A Passion that leads to Purity

Purity Passion

Sunday 01/10/21

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

MESSAGE: A Passion that leads to Purity

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A Passion that leads to Purity

Two weeks ago i did a selfie-video which was WAY outside of my comfort zone. In that video I addressed concerns over the heart condition of church. While there has been some diligence in regard to the Word of God, it has largely been in going back over the messages here, very little in terms of personal pursuit or even drawing from the ministry gifts of others outside our church.

There has been a lack of excitement regarding the things of God, a waneing enthusiasm and if appearances can be trusted a  walk that seemed marked more by drudgery than passion.

ALL RELATIONSHIPS NEED MAINTENANCE

The early chruch was no differnet. Many of the New Testament letters were addressing these very same issues or the results of them in churches which contained people who had actually met Jesus less than 15 to 30 years prior.

Last week’s time of discussion => There seemed to be consensus about this and a desire to do something about it.

Ended with a thought I felt the Lord gave me => 1Jn 3:1-3 hope in soon return = purity

Let’s read it…

Now in order to get a good feel for the verse I am going to read it from 3 different translations beginning with the Holman,

“(1) Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him.  (2)  Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is.  (3)  And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.”

Now I am going to read it from a “cleaned up” version of the Wuest translation,

1Jn 3:1-3, “Behold what exotic love the Father has permanently bestowed upon us, to the end that we may be named children of God. And we are. 

On this account the world does not have an experiential knowledge of us, because it has not come into an experiential knowledge of Him. 

Divinely loved ones, now we are born of God. And as of yet it has not been made visible what we will be. We know absolutely that whenever it is made visible, we will be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 

And everyone who has this hope continually set on Him is constantly purifying himself just as that One is pure.”

Then finally from the Weymouth translation,

1Jn 3:1-3, “See what marvellous love the Father has bestowed upon us–that we should be called God’s children: and that is what we are. 

For this reason the world does not recognize us–because it has not known Him.  

(2)  Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been fully revealed. We know that if Christ reappears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.  (3)  And every man who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself so as to be as pure as He is.”

The differences are subtle but Holman’s wording says “whoever has this hope in Him purifies themselves JUST AS HE IS PURE.”

Wuest says, “everyone who has this hope continually set on Him is constantly purifying himself just as that One is pure.”

Weymouth says,

everyone who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself so as to be as pure as He is.”

Taken together the idea is that the purity we all seek and all admitted to last week that we know we are lacking in some degree or another and would be the cause of shame if we were to stand before Him right now – has a cure! 

It isn’t a works program, it isn’t a daily phone call reminder from a “purity buddy”, it isn’t more study in the scriptures or church attendance – it is to have a heart that longs for His return that they may know Him completely – see Him as he really is. They look forward to it with great anticipation. 

In fact, it could be said that all of their longings and hopes find their ultimate fulfillment in finally seeing Him for Who He really is so that finally they may be 100% reconciled to Him by becoming completely like Him. 

It is presented to us as if to say that this FIXING of our attention and hope, will create in us a desire to be more like Him now. It is not something they are doing to get holy – it is something that naturally springs out of a heart of holiness that is stirred to eager anticipation at the thought of His sudden return.

Now, purity may sound like a word JUST dealing with sin and in some ways that is true. 

Pure =  To make clean

  • Consecrate
  • Live from conviction
  • Free from dirt (defilements, impurities – RELATIONALLY it is being chaste like a virgin.

This later one I like since it is relational and includes ideas we can identify with.

Purity before marriage requires 

  • Devotion
  • Love
  • Longing
  • a desire to give oneself to another without having been “used” by someone prior.
  • To belong to

All of this is consistent with the gospel and the language used when Jesus’ return is talked about.

I had a good feel that this is where the Lord was leading us right now, but it was very much confirmed this week.

When I work I often will catch up on the last message so I know better how to edit and finish the associated post for the church website. Following last week’s message my mp3 player automatically started playing a message from Alister Begg. I wasn’t planning on listening to him but thought – why not. Before I knew it I heard 3 messages in a row concerning Christ’s return and it even brought up the word I told you I read in Michael Card’s song Maranatha which I had not ever noticed was there. The word is Parousia and is just one of several words which often occur in the New Testament referring to the Lord’s return. 

I knew that His return was spoken of more than I had ever previously realized, but had wondered how many times. In one of those messages it told me that out of the 260 chapters that make up our New Testament the return of Christ is mentioned over 300 times. That is more than once every chapter!

Then to cap it off, when I arrived home and was putting the equipment away and preparing to mow my own yard I decided to listen to Chris Rice’s album “Past the Edges” and almost immediately heard these words, 

 


So in thinking about this morning it occurred to me that the entire story we’re told of our betrothal to Christ, His purchase of us, His going to prepare a place for us and His sudden return is all captured in the particulars of Jewish weddings and in the book of the Song of Solomon.

Now I believe the Song of Solomon presents a series of scenes, perhaps even from the real life of King Solomon, but it is not told in chronological order.

In fact, the story reads more like a theatrical play.

The setting is the Kings palace in Jerusalem and many of the scenes are nothing more than flashbacks to a previous time in their courtship and developing relationship. 

It kinda works like this – a chorus talks back and forth to the main characters of the play while support actresses known as “The daughters of Jerusalem” carry along the tempo of the story. 

It tells a story of a poor family of Ephraim.

Ephraim means doubly fruitful and was the second or last son of Joseph who was made first.

In this family there is a girl who very much plays a role akin to that of Cinderella. 

The poverty of her family forces her into the vineyards where she is happened upon by a man posing as a young shepherd. 

In the book, a brief telling of “the story of their love” is offered as an overview. 

Then the young shepherd leaves her with the promise that he will return. 

The story has him absent for quite a long time, so much so that she begins to despair that He may not return. 

One day, the electrifying word is shouted along the way that King Solomon is coming. She shows little interest since she her heart belongs to another. Later she is puzzled as she learns that the king desires to see her. When she is brought into his presence she recognizes him for who he is – her shepherd lover. 

He takes her to his palace in Jerusalem where most of the song takes place.

You see there are reasons why these sort of stories resonate with us – they are a bringing of our souls before a mirror – they tell us of something our hearts know by way of instinct, but that our experiences tell our mind not to trust in. It is a fairytale for starry-eyed children, but nothing practical to build your life upon…when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

With His return becoming more eminent at the passing of every day, is it any wonder at the world’s wisdom telling young girls that needing and desiring a prince charming is to live from a place of weakness and weakness is for fools. That young boys are being told that a girl does not want to be rescued, that their services are no longer needed or desired and that they should quit acting as if there is truly a difference between men and women.

I told you that the encouragement of looking forward to His return – to finally see Him for Who He is, was like a Jewish wedding and it is.

Hitting the major high points…

  • A young man desiring to marry would come and offer a betrothal covenant and the price his father would pay for his bride to be – which was typically a LARGE sum.
  • Included in this covenant would be a promise to provide for her.
  • If accepted the man would pay the price up front, the covenant would be signed and a cup of wine shared to seal their commitment to one another.
  • Then the young man would go away to prepare a place for her, but before he left she would undergo a water baptism symbolizing her purity and commitment to him alone. This represented separation from her old life to a new one with her husband to be and a placing of herself under his authority. She was now Kallah – meaning enclosed one (much like we are sealed by the Spirit for Christ’s return)
  • Upon leaving he was to stand under a canopy similar to the one under which they would be married and say words like this, “I have to go, I’m going to prepare the Chuppah (bridal’s chamber), a place for you at my father’s house.” 
  • The young man would leave for approximately a year at the end of which he would come get her, only the “set day” was not known.
  • The bride’s friends would often come to stay with her during this time to help her be ready for his return which created a fair amount of excitement and anticipation for his arrival. They would also help deswade doubts and fears – “Why hadn’t he come yet? Did he not desire her as much as she desires him? Maybe he has found his desire in someone else. Can he be trusted?” All of these feeling based doubts were encouraged away by the friends of the bride.
  • It was said that a Jewish bride had dove eyes. While dove are beautiful creatures this was more of a picture of purity than anything else. Dove have no peripheral vision and mate for life. So this was saying that she had eyes for noone else and her devotion was unable to be challenged.
  • He would return for her, often by night with loud shouts and blasts from a ram’s horn.

Song of Solomon 2:8-10 shows this part of the betrothal, “(8) Listen! My love is approaching. Look! Here he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.  (9)  My love is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, he is standing behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.  (10)  My love calls to me: Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one.”

Can you see the connections between the wedding and the promises of Jesus to the church?

I want to submit to you that the thing which “keeps” a Jewish bride are essentially three things.

  • Her love for Him
  • Her anticipation – she only knows him in part and longs to know him thoroughly
  • The encouragement of her friends

The friends of the bride who helped make her ready finds their ultimate fulfillment in the Holy Spirit left with us to prepare us to be ready for Him. In fact we are said to be “prepared for Him as a bride for her bridegroom” but can also take the form of the body of Christ. We are to encourage one another – but even that is by the Spirit.

Can you see why the book of Revelation says, “The Spirit and the bride say some” and “even so, Lord Jesus come quickly”. It is NOT out of a hatred for the world, or a desire to be rid of this life but a longing cry of the heart to see Him for Who he really is.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!