Tuesday, December 28, 2010
A genuine Christian life is one that is lived in the Spirit and by faith.
To become a Christian is one thing; it is just the beginning.
To live the Christian life is another; it is a daily and lifelong matter.
It appears that a great number of true believers find it very difficult to live the Christian life. They somewhat know what the life of a Christian should look like, but to them it seems unattainable. They try and fail and feel condemned.
Then there are those who think they are doing well at living the Christian life because they go to church, read their Bible, and do good works. Yet, deep inside they still feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled. They think there must be something more they should be doing. Work harder. Give more. But nothing inside changes. They lack the reality and joy that is at the core of the true Christian life.
What's the problem? Has God really made it that difficult and complicated to live the life He saved us to live? Is it unattainable? Must we do more and work harder? Why do so few seem to have both the daily inward reality and outward testimony of the life of a redeemed child of God? Why so little joy? Why so much frustration?
A brief answer would be that we have not learned to live a life in the Spirit and by faith; we have either been misled or choose to do it our way instead of God's.
The New Testament clearly reveals the way of living a normal and overcoming Christian life. I would just like to use one small portion as an example, i.e., Colossians 4:2-6.
In verse two, we are told to persevere in, give constant attention to, and continue earnestly and steadfastly in prayer. Romans 12:12 instructs us to do the same. According to I Thessalonians 5:17, we are to pray without ceasing. Jude verse 20 says that we should be praying in the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is a life of unceasing prayer in the Holy Spirit.
Then verse five tells us to walk in wisdom. The word here for walk in the Greek is peripateite, i.e., our daily walk, encompassing all the activities of our daily lives, how we conduct ourselves. According to Ephesians 5:15, we should be careful to walk wisely. And where do we find this wisdom? First Corinthians 1:24 reveals that Christ is the wisdom of God. Then 1:30 says that Christ Jesus has become wisdom to us from God. And Colossians 2:2-3 makes known that all the treasures of wisdom are hidden in Christ. Therefore, to walk in wisdom is to walk in Christ.
Lastly, according to verse six, we are to speak always with grace. Ephesians 4:29 says that we should let no corrupt word come out of our mouths, and that our speaking should give grace to those who hear. So what is grace? This is a great matter in the Bible. Basically, grace is what God is and what He has accomplished through Christ received and enjoyed by us in the Spirit. (For a further look at this topic, read the February 21st posting on grace.) To speak with grace and to give grace through our speaking is to speak according to God and to minister Christ to others through our speaking.
Notice the order of these three imperative statements: 1) Persevere in prayer, 2) Walk in wisdom, and 3) Speak with grace.
The source of a normal, healthy Christian life is a life of continual prayer in the Spirit, a life of unceasing fellowship with God through prayer.
Continual prayer/unceasing fellowship with God will produce a daily walk in wisdom, living and conducting ourselves in Christ.
A daily walk in Christ who is wisdom to us will result in speaking with grace according to Christ to dispense Him into others.
Persevering in unceasing prayer produces a daily walk in wisdom which results in a speaking which is full of grace. Our speaking should be the outflow of our daily life in Christ which comes from our continual fellowship with God.
If as believers in Christ, we are not pursuing to maintain a daily, moment by moment prayerful fellowship with the Lord, we will not be able to walk in Christ as our wisdom and our speaking will be something less than ministering Christ to others for the glory of God.
Persevere in prayer! Walk in wisdom! Speak with grace!
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Monday, October 18, 2010
God spoke in the beginning, continued to speak in many different ways in Old Testament times, and continues to speak today. The question is, have you heard His voice; do you hear God speak? God has so much that He wants to say to us (John 16:12-13), but do we have ears to hear?
God's word was there from the very beginning and one day, miraculously, supernaturally, became flesh and was manifested in the person and life of Jesus the Christ (John 1:1, 14, 18). Jesus is God with us (Matt. 1:23). He is God manifested in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16). If you have seen Him, you have seen God the Father (John 14:9). Today, God has spoken and continues to speak in and through Christ. According to John chapter ten, He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. And what about these sheep of His? They hear His voice and follow Him. Once again I would ask, have you heard His voice? Are you hearing His voice? Are you truly following Him?
There is an odd parallel between the life in the flesh and the life in the Spirit; in both cases, as you get older you may become hard of hearing. The writer of Hebrews warns us of this (Heb. 5:10-12). If our spiritual ears become hard of hearing, we will more likely not know the Lord and follow Him to the extent that we should.
So how is it that we have become or may become hard of hearing? The writer of Hebrews also addresses this matter: unbelief because of the hardness of heart because of the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:8-15). It is possible that we may even hear His word (in our spirit, through the Bible, from His Body, or out of our environmental circumstances or other people in our lives) but not believe because of the hardness of our heart. The hearing of His word must be received by a soft and open heart with absolute faith, believing that His word is faithful and true. Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your heart or you may miss God's blessing; you will come short of His promised rest, and live a live of something less than what God intends for you (Heb. 3:7 thru 4:11).
Seven times in Revelation chapters two and three Jesus says, "he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Brothers and sisters, do we really have ears to hear the Lord? Have we heard His voice? Are we hearing Him speak? Or have we become dull of hearing? Or maybe we just have selective hearing; we only hear what we want to hear and harden our hearts toward what we prefer not to hear. Should we not only be hearers of the word but also doers because we respond to His speaking with action based upon faith? He is our great Shepherd; we are His sheep. He knows us. We hear His voice. We follow Him.
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Respond with faith and follow Him! Glory be to God.
Friday, October 8, 2010
This is our struggle; this is our fight. Will we live according to the Spirit or according to the flesh? This will be determined by the position and condition of our mind. To live a Spirit-filled overcoming life, our minds need to be continually set on the spirit and daily renewed by the Spirit (Rom. 8:6; 12:2; Eph. 4:23). This is both a daily moment by moment exercise and a lifelong ongoing process. If we do not intentionally set our mind on the spirit, it will automatically gravitate to the flesh. The more we set our mind on the spirit, the more our minds will be renewed and function according to Christ.
Although we are eternally one with the Lord, we can still be alienated from Him and a hindrance to Him if we continue to operate out of an unrenewed mind set on the flesh. We have the mind of Christ because He lives in our spirit (I Cor. 2:16). But if we allow our mind to be set on the flesh and on the things of earth and man instead of the spirit, we will not have the mind of Christ in our daily practical application and experience (Matt. 16:23; Col. 3:1-2). Just because you have something doesn't guarantee you will use it.
The more we set our mind on the spirit, the more it will be renewed. As such, we will practically think and live according to the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a sober mind; it is a mind that is consciously and continually aware of the need to deny itself and live according to the leading and will of God (John 8:28-29). The mind of Christ is a humble mind; it is not one that puts himself above others; it does not think more highly of himself above others; it is a mind of sacrifice for serving others (Phil. 2:3-8). God gives grace to those with lowly minds (I Pet. 5:5). This grace empowers believers to live Spirit-filled overcoming lives (I Cor. 15:10). An overcoming life is a life lived according to the mind of Christ.
The mind of Christ should also be the "one mind" in the Body of Christ (I Cor. 1:10; Phil. 2:2). The greatest frustration to the building up of the church for the past two millennial has been that there are too many minds. As the mind is the origin of most of our words and actions, so an unrenewed mind, which is according to the flesh, is a great hindrance to the building up of Christ's church. How many dear saints over the years have acted and reacted, spoken and gossiped, functioned and operated, led and followed, worked and served, taught and preached, fought and submitted etc. according to the flesh with an unrenewed mind? And how much damage, division, and disgrace has the church suffered as a result, and often with good intentions.
The mind of Christ is the only mind that should have preeminence in the church. Therefore, only those who live and work according to this mind, that is, according to the Spirit, bring true blessing and genuine building up to the Body of Christ. It is only in this way that there can be an adequate, practical, and genuine expression of the church. So, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
1. Can a person be saved/born again/regenerated in their spirit by the Spirit of God, and have eternal life if they have not been baptized in water? Yes! The Bible is clear that justification and salvation are by grace and through faith (Rom. 3:22-28; 4:3-5; Gal. 3:1-14; Eph. 2:5-9). We are not saved by being baptized in water, but by having genuine faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. A biblical example of this is one of the criminals that was crucified alongside Jesus (Luke 23:39-43). And surely there are countless others who have had saving faith in Christ in the last moments of their lives on earth. It would be foolishness to believe that if they truly repented and believed in Christ but were not baptized in water, God would not forgive them of their sins and receive them into His kingdom. Mark 16:16 is also a confirmation of this matter; only he who does not "believe" shall be condemned. And then there is Romans 10:9-13; it is believing in our heart and confessing with our mouth that results in salvation with no mention of water baptism. So, let me repeat, we are saved neither by repentance nor by water baptism, but by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
2. If this is so, is it still important to be baptized? And if so, why? Yes! Firstly, because the Bible tells us so. We have both the clear teaching and the many examples of water baptism in the New Testament including the Lord Jesus Himself. Baptism is actually a response to, an act of, and an outward manifestation of our inward faith in Jesus Christ. Luke 7:30 tells us that refusing to be baptized is to reject the very counsel of God. If a professed believer refuses to be baptized according to the word of God, his saving faith in Christ would be very much in question. In a sense, water baptism is actually a confession of our faith, a confirmation of what we truly believe in our heart. It could also be considered our first act of obedience in our new life with Christ. Yet, if one is baptized without a genuine heart-faith in Jesus, it is in vain and plays no part in true salvation.
3. So why is there so much confusion over this matter of baptism? I believe the reason is twofold. Firstly, because of the non-biblical man-invented tradition of baptizing babies. There is no such teaching nor any examples in the Bible of someone being baptized before they have faith in Christ. Yet, this practice has been adopted and accepted into a large segment of Christianity. It is not according to the truth and is contrary to the most basic teaching of salvation in Scripture, i.e., "Believe and be baptized and you shall be saved!" (Mark 16:16). It is a crafty deceptive teaching from the Devil which gives people a false conception of salvation and cheats them into believing that this religious ritual has some impact on the eternal destiny of the child. Many then go on to believe they are okay with God because they were baptized as a baby even though they have not truly repented and believed in the gospel. It is a dangerous lie.
Secondly, and more related to genuine believers, in the New Testament, believing and being baptized was something that happened almost simultaneously. Remember the words "why delay" and "immediately"? Baptism was an immediate response of obedience in faith. It had spiritual significance and reality because of their faith. The water was a symbol of entering into Christ, into His death, and into the Body of Christ. It was their faith that substantiated the fact of this truth and immersed them into the triune God. It was not the water itself that saved them, but their faith in Christ that brought them into an organic union with Him. Unfortunately, this pure experience and obedience of baptism in faith has lost its meaning and impact with many believers today. It seems that rarely is a person baptized at the time they believe. Why? It may be that the one leading them to Christ does not have the biblical understanding of baptism and/or has been influenced by the traditions that have developed around baptism, i.e., there must be a certain kind of person or place or water etc. to do a baptism, or we must gather a group of people together and make it a kind of ceremony, or they must go through some kind of classes to get more educated first. Then there is the waiting for the once or twice or however many times a year a certain congregation is having a baptism service. Baptism is put off and eventually even ignored for many different reasons and therefore can lose the significance and impact it is intended to have.
So, what shall we do? Well, as with many other matters of truth that have been lost or distorted from the Bible, we must come back to the clear and pure teaching of the truth and be willing to drop all the wrong doctrines and practices we may have picked up along the way. This in itself is an act of obedience to God. If you have genuine saving faith in Christ and have not yet been baptized in water, do so in faith as a confirmation and declaration of your faith in obedience to God's word. If you are with someone who has just repented and expressed genuine faith in Christ, find the nearest immersible water and baptize them. We do not need to argue and debate this matter with those who stubbornly hold on to their religious traditions. But we can come back to the proper understanding and practice of baptism for ourselves and those committed to us by God.
I do not claim to have answered all the questions we may have regarding baptism. But I do hope that having looked more closely at God's word and exposed some of the non-biblical teachings and practices, we could draw closer to a healthy understanding and application of this God-ordained and meaningful part of the Christian experience. Glory be to Him!
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Monday, July 12, 2010
That being said, we can now go on to take a further and deeper look at how baptism relates to this matter.
Note: In this lesson, I intend to focus mainly on the significance of being baptized in water at the time one first believes (according to the examples in the Bible). I have decided to cover "being baptized in the Holy Spirit" once we have finished with this aspect of baptism.
In "Baptism - Part One", the examples given in the four Gospels and the Book of Acts should have clearly answered many questions concerning water baptism. Now we must begin to address the more difficult and serious questions, such as, Why is water baptism so important if we are saved by grace through faith? Can a person be saved if they have not been baptized in water? And if so, why then is there the need to be baptized? Let's begin by seeing what else the Bible says about baptism from the letters of the apostles Paul and Peter.
According to Romans 6:3-4, those who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death. In fact,through baptism they have been buried together with Him. This surely indicates that baptism is a deep and spiritual matter.
In First Corinthians 1:13-17, Paul writes of some who were baptized (obviously in water) by him in Corinth. Yet, his emphasis and concern was not for the act of baptism, but for the name in which they had been baptized, that is, Christ, and no other. He also made it clear that he was not sent to baptize, but to announce the good news of Jesus Christ.
First Corinthians 12:13 tells us that it was in one Spirit that we were all baptized into one body (the body of Christ). This Spirit is the Spirit of truth apart from which there is no reality in the matter of baptism. Biblical baptism is not a religious ritual; it is a spiritual reality.
Knowing Galatians 3:26-27 is also essential for a proper understanding of baptism. It is through faith in Christ that we become sons of God; it is into Christ that we are baptized.
According to Ephesians 4:5, there is just one faith and one baptism. This corresponds to the previous verses from Galatians. The one faith is in Christ; the one baptism is into Christ. Our faith and our baptism are not in or into any other person, ministry, or Christian sect, but in and into Christ alone.
Note: In Hebrews 6:2, the word "baptisms" comes from the Greek word baptismos not baptisma. Although baptismos is a closely related word, it refers to ceremonial washings and not the unique baptism of believers into Christ. It is also used in Mark 7:4, 8 and Hebrews 9:10.
As in Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12 also shows us that we were buried together with Christ in baptism. It goes on to say that "we were raised together with Him through the faith of the operation of God.
First Corinthians 10:2 and First Peter 3:20-21 present two examples of water baptism foreshadowed in the Old Testament. One is that of Moses and the children of Israel passing through the Red Sea, and the other, of Noah and his family surviving the flood of God's judgment. The Israelites, having by faith and obedience followed God's instruction regarding the Passover, were led out of Egypt, passed through the Red Sea, and continued on their journey back to the land promised them by God (Exo. 12-14). Noah, by faith and obedience to God's word did all that God commanded him in building the ark to prepare for the coming flood of His judgment (Gen. 6:22) after which he and his family would have an entirely new beginning.
Chapter 11 of Hebrews, the rightly called "faith chapter", speaks both of Noah and the building of his ark (v. 7) and Moses who led the children of Israel out of Egypt (vv. 27-29). In both cases, it was faith and obedience to God's word that enabled them to experience a kind of salvation.
In order to receive and experience the salvation God intends for us all, we also must have faith in and obedience to God's word.
Partly because of what seems to be an acceptable length for a blog, it appears that I must continue this topic with a Part Three in the next lesson.
Some matters that still need addressed:
1) So, can someone be saved if they have not been baptized in water?
2) What about the thief on the cross?
3) What about death bed experiences?
4) What about the second half of Mark 16:16?
5) What about portions of the Bible like Romans 10:9-10 that talk about how to be saved with no mention of baptism?
6) My thoughts of why there is confusion about baptism among believers today.
To be continued.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Greek - baptisma, baptism, consisting of the process of immersion, submersion, and emergence, (from bapto, to dip).
Monday, June 28, 2010
Greek - metanoeo, lit. to perceive afterwards (meta, after, implying change, noeo, to perceive; from nous, the mind)
Repentance is basically turning from something to something for something. To repent is to have a change of mind, a change in your thinking. Hence, our thinking mind needs to be changed and turned from something, to something, and for something.
Repent from sins:
God's word is clear. All have sinned (Rom. 3:23). At its source, sin is any rejection of God and disobedience to His righteousness (Rom. 5:12-19). In fact, Romans 14:23 says "for all that is not out of faith is sin." Therefore, to repent from sin is not only to turn from any outward acts of obvious evil, but to have a change of mind regarding any rejection of God and disobedience to His word. God looks not only at the acts of sin, but knows the wickedness of the intentions of man's heart (Acts 8:21-22). Idolatry is sin. An idol is anything or anyone that takes His place of love in our hearts and trust in our lives. To repent is to turn away from or have a change of mind regarding anyone or anything that replaces our love for God and our trust in Him.
Repent and turn to God:
There are a slew of things from which to repent. But there is only one to whom we are to turn - God! Repentance is not to some philosophy, religion, code of ethics, moral behavior, or any human system. True biblical repentance is uniquely for turning to the living God (Acts 14:15; 26:20) through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
Repent for the forgiveness of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the kingdom of God:
As there are a slew of things from which to repent, there are also an abundance of spiritual blessings that are gained by true repentance. So as not to go beyond the length of an acceptable size blog, I will only cover three specifically mentioned in the Bible: 1) The forgiveness of sins. John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4). Jesus showed from Scripture that repentance for the forgiveness of sins was to be proclaimed in His name (Luke 24:47). His coming was to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). Sin keeps us from the blessing and enjoyment of fellowship with God and living in His presence. Jesus Christ the Lamb of God has been crucified for the taking away of our sins (John 1:29). Therefore, turning away from sin to God through faith in Jesus Christ is for the forgiveness of sins and returning to the presence of God (Acts 3:19-20). 2) Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness of sins opens the door and makes the way for the life of God, the Holy Spirit, to be received and continually enjoyed (Acts 2:38, 11:18). An unrepentant mind because of the hardness of the heart prevents both the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the enjoyment of God's life in us (Eph. 4:17-18). 3) The Kingdom of God. Forgiveness of sins opens the way to receive the Spirit of God. Receiving the Holy Spirit is actually to be born of God and to therefore enter into His kingdom (John 3:3-7). Both John the baptizer and Jesus the Lord began their ministry by proclaiming "repentance for the kingdom" (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). The coming of Jesus was the coming of God's kingdom and His sacrificial death initiated for us a new and living way to enter His kingdom and live in His presence (Heb. 10:19-20). Glory be to God!
Through repentance we can be forgiven of our sins, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and enter into and live in the reality of the kingdom of God today! Hallelujah!
What else does the Bible say about repentance?
- Repentance is foundational in the Christian life (Heb. 6:1).
- God's kindness leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4).
- Sorrow according to God can produce repentance (II Cor. 7:9-11).
- God is long-suffering as He intends that all would repent (II Pet. 3:9).
- There are oodles of promises and blessings to those who repent (The New Testament).
May we all be as those in the church in Thessalonica who "turned to God from idols for serving the living and true God" (I Thes. 1:9).
God now charges all men everywhere to repent!
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Whenever a church is mentioned in relation to a city, it is always "the church", including all the genuine believers in that city. Revelation chapters two and three are good examples. The only time the plural "churches" is used is in reference to a region such as "the churches of Galatia" (Gal. 1:2), a region with many cities. There are two aspects of the church which is the Body of Christ. One is that which includes every genuine believer in Christ since His death and resurrection; they are all part of the bride of Christ which has been making herself ready for His coming (Rev. 19:7). The other is the practical, visible expression of the Body in cities all over the world. "The church" in each city should include all those redeemed by the blood and born of the Spirit. There is one church in each city, not many churches. When Paul wrote to "the church in Corinth" he exhorted them that there should be NO divisions among them (I Cor. 1:10). No doubt that when there are thousands of saints in the church in a particular city, they will meet in many small groups just as in the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46). Jerusalem was actually the first example of the one church in a city. By chapter 8 of Acts, there would have been thousands of believers there. Yet, it was still referred to as "the church which was in Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1), not "the churches" in Jerusalem. We are told by the Lord Jesus to "love one another even as He loved us" (John 13:34-35). Our attitude toward all believers should be that of love regardless of where or how they meet. At the same time, the Bible warns us and takes a strong stand against those who make divisions (Rom. 16:17-18; Gal. 5:20; Jude 17-19). The word of God says that there should be NO divisions among the saints. I say Amen! I believe there is a big difference between those who just like to criticize and condemn those who do things differently then themselves and those who recognize God's design and arrangement for HIS church and aspire to work, labor, and build accordingly. In the Old Testament when the instructions were given to first Moses for building the tabernacle and then David for building the temple, they were to build exactly and to the smallest detail according to God's instruction (Exo. 25:8-9, 40; 26:30; 27:8; 40:33-35; I Chron. 28:9-13, 19; II Chron. 5:1, 13-14; Acts 7:44). It was then and only then that the house of God was filled with the glory of God. There is also the New Testament warning concerning the material with which we build God's spiritual house today (I Cor. 3:11-17). All of this should be enough evidence that it is not a light thing to involve ourselves with the building up of God's house and that we should be willing to accept God's ways over mans. There is one church in its spiritual nature that has been in existence since it was born on the cross and through Christ's resurrection. There should also be one expression of that church in each city. It is the oneness of the believers that will cause the world to know that the Son of God has been sent by the Father (John 17:21-23). There is only one Body and one Spirit which is the life of the Body (Eph. 4:4). The oneness of the Body is the oneness of the Spirit of which we are to be diligent to keep in all lowliness and meekness with long-suffering, bearing one another in love (Eph. 4:2-3). So yes, amen! Let's not "mock, discredit, or bash" other dear and genuine believers in Christ. But at the same time, may we not compromise the word of God because of the traditions of men (Matt. 15:2-3, 6) and for our own comfort and convenience. The tone of the Lord's speaking in Revelation 2 and 3 was not that of "all is good". Rather, there is a burden in the heart of God to have HIS church that HE died for match HIM and make herself ready for HIM. May we all pursue toward the goal for the prize of this high-calling. May we not cheat ourselves or our Lord Jesus Christ with anything less than the church of which He loves, for which He died, and of which He is waiting for her to make herself ready for His coming. Come Lord Jesus! Amen.
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Monday, May 31, 2010
This act of disobedience was sin. The result, the wages of sin, was death (Rom. 6:23). Their sin and its consequences have been passed on to the entire human race (Rom. 5:12). Before salvation, we were all dead in our offenses and sins (Eph. 2:1-5). The good news is that on the cross Jesus nullified death and brought life to all who would believe and receive the free gift of eternal life (II Tim. 1:10).
Just as in the garden, where the determining factor was related to eating, so also has been the case for all the generations that followed. Eventually Jesus came as the bread of life from heaven (John 6:32-35). Bread must be eaten, not studied, for it to nourish, strengthen, and satisfy. The knowledge of the bread alone will do none of these.
Jesus must also be eaten. He told His disciples that those who eat Him shall live because of Him and live forever (John 6:51, 57). It was not His physical body that must be eaten, but His words which are spirit and give life (John 6:63). The Spirit, which is the resurrected Christ (I Cor. 15:45) can now be taken in as food for nourishment, strength, and satisfaction. He is the Word of God (John 1:1, 14). He is the bread, the food, of life. We cannot have true and everlasting life from physical food alone. No, this life can only be imparted to us by the words that come from God (Matt. 4:4). Christ Himself as the Spirit is the Word from God given as food for us. We can now eat of this heavenly, spiritual food by coming to Him and believing and trusting in Him not only at the beginning of our Christian life, but day by day and moment by moment the rest of our lives and through eternity.
But there is a problem. Just as the Serpent worked on the mind of Eve to deceive her and cause her to eat of the wrong tree which brought in spiritual death, he now works on the minds of the saints (II Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-17) to bring them into death and frustrate their enjoyment of eating Christ, their food of life.
I believe a big part of the deception is to confuse the nature of the two trees. Rather than the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it becomes the tree of good verses the tree of evil, both of which come from the same tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A good illustration of this in the Bible is when Peter, according to his human love and sympathy, of which to most would seem very "good", strongly exhorted Jesus not to go to the cross to die. The Lord's response was both shocking and revealing. He called Peter Satan and told him that he was not setting his mind on the things of God but on the things of man (Matt. 16:21-23). He was eating from the wrong tree. If Jesus would have agreed with Peter's advice, we would all remain dead in our sins forever.
As believers in Christ, we should not live and walk according to our knowledge of good and evil, but according to life, the life of God within us. Our minds need to be renewed (Eph. 4:17-23). This renewing will transform us to have the mind of Christ (Rom. 12:2). If we are to truly live a life that is pleasing to God, we must learn to live and walk and be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18, 25). If not, we will be operating from the wrong source, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Jesus modeled this living for us. One example that illustrates this truth is the way Jesus responded to the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-45). Contrary to what seemed to be good and right, Jesus, knowing the sickness of Lazarus, delayed until he died. If He was living in the realm of the knowledge of good and evil and according to the thoughts of man, He would have rushed to the scene to rescue Lazarus from death. But Jesus lived and walked according to the life and leading of His Father. He operated from a different source then those who saw the situation as needing immediate response. Jesus was not a man-pleaser, but only did what was pleasing to His Father (John 8:28-29). The result was glory to God and a wonderful testimony of His life-giving, resurrection power!
We are exhorted in the New Testament to set our minds on the things which are above (Col. 3:1-4). The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:6). We are no longer to walk in the vanity of our unrenewed natural minds as we did before we were saved (Eph. 4:17-18). As believers in Christ, we are to be partakers of the divine life and nature (II Pet. 1:4). Only then will we be able to both enjoy and express the fruits of this life, such as, love, joy, peace, rest, hope, the ability to be long-suffering with rejoicing, kindness, meekness, and may others. But, if with our unrenewed minds we focus on the things of the flesh, we will experience spiritual death with its byproducts: anxiety, depression, hopelessness, fear, restlessness, jealousy, dissatisfaction etc.
Therefore, may we all learn to come back to the tree of life and live and walk according to the life of God in us instead of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the death tree. May the Devil, the ancient Serpent, not longer deceive the children of God to be under the influence and control of thoughts that are not according to God and contrary to the word of God. To him who overcomes, to him will be given to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God (Rev. 2:7).
So remember, eat Jesus the bread of life, feed on the life-giving word of God, and live and walk by His Spirit. Then you will daily defeat the enemy and have life and peace and live forever! Glory be to God!
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Monday, May 3, 2010
Also, if any of you have topics that you would like presented, mention them in the comment box at the end of each blog. I will then consider including them according to the Lord's leading.
Are you saved? If so, what does that mean? How did it happen? What are you saved from? Can you lose your salvation? These are great and serious questions that everyone, non-Christians and Christians alike, most definitely should ask themselves.
The scope of this topic requires a book, not just a blog. Hebrews 2:3 rightly calls it "so great a salvation" and says that it is something that should not be neglected. This week I will briefly cover the initial aspect of salvation, the beginning of salvation, and leave matters such as "working out your own salvation" (Phil. 2:12), being "saved to the uttermost" (Heb. 7:25), and "receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (I Pet. 1:9) for another time.
Everyone needs salvation!
Salvation is not just for certain people; it is for the entire human race. Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Sin has its source in disobedience to God and results in seperation from Him. Since all have sinned, salvation is essential for anyone and everyone to have a restored relationship with God.
The Bible not only says that we all have sinned, but that we were also once dead in our offenses and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5). Sin leads to death (Rom. 5:12, 6:23). Salvation not only saves us from sin, but also from the condition of spiritual death. Throught salvation, one passes out of death into life (I John 3:14) having received God's gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23)
Because of the disobedience that resulted in sin and death, apart from salvation, the entire human race has come under God's condemnation (Rom. 5:16, 18). Salvation is God's way of delivering people from condemnation to justification (Mark 16:16; John 3:16-18).
The unfortunate destiny of those who reject God's salvation, is eternity in the Lake of Fire (Matt. 13:49-50; 25:41, 46; Rev. 20:10, 15; 21:8). This is not God's desire, but the consequences of man's choice to reject God and His free gift of salvation.
God desires salvation for everyone!
God desires that everyone would be saved (I Tim. 2:4). Christ died as a ransom for all (I Tim. 2:6). And so, the grace of God is here bringing salvation to all men (Titus 2:11). In fact, the Bible tells us that God does not intend that any would perish, but that all would advance to repentence (II Pet. 3:9). Salvation is God's desire and intention for all.
Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone!
Salvation is only possible because of the redemption accomplished by Christ on the cross (I Tim. 2:6; John 3:16-18). He is the unique source of salvation (Heb. 2:10; 5:9). There is salvation in no other; in His name alone must all men be saved (Acts 4:12).
Salvation is by grace through faith!
As there is only one source of salvation - the Lord Jesus Christ, there is only one way of salvation - faith (Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31). Salvation cannot be attained by the good intentions and efforts of man. Salvation is God's free gift given by the grace of God to all those who truely believe (Eph. 2:8).
1. All have sinned, were dead, condemned, and destined for the Lake of Fire.
2. God really wants everyone to be saved.
3. The work of Christ on the cross accomplished God's unique way of salvation.
4. Through faith in Christ, by the grace of God, the free gift of salvation can be yours.
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Sunday, February 28, 2010
Before I tell you what He spoke and revealed to me that evening, I need to give you a little history.
The religion of my youth was basically a weekly visit to a large, ornately gilded and hush quiet cathedral to go through a ritualistic routine of which was neither enlightening nor inspiring. Upon arriving, just inside the entrance was a small bowl of “holy water” that had been “blessed” by one of the “priests” of which we were to dip a finger and then with it, touch our forehead, belly, and then the left and right breast. This was called making the sign of the cross. It was just one of those things that you did without much thought and which did nothing for you. Religious tradition. Vain ritualistic repetition.
As time went on, I saw the ridiculousness of all of that, and eventually, having read through the entire Bible, discovered that there was no such thing as holy water. Then, just a few days ago, in the middle of the night God showed me otherwise.
His speaking began with a verse from the Bible, First Corinthians 12:13. Actually, it was just the last phrase which says, “All were given to drink of one Spirit.” After that, it seemed like the heavens were opened, like the flood gates were released, and I was being caught up with and submerged in an outpouring of the truth concerning holy water.
“We were all given to drink one Spirit.” Jesus told a women that “whoever drinks of the water that He will give shall by no means thirst forever” (John 4:14). What kind of water was this? He called it living water and told her that all she had to do was ask for it (John 4:10). Then later on in chapter seven, Jesus, on the last day of a great feast stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink,” and that “whoever believes in Him would have rivers of living water flowing out of his innermost being.” Wow! Then He explained, “This He said concerning the Spirit” (John 7:37-39).
The Spirit! The living water is the Spirit! This Spirit has been given for drinking! And what kind of Spirit is this? The Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the living water. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the HOLY WATER!
The Lord’s speaking did not stop there. He had something more He wanted to show me.
In Revelation chapter 21 verses 2, 9, and 10, John is shown the bride of Christ. According to the symbolic nature of this book, His bride is seen as a holy city. Back in chapter 19 verse 7, the bride had made herself ready for her marriage with Christ, the Lamb of God. How did she make herself ready? How did she become this holy bride? The answer is found in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 26 and 27.
The church is the bride of Christ of whom He loves and for whom He died that He might sanctify her; make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word. He plans to present her to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish. How is she made holy? She is made holy by the Holy Spirit, by the living water in the word, by drinking the holy water.
The Lord’s speaking that night ended with this phrase from First Peter 1:2: “the sanctification of the Spirit.” Sanctification is of the Spirit! It is only the Holy Spirit that can make us holy. We have all been given to drink of this one Holy Spirit, this Holy Water. According to the book of John, all we have to do is come to Jesus believing in Him and ask for this holy living water. The more we come, the more we believe, the more we ask, the more we will find ourselves enjoying and being refreshed by this wonderful LIVING HOLY SPIRIT WATER and becoming holy as He is holy to one day be presented to Him as His holy bride.
I wanted to jump out of bed and share this with everyone. So, this is my attempt to do so. I hope you will be both enlightened and inspired to become a regular drinker of this true, genuine, living, holy water.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010
Note: "Grace" in the Bible is very crucial and sometimes misunderstood. A survey of this topic in the New Testament will reveal its different aspects, such as something of God toward us at the beginning of our salvation, and something of God working in us during the ongoing process of salvation. In this lesson, I will only deal with the first aspect.
charis, has various uses, (a) objective, that which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard, (b) subjective, 1. on the part of the bestower, the friendly disposition from which the kindly acts proceed, graciousness, loving-kindness, goodwill generally, 2. on the part of the receiver, a sense of favor bestowed, a feeling of gratitude, (c) in another objective sense, the effect of grace, the spiritual state of those who have experienced its exercise.