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Articles
Monday, May 20 2019

Have you ever wanted to go home to an old house that was not yours anymore? Past schools and hometowns are very sentimental for many people. My heart hurts to hear that my elementary school was torn down. Some places mean more than others do. Some of us have tried to go home to find out that we cannot because everything has changed. God always has a place with His people. That gives me comfort to look for the home that He gives.

            In the Hebrew Scriptures, God designated His people of Israel to build a tabernacle to worship in Him in the Promised Land. Now, that physical temple has changed to a spiritual house. God has a place for His Holy Spirit to dwell and that is in His holy temple even today.

            The church of Christ is God’s holy temple on earth (Eph 2:19–22). God’s temple possesses God’s Holy Spirit (Eph 2:22). Each member is a stone that builds up the temple of God (1 Pet 2:5). That temple stands upon the foundation that is Christ’s apostles and prophets and the cornerstone is Jesus Christ (Eph 2:20; 3:4–5). Every Christian is a priest attending this temple with spiritual sacrifices of good works (Heb 13:16).

            Christ made the church holy having sanctified her to have no spot or blemish (Eph 5:25–27). God’s temple is so important to Him that God will destroy anyone who destroys His temple — the church (1 Cor 3:16–17). The apostle Paul made this point about careless teachers and leaders among the church who do not build on Christ as the foundation or teaches the wisdom of the world (1 Cor 3:10–15, 17–20).     

            God promised that His Spirit would dwells within His people. Through Ezekiel, God promised, “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezek 36:27–28 ESV; cf. 37:13–14). Jesus also promised the Spirit to His apostles, “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17b).

            The church of Christ is God’s Holy Temple. For this reason, God declared, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16). The Christian’s body is the temple as the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each baptized believer, the Christian must not sin against one’s body with sexual immorality — sex outside of marriage (1 Cor 6:18–20).

            As we recognize God’s holiness in His righteous and greatness in His works, Christians see that they must be holy as God’s Spirit dwells within them (Exod 15:11; Isa 5:16). The faithful must see the importance of the church to God and God’s command that the church be holy. The life and works of Christians is a holy life for Christians are saints — God’s holy ones. God’s holy church consists of holy living and holy teaching. God has sanctified His people and He continues to sanctify His people throughout their lives. We are God’s holy temple and a holy priesthood to offer spiritual offerings to God. Thank God for this great gift! Depend on God who helps us to live a pure life.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 06:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, May 19 2019

Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross having been sentenced by Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea. Why is Jesus’s death more significant than any other person born into the world? Jesus is holy unlike any other, and the Christian must take this truth to heart. Because Jesus is holy, death could not hold Him, and so Jesus bodily rose to life.
            Peter commanded, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy” (1 Pet 3:15). Jesus makes holy sanctifying those who come to Him by faith (Heb 2:11; cf. 1 Cor 6:11). Jesus is the only source for a person to be made holy (Heb 2:11). Jesus’s blood sacrifice purifies the conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14; 13:12). Jesus’s sacrifice perfectly sanctifies once for all time (Heb 10:10, 14).
            Jesus is holy because He is God come in the flesh. In the beginning, God spoke the Creation into existence, and thereby, the Word was with God and was God in the beginning (John 1:1). The Word became flesh and dwelt among humanity (John 1:14). Jesus is the fullness of God bodily (Col 2:9). Jesus left the form of God to take on the form of a servant to help humanity (Phil 2:6–8). God calls Jesus “God” (Heb 1:8). For this reason, He must manifest the same holy nature as God the Father and Creator.
            Jesus’s sinlessness attests to His divinity, His resurrection, and His inerrant teaching. Isaiah prophesied that the Suffering Servant would die, yet “he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isa 53:9). He is the “righteous one, my servant” (Isa 53:11). Jesus lived a holy life without sinning (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). However, Jesus was tempted in every way (Heb 4:15). The Christ was to be pierced for transgressions and crushed for the iniquities of humanity (Isa 53:5). The LORD laid on the suffering Servant the iniquity of all (Isa 53:6). Thereby, Christ was the offering for guilt by which God was thus satisfied (Isa 53:10–11). Only by Christ will a person be “accounted righteous” (Isa 53:11). Therefore, the Suffering Servant is the one who makes intercession for sinners (Isa 53:12).
            The righteous of Jesus Christ reveals the holiness of God. Just as Isaiah prophesied, the sinless Messiah appeased the justice of God’s law by enduring and overcoming the punishment of death releasing the faithful from the condemnation of sin and death (Rom 3:20–26; 8:1–4). Christ makes holy, blameless, and without reproach before God those who continue in the faith (Col 1:21–23).
            May we all sanctify Jesus in our hearts. John revealed that those who hope in Christ purify themselves as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3). This is just as Peter urged Christians to be holy in all conduct and not to conform to former passions (1 Pet 1:14–16). Peter taught the faithful to conduct themselves with hope and fear knowing that they were ransomed by the blood of Christ and are now without blemish or spot (1 Pet 1:13–19). Thank God that we can be holy as God is holy!

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 06:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, May 18 2019

Are you a holy person? Are you a saint? Most people would not hesitate to say, “No. I’m no saint.” However, the New Testament Christian should confidently confess, “Yes. God makes me holy.” A saint means a holy person. The verb “sanctify” means to make holy. All Christians are saints (Eph 1:1). No one can be saved except by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess 2:13–14). The Holy Spirit makes the believer holy as the Christians chooses to live a holy life.
    God’s Holy Spirit serves God’s purpose of making a holy people. The work of God’s Holy Spirit includes transforming believers into the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:17–18). God wants the faithful to be holy. God declared, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16; cf. Lev 11:44). Christians are to be holy by being holy in all their conduct (1 Pet 1:15).
    Jesus revealed in His prayer to the Father that God’s Word is the truth that sanctifies — makes holy. Jesus declared in the hearing of His disciples, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:17–19). The Holy Spirit delivered all truth in words to the apostles (John 14:26; 16:12–13; 17:8). The Scriptures make evident that the Spirit operates by the Word of God that as the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). 
    God promised to send His Spirit into His people to change their hearts and cause them to obey His commands (Ezek 36:26–27; John 14:16–17). The Holy Spirit must dwell within believers for Christians to receive salvation (Rom 8:9–11; 1 Cor 6:14). The Holy Spirit sanctifies the faithful so that they are holy before God (1 Cor 6:11). For this reason, the apostle Paul urged Christians to live holy lives apart from sexual immorality along with abandoning greed, thievery, and profaning others (1 Cor 6:9–20). Paul further explained that sexual sins are sins against the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:18–20). The body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
    Furthermore, Paul expressed, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;” (1 Thess 4:3–5). Paul also revealed that God called His people not for impurity but for holiness, and anyone who disregards holiness disregards God who gave the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 4:7–8).
    As Christians, we cannot dismiss God’s commands for holiness. The shows and movies that we listen and watch affect us (Luke 11:34). What unholy things do we consent to enjoy for our own entertainment? How permissive are we of unholiness in the world and then in our lives? Should we no longer be disgusted by the unholy behavior around us for the sake of “tolerance” or fake “love”? Too long have Christians overlooked unholy lifestyles so as not to offend anyone, and then we give ourselves leeway to sin and no reason to share the gospel. “That person would not listen anyways.” However, Jesus evangelized to the Samaritan woman who had 5 husbands (John 4:7–42). Share the gospel that those who believe must repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38).
    Thank God for sending His Spirit of holiness and that we can live holy lives.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 16 2019

Begin with the title: Have you ever felt unworthy before God? In the presence of Jesus glorified in an apocalyptic vision, John fell at the feet of Jesus as though dead. Jesus laid His hand on John and comforted, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:17). God’s holiness has a presence of fearful conviction and yet overwhelming comfort.
    The prophet Isaiah recounted a vision of God on His throne high and lifted up. Isaiah saw God having a robe with a train that filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1). Angelic beings called seraphim covered their faces to their feet with their six wings (6:2). In Isaiah’s vision, the angelic beings called to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.” God is holy and separate from the heavenly creatures. However, God’s glory filled the whole earth (6:3). The voice of God trembled the foundation of temple, and the smoke of God’s presence filled that spiritual house (6:4). Isaiah’s vision captured God’s glory invoking fear.
    Before God’s awesome presence, Isaiah exclaimed distress and grief because of his own sinfulness. The prophet expressed, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (6:5). The prophet saw God’s holiness and knew that he was not clean. The prophet realized his wickedness and those of all flesh before God. How could he even speak? Isaiah experienced this vision to hear the voice of the Lord call for whom to send to Israel, and God sent Isaiah (6:8).
    Many of us have felt unworthy and unholy before God like Isaiah. The Scriptures depict a sense of sinfulness and humiliation that overcomes all who experience God’s presence. In God’s presence, humanity realizes its uncleanness and shame. God’s holiness exposes the wicked works of humanity (John 3:19–21). Job heard and saw God, and for this reason, Job despised himself and repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:5–6). Jesus commanded Simon’s boat to cast their nets on the other side, and they caught so many fish that two boats could barely hold them. Peter declared to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).
    Why do we experience great fear and humility before the greatness of God? God’s holiness is absolute contrast to evil. God’s nature is counter to the filthiness of sin. The basic problem for humanity with holiness is that God is holy and He desires fellowship with sinful humanity living in a fallen world (cf. Hab 1:13). Because God cannot become less holy, humanity must become holy by way of being made holy — sanctification (1 Thess 4:1–8).
    Every one of us has been alienated and hostile in mind toward God in doing evil things (Col 1:21). However, through Jesus’s death in the body, He makes those who continue in the faith holy and blameless before Him (Col 1:22–23). In Christ, the faithful will put of the works of the flesh being buried with Christ in baptism, so the faithful are raised with Christ by God’s powerful working and made alive having received the forgiveness of sins (Col 2:12–13).
    Furthermore, John wrote of continual fellowship with God stating, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6–7). Thank God that you can have fellowship with Him and receive the cleansing of ALL sin by the blood of Christ.
 

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd Jr. AT 02:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, May 12 2019

Moses stretched his hands over the Red Sea and the waters of the sea came back upon the Egyptian army destroying every one of them. Thereby, God saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians. Israel saw God’s power, and they believed in the Lord. For this reason, Moses and Israel sang, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11 ESV). The basis of God’s holiness is that no one is like God.

            God is holy as His works reveal the attributes of His nature. God is the source of holiness. God makes holy. When God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai, God called, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exod 3:5). God’s presence makes holy as God’s presence made the inner room of the sanctuary to be the holy of holies. God is set apart from all other peoples and their gods, and even more so, God’s presence makes a place holy set apart from all others. However, God is present throughout the earth by His Spirit (Ps 139:7–12). God makes a place holy by His presence in the sense of revealing Himself and His message to humanity in that place.

            God decides what He makes holy. In Genesis 2:3, God made the seventh day marking His rest as a holy day by blessing it. The Sabbath day is consecrated and special. How does God resting make a day holy? In the seven days of creation, the seventh day was set apart as God rested meaning that He ceased from all of His work in creating the universe and all life. The seventh day marked the completion of creation. God spoke from Mount Sinai to Israel revealing, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:11).

            What do we do with what God has given us to keep holy? Do we keep our spouses and children holy (1 Cor 7:14)? Do we keep our bodies holy (1 Cor 6:19–20)? Christians must keep holy what God has set apart to be holy. The church are His people to be unlike others and separated from wickedness and sinfulness of the world. God has called all believers to “be holy for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16).

            When each Christian consecrates his or her life, the believer will not tie oneself together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14). They are sacred and have no partnership with Satan (2 Cor 6:15). Concerning the church, Paul observed, “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,’” (2 Cor 6:15b–17; cf. Lev 26:12; Isa 52:11).

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 04:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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