The Principle That Evil Is Present In Me

Because of the sin of one man, Adam, all mankind was sold into bondage to sin, (Romans 7:14); and having been sold into bondage to sin, we are incapable of controlling our sinful nature, as Paul says, “For the good that I wish, I do not; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish,” and then he says, “But if I am doing the very thing that I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good,” (vs. 19-21). In these verses of Scripture we find that there is nothing we can do to tame or control our sinful and carnal nature; it is beyond our control. We wish to do good, only to end up doing the things we don’t wish to do. In and of ourselves we are absolutely helpless; we cannot control our sinful nature. 

In verses 24-25 Paul continues, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” and, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” In Romans 8:1-4 he continues, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 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.” Jesus became sin for us in order that the sinful nature we inherited from Adam might be done away with, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In Romans 6:6-7 Paul says, “…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.” And in verses 17-18 he says, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

According to these Scriptures, there is only one way to be freed from the carnal and sinful nature, and that is to believe in the Son of God, that He is the Savior of your spirit, mind, soul and body and offer all four to Him as a living sacrifice, as vessels of righteousness. Our body of sin was crucified with Him, resulting in our release from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death. Have faith in Jesus; He is a complete Savior; and we are saved to the uttermost.

We were crucified with our Lord Jesus Christ, my friends, and our sins and our sinful nature were both on the cross with Him. We are now to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, walking by faith in Him, not according to the flesh as we once did, but according to the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law, (Romans 5:16-18). Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh, (Galatians 5:16). 

Never entertain impure thoughts, praise the Lord instead; submit to Him and he will deliver you because of your faith in Jesus. Our God is good, and His mercies are new every morning.

Rev. Jon Banks

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Jesus is the Savior

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

In accordance with the will of God, Jesus is the Savior and we are the saved. Touch not, taste not — rubbish — believe in the Son of God and you shall be saved. Consider yourself dead to the world, having been crucified with Christ. Enter the rest of God by believing in the One who conquered sin and death, and believe that He has become unto you wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. Rise above the lusts of the flesh and of the mind by believing the truth that, having forgiven us of our sins, God raised us up with Jesus, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places. And He did this by the power of His might; the same power and might that raised Jesus from the dead raised us up with Him, to the end that we should be to the praise of His glory.

God has done all this with the kind intention to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. As did Paul, I also pray that the Father of glory may give to each of us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that the eyes of our hearts may 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 surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.

Dear friends, 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. We are in Christ by God’s own doing, not of ourselves, lest we should boast (I Corinthians 1:30), and Christ became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. In view  of this great salvation that has been bestowed on us, we must walk away from everything that hinders and encumbers us, including the sin which so easily entangles us (unbelief), and worship our Beloved Savior, giving thanks to God in all things and in all situations. We must refrain from arguments, whether they be with others, or within our own minds, and think only on things that are worthy of praise.

Let us lay down our pettiness and selfish ambitions, and follow the One who gave Himself up for us; let us worship Him with grateful hearts. In so doing I am confident the Lord God will bless us with all spiritual blessings that abound in Jesus, And He will do this because of His great love with which He loved us. We belong to Him; let us allow Him to shed His great love abroad in our hearts, that we might share His nature, and the nature of His Son, Jesus, in order that the light which once shone on the face of Moses may now shine in and through our hearts for His name’s sake.

If we walk this way, we are denying self; if we don’t walk this way, we are denying Jesus.

Rev. Jon Banks

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God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world

We who are in Christ are there for one reason — because God chose us in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. We were predestined to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to God, the Father, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  And, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory, Ephesians 1:4-6;11-12.

I fear that many Christians think too highly of themselves, and it’s understandable; they’ve grown up in a time when Self has been elevated to a place of prominence. In today’s society wives are no longer taught to be submissive to their husbands, and people speed on a regular basis. My wife and I are constantly being passed on the streets and highways, and many times by cars with Christian bumper stickers. I want to both scream and cry every time I see this. It’s so sad to see a Christian doing this, and it’s also irritating. How dare they be so blatantly disrespectful to the Jesus I know, the One who took me out of darkness and placed me into His marvelous light, the One who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Why would, and how could, a Christian be so disrespectful to Him? I don’t understand.

Jesus teaches us to deny ourselves and obey God; He teaches us to become nothing, esteeming others above ourselves. What on earth has happened to the church? I see and hear Christians taking Scriptures out of context just to prove a point, or prove someone else wrong. I see them contradicting their elders and those who have been put in charge of them by God. And they don’t do it in a humble manner, but in a haughty manner. No wonder Jesus asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns.

My friends, the times we are living in are horrendous; we must redeem these times by looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We are IN Him; we are HIS body; His love should flow through us to every human being we come in contact with. We, of all people, should abide by the laws of the land wherein we live. We were not created for ourselves; we were created for God, that we might be holy and blameless before Him, and that we might be to the praise of His glory. 

Let us deny ourselves in ALL things, from our desire to feel special, or equal, to others, to our desire to satisfy ourselves by lifting ourselves above the law, and above authorities God has subjected us to. Let us BE Christians. We were chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined to adoption as children of God through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intention of God’s will. And we were predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Acts 13:48b says, …and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Beloved, it is beyond doubt that we have been predestined in accordance with God’s purpose, that is, that we might walk before Him, holy and blameless, to the praise of the glory of His grace, and that we might live with Him throughout eternity. May we govern ourselves accordingly, step by step.

Jon Banks

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It is no longer I who live

I have been a Christian for a number of years and I don’t recall ever seeing the term ‘die to self’ in the Bible. Consequently, I believe this term has been misused by many; a better term, and a more biblical one, would have been ‘deny self,’. I believe our old self was crucified with Jesus, and the new life we were born into is now hidden with Him in God. We are citizens of a new realm; we have come 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.

Having been left in our mortal bodies, we must continually deny the self of the old nature. I believe we do this by believing in the work of Jesus, that He took upon Himself the punishment for our sins, and that God raised us up with Him when He raised Him from the dead. We are now to consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God through faith in Christ. There is no need to die to the old nature, or to the Self, for that person was crucified with Jesus; Self is already dead; for as it is written, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ 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;” and “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 6:3-7,11).

Being found still in human form, we must humble ourselves and become obedient, denying to gratify the old nature that once had control of us, and put on the new nature by simply believing that God’s divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the 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, (I Peter 1:3-4).

We, as Christians, are to set our minds on the Spirit because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in us. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in us, though our bodies are dead because of sin, yet our spirits are alive because of righteousness. But if  the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells us. So then, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh —- for if we are living according to the flesh, we must die; but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of our bodies, we will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God, (Romans 8:6-14). 

By the words, ‘if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of our bodies’, we know that we are not putting to death our old self, but only the ‘deeds’ of our bodies; in other words, we are denying our self, considering it to have been crucified with Christ, and not allowing it to control our actions; we prevent our self from taking control of our actions by taking up our cross and following Jesus, while all the while trusting our Father, who cannot lie, to work mightily in us through the power of His Holy Spirit, because of our faith in Jesus, leading us from victory to victory for His name’s sake. 

I think some call forsaking our will and giving ourselves to God’s will dying to Self. But I can find nowhere in the Bible where this is even hinted. Even Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, is nowhere found to have died to His Self. Rather, He humbled Himself and became obedient to God, turning from His will and doing the will of God. For He says, “…I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me,” (John 6:38). So submitting to God’s will is not an act of dying to self, but rather an act of denying that self, by humbling ourselves and learning obedience through the things which we suffer, in order that God’s perfect will may be done in us, and through us.

Some may say that in John 12 Jesus said that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. In this instance, Jesus was referring to His own death, for in the sentence prior to this He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Others may ask, “What difference does it make which term we use, dying to self, or denying self? They both seem to lead to the same end.” The difference is this, one is correct, the other is not, and by using the incorrect term many people have been misled and hurt. For instance, as a baby Christian I was constantly told that I had to die. My pastor was constantly telling me, “Old Jon has to die,”. I was very tender and I thought that pastors, as men of God, would always speak the truth. So I tried to die, only to find, after years of trying, that it was impossible. The harder I tried, the more ‘Old Jon’ popped up in my face. During a time when the Lord pulled me away from the church in order to teach me His gospel Himself, my eyes were opened to the truth — I had already been crucified with Jesus — I didn’t have to die —- I was already dead. My spirit was finally free to follow Jesus with joy and with faith that God had also raised me up with Jesus into newness of life. All I needed to do was to believe, deny myself daily and follow Jesus.

No matter how hard we try, self will always rear its ugly head. We can only deny the self, and this we do daily, each and every time he wants his way. Our self is us; it is not some foreign thing attached to us; it IS us. Having been born again into newness of life we find that the principle of evil is still present in us, (Romans 7:21); and Romans 8:2 tells us that, even though that principle is still in us, we are freed from its power and influence because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death. So we must deny our self, take up our cross (lose, or walk away from, our old life) and follow Jesus in the new life, the life of doing God’s will instead of our own.

We must follow Jesus one day at a time. For just as God’s mercies are new every morning, so, also, are His promises; and we must walk in them day by day, persevering to the end. We must fight the good fight daily. In this way, and only in this way, can we be so bold as to say, “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,” ((Galatians 2:20).

I would like to finish by saying that the pastor I spoke of loved me deeply. He and I had a special connection in the Lord. He never meant to hurt me, and I never told him I was hurt by his words. He passed away many years ago and to this day he holds a special place in my heart.

Dear friends, I mean only to help people, not tear them down. If anything I’ve said is contrary to what someone else has said, or believes, I mean no harm, nor do I sit in judgment. I speak only of what I’ve seen and heard.

Rev. Jon Banks

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He Alone is Worthy

Colossians 1:9-12, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

The goal of every Christian should be to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will so that we might walk in a manner pleasing to our Father, and to be strengthened with the power of His glorious might so that we might attain steadfastness and patience. 

Our kind Father has seen fit to require every follower of Jesus to be born again, and to begin our lives in Christ as little children, in order that He might train us up in the way we should go. He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).  

It is the Father’s will that we attain steadfastness and patience; it is His will that we learn to persevere in all situations. And those who persevere to the end will receive the crown of life, (James 1:12). So it is absolutely imperative that we not run from trials, though they be by fire, and that we submit to our heavenly Father in the midst of each one, trusting Him to keep us safe and deliver us. 

All the fulness of Deity dwells in Jesus and in Him we have been made complete, (Col 2:9). He is now our wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, (I Corinthians 1:30). And it is by God’s own doing that we are in Christ, in order that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord,” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). So, even when we endure the hottest of fires, we cannot take credit, for we are in Jesus, and it is by faith in Him that we are able to endure. It is by submitting to the Lord that we are able to endure trials and tribulations, trusting the Holy Spirit to intercede when we don’t have the words to convey what we feel. We have nothing whatsoever of which to boast, except the love of our Father and His Son, Jesus, in whom we were sealed by the Holy Spirit, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory, (Ephesians 1:13-14). 

One of the hardest trials I have ever gone through was when my only child was going crippled right before my eyes.This went on for approximately a year and a half, or maybe a little longer. The Lord had witnessed to my heart that He would heal my son, and I believed Him. But, even after the Lord witnessed to my heart, my son continued to grow worse and worse. Several times I had to pull off to the side of a very busy highway because I couldn’t see through my tears. I would burst into tears unexpectedly just from the weight of the burden I was bearing. 

Once a dentist who was giving my son a dental check up came out into the lobby of his office and told me that my son had a small cavity and wanted to know if I wanted him to fill it during that visit. I immediately burst into tears and shook my head, yes. He looked dumbfounded that I had started crying over a small cavity. But it wasn’t the cavity I was crying over; it was the fact that my boy’s body was decaying right in front of me, and had been for many months. The pressure seemed to be unbearable throughout this process, but, thanks be to God, I had help to ease the suffering, for no matter how hard, or how dark, it became, the One who loves me gave me glimmers of hope in the darkness. Time after time He would remind me that He is trustworthy. He would also comfort me by telling me He understood what I was feeling and that He didn’t judge me for those feelings. He was so very kind and understanding; He bore my pain with me; He loved me, He loved me beyond words. 

When the Lord healed my son, He did so in an instant. And He did it when I spoke the words, “In the name of Jesus be healed, be whole, be well,”. These words came out of me without any thought on my part. I have no idea why I said those precise words, but I do know my son was healed instantly when I said them. From that moment on the ordeal was over; it was nothing but a memory. 

Now, I would like to tell you the impact this whole experience had on me:

I was not proud that I had endured this year and a half trial, nor was I proud that it ended by my speaking in Jesus’ name. I was thoroughly aware that I had nothing to be proud of in myself. Instead, I was humbled beyond words at what the Lord had done for me from beginning to end; from His concern and His understanding of what I felt everyday, to His ever-present help in my time of need, as well as His comforting my wife and my son throughout the process. He was so good to us. I had nothing of which to boast about, other than the Lord, who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth because He delights in these things, (Jeremiah 9:24). And I feel that same way to this day.

My friends, we are nothing; He is everything. We are pieces of dirt; He is the Creator of all things. We are chunks of clay; He is the Potter. By His own will and by His own power we are in Christ Jesus, who has become 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.”

In our walk with the Lord we should never be proud, we should always be humbled by His dealings with us. The closer we are to the Lord, the less we see of ourselves, and the more we see of His purpose for us in His kingdom, that of being filled with the knowledge of His will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that we might walk in a manner worthy of Him, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in good works, and increasing in the knowledge of God; and that of being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Dear friends, it is one thing to believe, and another to rest in that belief. It is one thing to cite the written Word, and another to place our hope in the Living Word. It is one thing to say we are Christians, and another to receive our life-blood from Christ. It is one thing to talk the talk, and another to walk the walk. You will know the difference by their fruits (Matthew 7:16)). And how do we bear good fruit? by walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, (Colossians 1:10).

We must continually gird the loins of our minds for action, fixing our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ; for we were redeemed with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ, (I Peter 1:13,19). Let us attain all steadfastness and patience that we might please our Lord, and enter into His glory at the return of Jesus. Let us forsake ourselves at all times, and submit to Him in all things, that we might share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Let us forever serve Him who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth simply because He delights in these things. Let us look away from ourselves and acknowledge Him, giving Him praise and honor and worship, now and throughout eternity. He alone is worthy.

Rev. Jon Banks

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Will there be faith?

Jesus  asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” This may have sounded strange the day it was asked; however, today it sounds like a reasonable and logical question. Consider what has happened to the church through the years:  For a long time the Catholics sold what amounted to atonement for souls they swore were stuck in purgatory. Breaking from this terrible wrong, the Protestant Reformation was born. From there came denomination after denomination, each with different beliefs and different interpretations of the Bible. 

In the 1880’s D. S. Warner and others misinterpreted Isaiah 52:11 and, believing it to be speaking of the many denominations, they tried to remedy the diversity by preaching, “Come out from among them and be ye separate”, saying the church was comprised of all true believers, and free of creeds, believing only the Bible. From this the Church of God, Andersen, IN came into being, with only one requirement to be a member, that of being born again. They claimed to believe and adhere to the entire Bible, however, I know of at least one Church of God minister that was defrocked because he spoke in tongues. There are most likely many others. So, the Church of God also ultimately became just another denomination. And now, here we are, with people still breaking out claiming to be non-denominational, only to be found as nothing more than another denomination. Merriam-Webster says a denomination is ‘a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices’. 

But, are different denominations really so bad for those who truly follow Jesus? One who walks by the Spirit walks by the Spirit everywhere he goes, whether it’s to a grocery store, or to a church. To walk by the Spirit is to walk by the Spirit, period. I believe Christians are Christians regardless of which church they attend. I go to a Methodist church and I disagree with some of their beliefs and practices, but that doesn’t prevent me from worshipping God there. I am a Christian wherever I go and in whatever church I attend. I am not a Methodist; I am a Christian who attends a Methodist church.

There are many who are Methodist first, and secondly Christians, or Baptist first, and secondly Christians, etc. etc. etc. In other words, they are united in their adherence to their church’s beliefs and practices. But all who find their life-blood in the Vine of God are always Christians first. It matters not where they go to church, or whether they are members, or not; nor does it matter what others believe; they are simply followers of Jesus, — nothing more, nothing less. They cannot be coerced into believing something the Lord hasn’t revealed to them, nor can they be hindered by someone who believes something they know to be untrue. 

Jeremiah 29:7 says, ‘…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare,’. 

Finding a church whose beliefs we can completely agree with is most likely impossible. It is most likely impossible because so few have been yielded to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to lead them into all truth. There has always been an abundance of scholars, and those who consider themselves to be scholars, who interpret Scriptures with their own understanding; thus all the different doctrines and denominations. But, in spite of all this, whichever church we choose, we should seek the welfare of that church, regardless of whether or not we believe everything its organization believes.

Seeking a church’s welfare does not mean we promote its doctrines; it simply means we   do our best to make it a better place. We do this by loving all people with the unconditional love of God that flows in, and through, our hearts. We make it a better place by our actions and reactions that stem from our obedience to the Holy Spirit. In short, we make our church a better place by sharing the fragrant aroma of the Son of God with all whom we come in contact. And, in so doing, its welfare becomes our welfare.

So, will there be faith on the earth when Jesus returns? I believe so. God has always kept for Himself a remnant who have stayed the course. I believe He will also have a remnant when the end comes. And each person in that remnant will, without exception, be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, — nothing more, nothing less, — regardless of where they went to church.

(At the end of the age angels will separate the tares from the wheat. We are to allow them to grow together until then.)

Rev. Jon Banks 

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Some thoughts:

Too often Christians become overly concerned with a certain belief, or something that’s dear to them, and concentrate on promoting, or defending, what they think is right. And, in so doing, they find themselves walking in a realm of thoughts and words pertaining to their passion. They get caught up in working to become proficient in their knowledge of what they feel passionate about. 

They believe in Jesus, they use His name, but they no longer walk before Him as a little child. They have left their first love. They didn’t mean to, it just happened because they got caught up using the Scriptures to prove their points, rather than allowing the Scriptures to lead them to the feet of Jesus.

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The Lord, our kind Shepherd, guides us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He does this because He will not share His glory with another, nor will He allow His name to be profaned, Isaiah 48:11. This is a wonderful, wonderful truth.

By His doing we are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, (I Corinthians 1:30). He will fulfill His Word and accomplish His will for His own name’s sake. All we need do is believe and obey Him; He will do the rest.

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“Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having an abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:11-13.

Paul said he had learned the secret of being filled and going hungry; the secret of both having an abundance and of suffering need. Whether he was being filled and had an abundance, or if he was hungry and was in need, he was content; for he had learned that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. There was nothing he couldn’t bear, for he was a child of the King.

What does that say about those who continually seek and pray for prosperity? It appears they just can’t learn the secret — that a child of God can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.

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Dear friends, every once in a while take a moment to listen to the trees and the flowers and the birds; listen closely, for we all worship the same God.

__________________

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Walking by Faith

Dear friends, try this:

Place both of your hands in front of your face, touching your nose. Spiritually speaking, this is how far you should be able to see if you are trusting Jesus. If you find yourself squirming to see what lies beyond your hands, you may very well be double-minded and/or have a hard time with trust issues; again, spiritually speaking.

If this is the case you would do well to change some habits such as picking up trash when you see it, rather than just walking by; cleaning public restrooms before you leave them, even if you didn’t dirty them; opening doors for your wife; changing your eating habits for the better, and drinking one soda, rather than two or three a day, etc., and do these things as unto the Lord. In other words, begin to practice discipline for the glory of God, doing what is practical and right, rather than what you want, thereby striking a blow to Self.

If you are diligent to practice these and/or other similar things, you will find it becoming easier and easier to let go of any preconceptions, and any hindrances you might have. Trust will slowly, but surely, become a part of your life. Looking beyond your hands will be something from which you would shy away; for the simple reason that Self is decreasing, and Jesus is increasing; Self is being relegated to a place of nothingness, and the Life of Christ is taking its rightful place.

Few will take this advice; most will shrug it off and continue down the wider road, where if you attend church regularly and are brushed up on your church’s doctrines, or if you spend enough time praying and reading the Bible, or preaching, your faithfulness in church attendance, and/or your knowledge and zeal alone should get you into heaven. And this wide road is crowded with the souls of those who want to control their own lives, their own destiny.

But this word is only for those chosen and called by God; those who know they were called to be His people; a people to work together with Him and allow Jesus to be Lord of their lives; a humble people who forsake all to heed that call. This word is for them.

Do you want to do the will of God? Walk away from yourself, and follow Jesus. Don’t look beyond your hands pressed against the nose of your face, as it were. Follow the still, small voice within.

The Lord bless and richly fulfill the longing of those who hunger for Him.

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Ambassadors for Christ

There is a difference between the truth of having been crucified with Christ, and the truth of carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus; they are completely different. All Christians have been crucified with Christ and raised a new man, but not all carry about in the body the dying of Jesus. All are called to take up their cross and put off the old nature of sinful man, and to put on the new nature created in the image of Christ. Only a few are called to carry the dying of Jesus, and those few are the apostles of Christ.

Decades ago the Lord showed me about the call of an apostle of Christ, and since that vision I have always thought that no-one in his right mind would want to be one. It is the most lonely walk on earth, and the most misunderstood; it is a path no-one would choose for himself. It is completely different, in all aspects, than the walk for everyone else. Death is at work in the life of an apostle of Christ, while life is at work in everyone else, (2 Corinthians 4:12). Some of you have known and been taught by an apostle of Christ, and if you could get a small glimpse of this truth, you would appreciate and cherish much, much more than you already do, the walk of that humble servant. He carried in his body the dying of Jesus, in order that the life of Jesus might be manifested; and he shared that life with you; he received by giving. 

His ordination came directly from heaven by the laying on of the hands of Jesus, the Son of God. This fact alone speaks to the depths of the separation of himself to God, for the calling of an apostle is not just a calling, it is an appointment, an appointment to be an ambassador for Christ, (2 Corinthians 5:20). That is why Jesus chooses and appoints His apostles Himself (John 15:16), because they are to be His ambassadors. One does not choose, or seek, the call of an apostle, or to be an ambassador for Jesus; one is both chosen and appointed by the Lord Jesus Himself to be His ambassador.

Many have misunderstood the writings of Paul and think that all Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They think that because they preach and/or witness to people they are Christ’s ambassadors. They seem not to understand that an ambassador is a representative and does not speak of things he chooses, nor does he express his own thoughts on a matter; he speaks only the words and thoughts of the one he is representing. So it is with ambassadors for Christ, and therein is the loneliness of the office. 

I have not written these words to lift up the office of an apostle; no apostle would want to be lifted up and praised; for an apostle is nothing in himself, he is simply a representative of Jesus, and a  servant of all. I have written it to bring attention to the subtlety of Scripture distortions, and how they cause people to form false beliefs. This may seem like a small thing to some, but to our Holy Father, it is sin; and it is a dangerous one. We can find the truth of this in 2 Peter 3:16, where Peter is talking about the letters of Paul. He states that some things in Paul’s letters are hard to understand, and that the untaught and unstable distort them. Peter also infers that if one would distort one Scripture, he will most likely distort all Scriptures, for he says, ‘…some things are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do all the rest of the Scriptures,’. He goes on to say they do this ‘to their own destruction,’. So we see that distorting Scriptures leads to one’s own destruction. It is a very dangerous sin.

Dear friends, The Lord our God will not share HIs glory with another, and He will not allow His name to be profaned. We must guard our tongues at all times, and walk with reverence and honor in our hearts towards the Lord. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

May God bless all who have read this with a sincere heart and an open mind.

Rev. Jon Banks

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The Lord our God is One Lord

The mystery of God is the mystery of God; the revelation of Christ is the revelation of Christ; there is only one mystery, and only one revelation. For this reason there are no different interpretations of the Scriptures in the kingdom of God or in His Holy Spirit. There are, however, different interpretations in the minds of many people, but not in the Holy Spirit or in God’s kingdom. The Scriptures bear witness to this, II Peter 1:20-21, ‘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.’ So the Scriptures are from God, and revealed by God; there is no room for one’s own interpretation.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. And He has given the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ, (Ephesians 4). 

As we travel this journey we are to speak the truth in love, and grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.  Notice there is only one truth in that last sentence; there are no different truths for different people; there is only one truth for all. There are no different interpretations of Scripture in the Holy Spirit, for He testifies of one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. May the Lord lead and help us to attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

The Lord has shown me that one of the greatest tragedies in the church is the belief that everyone is entitled to his, or her, own opinion. The thought that everyone is entitled to their own opinion sounds cuddly, cutesy, and even benevolent, and I suppose it could be true in the kingdom of darkness (the world), but it is absolutely abhorrent in the kingdom of light (God’s kingdom). I’m not speaking of matters of conscience; I’m speaking of  the revelation of Jesus; I’m speaking of the Word of God. The Lord our God is one Lord, and there is no other; and He is not a God of confusion, but of peace. There is one Christ, and one revelation of Him; and God forbid that the church continue to distort, and twist, that revelation until it becomes something that tickles their ears, something that pleases them and makes them feel spiritual, and corresponds with their own opinions. I have confidence this will come to an end when the awakening comes. It will continue among the lawless and those who think highly of themselves, but it will not be found among the chosen of God; for they will respect the Word because it is the handwriting of God. 

Rev. Jon Banks

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For His Name’s Sake

The Lord, our kind Shepherd, guides us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He does this because He will not share His glory with another, nor will He allow His name to be profaned, Isaiah 48:11. This is a wonderful, wonderful truth. 

Dear friends, our Father does all things for His name’s sake. He raised up Pharaoh to demonstrate His power in Him, that His name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth; as it is written, ‘For this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth,’  (Exodus 9:16). And, ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, ”Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”’ (Exodus 11:9).

Our God uses vessels of wrath prepared for destruction to demonstrate His wrath against wrongdoing and against all sin, and to make His power known, (Romans 9:22); Conversely, He makes known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called…’ (Romans 9:23-24). He uses vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy to accomplish the same thing, to proclaim His name throughout the whole earth.

As vessels of mercy, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, whom we have from God, and we are not our own, (I Corinthians 6:19). ‘…For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people,”’ (II Corinthians 6:16). God jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us, (James 4:5). He has given us the Holy Spirit that He might help us, comfort us, and be our guide into all truth. Surely our Father will accomplish everything He has said; surely He will keep His Word. Of course He will; and therein lies our faith, in the integrity of God; He will fulfill His Word for His name’s sake, that He might not be found a liar.

The mystery of God is unfolding upon the earth and in the heavens. It has been unfolding since the beginning of creation, and will continue until the end of all created things; then will come a new heaven and a new earth, when the first heaven and the first earth have passed, (Rev. 21:1). Then the mystery will no longer be a mystery, for we will know fully just as we have been fully known. But, for now, we are a part of His mystery.

Beloved of God, we are a chosen race in this glorious mystery, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession; and He has called us unto Himself in order that we might proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, (I Peter 2:9). And, in proclaiming His excellencies, we demonstrate that He will not share His glory with another, nor will He allow His name to be profaned.

Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day,” (John 6:37-39).

By God’s doing we are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, (I Corinthians 1:30). For this reason, that we are in Christ Jesus by the will of God and by His own doing, we may always have confidence that He who has begun a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus, and that He will guard all that we have entrusted to Him until that day; for just as Jesus said, “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day,” (John 6:40). 

For His own name’s sake God will fulfill His Word and accomplish His will; all we need do is believe Him, and obey Him; He will do the rest. It is an absolute certainty that from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, (Romans11:36), and that He will not share His glory with another, nor will He allow His name to be profaned, Isaiah 48:11; what a wonderful, wonderful truth.

Rev. Jon Banks 

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Walk the Walk

The Word of God tells us that we have not only been forgiven of sin, we have also been freed from sin:

How shall we who died to sin still live in it?’ (Romans 6:2), ‘…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, (vs. 4) ‘…knowing this, that our old self [lit. man] was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.’ (vs. 6)

‘For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ, 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,’ (vs.10-14).

‘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’ (I Peter 4:1-2).

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh,’ (Galatians 5:16). ‘Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit,’ (vs. 24).

‘Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved us, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma,’ (Ephesians 5:1-2). ‘…for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; 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,’ (vs. 8-10). 

‘And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin, (I John 1:5-7).

‘As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am Holy,”’ (I Peter 1:14-16).

This, my dear brothers and sisters, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  That we who believe in Him were crucified with Him, buried with Him through baptism, and raised up together with Him in newness of life, that we might no longer be slaves to sin; and, this, in order that we might be a Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we might proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 

‘Therefore, having these promises, beloved (that God dwells in us and walks among us), let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,’ (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Rev. Jon Banks

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Our First Love

Hebrews 11:5, ‘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.’ 

Dear friends, we can beat our bodies until we are blue; we can exact discipline of ourselves until we attain perfection in obedience, however, if we don’t believe with all our hearts that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, we are just beating the air. 

Our kind Father has not destined us to wrath, but to His eternal glory, giving us an inheritance with the saints in and through Jesus. We are His workmanship; we are the brothers and sisters of Jesus; we are children of God. I believe we would do well to bear these things in mind on a daily basis. Doing so would help us in our daily struggles and trials. To bear in mind that He loves and rewards those who seek Him, and that we are more than conquerers through Him who loves us, would lighten our load and give us confidence to stop worrying, and courage to cast our burdens upon Him. Walking in this knowledge would give the devil a blow he would feel throughout eternity.

Just to know that however depressed or confused we may feel at times the Lord will reward us for hanging on and seeking Him with all our hearts; He will send relief before it is too late; He will not tarry. I’ve found it so. We serve a mighty and powerful God. Oh, if we could just get a glimpse into His omnipresence, His omniscience, and the fact that He exists before time and now and forever. Before there was anything, there was God. Everything began and exists from Him and through and to Him; He is all in all. We are mere specs of dirt He has chosen to love. And when all is said and done there will be nothing but God and His kingdom, of which we are a part.

We are so fortunate to have been chosen and called by Him into His kingdom. We must keep these things in mind and be thankful, giving Him glory and honor and reverent worship at all times. He alone is worthy, and He is so very worthy.

May the Holy Spirit help us to know Him whom we serve, and may we always walk in that knowledge, which is found in Jesus, the image of the one true God.

In John 34:39-40 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.” Dear ones, don’t search the Scriptures to find out how many blessings or how much authority you may have; search them to learn about Jesus, for they truly do testify of Him. All blessings and all authority are in Him and come from the Father of lights. Make Jesus your first priority and you will find yourself enveloped in every good thing and in every perfect gift heaven holds for you. I’ve found it so. God is my witness, I’ve found it so.

Dear friends, we are not called to become proficient in theology, the Holy Spirit will bring things to our remembrance. We are called to follow Jesus by humbling ourselves and becoming as little children, trusting Him for guidance in and for all things pertaining to life and godliness. We are called to cling to our first love.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Too often Christians become overly concerned with a certain belief, or something that’s dear to them, and concentrate on promoting, or defending, what they think is right. And, in so doing, they find themselves walking in a realm of thoughts and words pertaining to their passion. They get caught up in working to become proficient in their knowledge of what they feel passionate about. They believe in Jesus, they use His name, but they no longer walk before Him as a little child. They have left their first love. They didn’t mean to, it just happened because they got caught up using the Scriptures to prove their points, rather than allowing the Scriptures to lead them to the feet of Jesus.

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We are called to follow Jesus

When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness, He became hungry. The devil then used His hunger to tempt Him by essentially saying that if He was the Son of God He could get rid of His problem by commanding some stones to become bread. In other words, if He was who He thought He was, He should use His authority and command the stones to become bread, thereby getting rid of His hunger problem.

Rather than turning the stones into bread, as the devil suggested, Jesus quoted Scripture and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,’”. Jesus actually refused to use what the devil was saying was rightfully His by virtue of His being the Son of God, — His authority.  

Why didn’t Jesus use His authority and do what the devil was telling Him to do; why didn’t He turn the stones into bread and satisfy his hunger, or His ‘mountain’ as some would say in today’s vernacular? He didn’t do it for one simple reason — because He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. Although He existed in the form of God, He chose instead to empty Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient… (Philippians 2:6-8). 

We, dear friends, are now in a form of God: We are the body of Christ and His Holy Spirit dwells within us. Should we do any less than Jesus? Rather than speaking to problems and so-called ‘mountains’, should we not instead be submitting to our Father, and our Lord’s Father? Shouldn’t we follow Jesus’ example and empty ourselves and take the form of bond-servants? Should we not be obedient?

The manner of some is to raise themselves up to an equal level with God and take authority over their so-called ‘mountains’ and problems. They, unlike Jesus, regard themselves as being equal with God in that they have all authority (or so they think). This belief comes not from the Holy Spirit, but from Satan himself. He tempts us as he tempted Jesus — he tells us that if we are who we think we are (children of God) then we should take authority over this, and that. But, God forbid that we follow the leadings of Satan; God forbid that we follow the teachings of those who have followed those leadings, and also teach them, swearing they are gospel. And, yes, they really are gospel, they tell us what not to do!

In Matthew 17:20 Jesus was speaking of a specific mountain, the mountain of transfiguration, vs. 9. He referred to it as ‘this mountain’. In Luke 17:6 He was speaking of a specific mulberry tree, for He referred to it as ‘ this mulberry tree’. In each mention of speaking to a mountain and/or a tree in the New Testament Jesus referred to them as ‘this mountain’ and ‘this tree’. Never once did He designate mountains, or trees, as problems. This concept originated in the minds of men who listened to Satan. It is not Scriptural.

The Scriptures tell us the Lord wants us to persevere through our problems and difficulties, not speak to them; He wants us to submit to suffering; He wants us to count it all joy when various trials come upon us; He wants us to learn perseverance and endurance through our problems and so-called ‘mountains’. And how long will we have to endure — until we receive the crown of life, James 1:12. The teaching that we can take authority over our problems and/or ‘mountains’ is preventing people from having a relationship with Jesus and comes dangerously close to robbing them of the crown of life. It is very serious. 

Dear friends, we are called to follow Jesus, not remedies. The next time you are tempted to command your so-called ‘mountain’ to be cast into the sea, say this instead, “It is written, ‘Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him,’”James 1:12.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. I hear people all the time saying, “Don’t tell God how big your mountains are; tell your mountains how big your God is.” The Bible never hints of anything like this. May I suggest that we, instead, talk to our God and tell Him how much we love Him and appreciate His sending Jesus to take away our sins, and to give us an inheritance with the children of God, and a promise of eternal life. 

I also suggest that we cast our cares upon Him and praise Him for His lovingkindness and mercy. Rather than get caught up in a boxing match of words with the devil, I suggest that we steadfastly look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, for our deliverance from every problem or so-called ‘mountain’ is in Him.

We are not saved by any authority we may have; we are saved by the gift of God, His only begotten Son. We are saved by His obedience and His sacrifice; for in Him we live and move and have our being.

So rather than run from problems or try to find a way out of them, I suggest that we refuse to lift ourselves up to a level with God and that we become obedient, enduring our problems and so-called ‘mountains’, which is the will of God. 

I also suggest we stop falsely calling speaking to our ‘mountains’ Biblical, and call it what it really is— an exercise in the power of the mind.

P.P.S. After writing this letter I saw the following on a Facebook post:

Now this is what you want to do all the time. Don’t place your attention on any difficulties at any time. Look only to Jesus through every circumstance. Keep your eyes fixed upon Him constantly. Maintain praise and adoration in your heart even when you don’t feel like it, when it is not easy to praise. We will never be able to work out a single situation ourselves anyway. Leave the working-out to God and simply keep your eyes on Jesus, who is the Answer to every need and every problem.

Rev Loran W. Helm

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An open mind

I attended a Bible study for several months last year. It was led by a pastor. When we reached Romans 9 he read through the chapter quickly and the only comment he had was, “We have a free will.” I pointed out that verses 15-18 describe the fact that we have been predestined and his reply was, “It doesn’t say that to me.” He literally said the Bible doesn’t say what it is saying to him. He disregarded this chapter of the Bible because it didn’t agree with his theology.

I think this is a habit for many Christians; they hold doctrines in higher esteem than they hold the truth. Some will argue what they think is the veracity of their doctrines to the death, as it were. For instance, some will swear to the high heavens they have authority over sicknesses, diseases and demons, never considering they can’t even make it rain, much less heal the sick and cast out demons. Still others will argue that predestination is a false belief when the Bible is full of references that prove its truth.

(Before I go any further I would like to offer one piece of Scripture that dispels the argument that other Scriptures speak against predestination; for instance, ‘whosoever will,’ and ‘whosoever believes,’ etc. Acts 13:48 states that ‘…as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.’ In other words, those who believe are those who have been appointed to eternal life. I received this from the Lord.)

So what does it matter if one believes this and another believes that? To be honest, it’s not the differences of opinion that matter so much, it’s the unwillingness to be open minded. To find the truth one must go to the Truth, which is Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and one cannot learn from Him without an open mind. The Lord’s ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts. We must maintain complete openness to learn from Him. This is absolutely imperative.

Recently I read the book of Revelations twice in one day and didn’t receive one witness of the Spirit; no enlightenments, no word, not even a hint of understanding. I could have started digging into it and reached some conclusions on my own, but the Lord has taught me that my opinions are worthless in His kingdom. His thoughts are the only thoughts that matter. So I endeavor to never rely on any thoughts that come to me, unless I am sure they came from Him.

When I read the Bible, I read it with confidence the Holy Spirit will reveal to me what God wants me to know. I form no opinions. I listen only to the Lord, whether I am reading the Bible, or waiting before Him in prayer. It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who guides us into all the truth, John 16:13-15. We must walk by the Spirit, not by our own understanding. This is how we all will attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is how we will reach a point where we will no longer be tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, and by craftiness in deceitful scheming. This is how we will grow up into Him, who is the head, even Christ. This is our destiny. This is our goal. This is the will of God.

May the blessings of the Lord be upon all of us and may we always keep an open mind.

Rev. Jon Banks

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