Monday, September 14, 2020

Heaven is Open

Many believers are afraid of God because they perceive Him as being austere, waiting for someone to step out of line so that He can bring punishment through various means such as sickness, disease or all manner of struggles. However, the Bible reveals God in an entirely different light, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth." (Exodus 34:6) We sometimes forget that the most potent characteristic of God is love. This is revealed in numerous scriptures, for instance, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) and "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Another characteristic of God is one of a judge, but not in a negative sense, but as a righteous judge (John 7:24, 8:16) Job reveals another interesting concept concerning God's Character, "As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, in judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress." (Job 37:23) Notice that God is excellent in Judgment. Isaiah reveals a very important key when it comes to addressing God with the problems that the believer may face, "Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted." (Isaiah 43:26)

This is reflective of one trying a case in a court of law. Here God is asking His people to present their case before Him (the Judge) to see if they can be acquitted. To put Him in remembrance is to remind Him of His promises, not that He has forgotten them, but because His Word is truth (John 17:17) and it is the only thing that is worthy to bring before Him that gets a response, "I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name." (Psalm 138:2) "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89)

This very principle is what believers must do to have God move on their behalf. When we have any problem that arises we find scripture that addresses the problem and through faith, present our case before the Lord. For instance, if you have a health issue and are in need of healing you can say to the Father something like this, "Father according to your Word, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:11) or "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

This puts the Father in the place where He has obligated Himself to answer our request, "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:23-24) However, we must remember to ask in faith, believing that we have received the answer even though there may not be any tangible evidence. (Mark 11:23-24). James states it this way, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8) We must remember when approaching the Father, "Without faith it is impossible to please God..." (Hebrews 11:6)

John records, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) So, if you are dealing with a problem, circumstance or situation whether large or small and need the Father's divine intervention, state your case before Him in Jesus' name and believe that you have received the petition that you have asked of Him.  

Monday, September 7, 2020

Laboring Until Christ Is Formed In You

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. From a life perspective, Labor Day for most means, summer vacation is over, students return to school, college and universities to begin a new year of learning, which labels Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer. 

In a similar way, believers are called also too celebrate Labor Day but for more than one day a year. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) Who they were is not mentioned. However, it is evident that the church was not left without appointed persons to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We know that there were elders ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philemon 1:1), and here, "who are over you in the Lord" would lead us to believe that similar leaders would have been appointed in every newly organized church. 

In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase "recognize those who labor among you" is "know them which labor among you." This gives the idea of not only church leaders, but also those who labor as coordinators or head over ministries, those active in ministry, as well as elders, bishops and deacons. The word “know” carries with it the idea that the believers in the local church were not to make themselves strangers toward those who labor in ministry or to be ignorant of their needs. They should also seek to be personally acquainted with them and trust them concerning their own personal life as well as spiritual matters. 

"And admonish you" means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of church leaders to put the people in whom they serve and lead in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray. As those who labor perform these duties, believers are to respond by "esteeming them very highly in love." Church leaders who are faithful in their office and function, can expect high regard from the believers they lead and serve, not because they deserve it, per se, but because of their unwavering labors. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy something similar, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Timothy 5:17) 

Paul tells, of these laborers, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Here is a striking illustration of what church leaders are to do concerning the people they lead and serve. Church leaders are to labor over the people until Christ reigns wholly in their hearts. Church leaders who are truly called into the ministry will labor over the people they lead and serve not as a labor of struggle or because it is their "job," but as a labor of love. Paul tells us, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) The phrase "who are strong" means the strong “in faith” not limited to, but most likely church leaders who should not be novices, but be mature, that is, strong in faith. They ought to bear; to lift up; to bear away; to remove; to bear with; to endure patiently, the weaknesses of the weaker believers. Church leaders should be willing to deny themselves for the sake of promoting the happiness of others. 

So, this Labor Day let us be mindful, that as Christians, especially those called into the ministry, we are not to observe a day free of labor, but we are called to labor with one another in love, until Christ is formed in you. Happy Labor Days...    

Monday, August 31, 2020

Working Out

Before an athlete(s) enters into competition they first spend a fair amount of time in what is called training camp. Training camp refers to the time before actual competition begins. During this time, athlete's work on their skills through various drills to increase endurance and performance. Also during this time and athlete(s) will have a coach(es) assisting them in perfecting their skill by close observance, repeated evaluation and making all the required adjustments to bring the athlete into peak performance.

The Christian life is very much the same. The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul reveals, as it were, the training camp scenario for the Body of Christ... "And He Himself (Jesus) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Notices the various areas the church coaches (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) are training and evaluating the athletes (believers). The believer is being equipped for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ministry, faith and the knowledge of Jesus is an on going process. If believers continuously work on perfecting these skills they will see fruit in their lives. Sometimes believers can grow weary as they work out their salvation because they do not see immediately results or they may fall prey to the lies of the devil which ushers in discouragement. Paul tells us, "Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9) So don't get discouraged, remember we are all in training and as we train our skills (knowledge of Christ, gifts, calling, faith, grace, etc.) will grow and have a tremendous impact in the world around us.(the world is counting on us for the sake of winning souls to Christ)

Next, we see the reason for the believers conditioning, "that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Now notice the great results that believers share as the coaches through the Holy Spirit assists and perfect their skills, "causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." PTL This is our destiny. This is our inheritance. This is what training camp will do for every believe.

However, training camp for the believer is not any different than for athletes. It takes willingness, commitment, daily practice and a desire to please the Head Coach, Jesus. Paul told Timothy, "...If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." (2 Timothy 2:5) The rules have been developed by the Father through Jesus and given to His disciples (See the Gospels) who in turn gave to to other disciples and had unprecedented success for nearly three centuries. (See The Acts of the Apostles along with early church history). So let us remember, "...we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1-2) Looking to whom? That's right, JESUS!!!   

Monday, August 24, 2020

Giant Slayer For God

As Israel approached the land of Canaan Numbers records, "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them. So Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel." (Number 13:1-2) The spies return and give an exciting report, "Now they came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit." (Numbers 13:26-27)

What a report. The land that God was giving Israel was not barren waste land, but a vibrant, fruitful land flowing with with milk, honey. In other words, the land was fertile, able to produce all manner of vegetation as well as sustain their flocks. This was evidence of what the Lord had spoken to Moses when He had called Moses to go to Egypt to deliver Israel from Pharaoh. (Exodus 3:8) However, the physical confirmation of the Word of the Lord was not enough for ten of the spies, "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan." (Numbers 13:28-29) and "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Number 13:33) The results were, all of Israel believed the word of the spies rather than the Word of God.

This same scenario tends to repeat itself in many sectors of the church today. Many of God's children see life circumstances as giants rather than ants. They believe the report of their senses rather than believing what God has said. God spoke to Isaiah and said, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10) What a wonderful promise, but do you believe it? You see, we would have much to fear if God did not say, "I am with you." Distress would overtake us if God did not say, "for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." But again, do you believe this? Is this passage revelation that resonates in your heart or is it only knowledge that you reason in your head?

When life circumstances seen like giants is your response similar to Israel's, "So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron... (Numbers 14:1-2) or is it like Joshua and Caleb, "Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us,'a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them." (Numbers 14:6-9) This report sounds like the Word of the Lord to Isaiah, "Do not Fear, the Lord is with us." (Isaiah 46:10)

Jesus tells us how to deal with every giant that comes against the believer that stands in the believers way opposing him/her, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." (Mark 11:22-23) First, we are to exercise God like faith. If you say that it is impossible for a mere person to have the God kind of faith, then you have just sided against the Word of God and your results will most likely be the same as Israel's when they sided with the ten spies rather than the Word of God, they got what they asked for. (Numbers 14:2-3, 26-30) Next, Jesus tells us that if we can believe the Word of God, and not doubt that is, believe the reasoning of man or the lies of Satan, then we would be able to move the mountain (giant) that we are facing.

This is not something that we try, but something the we live. Faith is of the spirit and not of the mind. What Jesus is telling us cannot be comprehended with the mind, although our recreated spirit can fill our mind with revelation from God's Word. So, if you are facing a situation or circumstance that seems like a giant, speak to it in the name of Jesus without doubting and the results are, he will have whatever he says. PTL... 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Upside Down Again

Acts chapter seven records the first murder of a Christian, his name was Stephen. We also are introduced to a man named Saul who was not only present at Stephen's execution but was also consenting to his death. In Acts chapter nine we find this same man, Saul, "still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1-2) but something happened, "As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:3-4)

Next, we see Saul ask a very important question, "Who are you Lord?" (Acts 9:5) Saul recognized that there was something taking place that was beyond everything he knew. His response was not "Who are You," but he address the One talking to him as Lord. On the surface this may not strike you as something all that important but to Saul it was the beginning of an experience that would radically change his life as well as have an impact on the entire world. In Acts chapter thirteen we see that Saul becomes know as Paul and he and Barnabas are sent from the church at Antioch to the world to preach Christ. In the Epistle of Paul the apostle to the Philippians, he shares who he was prior to meeting Christ, "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (Philippians 3:3-6)

In the eye of academia today, Paul would be perceived to be a brilliant man who knows the Word of God. However, look at what Paul himself says about his incredible wealth of biblical knowledge, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" (Philippians 3:7-9)

Notice that Paul considers all the former knowledge that he had gained as useless as rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ. His utmost desire was, "That I may know Him..." (Philippians 3:11) Paul did not want to know about Christ. He did not want to know what others thought or knew about Christ. He desired a personal intimate knowledge of Christ. We see his intimate knowledge of Christ revealed in the Epistle that he wrote. The epistles of Paul reveal an overwhelming wealth of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul's desire to know Christ personally and intimately should be the desire of every believer, but unfortunately for most, knowing what others think or know about Christ has become sufficient. This attitude has cause damaging doctrines to permeate the church promoting division. Paul had to deal with this very issue and calls those who fall prey to it carnal babies in Christ who act like mere men. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

Paul tells Timothy in both his letters to Timothy, the damage that would occur in the church as the end time approached, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Timothy 4:1) "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Of course not one church leader would ever admit that this could be about them and their belief system.

I believe that there is not one church leader or particular group of churches that have the revelation that Paul gives us in its purest form. This is why we've got to put down our pride and prejudices and let the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth. We must also be open enough to consider that our pet doctrines may not be entirely correct. Instead of resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) and embracing doctrine whether old or new, that does not consider the whole counsel of God's Word, let's grow up and embrace Jesus Christ with a desire to know Him so that the power, presence and glory of the Lord fills His entire Body once again. Whether we want to take the responsibility or not, the lost world is depending on the church to reveal to them the real Jesus. The church is His body which means that as He is, so should the church be in the world! This means that as He is supernatural in ever sense of the word, so is the church. Through the name of Jesus and having an intimate knowledge of Him, the church will once again turn the world upside down for His glory.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Complete Do Over

The Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter tells us, "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." (1 Peter 1:23) The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul tells us, "What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil?" (2 Corinthians 6:15) Both of these verse reveal a wonderful truth, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 
 (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Many Christians believe that when a person confesses the Lordship of Christ and receive Him as Savior that they receive eternal life but the old nature is not removed and that the new and old nature war with each other. The reason for this comes from a teaching from Romans chapter 7. However, if we take a closer look at the entire chapter we will notice the the words, grace, believer, beloved, etc. are not seen in any part of these verses. What we do see is the word law mentioned twenty three time in the KJV of the Bible. Many church leaders have extracted and taken out of context verses fifteen through twenty three. They miss the entire point that the apostle Paul is conveying to the Jewish believers, Paul is not explaining the experience of a believer, but of himself before his conversion, that is, as a Jew under the law. He reveals that the law awakens the conscience to sin which opens the door for his flesh which desires sin. The conflict that he experienced as a Jew under the law was between his mind recognizing the law is good and his flesh that wants to operate contrary to the law, that is, its desire is sin. Paul conclusion to the matter is, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25)

Paul honors and attributes the Lord as the only way that one can be deliver from this war between the flesh and mind. To make it simple, faith in Jesus Christ stops the war. For the believer, there is no dual nature at work. The believer is not under the law but under grace. Let's look again at the above verses that the Holy Spirit has spoken through Peter and Paul, (1 Peter 1:23)  "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." To say that the believer still has the old nature in him is to say that the believer is not completely born again because he still maintains a measure of the satanic fallen nature, that is, corruptible seed and that corruptible seed shares the believer with God's incorruptible seed. But look again at what Paul says, (2 Corinthians 6:15)  "What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil?" 

When a person is born again, they are born of the Holy Spirit and their spirit is recreated, but the flesh and the mind have not been recreated. However, in God's eyes, the believer is in fact "a new creation; old things (satanic nature) have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This is a fact but it takes faith to realize, accept and walk out in our lives. There is certainly nothing wrong with the physical body. God formed the body as a means to operate in the natural realm and to be a servant to the human spirit. Mans spirit was to rule over the flesh and mind. However, the fall of man caused spiritual death "And the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh...Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:3, 6) Through the spiritual death of mankind, his flesh the servant, has become the ruler leading him into confusion and anarchy (look around). Now you can see the dilemma that believers face. It is not a dual nature, but letting the flesh continue to have rule over the recreated spirit.

There is a solution that eliminates this dilemma. Paul continues into Romans chapter 8, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:1-11)

Honestly, does this sound like a man who has experienced new birth and still is a sinner? Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit reveals through Paul the solution of being freed from sin, that is, the believer is no longer a sinner if he/she lives a life in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and does not let their flesh have control of their life. For church leaders to tell the saints that they are sinners, because after the great apostle Paul was also a sinner even after his conversion, reveals their lack of understanding the Pauline Epistles. It also is apparent that they are apparently not having fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Instead, they are excusing sinful behavior by accepting doctrines of the church over the Word of God. The greatest problem with this erroneous teaching is that the believer has no hope of living the victorious life that the Father has provided through Jesus Christ. After all "I'm just a sinner saved by grace and still have the old sinful nature."

I share these things because I sit with pastors from various denominations who I believe love the Lord but believe that they are just sinners or beggars. However, look what Paul tells us in his first letter to Timothy, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life." (1 Timothy 1:15-16) Paul was not saying that he was still a sinner, but that Jesus came to save sinners and due to him persecuting the church (his past) he, Saul of Tarsus, considered himself to be a great sinner, but we see that he obtained mercy, that is, he Paul the believer, was forgiven.

Paul tells us to, "...Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) He also tells us to, "Put off the old man (old fallen nature) and put on the new man (new created nature)" (Ephesians 4:22, 24) But how does one do this? "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind." (Ephesians 4:23) and "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2) The way that a believer can walk by the Spirit and not fall prey to the lust of the flesh is to renew their mind through reading, studying and most important, meditating on the Word of God. God's Word feeds and strengthens the spirit, renews the mind and grows faith. This takes a process of time (it depends on the individual) but as your spirit grows your mind and body (flesh) will once again become the servant to your spirit. Again, this has nothing to do with having a dual nature, but everything to do with faith in Christ, His redemptive work and in God's Word which says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

A final thought concerning new birth it that the new man (the new nature) that one receives from God, is given immediately upon confessing the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving Him as Savior. Paul tells us concerning the new man, that it "was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) So logically thinking and looking at all that is shown hereon, how can a believer have God's nature (the new man) and the devil's nature (the old man) ruling their life at the same time? They absolutely cannot! Jesus said, "And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." (Mark 3:25) So let us stop living our Christian life as who we were, sinners, but who we are in Christ, the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Monday, August 3, 2020

Who Did That

One of the saddest phrases that comes forth from a Christians mouth when life trials come or a tragedy happens is, "God, why did you let this happen!" It is as though somehow God takes pleasure in the agonies that take place in humanity. Many will even say, "God is sovereign" (which He is) which to them means that God does whatever He wants whenever He wants, even if it means operating contrary of His Word. Many come this conclusion because they have been taught to think this way by church leaders who reason through life's adversities rather than exercising faith in the integrity of God's Word and understand what is actually going on. Peter tells us, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." (2 Peter 1:2-3)

Notice that God has given the believer "all things that pertain to life and godliness." This means that believers should have an understanding of how God operates in this life. He is a God of blessings and life not of tragedy and death. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) and "...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)  In both of these verses the word life means, "life as God has it; that which the Father has in Himself." Although redemption is much far reaching than most in the church today understand, notice that one of the reasons for the incarnation was to give humanity life as God has it, life which the Father has! From this, to say that God has some mysterious purpose in the tragedies that happen in humanity, especially to the believer, His child, comes down to this, "My people are being destroyed because they don't know me." (Hosea 4:6)

Looking back on 2 Peter 1:2-3, notice that grace and peace are multiplied to the believer in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Also notice that all the things that God has given the believer that pertain to life and godliness, also comes through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This connects with what the Holy Spirit spoke through Hosea. One of the ways that people, even Christians, blame God for permitting tragedies or saying that tragic things are a part of God divine purpose is because they do not know Him, meaning, His nature, character, will, purposes and plan. Of course terrible things happen on the earth, but it is not God's will nor are they some sovereign purpose of God that we will never understand. We must stop blaming God for things that are not His will nor a part of His divine purpose. Sure God can use a tragedy and turn it for good, but to say that He somehow permits tragic things to happen to fulfill some mysterious purpose of His is utter nonsense. It would be like saying that Jesus did not fully satisfy justice for humanity, so God uses tragic situation to complete mans redemption.

Jesus said, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also;" (John 14:7) and "He who has seen Me has seen the Father;" (John 14:9) Jesus is not saying that these men were not his disciples, but that they did not have an accurate knowledge of his nature, character, will, purposes and plan, which was actually the Father's. God has given us His Word, the Bible, so that the believer can know His nature, character, will, purposes and plan. We should start by looking at the four gospels. In them we will discover that Jesus is a perfect reflection of the Father's nature, character, will, purposes and plan which is to save, heal, deliver and bring abundant life to humanity not tragedy and death. Jesus said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18) but He does not use His authority to override mans will nor does He use His authority to operate contrary to His Word.

How can one honestly believe that our heavenly Father somehow has a sovereign purpose or plan to have one of His children perish at the hand of a drunk driver? It was the will of the drunk driver to reject what was right for what they knew to be wrong. It was the will of the drunk driver to get behind the wheel of a car and cause this tragedy. God will not stop people from exercising their will. He didn't in the Garden of Eden nor does He do it now. He does not force people to do His will, so yes, He does permit tragic things to happen, but it certainly is not His will or His divine purpose. Never forget, that sin has its consequences and unfortunately many innocent people suffer for it. Also let us not forget that Satan's hatred for God and humanity is the motivator behind such heinous things.

God is certainly in control, (sovereign) but He Himself is limited in that control, "As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, in judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress." (Job 37:23) and "...For You have magnified Your word above all Your name." (Psalm 138:2) God does everything on absolute legal grounds and within the parameters of His Word so that none (man, angels, Satan or demons) can accuse Him of not being just or blame Him for permitting things to happen that are contrary to His nature, character, will, purposes and plan. He is limited by His own Word as well as the choices of man. Even in the Garden, God did not encroach Adam's will (free choice) to commit treason and yet God was just as sovereign then as He is now and will ever be.

Throughout Israel's history scripture clearly shows us that they rejected God through their poor choices which were not God's will nor some divine purpose of God and we see that they received the consequences of those choices and yet God remained sovereign. God has made a way for man to be free from sin and Satan through Jesus Christ, but it does not mean that all people will Chooses God's plan of redemption, thereby permitting the destructive nature of sin and Satan to still have their way in humanity. Another thing to consider is that God is also limited by the choices that believers (the church) also make that are contrary to His Word. The church is the Body of Christ and therefore it is the voice and power of God on earth.

The Lord has given the church (believers) authority over sin and Satan. We must use this authority to enforce and uphold what Jesus has provided through His death, resurrection and glorification. We must stop taking tragedy on the chin and stand on God's Word knowing that God does not have some divine purpose in the destruction of His children. My friends, blaming our Great Heavenly Father for these things breaks my heart and brings me to tears. God's ingenious plan of redemption liberates all men and provides abundant life right here on planet earth while we wait in hope for the glory of heaven. Don't believe me? Study and meditate on God's Word being led by the Holy Spirit and see for yourself the true nature, character, will, purposes and plan of God and be set free. For who Jesus has set free (being born again) is completely free.