J. F. MINISTRIES ASSOCIATION INC.

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My Daily Blog

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 6, 2017 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

 

Included in God's promises is rest for His people. This rest not only begins with rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but it also can grow into rest from carnal striving and vain self-sufficiency. Our verses speak of this latter rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Those who are God's people became such by entering into God's rest from sin and guilt. Yet, having tasted of this, there still "remains...a rest for the people of God."

The entrance into this additional spiritual rest necessitates a cessation from one's own works. "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works." To rest in the Lord for a growing life of godliness, service, and fruitfulness, one must be willing to renounce himself as the source or cause of the working. Previously, we saw that the Apostle Paul walked with and lived unto God in this manner. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul worked harder than any other leader in the early church. Yet, he acknowledged that the enabling reality was the grace of God, not himself. This fits perfectly with another confession from Paul that we have also considered in previous devotions. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5). Ultimately, such a life is explained as Christ Himself expressing His life in and through our lives. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

This cessation from our works is to be as complete as God's ceasing from His work at creation. "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works...For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:4, 10). God rested on the seventh day, because his "creation-work" was finished. We are to rest from our works, because we cannot add to the finished work of Christ for us. He completed our redemption upon the cross. "He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). He has also fully prepared the works that He wants us to now enter into by faith. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10)

MY Daily Blog August 6th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 6, 2017 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

 

Included in God's promises is rest for His people. This rest not only begins with rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but it also can grow into rest from carnal striving and vain self-sufficiency. Our verses speak of this latter rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Those who are God's people became such by entering into God's rest from sin and guilt. Yet, having tasted of this, there still "remains...a rest for the people of God."

The entrance into this additional spiritual rest necessitates a cessation from one's own works. "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works." To rest in the Lord for a growing life of godliness, service, and fruitfulness, one must be willing to renounce himself as the source or cause of the working. Previously, we saw that the Apostle Paul walked with and lived unto God in this manner. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul worked harder than any other leader in the early church. Yet, he acknowledged that the enabling reality was the grace of God, not himself. This fits perfectly with another confession from Paul that we have also considered in previous devotions. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5). Ultimately, such a life is explained as Christ Himself expressing His life in and through our lives. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

This cessation from our works is to be as complete as God's ceasing from His work at creation. "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works...For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:4, 10). God rested on the seventh day, because his "creation-work" was finished. We are to rest from our works, because we cannot add to the finished work of Christ for us. He completed our redemption upon the cross. "He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). He has also fully prepared the works that He wants us to now enter into by faith. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10)

My Daily Blog August 5th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 5, 2017 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest. (Hebrews 4:1-3)

 

Through the promises of God, spiritual rest can be experienced by all who believe. Initially, those who believe enjoy rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin. Additionally, those whose faith embraces more of the promises of God can enjoy rest from carnal striving and worldly indulgence.

When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they had rest from the bondage they had known there. This pictures our rest from sin and guilt. Yet, the Lord had more rest to share with His people. He wanted to give them rest from the barrenness of wilderness striving that lay between Egypt and the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. This pictures our rest from fleshly striving in doubt and disobedience by drawing upon the riches that are ours in Christ.

The Israelites wandered through the wilderness in hardness of heart for forty years. All of that generation (except Joshua and Caleb) missed the additional rest that God wanted them to experience. "Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest' " (Hebrews 3:10-11). They were out of Egypt, but they would not enter into the Promised Land.

Are we entering into the additional rest that God has for us? "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." The Promised Land is a picture of the abundant spiritual life (not a picture of heaven—no battles or failures in heaven). This additional rest is what Jesus offers to all who believe in Him. "I have come that they may have life (eternal life, forgiven of sin), and that they may have it more abundantly (richness of life, growing in practical righteousness)" (John 10:10). This abundant life is enjoyed by faith in the word of God, as it describes the riches that are ours in Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Will we take the Lord at His word and believe that we might enter in? "For we who have believed do enter that rest." Israel did not believe, so they did not enter in. "The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."

My Daily Blog August 2nd

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 2, 2017 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect. (Romans 4:13-14)

 

These words from the book of Romans continue our consideration of God's promises and God's law. Abraham is again the person around whom the insights unfold.

God promised Abraham blessings beyond measure. "Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 28:14). These promises were not contingent upon Abraham's ability to perform up to the level God's holy law. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law." When God made these promises to Abraham, the law was still hundreds of years from being revealed. Likewise, these promises were not contingent upon circumcision (the sign of this covenant with Abraham). "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe" (Romans 4:11). Circumcision was added after Abraham heard the promises and believed.

In these encounters with God, Abraham was being asked to put his trust and confidence in the Lord. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." When Abraham believed in the promises of God, at that moment, God declared him righteous in His sight. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). What gave Abraham a right standing with God and allowed him to enter into God's promises was his trusting in the Lord.

The only other option to "God-dependent faith" would be "self-dependent law performance." Such an approach to God would be totally unacceptable. "For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect." Attempting to merit God's promises by law performance says we view faith in Him as meaningless. Striving to earn what God has pledged to provide says we consider His promises as ineffectual.

My Daily Blog August 1st.

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 1, 2017 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions... Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:19, 21-22)

 

 God implements His plan of salvation by making and fulfilling promises. His plan is not contingent upon man's ability to perform acceptably before His holy law. To put it another way, the law of God (given hundreds of years after the promises to Abraham) does not replace those promises.

This raises a very important question: "What purpose then does the law serve?" If God's law did not cancel or rearrange His promises to Abraham, then, why was it added? "It was added because of transgressions." God wanted people to know that they had a major problem: sin. Man's sin needed to be clearly defined. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). The extent of sin would never be fully known apart from the law. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Romans 7:7). Also, God wanted everyone in this world to know that they were accountable to Him for their transgressions. Thus, the law convicts the sinfulness of man, that "all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19).

This raises another important question. "Is the law then against the promises of God?" The law does not replace God's promises, but does it work against His promises? "Certainly not! " The law of God and the promises of God simply have different purposes (just as it is with law and grace). The law of God reveals the holiness that is inherent to the very character of God. At the same time, it describes the holy life that God wants His people to live. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The promises of God become the means by which man deals with his unholiness and accesses God's holiness. This is what true spiritual life is about: forgiveness of sin and a life of righteousness in Christ. This cannot come by law performance. "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." Rather, the promise of life is entered into only by faith. "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."

My Daily Blog August 1st.

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 1, 2017 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions... Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:19, 21-22)

 

God implements His plan of salvation by making and fulfilling promises. His plan is not contingent upon man's ability to perform acceptably before His holy law. To put it another way, the law of God (given hundreds of years after the promises to Abraham) does not replace those promises.

This raises a very important question: "What purpose then does the law serve?" If God's law did not cancel or rearrange His promises to Abraham, then, why was it added? "It was added because of transgressions." God wanted people to know that they had a major problem: sin. Man's sin needed to be clearly defined. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). The extent of sin would never be fully known apart from the law. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Romans 7:7). Also, God wanted everyone in this world to know that they were accountable to Him for their transgressions. Thus, the law convicts the sinfulness of man, that "all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19).

This raises another important question. "Is the law then against the promises of God?" The law does not replace God's promises, but does it work against His promises? "Certainly not! " The law of God and the promises of God simply have different purposes (just as it is with law and grace). The law of God reveals the holiness that is inherent to the very character of God. At the same time, it describes the holy life that God wants His people to live. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The promises of God become the means by which man deals with his unholiness and accesses God's holiness. This is what true spiritual life is about: forgiveness of sin and a life of righteousness in Christ. This cannot come by law performance. "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." Rather, the promise of life is entered into only by faith. "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."

My Daily Blog July 31st.

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 31, 2017 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:16-18)


Again, we are reminded of God's fundamental use of promises in bringing forth His will among mankind. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." God made far-reaching promises to Abraham and his descendants, promises that included the coming of the Messiah, the anointed King, the Savior. Although these promises guaranteed an innumerable posterity to Abraham, this statement specifies one descendant in particular. "He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." The Lord Jesus Christ is in view here. The promises that were the root of the new covenant of grace were made by the Father to Abraham and to the Son of God. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." Added assurance is provided here. The Father's commitment was to His Son!

Now, what about the law of God, which was added hundreds of years later? Could the law possibly have replaced the promises to Abraham and to the Son of God? "And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ." The promises of God to Abraham and to His Son were not taken out of operation by the giving of the law of God ("that it should make the promise of no effect" ). People, through their own law performance, cannot become heirs of all that God promised to His children. If they could, then, God's blessings are no longer based on God fulfilling His promises. "For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise." This cannot be, because "God gave it to Abraham by promise." God's work among men stands on His ability to fulfill His promises. It does not depend on our ability to live up to the perfect law of God

My Daily Blog July 30th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 30, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel... that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Ephesians 3:6; Galatians 3:14)

 

The implications of becoming children of promise through faith in the promises of God are monumental. One of the consequences that holds outstanding significance is highlighted in our present verses. It involves the Gentiles.

It is quite obvious in the Old Testament that God had great plans for the Jews (for Israel, His chosen people)." 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6). God's plans ultimately included the Gentiles (the nations of the world). "Oh, praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!...The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 60:3). Nevertheless, the Jewish people would have a special place in God's purposes. "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).

In light of these Old Testament truths regarding Israel, it was an astounding revelation when the Holy Spirit began to unfold through the Apostle Paul the full participation that the Gentiles would have in the promises of God: "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs." By believing in the promises of God, the Gentiles would have full partnership shares ("fellow heirs") in the inheritance of God for His people. The Gentiles would also be "of the same body." This body that included Gentiles and Jews was the church of Jesus Christ. "And He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). Jew and Gentile would comprise one new unit, the church. There is no longer a separation. Also, the Gentiles would be "partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel." Through the promises of the gospel of grace, Gentiles would share fully in eternal life, daily blessing, and intimate access to the Lord. By faith in the God of Abraham, the Gentiles would also enjoy (along with any Jew who believed in Jesus as Messiah) the promise of the Spirit: "that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Yes, now the Holy Spirit would dwell in the lives of all who would believe—not only the Jew, but also the Gentile!

My Daily Blog July 28th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 28, 2017 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise... Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:22-23, 28)

 

Our God is a God of promises. He characteristically works by making and fulfilling promises. We are His children. We are children of promise. We were birthed spiritually into God's family through faith in His promises. Two sons of Abraham (Ishmael and Isaac) provide a vivid contrast that attests our sonship by promise.

God had promised to make Abraham a mighty nation, through which would come the Messianic seed that would bless all nations. "I will make you a great nation...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-2). Yet, the years passed by, and Abraham was still without a son. Eventually, he implied to God that his servant would have to be the beginning of this promised seed. "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house (Eliezer, his servant) is my heir!" (Genesis 15:3). However, the Lord clarified His promise to give Abraham a true son, sired from his own body. "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir" (Genesis 15:4). As time passed, the aging couple decided that they would have to come up with another alternative for God. "Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children...So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived" (Genesis 16:1-2, 4). Thus, Ishmael was born as the result of Abraham's and Sarah's ingenuity: "he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh."

Thereafter, the Lord reiterated His promise of a son. "My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year" (Genesis 17:21). As God promised, so He did. "And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken" (Genesis 21:1). Thus, Isaac was birthed as a result of God's promises. This is a picture of the only possible way that we could ever have become God's children, by His fulfilling of His promises. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise."

My Daily Blog July 27th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 27, 2017 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)

 

How are we to respond to the promises of God? His promises are not automatically at work in every life that hears them. Some respond correctly, while others respond improperly. Some enjoy the benefits of God's promises, whereas others do not. In these two verses, we are given the fundamental response to all that pertains to the gospel of grace. That response is faith. This would certainly include living by the promises of God.

Paul was unashamed of the gospel due to its effective character. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation." The good news about Jesus Christ is essentially the grace of God proclaimed to man: "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). This grace is God's power poured out unto the saving of souls. This power is experienced by all who place their faith in the gospel, whether Jew or Gentile: "for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." The gospel is effective, because it holds forth God's righteousness to sinful man, if he is willing to trust in the Lord. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith."

The gospel is referred to in the scriptures as a promise. "And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life" (1 John 2:25). The gospel is often stated in the form of promises: "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved...whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 15:11 and Romans 10:13). These gospel promises are partaken of by faith. "The just shall live by faith."

In addition to initial salvation, the good news of God's grace includes many other promises from God. "I will build My church...You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free...When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (Matthew 16:18; John 8:32; 16:13). All of these promises are experienced by faith as well, because "the just shall live by faith"—continually, as well as initially.


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