

 People who depend on their own understanding leave themselves open to the wiles of the devil and they end up, more often than not, fighting against the Holy Spirit, all the while thinking they are following Him. They blame the devil when they begin to doubt, when in reality, it is the Holy Spirit trying to warn them they’re heading down a wrong road. As a result, rather than listening to the Holy Spirit, they rebuke Him thinking He is the devil. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and leads them from one snare to another.

When we enter into the things of God with our own understanding, we lose sight of true faith. True faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It is a matter of the heart; with the heart we believe, with the mouth we confess. If what we believe is not in our heart, it isn’t faith; it’s just our thoughts. We must keep our thoughts in subjection to the Lord, lest we be carried away by them. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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