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Greater Works Than These

Copyright © 2019

by
Jim Kerwin

An excerpt from the forthcoming book
The John the Baptist Experience

Leaping deer, a photo by jmrocek, under license from 123RF.com at https://www.123rf.com/profile_jmrocekIn prophecy, when do deer walk
and when do they leap?1

When the imprisoned John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus, he had one question in mind: “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3 nasb2)

Jesus didn’t answer them directly at first. He believed in “show and tell,” and Luke tells us what John’s two disciples saw with their own eyes:

At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.

Luke 7:21

With the long day’s ministry over, the Lord approached John’s two representatives.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, [continue reading…]

God’s Standing Orders for Spiritual Warfare

Copyright © 2014

by
A. David Armstrong III,
Commander U.S. Navy (ret)

Words from a Warrior

Photo of a U.S. Navy warshipHave you read the Captain’s standing orders?1

I offer the following thoughts learned through many years of military service, and through many years as a soldier in the army of my God. God in His infinite wisdom often uses that with which we are most familiar to instruct us. Since the principles of warfare are deeply ingrained in me after many years as a Navy officer, God has utilized that experience to give me insight into spiritual warfare. God also has made us [continue reading…]

The “Judicial Adventures” of Paul the Apostle

Copyright © 1994, 2019

by
Jim Kerwin

A Look at Roman Law in Acts

“Moving in a Roman World”

The student of the New Testament is con­stant­ly made aware that he is moving in a Roman world,”2 and awareness of the Roman en­vi­ron­ment is the first step toward un­der­stand­ing its significance and influence on the second volume of Luke’s magnum opus and on the life of Paul. By providing the serious Bible student a primer of [continue reading…]

The Original Aromas of Christmas

Copyright © 2018

by
Jim Kerwin

Burning frankincense, image used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_fotomemAll our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King!
1

Your dieting resolve may be challenged as I enumerate the following list: pumpkin pie, gingerbread, Christmas cookies, roasted turkey and stuffing, eggnog, hot apple cider with cinnamon. Those are all holiday edibles, but I mention them not so much for their waistline-destroying properties as for their aromas. I can quickly add to the list of Christmas aromas from non-edible sources: the fragrance of a fresh pine tree, wreaths of pine branches, and seasoned oak burning in the fireplace. I would even add the tantalizing scent of “chestnuts roasting on a open fire,” but then we’d probably be back to derailing ongoing diets.

Those of you outside North America no doubt have your own aromatic reminiscences of Christmas. In any case, if you’re like me, you have a sort of mental database of aromas, of scents, of fragrances that you associate with Christmas. In fact, if one of those aromas registers on your nostrils, it may trigger events from your childhood, or certain Christmases that were special, or maybe certain Christmases that were difficult. I can’t think of another holiday that has such fragrant associations.

Decades ago, over the Christmas holiday I was on a short-term missions trip to India. On Christmas morning I arose before dawn to [continue reading…]

This Shall Be a Sign unto You

Copyright © 20181

by
Percy Gutteridge

Image of the manger copyright by www.LumoProject.com, licensed exclusively by FreeBibleimages.org for teaching purposes only; used with permission according to license terms.“This shall be a sign unto you.”
But what was the sign?2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because He was of the house and lineage of David:) 5to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:1-18

As we read through Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, we discover a key theme of the Christmas season. It’s the message that the angel gave to the shepherds. The fact that an angel said it underscores its importance. He said:

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

What is the significance of this sign? If God took the trouble [continue reading…]

The Powerful Message Behind Jesus’ First Sermon

Copyright © 2018

by
Jim Kerwin

The Importance of Context

a scroll of the Hebrew scripturesWhat is “the acceptable year of the Lord”?1
 

Every time there is a “first” in the Scriptures, it is good to take note of it, because often the Holy Spirit is laying down a special foundation, or principle, or doctrine. I believe this is true in the case of Jesus’ first recorded sermon, which is found in Luke chapter 4.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free those who are oppressed,
19to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

Part of what I teach leaders when I come to Latin America is the importance of context when they are reading and studying and teaching and preaching God’s word. The two most important points are these:

  1. Every time we come to the Scriptures, as we are reading we must ask ourselves, “What is the context of this verse, this passage, this chapter, this book? What is the context within the text, and what are the historical, cultural, and original language contexts? What do I need to know to fully understand the passage like the first readers did?
  2. The greatest context is that of the entire Bible, which is why I encourage all Christian leaders – indeed, all Christians – to read through the Bible cover to cover at least once every year.

Let’s think about the context of Jesus’ message in Luke 4. In the previous chapter, Luke 3, Jesus was water-baptized by John; immediately the Spirit of the Lord [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 5)

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part V:
Advice to the Sanctified

Section 25 (continued)

Question 29: Can those who are perfect grow in grace?

Answer: Undoubtedly they can; and that not only while they are in the body, but to all eternity.

Question 30: Can they fall from it?

Answer: I am well assured they can: matter of fact puts this beyond dispute. Formerly we thought, that one saved from sin could not fall; now we know the contrary. We are surrounded with instances of those who lately experienced all that I mean by perfection. They had both the fruit of the Spirit, and the witness; but they have now lost both. Neither does anyone stand by virtue of anything that is implied in the nature of the state. There is no such height or strength of holiness as it is impossible to fall from. If there be any that cannot fall, this wholly depends on the promise of God.

Question 31: Can those who fall from this state recover it? [continue reading…]

Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher

Copyright © 20111

by
Percy Gutteridge

Psalm 19

  1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
  2. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.
  3. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
  4. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
  5. Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race.
  6. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hidden from the heat thereof.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
  8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
  9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
  10. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
  11. Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
  12. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.
  13. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
  14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Who Is Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher?

Silouhette of a preacherWho is earth's most powerful preacher?2

Let’s consider the question, “Who is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” And understand that I’m not talking about a human being. I am not going to pick out one of today’s famous evangelists or ministers and say, “This one is the most powerful preacher,” because none of them has the worldwide audience or impact of God’s sovereign choice. So then, let’s refine the question and ask, “What is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” as we examine potential candidates.

The Sun?

How about the sun? Is the sun earth’s most powerful preacher? Our Scripture passage says that the sun is really a preacher; it comes out of its chamber as a bridegroom. It comes up in the morning and goes down at night, going right over the whole circuit of heaven, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. It preaches of light, it preaches of energy, it preaches of power, it preaches of judgment, it preaches even of love. It preaches also of life, because there would be no life without the sun. The sun preaches to us about so many things.

But men don’t take any notice. In fact, some foolish people [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 1)

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part I:
Historical Background
of the Teaching

Section 1

What I purpose in the following pages is, to give a plain and distinct account of the steps by which I was led, during a course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian Perfection.  This I owe to the serious part of mankind; those who desire to know all the truth as it is in Jesus.  And these only are concerned in questions of this kind.  To these I would nakedly declare the thing as it is, endeavouring all along to show, from one period to another, both what I thought, and why [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part II:
The Teaching Explained

Section 17

On Monday, June 25, 1744 our first conference began, six clergymen and all our preachers being present.  The next morning we seriously considered the doctrine of sanctification, or perfection.  The questions asked concerning it, and the substance of the answers given, were as follows:—

Question: What is it to be sanctified?

Answer: To be renewed in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness [Ephesians 4:24].

Question: What is implied in being a perfect Christian?

Answer: The loving God with all our heart, and mind, and soul (Deut. vi. 5). [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 3)

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part III:
Tares Among the Wheat Contrasted
with the Wonderful Testimony of Jane Cooper

Section 20

In the year 1762 there was a great increase of the work of God in London.  Many, who had hitherto cared for none of these things, were deeply convinced of their lost estate; many found redemption in the blood of Christ; not a few backsliders were healed; and a considerable number of persons believed that God had saved them from all sin.  Easily foreseeing that Satan would be endeavouring to sow tares among the wheat [Matthew 13:24-30], I took much pains to apprise them of the danger, particularly with regard to pride and enthusiasm.  And while I stayed in town, I had reason to hope they continued both humble and sober-minded.  But almost as soon as I was gone, enthusiasm broke in.  Two or three began to take their own imaginations for impressions from God, and thence to suppose that they should never die; and these, labouring to bring others into the same opinion, occasioned much noise and confusion.  Soon after, the same persons, with a few more, ran into other extravagances,—fancying they could not be tempted; that they should feel no more pain; and that they had the gift of prophecy, and of discerning of spirits. [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 4)

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part IV:
“Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection”

Section 25

The next year [1763], the number of those who believed they were saved from sin still increasing, I judged it needful to publish, chiefly for their use, Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection:

Question 1: How is “Christ the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth”? (Rom. x. 4)

Answer: In order to understand this, you must understand what law is here spoken of; and this, I apprehend, is:— [continue reading…]

This entry is part 27 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

Public Domain1

by
Evangelist
Thomas Cook

Graphic for the title of this chapter, 'The Arbiter of the Heart', part of the book 'New Testament Holiness' by Thomas Cook“Conscience may discern no evil,
but the peace of God
is a more delicate instrument,
dealing with questions too subtle
for conscience to answer…”
2

The maintenance of a good conscience towards God from day to day is essential to the life of faith. True spirituality cannot exist unless accompanied by scrupulous conscientiousness, the purpose to do right at any cost. Archbishop Temple3 has truly said, “It is always a duty to obey conscience; it is never a duty to disobey.” Conscience requires that we mean well, and do our best. It requires not only that we follow all the light we have, but all that we can obtain, and that we do this gladly. Conscience claims regency in everything that a man should aim to do or to be. “The word ought is the sovereign of all vocabularies.” [continue reading…]

The Double Portion of Elisha

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series The Holy Spirit

Copyright © 2009 1

by
Percy Gutteridge

Image of Elijah bestowing his mantle on Elisha, used under license from GoodSalt.comThe passing of the mantle2

  1. And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
  2. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
  3. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
  4. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
  5. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
  6. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
  7. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
  8. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
  9. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
  10. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
  11. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
  12. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
  13. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
  14. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
  15. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
  16. And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.
  17. And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
  18. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
  19. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.
  20. 2 Kings 2:1-15,19-22 KJV

I want to expound to you that word of Elijah where he said to Elisha in 2 Kings 2:10, “If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee.” What was it that Elijah desired? Elijah desired to give Elisha what Elisha desired. So he said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you before I am taken away?” And Elisha asked for a special gift. Elisha said, “I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” Elijah said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you it shall be given unto you, but if not, you won’t get it.” In other words, if you are present when I am taken away so you see the manner of my going, then you will have the request you are asking for.” What was it that Elisha was really asking for? He was asking to inherit Elijah’s gift. He was asking to be the prophet in Elijah’s place. He was asking to be God’s man, the seer, the prophet, the man of God. Elijah made a very remarkable statement when he said, “If you see me when I go, you shall have it.”

[continue reading…]