MAY 1, 2007
Last month introduced the book of Colossians by looking into the second chapter. The reason for beginning in the second chapter was to set the stage for this month's treatise. It will become evident, as the Word unfolds, why this approach was used.
THE WILL AND COMMAND OF GOD
Paul's epistolary greetings often are read without much heed. However, a closer look into the opening words for each of his letters will reveal not only a wealth of theology, but the very foundation from which he orated. Colossians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.The emphasis in all his greetings is summed in the phrase, "By the will of God." Having had enough of Jewish titles and bestowals by the "will of man," he wished to separate his calling as "apostle" from anything tainted by man's definition or design. (When all of Christendom demands empirical evidence, like that possessed by Paul, then and only then will there be purity in the ranks of leadership. Regardless of years of service, professional acumen and rank, there must be a return to one credential: "Not by man, but the WILL of God.")
In Romans, Paul stated he was a "Servant of Jesus Messiah, Called an apostle and separated (sealed) to the gospel of God." At the beginning of Romans, he touched the foundation stones of his ministry. He declared Jesus and the Father had his ministry in their plan throughout the prophets, throughout the ministry of Jesus on earth and through the Spirit of Holiness.
Through whom we have received grace and apostleship 'for obedience to the faith' among all nations for His Name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Messiah.The "Will of God" was the prime basis for his ministry, his authority to communicate and for his interaction with the churches. (Would to God this was the case today!) Saul wished so very much to be understood on this point, that in Galatians he wrote, "An apostle, not FROM men nor THROUGH man, but THROUGH Jesus Messiah and God the Father." (Oh, that the ordaining hands, laid on those who were not of God, would suddenly wither, but alas, there are no Jeremiah's to reverse the afflicted multitudes.)
Only in Philippians, Thessalonians and Philemon (three places he did not introduce himself as "apostle") did Paul omit "by the will of God." However, in Timothy he added, "By the commandment of God" and "According to the promise of life." In Titus he went further,
According to the faith of God's elect (sealed ones) AND the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.Author's Note: Let a commandment go forth, a holy mandate, that the congregation of the Lord will refuse to hear or acknowledge anyone ever again who does not possess such credentials. Let none of the five fold ministries operate sans these credentials. Let no further spouting be heard in the camp of the Lord that emanates from man. Let all so called "Christian Writing" be examined in light of the writers credentials equaling those laid down by the true apostle. (But alas, vast numbers of platforms would be silent and bookstores bare if this criteria was exercised.)
TO THE SAINTS AND FAITHFUL BRETHREN
Although there has been a gross re-definition of the word "saints," Casiodoro De Reina in his 16th Century Bible was not so affected. He translated, for instance, Deuteronomy 33:2 differently than the KJV:
The LORD came from Sinai,De Reigna rendered it this way, "And He came with ten thousands of holiness." * (*Casiodoro de Reina, 1569, Stendal, Russell, Jubilee Bible, 2000.)
Paul was not ignorant of the Torah's Scriptures. He directed his teachings, and the promises within them, to the saints (holiness ones) and the faithful.
For many years, there has been circulating among believers a concept of a "church within a church." In this frame work there are construed to be two churches, the one at large and the more spiritual body residing within the structure of the masses. The second is characterized as a "shadow church," not clearly visible, but endowed with the "deeper walk." This two-tiered structure is a convenient vehicle used to describe the "wheat" among the "tares." (One must realize the "tares" in Jesus' illustration were sown among the "wheat," quite the opposite of this modern paradigm.)
Lumping together the "true church," and that which is called "the church at large," has allowed ministers from pulpits across the world to apply Paul's teachings to this mixed universal body. This great mixture is prompted to repeat certain Scriptures, rely upon them and possess them as their own when in reality these Scriptures were given ONLY to the saints (Holiness Ones).
If this church dichotomy was valid, then Paul was addressing ONLY the "inner body" to the exclusion of all who were not "holiness" and "faithful." Therefore, the teachings which follow in this month's newsletter are ONLY for the "inner core." (Why then are these Scriptures universally heralded in Word churches and among many denominations with casualness when Paul clearly defined his audience?)
There is only one church defined by the Scriptures; it is comprised of the saints and the faithful. God asked Ezekiel, "How dare they put their temple next to My Temple?"
Holiness is neither preached nor considered necessary in the church at large, defined and designed by the Twenty-first Century media maniacs! Neither grace nor peace covers this morass of man's making. It is to the Holy Ones and the Faithful that grace and peace were proclaimed by Paul.
(It was the Spirit of Holiness that came upon the disciples in the upper room, but sadly, a counterfeit baptism is wholesalely embraced among modern churchdom.)
Holiness and faithfulness are not options.
Holiness and faithfulness are the pre-requisites to claiming any promise in Paul's writings.
PAUL'S IDENTIFICATION WITH THE HOLINESS ONES, THE FAITHFUL
Because Paul limited his audience, then certain things issued from that limitation. Below is a list of Paul's assertions.
CONTENT OF PAUL'S PRAYERS:
The prayers of Paul and Timothy were loaded with promise and power for the Holiness Ones. In verse nine, and throughout the first chapter, came the outcropping of those prayers. Paul wanted the Colossians to know the content and focus of his ceaseless petition before the throne. His prayer is a catalogue of Holiness holdings.
A. v. 9 That you (The saints and the faithful) may be filled with the knowledge of His will IN all wisdom and spiritual understanding.Since Paul was a Hebrew and was greatly knowledgeable of the Old Testament, both in word and definition, his prayer incorporated the meaning of two Old Testament terms noted by Strong as "chokmah (OT2451) and "tabuwn (OT 8394)." These words are both translated wisdom, but sometimes translated "understanding." These words were often grouped together. For example, in Exodus 35:30ff, Bezaleel and Aholiab were described as being "filled with the Spirit of God" and "full of wisdom and understanding."
These are strong words, so Paul linked them together similarly in his work. "Wisdom" incorporated the ability to take knowledge and put it into proper action or work. "Understanding" went further, by comprehending the intricacies of an action. It took into consideration all the ramifications of an action. It looked out in time and space and determined what would be the effect of an action. "Understanding" is an extension of the fundamental principles attendant to an action.
"Understanding" also is the extension of oneself into an action (as when God created the heavens and earth). So, one might say that Paul was seeking God to pour out on the Holiness ones, the God-given qualities invested in the great ones of the Old Testament along with the power of their works. These patriarchs and "sent ones" were used by the Lord to perform His work; they were moved by the Spirit. (These saints knew their actions and words had spiritual implications beyond their lifespan. The subsequent verses are based on this thesis. )
B. v. 10 That you (the Holiness Ones) may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (The walk, not the talk is the emphasis. Being fruitful, not barren, is the evidence. As there is an increase of the knowledge of God, more acts of wisdom and understanding are necessitated.)
C. v. 11 (That the Holiness Ones be) strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.(Paul, in Colossians 1:29, declared this "might" worked in him. The glorious church is comprised of glorious Holiness Ones walking in the gloriousness of His might. This is not accomplished by a confession, but rather all "might" working through the saints. The core of this teaching runs deeper than "faith" folks can ever imagine. It is based on being "qualified.")
D. v.12 Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us (Paul, Timothy and these saints and faithful ones) to be 'partakers of the inheritance of the saints' in the light.(Being "qualified" for a race or an exam means one has been judged in proficiency. The Holiness Ones are deemed by God as qualified to be "partakers of the inheritance." [The seal of God is this: the Lord knows them that are His.] )
Y'SHUA, THE FORERUNNER
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us (the saints and the faithful-Paul, Timothy and the saints at Colosse) into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Colossians 1:13(The Holiness Ones and the Faithful have been delivered from the power of darkness by His blood. They are the ones who have been translated [NT: 3179 methistemi, NT: 3179, to transfer, i.e. carry away, depose or (figuratively) exchange] into the kingdom of the Son of His love.) It is "high time" the universal churches recognize the error of their preachments.
Paul identified with this holy and faithful communion, note, he no longer referred to them as "you;" it was now "us!" They were blood companions and what was said from this point forward issued from that common bond.
(The Saints of Paul's fellowship had much in common. They had celebrated the same Mikvahs. As Michael Rood so ably points out on his DVD, "Mikvah" (www.michaelrood.com or www.roodawakening.com), they had experienced all six baptisms. In a Mikvah, the person submerges in flowing waters [like the Jordan] and symbolically is cleansed or changed. The word for mikvah in the N.T. is baptism. John, the Mikvahite, called for the mikvah of Repentance [v.13]. The priests oversaw the mikvah of purification [v.12]. The disciples were mikvah'd for Identification with Jesus [In His Name, vs. 13, 21]. The mikvah of the Spirit of Holiness, coupled with the mikvah of fire was/is administered by Jesus [vs.8,9]. They all were mikvah'd in suffering [Jesus told His inquiring disciples they would enter into His suffering. vs.24, 25]).
The "mikvah" thread was woven into the fabric of Paul's Colossian prayer for the saints.
Paul re-iterated just who it was that the saints and faithful had been Mikvah'd with. They had been mikvah'd with Y'shua, the Messiah.
He (Y'shua) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.THE MIKVAH OF SUFFERING PURCHASED A HOLINESS PEOPLEBy Him all things were created-in heaven and earth visible and invisible thrones or dominions principalities and powersAll things were created Through Him and For HimHe is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Yes, the limiters are still in place; yes, the message is to and about the Holiness people; yes, that which is purchased is for them. Jesus did not redeem a people who will not manifest holiness and faithfulness. Salvation is the first step toward becoming a holy, blameless and irreproachable people.
In the body of His flesh through death, to present you HOLY and BLAMELESS and IRREPROACHABLE in His sight.What is the intent of Paul's teaching? Is it not to reveal a people who share three characteristics around which their love and fellowship revolve? These are they who will arise to be graduates in the first class after the death of Jesus. These are the progenitors of all who follow after them. These are they to whom, "God is not ashamed."
Paul issued a solemn warning; it was issued with an IF. Verse twenty-three begins with IF:
If indeed you (the Holiness Ones) continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.Two parts are in this verse. The first part presents a conditional statement based on continuing holiness and faithfulness. Is Paul teaching that a "falling away" could happen even among the saints? YES!
The second tenet of this verse focuses on Paul's ministry. Paul was speaking through his own experiences. He spoke of his mikvah of suffering. He claimed his suffering was for the present and future Holiness Ones. Who besides the saints and the faithful would garner a commitment like that of Paul's? He consistently barely escaped death, was constantly repudiated by the power elite [the Jews] and his work continually required unremunerated long hours of labor. Paul sacrificed himself for a church without spot and blemish-he was a co-laborer with Christ.
Someone recently asked, "Where are the great preachers of the past? Where are those who sacrificed themselves and who represented a statesmanship of the kingdom rarely viewed in today's buffoonery?" The answer is simple: a lazy, unfaithful, unholy body does not have the option offered Aaron by a sacrificing Moses. Their golden calves stay offered to their unknown gods, and their hearts remain enslaved to Pharaoh. These are they who are the recipients of Revelation twenty-two:
Rev 22:10-16Again, Paul identified with the "church of Holiness" and in verses twenty-five and six declared that his office was through the "'stewardship of God.' This office was given to him for the Holiness Ones, to fulfill the word of God. It was to unlock the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to HIS SAINTS."
Addressing the Saints, he added, "TO THEM God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Messiah IN you, the hope of glory."
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom (the very thing he prayed for the Saints at Colosse), that we (Paul, Timothy, the SAINTS) may present every man 'perfect in Messiah Y'shua.'(Where is this message of perfection among the churches? To whom shall one gather and in whose congregation shall one meet, to hear this message for which Paul gave his life? Where is gathered the fellowship of mikvah'd saints? To what nation, continent or city shall one congress? All live in a world awash with media gospel, but athirst for truth. All are awash with projects and programs, yet one's heart knows that "perfection in Him" is not even a consideration, let alone a plausible enterprise for the congregations of today.)
Paul espoused, "For this I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." Like Jeremiah's fire in his bones, this SAINT of God endured a ministry which was characterized by being shipwrecked, beaten and cast down. Many times he barely escaped death. He was dragged before councils and chained before kings for the past, present and future SAINTS!
Not walking in Holiness is the great blasphemy against the Holy Ghost today and it continues happening daily! All are both warned and urged, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby you have been sealed unto the day of redemption" and "Be ye Holy as I am Holy." These were never just suggestions.
Until Next Month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver
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