I remember Charles Haun asking two pastors from Africa what is the best commentary on the Bible?  Both pastors debated awhile among themselves and finally said Strong’s Concordance.  With a little twinkle in his eye Charles shook his head and said, “no the Bible.”  I usually do not quote this much Scripture to share my message, but how can you go wrong using the Bible as a reference. To be able to understand what the Holy Spirit is conveying to us in the word of God we must be able to follow three lines of expressions:  the context, the setting, and the words.  The truth of the word of God is contained in the words as the Holy Spirit enlightens our understanding this is why it is critical to have the precious Holy Spirit operating in our lives.  The individual words that were purposely selected by the Holy Spirit fills and follows a certain context and setting that projects the spiritual lesson. We must never step out of the original context and setting when applying, discussing, and especially teaching Scripture, if we do then we willfully twist and manipulate the word of God to meet our agenda and projection.  This is why all of the newer translations of the Bible mislead so many in the world from the truth of the word of God. And remember the original word was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and contains the truth and effectual power in our lives to help us make the changes God is looking for in our lives.  To understand what the Holy Spirit is saying to us, the Body of Christ, and the world we must study and not just read the word of God.  We must find out (for ourselves so we will not be deceived) what the original words mean, therein is the context and setting of the truth in the word of God. This is the same advice Paul gave Timothy, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;  18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”  (2 Timothy 2:15-18) It is no different today.  We must study, we must “rightly divide the word of truth,” if not we will be like Hymenaeus and Philetus who “has erred” (not accidently mind you, but willfully and knowingly leading people astray) and “overthrow the faith of some.” Beginning in the late 1970s there was a subtle shift in presenting the word of God from evangelism to teaching this by the very nature will develop within the Body of Christ many false teachers and “profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” of which we are to “shun,” but if we do not know the truth how can we shun this “ungodliness?”  Only by studying the word of God for ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit free reign in our lives!

Sadly this is not the context and setting we find the Body of Christ in today. We do not study the word of God (most Christians seldom read the Bible for that matter) to discover the truth and have had our faith overthrown.  Remember, “Faith cometh by hearing a word of God.” (Romans 10:17 (Greek)), not by reading.  When we study the word of God the words come alive in our spirit with power, authority, and God can speak to us and out from His speaking we receive revelation from God (God’s sign of power and authority in our lives) and now we can move correctly in Him. I am ever amazed to the growing number of denominations and doctrines. Every time someone stumps their big toe and something happens a new doctrine is developed. We saw that in Toronto, Brownville, and so many other places, but now? I cannot believe how gullible the Body of Christ is; recently Hollywood has discovered a huge untapped source of new revenue, the Church.  And has anybody noticed all of the “Christian movies” (that are not very Christ-like) in the market place like “The Passion of the Christ,” “One Night with the King,” and more resent “The Blind Slide” that everyone proclaimed was so wonderful, but never exalted Christ.  Has anybody seen the big push in the church by the new agers, global warming and free love same sex crowd to get the church to support their agendas?  Groups that openly support things God calls an abomination, yet they are making great inroads in many main-stream denominational and non-denominational churches.  I will even go further and predict it will not be too long before the Southern Baptist Convention (the biggest evangelical denomination in America with over 16 million professing members) will start ordaining openly gay and lesbian pastors. Not to mention the huge push by the federal government to have evangelical churches and ministries (like CBN, TBN, etc.) support their “faith-based” programs all for political and personal gain.  I speak shame on them all, they know not the truth of the word of God and are adrift and tossed on every wind of doctrine and lie that promises prosperity and wealth.  Lord please open all (me too) our eyes so we can see only Jesus.

But, I am even more amazed to the number of Christians who want to be glorified who cares about repenting and having our sins forgiven.  All I hear in most churches is, “it is our destiny to be glorified” well this is true, but their earthly understanding of the word glorified is much much different than the biblical understanding.  Now we have been called unto glory.  This call is a part of God’s original call to man.  God always reminds me, He did not create us because He needed us (I use to believe that), but He created us for two reasons:  To do His pleasure and to do His will.  God always moves toward these two striking objectives in His creation: His pleasure and His will.  These are the two great objectives toward which life as a Christian is focused, but to do this we must be glorified.  We see this “glory” misunderstanding running all through out the Bible.  Remember, either we understand correctly or we misunderstand. This misunderstanding is best seen with the disciples.  Here the sons of thunder miss the mark, “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. 36And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? 37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 38But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 39And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: 40But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. 41And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. 42But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  43But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant (slave) of all. 45For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:35-45)  Please notice Jesus does not choose who sits at His right or left hand (verse 40), we are approved, we qualify for this great honor through our obedience, dedication, and commitment.  Did you know every problem in the Church today can be solved with these Scriptures:  if we have studied them and allowed the Holy Spirit to show us the truth.  James and John are no different than us today. They both wanted to sit with Jesus, who among us would not desire that? Jesus probes their commitment and dedication a little further, “Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”and of course they responded in total ignorance like us today, “We can.” Jesus sees their selfish and greedy heart and tells them they shall surely drink of the cup and be baptized, but not of the cup and baptism they think. Jesus calls all of the disciples and gives them a new spiritual principle, “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” Now they did not understand, especially James and John (because Jesus would often take them and Peter a little further in the Spirit) they were still thinking who among them would be sitting on the right (a place of great honor) hand and the left (a place of less honor) hand. They thought what in the world is Jesus saying.  I do not want to be a slave (servant) and serve everyone I want to be the “chiefest,” and be served and sit on His right hand.  Here Jesus too was establishing the spiritual principle of glorification. The spiritual principle is death before glorification.  In God we are not called unto glory to be with God in the heavens (that all is a selfish and self-seeking thought), but we have been called unto glory to lay our life down so He may be able to live through us. And after we do that then we can qualify, we can be trusted to handle some of God’s glory in the earth and beyond.  Even Jesus experienced this principle when He died on the cross for our sins.  In John we see, “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be:  if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”  (John 12:23-26)  The condition to be glorified and be fruitful in God is to fall into the ground and die; and if we can lose our lives in this world “they shall keep it unto life eternal.” Where are we to follow Christ?  To heaven?  To ministry? Healing the sick and preaching and teaching all around the world? No, we are to follow Christ in our death.  Is the servant greater than the Master?  Paul understood this lesson all to well. He knew by personal experience, persecution, trials, tribulations, that if he wanted to come after Christ he too had to drink the cup and be baptized (the same cup and baptism the disciples indeed drank of and was baptized in) into the same death of Christ.  Paul told the Christians at Rome, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:” (Romans 6:4-5)

Brethren we have been called to glory, but not the type of glory that is preached and taught in most churches today. We have been called to know ourselves truly in God whereby we can identify with the suffering and persecutions of Christ so that He will be able to reign in us now and in our next life to come.  We have gotten off track.  The hallmark verse of our ministry Beholding His Glory reads,  “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18)  The “open face” is the truthfulness of our approach to God in the Spirit and as we make our approach to Him we are changed into the same glory we can behold. Not all glory like many denominations preach and teach, but only the glory that we have allowed God to work into our lives.  What we understand of God we can become that, nothing more.  As we lay our lives down (identifying with the death of Christ) allowing God to work in our lives the fear and anguish we feel in our earthly flesh becomes the sweet aroma in the nose of God.  The loss we experience in our natural man becomes the place in our lives where God can fill us.  Either we are filled up with the world or God.  The more of the world and our selfishness we can lose the more we can be filled with Christ.  Our loss makes room in our heart for more of God’s work.  This is why God measures our spiritual growth and development not by what we can gain, but what we can lose.  Here too is another spiritual principle in operation.  The condition to be filled is first we must be emptied. How full do we want to be of God?  The answer will be seen in how much of our self and the world have we allowed God to shallow up, to empty in our lives.  Do you hear God calling you today?  Do not listen to the false teachers and preachers of today, you know them even by the Spirit.  God is calling us to glory, but it is to a glorious death that will enable us to be raised in newness of life whereby we can live on forever. Death before glorification!  Listen close, faint is His voice.  In the August 2010 edition of Voice of the Martyrs there is an article and some words on page five that really struck at my heart.  Naasir and Hoda are able to keep evangelizing (not teaching like in America) in the midst of the iron furnace (Egypt as in Deuteronomy 4:20)  only because their foundation in Christ is firm.  Naasir said, “The first lesson we were taught is how to count the cost. (I wonder why that is not taught in America?) In Egypt, our theology is the theology of pain.  It is not a theology of prosperity.  We do not know the theology of prosperity, but we know Jesus.”  Maybe that is why many are called, but few are chosen.  The chosen know the truth, hear His voice, and are willing to endure the pain to respond and move correctly.