Flora O'Sullivan, our beloved sister in Christ and tireless co-worker for the gospel went home to be with the Lord on Thursday 16th March. Flora was an invaluable and integral part of MGN, single-handedly managing the entire printing and distribution of our literature in America as well as the German and Spanish translations.
Although we are saddened at her passing we also rejoice with her as she receives the reward of her faith which is to be in the glorious presence of our heavenly father.
When Flora was first diagnosed a few months ago with a terminal illness she wrote to tell us of her diagnosis in these words: "The prognosis includes a trip to my heavenly home in our Saviour's glorious Presence! The thought of that removes all other concerns and leaves me so excited about the future!
The lady who looked after her for the last month of her life shared the following with us: I had the honor of being Flora’s caregiver 24/7 the last month of her life. She was under Hospice’s care and passed away at home. We spent much time talking of Heaven, sharing Truths from God’s Word, and laughing together. Her smile never faded.
To God be the glory! ... See MoreSee Less
BE HOLY (PART FIVE) by Peter Cohen
In part four, I suggested that the call to be holy was to come out and to be separated from the world. In this final part 5, I will also show that the call is to be gathered as a heavenly people, as one assembly of a united new humanity, the body of Christ, called to be holy and united by the Holy Spirit.
It should be obvious by now that the only way to be holy is through being filled with the Holy Spirit. As people may lose their moral inhibitions when under the influence of much alcohol, we will become sensitive to the holy prompting of the Holy Spirit the more that we are filled with and subject to the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19).
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:15).
How can we become more and more filled with the Holy Spirit and to what extent may we be filled?
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
By God’s grace and mercy I experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit at my conversion to the extent that I was decisively set free from a sinful and wretched life. Paul wrote to the believers at Galatia posing the question, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:2). However, many who received the Holy Spirit, were deceived and led astray into trying to conform to the call to be holy, by observing external rules and regulations, including that of the Old Covenant Law. This was a regression in the call to be holy.
The Spirit is given to those who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is not earned or received by a person through observing the Law nor by first attaining a level of righteousness through their own self control and discipline. The Spirit is freely given to us in order to set us free from sin so that we may become holy and righteous as he sanctifies us from within. It may sound too easy, but we receive the Holy Spirit by believing in Jesus and by asking and desiring to be filled with the Spirit.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13).
That being said, I believe that the Spirit is given to also unite us as one body with one purpose and not for our own individual pleasure or indulgence - so that the world may see us as a community of redeemed people walking in the light and love of God so that they may know that we are Jesus’ disciples.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22).
However, unfortunately, there is a counterfeit spirit which creates an impression of spiritual empowerment and unity, but the emphasis is placed on signs and wonders, rather than upon the genuine fruit of holiness which is only produced by the Holy Spirit.
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).
Many people want to be spiritual. If there is a different spirit from the genuine Holy Spirit, how do we discern between the Holy Spirit and a counterfeit spirit?
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:43-45).
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:9-11;14-21).
It is by the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and not necessarily by apparent miracles and gifts, that genuine believers will be sanctified and recognized by the world as being true, pure and sanctified disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is where I will introduce a new thread and line of study, namely that of us being gathered in the name of Jesus, united by one true Spirit, called to be a holy assembly. Many vain and ambitious people have been prepared to masquerade as apostles of Christ because, like Simon the sorcerer, they have coveted spiritual power for the purposes of promoting themselves and their own “ministries”, rather than Christ and the unadulterated gospel that is indeed intended to set us free from sin.
In part four of this series on the call to be holy, I referred to Haggai chapter 2, where an illustration is given that suggests that when something holy comes into close contact with something defiled, that which is holy does not make that which is defiled holy. On the contrary, that which is holy becomes defiled. Likewise, I referred to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, whereby the elders in the holy assembly of Christ’s church, had an obligation and responsibility to excommunicate from the assembly those who blatantly continued sinning, lest they defile the entire assembly leading others astray.
In the next series I will begin to explore the call to be holy as it applies more specifically to the call to be gathered into a consecrated, holy assembly united by the one true Holy Spirit. It is often said, sometimes quite flippantly, that if we ever find the perfect church don’t join it because then it will no longer be perfect. The inference, of course, is that no one has yet attained perfection. But if we sincerely and reverently expect Jesus to be in our midst in his majestic power when we gather in His name we should all examine our own hearts and repent and be cleansed. Have we not been called to unity with the perfect saviour? The church is indeed the perfect body of Christ and our being joined to it is for the purpose that he may make us holy, and perfect us, which is his ministry as our High Priest.
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises” (Hebrews 2:10-12).
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).
So yes it is indeed true, if you gather in a holy assembly, called to bring praise and glory to Jesus - and you casually and irreverently stroll into fellowship among the saints while remaining defiled by unconfessed sin in which you continue to indulge, then you will certainly bring your defilement upon that which is holy. ... See MoreSee Less