By John Foll, 12-9-2016
“But Peter and John answered and said unto them, ‘Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4:19-20 KJV. Their answer to the rulers at Jerusalem indicates that they were determined to keep the command of Jesus to tell of God’s love to the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 5:19-21), regardless of what their religious leaders told them. They didn’t mind the obstacles that were placed in their way to hinder them, or the mistreatment they received, but counted it all joy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. “And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicingthat they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” Acts 5:40-42 KJV. They didn’t stop preaching Jesus, even after they were beaten and warned to stop. The prophet Jeremiah states the desire to speak of what he had seen and heard of God like this: “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.” Jeremiah 20:9 NASB. Thus when you love Jesus, you cannot help but speak of what He did for others and for you, like the Apostles and the prophets of old did!
If you have heard and seen that Jesus and His Father love you, and that Jesus died to save you, and believe, you cannot help but tell it to others what God has done for you!If you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalms 34:8), and ‘have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come’ Hebrews 6:4-5 NASB, you cannot help but speak of these things that you have seen and heard to as many who will listen, or you will greatly long to show them His love or help them in whatever way God has given you the ability to do. Failure to do this will cause your wells of water and springs to run dry.
If you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, it will be just as natural for you as it was for Peter, James, John and the other Apostles to speak of God’s love and the gospel to the world, as they did in the book of Acts. Or to do your part to help in whatever way the Spirit has given you the ability and the gifts to do. It will be your greatest desire! If you have not really seen, heard, or believed, then you will be unable to tell this truth effectively to others, unless you pray for God’s special blessing until you get it. God can still bless you before you have completely consecrated yourself to Him, but it is much better to taste the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit that God wants to give you! Once you have tasted of this wonderful gift of God, you cannot help but testify of Jesus and the Father’s love. And you will never thirst again, for Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14 KJV. “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39 NASB. So we see here that the gift to satisfy our thirst that Jesus promised, is the promise of the Holy Spirit, and it was to be given to all willing Christians, starting at Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5, 8) to the end of time, to all who are thirsty and believe in Jesus. These are the conditions. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”Matthew 5:6 KJV. These words are still true for us today, if we will hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness, we will be filled! Thus this promise of the Holy Spirit is for all who are thirsty for Jesus’ love, and hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled, if they believe in Him.
Now let’s recap and finish our passage in Hebrews 6: “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” Hebrews 6:4-8 NASB. Jesus says something similar to this when He said, “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”John 15:6 KJV. Again this reiterates that those who have tasted of the Heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit, and have not continued to abide in Christ, will become withered and they will eventually be gathered and cast into the fire at the judgement, unless they repent.
It is beyond our belief how someone could experience the wonder of the gift of being born again, receiving the Holy Spirit, and ever want to go back to their life without the Holy Spirit again, but Hebrews 6:4-8 says that it can happen. And in fact there were a few examples in the Bible where it did happen. Read about Balaam the prophet (Numbers 22, 24; 31:8, 16; 2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11), and the prophet who was slain by the lion. 1 Kings 13:11-30.
We also note that Samson, who had the Holy Spirit, lost Him through disobedience, but at the end of his life he prayed to God, and God heard His prayer and avenged His enemies, by allowing Samson to slay more in his death, of God’s enemies, than in his life.*We believe by faith that God forgave Samson, because he is mentioned in Hebrews 11:32, and because God heard is prayer at the end of his life and gave him his miraculous strength back, because we know that God heareth not sinners. John 9:31. See Judges 14:5-6; 19, 15:14; 16:20-21 for information proving that Samson had the Holy Spirit. Samson probably didn’t really appreciate the wonderful gift of strength that was given to him before he lost it and his eyes were put out. But we believe that he wanted the Lord’s help again just before he died, to serve God’s command for his life one last time. Judges 16:22-31. And God worked a miracle, so Samson’s life was not in vain, and used him to help His people out of their desperate situation with their enemies. Samson’s enemies had mocked his God by thinking that their gods were more powerful, because they had given him into their hands. But this wasn’t so, and God avenged his name among the heathen by Samson’s sacrifice of his life, when he enabled Samson to bring down the house on the lords of the Philistines and the people gathered there with them. So Samson hadn’t fully appreciated the gift of God he had been given, but later regretted it and God forgave him, when he turned back to Him in prayer.
*We want to thank our stepdad, David Jenkins, for reminding us of this wonderful fact about Samson in Hebrews 11.
So there is hope for you, if you used to have a born again experience with God, and you have let it slip away, if you will repent now. Maybe you didn’t fully know what you had? Maybe you have been in a lukewarm state for a long time, without the love of God fully in your life, or the joy that knowing Him brings? Do you long for the experience that you once had with God? How long has it been? God will take you back, if you will return to Him with all your heart! “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13 NASB. But we believe that if you have lost it, that you probably hadn’t experienced it in its fullness, because Hebrews 6:4-8 says that it is hard to walk away, if you have ever fully tasted the fruits of God’s precious Holy Spirit in your heart in full force. It is the most precious thing you can ever experience in this life!
It is hard to walk away from this experience of knowing Jesus and His Father. Why would you want to? But it is also a most dangerous thing to live in a lukewarm Christian state, neither for God nor against Him, but in the middle. Revelation 3:14-17. That is why this passage in Hebrews 6:4-8 is given, for our instruction.
Jesus says to His Church today: “'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:20-21 NASB. Amen! Let it be so. When you hear Jesus knocking on the door of your heart, open it up and let Him come in. You will never regret it, we promise you! “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.’” John 14:23 NASB. Jesus promise to you is: if you will open the door of your heart, let Him come in and dine with you and you with Him, and if you will keep His Word, He and His Father will love you and come and make their abode with you! Oh precious promise! Amen!
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“And He [Jesus] also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:” Luke 18:9 NASB. Have you met individuals who think that they are good and view others with contempt? Have you heard individuals who are quick to talk about others behind their back and hurt their reputation? Then you know those whom Jesus is addressing. Do you think that you are good? Do you have trouble protecting the feelings and reputations of others? Do people who break God’s Law or do not believe “the Truth” get you all fired up? We hope that you will keep reading this message, if any of these points hit home. Jesus’ message wasn’t just to rebuke the self-righteous, He loved these people and wanted to help them before it was too late! Can you see the love in His message here? The problem that Jesus is addressing is a very common problem in humanity. Many people have had this problem in their life at one time or another. Jesus was telling some people here that they needed to make a change if they wanted to be saved.
We took a pause from finishing this passage in Luke to contemplate Jesus’ message here. People read that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, then think that this message doesn’t apply to them, and say ‘I am glad I am not a sinner like that Pharisee’. Many people are OK with hearing a message, if they think that it applies to someone else. So think about this message, and not just jump to the conclusion that it doesn’t apply to you. Often people just read a passage, and run with what they think it means, and skip over some of what has been said. So it is beneficial to read the whole passage, and read every word of it, not skipping over parts of it, to get the whole truth, especially for parts that are often ignored. It is good to hear a startling message to help you wake up, or to hear a message stated from a different perspective, so you can be at peace.
“"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."” Luke 18:10-14 NASB.
Why was the tax collector justified before God, and not the Pharisee in this account? Because he humbled himself before God and begged for His mercy! The Pharisee didn’t. ‘There is no one who does good, not even one.’ Psalm 14:3 NASB. So why wasn’t this Pharisee justified before God? Because he humbled not his heart before God, and confessed not his sin of pride and of praying unkind words towards this poor tax collector - sinner. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV. God declares through His prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 KJV. Dear reader, are you held captive by sins or bad habits? Do you want to be free? God says that if you will seek after Him with all of your heart, then you will find Him, and He will take away your captivity, and place you where you were always meant to be, with Him in Heaven as one of His sons or daughters. Jesus says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 KJV. He has provided the way, Oh sinner, if you will accept it, He will make you free indeed! What a promise!
This text shows the connection between God’s people and the humble who will inherit the earth: “For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Psalm 37:9-11 NASB. We have all been evildoers at one point in our life, but if we will humble ourselves before God and wait on Him, He will help us to become one of the righteous. And remember what Jesus our Savior said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”Matthew 5:5 KJV. God told Moses to tell the people before the Day of Atonement: “If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 23:29 NASB. Why was that? Because the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur, represents the Day of Judgment, when the judgement takes place. All who wish to be clean before God, will humble themselves before Him, and will confess all of their sins. Those who will not humble themselves before Him, will be cut off from among His people, and will not go to Heaven to live throughout the endless ages with the peace, love, happiness and the delight of the saved. Those who refuse to humble themselves before God will be cut off from His people, and will then realize that they have made a terrible mistake! Many people have no idea what they will be missing if they fail to humble themselves before God and stay that way! Peter admonishes us: “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” 1 Peter 2:1-3 NASB. The Psalmist, David says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8 NASB. Only those who have humbled themselves before God, and have tasted of the goodness to come, have a clue to the priceless treasures of peace, love, joy and delight that God wants to give His people in Heaven forever!
Consider those who have tasted of the heavenly gift: ‘those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come’ Hebrews 6:4-5 NASB: it is very hard for these to fall away and become lost.How could you walk away from the best thing that you have ever known or could know? Dear reader, have you tasted of this heavenly gift of the age to come? Do not stop humbling your heart, and seeking after God until you get it! You will never regret it, we promise you! So humble yourself before your God, whom you love, confess all of your sins, asking Him to be merciful to you a sinner, and you will go home justified before Him, and He will fill your heart with His love. And you will indeed taste and see that the Lord is good, and will get the taste of the Heavenly gift and of the good things in the age to come. This is our prayer for you! Amen.
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